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First Siege of Perlia

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Targetdrone.gif This article is about the Orkish invasion of Perlia in 921.M41; for the Chaos invasion in 999.M41, see Second Siege of Perlia.
The First Siege of Perlia
Date 920's.M41
Location Perlia
Outcome Imperial victory
Orks.png Orks Astra Militarum Symbol.png Imperial Guard
Gargash Korbul (d) General Alcas
Commissar Ciaphas Cain
Colonel Mostrue
Waaagh!-sized warband
several Weirdboyz
Several Guard divisions;
"Cain's Heroes" (irregular force)
PDF elements
Defeated Unknown

The Siege of Perlia (known as the First Siege of Perlia sometime after 999.M41) was the name given to the invasion of the Imperial World of Perlia by Waaagh! Korbul sometime in the 920s.M41.


This page contains spoilers for: Death or Glory (Novel)

Gargash Korbul's Waaagh! raged across the entire subsector, but Perlia was the center of industrial production for this subsector, and an Imperial Guard force was sent to prevent its loss to the Orks.[1a] Among the regiments sent to the planet was the Valhallan 12th Field Artillery and its Commissar, reluctant hero Ciaphas Cain.

The Battle of the Halo

During what became known as the Battle of the Halo, Korbul used the power of his "Weirdboyz" to psychically attack the Navigators of the incoming Imperial Navy fleet, forcing the ships to revert to real space on top of an Ork attack fleet Korbul had waiting for them. A dozen of the Navigators died, including the one on the troopship carrying Cain and the 12th Artillery.[1b][1c][1d] The majority of the Imperial forces managed to make it onto the planet's surface to engage the Orks, but Cain became separated from his regiment and - along with his everpresent aide Ferik Jurgen — crash-landed somewhere on the eastern continent in one of the ship's escape pods.[1e]

The Liberation of Prosperity Wells

Cain and Jurgen commandeered an Ork Warbuggy and used it to find their way to the closest civilization[1f] (the closest Imperial forces, as they found out later, were on the western continent).[1g] This happened to be the town of Prosperity Wells, which had already been overrun by the Orks, except for a small force of PDF troopers led by Sergeant Alaric Tayber.[1h] Cain and Jurgen's arrival distracted the Orks long enough for Tayber's force to escape a trap and link up with them.[1i] Tayber insisted on liberating the civilians enslaved by the Orks[1j] (since, as Cain later found out, they included Tayber's sister, Felicia).[1k]

Before departing from the town, Cain ordered the prometheum tanks - used to fuel the Orks' vehicles - to be ignited, destroying the town and starting rumors among the Orks that an enemy army had somehow landed behind their lines. The actions undertaken that day had consequences that would determine the course of the campaign.[1l]

The March of the Liberator

What began as a simple quest to survive long enough to reach the Imperial lines was later termed by historians as "The March of the Liberator."[1m] Organizing the PDF troopers and civilian volunteers into as effective a fighting force as possible, Cain led them on a trek across the desert, heading towards likely sources of water[1n], a chain of supply caches maintained by the PDF[1o], and ultimately, the western continent.[1p] Along the way, they encountered other Perlian PDF forces, and even some scattered elements of the Imperial Guard garrison, including several Leman Russ Battle Tanks[1q]. As their numbers and equipment increased, they were able to inflict more serious losses on the Orks, enough that a substantial portion of Korbul's force was diverted from the front lines to deal with the mysterious "army" attacking from the rear[1q][1r]. Although Cain was unaware of this at the time, this relieved the pressure on the Imperial forces fighting on the Western continent for the first time in months, and allowed them to start preparing a counterattack.[1r]

Cain's Last Stand

In what was later called "Cain's Last Stand," the makeshift army was cornered on top of a dam in the so-called "Valley of Daemons" by a force of several thousand Orks.[1s] Unwilling to be slaughtered, Cain targeted his one available artillery Basilisk on the base of the dam, releasing a torrent of water that drowned the entire Ork band.[1t]


Towards the end of their journey - having picked up supplies necessary for their survival from PDF caches - Cain's force inadvertently blundered onto Korbul's command post. In what became the pivotal moment of the entire siege, Cain and Korbul became locked in single combat, a combat which ended with Cain pulping the Warlord's brain with his laspistol.[1u] The green horde began to come apart, as his Nob lieutenants began fighting amongst each other for supremacy - a fact the Imperial forces took advantage of.[1v] In their final push through the fractious Ork mob, Cain and his army broke through to the Imperial lines, and were rescued by a Valhallan infantry regiment, the 362nd.[1w]

Of the ragtag army that followed him, Cain managed to reach the Imperial lines with roughly 70% of his force intact, which Inquisitor Amberley Vail called a remarkable achievement.[1x]


Cain's actions on Perlia - along with picts taken of his duel with Korbul - made him a hero to the people of Perlia and the entire subsector, and they would also follow him in the decades to come.[1u] The people of Perlia called Cain "the Liberator".[1v] In the Imperial Guard he was sometimes called the "Hero of Perlia,"[Needs Citation] and his reputation grew to the point where he was promoted away from the 12th Field Artillery and to a special position as an independent, "roving" commissar attached to the brigade headquarters.[3]

The town of Prosperity Wells, which had been considered the turning point in the siege, was rebuilt and renamed Cainstead in Cain's honour - a fact that the commissar reportedly found both hilarious and mildly embarrassing.[1l][2a] As for the Orks, they were eventually cleansed entirely from the planet by the early 950s.M41.[1v] In the capital city, a clock tower was built, which showed the time by having a clockwork Cain decapitate a number of clockwork Orks corresponding to the hour of the day. Cain found the clock so hideous that, years later, when the planet was attacked by the forces of Chaos, he would ask hopefully whether any of their bombs had landed on it.[2c]

A popular holodrama entitled Cain's Heroes was released, presenting a somewhat fictionalised version of the Siege, and the name was thereafter applied by historians and news sources to Cain's makeshift army. Cain himself disliked the holodrama because - among other reasons - it invented a romantic relationship between him and one of the militia recruits, and eliminated Jurgen's role entirely.[1r]

Approximately twenty years later, while Cain was serving with the Valhallan 597th regiment, he would recall the events on Perlia when he confronted the rogue Inquisitor Ernst Stavros Killian. It was later revealed that the arrival in the system of the Orks' space hulk had caused a surge of Warp energy that triggered a response from the Shadowlight, a xenos artifact being studied in secret by the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Ordo Xenos in the Valley of Daemons.[4]

In 999.M41, Cain - by that time an old man teaching at a Schola Progenium on Perlia - would defend the planet once more during Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade.


  • 1: Death or Glory (Novel)Ciaphas Cain: Defender of the Imperium (Omnibus):
    • 1a: Chapter One, pgs. 40–42
    • 1b: Chapter Two, pgs. 47–52
    • 1c: Editorial Note after Chapter Two, pgs. 53–55
    • 1d: Chapter Four, pgs. 59–63
    • 1e: Editorial Note after Chapter Four
    • 1f: Chapter Seven, pgs. 85–88
    • 1g: Chapter Eleven, pgs. 118
    • 1h: Chapter Eight, pgs. 89–96
    • 1i: Chapter Ten, pgs. 107–113
    • 1j: Chapter Twelve, pgs. 121–130
    • 1k: Chapter Thirteen, pgs. 133–135
    • 1l: Editorial Note after Chapter Twelve, pgs. 131–132
    • 1m: Editorial Note after Chapter Ten, pg. 114
    • 1n: Chapter Fourteen
    • 1o: Chapter Thirteen
    • 1p: Chapter Eighteen
    • 1q: Chapter Twenty
    • 1r: Editorial Note after Chapter Twenty-Two, pgs. 222–223
    • 1s: Chapter Twenty-One, pg. 213
    • 1t: Chapter Twenty-Two
    • 1u: Chapter Twenty-Five
    • 1v: Editorial Note after Chapter Twenty-Five, pgs. 247–248
    • 1w: Chapter Twenty-Six
    • 1x: Chapter Twenty-Six, pg. 253, fn. 1
  • 2: Cain's Last Stand (Novel)Ciaphas Cain: Defender of the Imperium:
    • 2a: Chapter Twenty-Two, pg. 732, fn. 1
    • 2b: Chapter Two, pg. 527, fn. 1
    • 2c: Chapter Ten, pg. 616
  • 3: Echoes of the Tomb (Short Story)
  • 4: Duty Calls (Novel)Ciaphas Cain: Defender of the Imperium, Chapter Twenty-Five, pgs. 467–468