|This article is about the Space Marine; for the Battle Barge, see Sigismund (Battle Barge).
Sigismund was the Marshal of the Templars, the First Captain of the Imperial Fists Legion during the Great Crusade, and right-hand man to Primarch Rogal Dorn. During the Horus Heresy, Dorn appointed Sigismund the first Emperor's Champion, to defend the Imperial Palace during the Battle of Terra. After the Heresy, Sigismund became the founder and first High Marshal of the Black Templars Chapter.[1b]
Sigismund was born during the Unification Wars on Terra, within a city that was later burned down during the conflict. While he escaped the city's destruction, Sigismund was left an orphan and eventually found himself in the Ionus Plateau's refugee camp. Shortly after the Unification Wars were ended, he was among a young group of fellow orphans that were protected by a young girl named Thera. She defended the orphans from the camp's gangs and during an attack by the Corpse Kings, she used a metal bar to cause them to flee. However the orphans knew the Kings would come seeking revenge and they hid in their hideout. As they did so, Nestro, one of the youngest orphans, hoped that the gang would not find them. Thera, though, told him the Kings surely would, but that she would protect the orphans when the gang did. Shortly afterwards, she was proven correct, when the orphans heard the Kings approaching the door to their hideout. Despite being wounded from her last fight with the gang, Thera began to prepare herself to face them once again. As she did so, Thera kneeled and closed her eyes, before she rested her forehead on the metal bar. This was a ritual Thera did before all of her fights, though none of the orphans knew why. Sigismund witnessed this and finally asked Thera why she did it. She did not answer and the Corpse Kings soon called for the orphans to face them. This caused Thera to finally open her eyes and she began to tremble. Thera quickly steadied herself, though, and began to painfully move towards the door. Upon seeing this, the other orphans knew she was still wounded and began to moan in fear. Sigismund knew this as well and tried to stop Thera from leaving. She shook her head, however, and told Sigismund this fight needed to happen. She had hurt the Corpse Kings too badly for the gang to leave the orphans alone. If Thera did not defeat them now, then the Kings would continue to come after the orphans. With that, she walked out of the hideout and closed the door behind her.
Sometime would pass, but eventually the Corpse Kings began calling the orphans to face them once more. None of the fearful orphans did so, until Sigismund began moving towards the door. He was not the eldest of the remaining orphans, nor did Sigismund want to face his death by fighting the gang. Sigismund knew, however, that unless he did so the orphans would be left at the mercy of the gang. After opening the door, he saw Thera's lifeless body nearby. The orphan's protector lay dead in a pool of her own blood, with the metal bat close by her. The leering Kings surrounded them and they asked if Sigismund would kneel or die like Thera did. In answer, the fearful Sigismund kneeled and grabbed Thera's metal bat, causing the gang to begin laughing. As they did so, Sigismund closed his eyes and placed his forehead upon the metal bar like he had seen Thera do. This steadied Sigismund's nerves and stopped him from trembling. Seconds later, the Corpse Kings rushed Sigismund, but he miraculously beat them back and protected the orphans from Thera's killers. Sigismund later went on to join the Imperial Fists Legion and he continued to use Thera's ritual, throughout his service to the Imperium. As an Aspirant Sigismund would come to meet his longtime comrade Fafnir Rann.[20b]
The Great Crusade
Sometime later, Sigismund became an Imperial Fist and 12 years after he defeated the Corpse Kings, he was selected to join the Legion's Templar Brethren. Sigismund was among the youngest in the Imperial Fists' history for the honor and he received his training under the Templar's Weapon Smith Appius. During their training together, Appius knew that Sigismund was a great warrior, who would become a Templar and potentially more. After telling the young Imperial Fist this, however, Appius then asked Sigismund what he fought for. All Imperial Fists never took a step backwards, in their fight for the Imperium, but each had their own reason for doing so. The question caused Sigismund to think back to when the Corpse Kings had Thera's frightened orphans surrounded. Sigismund then answered Appius, that his reason was to protect those Imperials who were too weak to defend themselves from Mankind's foes. This answer satisfied Appius and Sigismund would go on to join the Templars.
He would rise through their ranks and when a new First Captain for the Templars was needed, Sigismund put himself forward as a potential successor. This required him to undergo a combat ritual, where he would face 200 hundred Templars in one on one combat. He would need to defeat them one after another, with no respite, if he wanted to become their leader. As the ritual began, Sigismund first defeated, Anaxsus and then Ecturo. What followed afterwards, felt like a blur to Sigismund as he defeated one Templar after another. Eventually he defeated Calivar, his 199th challenger, before Sigismund faced his last foe: Appius. By then, however, the former Weapon Master was now interred within a Contemptor Dreadnought and Sigismund was at his physical limits. This combined with the Dreadnought's size and strength, nearly allowed Appius to defeat Sigismund. After being struck down by Appius, Sigismund found himself to be accepting of his failure. He had not undergone the ritual for honor and rank, as they were not what drove him on. They were just a consequence of Sigismund's desire to face and fight fate. To not take one step backwards. If he could not now stand and win the trial, then Sigismund felt he deserved to lose.
At that moment, though, Sigismund heard a voice asking:
He had no idea, who had spoken, as it could have been his own voice, Appius', or even Thera's. Regardless of who had spoken, though, the voice's question caused Sigismund to rise and dodge a blow from Appius, that would have finished him. Despite being heavily wounded, Sigismund was able to move quickly and disable Appius' Dreadnought. With that, Sigismund defeated 200 Templars and his Primarch, Rogal Dorn, was there to witness this. Dorn then proclaimed Sigismund to be the Templars' new First Captain and presented him with the relic power sword Imperator Rex. Sigismund accepted it and as he looked upon his fellow Templars, he felt as if he could taste the dust of the Ionus plateau. Sigismund then began Thera's ritual, by kneeling with the Imperator Rex in his hands, and closing his eyes, before placing his forehead on the power sword.
During the Astranii Campaign, Sigismund was the sole survivor of an ambush early in the conflict by the Astranii Machine Empire. After rescue, he gave his briefing on the Astranii and their perceived weaknesses to not only Dorn but also Horus Lupercal and Ferrus Manus. A dispute arose between Ferrus and Dorn over what should be done with the Astranii, with the former wishing for their total destruction as Hereteks while the latter wished for their assimilation into the Imperium. Due to the intervention of Horus, it was agreed that the matter would be settled once the fighting was over. Thus after the war Ferrus demanded his honor satisfied, and Sigismund battled the Iron Hands Centurion champion Thos in an duel. After a difficult battle Sigismund was able to defeat Thos, but the warrior refused to yield. It was then Ferrus stated that the warrior would never yield unless ordered to, and asked Sigismund if he was willing to spill the blood of his fellow Astartes. Sigismund replied that he would not do so in something so petty as an honor duel. Ferrus agreed, and ordered Thos to yield.[20d]
After becoming the Templars' First Captain, Sigismund also became an Adjutant to his Primarch Rogal Dorn, during the Great Crusade[2a]. As the Great Crusade was fought, Sigismund demonstrated a cold, realist view of the future of the Imperium. While conversing with Captains Garviel Loken and Tarik Torgaddon of the Luna Wolves, he stated his belief that the Great Crusade would never end:
He also delivered a striking statement on the nature of the Imperium, perhaps even the nature of man:
At some point prior to the Horus Heresy, the Imperial Fists and World Eaters served together for a significant period of time. During their campaigns, Assault Captain Kharn and Sigismund became close comrades, even going as far to refer to one another as "Oath Brothers". It was during their frequent duels in the cages of the World Eaters' flagship, the Conqueror, that Sigismund earned the name the "Black Knight" and adopted the custom of binding his weapons to his wrists with chains from Kharn (after a duel with the Primarch Angron. This custom would later be adopted by members of the Black Templars.
Later during the Cheraut campaign, Sigismund alongside his trusted lieutenant Fafnir Rann would become horrified by the brutal behavior of the Night Lords. After a heated verbal exchange with the Night Lords commander Sevatar, Sigismund launched a surprise blow which was blocked by the Captain. Sigismund and Sevatar subsequently agreed to a duel to end their disputes, with the rule being only blows with weapons were allowed and it would end when one warrior yielded. After a fierce battle, Sevatar violated the rules of the duel by headbutting Sigismund in the face. Though Sevatar forfeited the battle by his act, he stated that he had nonetheless won and Sigismund should always remember there is no honor in war.[20c]
The Horus Heresy
It was Sigismund who led the squad of marines that accompanied Rogal Dorn in a boarding action on the Eisenstein, under the command of Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro of the Death Guard, bringing word of Horus’s rebellion.[2a][2b]
Once Dorn had absorbed the news, he ordered Sigismund as his "strong, right arm" to go on a mission to the Isstvan System to assist any surviving loyalists and evaluate the situation.[2c] During the time Dorn spent in isolation Sigismund struggled with the dark news, and felt he lacked purpose. He met Euphrati Keeler who told him Horus would, in fact, go to Terra, and that Sigismund would have to choose where to stand. She gave him a vision of the death of the Imperium, as well as his own. One choice would result in his death in space, in the light of an unknown star, forgotten. The other, to war without end. She also told him that his father would need him before the end. His resolve shaken, Sigismund was deeply affected by the conversation. As a result, Sigismund requested that he be allowed to remain at his Primarch's side, and so command of the Retribution Fleet was given instead to another. Dorn did not know why Sigismund made this request, but trusted him and did not question it. [7b]
Sigismund led four companies of Imperial Fists on a mission to secure resources from the forges at Mondus Occulam and Mondus Gamma on Mars.[3a] Enemy resistance was too intense to maintain control, and Sigismund's mission was to evacuate as much material and personnel as possible then withdraw from the planet.[3b] Upon hearing the news of the Isstvan V Massacre, Dorn ordered Sigismund to purge the Terra solar system of all remnants of the traitor legions. [7c]
Soon after his return to Terra, Sigismund confessed to Dorn his reasons for asking to remain on Terra rather than command the Retribution Fleet. Dorn became enraged, and rebuked Sigismund. He showed Sigismund why he had erred out of pride, and that his error was not unlike the pride that drive some of the Primarchs to rebellion. Shamed, Sigismund offered his life to Dorn, but the Primarch declined to take it. He retained Sigismund as his First Company Captain to avoid demoralizing the men, but disowned Sigismund as a son.[7a]
Later, Sigismund was placed in command of the outermost defenses of the Sol System during the Solar War. He led a fleet which battled the Alpha Legion during the Battle of Pluto. During the final phase of the Solar War shortly before the Siege of Terra, Sigismund commanded against a massive traitor assault from the Frigate Lachrymae. During this second battle at Pluto, Sigismund dueled Horus Aximand as he boarded the Lachrymae. During the battle, his Templars fought alongside him against Aximand's warriors, resulting in the death of Lieutenant Boreas. Though wounded and forced to teleport away aboard the nearby vessel Persphone, Sigismund was able to cut off Aximand's hand before his departure. He led a retreat from Pluto, later reuniting with Dorn as he battled Samus aboard the Phalanx. Together, they moved to Terra in preparation for Horus' final attack.
During the Siege of Terra Sigismund acted as a major loyalist commander but continued to be under Dorn's close scrutiny. He met with Euphrati Keeler inside the Imperial Palace, who stated that the Emperor intended for him to slay Abaddon in order to prevent the ultimate victory of Chaos.[16b] This prophecy tempted Sigismund later during the battle for the Lion's Gate Spaceport, where he saw Abaddon's banner and had to chose between challenging the Sons of Horus First Captain or instead overseeing a withdrawal of his forces in the face of certain defeat. Sigismund instead chose to help his men retreat. Later during the final battle for the Spaceport Sigismund battled Kharn, and while the First Captain was the superior swordsman he could not match the World Eater, who was surging with the powers of Khorne. Sigismund faced defeat, but was saved by Dorn himself.[16a] Later during the fight for Saturnine Gate, Sigismund led the defense of the walls against the whole of the Emperor's Children. During the fight he was assailed by Fulgrim himself, proving skilled as a fight but utterly outmatched by the Daemon Primarch. As Fulgrim moved to finish Sigismund, he was saved by the intervention of Rogal Dorn. Dorn and Sigismund managed to next hold off Fulgrim's elite guard, with Sigismund himself throwing Eidolon from the walls of the Palace.
Ultimately during the Siege Sigismund became known as the Emperor's Champion and was a hero to the growing religious cults on the planet that resisted the traitors. By this point Sigismund had become a dour and embittered figure, not speaking to those he battled and mercilessly delivering death wherever he could. Wielding his Black Sword given to him at the Emperor's own orders, Sigismund slew such champions as Indras Archeta of the Sons of Horus[18a] and even Kharn of the World Eaters.[18b] After besting Kharn, Sigismund expressed his desire for an uncorrupted foe to test himself again and sought out First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon.[18c] When Rogal Dorn accompanied the Emperor of Mankind and Sanguinius in boarding Horus's flagship, he left most of his Imperial Fists behind to look to the defense of the Imperial Palace. Considering him his finest soldier, Dorn placed Sigismund as the leader of the ground forces until Dorn returned.[1a] Sigismund and Rann both then became held up in the Bhab Bastion as it was besieged by the traitors.
After the fall of Bhab Bastion, Sigismund led his Templars and other survivors in the madness that had become the Imperial Palace. During the fighting, Sigismund rescued Euphrati Keeler and her refugees from a group of Sons of Horus. Sigismund led the party to the Hollow Mountain, slaying the Death Guard commander Skulidas Gehrerg.[23a] After arriving at their new refuge, where Sigismund and the others began a last stand alongside Corswain, The Lord Cypher, and Dark Angels against a furious Death Guard assault led by Typhus.[23b]
During the final battle, Sigismund was at the forefront of the fighting but all seemed lost in the face of Typhus' massive and relentless assault. However Keeler was able to lead a sacrificial prayer amongst the faithful throngs (Sigismund included) that caused a psychic backlash which not only threw back the Death Guard but also reactivated the Astronomican.[23c] Immediately following the battle, Sigismund takes part in a prayer to the now-enthroned Emperor alongside Keeler.[23d]
After the Traitors retreated from Terra, an enraged Sigismund began a hunt to track down and kill the Sons of Horus First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon. Despite his efforts though, his path to Abaddon was always blocked by Traitors loyal to the First Captain, who then had their lives ended by Sigismund's hands. Sigismund was not deterred by these setbacks though and continued his hunt for Abaddon for the next several centuries.[14a]
The Second Founding
Sigismund was a mighty warrior and after the Horus Heresy and the breakdown of the Imperial Fists into Codex Chapters, he led the more zealous of the Imperial Fists as the Black Templars chapter and was elevated to the rank of High Marshal of the Black Templars. His personal heraldry, consisting of black and white, became the official colors of his new Chapter. Immediately following the Horus Heresy, the Imperial Fists and their Primarch Dorn came under suspicion as heretics for their refusal to back the Codex Astartes and break down into smaller Chapters. In addition, the Chapters and former Legions were laden with strife. Recognizing that only an act of supreme faith could quell such suspicion and restore the integrity of the Space Marines, Sigismund declared an eternal crusade, vowing never to cease his prosecution of the Emperor's enemies. All subsequent High Marshals of the Black Templars have renewed this oath, and so the Black Templars have waged their crusade, unbroken, for more than 10,000 years.[1b]
Eventually, Sigismund realized that the Abaddon and many of the Traitor Legion survivors had fled within the Eye of Terror[14b]. He was not believed though by the High Lords of Terra and many other leaders within the Imperium, as they doubted the Traitors could have survived these long centuries since the Heresy's end within the Eye. Sigismund held firm in his belief that the Traitors lived though and he brought a significant Black Templars fleet to the Cadian Gate, where they maintained a vigil over the Eye of Terror[14a]. Not content to merely wait for the Traitors to make their return, Sigismund also sent ships into the Eye to scout for them and one such ship crashed into the Black Legion held world of Maeleum[14b]. This set into motion events that would grant Sigismund his wish of confronting Abaddon, as the Lord of the Black Legion eventually led his Warband out of the Eye of Terror and attacked the Black Templars' fleet in the First Battle of Cadia. At this time Sigismund was a thousand years old, but despite his advance age, his hatred of Abaddon and the Traitors had kept him alive; as he was too stubborn to die without ending their lives first.[14a]
He proved this when Abaddon and his Warband boarded Sigismund's flagship, the Eternal Crusader, during the battle and scores of the Black Legion were killed in their attempt to claim the High Marshal's head. Finally, though, Abaddon found Sigismund and his Sword Brethren fighting within a large chamber and their warriors stopped and gathered by their leaders' sides as the Lord of the Black Legion approached the Black Templars' High Marshal. Instead of drawing his weapons, however, Abaddon instead spoke with kindness to a foe he had long respected and gave an impassioned plea for Sigismund to open his eyes to the Traitors' cause. He insisted that the Imperium rightfully belonged to the Space Marine Legions that had bled and died to build it during the Great Crusade and Sigismund should join them in reclaiming it from the Emperor's corpse. Sigismund pushed back against this, though, stating that by beginning the Horus Heresy and nearly destroying the Imperium, Abaddon and his fellow Traitors were oath-breakers who proved that they did not care for the Empire they had built. Though Abaddon continued to state the traitors' cause, as the Black Legion Lord had hoped to spare Sigismund life, the High Marshal finally stopped him from any further attempts.[14a]
With that, they both drew their weapons, but Sigismund did not wield the Sword of the High Marshals and instead unsheathed his Black Sword. The Sword of the High Marshals was then given to one of Sigismund's Sword Brethren, who quickly left the chamber for some unclear reason as Sigismund and Abaddon began their duel. What followed was a fierce battle between two heavily experienced opponents in which neither was able to gain an advantage over the other, as though Abaddon was still in his prime, due to how little time had passed within the Eye, Sigismund's sword skills were as sharp as ever. Eventually, however, Sigismund's age began to work against him, and he began to tire under Abaddon's unrelenting assault.[14a]
Knowing that his life was at an end, Sigismund laid a trap for Abaddon by stepping away from the Lord of the Black Legion. Abaddon thought this was his opportunity to end their duel and arrogantly rushed forward to kill the High Marshal[14a], but this allowed Sigismund to strike a blow that left the Black Sword buried within Abaddon's chest. Doing so, however, left Sigismund defenseless and Abaddon retaliated with a swing from the Talon of Horus that severed the High Marshal into two pieces. Despite this horrific wound, though, Sigismund still clung to life as Abaddon knelt down beside the High Marshal, while clenching his torn-apart chest. Abaddon kindly told his old foe that he regretted having to kill the High Marshal, but at least now Sigismund could finally rest. Sigismund replied not with an oath to the Emperor or his Chapter's creed, but instead he used the last of his life to rebuke the Lord of the Black Legion:[14c]
With that Sigismund, First Captain of the Imperial Fists and High Marshal of the Black Templars, died[14c]. Afterwards, Abaddon's Warband gathered their mortally wounded leader[14a] and the slain High Marshal[14d] before quickly evacuating the Eternal Crusader, as another of the Legion's foes had entered the battle during their boarding attack. The Sorcerer Lord Thagus Daravek, commander of the Legion Host and main rival for Abaddon's claim as the new Warmaster of Chaos, had pursued the Black Legion out of the Eye of Terror and his Warband had begun attacking their fleet. However, as the battle raged on, the tide turned in the Black Legion's favour: as the Legion Host forced the Black Templars' fleet to escape into the Warp and Daravek was killed while boarding the Vengeful Spirit, which caused his Warband to stop attacking the Black Legion.[14e]
As for Abaddon himself, though he was provided with the best care the Black Legion possessed, he barely survived the wound dealt to him by Sigismund[14c] and would forever keep the scar it left, as a sign of respect for the High Marshal. Before the Black Legion then left the Cadian Gate to begin their Black Crusade, they prepared to send a declaration of war to the Imperium's High Lords. Sigismund would bear this message and his corpse and Black Sword were respectfully placed in the captured Black Templars ship Valorous Vow, whose databanks were filled with information, feeds, and recording pics of the First Battle of Cadia. As the slave-crewed Valorous Vow was prepared to be sent on its long journey to Terra, Abaddon had the Sorcerer Iskandar Khayon carve three simple words into Sigismund's Black Sword: "We are returned".[14d]
Description and Personality
Sigismund had dark blond hair and a patrician face. His build was thick and sturdy.[2a] He is described as having a face that "might have been handsome, but war and genecraft had carved it to a different end." He had a scar under his right eye that ran down his cheek to his jaw. His eyes were bright, sapphire blue.[7a] Sigismund also bears the Raptor Imperialis on the knee of his armour, indicating that he fought alongside the Emperor himself.
Sigismund was known for being volatile and hot headed, a reputation known widely enough that even Malcador the Sigilite remarked on it in conversation with Rogal Dorn.[3a] He was also known for his superior swordsmanship, being regarded as one of the best swordsmen in the Astartes Legions.
Perhaps the greatest Space Marine warrior of the Great Crusade and Heresy-era, Sigismund nonetheless had a strong sense of honor and was horrified by the unscrupulous behavior of the Night Lords.[20c]
- 1: Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition):
- 2: The Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow:
- 3: Mechanicum (Novel) by Graham McNeill:
- 4: [Needs Citation] — Age of Darkness (Anthology), pg. 395
- 5: Horus Rising (Novel) by Dan Abnett:
- 6: Butcher's Nails, by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- 7: Crimson Fist (Novella) by John French
- 8: Horus Heresy Art Preview at Black Library.com (site last accessed 19/2/2014)
- 9: White Dwarf 72 (2015), The Scions of Dorn
- 10: Forge World (last accessed 17 June 2015)
- 11: White Dwarf 73 (2015), Forge World - Sigismund, First Captain of the Imperial Fists
- 12: The Talon of Horus (Novel) — Epilogue
- 13: Praetorian of Dorn (Novel) Part 4 Chapters 1–6
- 14: Black Legion (Novel)
- 15: The Solar War (Novel),[Needs Citation]
- 16: The First Wall (Novel)
- 17: Saturnine (Novel) Part 3 Chapter 4
- 18: Warhawk (Novel)
- 19: Champion of Oaths (Short Story)
- 20: Sigismund: The Eternal Crusader (Novel)
- 21: Echoes of Eternity (Novel) - Chapter 15
- 22: The End and the Death: Volume II (Novel) - 6:xvi
- 23: The End and the Death: Volume III (Novel)