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Variel was Apothecary Secundus of the Astral Claws and later the Red Corsairs. After the Badab War, Variel and his mentor, Apothecary Lord Garreon, oversaw the rebirth of Lufgt Huron into Huron Blackheart. As the Astral Claws had been cast out by the Imperium, Variel joined his battle-brothers as the Red Corsairs.[1a] There, in addition to the duties expected of an Apothecary, he became an infamous torture specialist known as The Flayer.[1b] When Talos Valcoran and his fellow Night Lords arrived to The Maelstrom to seek repairs, Variel's conflicted loyalties between his past and present self began to emerge. He would later go on to betray Huron Blackheart and assist Talos in the theft of the Red Corsairs warship Echo of Damnation, which had once belonged to the Night Lords.[1c]

Variel continued to serve under Talos' command and was one of the handful of survivors of the warband when it came under attack on Tsagualsa from Ulthwé Eldar seeking to eliminate Talos before he became a great threat. Talos instructed Variel to take their Thunderhawk escort, his valued servant Septimus, and the pregnant Navigator Octavia off the world. Septimus and Octavia would later escape to Tsagualsa, leaving Variel no choice but to pursue them and to attempt to claim the Navigator's child. He was badly wounded by Jain Zar in the battle and lost both of his legs to her blades. Afterwards he salvaged Talos' gene-seed to create a new prophet for the Night Lords. He then rejoined the Night Lords under Decimus's command and appeared to be one of his most trusted followers alongside Lucoryphus.[2]