Finished this last night. I enjoyed the book but I have to agree with the other posters on the issues. The constant bashing over the head of how awesome the Primaris and their new equipment was tiresome, that and Cawl just being so amazing! :O
So this is the current timeline , how will we tell which books are now in this current timeline? I hope they continue the current story line with G looking for the Death Guard.
No, its a meant to be a starting introduction book to the new 8th edition. The slate has been wiped clean and its the first book publication. Have at it!
So does it give you the story of Cadia and gulliman turning up, or does it leave that to the gathering storm rule books?
As someone who's last 40k reading was Honsou invading Calth in 999.M40 after trolling Ventris for a few years, I'm thoroughly confused how like a moment later girlyman wakes up and there's these brand spanking new marines wandering about the galaxy!
Dark imperium is set post Gathering storm and the indomitus crusade. which is 112 years past the Gathering Storm.. The arrival of the primaris happened offscreen at the indomitus crusade, which i frankly would have loved to see more fleshed out instead of quickly glossed over.
Reposting from over at B&C. Enjoy This will spoil the plot in detail, so be warned!
Ok, just finished reading the fluff and WOW. I think this is really it, BIG THINGS are happening. Obviously SPOILERS AHOY. Long posts incoming too lol.
Thee book starts off with probably the coolest thing I've read in 40k - some prose about a Dreamer Awakening in a World That Is Not A World, and her wearily being called back to War. It's probably the coolest thing I've read about Celestine, and it doesn't even mention her by name
The first chapter of the book picks up immediately following the first wave of the assault on Cadia. It is beaten back by the genius of Creed (after he assumes command following the treacherous slaughter of the existing Cadian High Command). He sets about rebuilding the shattered defences for the second wave he knows is incoming - Abaddon will make a point of pride to make Cadia fall. Making up the shattered defences are:
* Creed and the Cadian 8th, holding the last major fortress on Cadia - Kasr Kraf
* Black Templars of the Cruxis Crusade, led by Marshal Marius Amalrich. They are standing on the southern defences of Kasr Kraf
* Dark Angels 4th Company, led by Company Master Korahael (they are making their stand at the wreckage of their fallen Strike Cruiser to the North of Kasr Kraf, its guns still operational)
* Space Wolves of the Ironwolves Great Company, led by Wolf Lord Orven Highfell. They are initially garrisoning a ruined Kasr between the Dark Angel Strike Cruiser and Kasr Kraf, but you know Space Wolves and standing still...
* Space Wolves of the Firehowlers Great Company, led by Sven Bloodhowl. They have the only remaining Imperial Ship still under power in orbit, the Battle Barge Firemane's Fang
* Knights of House Raven, led by Baroness Vardus
* Battle Sisters of the Order of Our Martyred Lady, led by the twin sister Canonesses Eleanor and Genevieve. They are holding the Shrine of Saint Morrican across the valley from Kasr Kraf
* Numerous other Cadian regiments and shattered Space Marine Chapters
Things look pretty grim when a scout ship reports that the Black Fleet of Abaddon is inbound to finish of Cadia, with a Blackstone Fortress called the Will of Eternity at its heart. It has the power to destroy a planet with a single shot, but the Imperium had prepared a special defence for it. Unfortunately the first assault left it it ruins - Cadia is doomed. Sven Bloodhowl and the Firehowlers, along with a host of Battle Brothers from shattered Chapters and even alongside some Cadian regiments, gather on the Firemane's Fang to lead a desperate assault on the Will of Eternity to delay it before it reaches Cadia ("you're telling me we're some kind of Suicide Squad?") whilst the Mechanicum frantically try to repair the anti-planet killer shields. The battle-cry goes up amongst the Cadian Defenders - "Cadia Stands!"
Elsewhere! Belasirus Cawl has been having some shady conversations with a Harlequin Shadowseer. She tells him to check out some backwater planet, long since abandoned by the Imperium in after the 4th Black Crusade swept by it in M34. On it, Cawl discovers evidence of massive orbital bombardments. Apparently the 4th Black Crusade didn't randomly sweep by this planet - Abaddon had been trying to destroy something on it. Fighting of some random Orks looking for a fight, Cawl discover something amazing - this planet has Pylons on it, just like the Cadian Pylons and it seems Abaddon was trying to destroy them! The Shadowseer tells him to go to Cadia
Elsewhere! Trazyn the Infinite is chilling in Solemnance when one of his treasures, the Bell of Saint Gerstahl, suddenly starts ringing and causing all sorts of havoc on each chime. After the bell kills 5 of his bodies, causes Solemance to send all his warriors into stasis-sleep, destroys a number of his priceless artefacts it stops after the 13th Chime. Trazyn is all wth? and goes to the Celstial Orrery (a perfect reflection of the galaxy) to try and figure out whats going on. He notices a lot of 'crimson stain' pulsing in intricate webs out of one place in particular. The Necrons have a ton of data on the place, but Trazyn deliberately ignores that. The Imperium calls it Cadia. Trazyn wonders whether he might try being the Saviour of the Galaxy for once. At the very least, there should be something shiny to steal on Cadia.
Elsewhere! Specifically, the orbit of Terra!! Even more specifically, aboard the Phalanx!!! Be'lakor has decided to trump Abaddon and launch an attack directly at Terra - no stuffing around at Cadia for him. With the help of the Iron Warriors Warsmith Shon'tu, he creates a warp rift right in the middle of the Phalanx, with the intent to board and capture it and turn it against Terra. On board are... not much. Most of the Imperial Fists are elsewhere. All that remains to repel the chaos forces are the newly reconstituted 3rd Company, led by Captain Tor Garadon (ironically stationed there because they are inexperienced) and 30odd marines from the 1st Company. They are massively outnumbered by the combined Demon and Iron Warrior assault, are getting overrun and are losing control of the Phalanx to machine viruses from the Iron Warriors. In desperation, Garadon turns the guns of the Phalanx on itself in order to 'cut away the disease like a chirurgeon'. It costs the Phalanx a full 10th of its mass, but it stops the machine virus from taking hold and also takes out most of the Iron Warriors. As soon as control is back, Garadon orders a blind jump into the Warp in order to remove the potential for the Phalanx to be turned against Terra. Be'lakor is kinda pissed his plan has basically failed, but since they are now in the warp all his Demon forces are powered up and at least they can destroy the Phalanx. So he gets cocky and throws his Demons carelessly into the fray, victory is inevitable. At least it was inevitable until the Legion of the Dammed turn up to kick his arse. Better luck next time Be'lakor! (should have cast Invisibility). Curiously, the Legion of the Dammed have stuck around though, and Garadon has no idea why. He makes to return to Mars for urgent repairs, however a distress call is picked up - Cadia is real trouble. Garadon decides that the defence of Cadia is the most important, so he turns around and makes for Cadia. The Legion of the Dammed Sergeant gives him a ghostly bro-nod.
Back on Cadia! The Imperial defenders look on with horror as the Will of Eternity appears in orbit. The Mechiancum are no-where near finished repairs to the shields. The Will of Eternity fires..... and the beam is stopped in the clouds! Huzzah! It worked! But how?!?! Says the Magos in charge, looking around at all the slain tech-priests at the shield generator. Looking closer he notices all sorts of filthy Xenos technology integrated into the Mechanicus technology..........
Oh well, time for a conventional assault then. The Black Fleet commences orbital Bombardment of the defences, Void Shield generators straining, Drop Pods and Landing Craft coming down the thousands etc. Long story short, lots of fighting and pew pew pew. Battle Sisters kick arse. Defenders are forced back, traitor Titans of Legio Vulcanam are advancing (despite a Valkyrie kamikaze into the lead Warlord Titan, A-Wing vs Super Star Destroyer style). The Demon Prince Urkanthos, Abaddons second in command, drops in to lead the final assault. Final Gate goes down, Urkanthos shrugs off everything the Cadians can throw at him as heads straight for the shield generator protecting against the Planet Killer only to find the Battle Sisters in his way. The twin Cannoness Genevieve and Eleanor duel with him, but he kills them both (not before Genevieve headbutts him right between the eyes as her dying act of defiance though! Fkn Badass! And Eleanor stick her sword right through his chest, doing the only real wound to him). Urkanthos proceeds down to destroy the shield generator. A Chaos Baneblade is wrecking havoc amongst the Cadians, and the Black Templars rally to try and stop it and just as it swings its guns around to blow them away it suddenly freezes... and turns around and starts shooting the Chaos Forces... no-one notices a sneaky Necron Lord lurking about.... Creed uses the distraction as a last ditch effort to run his forces over to protect the shield generator, but upon seeing the dead Battle Sisters who tried to stop the Demon Prince he knows that Cadia is lost. So he goes to order a rally in one last stand, when he notices his officers holding devotional icons and uttering "The Emperor Protects". Not really one for faith, he gets kinda angry at this, but as he turns he can't help a "Well I'll be dammed"
Saint Celestine had answered their prayers.
Celestine emerging from the Heavens and slaughtering all the Demons before her re-energises all the Imperial Forces present, like a shot in the arm. Only the Adeptus Astartes are unaffected (Black Templars feel it though). The tide turns for a moment, the Defenders rallying to Celestine. But then the Traitor Legionnaires crash back into the defences. But no biggie, Celestine has that under control too - behind her, landing ships drop out of the sky and drop fresh ranks of Battle Sisters onto the field, their Battle Hymns sounding. Apparently she found a transport floating dead through the Warp, carrying 5 full companies of Battle Sisters from the Order of Our Martyred Lady lost some 1400 years ago. She hooked a Sister up and led them to another Ship en-route to Cadia. Urkanthos comes back from destroying the shield generator, looking to make his escape before the planet blows up, but runs straight into Celestine. Celestine is like "you're dead" and Urkanthos is like "lol, you can't fight me alone I'm like favoured of Khorne and Right Hand of Abaddon and stuff" and Celestine is like "HEROES NEVER DIE!" and gets a clutch rez on Genevieve and Eleanor and all 3 proceed to soundly kick his arse. What about the Blackstone Fortress about to blow up Cadia? Oh yeah btw, that ship Celestine hooked the Sisters up with was the Phalanx and it just suddenly jumped in amongst the Black Fleet.
The Phalanx bears straight down on the Will of Eternity. It's taking on the entire Black Fleet by itself but, hell, its a fleet in of itself. Garadon knows he's gotta kill the Blackstone Fortress, so he saves all his firepower for the opportune moment... and a section of the Will of Eternity's shields go down! Turns out Sven Bloodhowl's Suicide Squad made it aboard after all and they managed to sabotage the shields! Taking the shot, the Phalanx pours all its firepower into the Blackstone Fortress and blows it the hell up (along with like a third of the Black Fleet), the wreckage breaking into a few large chunks that sit in orbit like moons. The Black Fleet, having just been sucker punched hard by the Phalanx, pulls away to regroup. Down on the planet, Kell replants the Standard of the Cadian 8th atop the Kriegan Gates as the Battle Sisters and Cadians route the attacking Chaos Forces. Creed breathes a sigh of relief, but knows it's only a fleeting victory.
Aboard the Vengeful Spirit, Abaddon looks out over another failure. No more though - Cadia has defied him for far too long. Abaddon gathers his forces for and will lead the next assault himself. This time its personal.
The Imperial Forces consolidate. A trickle of re-enforcements arrive; The Crimson Fists 5th Company led by Captain Ruis Tracinto, Knights from House Taranis, tanks from the Cadian Armoured 51st and finally Belisarius Cawl's Mechanicus fleet. Whilst most of his Skitarri were depleted fighting those Orks, his fleet is still relatively strong. It takes up position with the Phalanx in orbit over Kasr Kraf. A Council of War is held, and Cawl outlines his discoveries about the Pylons and Abaddons intentions with them - it seems the Pylons are literally holding back the flood of the Immaterium into the galaxy. This explains the rising darkness of the last 10,000 years, and the increasing prevalence of warp storms - as Abaddon's Black Crusades have ran on the number of Pylons they've destroyed as gone up and the Warp leaks faster into realspace. Turns out Abaddon's Black Crusades haven't been failures after all, just a series of plays in a very, very long game! Creed, who'd been thinking about retreating from Cadia to preserve forces, realises that's no longer an option. The Cadian Pylons can't be allowed to fall. Cadia must stand!
Cawl gets a strange visitor... at first he thinks it's the Harlequin, but turns out its Trazyn! Trazyn offers his assistance in figuring out the secrets of the Pylons. Cawl is distrustful, but Trazyn points out that he has no desire to see Chaos rule the galaxy. Cawl realises that he's hopelessly lost in the Pylon technology anyway, so accepts his help and quickly figures out the Pylons. He's got a plan now!
Abaddon launches the next assault. Long story short again, lots of fighting, lots of pew pew pew. Battle Sisters, now led by Saint Celestine and the Twin Gemini, continue to kick all sorts of arse. The Battle Sisters get a pretty good showing in this book imo. Anyway, Abaddons forces eventually close the circle around the Imperial Defence, and its capped off by Abaddon teleporting into Creed's Command Centre to cut the head off the command. It's only by Kell's last heroic effort that he's able to push Creed onto a Valkyrie to escape, before Abaddon cuts Kell down. With the Cadian Command in tatters, the Imperial Defence begins to fall and get overrun. The Cadian 8th fall back into the underground catacombs where the Pylons and Cawl are, pursued by Abaddon and his Terminators. On the surface, only the Battle Sisters have managed to push back the attacks.
Down in the tunnels, the Cadians and the remaining Skitarri desperately try to hold Abaddon back. Cawl is furiously trying to finish his work on the Pylons, and Trazyn is lurking about watching with interest. He can see that the Abaddon is going to overrun them quickly, and he umms and ahhs about whether to be a Saviour or just steal something and knick off. Deciding that there's probably better loot the longer he stays at the battle, he decides to help out throws out a tesseract labyrinth. What's in the labyrinth? Why just a cheeky collection of Imperial forces Trazyn's collected over the millennia is all! It pops out right in front of Abaddon's forces - suddenly there is a just post-Heresy era Ultramarine force in his face (Contemptor Dreadnaughts and all), a regiment of Vostroyan, snipers from the long dead Tanith, Salamanders though lost during the Klovian disaster and even a Custode! Everyone is confused as hell, but the immediate facts are pretty clear - they are Imperials and there are Chaos baddies in front of them! Attack! One other force came out of the tesseract too.. Inquisitor Katarinya Greyfax of the Ordo Hereticus and her bodyguard. Not one to act rashly, for rashness leads to Heresy, she surveys the battlefield..
Trazyn's Pokeball has given Cawl enough time to finish his adjustments to the Pylon. It just needs to power up now. It's chaos killing time! Noticing Cawl over by the pylon has given Abaddon pause though - has his plan over the last 10,000 years finally been figured out? Had he made a mistake by dallying around trying to crush Cadia in a show of strength rather than just blowing it out of the sky and moving on? Horus made similar mistakes, by falling to his pride, and is Abaddon now following suit? When in doubt.... summon demons!
The chaos forces begin to overpower the Imperials. The last of the Heresy-era Ultramarines goes down, Demonettes rip through the Vostroyan ranks, Legion of the Dammed (who had come down from the Phalanx) spit hot soulfire, but its not looking good for the Imperials. But then the Space Wolves arrive. Or rather, the Wulfen arrive. The Ironwolves have been mostly lost to the curse fighting up on the surface, but now they've come down to fight their last breathes for Russ and the Allfather. A massive section of the ceiling caves in atop the Cadians, and Abaddon's forces use it drive into them heading straight for the man at the centre of it - Creed. But Celestine intervenes, using the hole in the roof to join the battle, blasting Demons aside as she beelines straight for Abaddon. 1v1 she might struggle against Abaddon, but her two Gemini are at her side. The Challenge is on.
Greyfax stand off the side, watching with revulsion. What the hell is with all this Heresy in Her Imperium? Battle Sisters idolising a clearly heretical saint? Astartes revelling in their own mutations? FLAMING SPIRITS SHOOTING MAGIC BULLET GUNS??!? Then she notices Trazyn lurking off to the side, and she's had enough - she goes to shoot the filthy Xenos in the face, but he flicks his hands and paralyses her. Mindshackle Scarab. Greyfax is furious he's "corrupted her, as he did Valeria". Trazyn points out that maybe Greyfax should be more concerned about the Chaos forces...
Cawl watches as the Pylon powers up. Has he done the right thing? Trazyn gave him all this info, but he doesn't really understand it. Is the Necron deceiving him? No, the massive problem of Chaos takes precedence. Lets see what happens. The Pylon starts pulsing, louder and louder soon echoing across the battlefield. Warriors from both sides fall to their knees, Psykers lose their minds (literally) as their connection to the Immaterium fades away. A beam of black light shoots out of the Pylon into the sky, narrowly missing the Phalanx, and spears right into the Eye of Terror.... and the Eye of Terror beings to shrink!!!!! The demons in the battle to blink out of existence, demon-fused traiters find half their bodies being ripped out of them and Psykers are dropping dead everywhere (Greyfax is one of the few with the strong-will to resist it). Even Abaddon stumbles. But so too do the Imperial suffer - The Legion of the Dammed fade away and most disconcertingly the light of Celestine begins to fade, and with that the valour that was inspiring the mortal Guardsmen. Not a problem for the mortal legionaries of the Black Legion though, all they see is the light of the hated Corpse-God fading away. Abaddon recovers from his stumble, and now the challenge has swung decisively his way. What was evenly matched is now anything but as Celestine falters. Even without the Dark Gods blessing, Abaddon is still one of the greatest Astartes ever known. Her bodyguard are forced away, and Abaddon wounds her forcing to the ground. Creed watches the only hope of the Imperial Forces fall to the ground, and charges the Cadian 8th in a desperate attempt to save Celestine as Abaddon raises Drach'nyen for the final blow.....
...but recoils away in agony as he gets mind blasted by Inquisitor Greyfax, channeling all her anger at the state of the battle into tapping into the fading warp and unleashing a psychic assault on Abaddon. She's realised that yes, that's Heresy but the immediate needs of the Imperium come first. Kill Abaddon now, deal with Celestine, the Wulfen etc later. The Cadian 8th throw themselves on Abaddon, desperate to save Celestine by buying her time with their lives. The remaining Vostroyan are cut down, but Greyfax rallies her bodyguard and starts laying volley fire into the chaos forces (her bodyguard are more afraid of her than of the the Chaos warriors lol). Creed leads another charge into Abaddon, pops a terminator with his hot-shot laspistol but suddenly Abaddon is in his face, the Talon of Horus taking his arm off as Abaddon lifts him off his feet by his neck. "Cadia is dead!" he taunts him, "No, Cadia stands whilst even one of its soldiers does!" Creed replies. "Celestine is dead, the will of Cadia is broken and the Imperium will follow. I've already set this world's fate in motion, even before I landed," Abaddon growls. Creed feels the life being chocked out of him, the humiliation of Cadia - which has stood for 10 millennia, falling under his watch catching up with him when a cry of agony brings him back. Celestine stands, her sword ran through Abaddon. "The Emperor Protects," she breathes.
Abaddon lurches away, wounded like no wound he's felt in millennia. Revenge!!! But he realises his time is up - the Pylon continues to pulse, and the presence of the Warp has all but faded. If he wants to get away, he has to go know otherwise he won't be able to teleport out. It's time to go, and he and the surviving Black Legion teleport away. A small part of him even manages to acknowledge the achievement of the Cadian defense. They'd actually won. But still still lost Trazyn watches him ago, fingering a tesseract labyrinth. I'll get you next time Ezekyle!
Creed remembers what Abaddon had said to him "I've already set this world's fate in motion, even before I landed". Uh-oh. Greyfax falters under the pressure of not losing her mind to the absence of the warp. A hand steadies her shoulder - Celestine. "Get away from me witch," Greyfax spits. "If I am a witch, then why did you save me?" Celestine smiles. "I didn't save you, I shot Abaddon. There's a difference." Greyfax falters again, and Celestine smiles and steadies her again. Not gonna lie, I 'ship it.
Up in orbit, Abaddon gives the signal as the Black Fleet hauls arse away. Remember those fragments of the Blackstone Fortress? Well turns out there's engines attached to them, and they light up and drive the moon-sized chunks of debris straight at Cadia. The Phalanx realises whats going on and tries to shoot them down, but its no use. They barely get a warning off before the massive meteors slam into Cadia. 'Luckily' it impacts on the far side of Cadia. The planet begins to split apart. As the planet begins its death spasms, the Pylons start to fall. The push of the Pylons against the Warp fades, and the Eye of Terror bursts back out. Demons begin manifesting, draw in by warp rifts opening up all over Cadia. But as the Warp returns, so too does the Golden Light of Celestine. She stops the panic, and leads the Imperial forces up to the surface, only to see seas of molten lava everywhere as the planet's core is bursting apart. Creed falls to despair - they won, only to lose! Greyfax takes command and issues an evacuation order. Slowly, ships begin to land and evacuate the forces. Not all of its orderly though, and officers are forced to fire on their troops to prevent riots. Demons are harassing the evacuation too - the Imperial Fists aboard from the Phalanx are trying to provide cover, but they are few in number. Creed eventually snaps out of it, and orders the Cadian 8th with him. They will hold the perimeter for the evacuation. The Battle Sisters and Black Templars are the last to evacuate on Cawl's Arkship along with Greyfax and the Knights of House Taranis. The Cadian 8th, with Creed, are still holding the landing site. As they lift off, Greyfax swears she hears a voice bellow out over the winds - Cadia Stands!
The Imperial Fleet limps away from Cadia, Phalanx at the head and the Mechanicum ships holding the rear. Or the remains of Cadia anyway. It's being dragged into the warp... soon to become a Demon World? Time will tell. The Black Fleet harasses the evacuation fleet, but without much effort. Of the 850 million souls that stood on Cadia at the beginning of the attack, barely 2.5 million made it off the surface. Abaddon is content to let them survivors run and spread word of the defeat... until one of his Sorcerors reveals a vision. There is an artefact onboard Cawl's arkship. What is it? I'll quote this next part directly, because it seems pretty huge. Speculation please!
"[the Sorcerer] spoke a name. One Abaddon had put from his thoughts long ago. It seemed impossible, but such words had as much currency now as they had when Horus first set foot on Davin."
Whatever the name was, it spurs Abaddon on to capture Cawl's ship. The Evacuation fleet has just about made it to the edge of the system to jump into the Warp, when the Vengeful Spirit catches up. The Phalanx and the other Imperial Ships are too far into their jump countdown to abort and escape into the Warp. The Mechanicus ships, holding the rear, are not so lucky. Cawl tries to outrun the Chaos ships, using the rest of his ships as a sacrifice. The Vengeful Spirit burns straight through them. Celestine reveals a vision she has - head for the outer planet. Our Salvation is there. Greyfax is not at all keen on it, but has no other real choice. Cawl believes Celestine speaks as the voice of the Omnissiah so he's for it (and maybe he realises that's why that Harlequin sent to him to Cadia in the first place.... not to study the Pylons but to meet up with Celestine). Marshal Alamaric is also on board with whatever Celestine is up to.
They land on the planet, and begin a trek up its mountains with Cawl carrying the artefact on a Triaros Conveyor. Battle Sisters, Black Templars, House Taranis Knights, Greyfax's Militarum Tempestus bodyguard, Cawl, Greyfax and Marshal Amalrich are following Celestine as she leads them... somewhere. They initially manage to avoid the Black Legion forces searching for them, but soon run into patrols which eventually starts bringing masses of forces to them. Half of the Black Templars, led by the Crusade's Emperor's Champion, hold back in a sacrifice to buy them time. It doesn't seem like much, as the Black Legion hounds them up the mountains. But Celestine leads them on... right into an Eldar trap. For the Black Legion. Eldar forces burst out between the Imperials and the Black Legion, covering the Imperial Forces and laying waste to the Black Legion. It's too much - unprepared for fighting Eldar, the Black Legion fall back. Abaddon tries to push forward twice, and is twice beaten back by Eldar. Which Eldar forces do you ask? There's an "Ulthwe Strike Force, alongside Wyches of Commorragh, Warriors of Biel-Tan and a number of other craftworlds". Eldrad is there, as noticed by Cawl, who is surprised at all the disparate Eldar factions fighting together.
The Harlequin Shadowseer that Cawl had prior dealings with is there too. "What is this?" asks Cawl. "Into the light of a new dawn," the Shadowseer answers. Up ahead Cawl can see Celestine hovering above the opening of a Webway Portal, guiding the Imperials through. "The ending has passed.", says the Harlequin, "It is time for a new beginning. There is a parley to be struck, if you have the courage."
And thats it Except for this little edit I forgot about...
Creed stands alone on the ruined surface of Cadia, and watches as the last Mechanicum ship lifts off into the sky. Cadia was now little more than a graveyard. He felt his strength ebbing away, as his wounds finally caught up with him. The storm parts before him, but not a Demon stands before him. A metal giant in a scaled cloak. Creed's panicked shot goes wide as iridescent polygons flicker on the figures upraised palm, "Ursarkar E. Creed. This need not be your end. Eternity awaits." The giant's laughter follows Creed
Back with another plot summary, following on from my Fall of Cadia one. Enjoy! (obviously this spoils the plot of the book in great detail, so be warned!)
Previously, on the Gathering Storm...
Abaddon has launched the 13th Black Crusade in full, and Cadia has fallen; the heart of the Imperium lies open for the forces of Chaos. Belisarius Cawl, Archamagos Dominus of Mars, is in possession a super-important artefact that could mean the salvation of the Imperium. Cawl, Saint Celestine and Inquisitor Katarinya Greyfax of the Ordo Hereticus have managed to escape the Cadian System through the timely arrival of an Eldar strike-force on the planet Klaisus on the outer edges of the Cadian System. Celestine and Greyfax flirted outrageously with each other. Creed has been captured in Trazyn the Infinite's Pokeball. And most importantly, for the record, the planet broke before the Guard did! CADIA STANDS!
The Fracture of Biel-Tan
It's Fight Night in Commorragh! Isn't every night, fight night in Commorragh though? Well yes, but this is the big ticket title fight! In the red corner, LELITH HESPERAX, Queen of Knives and the People's Champion herself! She's going to be tough to beat, given she's currently undefeated and undisputed champion of the Crucibael. In the blue corner, our challenger for this evening, an upcoming gladiatrix who's risen to high fame under the patronage of Lady Malys herself, known to the craftworlders as YVRAINE, known to the Corsairs as AMHAROC, known to Commorragh as THE DAUGHTER OF SHADES. The Dark City is abuzz, crowd attendance is somewhere in the millions and even a Harlequin Troupe has come to be entertained and some bloke is probably streaming the fight on Facebook Live. First some warm-up fights though. Sslyth vs Donorian Clawed Fiends. Horrors of the Haemonculi vs Wych Cults vs a battered squad of Astartes vs Hellion free for all. The crowd is going wild. Then come the Tyranids - cross-bred strains of Hive Fleet Kraken and Leviathan are released by the Haemonculi into the arena as Lady Hesperax and Yvraine enter the fight. Asdrubael Vect watches with interest from his floating fortress high above Commorragh.
The fighting is fierce. Yvraine is up against a Hive Tyrant (flips over its head, kicks a knife off the ground into the back of its head, charges in underneath, carves out its underbelly. Killed). She quickly finds herself caught up in a melee with a Lichtor though, and Lelith uses that opportunity to get some hits in. The Lichtor gets eviscerated in the cross-fire, as Lelith comes in at Yvraine in a furious flurry of blows - who does this upstart think she is challenging Lelith to a duel? Yvraine is hard-pressed to simply defend herself, and quickly finds herself on the back foot but an unfortunate stumble by Yvraine sees Lelith's dagger in her gut. Satisfied with her victory, Lelith vaults off to find new prey while Yvraine is trying to stem the wound in her gut. However a Priestiess of Morag-Heg steps up for a duel, and Yvraine is quickly overwhelmed and loses her hand. Yvraine knows she's dead - she's loosing too much blood but manages to lock the Priestess up in a deathly choke-hold to at least take the Priestess out with her. They both shudder in their death spasms, falling to the ground....
... only for an all consuming brightness of a star to burst up from the ground and consume them both. Yvraine is screaming as she feels the awareness of a new dimension open up in her mind, casting away all concerns of her previous self. She sees Ynnead, shooting like a star from a distant crystal moon (*cough see Death Masque cough*) and laying the immensity of his gaze upon her. Her soul is layed bared to him, and she will forever see nothing but his glory. "Daughter," he whispers.
Explosions of energy shoot off from her body, as she's raised up in the air by invisible forces. The energy sweeps out into the arena, withering any Eldar it touches and turning them into husks. The Tyranids are largely unaffected though, and use the opportunity to start rampaging through the crowd. The Trueborn guards try to fight back, but they are mixed in attacking the 'Nids or the glowing body of Yvraine. All shots just seem to bounce off her though. Lelith zooms away into the night on a Reaver Jetbike, her smile like the
“glint of pearls in the gloom”.
Above the carnage, Vect is watching with growing anger... what the hell is going on? He sends his proxies to try to restore order. But something far worse is coming... Yvraine wakes from her apotheosis, and the ground shakes beneath her feet as she touches back down. Her hand restored, and even her blade transformed and radiating with power. Her Bloodbrides rally around her, as they quickly find themselves under attack by both Tyranids and Kabilites. Realising she's in the middle of a :cussstorm, Yvraine decides to get the hell out and they make for the exit of the arena killing as they go. But with each death of an Eldar around her, she starts to feel more and more power growing in her mind and body and eventually she can't hold it in and speaks words unbidden to her lips. The entire arena goes dark as every light is extinguished, and she's shocked to see dead eldar all around felled without a blow. Kabalite Guards cry out in alarm - psychic activity in the city is surely to draw the attention of Slaanesh! Kill her! More Incubi rush out to attack her, when a red armoured figure steps in to defend her. "Team up?" He offers, as he helps her cut down the Incubi. "No. Go Away. I don’t need help," she spits back but for some reason he seems really familiar... something about the styling of his armour and guard stance. He points to her sword, telling her it is called "Kha-vir" and that it is blessed by Ynnead, just as she is. "Ugh fine, you can tag along," she relents as they try to escape to the space-docks. She's got some mates there, from her Corsair days, and she might just be able to escape... because that 'far worse' thing that's coming?
Well, turns out that beneath Commorragh there is ancient sealed portal known as Khaine's Gate that has kept a flood of demons at bay. Only Yvraine's apotheosis had created a dysjunction of Empyrean energy that collapsed the gate, and let a flood of Demons into the Dark City. Vect had already prepared for an eventually like this though, and left the 'defence' of the gate to his rivals ensuring they are the first to die to the Demonic Invasion. His plan is to let other people bear the brunt of the invasion, while he can consolidate and come back in strength at a later date. Still, he's not particularly pleased at what Yvraine has wrought on his dominion. He commands Urien Rakarth to send his forces out to capture/kill her.
Anyway, Yvraine and her new buddy in red armour (he calls himself the Visarch) manage to escape into the webway along with some of their followers. They don't really know where they're going though, just away from Vect's forces. As she's travelling starts hearing voices in her head of some of the Eldar she killed in the arena. Wait a minute - she's somehow absorbed their souls! This meant she's kept them safe from Slaanesh! Could she be the salvation of all the Eldar? If only she wasn't hopelessly lost in the webway! Her Wych Cult are starting to get real antsy too, this deep in the webway and no 'food' to stave off their 'hunger'. They come across a portal, with strange music coming out of it which is creepy as censored.gif, but Yvraine's got no real choice - she goes through it. Only to run straight into a host of Demonettes, dancing and frolicking around as if at a grand ball with corpses of Kabalite Warriors! Creepy and Weird! They get ready to fight... but... the music is kind of relaxing... and the Demonettes are kinda nice to look at... And dancing at the centre of it all, the Masque of Slaanesh watches with glee as the Dark Eldar begin to drift off into slumber. The Masque is drawn forward to Yvraine, when SURPRISE HARLEQUIN AMBUSH! Harlequins of the Midnight Sorrow drop down from the 'roof' of the webway and start cutting through the Demonettes. This snaps Yvraine and her Dark Eldar group out of it, and they rally to fend off the Masque's ambush forcing the Masque to flee into the Empyrean. The Harlequins offer to guide Yvraine to a destination she knows well. Craftworld Biel-Tan.
You see, Yvraine was born on Biel-Tan. She walked the Path of the Performer first, dazzling with her displays of acrobatics. But then she felt the call of violence and went on the Path of the Warrior, but eventually not even the fiercest of battle could sate her spirit. So she tried the Path of the Warlock for a bit, but that wasn't quite right for her either. So she became an Outcast, rising up to become a famed Corsair admiral before a mutiny caused her to flee to the arenas of Commorragh. And here she is now, the Prodigal Daughter returning to Biel-Tan as a new force that could change the fate of Biel-Tan and the Eldar forever. Biel-Tan, as I’m sure you’re all aware, has violent and vengeful ambition to restore to the Eldar to its former glory. They think that the Exodite Eldar are the true hope of the Eldar, and will prosecute anything threatening one of their Maiden Worlds with extreme force hence their reputation as the most militant of the Craftworlders. Most other Craftworlds look on this as a delusional ideal though - the ability to restore the Maiden Worlds to the former glory of the Eldar Empire has long passed. But not everyone thinks that way, a certain Ulthwe High-Farseer and a troupe of Harlequins among them. Eldrad has forseen the coming of Ynnead's ascension in the form of Yvraine and the ambitions of Biel-Tan could be a perfect platform to make this happen and the Harlequins of the Midnight Sorrow have already worded up Biel-Tan about an arrival of a ominous nature. The Biel-Tan Autarch Melineil consults with his sister, Farseer Lathriel - in her divinations she sees a fork in the road. One path leads to Rhana Dandra (the end of days) and the other leads to darkness with the sound of a mourning bell ringing. Could the prophecies of the Seventh Way (the one where the Eldar don't have to all die for Ynnead to awaken) be true? One other small problem though, unknown to the Eldar - The Masque of Slaanesh is kinda keen on getting inside Biel-Tan and feasting on their tasty souls, especially because she senses Yvraine will end up there. And she's got a plan.
There's a backdoor into Biel-Tan, from a Maiden World called Ursulia. It's sealed and all that, but the Masque reckons she knows how to crack it. A sudden Warp Storm has popped up over Usulia, wreaking havoc through the Exodites living there. Also, the massive Demonic Invasion that the Masque organised, made up of a grand promenade of Slaanesh demons... and a grand battalion of Khorne Demons. Wait what? Khorne and Slaanesh, like really, really hate each other! Lucky for the Masque though, she rolled really well on her Charisma at character generation and has like a Persuasion check of +30. The wards on the portal from Ursulia to Biel-Tan are too strong for her to break, but can they stop SKARBRAND?!?! Let's find out. She goes to talk to Skarbard with an offer of alliance, but Skarbrand aint interested in anything but Slaughter and Carnage. He goes to chop her into little pieces, but also lucky for the Masque she also rolled really high on Dexterity and has an AC of like 30 too. Eventually Skarbrand gets bored that she's not being dead, and she starts spinning a story of how they're not all that different from each other, both being exiled from their God and all that, and maybe they could have a friendly wager on who can kill the most Eldar on some random Maiden World. Natural 20 rolled on the Persuasion check it seems, because Skarbrand's ire is raised just enough to get him to agree to the wager (as if he's gonna let a puny Slannesh girl beat him!), but not enough that he flies into a rage and kills her on the spot. So off to Usulia they go, and the killing begins.
Biel-Tan aren't about to let one of their precious Maiden Worlds go down, so they launch a counter-assault with Autarch Melinial leading it personally. The battle rages back and forth, massed demon charges vs lightning strikes of Eldar. The Masque and Skarbrard are up near the portal – the Masque’s plan is to lure the Eldar up to the portal and set Skarbrand loose and in his rage he’ll destroy the wards on the portal. What could go wrong? Well the Eldar don't take the bait initially, and Skarbrand is in danger of being lured away himself. Not good! So the Masque jumps up on the Portal in full view of the battle and starts guzzling spirit stones off some Warlocks she's killed like they're oysters. Melinial is infuriated by the Masque's brazen feasting of Eldar souls, and directs all his forces towards where the Masque and Skarbrand are at the portal. The Eldar unleash a devastating amount of firepower, mainly at Skarbrand since he's a huge censored.gif-off Bloodthirster after all, and manage to kill almost everything around him (except for the Masque) whilst also putting a fair bit of hurt on him. Skarbrand gets extraordinarily pissed that he's gonna die before he can even get to do anything, and looks around for something to smash... and the only thing he can see nearby is The Masque dancing on top of the portal. So he directs a big SKARBRAND SMASH! at her... but she jumps out of the way, and he cleaves through the wards on the portal instead. Meliniel watches in horror as the Masque and a whole swathe of Slaanesh demons dissapear into the Webway, enroute to Biel-Tan. Unfortunately Skarbrand is blocking his way, preventing him from pursuing. Skarbrand eventually realises The Masque has bailed on him through the portal, and he gets really angry (they had a wager!!!) so he jumps through the portal too. Demons are swarming through the portal now, and Melinel is forced to destroy the portal to stop even more getting through to Biel-Tan (though obviously cutting himself off from reinforcing). He sends a psychic warning off to his sister to ready the defences.
Lathriel has the defences organised - all ways into Biel-Tan are sealed off except for the main portal at the back of the Craftworld, which is put under heavy guard to destroy it if necessary. Drastic steps, but better than letting the Craftworld get overrun. The defenders wait - everything looks clear so far - and a scout ship returns from monitoring the advance of the Demons through the webway. No-one notices The Masque clinging to the bottom... ah the old classics. She slips off into the Craftworld, hypnotising anyone who crosses her path which allows Demonettes to possess their bodies. Back at the main gate, the bulk of the Demon forces have arrived led by Skarbrand. He bursts through the portal, carving through the Eldar defences... but the Avatar of Khaine has been roused and they slam into close combat. Farseer Lathriel rushes forward to seal the portal before more demons get through, and when she turns around both Skarbrand and the Avatar have obliterated each other. Meanwhile The Masque has set herself up in the Avatar's (empty) throne, and is summoning more and more Demonettes and preparing a ritual. Some Howling Banshees come across her, but quickly fall under The Masque's hypnotic spell and then Jain Zar shows up. The Masque tries to hypnotise her, to no avail, and Jain Zar impales the Masque upon the Avatar's Throne... but not before the Masque is able to dig her rune-inscribed claws into the Wraithbone surrounding the throne and breaches the Infinity Circuit. Oh censored.gif. The Masque and her Handmaidens are transported inside the Infinity Circuit, bypassing all its defences. Biel-Tan is being destroyed from the inside.
With all routes into the Craftworld now sealed off, Jain Zar leads the counter-attack against the remaining Demons. Yvraine and her group of Dark Eldar and Harlequin guide had managed to get through the Webway Portal just before it was sealed. They're not exactly greeted with open arms by the Biel-Tan warriors - a group of Commarragh warriors right on the heels of a demonic invasion? Sounds suss. But Yvraine helps fight off a huge group of Demonettes that rush in, and a cautious parley is struck. The rest of demons (well the ones physically running around anyway) are mopped up and a War Council is quickly convened, as the very wraithbone structure of the craftworld beings to grey and wither and die around them from the demons still inside the infinity circuit. What the hell can they do? The Spiritseers are frantically running around, transferring souls into Wraith Constructs before they are destroyed in the Infinity Circuit, but even then that will be all for naught if the Craftworld just falls apart around them. Yvraine tries to speak up, but she is shouted down. She abandoned them before, and has now brought Dark Eldar here - why should the listen to her? But Lathriel speaks up for her - maybe Yvraine is the Opener of the Seventh Way? That gets the Autarchs attention, as it’s the first bit of hope they're able to hold onto. Jain Zar also steps up to bat for Yvraine. So Yvraine speaks.
Yvraine tells the Biel-Tan she is the emissary of a new deity, that Ynnead is awakening. She tells them that the Seventh Path is indeed real; that Ynnead can be fully awakened without all the Eldar dying. She tells them that his sentience can be focussed from 5 enchanted bones, each a finger from Morai-Heg's severed hand. Vaul fashioned these bones into blades, and together they can awaken a god. She raises her blade Kha-vir, one of the Crone Swords, to prove her point. There is another Crone Sword aboard Biel-Tan, Asu-var, and she intends to claim it but in doing so the Craftworld’s fate will be sealed. This doesn’t go down too well amongst the Biel-Tani and some step forward to try to stop Yvraine. Jain Zar and the Visarch both step in to defend her, as Yvraine reaches into the Wraithbone structure as if it were a pool of water and draws forth a Greatblade. This sends cataclysmic shockwaves through the Craftworld, shattering spires and wreaking havoc, millions of souls in the Infinity Circuit being destroyed. “Arise!” shouts Yvraine, as a terrible form of ‘twisted bone and shimmering souls’ bursts forth from the wraithbone. Yncarne, the Avatar of Ynnead, had arisen.
The shockwave of the Yncarne’s creation was a violent process. The warp roiled and buckled, a hundred new rifts opening up. Whole sections of the Craftworld split apart, revealing the skeletal framework of the craftworld. One good thing though, the Demons running loose in the Infinity Circuit were utterly annihilated. Some Biel-Tani saw Yvraine as a threat, some trickery of Slaanesh come to destroy their home and attacked, but Yvraine had given the Visarch the sword she’d just pulled – Asu-var – and none stood long against him. The Farseer’s managed to calm things down, and direct all efforts into saving as many souls from the infinity circuits as possible. Curiously, Yvraine and her followers were able to do this too, despite not being Spiritseers. Accusing them of soul theft, some Biel-Tani attempted to stop them but where in turn stopped by Harlequins. “They are the Ynnari,” the Harlequins would say, “Reborn of Ynnead. Your long-dead ancestors go with them willingly.”
With the immediate threat of the Demon invasion over, the Bonesingers set to work to try and repair the Craftworld. It would take centuries of work though, and currently the Craftworld was effectively dead in the water, surrounded by Warp Rifts and all access into the Webway sealed off. Yvraine was uncertain – how where they going to get out of this one? The answer would come from Ulthwe. Ynneads awakening in the form of his Avatar had sent psychic ripples across the galaxy. The Seers of Ulthwe saw what had happened in Biel-Tan most clearly, and Eldrad demanded that the Yvraine and her Reborn be brought to Ulthwe asap. How? Use the psychic energy of the crystal seers on Ulthwe to form a channel directly through the warp from Biel-Tan to Ulthwe. Alot of the Seers were uneasy about this – to break the ancient revered seers from the infinity circuit to be used as mere tools in a ritual? Sacrilege! But Eldrad pressed on with his gamble – a single mistake could suck the entire craftworld into the warp – but they succeeded and a stable and calm passage was opened. The Reborn on Biel-Tan stepped through, led by the Yncarne, and the translocation of the Reborn through the warp sent yet more shockwaves through the warp, ripping open Gellar Fields of Imperial Ships hundreds of light years away, and even distorting the light of the Astronomican. Thousands of human lives were lost, but the Eldar would gladly pay a million more.
The force that stepped onto Ulthwe was a determined one. Led by the Yncarne, its’ ethereal energies swirling about it, larger and more fearsome than any Eldar warrior save perhaps the Avatar of Khaine. Then Yvraine, the Visarch and the rest of Yvraine’s followers, now bolstered by forces from Biel-Tan. To the Biel-Tani, the hope of Ynneads awakening meant a new path, one that didn’t mean skulking in the darkness to avoid the attention of She Who Thirsts. They could now take the fight back to the Great Enemy. Yvraine tells the Ulthwe Seers of the awakening of the Ynnead, and the Seventh Way. She needs to find the Croneswords, two of which are on the Croneworld Belial IV, deep in the eye of terror.
The Seers of Ulthwe are not too keen though. The cost of opening the channel through the warp had been costly, several new crystal statues had formed from Farseers who had been killed in the ritual. Eldrad had gambled big, again, and the Ulthwe Seers were sick his meddling in affairs of the gods. Exile they judge upon him and, if he meddles in the affair of the Eldar race again, Death. Yvraine spoke up for him, saying that they all need to work together to see this chance of salvation for the Eldar through. But the Ulthwe’ Seers are unconvinced, and believe that these new Ynnari will disrupt the very fabric of Eldar society that has kept them together for so long. Things dissolve into shouting matches, when word of new arrivals come. Warriors from Craftworld Altansar have arrived.
Craftworld Altansar had long been lost inside the Eye of Terror, and only recently had the Phoenix Lord Maugan Ra found it, and guided it to safety. But the people of Altansar are viewed with distrust, suspicions of them being tainted by Slaanesh the driving force behind the distrust. The Altansar contingent is led by a Warlock named Guentilian Onyxblade, who is accompanied by one of the rare Gyrinx familiars. She has had heard of the rising of Yvraine, and her quest to recover the Crone Swords and she urges Ulthwe to follow. However, the Altansar cannot return to the horrors of the eye so Guentilian offers Yvraine her soul instead. She raises her sword, and slits her own throat. Yvraine rushes forward to grab her, and breathes in Guentilian’s soul. The gyrinx starts rubbing up on Yvraine’s leg, recognising where its former owner has gone. “We must go to Belial IV now,” says Yvraine and starts to march towards the Webway Portal. The Seers of Ulthwe throw up psychic barriers to try and stop them, and hostilities are about to break out once again until Harlequins of the Midnight Sorrow intervene, accompanied by Kysaduras the Anchorite, wisest of all Seers. “The Ynnari must leave,” he says and the other seers listen, “or else yet another Craftworld will die, never to be reborn”. The Seers let the Ynarri leave for Belial IV – bolstered not only by the Biel-Tan but by some Altansari, Harlequins from the Midnight Sorrow and a swathe of Ulthwe sympathisers.
The Reborn make their way to Belial IV, deep in the Eye of Terror, and being their search for the two missing Crone Swords. Vect, still reeling from his retreat from Commorogh has heard word of this expedition and set Haemonculi to try and kill Yvraine, lest she infect the fabric of Eldar society even more. The Reborn come under attack from Ur-Ghuls, Pain Engines and other monstrosities. The senior Haemonculi starts to capture the Visarch with a box full of djinn-spirits, when the Yncarne steps in and straight up disintegrates the Haemonculi. And not just his physical body – all the samples the Haemonculi used to regenerate himself, kept locked away in the deepest recesses of Commorragh, also turn to dust. The rest of the Haemonculi don’t want anything to do with that, so they retreat. Then the Slaanesh demons arrive.
The Ynnari are bolstered by their belief in Ynnead, but even still they feel the terror of the Ancient Doom of She Who Thirsts. Yvraine can sense one of the swords nearby, but she’s unable to properly search for it as the Slaanesh Demons herd them back towards a giant, writhing pit. Out of the pit comes a giant tounge, with 3 Keeper of Secrets riding it. The Yncarne rushes the middle one, ripping it apart, but the other two Greater Demons drag the Yncarne down into the and start curb-stomping him. Yvraine looks around in anguish as her forces are getting overrun, and notices all the Harlequins flipping around in battle almost reprising their ritualistic performances as if they were telling the tale of The Fall. Yvraine remembers back to her days as a Performer and realises that this basically is a dance of the Final Act, and she knows the dances steps. Emboldened with her new/re-learned acrobatic moves, she vaults around the battlefield until she finds the energy of the sword underneath the ground. Pressing down into the ground, she pulls out a burst of energy – the Yncarne re-formed and holding Vilith-zhar – the largest and most powerful of the Crone Swords. Reinvigorated, the Yncarne cuts a swathe through the horde of demons, and opens a path of retreat for the Ynnari.
With the Yncarne back in the game, the Ynnari are able to break out of the killing fields and fall back to a more a defensible location. They hole up inside the giant Memorial Hall of Atransis, holding the choke points easily. But Yvraine has found only one of the two swords on Belial IV, and they’re effectively trapped inside the Hall. That’s when two huge structures at the back of the hall being to open up, revealing a glowing portal. Stepping out from it is a massive Wraithknight, blue and yellow heraldry emblazoned upon it. Two more Wraithknights follow, as well as a host of smaller Wraith Constructs. Leading the Wraiths is Iyanna Arienal, the Angel of Iyanden. The Iyanden Wraiths cover the Ynnari forces, as Iyanna beckons them through the portal. Whilst they’re still missing one of the crone swords, to stay is to die so the Reborn dash through to the Webway and eventually to Craftworld Iyanden. Iyanna recognises a kindred spirit of sorts in Yvraine. Iyanna believes in Ynnead, but matters of the dead are a touchy subject in Iyanden. “I’ve got your back Sis, but others might not be so friendly,” she warns Yvraine as they enter the Craftworld. There’s one other small problem facing Iyanden at the moment – it’s under attack by two Space Hulks swarming with Demons of Nurgle.
With the defense of the Craftworld in full swing, the Ynnari party are greeted with crossed arms by the Iyanden defenders who basically force them into a house arrest until they can properly deal with them. Yvraine is kinda mad about this, but she forces herself to cool down to avoid hostilities. She instead reaches out with her Pyschic powers to her old Corsair buddies from Commoragh. Hearing her call, they come to the aid of Iyanden, unleashing an unexpected and devastating salvo on one of Space Hulks, destroying it.
Prince Yriel is leading the Iyanden defence, with his Corsairs. They are fighting furiously, and with exceptional skill, but the remaining Space Hulk is proving super-resilient – it is a Nurgle Hulk after all. Yriel realises that they need to launch a strike force to destroy it from the inside, however any conventional assault would be suicide. He comes up with a bold plan. He shuttles himself and his captains over to Iyanden, and convinces the pilots of the Craftworld to follow a specific course of co-ordinates in order to dictate the movement of the enemy Space Hulk. He then takes his group of corsair captains through the portal into the Webway. Using some ancient maps of the Webway near Iyanden, and a perfect sense of timing, Yriel gathers his captains into the right spot at the right time... and activates their personal Webway Teleporters to step right into the heart of the Space Hulk. Not as cool as a Teleportarium Assault by Terminator Assault Marines, but still pretty cool none-the-less.
The inside of the space hulk is utterly infected by the filth of Nurgle, and its only the Corsair Captains air-tight armour that stops them falling dead from a single breath of toxin. Resistance is light, only the occasional Nurgling, as the Corsairs had bypassed all the defences. They make their way to the Enginarium where they find the massively bloated Demon Prince Gara’gugul’gor (“whose name can only be pronounced correctly with a throat full of phlegm”). While he has super-dextrous tentactles to attack with, he’s so fat he can barely move. But lucky for him, his prey came right for him. The Corsairs are able to dodge his attacks at first, but the fighting attracts more and more Nurgle demons and the Corsair Captains are soon hard-pressed. Yriel goes all out – the Spear of Twilight destroying everything it touches – when the Demon Prince sprays a stream of vomit at him. Yriel is able to duck out of the way – but ducks straight into one of Nurgle Prince’s tentacles. Instantly, he’s wrapped up in the tentacle and drawn in to be devoured by the Demon but he uses his ocular implant – the Eye of Twilight – to burn himself free. Close enough now to strike, he brings the Spear of Twilight down... but not on the demon. Instead he strikes into the heart of the enginarium itself. The dark energies of the Spear leach through the machinery of the Space Hulk, turning it into rust and shutting down the engines. The Space Hulk is left unable to maneouver, thus ending its threat to Iyanden. Yriel smiles momentarily in victory – until Gara’gugul’gor grabs a massive girder and smashes Yriel dead with a massive blow. The Demon Prince mops up the rest of the Corsairs, but looks around in concern. He’s gonna lose his standing with Grandfather Nurgle over his failure to destroy Iyanden, but as he looks at the corpse of Yriel he starts chuckling. Maybe there is a way to salvage this mess...
Iyanden has escaped the threat of the Nurgle forces, but at a high cost. Prince Yriel’s frozen body is found floating through space, and is retrieved with great sadness. What must Iyanden do to escape this seeming curse that haunts it’s every move? Yriel’s body is put into quarantine – the Eldar are no stranger to Nurgle’s “gifts” – and their caution is proved prudent when Yriels body explodes into contagion when examined by some Wraith constructs. Yvraine, since freed from the house arrest and given thanks for calling in the Corsair aid, hears of this and makes her way to the quarantine area. Holding her Crone Sword high, she channels the necromantic powers granted to her by Ynnead into waves of lethal energy that kill off all the spores of Nurgle released into the chamber. She then enters the chamber, and grabs the Spear of Twilight. Iyanna waves off the Wraiths that try to stop her, Yvraine gives Iyanna a curtsey (IS THIS A NEW ‘SHIP?!?!) and plunges the Spear into Yriel’s chest. Yriel bolts upgright, the life energies the Spear had stolen from him over the years returned, as the Spear itself transforms shape and reveals its true form – the 4th Crone Sword. Prince Yriel had been Reborn.
A council is convened of the assembled Eldar forces. “We must act now, to change the fate of the galaxy,” Eldrad says. “But the Great Enemy is ascendant. We cannot prevail alone”.
“Who can help us?” asks Sylandri Veilwaker. “The Tau are still too young, the Orks too unpredictable and the Tyranids out of the question. Humans are too easily corrupted – they are making the same mistakes we did, that led to our Fall.”
“They have faith,” says another Farseer, “and with Faith they have power”.
“The time of their corpse-god is over,” says Wraithknight Soulseeker. Yvraine, with Iyanna at her side, speaks up then. “No, they must have a new leader,” she says. “If we can raise a new hero that reminds them of the glory of their past, they will follow him just as we cling to our myths.”
“She is right,” says Eldrad, “and I have already forseen of a leader the Humans will follow like sheep. We must go to the moon of Klasius and meet our shared destiny”.
“We shall give the humans a demi-god,” says Yriel, his chill voice sounding as if it comes from the grave, “A king reborn, with a deathly blade. And the hosts of Iyanden shall go with us.”
A brief interlude to catch up on Commoragh before we get to the last part of the narrative – the demonic invasion of Dark City has wrecked havoc. With Vect abandoning the city, there is no co-ordinated response and many rival Dark Eldar end up fighting each other as much as the demon invaders. Amongst the unchecked violence spilling through the streets, Kheradruakh completes a kill and claims his last perfect skull he needs. Conducting a ritual amongst the gaze of a thousand skulls in his lair, he opens a gateway to the midnight dimension of the Mandrakes. Overnight, his lair becomes the new kingdom of the Decapitator, long-lost monarch of the Mandrakes. His shadow army combines its strength with the hordes of the Haemonculi covens and the Demonic incursion begins to lose momentum in the face of this adversary. Vect, who’s retreated to consolidate power in outlying outposts, is facing alot of pressure from his own court over the nature of the invasion. Lady Malys in particular is doing everything she can to undermine his power. Vect is sparing no expense to try and find Yvraine, who started all this madness in the first place, in order to claim back his authority. Rakarth on the other hand is simultaneously horrified and intrigued by the prospect of Ynnead. A duel edged sword of immortality that can also mean inescapable death...
Back aboard Iyanden, preparations to depart for Klasius are in full swing. Entire ghost halls are brought to full wake as the dead Eldar souls rejoice at the chance to change the future of their race. These newly Reborn Wraiths show far more awareness and responsiveness to the world around them, as if the awakening power of Ynnead is giving them new powers. Some of the Iyandeni are concerned that the craftworld’s defences will be crippled with the majority of its forces leaving, but the Wraiths won’t listen. They want to fight for Yvraine and Ynnead. They are Reborn. They set out into the Webway for the long journey to Klasius, in the Cadian System.
The Webway is a dangerous place in of itself, not to mention the forces that lurk inside it. Ahriman Ahzek has heard of this new awakening of Ynnead, a god that can reverse the effects of life and death. This is of great interest to Ahriman, and his millennia long search for a way to reverse the effects of his Rubric. The presence of Baleful Eyes go unnoticed as they watch the Ynnari host venture through the Webway...
Ahirman springs his ambush. Scarab Occult terminators rip combi-bolter, rotary cannon and hellfyre rockets into the Ynnari from crystal bridge, while return fire bounces harmlessly off their armour. Wraiths charges in, devastating the ranks of Terminators before the bridge collapse and sends them all tumbling into the void. On another flank, Pink Horrors and Lords of Change are dousing the Ynnari forces with mutagenic fire. Where ever the flames touch, insanity is left behind. Howling Banshees suddenly de-age, left as infants looking at their swords in fascination. Swooping Hawks transform into a scintillating rain of scaled serpents. Dire Avengers find their shuriken projectiles reversing course back into them as a swarm of starving piranhas. The Horrors are laughing with unchecked glee. But then the Phoenix Lords arrive, led not by Asurmen but by Jain Zar. She has taken Ynnead into herself, and been Reborn. Jain Zar, Baharroth, Fuegan, Asurmen, Maugan Ra and Karandras sweep through the Tzeentch Demons, completely outclassing them and send them packing.
In another part of the battle, the sorcerers of the Thousand Sons are laying waste to the Eldar and its only the presence of Eldrad that holds them in check. Kysaduras meets his end at the psychic power of Ahriman, turned into a crude wooden statue stuck eternally in a cry of anguish. The Harlequins manage to push into Ahriman’s forces, but Ahriman points his staff and turns them into dust. Yvraine, the Visarch and the Yncarne rush in, but Ahriman lifts his hands and suddenly the Eldar Triumvirate find themselves adrift - on the outside of the webway! Yvraine can feel eyes on her back and knows that if she turns she will meet the gaze of the Changer of Ways and learn the meaning of madness. The Visarch and the Yncarne are desperately trying to cut through the wall of the webway, to no avail. Yvraine looks down through the wall of the webway instead and sees Ahriman. A sudden flash of insight strikes her and she shouts out, “Ahriman! I have the power you seek! I can restore your brothers!”.
“Why should I believe you?” he replies. Yvraine reaches out with her power, and focuses on the Rubric Marines that accompany Ahriman and ‘reverses the cycle of their existence’. The marines of the XVth Legion suddenly stagger backwards, before rallying around Ahriman with the discipline of the Legiones Astartes. “Ahzek, is that you brother?” they call out, “What in the name of Magnus is going on? Why are we fighting Eldar?” Ahriman is stunned, shaking uncontrollably with emotion. He reaches out and pulls the Eldar Triumvirate back into the Webway. “Now!” Yvraine signals to her companions, as a Wraithknight smashes a hole in the webway and the Yncarne sucks all the newly resurrected Legionaries out into the void. Ahriman screams in denial, chasing off after them on his disc. “The Whispering God gives new life,” Yvraine says watching the Thousand Son forces get overrun, “Just as he takes life away”.
The Thousand Sons are mopped up, but fighting has taken a heavy toll on the Ynnari. Fully a half of their force has been lost, but the Eldar that died have their spirit stones secured. They will live on amongst the surviving Ynnari. The Yncarne and the Phoenix Lords have disappeared though, no sign of them save for a tunnel packed full of discorporating demons. The Ynnari press on, guided by the Harlequins following the laughter of Cegorach. The Laughing God had been impressed by Yvraine’s gambit against Ahriman, and was lending his aide. He’s taken up by the idea of a brother awakening. Khaine is a bit of a bore after all. Some of the Ynnari even begin talking of a small pantheon again – Khaine, Ynnead and Cegorach. Some even muse on an equivalent female trinity – perhaps Iyanna Arienal as the maiden, Yvraine as the mother and Lady Hesperax as the crone? Hmmm...
The reach their destination, the portal gate to Klasius, where a contingent of Imperial unknowingly approach their destiny. Meeting the Ynarri there first though are a contingent of Wyches from the Cult of Strife. Lelith Hesperax has heard from her Harlequin contacts of the Ynnari’s quest, and she’s sent help. If her Wyches report back that the Ynarri are the real deal, then Lelith too will join the ranks of the Reborn. Yvraine is pretty sure Lelith’s motives mainly selfish – immortality and all that – but welcomes them with open arms anyway. Yvraine opens the portal to the ice moon, and they step through... right into the last stand of Saint Celestine, Belisarius Cawl, Inquistor Greyfax and their allies against the dread Black Legion. The surprise arrival of the Ynnari is too much for Abaddon and he’s forced to retreat. The Imperial and the Eldar retreat to safety as well, and a tense stand-off occurs. The Imperials are nervously fingering their weapons as Celestine walks forward. Autarch Melinel of Biel-Tan steps forward as well. Greyfax’s hand goes for her power sword, the Visarch mirroring her and suddenly boltguns and arc rifles and shurikens are drawn and pointed. Melinel knows the humans distrust the Farseers as manipulators and liars, and they view the Dark Eldar as evil incarnate. But perhaps they’ll listen to a Warrior like himself. He entreats them to listen to his words, and bows before Celestine. A moment passes before Celestine strides forward, very deliberately sheathing the Ardent Blade. The air is still tense, but guns are lowered slightly as Greyfax steps forward into the negotiations. The Black Templars look amongst each other, almost daring another to be the first to step forward into action. But the parley holds.
The Eldar offer an alliance against the Ruinous Powers. Celestine has an idea of where they need to go, and how important it is that they deliver the cargo that Cawl is carrying. The Eldar are the only ones that can get them there, through the Webway. Greyfax is less trusting – they are still lying, manipulative Eldar after all! – but even she agrees that they can always kill them later if necessary, after the mission is completed. Marshal Almaric eventually gets onboard, though he’s still vigilant for the slightest sign of trickery from the Eldar, and orders his Battle Brothers to stand down. History is made as the Eldar and Humans come ‘as close to an understanding as their races had ever attained’. So the two forces – Imperial and Eldar – join as one, and begin the next stage of the journey.
Their Destination? The Realm of Ultramar. Macragge.
Previously, on the Gathering Storm... Cadia Falls as the 13th Black Crusade launches in full. Ynnead, Eldar God of the Dead, awakes in the ruins of Biel-Tan, and his Emmsiary, Yvraine, gathers a host of various Eldar together to form the Ynnarri. Archmagos Belisarius Cawl has an ancient pact to keep with the Lord of Ultramar (as well as a super-secret package to deliver) and must get to Macragge. Inquisitor Katarinya Greyfax can’t stop thinking about Saint Celestine…
Part One – Ultramar Defiant
High in the mountains of Laphis (Shrine World, Macragge System), Black Legionaries prowl the aftermath of a bloody battle against some Ultramar Defense Auxilia. War has come to Realm of Ultramar. Not all is quiet though – the Chaos Marines have detected a build-up of aetheric energy but before they can make sense of it, a massive blast of energy hurls them about. A Webway Gate reveals itself and Ynnari and Celestinian forces burst forth, quickly cutting down the surprised Black Legion marines. Despite their alliance, the Eldar and Imperial forces remain uneasy of each other, Marshal Amalrich and Inquisitor Greyfax most of all. Saint Celestine smooths things over as debate over their next move gets a bit twitchy and it becomes apparent they will need the assistance of the Ultramarines to get to Macragge itself.
Vox intercepts have picked up indicate a massive Chaos invasion – reports of Black Legion, Alpha Legion, Iron Warriors, Emperor’s Children and more are heard. The Eldar/Imperial force sets off towards a nearby Ultramarine fortress, only to see it come under assault from Heldrake hunting packs. The Knights of House Taranis shoot them down and, recognising the authority of both an Inquisitor and the Living Saint herself, the Ultramarine defenders let them in. Celestine explains their mission – Cawl must be given an audience with the Lord of Ultramar, and smiles expectantly as a flight of Stormravens arrive. They were meant to be the air-support for the fortress, but now they’ll take the Ynnari and Celestinian ‘pilgrims’ to a waiting Strike Cruiser. But Not everyone though – of the Eldar only Yvraine and the Visarch will go to Macragge, with the rest of the Ynnari heading back into the Webway to spread word of Ynnead. The bulk of the Battle Sisters, as well as the House Taranis Knights, stay behind on Laphis to help its defence too.
The Ultramarines are cautious. The travellers are kept under guard as the Strike Cruiser makes the journey to Macragge and a meeting with Marneus Calgar, Lord of Ultramar. Amalrich and the Eldar aren’t too keen on being essentially locked up with nothing and The Visarch eventually takes to sparring abit with the Black Templar Marshal. Cawl purges Greyfax of the mindshackle scarabs that Trazyn had used to keep her captive and she endures the agonising process by keeping a close eye on Celestine. She was beginning to see that Celestine’s “divinity” was the real deal, that the light of her faith shines righteous. But Greyfax is still an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor – she is well aware of tricks and 'miracles' of foul nature. While she hopes Celestine is indeed uncorrupted, she is alert of the slightest hint of duplicity. Meanwhile, Yvraine and Cawl have a lengthy and circumspect conversation about upcoming events…
The Strike Cruiser reaches Macragge, only to find itself amidst a pitched space battle between the Ultramar Defence Fleet and the attacking Chaos Fleet. Macragge is under a full scale Chaos Invasion. Braving the firepower of ships from the Black Legion, Iron Warriors, the Purge and the Night Lords, the Ynnari and the Celestinians ride Stormravens down to the planet. Marneus Calgar has been informed of their arrival, along with their urgent request to meet with the Lord of Ultramar, and he awaits with interest. The battle rages around the Fortress of Hera, as the Ultramarines escort them to the strategium. Waiting them there are Chapter Master Calgar, First Captain Agemman, Chief Librarian Tigurius and Grand Master Voldus of the Grey Knight 3rd Brotherhood. Amalrich, Greyfax and Celestine bow before Calgar while the Eldar and Cawl stand impassively. Calgar reveals that he has no knowledge of who Cawl is and that he certainly hasn’t made any pact with an Archmagos. The Celestinians, bar Celestine herself who suddenly realises what’s going on, turn to Cawl in shock as he says he has no business with Calgar. He’s come to see the real Lord of Ultramar - Roboute Guilliman himself.
This raises an immediate outcry amongst the Ultramarines and weapons are raised in warning, as Cawl speaks basically of sacrilege. Celestine tries to explain - “would it help if I said we’re on a mission from God?” – but finds muzzles aimed her way too. Yvraine and the Visarch ready themselves for battle, but Chief Librarian Tigurius speaks up for Cawl. He has been having ominous visions of troubling times, visions that had helped prepare Macragge for defence against the Chaos Invasion, and he believes that these travellers have an important role to play. Calgar, who is still overseeing the defence of Macragge in the background as the standoff/discussion takes place, makes his decision: they will be allowed to enter the Shrine of Guilliman, but under heavy Ultramarine guard. Greyfax shared a glance with Amalrich – the Ultramarines would not be the only ones to exact swift vengeance if Cawl or the Ynnari stepped out of line with any more unexpected revelations.
Agemman stays behind to oversee the defences, while Calgar, Tigurius, Voldus, a smattering of 1st and 3rd Company Battle-Brothers and Honour Guard escort the Cawl and his compatriots to the Shrine. Guilliman lies before them, on a Throne of marble, gold and adamantium surrounded by the workings of his stasis field, the wounds on his armour from his final duel with Fulgrim still visible. Pausing to bow respect before the Primarch, Calgar again demands Cawl to tell him what his purpose is. Cawl explains that 10 millennia ago, before Guilliman was mortally wounded, the Primarch came to him and charged him with two great labours and that he was here to deliver on the first of those promises. Cawl had brought with him a new suit of armour fit for the Primarch, one that’s life-support systems could heal his wounds. The Ultramarines are stunned into silence – their Primarch, living and breathing again… could it be possible? Yvraine speaks up, explaining that the power she wields as the Emissary of Ynnead will be key to restoring Guilliman. But such power is not wielded without sacrifice – for Guilliman to live again, he must first die. This raises the immediate ire of the Ultramarines again, Calgar declaring that no witch will ever lay hands on the Primarch. Voldus, Greyfax and Marshal Amalrich stand with Calgar. Tigurius moves to stand with Cawl and the Ynnari. Celestine implores everyone to have faith; that this is the will of the Emperor. Weapons are raised yet again, and tensions are about to boil over…
Calgar receives a priority vox, and he’s barely able to shout a warning as an Ultramarine Thunderhawk comes crashing down in the cavernous shrine. Spilling out from its holds come a host of Chaos Raptors, wearing the colours of the Black Legion. They fan out quickly, attaching spiked icons to the floor. Teleportation flares thunder out, and Black Legion Terminators warp in and start laying fire into the Ultramarines. Calgar is aghast – Chaos, in the Primarch’s Shrine??? It’s more likely than you think! Forced to put aside his distrust of Cawl and the Ynnari for the moment, he charges into the Chaos forces - Celestine, Amalrich and Voldus with him - as pitched battle breaks out. Greyfax meanwhile copped a glancing hit in the opening salvo that knocked the wind out of her, and she’s forced to take cover. While she’s hanging back, she’s assessing the battlefield and can’t help but notice Celestine cutting a swathe through the Chaos marines – she may not fully trust the Saint, but she could not fault the woman’s selflessness or skill. Eyes on the prize Katarinya…
Greyfax’s psyocculum starts picking up on weird readings. Following the psyocculum’s needle, she notices Cawl, Tigurius and the Ynnari standing next to Guilliman’s stasis-pod. She watches as Tigurius blasts some charging Bezerkers and the realises that the weird readings she’s getting are of the psyocculum picking up a life energy transfer from the dead Bezerkers to Yvraine. She’s tries to dash out of cover, intending to go stop whatever unholy ritual is about to be performed, but she’s pinned in place by autocannon fire. Calgar notices the commotion too, and watches in horror as Yvraine raises her sword above Guilliman. He shouts a command to Tigurius, ordering him to stop the xenos witch, but Tigurius shakes his head in response as Yvraine cuts through the power cables sustaining the stasis field. The auto-reliquary that Cawl had been transporting then unfurls, and engulfs Guilliman.
The Black Legion forces, as if sensing the immensity of what’s about to happen, redouble their attacks and start to push the Ultramarine defenders back. A Chaos Sorcerer uses the new Heretic Astartes Geomortis Psychic Powers (pick up your datacards today kids!) to try and collapse the very foundations of the shrine itself – Tigurius desperately trying to make his Deny the Witch roll to prevent it – as Grey Knight Paladins teleport in shore up the defence. The battle hangs in the balance…. But a new wave of Dreadclaws smash down – 10 of the them! – and disgorge nearly a hundred new chaos marines into the fray. Calgar tries to rally to the Primarch’s Throne, but he’s tarpitted and brought to the ground by pile of Chaos Marines. Celestine is injured, an arm hanging uselessly at her side, and Amalarich finds himself bogged down too. Things look done for the Imperials as the Black Legion forces are mere meters from the throne… when the lights on the auto-reliquary blink from red to green. With a hiss, the arms of the auto-reliquary fold back and stepping out with a breathtaking splendour strides Roboute Guilliman.
(There’s a quick aside here, to briefly refresh our knowledge of the Primarchs and Guilliman in particular. It matches up with the fluff from the Horus Heresy series, alluding to Imperium Secundus amongst other things)
A stunned silence sweeps over the battlefield for a few moments as the presence of a Primarch seems to fill the massive room. It’s broken by the crazed charge of a lone Bezerker, who rushes Guilliman. But, with a speed that even the Ynnari would struggle to match, Guilliman neatly swings the Emperor’s Sword and cleaves the Bezerker in two. The moment is broken, and with a hateful cry the Black Legion forces charge at the Primarch. Guilliman strides directly to meet them. Celestine was not immune to the presence of the Primarch either – she sees it as straight up vindication of everything she has ever fought for, the Emperor’s Will made manifest. She sheds a single golden tear as she offers up prayers of thanks to the Emperor. A Black Legionnaire tries to strike at her while she’s distracted, except Celestine is anything but – she feels her injuries heal, and she drives the Ardent Blade through the traitor. She takes to the air, jumping across the battlefield to land next to Greyfax, who’s blasting away at Heretics with her boltgun.
“I erred,” Greyfax admits, “and I will do Penance. You truly are the instrument of the Emperor’s Will.”
“Vigilance is not a sin, Katarinya,” Celestine replies, “You serve Him as surely as I”.
“Indeed. Let us serve him together, as true warriors of Faith.” Together, Celestine and Greyfax launch themselves into the battle. Way better love story than Twilight.
Guilliman is utterly wrecking the Black Legion forces. None of his foes can even come close to matching the preternatural speed and skill of a Primarch. Every swing of his sword, every shot from his gauntlet sends traitor marines crumbling. His expression is grave – his last memory was of a desperate battle against a hateful brother, yet now he suddenly finds himself in a strange place surrounded by twisted and warped Astartes. Even the boys in blue are unfamiliar to him, but at least he can recognise them as allies. He eventually pushes to the downed form of Marneus Calgar. Calgar is badly injured, armour cracked and broken, but he’s alive and he looks up into the face of his Primarch in disbelief as Guilliman checks he still lives before moving on to continue his route of the Chaos Marines. The Black Legion morale is broken at this point, and they begin to flee – but not one of the will escape the Fortress of Hera alive.
Reinforcements arrive as the battle winds down, every one of the newly arriving Ultramarines dropping to their knees before the Primarch. Guilliman quickly takes charge of the scene, his strategic acumen taking over. He makes no reference to his miraculous rebirth, and none of the Ultramarines dare ask. News of the Primarch’s Rise spread through the fortress like wildfire, proclamations blaring from every vox speaker on every rampart. The Ultramarine and Ultramar Defense Auxilia manning the battlements are at first confused before finding new strength in the words they hear. In contrast, the Chaos forces arrayed against them begin to feel doubt and unease at the thought of a Primarch meeting them in battle.
Guilliman makes for the strategium, with a wounded Calgar at his side, where he formally requests command of the battle from First Captain Agemman. With Guilliman now in charge, the defense of the Fortress of Hera quickly turns in the Ultramarines favour. In short order, the fortress is swept of the Chaos presence and the Ultramarine’s stronghold on Macragge is secured. A ceremony is held in the Chapter Master’s sanctum, now to become the throne-room of the Primarch, as Guilliman is formally invested as a Lord of Ultramar and Master of the Ultramarines in front of the top command personnel and representatives of every Company of the Chapter. Saint Celestine ceremoniously gives him her blessings, and even Yvrainne and the Visarch are lurking in the background watching. The ceremony concludes, with Guilliman requesting to know everything that happened while he was gone…
Part Two – War Storm
The Warp roils with the energies of emotion and passion from the rebirth of Roboute Guilliman, as the champions of the Dark Gods become aware of the momentous event that has taken place on Macragge. Fulgrim pouts in displeasure, vowing to Slaanesh that he will put Guilliman down this time. Various Greater Demons of Tzeentch watch the weaves of fate and begin to plot the downfall of the Ultramarine Primarch. In Nurgle’s Garden, a conclave of Great Unclean Ones throw a party as they imagine all the fun times they could have together with Roboute – maybe they could even get him and Mortarion back together again! Fun for the whole family! Champions of Khorne burn 88 worlds, battling each other for the one to earn the right to answer their God – Khorne cares not for the silly plans of the other gods. He just wants Guilliman’s skull.
Abaddon has been foretold by his sorcerers of this occasion too, hence the massive forces he’d thrown at Macragge to try to prevent it from happening. Annoyed that this attack had failed, he summons and binds Kairos Fateweaver and sets him loose to stop Guilliman. Mortarion senses the reawakening too, and his rage coalesces into 7 new forms of disease and plague that run rampant across Imperial Worlds. He’s too busy with his own plans to act right at this moment, but he’s got something up his sleeve… Magnus the Red laughs in delight as he learns of the news, and the strands of fate twist before to reveal new insight. He’s already beaten the Space Wolves bloody and got his revenge, and now he sees the chance to strike at another hated foe…
Whole sections of the galaxy erupt into fierce new Warp Storms, the scale of which not seen since the dark times of Old Night, as the Primordial Annihilator turns its full attention on realspace. Legions of Demons are sent forth into the galaxy, intent on laying low the reborn Primarch. But the Great Game is ever eternal – ambitious servants of the gods take this opportunity, while the gods themselves are distracted, to launch new assaults on their rivals. Blood Legions of Khorne throw themselves at the Crystal Labyrinthes of Tzeentch’s domain, while cavalcades of Slaaneshi demons hack their way into the Garden of Nurgle…
Guilliman for his part is busy catching up on the affairs of the last 10,000 years. He’s not particularly impressed by what he learns of what the Imperium has become. Idolatry, Ignorance, Suffering, Squalor – all in the name of a god who never wanted the title. He yearns for one of his brothers to speak to, someone who could understand his heartache. Its not all mental either – whatever was done to bring him back has left him with a constant, gnawing ache in his body that he suspects will never go away. He looks up at a tapestry depicting the Emperor hanging in his sanctum.
“We failed, father,” he sighs with sorrow. “You failed us, and we in turn failed you. And worse, we failed all of them too. Did Horus not say that you sought godhood? How he would laugh to see the Imperium now.” A wave of anger washes over him which he struggles to keep in check – the last thing he needs is for Calgar and Tigurius and the rest to see him lose it.
“Why do I live? What do you want from me? I put everything into our dream, and look what they’ve done!” He snarls at the tapestry. “An empire of fear, hate and ignorance – better we had all burned in the fires of Horus’ ambition than live to see this.” But as soon as he says this, he knows he’s just talking his own fears. The Ultramarines of this age had never seen the hope of triumph of the Imperium at its peak glory during the Great Crusade, yet they are march forward unbowed. How can he show anything less? He knows of Cawl’s labours, his second promise, back on Mars – there’s hope for a better future for the Imperium. “Too long have the pawns of Chaos meddled with our species fate. That must end,” he declares.
Guilliman emerges from his chambers, 4 days later. He brings close his counsel – Calgar and Tigurius, but also Voldus, Cawl, Celestine and Greyfax. He would use every arm of the Imperium. Strength in Unity. And now its time to take back Ultramar. Macragge itself is reclaimed in a month, the scattered and disparate Chaos forces proving no match for his strategies. Imperial Reinforcements also arrive, including a number of Ultramarine Successor chapters (Novamarines, Sons of Orara and the Genesis Chapter are mentioned). The Arch-Consul of Magna Civitas organises a huge parade to restore morale to the citizens of Macragge. Guilliman reluctantly agrees, recognising the need for symbolism, and during the procession the Arch-Consul presents Guilliman with a gilded crown. But as Guilliman dons the crown, he’s struck by visions and thoughts of future glories – his armies countless beyond number, willing to die for him gladly. Planets, sectors and whole segmentums renamed in his honor and eventually the Golden Throne itself his to claim. He deserved nothing less after all…. And Guilliman rips the crown off with a gasp. The Arch-Consul dissolves into a mutant spawn, hissing and spitting, and Guilliman hears a voice echo through his mind that he had not heard since Thessala. Fulgrim mockingly welcomes Guilliman back to Ultramar and, while disappointed he resisted the temptations of the Crown of Glories, promises him that this is but the first of many temptations. Fulgrim’s voice laughs as he promises Guilliman that he will never be able to trust the feeling of self-satisfaction again. Disgusted, Guilliman slays the mutant creature, but he can’t seem to erase Fulgrim’s words from his mind…
More Imperial forces arrive at Macragge, having heard word of Guilliman’s resurrection. Delegations of Raven Guard, Dark Angels, Space Wolves, White Scars and Black Templars all hastening to the Primarch’s side. The Black Templars need only one look at the zealous look in Marshal Amalrich’s eyes, he alone of his crusade who has survived, to declare him touched by the hand of the Emperor. He’s given the armour and Black Blade of the Emperor’s Champion. Still more forces arrive – Imperial Navy and Adeptus Mechanicus fleets, Imperial Knight households, Titan Legions, Administratum officials - the list goes on. A delegation of Adeptus Ministorum priests arrive, intent on confirming and then proclaiming Guilliman’s Divinity. Guilliman is not at all keen on this, and only relents when Celestine and Greyfax point out just how powerful the Ecclesiarchy is. Better to have the Ecclesiarchy on his side, than against him. One last thing that Guilliman orders before setting out to reclaim the wider Ultramar system – he orders the Library of Ptolemy barred shut to all visitors. This is an age of Wrath and War – learning and lore must be set aside.
The War for Ultramar rages on as the Imperial Forces begin to reclaim the Five Hundred Worlds. It’s a long process though. Seven months in saw the spread of a mysterious new sickness through-out the conquest forces, causing endless streams of viscous stinking tears that eventually infect the eyeballs of its victims and leave them in agonising blindness. It becomes known as the Weeping Plague. It’s eventually traced to swarms of mites that find their way into food supplies, ammunition packs, bundles of clothing and even amongst the pages of Imperial Primers. Nothing seems to halt its spread, as it begins to cripple the human elements of the Imperial Forces. The Astartes were un-affected, but curiously the Adepta Sororitas proved strongly resistant despite them being humans also. But then something amazing – when Guilliman came to inspect the sick, his mere presence seemed to drive back the disease. Auxilia soldiers rose from their hospital beds, the sight restored and their sickness vanished. No-one could explain the cause, but wherever Guilliman walked the sick were cured. The Ecclesiarchy were quick to declare a Miracle, and their sermons rang loud with proclamations of his divinity. Guilliman couldn’t explain it either, but he could not just let the soldiers under his command die while he could do something about it. So he travelled everywhere the sick were found, days and weeks on end curing them. His absence from the war efforts began to show though, as Chaos Forces were able to regroup and launch effective counter-assaults. Worse still, the Plague begin to pop back up in places Guilliman had already cured. He was running around in circles trying to cure everyone. Grand Master Voldus eventually confronts him with the what he sees as the truth – this plague bears the mark of Nurgle. Guilliman was not curing anyone, but rather it was an insidious plan to keep Guilliman distracted and contained inside Ultramar.
Guilliman realised he had been played by Nurgle. In his desire to reclaim Ultramar and turn it into a bastion of order, he was making mistakes he’d made in the distant past. There was only one real course of action – he had to make for Terra. The fact that both Slaanesh and Nurgle had attempted to keep him trapped in Ultramar proved that he was needed elsewhere. So, and not without reluctance, he left the reconquest of Ultramar in the hands of Calgar, Tigurius and Agemman. With him would travel elements of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Ultramarine Companies with Captain Cato Sicarius in command, as well as the 3rd Brotherhood of Grey Knights led by Grand Master Voldus. The various Ultramarine successor chapters present also gave their support, as did Emperor’s Champion Amalrich and his Black Templars. Inquistor Greyfax, Saint Celestine and Archmagos Cawl would also accompany Guilliman. It was at this point that Yvraine and the Visarch bade their farewell, with a promise that they would fight together again in the future (so long as it suited their needs Guilliman remarks to himself).
The Celestinian Crusade that had set out from Cadia to Macragge was over. So began the Terran Crusade. It would be an arduous journey. The Warp churned with chaotic turbulence, and the Navigators could only manage short jumps through the warp. Even then, a number of Imperial Ships suffered Gellar Field breaches and swarms of Demons would sweep through their decks before they could be cleansed with holy fire. Guilliman travelled upon his ancient flagship, Macragge’s Honour, its familiar hallways a welcome haven. He had hoped that the storms would abate the further he travelled from Ultramar, but there seemed no end in sight to the storms. And everytime the fleet dropped back into realspace, the Astropaths would pick up garbled messages of a galaxy in chaos. Morale dropped across the fleet as the weeks dragged on… until eventually the fleet came suddenly on the edge of the Maelstrom, which had swelled with power, catching everyone by surprise. Fearing the worst, the fleet performed an emergency translation back into realspace….
…right into the devastating broadsides of an ambush. Numerous ships were lost before the Imperial’s were even aware of their ambushers – a vast fleet of Thousand Sons warships. Just As Planned™. At the centre of the ambush fleet was an immense craft that Guilliman recognised as vast facsimile of the Great Pyramid of Tizca. From its observation gallery, Magnus watched his ambush play out with amusement, the chanting of his sorcerers ringing out around him. He had no desire to kill his brother just yet and, judging when his ambush had wrought enough devastation on the Imperial fleet, he completed the incantation that was being weaved. Giant Empyric Tendrils of the Maelstrom whipped out, wrapped around the Imperial ships and flung them deep into the heart of the Maelstrom.
The effect on the ships of the Terran Crusade were devastating. Unprepared for a sudden entry into the Warp, many ships failed to raise their Gellar Fields in time and were consumed by demons. The ones that did get their Gellar Fields up found themselves drifting in the tides of unnatural energy. 112 Space Marine, Mechanicus and Imperial Navy ships had set out from Macragge, and barely half that number remained. Belisarius Cawl led repairs as best he could, as the leaders of the Crusade convened to determine their next move. They were utterly lost – the navigators had no fix on the Astronomican. Faint transmissions were heard from a nearby crystal moon, and Guilliman ordered a full attack with specific instructions to capture anything that would help them navigate the Maelstrom. A band of renegades were encountered holed up on the moon – Red Corsairs – who were quickly eliminated, but when their last survivor was captured for interrogation he became possessed. A diabolical presence, speaking in two voices, mocked Guilliman - telling him that Ultramar was burning and that he would be cursed to wander the Maelstrom forever – before ending the Red Corsair prisoner. Guilliman vowed to end whatever this Demon was that had vexed him.
With their only lead dead, the fleet wandered the Maelstrom aimlessly, picking a direction and hoping for the best. How long they travelled like this, they had no idea, for time had no meaning in this place of madness. Patrols of Emperor’s Children craft were encountered and seized, but any navigational tools they possessed were blank but for the mocking words the demon had uttered back on the moon. The Crusade pressed on as supplies dwindled amongst constant skirmishes with Chaos raiding parties. Guilliman himself was further wracked by dark visions haunting his mind, of Ultramar, Mars and Terra burning. A voice promised him that these visions would come to truth, but only if he tried to leave – if he stayed in the Maelstrom, the Imperium would be spared. It was on yet another aid on yet another cursed world to find intelligence that Kairos Fateweaver revealed himself as the demon haunting Guilliman’s actions, in an ambush by scores of Tzeentch Demons. The Imperials were forced to retreat, Fateweaver mocking Guilliman all the while…
Things were getting really desperate, as the fleets numbers waned further still, ships too badly damaged to continue on scuttled in their wake. A hard, fast strike against a Red Corsair stronghold brought some measure of sanity back and it was amongst the hallways of this stronghold that Guilliman had another vision. This time it was of a mysterious Eldar figure and it spoke of a path out of the Maelstrom. Alert for yet more trickery from Fateweaver, but sensing no taint of chaos, Guilliman felt hope returning…
The fleet made for the directions the Eldar had spoke of. A promised navigational marker was reached, and then another and soon enough they had reached the final stretch of their journey out. But before them lay a massive graveyard of derelict ships from untold number of factions – all linked together in a massive web of chains. There was no way around – the graveyard seemed to stretch to infinity in all directions, which meant the only way was to go through. Progress was slow, and unnerving, as wreckage was pushed away to make room. But eventually the Navigators began to see the light of the Astronomican seeping through – they were almost out! Guilliman was extra cautious though, for this was the most vulnerable leg of the journey and his caution proved right when Red Corsair ships blazed out of hiding spots in the wreckage to attack. The Imperial Fleet was outflanked, and the Red Corsair ships were aiming to disable their targets in order to seize and salvage. Guilliman ordered his ships to prepare for boarders, even wishing the Emperor’s Blessings upon the defenders (much to his own distate).
The chaos pirates struck the Macragges Honour hard, aiming to swiftly overrun the defenders positions on the bridge. The defense of the bridge held at first, but began to give. As Red Corsair Terminators pushed through, waves of Horrors and Flamers poured in behind them, along with Kairos Fateweaver himself, wrecking havoc through the Imperial defences. Guilliman roared a challenged, and charged at Fateweaver with Sicarius, Greyfax and Celestine covering his flanks, but this was the moment Kairos had planned for. Nine Heralds of Tzeentch suddenly revealed themselves in the battle, and began chanting an incantation. Sicarius attempted to direct fire on the spellcasters, but waves of expendable horrors jumped infront of the boltgun fire to provide a flesh shield for their masters. Kairos raised his staff for the final part of the spell – ever since Guilliman had entered the Maelstrom, Kairos had been implanting subtle traps in his mind. It wasn’t easy, for the mind of a Primarch has formidable defences and the intervention of the Eldar had forced his hand earlier than Kairos would have liked, but the spell completed and suddenly Guilliman stumbled. Streams of incandescent energy poured from Guilliman’s mouth and eyes, and forced him to his knees. All the negative emotions, doubts and madness that Kairos had been seeding in Guilliman’s mind burst out and wrapped around him in a heavy crystal chain, paralysing him. Fateweaver then commanded the Imperials to surrender, lest they watch their Primarch be crushed before their eyes. With no other choice, the Imperial’s lowered their weapons. Kairos stood gloating before them, victorious…
Part Three – Rise of the Primarch
Guilliman was captured. The Imperials that didn’t surrender were either killed, or forced to submit. Emperor’s Champion Amalrich was one of the latter, wrestled and beaten down by a mob of Red Corsairs as he single-handledly held the Enginarium. The prisoners were brought to the stronghold of the Red Corsairs – a freakin Blackstone Fortress! Turns out Abaddon had been pleased with Huron Blackheart’s rebellion, and given a kingly gift to the Tyrant of Badab proving both Abaddon’s sheer power (I mean, who gives away Blackstone Fortresses as participation prizes?!) and ensuring the loyalty of the Red Corsairs to Abaddon.
The Imperials were thrown into cells inside the massive space fortress, Guilliman held fast in the chains Kairos had forged from Guilliman’s own mind. He would rot in the prison for a time – Kairos didn’t want to simply kill Guilliman, for a chained Primarch was far too good of a source of power to simple throw away, and already Kairos was plotting in ways to make use of him. The Red Corsairs would act as gaolers, content with the boons that Fateweaver could grant them. But perhaps Kairos was distracted and failed to see the future somehow, for he missed the massive horde that was descending on the fortress… Skarbrand had come for the skull of Guilliman.
The hordes of Khorne fell on the Blackstone Fortress. The Red Corsairs rallied quickly, forming firing ranks and pouring fire into the charging Khornate forces. Kairos howled in dismay at the unforeseen events, summoning masses of Tzeentch Demons to fight back as more and more Khorne demons joined the slaughter. Guilliman, still trapped in his gaol, listened to the distant sounds of battle and prepared himself for any potential opportunities to escape…
Deep within the fortress’ core, a portal that had long lay dormant flickered to life. A band of shadowed figures, accompanied by a larger robed figure, slipped unseen into the Blackstone. Through the twisting maze of hallways they went, long-dormant systems coming to life to allow them access as they passed. Eventually they reached the cells that Guilliman and the Ultramarines were being held in, guarded by a full squad of Red Corsairs with guns trained at the only door into the gaol. At least the only door the Red Corsairs knew about. Silently and unseen, a door slid open at the back of the room and the Harlequins of the Veiled Path, and the larger robed figure, moved soundlessly up behind the Red Corsairs and cut them down before they could even react. The robed figure grabbed the key to the cells off one of the guards as Sylandri Veilwalker pointed him in the direction of a specific cell.
Guilliman watched as the robed figure approached his cell. He didn’t recognise the Astarte, but he did recognise the colours of the 1st Legiones Astartes.
“Who are you?” Guilliman asked.
“I can free you,” the mysterious figure replied, ignoring the question.
“Can. Not will. What do you want?” Guilliman frowned in return.
“Take me to Terra, to the Throne, and I will free you,” said the hooded figure. Guilliman, trapped in his chains, could only glare. He didn’t have much of a choice.
“Very well,” the Primarch replied, “but know this Dark Angel. If you seek to trick or manipulate me, nothing in this galaxy can save you.” One side of Cypher’s mouth lifts in a bitter smile.
“As you say,” Cypher mutters as he unlocks all the cells.
Sylandri Veilwalker steps forward at this point, and Guilliman’s eyes widen as he recognises her as the mysterious Eldar that guided them through the Maelstrom. But was she guiding them to freedom or had she deliberately sent them into a trap? Hmmmmmmmmmm. Veilwalker begins a dance as she focuses her energy on the chains around Guilliman, unbinding them. Guilliman, Sicarius and the rest of the Ultramarines, several hundred strong, were free. They still had their armour, but no weapons. Veilwalker revealed the location of their weapons and vehicles that been salvaged by the Red Corsairs. Guilliman was highly suspicious of the Eldar and the mysterious Dark Angel, but resolved to at least let them lead him to his weapons and allies. They moved quickly, for their escape would not go un-noticed for long. On the way they find and free Celestine and her Geminae, Cawl and his Mechanicus forces, Greyfax and finally Voldus and his Grey Knights as well as the rest of the successor chapter Marines and their Dreadnaughts and Tanks that had been taken off the ships. Sicarius suggest they strike fast to their ships to escape, but Veilwalker informs them that the docks are thick with fighting. At any rate, the human crews of the ships are all dead and their navigators have been taken away. The only way off is through the Webway Portal the Harlequins and Cypher came in on.
(btw I guess this means the Macragge’s Honour is left behind in the hands of the Red Corsairs….).
Driving their vehicles through the huge passageways, the Imperials and their guides make for the Webway, but its not long before they are noticed and eventually their advance slows to a crawl as they get pinned down by both Red Corsair and Demons sent out to intercept them. Finding themselves surrounding and pinned in from both sides, things are looking grim until the timely arrival of the Legion of the Dammed. Their spectral forms sweep in and clear the Chaos forces from their flanks, allowing Guilliman’s force to move forward. Eventually they reach the heart of the Blackstone, a huge chamber a hundred miles across with bridges cutting across it, connecting various doorways. The Webway Portal is at the far side, but from the doorways stream endless waves of enemies – Khrone Demons from oneside, Tzeentch Demons from the other. As the Imperials cross the bridges towards the Webway Portal, three-way fights break out between the Khorne, Tzeentch and Imperial forces. Guilliman catches sight of Kairos lurking way in the back, clearly not keen on getting up in Guilliman’s face now that the Lord of Change’s plans are in ruins. Skarbrand is a different story though.
The massive Bloodthirster charges forth, his rage influencing everyone around him. Amalrich and his Black Templars find themselves filling with rage and throw themselves furiously into the oncoming demons, the Emperor’s Champion going straight for Skarbrand himself. Guilliman considers diverting assistance to them, but knows he has to concentrate on maintaining cohesion amongst the rest of the Imperials lest they lose themselves to Skarbrand’s rage too. Voldus and the Grey Knights lead the advance, with the Legion of the Dammed bringing up the rear, as they close in on the webway portal. Cawl and his Skitarri are mowing down demons, Novamarine Vindicators are blasting away bridges to stop the demons flanking and Celestine and Greyfax are fighting side by side as they hack their way through demons (what a great date!)
But then Skarbrand lets loose a deafening roar, and leaps across the gap towards the Imperials. Guilliman’s eyes go wide as he see’s Amalrich’s Black Blade buried in the chest of Skarbrand, the only remaining sign of Amalrich himself (“a bloody atonement for his failings on Cadia”). Skarbrand lands amongst the Legion of the Dammed, sending them tumbling down the chasm into the darkness. The rearmost of the Imperial forces begin to turn back, already succumbing to Skarbrand’s madness, and Guilliman realises he’s about to lose control. He orders all Imperials to make fast across the last bridge to the Webway Portal and he turns back to confront Skarbrand, holding at the head of the bridge in his very best Gandalf impression. All the Imperials, and the Harlequins, are through the portal by now with just Sicarius and Celestine remaining outside. But Skarbrand is bearing down on Guilliman. That skull belongs to Khorne and by golly is Skarbrand going to take it!
Guilliman feels the hellish fires rise in his mind, as he begins to lose himself to the rage and unable to stop himself he charges at Skarbrand. The Emperor’s Sword meets Slaughter, as Guilliman ducks under Carnage. With every blow, Guilliman feels his rage rising even more, and a small part of his mind realises he’s about to be lost to it. He fights a second battle, in his mind, stamping his iron will back down on the rage until its under control. Glancing back he sees Sicarius and Celestine yelling at him to get his arse through the portal, and he steps backwards towards it, blasting away with the Hand of Dominion. Skarbrand is slowly being driven back, but Guilliman is down to his last shell – he aims it at Amalrich’s Black Blade still buried in Skarbrand’s chest, and blows it apart, shredding through Skarbrand and knocking him off the platform. With Skarbrand dealt with, but more demons pressing in, he sprints for the portal and dives through after Sicarius and Celestine as it the portal seals shut behind him.
Guilliman finds himself standing amongst the survivors of the Terran Crusade. About two thirds of the warriors who escaped the cells remain alive, and Voldus and his Grey Knights have remained relatively unscathed. He notices Cypher standing with a group of similar armoured marines, and realises they must have been waiting for Cypher in the webway. Sylandri Veilwalker shares a loaded glance with Belisarius Cawl, before speaking to Guilliman – they have to move quickly. She has Skyweaver Jetbikes scouting this area of the webway, and they are reporting Chaos Marines in blue and gold on the way. It dawns on Guilliman that, through sheer luck or patented Just As Planned shenanigans, Magnus knew that Guilliman would end up here and was lying in wait. But why…? It’s Voldus who comes up with an answer, dredging up knowledge from the libraries of Titan. Isn’t there a Webway Gate in the Imperial Palace? Of course! Guilliman deduces that Magnus already knows of this gate (there were rumours that the Crimson King had already passed through it once after all) and he was now simply waiting for the defences to be deactivated to allow Guilliman’s passage. Curse you Magnus! A masterful plan! Guilliman despairs at being so close to his destination, but unwilling to risk letting Magnus get a foot through. Veilwalker offers an alternative – if he can’t go to Terra, why not go to Luna? Oh yeah, btw, there’s a long dormant Webway Gate on Terra’s moon.
To Luna it is. The Terran Crusade sets off, with Cypher and his Fallen in tow, led by the Harlequin’s of the Veiled Path. Its not long before they come under attack by the Thousand Sons though, Rubricae and Tzaangors hounding them at every turn. But Celestine cuts a way through, and the Imperials continue a fighting advance until eventually the reach the portal. Donning helms and rebreathers, they step through the portal onto the surface of Luna. It’s a harsh transition, from the relatively comfortable environment of the Webway to the harsh vacuum of space. The crusade emerges into a deep crater and, with rays of Sol itself spilling over the lip, bound their way up the sides of the pit. Veilwalker begins to incant a ritual to seal the gate, but before she can finish the gate explodes outwards with a rush of blue energy as Rubric Marines step out of the gate. They being pouring salvoes of firing into the exposed Marines clambering up out of the crater. Guilliman halts the retreat at the top of the crater, standing amongst a graveyard of old decommissioned and junked starships. Above them, Terra shines in the sky and Guilliman is at last in sight of his destination. But its not ever yet – the Thousand Sons are on Luna. Guilliman knows that all the psychic activity will have undoubtedly tripped all the alarms so he just needs to hold off until help arrives.
The Thousand Sons are pouring out of the portal now, and Guilliman orders his forces to positions at the top of the crater, laying fire down into the Traitors. The Thousand Sons are getting hammered by the fire from the crater, but pulse of dark power swirls at the gate as a wave of dread sweeps over the loyalists. Magnus the Red had arrived. He throws out a huge shield of warp energy, and the Thousand Sons forces advance quickly up the slopes of the crater unharmed behind its protection. Seeing his position at the top of the crater about to be overrun, Guilliman orders his forces to pull back to the wrecks of the spaceships for cover. The Thousand Sons rise over the lip and begin advancing again, Magnus floating up behind them, wreaking havoc with his Psychic Powers. Guilliman realises Magnus will tear through his army if left free, and launches into a charge, jumping off the edge of the crater to strike at him in the air. Magnus just manages to parry, and they both go flying into the wreckage of the ships. Behind them, the Battle of Luna rages on.
Guilliman rises from amongst the wreckage and looks around for Magnus, challenging the Demon Primarch to face him. There’s pretty cool duel that takes place, but tl;dr - Magnus has the edge until the entire battlefield lights up in fire. The Terran Defense Fleet has arrived. Aided by telemetry uploaded by Archmagos Cawl, the Imperial Ships rain orbital fire down on the Chaos forces as teleportation flares light up – the Adeptus Custodes have also arrived, and they promptly get into wrecking face amongst the Thousand Sons. Yellow Drop Pods also thunder-down to the surface, as the Imperial Fists make an entrance. And amongst all the reinforcements, a trio of Valkyries bearing the sigil of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica beeline for the duel between Magnus and Guilliman. Sisters of Silence drop out to aid Guilliman and suddenly Magnus finds his psychic edge over Guilliman completely nullified.
Meanwhile, Sylandri Veilwalker sees Guilliman and Magnus locked in their challenge and realises the moment of the Final Act has arrived. Their drama had been played out, and the “brother’s enmity burned anew”. Signalling her Death Jester to communicate with Guilliman of her plan, she sprints for the webway portal and takes out the Sorcerers guarding it. She hastily prepares a ritual as Guilliman, informed of the plan, and the Sisters of Silence drive Magnus back down the crater towards the gate. Guilliman manages to drive his sword under Magnus guard, wounding him solidly, and Magnus lets out an uncontrolled blast of sorcery that blast them apart – and Magnus through the gate. Veilwalker triggers her runestone and the gate severs completely from the Webway, cutting Magnus off from Luna. With their Primarch gone, the rest of the Thousand Sons are mopped up. Sylandri, and the rest of her Harlequin Troupe, have vanished as well… The battle is over.
Guilliman stands amongst the gathered Imperial forces. Tech Priests are swarming over the deactivated webway gate, but most of them (save the Custodes) are staring at the Primarch in awe. He allows the senior Imperial Fist apothecary to treat his wounds, as an enormous gold Imperial Lander touches down with more Custodes onboard, led by Shield-Captain Ty Andronitus. He explains that the High Lords have organised Guilliman and his warriors would be brought to Terra in all haste, to travel as part of a glorious parade to the Emperor’s Palace. After some nice descriptions of the orbital defences and Terra itself, they land at the Eternity Well spaceport. Guilliman steps out infront of a massive crowd, and is shocked at the sights around him. Terra looks very different from when he last saw it – where once had been industrious glory, now was buried in grotesque layers of gothic over-construction and macabre religious ornamentation. Some more pretty cool descriptions of Terra as Guilliman and co eventually reach one of the many entrances to the Emperor’s Throne Room.
This one is a massive doorway that stands at the end of a towering cathedral, its space filled with millions of pilgrims who cry out in awe as not only Guilliman passes through them but the Living Saint herself. Sicarius, Grand Master Voldus, Shield-Captain Adronitus, Cypher and his Fallen, Belisarius Cawl and Katarinya Greyfax are also accompanying Guilliman and Celestine, followed by the Battle Brothers of the Terran Crusade. At least Guilliman reaches the foot of the stairs leading up to the doorway, where a 20 strong contingent of Custodes stood at guard. Their leader steps forward, introduces himself as Aquila Commander Kalim Varanor, and formally asks who comes before the throne room of the Emperor. Shield-Captain Adronitus formally announces each of the leaders of the Terran Crusade as ancient formalities played out, befitting the gravitas of the arrival of a Primarch. The millions strong crowd hold their breath as the Aquila Commander makes his judgement. Varanor looks to a Hooded Tech Priest that had been waiting with the Custodes, and the Tech Priest nods his head…
…the Primarch would pass, alone, into the throne room. Everyone else will remain outside. Cypher went for his pistols – he’d upheld his end of the bargain and he’d been promised entrance! But Guilliman was not fool enough to trust the mysterious Dark Angel blindly. He might not recognise his person but he did recognise the blade Cypher carried on his back, the sight of which made him shudder with dread. There was no way he was allowing that near his father. Guilliman commands the Custodian Guard to apprehend Cypher and his compatriots. Cypher hesitates for a moment, caught between attempting escape or making a futile lunge for the doorway, before the Custodes surround him and arrest him. They take him to a cell that, not for thousands of years, had anyone escaped from but Cypher would do just that. But for the moment, Guilliman turns and ascends the steps to the Throne Room. The Custodes part way for him, but the hooded Tech Priest bows before him, blurting out in binary. Belisarius Cawl hurries up the steps to exchange binharic blurts with the other Tech-Priest before turning to Guilliman to speak of secret pacts on Mars and works nearing completion. Cawl then turns and heads down the stairs, and into the crowd, important work on Mars requiring his attention…
Guilliman stands alone before the door to the throne room. A single chime booms through the cathedral, and the sigh of million worshippers rings out as the doorway opens to reveal darkness. Guilliman takes a breath, and steps through. The doors close behind him. Hours pass, the warriors of the Terran Crusade standing to attention before the throne room. The murmurs of the crowd turn to fervent prayer, and some even step forward to offer thanks and meagre offerings to Captain Sicarius and Grand Master Voldus. Celestine and Greyfax bail at this point, to “spread her blessings” and to “report to her Ordo Hereticus superiors”. Ah, that’s what they’re calling it these days
Artificial Day turns to Artificial Night and Artificial Day again before the doors open once more, and Roboute Guilliman steps out, expression unreadable. He demands an immediate assembly of the High Lords of Terra, and that he will be resuming his seat on that council as well as forcibly removing several High Lords from office. He would, once again, become Lord Commander of the Imperium of Mankind. Of his meeting with the Emperor, all Guilliman would say is that he received all the enlighten he required. He warns the High Lords of an encroaching darkness, a terrible Warp phenomena that was manifesting over the galaxy as the war against Chaos enters a terrible new phase. Cadia was only the beginning – from Fenris to Armageddon to Attila and Balor, all were feeling the claws of Chaos. But hope was not lost. New Armies would be raised, in numbers not seen since the days of the Great Crusade. From Cawl’s forges on Mars would come new and terrible weapons whose fury the worshippers of Chaos would be unable to stand.
The Imperium would not drown in the tide of warfare, but instead ride upon the crest of a bloody wave to triumph against darkness.
First Guy Haley book I didn't enjoy. Some moments of brightness but otherwise a fairly dull marine book. After the wonder he pulled off with Dante I was pretty disappointed.
There's so much I'm enjoying from BL at the minute probably made this book seem even poorer.
The longer I read BL I realise I like marines in small doses as super heros who appear (briefly) to save the day or in the case of chaos marines ruin someone's day. But can't have a whole book focused on them.