After a month of collecting ideas it is time to start drafting in earnest. As before, rough placeholder text is in yellow, the most recent changes are in orange and drafted sections are in the normal grey text. The plan is that every day the mass of the garish yellow will shrink until it is complete. Amended plan is to finish it within the two month window of 6th September.
Magnus was the first of the primarchs to recognise the existence and the threat the Ruinous Powers posed to Mankind, and because of this the Thousand Sons became the first legion to be targeted for destruction by the forces of Chaos. Though it cost them dear, those that survived the Space Wolves’ slaughter were pivotal in bringing the Dornian Heresy to an end. As the most powerful battle-psykers in the Imperium they are feared and mistrusted, even by the people they selflessly defend against the encroaching darkness.
Though he was near the point of death when they first found him, the boy displayed a tenacious will and remarkable constitution. Under the ministrations of the commune’s healers he quickly returned to robust health, but nothing could be done to save the boy’s right eye. An ugly welt of scar tissue covered the socket, but in a society where mutation and deformity were rife, this was little cause for comment. He was named Magnus, or, more usually and affectionately, Magnus the Red after his ruddy complexion and the colour of the unruly mane of hair that he doggedly refused to cut. Magnus quickly grew to vibrant maturity and threw himself wholeheartedly into learning.
He was most often to be found poring over the ancient tomes in the city’s extensive libraries and animatedly debating with wizened scholars many times his own age. Knowledge was his passion, and with the fiery certainty of youth he believed that no subject was beyond his mastery. It was the study of the hermetic arts of alchemy and sorcery that changed his life forever. Doing so awakened him to the true power of the Warp, an act which levelled the building in which he had been studying. As his psychic powers blossomed, he became aware of both the Gods of Chaos, and his father, The Emperor of all Mankind.
The thing shredded old Master Colpek without breaking its stride, and advanced on Magnus. They had summoned a creature of nightmare... His nightmares! He recognised the same rasping growl and the way its talons moved like liquid flame; it was the thing from his earliest memories. It had torn its way into the vessel that had brought him to Prospero and taken his eye. Now it was back for more.
Something had happened to him. At first Magnus thought that his skull was splitting, but now the pain had gone, and his mind had opened up to something far beyond the material plane. His awareness snapped back into the hermetic tower to find himself alone with the entity... the daemon. Before he could react, the thing had him pinned to the floor with a talon pinking the flesh around his one good eye. It whispered to him, gloatingly, that it had come here to stop him from becoming a powerful tool of his master’s rival. The names it spoke of, ‘Khorne’ and ‘Tzeentch’, resonated through his soul like shards of ice.
Despite his desperate struggles the creature whispered that it would first take his eye to complete the set, and then pluck out Magnus’s heart to appease its master. Then, just as the talon broke the skin beneath his eye, a total calmness descended. It all became so clear to him. With a smile, Magnus reached out with his mind and snuffed out the daemon’s very essence. The ensuing explosion was heard all across Tizca. Untouched by the conflagration, Magnus considered the daemon’s words. He would not be a puppet of this Tzeentch, and no one would take his eye.
Though separated by half a galaxy, The Emperor and Magnus recognised each other for what they were. With his insatiable thirst for knowledge, Magnus eagerly learned about every aspect of the burgeoning Imperium, of the Great Crusade, and the search for his brother primarchs. Through his expanded acuity, and the tutelage of his father, Magnus became the first of the primarchs to learn of the terrible threat posed by the Ruinous Powers. Even as The Emperor taught him these things, He swore Magnus to secrecy, explaining that the threat was so grave that even knowledge of their existence would be enough to seduce some to their worship. Magnus had seen to his cost the palpable link between sorcery and Chaos, but argued that the Ruinous Powers could easily use such ignorance to corrupt the unwary. Despite this, he was unable to persuade his father. The Emperor spoke of a grand plan that would one day see humanity strong enough to resist Chaos’s wiles, but until then, He solemnly forbade Magnus from telling anyone outside his own legion, even his own brother primarchs, of what he had learned.
By the time The Emperor and the Fifteenth Legion of Astartes had reached Prospero, father and son knew each other as though they had never been parted. Despite all of Magnus’s assurances, the arrival of the Master of Mankind and His fleet of warships was greeted with suspicion by the people of Prospero, but The Emperor’s legendary charisma quickly won them over. To further assuage their fears, Magnus had his legion build their Fortress-Monastery at the heart of Tizca in the hope that they would no longer have to apprehensively watch the skies.
The legion itself had particular reason to celebrate finding their primarch. Although they had not recruited on the basis of psychic talent, the gene-seed they had been patterned upon had boosted their innate abilities and triggered latent ones. As a side-effect it also caused a very high incidence of both genetic and implant mutation among the brethren, to the extent that the legion was smaller than most of the others. As the home of the mutant and the psyker, Prospero was the perfect place for such a legion. By the time Magnus was ready to join the Great Crusade, his original ‘Thousand Sons’ had expanded moderately beyond their nominal level by the cream of Prospero’s talents. As they set out to do The Emperor's great work, what they lacked in conventional numbers was more than made up for with highly trained battle-psykers able to kill an enemy with but a thought.
Their travels across the galaxy brought them into contact with many of Magnus’s brother primarchs. Some, in particular Horus of the Luna Wolves and Lorgar of the Word Bearers, became firm friends. Others, such as the Mortarion of the Death Guard and Leman Russ, the feral primarch of the Space Wolves took an instant dislike to Magnus and everything he stood for. The uncouth Russ called him mutant, sorcerer, unclean and even a Cyclops after the one-eyed giant of Terran legend. At every meeting, be it cordial or adversarial, Magnus respected The Emperor’s demand to keep silent about the nature of Chaos, despite the crushing certainty that ignorance left his brothers vulnerable to the predations of the Ruinous Powers.
Magnus bore his brothers’ harsh words with good grace, in the certainty that once on the field of battle all enmity would be placed aside. This was tested most sorely on the fortress-world of Bartok, where a campaign by the Space Wolves to bring the planet into Imperial compliance had degenerated into a bloody stalemate. In order to bring the campaign to a rapid conclusion, The Emperor Himself had ordered the Thousand Sons to reinforce the assault. The headstrong Leman Russ detested the idea of being seen to need the help of another legion, especially one he had so publically denounced, but he grudgingly submitted to his father’s decree.
Even with the might of two legions, it soon became clear why Russ had struggled. The final and greatest city was protected by directed energy fields and ringed with trenches, strongpoints and bunker networks resulting in brutally effective interlocking fields of fire. The approaches had been turned into a killing ground worthy of those designed by Perturabo or Dorn. As Russ prepared to throw his forces into yet another headlong charge against the enemy guns, Magnus and his legion exposed the weak link in the Bartok defence. All across the battlezone, the Thousand Sons reached into weak, unguarded minds and urged them to turn their guns on their friends. Even as Russ’s Wolves advanced, heavy weapon emplacements tracked away from them to fire upon each other. The doomed forlorn hope was transformed into a famous victory, and once inside the lines of defence, the city quickly fell.
Perversely, the Space Wolves did not appreciate this intervention, again throwing accusations of sorcery and evil intent. Though Magnus well knew the difference between warp-tainted magicks and the pure psychic talents his legion deployed, Russ could not be reasoned with. Only a rapid departure from the warzone averted fratricidal bloodshed. Magnus hoped that never again putting his legion in a position to fight alongside the Space Wolves would allow his brother’s anger to cool, but by then the damage had already been done.
Hamstrung by The Emperor’s decree, Magnus realised that no words of his could pacify the growing mob. He desperately begged a private audience with his father, and in a move both practical and symbolic, proposed that, starting with himself, every member of the Thousand Sons be Soul-bound to The Emperor. Just as Soul-binding fortified Astropaths against the horrors of the Warp, the rite would purge and protect the legion from the temptations of sorcery, and be a palpable sign of their loyalty. The Emperor agreed to this elegant solution, and the act was performed that very night.
In the heart of the Warp, a prized soul that had long been destined to fall to Tzeentch flared like a nova. It incinerated the numberless daemonic entities which had been shepherding it along the path, and floated free once more. Tzeentch, the Weaver of Fates, roared in disbelief as the course of the future lurch down a new and unexpected path.
Magnus and his legion would have been pivotal in the corruption of the Imperium, but as the God of Change, part of him revelled in this unexpected turn of events. Searching the myriad branching threads of the future, Tzeentch traced one that caught his vulture eye. It contained a potent brew of loss, pain, degradation and rebirth, and started inside the dreaming mind of the Raven Guard’s primarch...
When the primarchs and their attendants filed into the council chamber the next morning they saw Magnus standing proudly alongside his father, his one eye socket an empty wound. The process of Soul-binding, of merging essences with the psychic might of The Emperor, had burned out his optic nerve and left the ‘Cyclops’ blind, but Magnus was filled with a second sight that left him far from vulnerable. Though it pacified most, the judgement did nothing to assuage Leman Russ, who stormed from the chamber, and into the service of the Blood God.
Before the legions left Nikaea, Magnus met with his brother primarch, Lorgar of the Word Bearers. He was a pure soul, genuinely happy for the great honour that he saw his friend had been given. Magnus had long held his tongue about the Ruinous Powers, but it had cost him his eye, and he feared that before long it would cost them all far more. For the first time, Magnus broke the vow to his father and warned Lorgar of the threat posed by Chaos. The dire news was received gladly, as it reinforced all that the Word Bearers believed. Their piety and dedication to spread the worship of The Emperor as a deity stood vindicated as vital to the continuation of the human race.
The Thousand Sons returned from Terra irrevocably changed. Though the Soul-binding had taken their sight, it had given them a measure of inner strength – a touch of The Emperor’s reflected aura, as it were - that they had not even known they had been missing. The most obvious outward sign of their change was shown in their helms, which they had re-forged on the journey back to Prospero into smooth, un-nerving masks. They still retained the ability to obtain detailed information on their surroundings from their suit’s autosenses, something that became of particular importance in the presence of psychic blanks such as the Sisters of Silence.
As well as eliminating the need for the vision-enhancing effects of the Occulobe implant, the Soul-binding also had the welcome effect of reducing the rate and severity of mutation within their bodies and gene-seed. They also brought back with them a member of the Adeptus Custodes. Though ostensibly sent as The Emperor’s personal envoy to monitor the progress of the Soul-binding, Magnus suspected that his father had learned of the confession to Lorgar, and the guard was a reminder that he was being watched closely.
Just as the newly transformed legion prepared to return to the Great Crusade, Magnus received intelligence of the utmost importance: The Archenemy had made a move against Horus. While visiting the Warmaster, a Word Bearers chaplain named Erebus had recognised the malaise that Horus had contracted on Davin was in fact nothing less than possession by a powerful daemonic entity. Only through an epic act of heroism that required both spiritual salvation from Erebus, and the combined psychic might of the entire Thousand Sons legion, could the warp-creature be cast out and Horus’s life saved. In a terrible irony, before they could even recover from the exertions of saving one primarch from Chaos, another one descended upon Prospero intent on planetary annihilation.
Before the Thousand Sons had always held back their true power for fear of alienating their allies, but in the face of extinction they threw caution to the wind. They lured their enemies into ambushes on the outskirts of Tizca, first disorienting them with psychic powers, and then cutting them down in lethal crossfires. Just as the battle seemed to be tipping in the Thousand Sons’ favour, the power of Khorne tore through the Empyrean like a tidal wave, affecting every psyker on the planet. The Thousand Sons, protected as they were by the Soul-binding, were left powerless and dazed. The civilian population was affected far more gravely. Those who survived boiled madly from their shelters, only to be torn apart by the bestial, inhuman creatures the Space Wolves had become.
Constantin Valdor had always felt this assignment a fool’s errand and a complete waste of his talents. He was of the Adeptus Custodes - one of The Emperor’s elite guardians. How could he protect his Emperor from half way across the galaxy?
But as he followed the thunderous noise of combat into the Thousand Son primarch’s private chambers, his master’s purpose for sending him here became clear. Magnus, who only a short while before he had been ready to denounce as a practitioner of sorcery, was sprawled on the shattered marble floor, and above him, howling in triumph, stood Leman Russ. Whatever faults the Thousand Sons may lay claim to were as nothing compared to the evil that emanated from the Space Wolves’ primarch. As the inhuman creature before him raised his weapon high to administer the death-blow, Valdor knew how he must serve his Emperor.
Knowing that even he could not hope to stand against such an opponent, Valdor energised his Guardian spear, and leapt at Leman Russ.
With his world turned to ash and its people murdered, Magnus strove to access his psychic powers, but to no avail. Under such physical and mental assault, it was all the Thousand Sons could do to stay alive. When Leman Russ inevitably came for Magnus he was unrecognisable: a blood-drunk beast steeped in the power of Khorne. Only through the Custodian’s heroic self-sacrifice was Magnus able to escape with his life. With the disruption to the aetheric plane finally beginning to wane, Magnus was able to obscure his remaining brothers from view, and leave the necropolis that Tizca had become.
Hearing of Dorn’s betrayal at Istvaan, it became clear that the attack on Prospero was just the opening salvo in a much larger war. Even with their numbers so depleted, the Thousand Sons were determined to do what they could to save The Emperor. Following Russ’s much larger fleet from a discreet distance, they used their mastery of the warp to delay the enemy and send them far off track. It was hoped that in this way they could buy time for the loyal legions to end the rebellion before they arrived. Their gambit to divert the Space Wolves into contact with their bitter rivals, the Dark Angels, sadly did not erupt in the hoped for bloodshed. They greeted each other as allies in Chaos, although it did at least mean that from then on they were keeping two Traitor Legions from The Emperor’s throat.
Their contribution did not come without a price, however. The continuous strain began to take its toll, and towards the end every day that went past left another brother as a powder-dry corpse inside his power armour. With the Space Wolves and Dark Angels just days from Terra, The Emperor was forced to break the stalemate and confront Dorn directly. Magnus felt the psychic battle going on aboard the Phalanx, but was powerless to intervene. Though the Dornian Heresy was ended that day, it left The Emperor wounded to the core, and Magnus felt every one of those agonies across the light-years.
Magnus threw himself wholeheartedly into finding a way to restore his father’s vitality. It became an obsession, with effective command of his legion falling to Captain Ahriman of the First Great Company. One day Magnus emerged from the Astronomicon in high spirits, and, eschewing all offers of company, left Terra, saying only that the solution was “to gather together The Emperor’s sons”. What was meant by this, he has never explained, not even to his own legion or to the High Lords of Terra. By this point most of the primarchs were either dead or turned to Chaos, and as the millennia pass, fewer and fewer remain alive.
The Thousand Sons have never grown used to the unsettling nature of their primarch’s frequent disappearances and unheralded returns. At first his quests were measured in months or years, and he found the time to lead them on the quest to purge the Space Wolves from their homeworld of Fenris. As time went on, Magnus vanished for decades at a time, his whereabouts obscured from even the most determined of seers.
Magnus had shadowed the small band of outlaws through the badlands for more than a fortnight, but having searched for years to find his man, he was content to wait a little longer. They had finally shaken off the Arbites squads in the badlands three days ago – Magnus had been tempted to subtly lend a hand, but if his target had needed help to escape local law enforcement, he wouldn’t have been worth the effort of saving. They always seemed to be troublemakers. They would see a wrong and, filled with the righteous certainty of their convictions, seemed compelled to right it, be it a corrupt official or a den of possessed. Despite the man’s filthy clothes and several days’ growth of stubble, he had the same patrician bearing that he remembered from so long ago. The way their inner purity shone out from beneath the often grimy exterior, it was no surprise that some had called them ‘Grey Knights’. It also explained the devotion they inspired in their followers. It made sense, Magnus supposed. Their father would have been the same even before he rose to power.
Up ahead, wild magicks flickered across the sky from their target. Perhaps it was ostentatious, but he preferred to make contact just as they were fighting for their lives against the forces of the daemonic. Then, with the bond of comradeship established, Magnus would reveal to the man his true lineage - the reason for his unearthly powers, and why he had never grown old. The man was one of The Emperor’s immortal sons, from the days when He had walked among humanity and sowed his wild oats. They were, in a sense, Magnus’s brothers.
He would also explain that within them they held their father’s only hope for salvation. Down the long millennia, Magnus had dedicated his existence to contacting every one of these very special individuals. When he had found enough, they could be gathered together to heal The Emperor’s soul and bring Him back from the point of death. They were the hope of all humanity. It was a mission so audacious and secret that his brother primarchs, and even the members of his own legion could not be trusted to know about it.
What Magnus would not be able to tell these Grey Knights was the extent of the sacrifice that would be involved. Only by releasing their spirits from their physical forms and infusing them into the Astronomicon could The Emperor hope to be saved. Magnus just hoped that his father would be able to forgive such an act.
In Magnus’s absence, Regent Ahriman went to great lengths to see the Thousand Sons rebuilt. His callous and high-handed attitude towards the lives of allies, especially those of the Imperial Army, meant that even as their numbers rose, the regard in which they were held fell. This reputedly earned a furious rebuke from Magnus on his return, after which Ahriman was careful to show more respect for non-psychics, or at least to moderate his public comments.
At the end of his life, Regent Ahriman was finally able to redeem himself. When the hexagrammatic wards used to seal the webway portal in the old Imperial palace began to decay and threatened to tear wide open once more, Ahriman was at the forefront of researching a way to permanently close the rift. His divinations showed that this could only be done from within, something which, as the pre-eminent expert, he insisted on doing personally. Despite all of this, there are still some who claim that it was a ploy; that he survived the process, and became the first human to walk the webway’s paths and search out the secrets of the Eldar’s Black Library. Though such guile was certainly part of Ahriman’s character, if this was the case he has never returned to the Imperium to speak of what he found there.
Though they intentionally cultivate a distant and mysterious persona, the Thousand Sons are forced by their low numbers to frequently work alongside more numerous organisations such as the Imperial Army. Ever since the early, damaging days of Regent Ahriman, Magnus has taken great pains to ensure that the Thousand Sons are perceived by their allies as an invaluable advantage in any battle. So important is this that Thousand Sons of any rank may be reprimanded and even demoted for giving their allies the impression they are being treated as disposable cannon fodder.
Colourpiece 5: Skyrar’s Rift.
Fighting down the rising sense of apprehension, Brother-Captain Iaos extended his mental probe of the rent in space-time. It was bad enough that more than three hundred of his brothers had died in the explosion, but that Wolf Lord Skyrar and his butcher warband could have survived to emerge on the other side was unconscionable.
Preliminary scans confirmed the initial report that the rift was indeed a form of wormhole, and that the local celestial body was the Fenris system’s sun. Simple triangulation with the Astronomicon confirmed this, but something nagged at him. The star was being orbited by a planet eerily familiar: Fenris! It should be long-dead and gone, but here it was! Mastering the rising sense of panic, Iaos tentatively interfaced with the Astropathic network beyond the threshold, and despite finding the protocols very different, searched for word of Skyrar.
What he learned revolted him. Not the brief mention of Skyrar, but what had become of his beloved Thousand Sons in this warped reality... He withdrew his mind from beyond the threshold and bitterly collapsed the rift with a spread of plasma torpedoes.
Skyrar had not escaped justice, it seemed. Being stuck in that terrible place would be his life sentence.
In a legion of battle psykers, the captains of the grand companies are amongst the most potent and skilled, with powers far exceeding those of the chief librarians of any other Astartes. Commanding upwards of a hundred squads, each captain is charged with a specific task by the regent. This varies from guarding Holy Terra and combating incursions of the daemonic, to persecuting the Long War against the Traitor legions, in particular the berserkers of Russ’s Space Wolves. Realising that psychic strength is nothing without the fortitude of faith in The Emperor, the Thousand Sons were the first legion to import Lorgar’s concept of chaplains. These individuals play a vital role in guiding the moral and spiritual growth of the legion. Initiates who, as Lorgar put it, display a particularly intense ‘communion with the divine’ during the Soul-binding ritual are marked out for further training within the Reclusiam.
Just as the chaplains guard their brethren’s souls, the Grand Company’s Apothecarion and Armoury protect their bodies and wargear. Despite this, it has been said that comparatively little care is given to these roles, with positions such as the crewing of vehicles being seen as dumping grounds for those who have not fulfilled their early promise as battle-psykers. However, this is not always the case, as among their ranks are brethren able to manifest psychic talents invaluable to these specialties. Such prodigies can perfectly attune themselves to their subjects, able to reach inside matter to re-knit flesh, soothe a restless machine spirit or re-forge a shattered mechanism, and are vital to the legion’s continued existence.
Individual squads are led by sergeants who are powerful battle-psykers in their own right. It is their responsibility to coordinate and focus the less mature abilities of those in their charge. Despite the intensive training they receive to do this, it is an exceptional talent who can effectively direct more than five or six of his brethren. In this way, each squad is able to employ psychic powers to complement their battlefield role. Such is their unity that each feels the other’s pain. A wound suffered by one, let alone a death, is felt across the mental link by all, and the death of the sergeant can leave the squad stunned and without focus.
Tactical and Devastator squads are able to telekinetically guide their shots to hit weak points in an enemy’s armour, or to strike down those who believe themselves safely behind cover. Units specialising in close combat use their skills to blot themselves from their opponent’s sight, allowing them to approach undetected. The most skilled of veterans can even use their powers to read what an opponent will do even as they think it, an advantage they use to the full in the brutal mêlée of the battlefield. By the time a brother has earned the right to wear Terminator armour his skills are all-but mature. By this stage they are able to channel their psychic might through the crystalline matrix of a force weapon, and the long, arduous training to lead a squad of their own can begin.
After the Heresy, with Prospero nothing more than a mass-grave, the Thousand Sons felt no reason to return there. The place held too many memories and ghosts of dead friends. With Magnus labouring to modify the Astronomicon to sustain The Emperor’s essence, and the Thousand Sons’ invaluable psychic talents put to use in eliminating the taint of the daemonic from the very heart of the Imperium, they began to regard Holy Terra as their new home. Quietly, and with the consent of friends among the High Lords of Terra such as Lorgar and Abaddon, the legion fortified and expanded the complex used to carry out the Soul-binding ritual into their new Fortress-Monastery. From this imposing edifice of silver and white, the Thousand Sons select recruits from amongst those psykers brought in by the Black Ships. They are tested in any number of ways, the final one being the ritual of Soul-binding. Those who survive are declared ready for training, and for the gene-seed implantation process to begin.
This instability also extends to the Magnus gene-seed. While it continues to enhance the psychic talent of the recipient, its inherent mutability shows a noticeable decline in implant efficiency within a bare handful of generations. Although this has been remedied by the frequent infusion of fresh gene-stock derived directly from their primarch, this dependence is yet another cause for concern over Magnus’s frequent and lengthy disappearances. Even beyond their anxiety over the risk of losing their primogenitor, the Thousand Sons realise that his death would also be the harbinger of their own extinction.
Magnus sat numbly, barely hearing the assembled High Lords as they discussed the defences being erected against the tendrils of Hive-fleet Leviathan. Billions of men, whole battle-fleets were being mobilised to fight and possibly die, and yet it seemed inconsequential compared to what he had learned earlier that day.
He was roused by the representative of the Ecclesiarch – even after all this time it still threw him to see someone else in his friend Lorgar’s place. Magnus realised that he had been asked if, during his telepathic communion with The Emperor, the Master of Mankind had deigned to bless their course of action against the Xenos breed. His response was that the God-Emperor was indeed pleased by their plans, and that those who fell would be welcomed warmly into the afterlife by the celestial hosts as Imperial martyrs. It was rousing and inspiring, and Magnus wished it had been anything more than a reassuring lie.
In truth it had been centuries since The Emperor had been able to communicate. With each visit his father’s spirit grew weaker and weaker, the fractured, screaming elements of His psyche long since having blotted out all coherence. But even that had been better than the pitiful silence he had faced today. Magnus blamed himself for being too slow in the Gathering. If only he had worked harder or even reached out to his brothers he could have found them faster. But what was done was done. There, while the High Lords of Terra ordered the death of worlds, Magnus silently made a decision far more momentous.
The Grey Knights must be assembled before there was nothing left of their father to save.
To this end the legion yearns to reconstitute the original dream of Prospero by creating isolated havens for those with psychic talent. Whenever this has been tried over the millennia it has ended in disaster, either through massed daemonic incursion or resentment from neighbouring cities at the extensive and preferential protection offered by the Thousand Sons to these settlements in times of war. Their staunchest critics leap upon such plans as evidence that the Thousand Sons are intent on the forcible replacement of humanity with those of the ‘mutant psyker strain’. There are some amongst the legion who whisper that in the face of such hatred perhaps this would be a good thing. They are, however, in a very small minority, and the legion continues to fight as loyally for the Imperium as it has since the day that Magnus first knelt in fealty to The Emperor.
Edited by Aurelius Rex, 09 September 2009 - 12:17 PM.