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Alt-IA: Night Lords


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#1
Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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Five legions left, and it comes to the Night Lords. I've been looking forward to this one - it fits in with the events on the Phalanx, which have not been covered yet.

It has taken a lot of time to crack this one, but I have finally said I will post this on the board by the end of October. So as usual, the yellow text is a placeholder or an early draft. Orange text is the most recent changes and the nice normal grey text is for sections I am relatively happy with. (10/10/11)

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Index Astartes: Night Lords

The Dornian Heresy


Midnight clad, and wielding fear as a weapon, the Night Lords haunt the dark places of the Imperium. They do this not to hide from the light of justice, but because that is where those who would seek to harm the Emperor’s subjects are to be found. Since the time of their Primarch, Konrad Curze, the Night Lords have been guided by visions of the darkest of futures which they are driven to avert, even at the cost of their own lives. By their blood and sacrifice the Imperium of Mankind has been kept safe from rebellions, xenos invasions and betrayals without number.

Origins
T
he arrival of the infant primarchs changed each of their homeworlds forever, but few have been transformed so profoundly for the better than the planet of Nostramo. The place the Primarch of the Eighth Legion found as he emerged from his incubator pod was one of eternal, stygian darkness, choking pollution and endemic, institutionalised crime; descriptions which certainly do not apply to the Nostramo of the 41st millennium.

In the revered, handwritten accounts of his youth, the primarch tells of how he grew up on the unlit streets of Nostramo Quintus, hiding from everyone, even the gangs of abandoned children which roamed the slums. He watched the press of humanity around him, content simply to study them, until he witnessed a family being menaced by a gang of thugs. The sight of the criminals attempting to steal the baby from its parents offended something deep inside him, and in an instant he was upon them with the only weapons he had – his nails and teeth. By the time his enemies had breathed their last, the terrified family had already fled from their blood-soaked protector. From that point on, no longer was he able to look on as injustice was perpetrated. He made it his business to put an end to such things. Those who witnessed his attacks told of a soulless creature of nightmare which stalked the shadows and wore the darkness like a cloak. For the first time he also had a name: to his prey he was the Night Haunter.

As he grew to maturity, he came to realise that the criminals he had been punishing had been given their orders by more powerful individuals. Over the course of a long, bloody year, the Night Haunter waged war upon the corruption which had spread its tendrils right to the top of society. From the heads of the organised crime syndicates to the law enforcement officials who had spat upon their oaths for personal gain, none were safe from his punishment; their broken bodies left for all to see as warnings to those who broke the Night Haunter’s law. Fearing for their lives, the criminals searched in vain for their tormentor. Unimaginable sums were offered for his head, or even for information, but to no avail. He had no-one, so could not be betrayed, and Nostramo contained more than enough shadows in which to hide.

The war was bloody, but one-sided, and eventually the criminal population was cowed into complete submission. From the alleyways of the undercity to the corridors of power, no-one dared to break the law lest they be the next to suffer the Night Haunter’s retribution. By the time Imperial Expeditions reached Nostramo, drawn initially tales of its bountiful supplies of adamantium, they found the world orderly, productive and ruled over by a being of preternatural abilities. Magnus the Red of the Thousand Sons ventured down to investigate further, and soon confirmed that another of the Emperor’s long-lost primarch sons had indeed been found.

In the time it took for the Emperor to reach Nostramo, Magnus bonded with his brother, and spoke in glowing terms of their father’s great quest to unite the scattered worlds of mankind under Imperial Law. With his interest in justice, this aspect held considerable appeal to the Night Haunter. In return, Magnus was fascinated to learn that his brother was gifted by brief flashes of precognitive ability, although he had so far been unable to use this fore-knowledge in any meaningful way.

The eventual arrival of the Emperor was a time of hushed expectation and awe. So accustomed to the darkness were the people of Nostramo that when the Emperor first stepped from his landing craft, many were dazzled by the golden light reflected from His burnished armour. However, it was as nothing to what occurred next. As the Night Haunter approached his father in humble supplication, the Emperor opened his arms wide in welcome, and the entire sky lit up as it had not done in living memory. In honour of the new dawn which the Imperium had brought to Nostramo, the Emperor had ordered the orbit of Tenebor to be fractionally altered, so that the moon would no longer hold the world in a permanent eclipse.

Even though the light from Nostramo’s dying star was wan and pale, for some it was the last thing they would ever see. Even the Night Haunter was struck down, shaking uncontrollably not at the light, but undergoing one of his prophetic visions. With great tenderness the Emperor laid hands upon His son’s head, and calmed the seizure, saying “Konrad Curze, be at peace. I have arrived and I intend to take you home.” The reply, controlled and level, was recorded for the galaxy to hear:

“That is not my name, father. I am Night Haunter... and I have seen the glory of the Imperium that we will create.”

The Great Crusade
T
he newly renamed Night Lords fought their first campaigns of the Great Crusade alongside the Thousand Sons. This gave Magnus ample opportunity to examine his brother’s fascinating talent, which it seemed was derived from a source far removed from his own method of psychic mastery. Better than almost anyone Magnus knew that the future was not set in stone, and that the visions could as easily be taken as warnings. Yet despite all attempts to use the information gleaned from these prophesies, the fates always seemed to conspire against him. Shorn of context of what they referred to, the jumble of images only seemed to make sense after the event, by which time it was far too late. Night Haunter became increasingly fatalistic and certain these visions were pre-destined to come to pass.

Though he had long resisted it, Night Haunter finally agreed to allow his brother access to the memories of his latest vision. Magnus was more successful than they could have hoped, reassembling the headlong rush of knowledge into a coherent form. Forewarned, they were able to prevent the ambush and destruction of many of the orbiting Imperial Army vessels, and the planet fell into compliance soon afterwards. In the wake of this victory, Night Haunter confessed to his brother the dark truth that had haunted him since he had first met the Emperor on Nostramo; that his prophesy had not, as he had publically stated, been of the inevitable rise of the Imperium. Instead it had shown his own execution, and that the deed had been carried out on the orders of their own father. The proof that the visions were not inevitable and could be averted had freed him to at long last confide this knowledge to another person. With the burden lifted from his shoulders, he was at last able to accept and welcome these visions, and rapidly became skilled at their interpretation. He was also free to set aside his past, and reclaimed the name his father had bestowed upon him – that of Konrad Curze.

The Night Lords’ apprenticeship was finally at an end, and as the Thousand Sons left, reinforcements arrived in the form of the first Astartes recruited from Nostramo. What should have been a moment of great pride proved to be singularly ill-starred. As Curze greeted these new battle-brothers, he was struck by the vision of his legion corrupted from within and populated by criminals and moral degenerates – individuals who carried out wanton acts of brutality for no better reason than for the sick thrill of it. Where Night Haunter might have resignedly embraced this as the inevitable reason for his execution, Konrad Curze would not. Instead, he ordered the new Astartes placed under confinement, and returned to his homeworld with all haste.

He had thought Nostramo left in capable hands. Instead, Curze found that in his absence the criminals had risen up once more and turned the planet into a cess-pool of lawlessness. The Adeptus Arbites and the Administratum had been unable to deal with the situation, so it fell to Curze and his Night Lords to re-impose order through the fear of brutal, inevitable retribution. Within a week, crime had dropped back to nothing, and when the legion eventually returned to the Great Crusade, it was an unbending cadre of Night Lords who held stewardship of the planet rather than the hopelessly outclassed Adeptus Arbites.

The Night Lords found themselves changed by the experience of Nostramo, and with the lessons of the campaign weighting heavily upon them, they saw the Imperium with fresh eyes. The Great Crusade had become a victim of its own success. With so many worlds conquered so fast, many took advantage of their distance from the front lines to rise up against the Imperium. Long before the Iron Warriors were persuaded to bleed away their strength in garrison duties to address this, the Night Lords took it upon themselves to re-impose the rule of Imperial Law on the faltering galaxy.

This was a far more uncompromising, brutal legion than the one which had accompanied the Thousand Sons. It descended on planets only nominally still part of the Imperium, and enshrouded them in a cloak of fear. Planetary leaders were given the ultimatum to submit wholeheartedly to the Pax Imperialis, and any who resisted became bloody public exhibitions to the folly of resistance. They did this not out of sadistic pleasure, but from the knowledge that humanity needed to be subjected to the fear of certain retribution to keep it from straying into corruption. Just as a plant grows twisted if the cane that supports and guides it is removed too soon, the same applied to the Imperium of Mankind.

The Night Lords took it upon themselves to do the terrible things required to keep the Imperium from slipping into anarchy and rebellion, and to protect humanity from its own darkest impulses. Curze’s prophetic visions were vital in crushing rebellions before they could gain ground, and the belief was encouraged that they could see the evil that lurked in the hearts of men. They did all of this willingly, knowing that the price was to be hated, and obviously feared, by the very people they were protecting.

Treachery Revealed
T
hough undoubtedly effective, the Night Lords’ brutal ways were a source of friction with many of the other, more strait-laced legions. During the Great Crusade Angron personally forbade his World Eaters from fighting alongside them, and the Primarch of the Ultramarines took every opportunity to berate Curze for his methods. Guilliman argued that compliance imposed by fear was too fragile, and pointed to the strength and unity of the worlds his legion had brought into compliance on the Eastern Fringe using the Ultramar model.

With the exception of his mentor, Magnus, Curze was never close to his brother primarchs, and so cared little for their low opinion of him. All that mattered was that the Emperor understood his actions. He left his brothers to their machinations, rivalries and petty posturing, confident that while they might differ in their approaches, they were all in their own ways working towards the greater glory of the Imperium. This belief, and the Night Lords’ participation in the Great Crusade, was abruptly terminated on the planet of Cheraut.

It was a testament to the fierce, coordinated resistance of the people of Cheraut that the primarchs of three legions were sent to finally bring them into compliance. The Night Lords arrived first, and Curze ordered his legion to carry out terrible and public displays of brutality against the military forces who opposed them to paralyse the individual nations with fear. The once cohesive, unified world which had stood firm against veteran regiments of the Imperial Army for more than a year fell into disarray. By the time Fulgrim’s Emperor’s Children and Rogal Dorn’s Imperial Fists arrived, every city stood alone, isolated from even their closest neighbours, and ripe to be conquered piecemeal.

To Curze, the Pacification of Cheraut had been a prime example of combining their various talents to great effect, but when he joined his brother primarchs in the shattered remnants of the world’s last and greatest citadel, he found Dorn not appreciative, but furious. The Imperial Fist railed against what the Night Lords had done, claiming that Guilliman and Angron had been right, and that he would answer for the gross excesses carried out in the Emperor’s name. Unwilling to engage in yet another pointless discussion of his methods, Curze turned to leave, but Dorn reached out to stop him. At the touch, Curze was driven to his knees, struck down by a vision of terrible, sickening potency.

Both Dorn and Curze were there, but rather than on Cheraut they were in the midst of the Emperor’s Throne Room on Terra. Rather than the serene majesty Curze had remembered, there were obvious signs of battle damage and the charnel stench of death hung heavy in the air. Dorn’s ornate golden armour was engraved with unholy symbols painful to look upon, and his sunken eyes burned with hate and the icy fires of insanity. Curze tried to move, but could only strain against the heavy shackles which restrained him. His struggling grew ever-more frantic as Dorn drew a black bladed sword, and stepped aside to reveal the broken, unconscious body of the Emperor, and with a smile held the blade to his father’s throat. With an almighty snap the chain holding Curze gave way, and he threw himself across the room at Dorn, hands contorted into talons to rip and tear at the Arch-Betrayer...

...When he awoke from the vision, his hands were around Dorn’s throat, and in a desperate attempt to prevent the future he had been shown he continued to attack, rending and tearing with tooth and nail. Even as the blows rained down on him from all those around, he tried to explain the importance of what he was doing, but his words were lost in a howl of incoherent pain and rage. He shrugged off the yellow armoured Astartes as though they were nothing, but before he could take the life of his treacherous brother, Fulgrim was there, and in a blur of purple and gold tore him away from Dorn and knocked Curze unconscious.

While held in custody aboard the Phalanx - the vast flagship of the Imperial Fist fleet – Curze came to realise the full gravity of his situation. His carefully crafted reputation as an object of fear, and the damning testimony of Fulgrim, someone known to loathe Rogal Dorn, had left people wary of his motives and even of his sanity. Furthermore, having seen the suspicion and unfair accusations of sorcery that dogged his brother Magnus, any talk of prophesy would serve only to further weaken his case. Knowing the result that a trial before the Council of Primarchs would return, and that his vision had shown him as Dorn’s prisoner, he made his escape from the Phalanx leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. While the Imperial Fists and Emperor’s Children searched for him in vain, he made his way back to his legion, and quietly slipped away into the darkness between the stars.

Alone in his private sanctum, Curze was again plagued by the ghosts of what could have been. His officers all agreed that he had made the right choice. To have tried to penetrate deeper into the Phalanx – to its very command section - would have been madness. The security aboard that massive ship had been so tight that he had been lucky to escape at all, and he had needed to get the news of Dorn’s future treachery to those who could avert it...

... And yet...

... And yet...

... And yet still he felt as though he had made a grave mistake. He felt that if he had been able to reach Dorn – who was already badly wounded – he could have ended this... this heresy before more innocent blood could be spilled.

For a moment he was lost amongst the antiseptic corridors of the Phalanx, until his equerry, Captain Shang, entered the room. He had made his decision; there was nothing to be gained in continuing to shadow the Phalanx. They already knew full well where they must be to avert Dorn’s betrayal. They must set course for Terra.



The Siege of Terra
A
s ever, the background and context to Curze’s prophetic vision had been maddeningly lacking. The only thing of which he could be certain was that Dorn would spit on his oaths of fealty to the Emperor and attempt to kill Him in His own throne room. Knowing nothing of the insidiously corrupting nature of the Ruinous Powers, Curze could not comprehend why a dutiful and self-sacrificing individual such as Dorn would turn on the Emperor. In fact, it was just these traits that had earned him the title of the Emperor’s Praetorian, and the Imperial Fists the honour of garrisoning the Imperial Palace from attack; something which made the Night Lords’ task all the more difficult.

They looked on as hunted fugitives, unable to prevent the disasters that were to come, but when Dorn’s treachery was finally revealed at the Istvaan Drop-site massacre, the Night Lords were in place to act. With the anarchy of Dorn’s rebellion, the Night Lords were at last able to penetrate the supremely tight defences of the Terran system without detection. Unfortunately, by this point the Emperor was already trapped inside his Throne Room by the demi-legion of Imperial Fists which Dorn had left to garrison the outer palace.

So good were the Imperial Fists at this task that despite all their stealth, it was only with the arrival of the Blood Angels, and their eventual sloppy relief of the Imperial Fists on the outer walls, that the Night Lords were finally able to penetrate the walls of the palace. They ran riot through the palace, attacking the forces of Chaos and the Imperial Fists in particular, but for all the devastation they caused, it was merely a distraction. Their true purpose was to release the Emperor from the cage His Throne Room had become.

With the area ahead cleared, they moved out through the Investory. Passing through such an exposed area was a risk, but it was the most direct route back out of the palace. Around them, in a ring, were twenty plinths. Two of positions had long stood empty, and Curze was far from surprised to find that since the Heresy many more of the statues had been either removed or destroyed, including his own representation which had stood upon the eighth plinth. Noticing that his father had stopped in his tracks, Curze looked back anxiously.

‘I never liked this place, Konrad,’ said his father, his eyes on the missing eleventh statue. ‘Malcador would never confirm it, but I am certain that this was where the execution was carried out... where my son died at my command. It is as though I can hear his death-scream echoing from these stones.

Such talk of executions chilled his heart, and yet still Curze yearned to finally admit to his father what the vision had shown him when they had first met for the first time. But then the moment was gone, and the Emperor was once more striding purposefully towards the far side of the Investory.



Curze begged his father to leave Terra, but the Emperor was unbending in his refusal. Even the arrival on Terra of Rogal Dorn at the head of the Istvaan Traitor Legions could not dissuade Him, after which Curze never again broached the subject. What the Emperor said to convince Curze that He must not leave Terra to the traitors has long-since been lost to the ages, but most within the legion believe that it refers to a prophesy borne not by the son, but by the father.

Still unaware that their quarry had been spirited away, the traitors continued to focus all of their efforts on breaching the walls of the throne room. This allowed the Night Lords to do what they knew best; instilling the fear of retribution amongst the Chaos forces across the planet. During this time, Curze received further warnings, which he tried to avert with varying degrees of success. His vision of Perturabo being dealt a grievous, plague-infected wound by Sanguinius of the Blood Angels came even as the assault on the Ultimate Gate was about to take place. Despite contacting Perturabo minutes before the attack, the primarch of the Iron Warriors contemptuously ignored the warning, and was instead killed outright by the rotting primarch. Even beyond the grief and responsibility Curze felt for the loss of his brother, the revelation that his actions could inadvertently create an even darker path shook Curze to the core.

As the Siege of Terra ground through its third month, the war fell into stalemate, with neither side able to comprehensively defeat the other. With the long-delayed fleets of the Dark Angels and Space Wolves growing ever-closer, the Imperial forces sought a way to end the rebellion before they could arrive by killing the Arch-Betrayer himself. However, since the breaching of the Imperial throne room Dorn had rarely been seen on Terra, and had instead taken to coordinating the campaign from the Phalanx.

Protected behind countless banks of void shields and wielding enough firepower to devastate any Imperial fleet sent against it, the Phalanx appeared impervious to assault. Every attack simulation the Warmaster could conceive ended in abject failure, and while a covert action might prove more successful, there was no time to put such a plan into operation. At that moment Curze stepped from the shadows, and announced that he would be able to bring down the Phalanx’s shields for long enough to allow a strike-force to teleport aboard. He had been granted a vision of the desperate direct assault against the Phalanx, and of the Imperial fleet, including the Warmaster’s own flagship, illuminating the night like new suns as they burned. Since he had received that warning, the Night Lords had spent every waking moment preparing and analysing the weaknesses of the Phalanx. Just as Konrad Curze had escaped from the Phalanx as it lay in orbit around Cheraut, he was certain he and his team could also break onto it.

The Phalanx
T
he Plalanx that Curze found waiting for him was subtly different from the one he remembered from his last visit. Gone were the cold, functional ascetics, replaced instead by the corruption he had come to associate with the servants of the Ruinous Powers. The insidious taint affected even their vox channels and drowned their frequencies with white noise. He and his hand-picked companions ghosted with ease through the darkened, nearly deserted corridors. By melting into the shadows to avoid patrols and killing only when necessary, they were able to reach their objective without alerting the enemy to their presence. Though the shield generator dwarfed anything aboard their own ships, it was only one of many aboard the Phalanx, and its destruction would leave the ship vulnerable for only a brief span. The Night Lords triggered their explosives and reduced the shield generator to slag, but with their vox channels useless they could but hope that the Emperor’s strike force had been ready to attack.

With their presence revealed, the Night Lords took advantage of the devastation and darkness to turn the enemy’s territory into their own. They were in their element, but such was the size of the Phalanx that Curze knew it would be impossible to reach his father before His assault on Dorn’s command sanctum. The Night Lords would have been content simply to punish the followers of the Arch-Betrayer that pressed in on them, but it soon became apparent that something had gone terribly wrong.

Due to the corrupted nature of the ship, they almost dismissed the twisted half-figure merged into the wall as yet another daemonic manifestation, and yet the distinctive burnished golden armour revealed it to be nothing less than one of the Emperor’s Custodian Guard. Curze even recognised the man as part of his father’s strike force, who had clearly suffered a catastrophic accident during teleportation. As Curze reached out to close the eyes of the tortured man, he was again struck by a vision of the near-future. Through tears of grief, Curze told his officers that he had seen the traitors triumphant. He spoke of Dorn boasting of how he had feigned shaking off the daemonic and begged forgiveness, and had used that moment of confusion to strike down first Warmaster Horus and then the Emperor.

With no way to contact his father to warn of Dorn’s treachery, and being much too far from the command bridge to fight their way there, Curze did the only thing he could to get into Dorn’s presence. Much to the dismay of his Night Lords, he left them with the cryptic phrase “This will be my Investory”, before surrendering to the Imperial Fists and demanding to be taken before their primarch.

The Night Lords fought on with renewed ferocity, but by the time they cut their way through to the Sons of Horus the battle, and the Heresy, had already ended. Curze’s actions had bought the Emperor enough warning to raise His guard against Dorn’s deceit, but it came at a terrible cost. The last seconds of Curze’s life were recorded on the vid-logs of the primarch’s own armour. Curze was securely chained and shackled, yet confident as he was brought before Dorn. When offered the stark choice between life and death – to join the rebellion, or die there and then - Curze gave a chilling, contemptuous laugh, and calmly rejected his offer, before defiantly addressing Rogal Dorn:

“Why did I come before you only to be killed? Because your Heresy, and the act you are about to commit, proves the truth of my actions at Cheraut. I merely tried to punish one who would go on to cause so much harm – my only regret is that I did not succeed in killing you before you made war on our father, our Emperor. Death is nothing compared to vindication."

Despite exhaustive examination, the exchange has given little clue as to exactly how Curze’s death averted the events of his prophetic vision. All is certain is that through this act of supreme self-sacrifice, the Emperor’s life was saved, and the Arch-Betrayer’s Heresy brought to an end.

Pax Imperialis
D
orn’s Heresy had ended with his death aboard the Phalanx, but it had dealt a crippling blow to both the Emperor and His Imperium. Just as Nostramo had slipped back into corruption and anarchy when Curze first left the planet, they saw the same thing happening on a galaxy-wide scale. Though the grieving Night Lords yearned to join the other loyal Astartes in running down the retreating Traitor Legions, their first Legion Master, Zso Sahaal, realised that their skills could be put to use in a far more productive way. The Night Lords used their dread reputation and the promise of inevitable and bloody retribution to prevent the fragile Imperium from splintering into a million warring fiefdoms. They became the shadow of fear that enforced the Pax Imperialis.

In this task they were aided by the High Lords of Terra, who ruled in the Emperor’s name, and in particular by their leader, Ezekyle Abaddon of the newly renamed Black Templars. Having seen at first hand the service and sacrifice of Curze and his Night Lords, High Lord Abaddon gave them carte blanche to bring rebellious planets back into line, and to ensure that governors thinking of declaring independence reconsidered the wisdom of such actions. He also ordered that the full weight of the Officio Assassinorum stand alongside the Night Lords in this task, an edict which remains in force to this day.

Along with the extensive intelligence-gathering abilities of the Vanus Clade of Assassins, who monitor and predict worlds likely to fall to rebellion or to come under attack by invasion, a rare few Night Lords are also blessed with their primarch’s gift of prophesy. This allows the Night Lords to crush insurrections in their infancy, and to divert forces to stand against acts of aggression by Xenos and Chaos forces. Yet for all the good that the Night Lords do, their appearance is rarely greeted with enthusiasm. All too often they are seen as harbingers of doom, arriving as they do just ahead of either an invading war-fleet, or as agents of bloody vengeance. With good reason it is said that the black eyes of the Night Lords are able to see the evil in mens’ hearts, and as few are without a trace of sin, many a guilty conscience is prickled by word of their arrival.

‘They’re a pretty sorry bunch, Prophet,’ growled Brother-Sergeant Renzar as they watched the ragged group of villagers climbing aboard the transport shuttle. The vision had shown the villagers massacred, and while Tarl was thankful they had been saved, it was difficult to see what galaxy-shaking tragedy they had just averted.

‘Perhaps it wasn’t the civilians – the vision could have been about these Traitor Astartes. The motivations of the Dark Angels are almost as difficult to fathom as the prophesies,’ said Tarl. He stooped to pick up a bolter-pocked shoulderpad bearing the icon of the ‘Ravenwing’ and threw it into the heart of the blazing pyre. Be it determination, desperation or simply arrogance, the traitors had attacked despite knowing the world was under the protection of the Night Lords. On this occasion, though, all of their vaunted speed had served only to bring them into the ambush that little bit faster.

Lost in thought, Tarl did not notice the broad-shouldered man climb onto the transport, and take one last look back at the corpses of the former battle brothers who had hunted for him...



Combat Doctrine
T
o the Night Lords, fear is a weapon as deadly as the bolter or the chainsword. For this reason they openly proclaim their presence through haunting whispers in the vox channels even before the first flayed enemy corpse is left for all to see. This throws their opponents into disarray, often withdrawing back to the perceived safety of their bases, although by this time the Night Lords have long-since infiltrated the area.

They strike seemingly from nowhere, favouring hit-and-run attacks to frontal assaults, before melting back into the darkness. Nowhere is safe from the Night Lords’ wrath, and this continues until even the dullest of imaginations comes to see them in every shadow and dark corner. In this way a small number of Night Lords can seemingly be everywhere, and can paralyse a whole army, or even a whole world with fear. Only when a base or settlement is psychologically isolated, with nothing to listen to on the vox but the chilling promise of retribution and the looped screams of their missing squad mates, do the Night Lords mass for the final attack. With their helms decorated like skulls, they appear as death incarnate, come to claim those who have transgressed the Emperor’s laws.

Even in cases where the enemy is said to have no fear, the Night Lords finely honed talents have still proved to be effective. Be they the synapse-creatures of the Tyranid Hive-mind or the corrupted Magos of the Dark Mechanicus, by targeting their leaders, the followers are soon left either milling around in confusion, or are soon ordered to adopt a far more static, defensive stance. Though some may call it a simple logical or evolutionary response to the presence of the Night Lords, this rapid drawing in of forces and settling into a state of heightened awareness holds many similarities to that of fear.

Organisation
T
he Night Lords still retain their formal grand company command structure, although in practice they are split into forces of rarely more than a half a dozen squads, the better to cover the truly enormous scale of the Imperium. They generally prefer small, swift vessels to the massive battle-barges of some other legions, relying on speed and stealth rather than raw firepower. Their mere presence in a system is sufficient to remind Imperial governors and citizens alike of their responsibilities, and to banish any foolish thoughts of rebellion. Given their preferred method of combat, the actions of even a single squad of Night Lords are magnified by wildfire rumour so that the enemy will believe they are fighting an entire company of shades.

The legion is aided both on and off the battlefield by the temples of the Assassins, from the infocytes of Clade Vanus procuring and analysing data to the agents of the Vindicare training battle-brothers in the fine art of killing from afar. Though a Night Lord force commonly counts but a single assassin amongst their number, far rarer and more prized are the legion’s prophets. They can come from any background or specialisation – for instance, one of the legion’s finest and most valiant prophets was not an officer, but an apothecary – and as soon as their talent manifests they come under close scrutiny by the brothers of the Librarium.

As Magnus the Red well understood, there is little link between the psychic power of the librarians and the prophetic visions of the Night Lords. They are invaluable, however, in helping to draw out and analyse the often maddeningly vague assemblage of images into a coherent form, and to help identify when and where the disaster is set to occur. They are also used to test the veracity of both the prophesy, and even of the prophet himself, as the consequences of the Ruinous Powers influencing these visions would be truly disastrous.

Homeworld
I
n the centuries before the coming of the Imperium, Nostramo had been mined intensively for the adamantium riches which lay beneath its surface, and the industrial processes needed to refine the metal for export had reduced the atmosphere to a noxious fume. It did not require the power of prophesy to foresee that, if left unchecked, the Imperium’s insatiable greed would rapidly mine the planet hollow and render the air completely unbreathable. For this reason, on taking Nostramo as their homeworld the Night Lords enforced stringent quotas on mining, and have remained unbending even in the face of intense pressure to increase production. If they should ever waver, they need only remember the tragic fate of Cthonia, and indeed the fall of the Dark Angels on Caliban, to stiffen their resolve.

Despite the arrival of the Emperor bringing daylight to Nostramo, the population have proved unwilling to embrace this new dawn. For a people genetically adapted to the darkness, even the weak sunlight which reaches them can be blinding, and under the protection of the Night Lords there is little to fear from the shadows. Because of this, Nostraman society conducts its business wherever possible during the night, with the population careful to return to their shuttered homes before the first scorching rays of sun return at dawn. The only souls to be found out during the day are those not indigenous to the planet, or those forced by circumstance to brave the daylight behind goggles of smoked glass and layers of protective clothing.

Over the millennia the five cities of Nostramo have steadily expanded, although Quintus, the place where the infant primarch first fell to earth and the site of the legion’s fortress-monastery, retains primacy. It is said by off-worlders that despite their large populations the cities of Nostramo are unnervingly quiet and well-ordered. The streets are clean and free of litter, and even the air is sweet – at least in comparison to the levels of pollution pumped into the atmosphere before the arrival of the Emperor.

Recruitment
W
hile many of the Emperor’s legions draw their recruits from across the Imperium, the Night Lords take aspirants almost exclusively from their homeworld. They do this not from dogmatism, but from long experience that, not just physiologically, but also psychologically, the Nostraman population yields the most promising and compatible aspirants. However, there was a time when this was not thought to be the case.

During the Great Crusade, Curze had to return to Nostramo to reverse the world’s descent into anarchy and corruption. To prevent his legion from becoming tainted with moral degenerates and psychopaths he turned his Night Lords loose upon the criminal elements in an echo of his first great purge of Nostraman society. So effective was this that some grew concerned that the population had become cowed into such a submissive state that they would be all-but useless as Astartes. Needless to say, they should not have doubted their primarch. Just as the Nostraman people had adapted to the dark by losing their irises, they also adapted to a society where crime was so swiftly, brutally and publically punished by embracing Curze’s concept of natural justice not just as the norm, but as their moral duty.

Rather than passively avert their eyes from criminal acts, secure in the knowledge that their Night Lord guardians would soon deal very publically with the miscreant, Nostramans gained the confidence to stand against wrongdoers themselves. While at first this may have been done out of fear, that inaction might have been seen as complicity, it has long since been because seeing such acts genuinely offends their ingrained sense of justice. While the Night Lords continue to watch over Nostramo and its people, what little crime that might occur is frequently dealt with by ordinary citizens. The Night Lords continue to watch silently from the shadows, but their role is now as much to identify those who might possess the moral fibre to become potential aspirants as it is to guard the streets from crime.

To those truly without sin, the world of Nostramo is the safest in the Imperium.

Tenebor

The moon of Tenebor holds a great fascination for the people of Nostramo. During the hours of darkness its presence is cursed, as the moonlight it reflects is said to spoil the purity of the night. To a Nostraman it only becomes ‘true night’ once the moon slips below the horizon. Conversely, during the day the total eclipses it brings are seen as greatly favoured, as they blot out not only the sun, but also a great many of the stars in the sky.

As befits such an influential celestial body, Tenebor makes an appearance among the Lesser Arconoi; a Nostraman variant of the Emperor’s Tarot. Because of the duality of its nature, it is said to carry a multitude of different interpretations depending upon its position, orientation and interaction with the other cards in the draw.



Gene-seed
A
lthough the primarch of the Night lords is long-dead, his legacy lives on in the form of the gene-seed implanted into every one of the legion’s battle-brothers. This gene-line has proved to be stable and resistant to mutation, with all nineteen implants functioning with commendable efficiency. Of particular note is the startlingly acute night-vision displayed by the Night Lords, which is believed to be due to a particularly fortuitous interaction between their occulobe and the black, irisless eyes of the Nostraman population.

While this gift has helped to shape the tactics used by every Night Lord, there is another, far more extraordinary inheritance passed down from Konrad Curze to but a select few of his brethren – the power of prophesy. Such are the stresses that these visions place upon both body and soul that their bearers can be readily identified by their haunted, even haggard appearance. Because of the huge role that these warnings play in the psyche and effectiveness of the legion a staggering amount of research has gone into understanding how to increase the number of individuals able to harness this invaluable talent. Over the centuries innumerable approaches have been championed, and yet in truth the proportion of individuals with this talent has barely kept pace with the expansion of the legion.

Battle Cry
G
iven their preferred style of combat, the Night Lords rarely use a conventional battlecry to stir the blood before a charge. The closest approximation to this would be the whispered threats and agonised screams which they bleed across the enemy’s comm frequencies, or the soft sigh of a blade being drawn when you thought you were alone.

Edited by Aurelius Rex, 31 October 2011 - 11:29 PM.

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Index Astartes: Scions of Dorn

#2
Aurelius Rex

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Previously published information:

FROM THE OVERVIEW ARTICLE

The ordeal revealed to the Warmaster the true dangers of Chaos - a power so great that even he and his fellow Primarchs were not immune to its corrupting touch. Horus was severely weakened by the events of Davin, and out of position to deal with what was to come. First, Curze of the Night Lords attacked Rogal Dorn, before going on the run with his legion. Worse still, word came from the galactic east that Guilliman had declared independence from the Imperium, claiming dominion over a massive region of space that he called ‘Ultramar Segmentum’.

+++


A ray of hope came for the embattled defenders as the mercurial Night Lords appeared from nowhere. Nothing had been heard from the legion since their Primarch, Konrad Curze, had physically attacked Dorn and taken his followers into hiding. Once more, Night Lord fought Imperial Fist, but this time the reason for it was clear. Characteristic of the Night Haunter’s favoured tactics, the battle through the Imperial Palace was brutal and swift. Then, without warning, they withdrew to take the fight elsewhere across Terra.

+++

As soon as The Emperor announced His decision to board The Phalanx, Curze appeared from the shadows and volunteered his services. It was known that the Night Lord Primarch was privy to prophetic visions, often of the worst possible fates, and yet even to The Emperor he rarely spoke of what he saw. It was said that these nightmares were not inevitable, and that Curze was constantly tormented to ensure that the worst excesses of his visions would not come to pass.

Before he could be asked more details of his plan, Curze was gone. True to his word, though, at the appointed hour sensors registered an internal explosion aboard The Phalanx and the shields preventing teleportation flickered and died. The Emperor, flanked by his Custodes, and Horus along with his Mournival of captains teleported onto the ship, but were scattered across the vast command decks by sinister magicks. Called by the psychic presence of The Emperor, the loyalists fought their way back to their leader.

Horus reached The Emperor just outside of Dorn's personal Sanctum, to find the Primarch's terminator armour-clad guards dead, and the armoured doorway already open. A wail of unutterable anguish echoed from the chamber beyond. The pair ventured inside and found the room a wreck. Fine tapestries had been ripped from the walls, and Dorn was smashing the complex mechanisms of his Pain-Glove with the sheared adamantium haft of his personal standard – the banner awarded to him by The Emperor. The pair advanced, ready for the kill, but Horus recognised the look in his brother's eyes from his time just after the possession on Davin and urgently waved his father back.

Dorn mumbled that he had been freed - that the pulse from the Astronomicon had given him enough strength to finally banish the daemon. He said that he had killed his corrupted bodyguards and retreated to the Pain-Glove to atone for his sins. Empathising with Dorn, the Warmaster put aside his weapons and advanced, open-handed in friendship, to embrace his returned brother. More wary than Horus, The Emperor hung back, and as though compelled by some unexplained urge, kicked aside a fallen tapestry to reveal the brutalised corpse of Konrad Curze.

+++

FROM IA:BA

Inside, they greeted the demi-legion of Imperial Fists that Dorn had left behind. These palace guards turned prison warders had been charged with trapping the Emperor inside His own armoured bunker of a throne room until Dorn‟s return from Istvaan. The hatred that Sanguinius felt for the Emperor burned so brightly that in spite of his legion‟s lack of siege-craft he summoned his Blood Angels from their posts on the palace‟s outer walls to assault the throne room‟s fortifications. Unsurprisingly, the attack failed, and in the confusion the Night Lords mounted the unguarded battlements and briefly ran amok, before melting back into the darkness. This led to much tension between Sanguinius and First Captain Sigismund, the commander of the Imperial Fist contingent, and caused even more when the raid‟s true objectives eventually became apparent.

+++

It was then the turn of the Chaos Legions to force a breach of their own, this time against the adamantium walls of the inner throne room. Once inside, it become clear that the Night Lords‟ earlier attack had in fact been a diversion to allow the Emperor to escape.








FROM IA:IH

The Iron Warriors tested the palace’s defences and defenders with vigour, gaining valuable insights about the weakness of the design, but losing many battle-brothers in the process. Seeing this, Horus told him to pull back, that these brethren would be needed later. Even Konrad Curze, half a world away, contacted Perturabo and begged him to withdraw. The Iron Warriors, however, had not turned their backs on liberating the garrison worlds and on their friends in the Mechanicus only to walk away from confronting their most hated enemy and the chance of ending Dorn’s Heresy once and for all.

+++

Let the Word Bearers have their hollow chants and litanies of faith, Perturabo thought. To him, there was no finer choir than the full-throated roar of his mighty siege guns. The subtle flaw he had detected in the great gate was becoming more pronounced with every impact – one more volley would be sufficient. Around him, his legion stood ready, each battle-brother knowing their role in the imminent breaching assault. As the artillery reloaded and prepared to fire again, Perturabo reflected upon the urgent, almost incoherent vox message he had received from Curze not ten minutes before. All the talk of dire prophesies and visions, warning of his death if he proceeded with the attack - not at the hands of Dorn, but by Sanguinius - sounded at best laughable, and at the worst a sign of Chaos warp-craft. The Imperial Palace was Dorn’s masterpiece, and if it was about to be breached, he would undoubtedly be there.

The massive siege guns fired again, and the Ultimate Gate fractured along the fault with an almighty crack, and a stench of putrescent death. He led his legion at a sprint towards the breach, ignoring the stuttering gunfire from the battlements high above. Ahead, a hot, foetid wind parted the smoke and dust that had obscured the gate to reveal Sanguinius, decaying and yet filled with a terrible infernal power. In one gut-wrenching instant it dawned on Perturabo that Curze’s prediction might be true. He could have withdrawn there and then. He could have lived to fight another day, but he would have died inside. That was not the man he was, or would ever be.

Cursing the Night Lord for planting that nagging seed of self-doubt in his mind, Perturabo roared his defiance and charged at the rotting beast that had once been his brother.

+++

Deleted Scenes:

This is where I will store any sub-plots that I really like, but don't think fit the story. They will be here in case I decide to re-integrate them later on.

1. The Emperor arrives at Nostramo to meet his primarch son, accompanied by Magnus and his Thousand Sons. As a demonstration of His power, the Emperor gets the might of the Imperial fleet / Mechanicus to shift the orbit of Tenebor, the moon which eternally held the world eclipsed in darkness. As He stepped out of His ship, the sun shone down on the planet for the first time in living memory, establishing the Emperor as the Bringer of Light. To extend a heavy handed metaphor, the arrival of the Imperium at Nostramo was to be a new dawn to rise.

For the PDF as a 'Deleted Scene'
Prophesy Colourpiece:
One of their most widespread and persistent prophesies is that they will be the ones to destroy their planet, and everyone on it. They don’t know when this is supposed to happen, or even why, and are haunted by the thought of it. They can’t conceive of a reason they would do it, but it keeps returning to their dreams. The first instance occurred in 967.M41 by XXX of the XXX Grand Company, and since that time it has been verified by prophets across every single Grand Company in the legion. Vision of what appears to be the entire Night Lord fleet in high orbit above Nostramo, gravely but determinedly launching all of their firepower at the planet below. Like every other vision there is no indication of the reason for why they would do this, or when it is set to happen. The marine is on the bridge of the warship rather than in a conventional battle and so is not wearing his helmet, and despite the greatest of psychic prompting of his eidetic memory, there is no hint of the time on any of the many bridge display screens. Astrocartographic analysis – would the position of the stars show the time? Would it help to identify ships, or ranks / commanders from the available data? Put in some ambiguity, perhaps? The first few visions were scattered, unclear – and were put down to the legion coming together as one to defend Nostramo from some massive orbital invasion, or possibly that Tenebor, their moon, is in an unstable orbit and they need to destroy it before it hits the planet.

Edited by Aurelius Rex, 31 October 2011 - 07:19 PM.

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Index Astartes: Scions of Dorn

#3
Brother Nihm

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B&C ate my reply. ;)

Basically, to tie the dornian nl in with Lord of the Night,

Have them act as peacekeepers in M41, stamping out rebellions, hunting heretics with absolute brutality (overwhelming force, a keyword of the NL).

You could also take the wild spin and have them BE the Inquisition in M41... -_-


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#4
Ferrata

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I think a problem you will have is making the Night Lords different to either the Raven Guard and the Alpha Legion. They could quite easily use their terror in a stealthy method, disappearing from existance to control the Imperium. The opening article doesn't really say what they have been upto since the DH, so they could be doing anything.

The Peace Keepers idea is prety cool, and could be linked to them disappaering from Imperial records. Maybe have them similar to the Legion of the Damned, appearing where they are most needed and then retreating back. Not in a magically sort of way, but they are always watching, always waiting - Guardian Angels almost ;) It links to what Konrad did with the Emperor and after striking Dorn - doesn't confront directly but is always there, watching, scheming and waiting for the perfect time to strike.

#5
Ace Debonair

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Well, I could only resist clicking on this for about five minutes. :)

What are they like in M41?
Use fear to terrify their enemies, Jump-packs? Still, don't want them to just turn into a blue Raven Guard, so need something else as well.


A lone-wolf-vigiliante mindest, taking on threats to the Imperium before others are even aware of the threat?
Although that would probably rely on at least some form of divination. Or informants, but that's perhaps a bit too AL.

Conversely, Kurze could come up with some big 'end of days' prophecy that the Night Lords constantly watch for/work against?

On a different note:

If they relentlessly go to where they are needed most, you could have some superstitious Guardsmen/citizens see them as bad luck - if the Night Lords turn up to support a campaign, it means the enemy has invariably got something terrible up their sleeve, and they're all as good as dead.

That could play to the Batman theme a bit - even though they generally do good deeds, the common folk of the Imperium are almost as wary of the NL as their enemies. You know, that sort of thing.

#6
Aurelius Rex

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I think the biggest problem I had when I originally started writing this was indeed finding a differentiation from the Raven Guard. At that time - I can't remember when it was - I put the problem aside and wrote another IA like the Thousand Sons or the Word Bearers one.

Hopefully I am in the swing of things enough to get past this mental roadblock. ;)

@Phil - thanks a lot for the rapid feedback on the DA - I will get back to you regarding the feedback (even though I have posted) at the weekend, and will forward you the most up to date version of the word file if you are feeling bored over the Easter holiday. :tu:

I have got a load of thoughts which have been bubbling around in the background while I have been working on the other IA's - the brief notes at the end of the first post came from 2007-08 when I was working up the outline for the overview piece, and it has been refined by events... although I am yet to get those changes down here.

First, a way to differentiate them from the [DH] Alpha Legion is to have them openly proclaim their presence - which the AL would never do. People can get more scared if they know you are there, even if they don't know exactly where or how you will strike!

There could be scope for the NL to be very aloof, or rather, isolated from the rest of the Imperium, just turning up unexpectedly with bad news, or to save the day. I'm not sure if that skirts the AL's territory a little too closely, though. It's going to be a fine line. Possibly they are known in the Imperium rather than the ghosts and rumors of the AL, but don't take a headline role, leaving it to others while they work menacingly in the background. Erm... let me work on this! :unsure:

Regarding prophesies, Ace, although perhaps not what you meant exactly, but I want the primarch's prophesy dreams (of the worst case scenario) to extend to some other brothers - a gene-seed thing rather than a librarian one. This ties in with the collaborative stories from the 'Crusade for Antioc' AoD which included Joker's Night Lord who had prophesy flashes, and also ties in with the current Night Lord novels from A D-B, so there should be broad acceptance of the idea. Anyway, the prophesy that they keep having is of their world being destroyed, and it happening at their own hands. Their HH homeworld was destroyed by the NL before their Horus Heresy, but has survived in the DH timeline, and while they have fought off invasions, they don't know if, when or why these events figure so heavily in their dreams. Have it hanging over them.

Finally, I really like the idea of them being seen by some as a bad omen! They know that there will be trouble before it happens and so their appearance is taken by many as a sign that things are about to go very badly indeed very soon. The analogy in the Lord of the Rings is Wormtongue calling Gandalf the Stormcrow - that he is a harbinger of dark deeds and woe. :evil:

@Nihm - Welcome to our resident Night Lord! :) I haven't got Lord of the Night, sadly... and it seems to be well out of print. Could you explain further what you mean by this? Hunting heretics and being peacekeepers sounds good, as long as it is shooty and choppy! :evil: I see them as a lot more humane (although not 'nice') than the HH NL who are - lets be frank - mad as fruitbats! :lol:

Edited by Aurelius Rex, 14 April 2011 - 10:19 PM.

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Index Astartes: Scions of Dorn

#7
Brother Nihm

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Could you explain further what you mean by this?

I'll try, but I don't have the book with me here at work so this is from memory.

In Lord of the Night, the main protagonist is Zso Sahaal, a Night Lord Captain and who is also known as 'the first Raptor'. At one point in the book it is revealed through him (biased as it may be) that The Emperor's plans for the Night Lords was to be his keepers of the peace for newly conquered systems (in fact the emnity between Dorn and Konrad springs from this, as they argue over the NL's methods of subduing the newly conquered population, this later leads to the famous fight between the two Primarchs). Konrad also refers to himself a few times as 'the emperor's pet monster', doing the dirty things that needed doing, regardless of the way it was done.

I hope that helps.


Also,
The idea of having them be a sort of bad omen is a great idea, I'd roll with that. :tu:
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#8
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Also, if my memory is working, Zso's attitude is in reality quite honourable, he's not a bad guy; but he's willing to do all sorts of horrible things if it's necessary. That might be an interesting tack for the Alt-verse NL's belief system, masters of terror feared and hated even by those they protect, but inside deeply honourable and resolute men just doing what they feel they have to do, regardless of how unpleasant it might be?

#9
Sigismund Himself

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A thought for you John. Perhaps the Night Lords use the weaknesses/desires of the enemy. Everybody is afraid of something, no matter how fearless they may be. For the Tyranids, this would be a threat to their Queen/leadership beasties. For the traitor Astartes, it would be dying out of the sight of their Gods or in a way that brings them no favour. For traitor Mechanicus, it would be a threat to their technology. The Night Lords prey upon the psychological weaknesses of their enemies as a way to break them down so that they are more easily vanquished.

The bad omen idea is a deliciously good one.

I think you may have to make sure they aren't treading too much on the Alpha Legion's feet with Dorn's ship's shields coming down. Perhaps tie it into his prophetic visions with him leaving something aboard Dorn's ship just before the Heresy breaks out, not knowing the purpose until later? And I'm not sure how they would sneak back onto Terra either.

I like the idea of them using Assassins but as more of a fear weapon rather than careful elimination, which would be more the Alpha's style.

Also, there's a great opportunity for a cheesy pun with Terra and terror for his last words. Just saying... ^_^

#10
Aurelius Rex

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I was away down to England between last Friday and yesterday, and had no net access, but getting back into the swing of things now. Thanks for the feedback - I am trying to incorporate all the ideas at the moment, including the idea that they are honourable people, but know they are driven to do terrible things for the 'right' reasons. :)

As to how to create fear in the fearless, that is a great idea, Matt. The Tyranids or the Dark Mechanicus wouldn't necessarily even be capable of feeling fear, but if they are consistently punished by their leaders being targetted and assassinated whenever they face the Night Lords, then perhaps even they would reflexively adopt a much more defensive posture when they detect the presence of the Night Lords in the vicinity - a Pavlovian response whereby they draw in their forces and surround their leaders rather than act aggressively... Over time, such responses could eventually be described as a kind of fear. ;)
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#11
Ace Debonair

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He has the Emperor’s blessing to do this – the Night Lords were his instrument of dread to bring systems into compliance. Similarities with the Iron Hands – they similarly acted very brutally, decimating whole populations and attacking unrelentingly until the rulers of the worlds carried out their own purges of mutants and dissidents... how are the Night Lords different?


Just read this. I can think of one thing...

The Iron Hands would likely mow down a bunch of people themselves to set an example of what should be done.

The Night Lords would likely only kill the first guy to complain about their methods, in gruesome fashion, in front of a crowd, and thus get the now-panicking multitudes to do their own dirty work. :D
Possibly they'd leave a squad or two for a while after they'd finished, or at least send some scouts there to check on the planet later.

EDIT:
For some reason I thought half-explained ideas would be better than fully explained ones.
I've taken too many hits to the head, I think. :(

Edited by Ace Debonair, 13 May 2011 - 08:23 AM.


#12
Aurelius Rex

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Thanks for the idea, Ace, and sorry for the time it has taken to add another post. It has been handy when thinking about how to differentiate them from the other legions, especially the Alphas and the Iron Hands. Not sure I am there yet, but it all helps! :Troops:

I have been updating the article, throwing ideas into the mix, and while I haven't got them all down (or even fully formed in my head) I think something nice is coming together, and I want to accellerate things from this weekend onwards.

One thing that has particularly been vexing me is the details of Curze's prophesy visions, and why, if he had forseen things and unlike his norm-'verse counterpart was willing to try to do something about it, he didn't just call the Emperor and warn Him that Dorn was evil, or that he was faking having cast off the possession or whatever. I have messed around with a very convoluted idea that rather than just seeing the darkest path, that he had found a way to search the paths of the future for one he liked, and knew what had to be done to reach that goal... but for some reason he couldn't tell the Emperor as by doing so it would change everything... that massive psychic talents like Him had too big an effect upon it. In the end I gave up on this and went a simpler route, and looked at what each of his visions told him, how he reacted to change them, and what effect that had on the next vision he had. This breaks the problem up into smaller chunks, and while there are still things to work on, it looks like a nice way to present it.

So here is what I have at the moment. What'd you think?

+++


Curze’s prophesies and how they change throughout the Heresy:
Curze’s actions actually have an effect upon the course of the Heresy, so that his prophesy visions change a number of times. The visions are very limited, and don’t tell him the whole story by any means. Throughout, whenever he begs the Emperor to leave Terra, he is rebuffed. He will not even think of it, and gives the same quote every time he is asked in each timeline. Colourpieces might be the perfect place to put this kind of information.

1. When Curze first sees Dorn at Cheraut he gets a flash of a timeline where Curze hasn’t interfered at all. Dorn destroys the Emperor in his throne room, and the Night Lords are out of position and not able to get to Terra in time to stop it, or nearly destroyed at Istvaan - chained as a captive to watch Dorn execute the Emperor?
SO! Curze attacks Dorn, trying to kill him either out of blind shock, or simply the desire to stop Dorn from killing the Emperor. He is stopped from finishing off Dorn, either by Dorn's guards, or even by Fulgrim, and he is forced to go on the run or face imprisonment / execution. No-one will believe him as he is acting like a crazy person, and in any case, Dorn won't be possessed for a while yet.
Curze going rogue means that his legion certainly won't be at Istvaan (but he wouldn't know the details from the flash to warn the loyalists there, as in the great narrative tradition, the prophesies come without much in the way of context! While on the run he is quietly able to get his legion into place ready for things to kick off on Terra, and get the Emperor out of the Throne Room to stop that part of the prophesy coming to pass.


2. He gets the Emperor out of the throne room and they fight an evenly matched battle across Terra. The Emperor had suggested that they board the Phalanx and end the Heresy before Russ and Luther arrive, but at such short notice there was no way for them to do it, and all their attempts failed. Curze, therefore, sees a future of the stalemate continuing until the Space Wolves and Dark Angels arrive on Terra and turn the tide, allowing Dorn to win again.
SO! As soon as he gets the prophesy, Curze leaves the Emperor under the stewardship of Horus and effectively drops out of communication with the Imperial forces, because he knows that what he is going to need to sounds so off the wall and desperate at the time that if he tells anyone Horus would order him to stop planning for it and instead focus on attacking the enemy. Instead, he gets the Night Lords to infiltrate Phalanx via the Sky Fortress, he will be able to take down the shields at the Emperor’s command at the appointed hour. (A case of "I have to keep silent about what I know because everyone will think I am crazy if I suggest this now... I will quietly do it anyway and when things get so bad that people will be happy to board the Phalanx, things will be in place.")

3. Next the doom is that Dorn suckers the Emperor and Horus into believing he has thrown off the possession long enough to kill them both.
So! Curze uses his own death as the hint that Dorn isn’t on the level.
Why doesn’t he just warn the Emperor that Dorn isn’t on the level? He gets the prophesy vision on the ship, and like the teleporters, Imperial Comms are being jammed. This is the only way for him to get the information to him. It is vital to foreshadow that his death (or the presence of his corpse) would signal the Emperor and that it wasn’t just mere chance that the Emperor found Curze’s brutalised corpse and realised Dorn was tricking them...


+++

OK, it is bare bones at the moment, but I like the overall plan. Are there any holes in the logic that you can see, and if so, can you suggest anything to sort them out?

Cheers,
John.
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Index Astartes: Scions of Dorn

#13
Octavulg

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One possibility - Curze's visions of the Dornian universe are confused with visions of the normal universe. This could produce inconsistencies, resulting in his prophecies being questioned. So Curze confirms his prophecies through action, keeping them to himself otherwise.

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#14
Ace Debonair

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3. Next the doom is that Dorn suckers the Emperor and Horus into believing he has thrown off the possession long enough to kill them both.
So! Curze uses his own death as the hint that Dorn isn’t on the level.
Why doesn’t he just warn the Emperor that Dorn isn’t on the level? He gets the prophesy vision on the ship, and like the teleporters, Imperial Comms are being jammed. This is the only way for him to get the information to him. It is vital to foreshadow that his death (or the presence of his corpse) would signal the Emperor and that it wasn’t just mere chance that the Emperor found Curze’s brutalised corpse and realised Dorn was tricking them...


How about having it so that Curze can't see a future in which the Emperor heeds his warning in time?

He could even only have the vision whilst fighting Dorn, and when he sees the way forward, deliberately allow Dorn to kill him, knowing that by doing so he will save the Emperor, and possibly the Imperium, and he was right to fight for his prophecies the way he did.

Death is nothing compared to Vindication, and all that business. :D

EDIT:
Typos had me talking about 'the Curze', just then. Possible amusing slang for the reoccuring visions amongst the Night Lords aside, probably better that I fix that.

Edited by Ace Debonair, 28 May 2011 - 10:21 PM.


#15
Aurelius Rex

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Apologies for the absence - my home pc is circling the drain so my ability to get on line and even to word process has been kicked in the crotch.

Don't know how long it will take to fix it or get a replacement, but until that happens, things are going to be quiet from me.

Hrumph!

Edit - got some net access - hoping it is sorted now - and here is what I have been working on. I will integrate this framework into the first post as soon as I can.

Night Lords

Origins
Snatched away from Terra.
Arrival on Nostramo.
Brief discussion of the world: Darkness, pollution and organised crime.
Curze’s sense of justice affronted.
Takes on street criminals and works his way up as he matures, confronting organised crime bosses and corrupt officials.
An ally amongst the nobility or police.
Curze’s prophesy that he will be assassinated.
Tries to avert it, but happens anyway – he kills the assassin but they just send another instead.
The start of Curze’s feeling of fatalism - that his prophesies are pre-ordained to occur.
Curze rises to terrorise and rule Nostramo Quintus (the world?)
A stable society as all live in fear of his terrible retribution.
The Coming of the Emperor - with Magnus rather than Guilliman.
The Emperor moving the moon so that it will dramatically reveal him in daylight as he steps out.
It is intended as a ‘new dawn’ for the world as it steps into the Imperium.
Curze gets vision of being killed at the Emperor’s command – play on words – dying for the Emperor?
Magnus becomes his mentor – fascinated by his prophesy visions which he indicates are not psychic.
Warns Curze not to tell others of them – he speaks from experience that such things are treated with suspicion and even hatred.
The coming of the legion to meet him.

The Great Crusade
New legion will fight alongside the Thousand Sons at first.
Leaves Nostramo in a seemingly stable form.
Magnus tutors Curze to show him that his prophesies are not inevitable.
At first, fate conspires to see them turn out the same – Curze is subconsciously making them self-fulfilling.
Eventually they avert a terrible disaster – what is the trigger?
He realises that it can be beaten, and that his vision of being killed at the Emperor’s command is not certain.
Curze gets a vision of his legion filled with criminals – twisting into something terrible. Returns to Nostramo to find that it has fallen back into corruption and vice, and that the initiates are grossly unworthy.
Does he have this vision beforehand, and intentionally allows it or takes a hand in facilitating it, believing it inevitable? Does he only take steps to prevent it when he is shown that it is not inevitable?
He cleans house, and makes sure that his training cadre stay alert and keep the populace in line by fear.
He heads back to the Great Crusade, possibly much changed due to the realisation that humanity needs to be subjected to the fear of retribution to keep it from straying into corruption.
He knows that even seemingly compliant and stable worlds can fall back into anarchy if the rod of fear is removed. Just as a plant will grow twisted if the rod is removed, so too will humanity.
If he already knew about Nostramo’s degradation then they would probably already know this was the case, and had already been like this from the start of the Great Crusade, or fully implemented it after coming out from under the shadow of the Thousand Sons.
So even though his legion isn’t full of criminals, and led by a maniac, they are still intentionally brutal.
The Night Lords take it upon themselves to do the terrible things that have to be done to keep the Imperium from slipping into anarchy and rebellion – refer to the worlds that the Iron Warriors had to garrison to keep them compliant – the Night Lords do it through fear.
Bolster their reputation by using Curze’s prophetic warnings – they turn up and avert disasters, but attribute this to their omniscience rather than by prophesy – the reputation says that they know the evil that lurks in men’s hearts.
Their brutal ways lead to friction with other more ‘honourable’ primarchs and legions, such as Dorn and even Angron. Guilliman says that such methods only keep the lid on the pressure cooker, and that they need to move to true compliance and understanding with their conquered populations so they feel part of the Imperium and not simply resentful, oppressed prisoners of fear. Guilliman points to the successes of Ultramar as an example.
Confrontation over Curze’s tactics / brutality come to the fore at Cheraut. Dorn censures Curze for his legion’s actions, and during this Curze gets the prophesy that Dorn has turned to insanity, enslaved Curze and killed the Emperor in his own throne room.
Part out of shock, part to try to kill Dorn to prevent the future he has seen, Curze attacks Dorn.
He badly wounds him, and is about to do more when he is pulled from him by Fulgrim. Even Fulgrim thinks him insane, and so sides with Dorn, who he personally dislikes greatly.
Curze escapes, and there is a skirmish between the Night Lords and the combined EC / IF until the Night Lords escape.
Curze is branded a renegade and a madman – Fulgrim’s testimony and the reputation they have so well cultivated as brutal and unstable maniacs turned against them.
He is seen as a seriously deranged fugitive, and only later events stopped this becoming a bigger thing.
No-one is willing to listen to their warnings, but they are determined to find a way to stop the events Curze has foreseen.

The Dornian Heresy
Curze was in the dark as to the details of the heresy, such as how it would occur, under what circumstances, or even when. All he knows is that Curze would be a captive (Hint that he was captured at Istvaan?), that it would come to pass in the throne room on Terra, and that the Emperor would die.
He couldn’t have averted Istvaan.
Has to watch from the shadows as hunted fugitives.
Decide to get as close to Terra as possible, so that they can be in place to swoop in and avert the prophesy when it eventually goes down.
Magnus? His reaction – Positive? Sceptical? Soon would be too busy with the Space Wolves.
Terra is supremely heavily guarded, so can only get on once the anarchy of the civil war breaks out after Istvaan.
The Emperor is already trapped inside his Throne Room by the Imperial Fist demi-legion under Sigismund garrisoning the outer palace, but it is a standoff, and He is safe in the short term.
The Imperial Fists are really very good at what they do, and so it is only the arrival of the Blood Angels, and their eventual sloppy relief of the IF’s on the outer walls that let the Night Lords get in.
They run riot through the palace, attacking the IF’s especially, but it is merely a distraction to get the Emperor out and away from the palace.
Curze tells the Emperor of his visions, that he has seen that Dorn executed him in the throne room and that he has been fighting ever since to avert it. He doesn’t tell him that he predicted his own death at the orders of the Emperor.
The Emperor agrees to leave the throne room with the Night Lords, but is vehement that He won’t leave Terra. They leave a skeleton staff, including Malcador (to stabilise the webway portal?) to give the appearance of him still being there.
This means the traitors focus their attention on the palace while the loyalists disrupt Chaos control across Terra.
Dorn and the Salamanders arrive to reinforce the attack on the throne room.
They are closely followed by Warmaster Horus and the Iron Warriors, who counter-besiege the outer palace walls to reinforce the impression that the Emperor is still there, and to bottle them in.
Perturabo takes things too far, actually intent on proving his siegecraft is better than Dorn’s.
Curze gets the vision of Perturabo instead facing, and losing to Sanguinius. He is on the other side of the planet and the attack is minutes away, so he voxes a warning which is ignored, and actually makes things worse as it unsettles Perturabo. Is his vision only that Perturabo would be greviously wounded, and this made it worse, or that the wound would have festered and infected his gene-line for future millennia?
Perhaps proof that he can’t take it for granted that his actions will be enough to avert the events he is warned about. A sobering knock to his complacency?
Continues the battle. The Emperor is certain that he will win, and even at Horus’s urging will not leave Terra.
Curze gets a vision of them being captured and the Emperor being executed upon some unidentified Terran battlefield – the Astronomicon? – by Dorn, Luther and Russ.
Make mention that they had tried to get onto the Phalanx to end the battle when it became clear how close the reinforcements were, or when the corrupted White Scars arrived. Mention that in a last, desperate act Horus had died aboard the Vengeful Spirit, along with the bulk of the Imperial fleet, assaulting the Phalanx, but was unable to cut its way through.
Does Curze tell the Emperor of this? If he did, why would He refuse to listen?
Curze has no choice but to disobey his orders and take his Night Lords to infiltrate the Sky Fortress, and from there, get onto Phalanx itself to be ready to take down its shields for a teleporter attack.
When the Emperor finally gives the order to attack the Phalanx, Curze is ready to step out of the shadows and say he is ready to do it.
He is successful in destroying the shields, and tries to fight his way to the rendezvous point to join the Emperor and confront Dorn together.
He has another vision… that the teleported Imperial forces have been scattered throughout the ship by warp interference and that he will be unable to get there in time before the Emperor and Horus confront Dorn alone. That Dorn feigns having fought off the possession and is able to kill both Horus and the Emperor. That Curze and his legion escape and are on the run, leading what remains of Imperial resistance throughout the galaxy.
Curze can’t contact the Emperor to warn him as the Warp interference that scattered the teleporters is also affecting the comms. Knowing it is the only way to avert the terrible fate, he gives himself up to the Imperial Fists and demands to see Dorn. He will give his life to avert the fate he has seen. He will indeed die for the Emperor, but not in the way he initially prophesised.
He is brought before Dorn and intentionally provokes him into killing him there and then – that is what will alert the Emperor to Dorn’s deception.
[Foreshadow this by having a colourpiece where Curze is with the Emperor, and tells the Night Haunter that the place they are passing through gives him pause even now – it is the psychic echo of the place that one of his sons was killed – one of the lost legion primarchs? – and that he feels the echo of the death of one of his sons like an unscratchable itch. This is a new power for the Emperor being revealed here, so veil it in ambiguity if needed… The Emperor thinks that it is the place the Primarch was killed, as the unnamed executioner (Dorn? Horus? Russ?) didn’t tell him. Link it to a place that he has previously avoided, perhaps even the bit in the Lightning Tower where the statues of the Primarchs line the walls – Curze is taking the Emperor out through there to escape the palace.]
Check to see if there is any mention in the norm-‘verse history of the Emperor sensing the body of Sanguinius before he saw it.
Dorn kills Curze – have a version of Curze’s ‘Death is nothing compared to vindication’ speech.
The rest is from the perspective of others – Curze’s gambit was successful in that it gave the Emperor just enough warning of Dorn’s attempted deception… The Emperor senses the death of a Primarch as he enters the room and finds Curze’s corpse, too late to stop Dorn from killing Horus, but enough to give him a chance to get his guard up. Dorn was defeated, but the Emperor was mortally wounded, and the bodies found by the Mournival and the converging Night Lords.
With the death of the Arch-Betrayer, Dorn, the Heresy was all-but over.

Post Heresy
Decide on what the Night Lords did just after the heresy:
• Mercilessly harried the traitor’s, and especially the Imperial Fists retreat?
• Too stunned by the loss of their Primarch to respond?
• Power struggle within the top echelons – Corona Nox?
How badly damaged were the Night Lords?
Re-assembling the shattered Imperium. As has been predicted by Curze with regards to Nostramo, without a strong authority and the threat of inevitable and bloody retribution, society breaks down, and many systems think the Imperium too weak and try to break away / fall to anarchy / corruption / Chaos.
The Night Lords see it as their sworn duty to bring them bacvk into the fold by imposing a reign of terror – there might be time later to be civilised, but in the wake of the heresy that time was a long way off.
They become in effect the new Inquisition – given leave by the High Lords / Abaddon, who saw the Night Lords service at first hand – to do what needs to be done, and even puts the temples of the Assassins at their disposal. Later on mention that this is formalised when the Alpha Legion turn down the job.




++++


Working on the homeworld / recruitment / gene-seed sections - briefly put some things here...

Homeworld
In the centuries before the coming of the Imperium, Nostramo had been mined intensively for the adamantium riches which lay beneath its surface, and the industrial processes needed to refine the metal for export had reduced the atmosphere to a noxious fume. It did not require the power of prophesy to foresee that, if left unchecked, the Imperium’s insatiable hunger for adamantium would rapidly mine the planet hollow and render the air completely unbreathable. For this reason, on taking Nostramo as their homeworld the Night Lords enforced stringent quotas on mining, and have remained unbending even in the face of intense pressure to increase production. If ever their resolve should waver, they need only remember the tragic fate of Cthonia - and indeed the fall of the Dark Angels on Caliban – to have steeled them to their path.

Despite the arrival of the Emperor bringing daylight to Nostramo, the population have proved unwilling to embrace this new dawn. For a people genetically adapted to the darkness, even the weak sunlight which reached them was blinding, and under the protection of the Night Lords, there was little to fear from the darkness. Because of this, Nostraman society conducts its business wherever possible during the night, with the people careful to return to their shuttered homes before the first scorching rays of sun return at dawn. The only people to be found out during the day are those not indigenous to the planet, or those forced by circumstance to brave the daylight behind goggles of smoked glass and layers of protective clothing.

Over the millennia the five cities of Nostramo have steadily expanded, although Quintus, the place where the infant primarch first fell to earth and the site of the legion’s fortress-monastery, retains primacy.

[Having lived for so long under the iron grip of the Night Lords, what has this done to the population?
The Adeptus Arbites patrol the streets, but the ultimate fear and retribution is meted out by the Night Lords themselves, either by the full brethren, or the initiates in training

They are cowed, expecting any infraction to bring down retribution? – They wouldn’t make very good initiates!
They leave their doors unlocked, not expecting any crime to take place? Any crime that does occur would come from newly arrived off-worlders, who would think the place an easy touch – briefly!
They have indeed become what Curze wanted for humanity?
If they see a crime being committed, do the population stand up and try to stop it, so as not to appear that they are complicit with it? Do they truly believe Curze’s vision of humanity, and like him, they want to stop crime and believe in a kind of natural justice.

It is said that the cities of Nostramo are unnervingly quiet and well-ordered
Crime in the cities is virtually unheard of, with most of it caused by newly arrived off-worlders.

Recruitment
The vast majority of their recruits come from Nostramo, but a rare few come from other planets, mainly night worlds.
There are Night Lords who watch over the planet, hidden in the darkness. They carry out a dual role of carrying out swift judgement against criminals, and also of spotting potential initiates. Most would be cowed, but there are a significant minority which would respond to seeing crime and wrongdoing by trying to stop it. It is the task of the recruiters to distinguish between those who do it to stop it looking like they might be complicit in the crime by keeping their heads down, and those truly worthy who are standing up to crime due to a belief in justice.



[The Prophesy]
One one of their most widespread and persistent prophesies is that they will be the ones to destroy their planet, and everyone on it. They don’t know when this is supposed to happen, or even why, and are haunted by the thought of it. They can’t conceive of a reason they would do it, but it keeps returning to their dreams.

Gene-Seed
The primarch’s curse of prophesy has been passed on through the gene-seed to his legion. It is not related to psychic strength, although the librarians can access certain other aspects of it... or perhaps the librarians can’t do anything with it at all? Is it linked to implants from different gene-lines - so that progenoids taken from a seer are more likely to cause prophesies in the next generation – or do certain backgrounds (like that of Curze – an orphan, or raised by someone) , or cities or areas of cities have an effect? Perhaps these permutations have all been examined by the Apothecarion over the centuries to try to awaken or harness this very valuable talent, and that each grand company apothecary has different theories, but that in practice it is little more than guesswork.

Apart from this, the gene-seed is strong and suffers few implant losses, but there are possible interactions with the Nostramo gene-pool – The iris-less pupils (is there a nictating eyelid implant?) white skin (too Raven Guard?) possibly slightly lank hair, but don’t touch too much on the vampire thing... Those who have the ‘Seeing’ will be haggard, wracked by the things they have seen and driven to early graves by the stresses it places on their systems.



The moon’s orbit / Little Night] Put in colourpieces instead – not here.
Tenebor was shifted from its unusual orbit (of always being between the planet and its local sun) by the Mechanicus and has (supposedly) been put into a stable orientation. It is still able to quite frequently pass across the path of the sun, and on a (daily?) basis cause partial or total eclipses, which the Nostramo people refer to as ‘Little Night’. These events are celebrated by the people. [In the gene-seed / prophesy section have this mentioned that one of the things the Apothecarion has tried to boost the likelihood of creating a ‘Seer’ is to have children born during the Little Night – such is the desperation of their search that they resort to such superstition.

The moon would also cause a lot of reflected light at night – they only had the stars before, now they have a lot of moonlight from a very large / close satellite. This would mean that the nights would generally not be completely dark, except for the ones where the moon is on the far side of the planet.

[Relationship with the Iron Warriors – admittedly it doesn’t really fit here yet]
It could be argued that the Iron Warriors have better tech, but they are not friends of the Night Lords. Would they really blame the Night Lords for the death of Perturabo? They would not be in a position to know of the effect of his warning as Perturabo died very soon after it was given, and if anything they might think that it was intended as a warning that he should have heeded... Would they in fact be more likely to be on friendly terms with the Night Lords and to believe their warnings of doom because of what happened to their primarch when he didn’t listen?


+++++


Homeworld
In the centuries before the coming of the Imperium, Nostramo had been mined intensively for the adamantium riches which lay beneath its surface, and the industrial processes needed to refine the metal for export had reduced the atmosphere to a noxious fume. It did not require the power of prophesy to foresee that, if left unchecked, the Imperium’s insatiable hunger for adamantium would rapidly mine the planet hollow and render the air completely unbreathable. For this reason, on taking Nostramo as their homeworld the Night Lords enforced stringent quotas on mining, and have remained unbending even in the face of intense pressure to increase production. If ever their resolve should waver, they need only remember the tragic fate of Cthonia - and indeed the fall of the Dark Angels on Caliban – to have steeled them to their path.

Despite the arrival of the Emperor bringing daylight to Nostramo, the population have proved unwilling to embrace this new dawn. For a people genetically adapted to the darkness, even the weak sunlight which reached them was blinding, and under the protection of the Night Lords, there was little to fear from the darkness. Because of this, Nostraman society conducts its business wherever possible during the night, with the people careful to return to their shuttered homes before the first scorching rays of sun return at dawn. The only people to be found out during the day are those not indigenous to the planet, or those forced by circumstance to brave the daylight behind goggles of smoked glass and layers of protective clothing.

Over the millennia the five cities of Nostramo have steadily expanded, although Quintus, the place where the infant primarch first fell to earth and the site of the legion’s fortress-monastery, retains primacy.

[Having lived for so long under the iron grip of the Night Lords, what has this done to the population?
The Adeptus Arbites patrol the streets, but the ultimate fear and retribution is meted out by the Night Lords themselves, either by the full brethren, or the initiates in training

They are cowed, expecting any infraction to bring down retribution? – They wouldn’t make very good initiates!
They leave their doors unlocked, not expecting any crime to take place? Any crime that does occur would come from newly arrived off-worlders, who would think the place an easy touch – briefly!
They have indeed become what Curze wanted for humanity?
If they see a crime being committed, do the population stand up and try to stop it, so as not to appear that they are complicit with it? Do they truly believe Curze’s vision of humanity, and like him, they want to stop crime and believe in a kind of natural justice.

It is said that the cities of Nostramo are unnervingly quiet and well-ordered
Crime in the cities is virtually unheard of, with most of it caused by newly arrived off-worlders.]

Beliefs
• A belief in natural justice
• Willingness to do what must be done, both through self-sacrifice and to do terrible things in the service of a greater power.
• They recognise that they are instruments of fear, and must be seen as such. Only through this can they hope to fight the enemies of the Imperium, and quell the ugly side of human nature.
They know that because of this they will never be loved by the people they are there to save from themselves. To perform the job that they must do they must be seen as brutal objects of fear – the thing that lives in the shadows, and that knows the evil secrets, always ready to smite down those who turn from the Emperor’s light.

Curze was never able to connect with people, even his father, the Emperor. He was, however, driven to do what he thought was right by both the Emperor, the people, and his own code, and realised that the best way he could do so was to be the creature of fear that would keep humanity in line. He realises that he can’t be close to his father – either in proximity or emotionally - as the scars of the prophetic visions of him being killed at the Emperor’s orders ran too deep... but he could do the next best thing. He would work to help strengthen his father’s Imperium in the best way he knew how – through inspiring fear of the consequences, and fear of himself. When it came to the Heresy, despite Curze intentionally having kept himself away from the Emperor, he was driven to do everything he could to save his father. He recognised that the fault was his own, and went to great lengths, even eventually giving up his own life, to save Him, and stop Dorn’s plan from coming to fruition.

Similarly, the

[There is a darkness at the heart of humanity, a bestial aspect that can only be kept in check by the fear of sudden, brutal and certain retribution. The Night Lords are the means to impose this fear, and the agents of the Emperor’s retribution.

When society fractures (or when fear is imposed upon it) it will bring about people’s worst impulses – greed, desperation, isolationism, a mob-mentality. This is how the Norm-‘verse NL operate. Curze realises this, but instead chooses to invoke the fear of righteous retribution, and paranoia that they are being watched and that their sins will be found out to keep people in line – an ever-watchful (and precognitive) version of the Inquisition after the Alpha Legion turned down the offer?]

Recruitment
[On what basis does the legion select its recruits?]
• Belief in natural justice. This has been ground into the people of Nostramo so they like to recruit from there.
• Skill at arms?
Various things will be taught to them later – based on their beliefs.
While the legion does have the facilities to take new potential recruits from the planets it visits, The vast majority of their recruits come from Nostramo, but the legion also has the facilities to createa rare few come from other planets, mainly night worlds.
There are Night Lords who watch over the planet, hidden in the darkness. They carry out a dual role of carrying out swift judgement against criminals, and also of spotting potential initiates. Most would be cowed, but there are a significant minority which would respond to seeing crime and wrongdoing by trying to stop it. It is the task of the recruiters to distinguish between those who do it to stop it looking like they might be complicit in the crime by keeping their heads down, and those truly worthy who are standing up to crime due to a belief in justice.


Gene-Seed
Although the primarch of the Night lords is long-dead, his legacy lives on in the form of the gene-seed implanted into every one of the legion’s battle-brothers. This gene-line has proved to be remarkably stable and resistant to mutation, with all nineteen implants functioning with commendable efficiency. Of particular note is the startlingly acute night-vision displayed by the Night Lords, which is believed to be due to a particularly fortuitous interaction between their occulobe and the black, irisless eyes of the Nostraman population.

While this gift has helped to shape the tactics used by every Night Lord, there is another, far more extraordinary inheritance passed down from Konrad Curze to but a select few of his brethren – the power of prophesy. Like the visions granted to their progenitor, they act as warnings of disasters yet to come, and like their progenitor, they are driven to avert them, even at the risk of their own lives.

Because of the huge role that these visions play in the psyche and effectiveness of the legion, a staggering amount of research has gone into understanding the nature of these prophesies, and how to increase the number of individuals able to harness this invaluable talent. Every Great Company’s Apothecary holds a different opinion on how to accomplish this, and yet in truth the number of individuals with this talent has increased little over the last eight millennia.


• Various grand companies have different opinions of how to awaken or harness this invaluable talent:
o Progenoids taken from a prophet
o Backgrounds similar to that of Curze – orphans living in the street before induction. From Nostramo Quintus rather than the other cities?
o Though the different grand companies are all certain that their method works best, it is in truth growing less frequent with every generation – there is a steady decline in the number of prophets with each century.
• The stress that the prophesies put upon the bearer’s body and soul are such that they are readily identifiable. They are haggard, wracked by the things they have seen, and frequently driven to early graves by the stresses placed upon their systems.
• [Organisation] There is little link between the psychic power of the librarians and the prophesies, but the Librarians have an important role in these prophesies. Some marines possess eidetic memories, but for those that don’t, the librarians can help them to access the memories. They also help to probe the prophesy for any indication of where and when it is occurring, as well as any other contextual information, and to cross-reference with their archives to help them to avert the disaster.
• They also ensure that the prophet is being completely truthful with their predictions, and to guard against an unscrupulous Night Lord using them to further his personal power, or to remove a rival. This is rare, but has occurred over the long history of the legion, and the punishments meted out to those who have lied about it are severe indeed.
Prophesy Colourpiece:
One of their most widespread and persistent prophesies is that they will be the ones to destroy their planet, and everyone on it. They don’t know when this is supposed to happen, or even why, and are haunted by the thought of it. They can’t conceive of a reason they would do it, but it keeps returning to their dreams. The first instance occurred in 967.M41 by XXX of the XXX Grand Company, and since that time it has been verified by prophets across every single Grand Company in the legion. Vision of what appears to be the entire Night Lord fleet in high orbit above Nostramo, gravely but determinedly launching all of their firepower at the planet below. Like every other vision there is no indication of the reason for why they would do this, or when it is set to happen. The marine is on the bridge of the warship rather than in a conventional battle and so is not wearing his helmet, and despite the greatest of psychic prompting of his eidetic memory, there is no hint of the time on any of the many bridge display screens. Astrocartographic analysis – would the position of the stars show the time? Would it help to identify ships, or ranks / commanders from the available data?
Put in some ambiguity, perhaps? The first few visions were scattered, unclear – and were put down to the legion coming together as one to defend Nostramo from some massive orbital invasion, or possibly that Tenebor, their moon, is in an unstable orbit and they need to destroy it before it hits the planet.



The moon’s orbit / Little Night] Put in colourpieces instead – not here.
Tenebor was shifted from its unusual orbit (of always being between the planet and its local sun) by the Mechanicus and has (supposedly) been put into a stable orientation. It is still able to quite frequently pass across the path of the sun, and on a (daily?) basis cause partial or total eclipses, which the Nostramo people refer to as ‘Little Night’. These events are celebrated by the people. [In the gene-seed / prophesy section have this mentioned that one of the things the Apothecarion has tried to boost the likelihood of creating a ‘Seer’ is to have children born during the Little Night – such is the desperation of their search that they resort to such superstition.

The moon would also cause a lot of reflected light at night – they only had the stars before, now they have a lot of moonlight from a very large / close satellite. This would mean that the nights would generally not be completely dark, except for the ones where the moon is on the far side of the planet.

[Relationship with the Iron Warriors – admittedly it doesn’t really fit here yet]
It could be argued that the Iron Warriors have better tech, but they are not friends of the Night Lords. Would they really blame the Night Lords for the death of Perturabo? They would not be in a position to know of the effect of his warning as Perturabo died very soon after it was given, and if anything they might think that it was intended as a warning that he should have heeded... Would they in fact be more likely to be on friendly terms with the Night Lords and to believe their warnings of doom because of what happened to their primarch when he didn’t listen?

Edited by Aurelius Rex, 25 September 2011 - 10:17 PM.
New framework for the article

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#16
Aurelius Rex

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The march to publication starts here! It has been a horrible slog trying to get to this stage, but I have announced that I am going to be posting this on Halloween, so the die is cast.

The ideas are all there - either on the first post or in my head ready to go - it's just a matter of turning it into a readable draft and then polishing the article.

In the last few days I have got good drafts up for the Homeworld, Recruitment and Gene-seed sections - I will probably end up rolling the Homeworld and Recruitment sections into one as they flow together naturally.

The intention is to add more drafted passages and sections each day, and then come back to polishing it all up with proper proofreading once the whole thing is drafted. Ideally I will have a whole week to proof the heck out of it and really get it to shine, but knowing me it will be a last minute thing.

Hopefully more changes and additions tomorrow.

John.
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#17
Ace Debonair

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Wow, that looks really good up to now. :)

The one question I've got so far is about how the post-heresy Night Lords fight - do they still make extensive use of fear as a weapon against their enemies, or are the scare tactics restricted to their role in 'policing' the Imperium?

Forget that, you've already answered my question.
Carry on!

Edited by Ace Debonair, 13 October 2011 - 03:20 PM.


#18
Aurelius Rex

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Hi Ace - sorry not to get back to you earlier. I have been away for a long weekend with the family, but was able to work on the article. The Cheraut section is drafted, which puts the new spin on why Curze attacks Dorn there, and I have had a good go at drafting pieces of the Siege of Terra section, although there is still more work to do on it. There is a minor conflict with what has been said in the Iron Warrior article, where it indicates that Curze warned Perturabo that he would die if he attacked the Ultimate Gate, and the current NL version which says he only saw Perturabo suffer a terrible plague-infected wound. This ties in with the intention of the IW colourpiece that Curze's warning actually knocked Perturabo's confidence enough that it inadvertently caused his death. I will have to play with the wording if I can, and hopefully not have to re-write (minor retcon) the IW bit too much for the Imprint. Suggestions?

In a later article, possibly as a throwaway line in a colourpiece I will try to arrange for it to reveal that if Perturabo had not got the warning he would have lived, but the corruption would have eaten away at him, and via his geneseed his legion, so the 'clean death' that Curze's warning was far preferrable, and that the original vision was indeed the start of the worst possible future, though he couldn't have known it.

More tomorrow.
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#19
Ace Debonair

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Hi Ace - sorry not to get back to you earlier. I have been away for a long weekend with the family, but was able to work on the article. The Cheraut section is drafted, which puts the new spin on why Curze attacks Dorn there, and I have had a good go at drafting pieces of the Siege of Terra section, although there is still more work to do on it. There is a minor conflict with what has been said in the Iron Warrior article, where it indicates that Curze warned Perturabo that he would die if he attacked the Ultimate Gate, and the current NL version which says he only saw Perturabo suffer a terrible plague-infected wound. This ties in with the intention of the IW colourpiece that Curze's warning actually knocked Perturabo's confidence enough that it inadvertently caused his death. I will have to play with the wording if I can, and hopefully not have to re-write (minor retcon) the IW bit too much for the Imprint. Suggestions?


Simple, in theory.
The message Perturabo got from Curze in the IW colourpiece was 'almost incoherent'. It doesn't say that Curze directly said 'you're going to die if you open the gate', so Curze can just say he will suffer a brutal wound, or better yet just 'something terrible will befall you if you open that gate', and Perturabo, the soldier that he is, can take it to mean he will be in imminent danger of death.

Thus, to Perturabo, it's a warning of impending death.
To Curze, it's a warning that nothing good will come of Perturabo opening that door - perhaps the prophecy is vague, or Curze doesn't fully understand what he's seeing?

You might not even have to change anything in the IW article, although it'd be easier to play with the words a bit in that colourpiece.

In a later article, possibly as a throwaway line in a colourpiece I will try to arrange for it to reveal that if Perturabo had not got the warning he would have lived, but the corruption would have eaten away at him, and via his geneseed his legion, so the 'clean death' that Curze's warning was far preferrable, and that the original vision was indeed the start of the worst possible future, though he couldn't have known it.

More tomorrow.

:D
Damn, how do you keep coming up with all this great stuff? ;)

EDIT:
Typos. Again.

Edited by Ace Debonair, 18 October 2011 - 11:46 AM.


#20
Aurelius Rex

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Thanks, Ace. I shall consider the wording. :P

Extended family duties have showed things down, but I have drafted the Phalanx section bar a short passage. Will crack on with this, though a business meeting down to England on Wednesday / Thursday threatens to interfere with my plans.

Hopefully more tomorrow.

+++ EDIT 25/10/11: Got the Siege of Terra section drafted, bar colourpiece. Off on business until late Thursday, but hope to get some more done on the train. +++

+++ EDIT 28/10/11: Back from the work trip down to England, and back into the final straight. Got a lot more done in the background, and have drafted the short post-heresy section entitled 'Pax Imperialis'. Details their role almost as an Inquisitorial organisation - sanctioned by the High Lords to work with the Assassins, tasked with punishing the guilty, and as everyone has some secrets, then everyone gets a guilty conscience when they turn up.

I have intentionally not made mention of 'Inquisitors' in this timeline because the Night Lords were always intended to fit the role instead. I hope to mention that Abaddon originally wanted the Alpha Legion for the role, but he was stuck in Ultramar Segmentum for a long time, and even turned down the role anyway as they would rather focus on battling the Ultramarines and the Traitors around the Eye of Terra, and didn't want to stretch themelves too thin. This is another way to differentiate the potentially similar NL and AL - one attacks the traitor legions, the other keeps the Imperium in line and plays a more defensive role in protecting against traitor attacks.

+++ Late night - Managed to add a Combat Doctrine section draft as well. More tomorrow, probably starting with the Organisation section. +++

+++ EDIT 29/10/11: Rough draft of the Organisation section now completed this afternoon. Once the remaining sections are rough drafted it is going to take a massive job to proofread, finesse and polish the text to perfect it. It is also too long, so I will aim to trim it by about a thousand words during that process. There are incredibly brief mentions of Talos and Zso Sahaal, but no room for anything more, sadly. If anything occurs, then shout out. ;) +++

Edited by Aurelius Rex, 29 October 2011 - 01:57 PM.

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#21
Ace Debonair

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If anything occurs, then shout out. :)


Only thing that comes to mind is that there's no mention of the name 'Night Haunter' anywhere.
I realise that it's probably a bit unneccesary, and as you say, you're already pushed for space, but you did say... :P

Maybe the Night Haunter could in essence be his 'pessimistic side' - which Kurze casts off forever when he and Magnus avert [whatever disaster they're going to avert], instead of letting his dark side guide him like in the normal-'verse?

#22
Aurelius Rex

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An excellent idea, Ace! I shall work on that tomorrow, especially when I do the first origins section, where he would possibly have been called Night Haunter before IIRC the Emperor named him Curze. Also just put up a draft of the Great Crusade section. This is very late in the game, but at this stage I just want to get a draft down, however rough, and will then niggle away at the words in the proofing stage.

I also completely removed the Beliefs section, because, as has happened in a couple of previous IA's, the legion's beliefs are so integral to the article that to have them in a seperate section is completely redundant. It also saves about 500 words! :P

I also want to work in one or two very subtle references to the works of Joseph Conrad, seeing as they were plundered to give the primarch's name, his homeworld and via Apocalypse Now - the movie based on his book Heart of Darkness, gave his normverse assassin Martin Sheen / Mshen.

Joseph Conrad on Wikipedia.

'Heart of Darkness' is possibly too obvious, but 'The Shadow Line' and 'Almayer's Folly' are both possible throwaways, the last could be used to refer to a ship, or the site of a battle. As always, any thoughts or input are welcomed! :)

+++ EDIT 30/10/11: Origins section drafted, and the Night Haunter name Ace suggested has been incorporated into the Great Crusade section. There are about five colourpieces, the intro paragraph and the Battlecry to do before I even think of proofing. Just not enough time in the day. +++

+++ 19:00 GMT - OK, that's the Battlecry done. +++

+++ 21:00 GMT - Investory colourpiece 2 done. +++

+++ 22:00 GMT - Unforgiven Colourpiece 3 done. Not completely happy with it, but it can always be polished later. +++

+++ 22:40 GMT - Choices colourpiece 1 done. That leaves colourpieces 4 & 5, and the intro paragraph. Will try one more of those before my brain completely shuts down too. Many thanks for the offer of proofreading tomorrow, Ace. +++

+++ 23:58 GMT - Recruitment colourpiece 4 done, but again not happy. Will look at it tomorrow and consider alternative ways to get the info across, or just bite the bullet and cut the piece all together to save the wordcount on an already lengthy article. Brain closing down too... Night all!

Edited by Aurelius Rex, 31 October 2011 - 12:07 AM.

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#23
Ace Debonair

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EDIT 30/10/11: Origins section drafted, and the Night Haunter name Ace suggested has been incorporated into the Great Crusade section. There are about five colourpieces, the intro paragraph and the Battlecry to do before I even think of proofing. Just not enough time in the day. +++


I'll have a bash at proof-reading it tomorrow morning if you like.
My brain's about to shut down for the night, though, so I can't do it now. :)

#24
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The revered handwritten accounts left behind by Konrad Curze tell of how he grew up on the unlit streets of Nostramo Quintus, hiding from everyone, even the gangs of abandoned children which roamed the slums. He watched the press of humanity around him, content simply to study them, until he witnessed a family being menaced by a gang of thugs. The sight of the criminals attempting to steal the baby from its parents offended something deep inside him, and in an instant he was upon the gang members, tearing into them with nails and teeth. By the time his enemies had breathed their last, the terrified family had already fled from their blood-soaked protector. From that point on, he was no longer able to look on as injustice was perpetrated, and made it his business to put an end to it. Those who survived his attacks told of a soulless, feral creature which stalked the shadows and wore the darkness like a cloak. For the first time he had even been given a name: to his prey he was the Night Haunter.

Maybe introduce the visions here? Maybe he sees that if he doesn't stop the criminals, he will merely become one of them.

Magnus the Red ventured down to investigate further, and soon decreed that another of the Emperor’s long-lost primarch sons had indeed been found.

This could be a cool bit to expand a little. The relationship between the two could be explored a little more throughout the article, especially Magnus' reaction to Curze's death.

...When he awoke from the vision, his hands were around Dorn’s throat, and in a desperate attempt to prevent the future he had been shown he continued to attack, rending and tearing with tooth and nail. Even as the blows rained down on him from all those around, he tried to explain to them the urgency of what he was doing, but his words were lost in a howl of incoherent rage and pain. He shrugged off the yellow armoured Astartes as though they were nothing, but before he could take the life of his treacherous brother, Fulgrim was there, and in a blur of purple and gold tore him away from Dorn and knocked Curze unconscious.

Maybe hint in the Imperial Fists IA that this somehow contributes to Dorn's fall? The injuries allow the Chaos gods to tempt him?

+++ Colourpiece 1: Choices

Maybe set up the final speech to Dorn a little more here?

+++Colourpiece 2: The Investory

I got the feeling here that the Emperor was almost setting Curze up for his sacrifice in this bit... Is that what you wanted?

Just as Konrad Curze had escaped from the Phalanx to safety as it lay in orbit around Cheraut, he was certain that he and his team could also break onto it.

It would be good if there was a more Night Lord-y way to get into it. Maybe like the remainder of the Night Lord legion attacking one of the Daemon Primarchs or a unit on the planet so fiercely that they have to call for teleportation to the Phalanx? Either that or while imprisoned on the Phalanx, he has a vision that he'll need to get back onboard and does something to ensure that he can.

Through tears of grief, Curze told his officers that he had seen the traitors triumphant, with the Night Lords left as the last remaining loyalist legion. He spoke of Dorn boasting of how he had feigned shaking off the daemonic and begged forgiveness, and had used that moment of confusion to strike down both Warmaster Horus, and the Emperor.

Not sure this quite works, would've thought the more mysterious route would've worked better.

“Why did I come before you only to be killed? Because your Heresy, and the act you are about to commit, proves the truth of my actions at Cheraut. I merely tried to punish one who had wronged – my only regret is that I did not succeed in killing you before you made war on our father, the Emperor. Death is nothing compared to vindication."

Love it!

+++ Colourpiece 3: Unforgiven

Wasn't sure on the purpose of this?

The Night Lords still retain the formal grand company structure, although in practice they are split into forces of rarely more than a half a dozen squads, the better to patrol the truly enormous scale of the Imperium.

Seems a bit Alpha Legion-y to me.

Dorn’s Heresy had ended with his death aboard the Phalanx, but it had dealt a crippling blow not just to the Emperor, and also to His Imperium. Just as Nostramo had slipped back into corruption and anarchy when Curze first left the planet, they saw the same thing happening again, but on a galaxy-wide scale. Though the grieving Night Lords yearned to join the other loyal Astartes in running down the retreating Traitor Legions, their first Legion Master, Zso Sahaal, realised that their skills could be put to use in a far more productive way. Instead, the Night Lords used their dread reputation and the promise of inevitable and bloody retribution to prevent the fragile Imperium from splintering into a million warring fiefdoms. They became the shadow of fear that enforced the Pax Imperialis.

I'd play up the 'keepers of the Pax Imperialis' angle a lot more. It's what makes them more distinct in the modern age.

Despite the arrival of the Emperor bringing daylight to Nostramo, the population have proved unwilling to embrace this new dawn. For a people genetically adapted to the darkness, even the weak sunlight which reached them was blinding, and under the protection of the Night Lords, there was little to fear from the shadows. Because of this, Nostraman society conducts its business wherever possible during the night, with the population careful to return to their shuttered homes before the first scorching rays of sun return at dawn. The only souls to be found out during the day are those not indigenous to the planet, or those forced by circumstance to brave the daylight behind goggles of smoked glass and layers of protective clothing.

Over the millennia the five cities of Nostramo have steadily expanded, although Quintus, the place where the infant primarch first fell to earth and the site of the legion’s fortress-monastery, retains primacy. It is said by off-worlders that despite their large populations the cities of Nostramo are unnervingly quiet and well-ordered. The streets are clean and free of litter, and even the air is sweet – at least in comparison to the levels pollution pumped into the atmosphere before the arrival of the Emperor.

Brilliant stuff.

+++ Colourpiece 4: Recruiter Sergeant

If you're looking to cut words, this might be a good place to start.

To me, it feels like all the pieces of the article just don't quite lock in together. That may just be my tired state though...

#25
Ace Debonair

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Sorry I didn't do this sooner - blasted real life interfering mumble mumble...

No mistakes leapt out at me, and I've more or less been forced to resort to nit-picking spellings and occasional word choice. :D

Fearing for their lives, the criminals searched in vain for their tormentor, offering unimaginable sums for information on his location or to bounty hunters, but to no avail. He had on-one, so could not be betrayed, and on a Night World such as Nostramo, there were more than enough shadows in which to hide.


A bit of a mix-up here, methinks.

In the time it took for the Emperor to reach Nostramo, Magnus bonded with his brother, and spoke of the Great Crusade they were conducting to unite the scattered worlds of mankind under Imperial Law. With his interest in justice, this aspect was of considerable interest to the Night Haunter. In return, Magnus was fascinated to learn that his brother was gifted by brief flashes of precognitive ability, although he had so far been unable to use the fore-knowledge to alter the course of events.


That feels a bit too... direct.
It's like Magnus knows he will, eventually, change the course of events. Granted, with Magnus that might be true, but... :P

I'd reccomend "...unable to use this fore-knowledge in his quest for justice" or even "...unable to use this fore-knowledge in any meaningful way", perhaps.

Though he had long resisted it, Night Haunter finally agreed to allow his brother to access his memories of his latest vision. Magnus was more successful than they could of hoped, reassembling the headlong rush of knowledge into a coherent form which they were able to use to prevent the ambush and destruction of the orbiting Imperial Army bulk conveyance vessels.


I think I espy an errant word!

‘I never liked this place, Konrad,’ said his father, his eyes on the missing eleventh statue. ‘Malcador would never confirm it, but I am certain that this was where the execution was carried out... where my son died at my command. It is as though I can hear his death-scream imprinted on these stones.


I'm not sure about ths bit, either.

Perhaps "...Echoing from these stones"?

Such of executions chilled his heart, and yet still Curze yearned to finally admit to his father what the vision had shown him when they had first met for the first time. But then the moment was gone, and the Emperor was once more striding purposefully towards the far side of the Investory.

Missing word?

During this time, Curze was afflicted by further prophesy warnings, each of which he tried his utmost to avert, but was not always successful, or timely.


Prophetic warnings, or perhaps just drop either prophecy or warnings?


“Why did I come before you only to be killed? Because your Heresy, and the act you are about to commit, proves the truth of my actions at Cheraut. I merely tried to punish one who had wronged – my only regret is that I did not succeed in killing you before you made war on our father, the Emperor. Death is nothing compared to vindication."


You could probably drop 'The Emperor' from this speech - it seems an oddly formal inclusion for a speech between two brothers.
It's not much, but cut words are cut words! :D