Hi there! with the new release of Burning of Prospero I have decided to start another legion and, after the hard process of having to decide which one to start, I've come with the solution, to make my own legion. So I decided to do another lost legion project, and have decided for the II because I prefer them to be the "forgotten" than the "purged". The thing is that starting a legion from scratch wasn't as simple as I first thought, as it means that you have to make a LOT of choices. But I finally have the bases set and this morning went to my local store and bought BoP.
My idea is to make kind of an "undead" legion that, through an alteration of their gene-seed or dark rituals (probably both) are between life and death, their soul bound to their body so that they won't fall when they die but meaning that when their body is finally and ultimately destroyed they will face an eternity of nothingless, being devoured by the warp or something like that. Because of this they have understood the importance of balance between life and death, and know that killing is something that shouldn't be done without reason but that sometimes it is necessary, carrying their task without hesitation. As you can see they aren't totally defined at all, but the main idea is there.
Regarding the name and heraldry I have chosen the "Harvesters of Souls", as I couldn't put the word "death" in there because of the Death Guard. The symbol I have come up with is half a white skull, half a black featureless face, representing that they are both alive and dead:
The problem I have with it, again, is that it is similar to the Death Guard one, so I'm open to other ideas. I was planing to paint them in a metallic black, as I like a lot how Alpha Legion and Thousand Sons armies turn out when painted metallic and wanted to do something similar, though I´m still not sure on the technique i´ll use to paint them like that. Also I will sculpt half of the face to look like a skull and paint that half white. Finally, to make them more different from the Iron Hands and Raven Gaurd which are also black, I will paint a skeleton over their armour, probably in white or bone colours.
With the fluff and the colour scheme more or less set needed to make rules for them, but the problem of that was that I wouldn't be able to use them without the permission of my opponent, as they wouldn't be official, but I didn't want either to use the rules of another legion, as I wanted to make something different, so the solution came from the other option I had for a new project, the Blackshields. Their rules allow to really customise your army, being able to choose between different options for your Legion Astartes rules and having a basic infantry choice with a lot of choices, apart from being really cool and allowing me to do two of my project ideas at the same time. So the idea is to play my Harvesters of Souls using Blackshields rules, meaning that my units are in some way made to represent blackshield rules. I will mainly play them as Chymeriae with the +1T, +1S, -1I, -1 run and charge moves and no sweeping advances traits as my Brought by War choice, representing that even though the powers of undeath give them strenght and they don't die as easily (as they're already dead), they have less control over their bodies, making them less agile and mobile.
So, as I said before, I've already bought the BoP box and started assembling the contents, so I already have my first model, the captain of my first marauder squad, equipped with a thunder hammer, a shotgun and a bolt pistol:
He didn't took a lot of time to model, as the legs where already in the pose i wanted and I just had to reposition the arms, sculpt half of the helmet to look like a skull and convert a boltgun into a shotgun. This last part was really simple and just required a boltgun from a 40k marine, which was very important for me as I plan to make twenty like that, but the result was pretty satisfactory:
At last I don't usually like starting by the sergeants of the units, but the thing is that I plan on equipping the regular members of the unit with a chainaxe and I won't be able to order them until next week, so until then I'll have to build the terminators, characters and non basic units...
So, I hope you liked it and any support and ideas will be welcome. What do you think of the fluff? Would you change the colour scheme? If not, how would you paint metallic black? What about the model? Do you know good brands that sell chainaxes?
I hope that I can post my next figure soon, but I have to study during the week, so expect more activity atthe weekends!
Edit: as this project has advanced quite a bit, I've decided to do a fluff compilation on this first post that combines every fluff piece I've done for the Harvesters of Souls. To make it less cumbersome I won't be putting the stories that I sometimes write for some of my characters in here, just the general history of the II Legion. Also some things provided in the original posts of this texts won't be copied, as images they had or aclaraciones about some things:
ORIGINS OF THE LEGION
The II Astartes Legion, the Sentenced, were doomed since their creation. Their Gene-Seed had a terrible flaw that, instead of prolonging their lifespan indefinitely, shortened it to less than a couple years, as their vital organs eventually stopped working. Because of this, they were the legion with the less recruits, as everyone knew that forming part of the II was a sentence of death, but the few members that there were had a grim determination, accepting their fate a not caring about their life in battle, knowing that one way or another, they were going to die. Because of this, the legion was forced to use their trainees in battle before they were implanted with the gene-seed, as they needed them to be fully capable when it happened, as after they wouldn't have much more time to learn.
Even with this extreme measures the legion was smaller every day, as the recruits were few and the astartes died quickly, preventing them from having any veterans.
It was just when the Emperor was about to end the legion that they found the death world of Messis, a place in where humans had prevailed in large cities ruled by the Necrophants, powerful psykers that used their powers to raise the corpses of the dead and bind them to their will, creating huge undead armies to defend the people from the many dangers of the planet, mainly the xenos creatures know as the “nightmare stalkers”, dark and slim creatures with many legs and claws sharp as swords that imbued their victims in fear just by looking at them with their bright green eyes.
That was before the Harvester arrived. They say that one day he arrived from the black skies, a child with the skin white as the snow and with eyes dark as the night. He was found near the city of Mausulon, by a farmer, Ghortan, who took him into his care to save the son his wife was about to have, for he would be his second son and in Messis everyone had to give their second sons to the Necrophants when they reached adulthood to be killed and risen as undead soldiers to defend the people. This children that were born to die were called “Virgultum”, the “branch that is cut green”, so Ghortan named his new son Virgultur, for a true name will only make himself like more the son he had just adopted. But Virgultur was not a normal human, and soon the gifts that he had started showing themselves. It was less than a month before he had to be given to join the armies of the dead that he presented himself to the Necrophants saying that he was willing to serve alive. At first they told him that that was not possible, for humans panicked when they saw the Nightmare Stalkers, so Virgultur told them that he would bring them the head of a dozen Stalkers if they would admit him in their army afterwards. Laughing, the Necrophants told him that they would not only admit him but that they would make him their general if he, alone, killed a dozen Nightmare Stalkers and brought them their severed heads. Accepting the challenge and forcing them to oath that they would do as they had said if he made it, Virgultur picked the scythe that his father used in the farm and went to the wilderness from where he had came. During the course of two whole months he hunted a dozen Nightmare Stalkers, severing their heads with his scythe, looking directly at their eyes but never being afraid. When he presented himself to the Necrophants they couldn't believe him, and some of them said that he couldn't be the general of their undead armies, as he was barely an adult, even though he was already taller than them all. Accusing them of liars and oathbreakers Vilgurtur killed them with the same scythe that he had used to sever the head of the stalkers, but broke it in the process because of the brutality with which he used it. The remaining Necrophants pleaded for their lives and said that the will honour their oath, so Virgultur spared them and took his place at the head of his dead soldiers. For two years he battled the Stalkers, not limiting to defending the cities, but hunting them into the marshes and damps from where they came, winning every battle because of his cunning and might. But he saw that there were too many monsters in Messis to be fought with the army he had, so he told the Necrophants to rise the Nightmare Stalkers they killed so that they would join their ranks to fight their alive brethren. Horrified by the idea they all excused themselves saying that they were not powerful enough to do it and saying that it was madness. But Virgultur was not going to give in so easily, so he told them that if they teached him how, he would do it himself. Again underestimating him, the Necrophants agreed, thinking that he would destroy himself in the process. But Virgultur learned eagerly, and one day, after a bloody battle in which a lot of Stalkers died, he made the dark rituals that the Necrophants had teached him and, even though it left him exhausted, dozens of Nightmare Stalkers rose to fight for him, their souls bound to his will and their bodies animated by the powers of undeath.
Terrified by what they had done, the Necrophants started plotting how to kill Virgultur, for he was getting too powerful. But the servants of the dark temples of Messis in where the Necrophants lived learned of this plan and, part for vengeance, part because they wanted Virgultur to free them from the Stalkers, they alarmed him, and in his wrath he killed the remaining Necrophants. Now rid of their protests, Vilgurtur started rising Nightmare Stalkers and other monsters to join his army, conquering much of Messis with their might, making it secure for humans to live and, because his new source of soldiers, he abolished the law of giving second sons to be killed.
But there was a region of Messis that he wasn't able to purge, a place called Pandemoni, marshes so infested of Nightmare Stalkers and other dangers that not even his armies could defeat them.
So he started animating much more humans and monsters, spending whole days in the sacred temples creating a massive army.
But all this power wasn't unnoticed. Very far away, in another place of the galaxy, the Emperor of Mankind noticed the psychic emanations that were coming from Messis, and quickly recognized the power of one of his sons. At the head of the II and XVI legions, the second of which had already reunited with their primarch, Horus, he went to that unexplored region of the galaxy with the hope of finding one of his lost sons.
Virgultur had created an army of hundreds of thousands undead humans and monsters and decided to march towards the final battle against the Nightmare Stalkers so, even though he was exhausted by the effort he had made and sometimes could barely stand on his feet he, at the head of his huge army, marched into Pandemoni. He and his undead warriors went farther than ever before, but the Stalkers kept coming and the undead army started diminishing. Even with their numbers being reduced by the thousands, they kept going on, as the dead feel no fear and, at last, they reached the centre of the marsh. There they found the Nightmare Mother, a giant monster that spawned the Stalkers and that, taking advantage of Virgultur’s weakness, took control over the undead Nightmare Stalkers. Totally in disadvantage as his forces turned against him, Virgultur decided that he would rather die than flee, so he fought monsters and his own undead alike until he was the only human standing. When his last strength was just about to leave him a bright light shimmered in front of him and suddenly a group of humans clad in a towering black armour were fighting beside him. At the head of them he saw a giant with a claw and a mace, taller even than him, which fought with a magnificence he had never seen before. With axes of thunder and weapons that spitted fire the newcomers soon made a circle around him and, without really believing it, he saw that they were winning the battle so, with a expression of relief, he fainted.
That was how Horus and his Luna Wolves saved Virgultur, Primarch of the II. After a long talk with his true father, the Emperor, Vilgurtur learned about the Great Crusade, and decided to commit himself zealously to the cause, as he had dedicated all his life to the protection of humanity. But to do that he needed a Legion, and his sons were dying. At the same time the Emperor reprimed him for using his powerful psychic abilities to such evil purposes, as he had not only risen the dead, but he had bound them to his will and had practiced his dark arts with xenos beasts, which had turned against him when he needed them the most. To avoid this happening again, the Emperor trained Virgultur personally in the art of the Warp, teaching him how to properly use his powers. When this training ended and Virgultur had mastered his psychic abilities, he took command of his Legion, but was horrified to see how fast they were dying and clearly saw that if nothing was done the Legion would disappear. Not wanting to lose his newly found sons he isolated himself in his personal chambers to think of a solution. He soon saw what he had to do. For two weeks he worked, mixing the rituals that the Necrophants had taught him with the knowledge the Emperor had given him. He would bind the soul of his warriors to themselves, making them stand and fight even though their bodies dyed, turning them into undead but keeping their free will. Afraid that his father wouldn't approve he decided to make the ritual as soon as possible and, with the approval of his Legion, it was done. The legionaries now where slower, as they hadn't as much control over their body, but they were tougher and stronger, as the power of the warp flowed through them to keep them “alive”. But eventually the Emperor found out and his wrath was terrible, almost dismissing the II Legion, no more called the Sentenced but renamed as the “Harvesters of Souls”, as he said that now they were tainted by terrible powers. But Horus himself, who had befriended Virgultum since he saved him in Messis, interceded in his favour, saying that the warriors of the II remained loyal, were stronger than ever and that they couldn't afford to lose a whole Legion in the midst of the Great Crusade. Not really convinced about it the Emperor gave in, but assigned regiments of the Legio Custodes to closely guard the Harvesters of Souls, and prohibited them from having a librarius, saying that the taint was too strong to let them access the warp. Ashamed about having displeased his father, Virgultur was eager to show the value of his legion, and soon marched to battle, conquering world after world to make the Emperor proud.
This was how the Harvesters of Souls were born.
This was how the Harvesters of Souls started to die.
It is thought that the two lost primarchs were found in the 830 and 967 of the thirtieth millennium. It is also thought that this legions were destroyed in the 965 and the 969, as in those years the Space Wolves, who are known to be the executioners of the Emperor, were sent to a classified mission. But what is never mentioned in the lost primarch theories is that in the 006 of the thirty first millennium there is an important event that has been totally erased from history. Because the Inquisition hadn't been founded yet and the Horus Heresy had barely started (the dropsite Massacre is also on the 006, so it could've been after this), it seems very likely to me that this event that has been expunged from every archive could have something to do with the lost legions.
This explained, the timeline of the Harvesters of Souls would be this:
830 M30: Virgultur is found in the planet of Messis, being saved by his brother Horus, which is the start of an emerging friendship between them.
830-831 M30: the Emperor personally trains Virgultur to use his psychic abilities while they battle together in the Great Crusade. Virgultur will remember this time afterwards with opposed emotions, as he was happy to be with his father but it caused much grief to see his legion dying.
831 M30: Virgultur is officially given command of the II Legion, the Harvesters of Souls, and returns to Messis to find a solution for the legion’s problem.
831 M30: the first “Death-ritual of Rebirth” is made, and the II Legion numbers rise due to a new wave of recruits from Messis. Soon afterwards the Emperor finds out, and judges him. Though Leman Russ urges for the dismissal of the legion, Horus speaks in their favour, finally convincing the Emperor to let them live, but the “Edict of Konstanople” puts heavy restriction over them, prohibiting their use of things like a Librarius (though instaurating the Necrontinus, an organisation of psykers purely dedicated to the reanimation of their brothers), Dreadnoughts or the practise of their rituals outside the members of the II Legion.
832 M30: Virgultur creates his own Expeditionary Force and for the first time battles alone with his Harvesters of Souls, he also meets Ferrus Manus and Fulgrim, which he both addresses as arrogant and overconfident, specially Fulgrim.
843 M30: Virgultur finally meets Magnus, from which he had heard before and longs to know another psyker primarch but finds himself ashamed as Magnus turns out to master the Warp much more than himself without having received any help from his father, creating a brotherly rivalry that, even though it's usually friendly, it often ends up in the two of them quarrelling.
843-848 M30: the Harvesters of Souls and the Thousand Sons fight together against an eldar craftworld in a log campaign that ends without much benefit for either of the sides.
860-869 M30: a great war is fought in the Hallion system against an Ork Whaagh!, which features the main forces of four legions, the Harvesters of Souls, the Iron Warrior, the Death Guard and the Word Bearers, the last of which were newly reunited with their primarch. The four primarch are present during the war, though Mortarion leaves with the bulk of his army on 864, as he says that his legion is most needed elsewhere, which causes a quarrel with the other primarch, mainly with Virgultur, who calls him coward and says that he should be ashamed to call his legion Death Guard if they can't bring death when they're asked.
869 M30: the Hallion War ends with the astartes victorious, and Perturabo gifts Virgultur with Truth and Lie, a double sided glaive that the Harvester will turn into his signature weapon afterwards.
869-942 M30: the Harvesters of Souls fight various minor wars, during which they are forced to battle a couple human civilisations to “bring them to the light of the Empire”, even though they're pacific, which Virgultur does with hesitation and contempt. At the end he completely destroys a planet in a fit of brutal rage to avoid knowing their people and wanting to save them. Afterwards he'll be haunted by regrets of this decision.
942-944 M30: a two year campaign against the Rassak, a xeno race, which features the Harvesters of Souls, the World Eaters and the Night Lords. Virgultur disapproves of the brutal ways of Angron and his legion and is disgusted by the sadistic tendencies of Kurze, so sends a message of complaint to his father, who responds saying that both their legions are brutally effective and that the Great Crusade sometimes has the need of less subtle tools. Not too happy by the answer, Virgultur starts to think that there might be something wrong in the way that the Empire works, a sense that is reforced by the atrocities committed during the war against the Rassak.
945 M30: the Harvesters of Souls start participating less actively in the Great Crusade, as Virgultur’s doubts grow.
957 M30: the Harvesters of Souls find the Koulst system, which is habituated by a sub race of humans that have evolved by breeding with xenos. Virgultur orders the extermination of the race because the abominable acts they have committed, but afterwards is consumed by guilt and rises them all as undead, after of which he leaves the system reporting that he had been defeated by “unexpected xenos powers”. The Space Wolves are redirected to the system to investigate this, but because they're very far away and they stop in their path due to false baits set by Virgultur they don't reach Koulst until 960.
960-963 M30: Space Wolves fight the sub humans in Koulst, reporting that they seem to have been reanimated by dark arts. They reluctantly call for the help of the Harvesters of Souls, considering them experienced in the matter, though Leman Russ suspects something is wrong and wants to inspect them closer. Virgultur rejects, saying that he is engaged in a battle in Balan Secunda which he cannot leave, even though in reality it's just a minor confrontation.
962 M30: Virgultur talks with his brother Lograr after the incident of Monarchia, and partly shares with him the dislike towards Guilliman and his Ultramarines, but more importantly his doubts in the Empire of Men grow even further.
963 M30: the Harvesters of Souls are accused by the Space Wolves of treachery and are called again to Konstanople.
964 M30: Virgultur at first tries to avoid it, but finally accepts his fate and reunites all his legion to be judged at Konstanople for his crimes. There, a committee formed by various high charges, including some of his fellow brothers such as Leman Russ, Mortarios, Roboute Gilliman, Rogal Dorn and, painfully to him, Magnus, and leaded by the Emperor himself, sentence the legion to stop using the rituals, even though if it shortens the lifespan of its members. Horrified by the prospect of watching his legion die again Virgultur returns to Messis, where he starts planning how to escape the Imperium. Finally he reaches into the warp for help, a thing that had been forbidden to him by his father during his training, where he found a powerful entity that promised a secure place to hide for him and his legion at the cost of the souls of those undead legionaries that were finally destroyed. After discussions it with the Necrontinus and his nearest advisors, he accepts the pact.
965 M30:Just as the pact with the being from the Warp is being sealed, the Space Wolves attack the planet as they've been monitoring the planet and they know the rituals of reanimation haven’t stopped, raiding the recruitment centres in search of recruits who hadn't still been administered the gene-seed to take (who would afterwards be forced to join the Ultramarines) and afterwards bombing Messis until it was just a flat, lifeless, blackened rock. The II Legion, the Harvesters of Souls, are “officially” destroyed in what would afterwards be referred as the “Hunt of the Dead”. Unfortunately for the Space Wolves, the Harvesters of Souls had already fled to the warp when this happened, as that was the safe place promised to them.
965 M30 -005 M31: Virgultur is furious as his legion has ended in a remote place of the Warp that is a twisted mock up of Messis and his planet and people have been destroyed. In this period he suffers a slow descent to madness and starts to monitor everything that happens in the galaxy, learning of Horus conspiracy and seeing the roots of the Heresy develop in front of his eyes. He decides not to take part as, even though he sees Horus cause as a noble one, he also perceives that he is being fooled by the powers of the warp just as he had been. During this time he tries to get power and learns the name of the entity with which he had talked, Malal, a god of destruction and and entropy. Virgultur will finally develop a close relationship with Malal, who gives him power in exchange for the promise that one day the Harvesters of Souls would bring destruction again over the material plane.
006 M31: the remains of the II Legion make an appearance in Terra, fighting the Legio Custodes and the Imperial Fists and, thanks to the surprise and confusion they cause, Virgultur and his personal guard manage to reach the Emperor, where Virgultur talks to his father for the last time and apparently kills himself, his body and Legion disappearing afterwards. This event is known as the “Fall of the Revenant” though it is rarely talked about.
006 M31: after this event, again in the warp, where the true Messis now lied mixed with the false one, the members of the Necrontinus rise Virgultur from the dead, now much empowered and partly an avatar of Malal, but not a true daemon prince.
006-014 M31: Virgultur continues to watch the development of the Horus Heresy from the Warp, not really empathising with any of the sides, but rather wanting both to destroy each other so that a new Empire can rise. To assure this he discreetly drops some pieces of information to both sides to assure this destruction and sometimes sends his legion to crucial places, though they don't leave record of anything and are thought to be Blackshields, once even manifesting to his brother Horus and telling him to go to Molech, using the bonds that they had once shared to convince him. When at the end the traitors are defeated, Virgultur is quite let down, as the sides haven't completely obliterated each other to let him rebuild a new empire of balance and justice.
014 M31+: The Harvesters of Souls occasionally appear somewhere, usually to wreck havoc over the forces of the Imperium, but also sometimes fighting chaos or even xenos for unknown reasons. Virgultur never truly became a daemon primarch, but reached inmortality anyways due to the powers of undeath. On the relation of the legion with Malal, they actually never became his followers, but it is true that part of their power is gotten from him and even though they can travel freely through the otherwise dangerous Warp, their souls are devoured by Malal when they ultimately die, but they do not fear their fate, but rather face it with grim determination, as their legion always did. Usually they're confused with a chaos warband, but the Harvesters of Souls never leave witnesses in their operation, and in open battles they fight with icons long forgotten and disappear afterwards, so no one knows who they really are.
THE EDICT OF KONSTANOPLE
The command chain of the Harvesters of Souls was totally decimated by the Edict of Konstanople, as the Sentenced had been quite a psychic-receptive legion and more than half of the captains, praetors and other consuls were psykers to some level and so had to be given to the Necrontinus and left their old charges. When this happened Virgultur decided that, instead of trying to rebuild the legion as it was, he would take this opportunity for a new start and changed completely how it was run.
For starters he eliminated the concept of “tactical squad” as he thought that they offered little flexibility and he needed more versatile rank troops. Because of this he created the Executioners, more assault oriented troops with access to a larger variety of wargear which were more capable of carrying out the aggressive and fast tactics used by the Revenant.
To carry his troops to battle Virgultur saw that he needed a new transport, as he hadn't a Storm Bird available for each of his units and he thought drop pods and rhinos were too static and not made for assault, while the land raiders were to cumbersome to use for smaller squads. Not satisfied by any of the options proposed by the Mechanicum of Mars, Virgultur came up with his own solution, using the boarding pods usually reserved for space-warfare in sub-orbital conditions, which resulted in a vehicle completely designed for close quarters combat, which could be inserted where desired in the battlefield and had a superior mobility than usual ground transports. Because of its toothed shape this vehicles were named Dreadclaws and Kharybdiss Assault Claws, and other legions, particularly the Sons of Horus who also favoured this style of war, started using them too.
As for his leaders, Virgultur saw himself without many commanders, as a lot of them had to go to the Necrontinus and the legions didn't have much beforehand, but he also saw that he couldn't raise inexperienced soldiers to higher ranks, as that was one of the bigger flaws the Sentenced had (because of their short lifespan), so he gave more power to the unit sergeants and from the few experienced leaders that remained named ten “Death Lords” and divided the legion between them, forming the ten Sects of the Harvesters of Souls, each specialised in a different thing, and gave his lords a total power above them, as well as a reduced number of consuls (which were the remaining leaders) to give them support.
The Edict of Konstanople also prohibited the II legion from using any kind of dreadnought because the Emperor did not want to prolong any further the “tainted” lives of the legionaries, but the Harvesters of Souls kept the ones they had from before, so some Sentenced dreadnoughts remained in the Sects, providing different kinds of support. But Makke Haasan, Chief Necrontian and Death Lord of the II Sect, came up with a different way of keeping the most venerable brothers within the legion during a campaign along the Thousand Sons, in where he saw the use of psychic receptive automatons. After a long period of experimentation, he created the Gashadoki, robots based on the Castellax Automata chassis but modified to have the soul of a legionnaire instead of a machine spirit. Though the legionnaire inside doesn't control the Gashadok completely as if it was his own body he could direct his actions and help him fight, making up for an incredibly resilient metal beast which spread terror through the enemy lines in their giant skeleton-shaped armour, tearing apart foes with energy-crepitante claws and destroying vehicles with the newly developed Darkfire Cannon.
To ensure that the Harvesters would follow the Edict, the Emperor assigned many units of the Legio Custodes and the Sisters of Silence to their expeditionary forces, and so they're used to fight together. Even though they were introduced to the legion as guards and punishers, over the time they got accustomed to each other, to the point that some of them, specially the Sisters of Silence, kept loyal to Virgultur when he betrayed the Emperor.
The Necrontinus was created, it was a very close organisation, about which no one knew much and was rarely spoken of outside the legion. Its members, the Necrontians, wore dark robes over their armour, which was full of arcane glyphs, and most of them stayed in Messis in charge of the Reanimation Rituals, but some went with the expeditionary fleets to ensure all the legionaries were in fighting conditions, which made them work closely with the Sentencers. This Necrontians sometimes marched to battle amongst their brothers, surrounded by servitors risen from the dead (the servitors were technically inside the legion) which were given heavy weapons and used as bodyguards for the Necrontians, as they were banned to use their powers in any means that wasn't for the Rituals and thus were more vulnerable in battle.
At last the Harvesters of Souls where prohibited to use their Reanimation Rituals on anyone outside the legion, which meant that all the creatures that Virgultur had risen to conquer Messis had to be destroyed. Sad but decided to make the Emperor proud of him again, the Revenant killed all of his beasts, simply removing the dark powers he had used to sustain them. Later on, when he turned against the Emperor, he would reanimate them again and use them to fight the Space Wolves while the Harvesters of Souls escaped the planet.
THE TEN SECTS
The Harvesters of Souls are divided in then “Sects”, each specialised in a thing and lead by a Death Lord. I will try to cover this sects one by one later, but here is the list of the ten:
The I Sect - The Soul Eaters: first they were composed by the veterans and dreadnoughts of the legion, then they turned into the Soul Eaters and finally into possessed when the legion fell to chaos. They were led by Maximino Loreis at first, but this honour passed to Reus Ghortan, the Sword of Redemption, after Maximino was slain by an Ork Warboss. The Soul Eaters were deployed where the battle was the most intense, and fought with inhuman brutality to fulfill their dreadful hunger.
The II Sect - The Necrontinus: mainly composed by the Necrontians, but the Gashadoki and undead servitors are also part of this Sect. They were the legion Librarius before the Edict of Konstanople. They were lead by Makke Haasan, who was both Death Lord and Chief Necrontian. After the legion betrayed the Imperium the Necrontians started using their powers again and turned into powerful sorcerers.
The III Sect - The Lifeless Ones: composed by the legion terminators, which later incorporated the Hands of Doom, this Sect was led by Maldor Hone, who was replaced by the young Fertis Torya and then by “the Wanderer”, a mysterious Hand of Doom who has held the title of Death Lord ever since. Used as mobile strong points for the legion to stand the Lifeless Ones are almost impossible to kill thanks to their terminator armour and their undead resilience.
The IV Sect - The Riders of the Apocalypse: this Sect was used by Virgultur as fast support for the rest of his army, riding in jetbikes and usual bikes the Riders of the Apocalypse darted through enemy lines to reach key positions of the battlefield before the other legionaries could. Their leader, Salazar Vilus, the Harbinger, has lead the Riders of the Apocalypse since its foundation, and is feared even by his own brothers.
The V Sect - The Death Eye: at first this were the newest recruits of the legion, and thus were mainly scouts led by the Vigilator Xan Mercorius, the Ghost, but eventually they had more experienced Astartes through their lines and started using Seekers and, when the legion fell to chaos, Chosen. The Ghost still holds the title of Death Lord, but he's rarely seen in battle or leaves no witnesses to report it. The Death Eye has always worked in conjunction with the different operatives that the Harvesters of Souls use, to gather information and make vital strikes before the battle even starts.
The VI Sect - The Requiem: during the great crusade these troops were given experimental equipment and weaponry, as Virgultur was always trying to find out new ways of improving his legion performance. When the legion betrayed the Emperor, the Death Lord of The Requiem, Nihal the Choir Master, saw it as an opportunity to try even more bizarre instruments. Commonly seen with xenos and heretech artefacts, this Sect are extravagant even inside the Harvesters of Souls, and are the most unpredictable weapon in the arsenal of the Revenant.
The VII Sect - The Hell Walkers: trained to fight under the most extreme conditions, the Hell Walkers were deployed by Virgultur in the hardest places, usually fighting in deathworlds. This made them even more resilient than their already undead-hardened brothers. Their actual leader is Geios Surpramo, the Unleasher, the Hell Walker that has survived the most within the Sect.
The VIII Sect - The Unsettled: usually seen in the heart of the battle, the legionaries of the Unsettled are deployed to engage the enemy before they can react and break their formation. Geared to fight in close quarters the members of the Sect charge recklessly their objective and fight until their deaths, usually moving around the battlefield to spread chaos and avoid the enemy from regrouping or fortifying itself in a position. It's actual leader, Aros Wrex, the Chaoshammer, is the newest of the Death Lords, as he killed his predecessor, Forhan Nametius, for being too weak.
The IX Sect - The Cremators: since the Imperium arrived on Messis it saw that Mortein, a substance found in the deepest of its swamps, was a very efficient fuel that ignited easily. Even though large quantities of it were taken away, the Harvesters of Souls were allowed to keep a good part, which was used by the Cremators as fuel for their flamers. Through more unstable than promethium, mortein was much more inflammable, causing severe damage on its targets and sometimes even on its bearer. After the legion fled to the Warp they managed to produce a twisted copy of the substance, even more dangerous, which has been used ever since to fuel some of the daemon engines used by the legion as well as the flaming weapons of the Cremators. Their actual Death Lord, Neron Talhan, the Manburner, is a pyromaniac madman who enjoys burning alive humans and rejoices in its screams who is in charge of the Cremators since the last Death Lord of the Sect died because he injected large quantities of mortein into his system and then set himself on fire.
The X Sect - The Sons of Malice: the usual rank troops of the legion and the most commonly seen after they went to the Warp. Though it has had many Death Lord the most famous and actual one is Kaleb Daark, a ruthless Dark Apostle who is a fanatic of Malal. The Sons of Malice have commonly been confused by imperial agents to be a warband of their own because of the frequency of their incursions, but they actually serve Virgultur and follow his intricate plans.
THE HARVESTER, HIS BROTHERS AND THEIR LEGIONS
I Dark Angels - Lion El’Johnson
The Harvester and the Lion never met during the time that the II Legion remained loyal. Virgultur respected him and his Legion, he approved of his secretive ways and knew about his fight against the beasts to free Caliban, which he compared to his own history with Messis, but they weren't too close.
II Harvesters of Souls - Virgultur
III Emperor's Children - Fulgrim
When Virgultur met Fulgrim on Terra they didn't get on at all, he thought that the Phoenix was too arrogant and superfluous, and thought of war as not much more than a place to prove his skills and show off. The same could be told about his sons, who wore armours full of ornaments and dedicated more time to pleasure than to war. When the Emperor’s Children felt to chaos Virgultur at first thought they were disgusting, but over the time he and his Legion started getting corrupted too and he started getting more interested in them, specially because of the Requiem, as they were marvelled by the sonic weapons used by the Noise Marines and started trying to copy similar designs in their own exotic weaponry.
IV Iron Warriors - Perturabo
Since Virgultur and Perturabo met a bond between them was forged. They fought together against a huge Ork Waaagh and they respected how they fought. When this war finished Perturabo gifted Virgultur with Truth and Lie, a double glaive that the Harvester has used ever since. After the Heresy he revealed himself to the Lord of Iron, him being one of the only three primarchs that know about the Harvesters of Souls survival, but never worked too closely with him, as Perturabo was resented that Virgultur hadn't helped them conquer Terra.
V White Scars - Jaghatai Khan
Even though the Harvester respected the Khan they didn't met too oftenly, but they fought a minor war together in where the Riders of the Apocalypse forged bonds of brotherhood with many White Scars but Salazar Vilus, their Death Lord, was offended by them in a misunderstanding and held the grudge until some time after the Heresy, when he and his Sect attacked an scaping regiment of the V Legion and completely decimated it simply to get his revenge, what caused some unease as other Riders of the Apocalypse didn't agree with this decision.
VI Space Wolves - Leman Russ
Virgultur and the Wolf King have disliked each other since the moment they met on Terra, briefly after the Harvester discovery. Russ had always disliked witchcraft and, when he was told what Virgultur had done on Messis, he was horrified. Because of this he remained a supporter of the legion dismissal until the day he was tasked to destroy it. The Harvesters of Souls have hated the Space Wolfs ever since but, unlike their other enemies which they try to harass as much as possible without being noticed, they totally ignore the VI Legion and, what is more, they actively seek to let them out of their plans, as Virgultur doesn't want to risk facing again the sons of the wolf until the time is right, knowing than when he does it, he will completely and utterly destroy them and hunt them down until there's no one left.
VII Imperial Fists - Rogal Dorn
Prior to the Heresy Virgultur and Dorn got on surprisingly well, as it was the Harvesters of Souls who arrived to Inwit and discovered the primarch of the VII. Virgultur was the first primarch that Rogal talked to, and the one that told him everything about the Great Crusade and the Empire of Mankind, it was the Revenant who told him about their father, the Emperor, and the one who introduced them. As Rogal never told a lie, nor did Virgultur in his presence, and The Vigilant always respected the eternal urge of his brother to redeem himself in the eyes of his father. After and during the Heresy, Virgultur tried to fight his brother’s Legion as little as possible, but he eventually saw that they were too important to be ignored. Because of this the Harvesters of Souls always try to fight honourably and openly against the Imperial Fists (as much as they can, which isn't too much), and have even fought besides them in several occasions to prevent the forces of chaos from conquering specific worlds that the Harvesters didn't want them to have.
VIII Night Lords - Konrad Curze
The Night Haunter was one of the many reasons because of which Virgultur went rogue. He fought besides him against a xenos race, and was disgusted by their ways and saw that Curze was completely out of his mind. Even though, he learned a lot from their Infiltration techniques and terror tactics, but adapted them to be less cruel and caused pain just when necessary.
IX Blood Angels - Sanguinius
Though the sons of Sanguinius never caught Virgultur attention during the great crusade, he was impressed by their potential when he discovered that they had the Black Rage afterwards. After some research and modification he, with the help of his Chief Necrontian Makke Haasan, and the Death Lord of the Unsettled (at that time) Daarius Cheomus, developed the Draugar, legionaries who were enhanced by the mix of a gene-disease derived from the Black Rage, a modified version of the Butcher Nails of the XII Legion, and dark rituals invented by the Revenant himself and carried out by the Necrontinus. Because of this the Harvesters of Souls have faced the Blood Angels many times, specially the Death Company, to extract subjects for testing and to prove the Draugar effectiveness in battle compared to the marines affected by the actual Black Rage.
X Iron Hands - Ferrus Manus
As with Fulgrim, Virgultur found the Gorgon too arrogant and overconfident, though he respected him more than the Phoenix as he at least recognised that he was a skilled fighter. Additionally he thought that his tactics were too rigid, and despised the obsession their sons had with replacing as many parts of themselves as they could with machines, as he knew the true value of the body and the power it had within and, even though he thought of machines as a good way to enhance it, he didn't think they should replace it.
XII World Eaters - Angron
During the Crusade Virgultur was totally against the tactics of the War Dogs, and was frustrated to know that his father thought of his own Legion in a similar way and usually deployed them together as a brutal mean of destroying opposition, while the Harvester preferred a much more subtle way of war. When Angron reunited with his Legion he was horrified to see that his brother was a madman, and urged the Emperor to remove him from command. Over the time as he got the time to inspect him closer he developed an interest for the Butcher Nails, and ordered some members of his Legion to investigate about them and try to find a better solution. After the Heresy this research will end up creating the Draugar for the Unsettled Sect, as explained above.
So because of a mix of interest in the Nails and despise of their methods, the Harvesters of Souls fought frequently against the World Eaters.
XIII Ultramarines - Roboute Guilliman
Virgultur thought that the rigid tactics followed by the Ultramarines were an aberration, as he preferred to give much more independence to his legionaries to do as they thought better, trusting them to be capable of changing their strategy as battle carried on. This dislike against the XIII was further increased after the Fall of Monarchia, as he thought that no Legion should have the authority to punish another one, knowing the resent it would cause between the two. This turned into hatred when the Codex Astartes was finished, as he saw it as the anathema of what war should be, and Virgultur was devastated when he saw that his Legion recruits were turned into Ultramarines, but managed to hunt some of them down much later and either turn them into spies or kill them.
XIV Death Guard - Mortarion
Though at first the Reaper and the Harvester though they would like each other and respected their legions for being so close to death, things changed when they finally met each other at the Hallion Campaign. Here Mortarion was given a task elsewhere and decide to leave with the bulk of his force, as the war against the Ork Whaaagh was progressing too slowly for his taste. Because of this Virgultur called him a coward and told him that he should carry death where he was told to, no where he wanted. Additionally Mortarion got to see all the psykers that the Harvesters of Souls had, which he despised and made the tension between them grow even further. After the Heresy the II Legion attacked them frequently, pleasing both Virgultur for fighting the sons of Mortarion and Malal for fighting the followers of Nurgle. Because of the amount of chemical weaponry and toxins used by the Death Guard, the Hell Walkers are usually deployed to fight against them.
XV Thousand Sons - Magnus the Red
Being the other primarch famous for his psychic abilities (Lorgar’s gift would be discovered after) Virgultur got on very well with Magnus, though he was somehow envious of his greater power and the fact that he had achieved it without much help from the Emperor. This oftenly made them quarrel, but it were not much more than brotherly discussions rather than a real dislike. After the Heresy Virgultur fought them as little as possible, fearing their psychic might and the wrath of his brother, but was forced to intervene when Magnus attacked Fenris, when he reveals himself and tries to dissuade him from making the attack, with the excuse that the moment still hasn't arrived. Magnus, even though surprised by the apparition of his apparently not-so-dead brother, refuses, saying that his intention isn't to destroy Fenris but to take his revenge. Frustrated because he doesn't understands his brother's plans, Virgultur decides to help Magnus, so he tries to turn the Inquisition against the Space Wolves and then, after Magnus “defeat”, rises the dead bodies that lie on the battlefield to cover the retreat of the XV. After this series of events the two brothers have gotten closer again and have even fought together in some occasions.
XVI Luna Wolves - Horus Lupercal
The first primarch Virgultur ever saw (apart from himself) and the one who saved him on his last battle on Messis, the Harvester always had a soft spot for the Horus. It was because of this that Virgultur was tore apart to see that he had been tainted by the entities of the Warp and was being fooled just as he had been, but he also saw that it was his opportunity to destroy the Empire to rebuild a new human civilisation free of the tyranny of the Emperor or any other unearthly creature. Because of this he even appeared to Horus and told him to go to the planet of Molech in search of power, as he knew he would need it to fight their father. What he didn't expect was the speed with which Horus arrived to Terra and got defeated, as he hadn't got enough time to prepare himself and restore his Legion from their destruction, so he had to watch in desperation the Imperium being rebuilt and the forces of Chaos gaining power instead of being able to destroy them when they were crippled. After Horus death he was let down by his successor, Abbadon, as he thought that he was too blinded by hatred and desire of revenge to be successful of his task of finishing what his father had started. Because of this Virgultur was actually impressed when he managed to destroy Cadia, an event he hadn't foreseen, and is now preparing himself for a second chance of rebuilding humanity in case Abbadon success brings him any further.
XVII Word Bearers - Lorgar Aurelian
Though Virgultur and Lorgar hadn't any special feeling for each other, the Revenant was one of the few who went to talk with Lorgar after the incident of Monarchia, giving him his support but on the insides feeling his doubts about the Empire grow. Even though the Harvesters of Souls have seen themselves forced to fight the Word Bearers several times, as they have menaced to destroy the balance between Chaos and the Empire several times, which would have caused a total victory of one of the sides instead of mutual destruction.
XVIII Salamanders - Vulkan
The Revenant and the Drake had not a lot in common, even though not much before the Harvesters of Souls felt in disgrace they met and talked about their dislike for war and confessed their hope for a peaceful future. Many years after, Virgultur discovered about Vulkan’s immortality, and was fascinated by it. Unfortunately he lost trace of his brother before he could investigate much further about it, and has searched for signs of him ever since to capture him and research about that special gift, with the hope it might lead him to discover a better way of immortality than undeath or daemonhood.
XIX Raven Guard - Corvus Corax
The Harvester never actually met Corax, so he wasn't able to formulate a real opinion about him, even though he approved about the tactics that his Legion used. Additionally he tried to get his hands on the modified gene-seed he developed, as the accelerated growing process of Astartes could have been very useful, but the Alpha Legion operatives were faster than him and the project was cancelled before he could make a move, one of the first cases of both infiltrators getting hampered by each other (see below).
XX Alpha Legion - Alpharius/ Omegon
Though Alpharius was found much after the destruction of the Harvesters of Souls, the bonds between the XX and the II had been strong, as they had fought in the same Expeditionary Force before reuniting with their primarch. During and after the Heresy, Virgultur’s agents have encountered many times with Alpha Legion operatives, and thus have ended up forging kind of an “alliance” in where they try not to interfere much in each other issues, sometimes even helping each other. It is because of this that the Alpha Legion could be considered the only “allies” of the Harvesters of Souls (or the closest thing to allies they have) and so it is the one of few to know about their existence (or at least partially). As the state of the Alpha Legion’s primarchs is not very well know (in the way that no one knows if they're alive or dead) so is their relationship with Virgultur, but what is in fact know is that he revealed to them (yes, both of them) during the Heresy and cooperated with them, the Effrit squad having been reported working with Harvesters of Souls support.
"You know something is wrong when death starts choosing who to kill instead of killing those who have to die" Virgultur, primarch of the II, referring to Mortarion during the Hallion Campaign.
THE REALM OF HELLA
In the ancient culture of Messis they thought that life didn't end when the body died, but rather the souls travelled to the Realm of Hella, the messian goddess of death. In this realm souls were judged by what they had done in life and they were sent to one of four places:
The Eternal Hall
Those who were killed and raised as undead soldiers by the Necrophants, the Virgultum, had the most glorious fate of all. It was true that they had to die and serve as mindless thralls for a years, but they were reserved the Eternal Hall, a fortress in the centre of the Realm of Hella where they trained day and night for the final battle, in where Hella herself would lead them to fight the Nightmare Stalkers and the other beasts of Messis and free everyone of the danger they supposed. Because of this, the people willingly gave their second sons to the Necrophants to fight in the undead legions, as they knew what awaited them.
The Returning Souls
You didn't need to serve on the undead legions to be rewarded, you could also be chosen as a Returned Soul, a fate reserved to those who, while not having been a Virgultum, had lived an exemplary life and thus were given the chance to continue as guides for others. This Returned Souls were spirits that instead of remaining on the Realm of Hella were sent back to Messis and there they helped and inspired mortal beings through apparitions and dreams.
The Sleeping Plains
This was where most of human souls went and the majority of the Realm of Hella was dedicated to it. In here the souls of the dead slept, waiting for the day in where Messis would be freed from the Nightmare Stalkers and the dead would return to the world and live again forever.
The Endless Void
The cruelest of fates, the Endless Void was reserved for those who had committed evil acts during their life and had not served well society. This were the people that didn't have a place in the perfect world that would emerge after the Rise of Hella, and thus their souls were destroyed and forgotten forever.
When Virgultur rose and started attacking the Nightmare Stalkers, many though that he was the Champion of a Hella who had finally came, a belief that was reinforced by the enormous size that his army had, even assisted by some of the beasts that had previously attacked them. Nevertheless this ideas was completely crushed by the arrival of the Imperium, as the Imperial Truth was imposed and this creed was declared heresy and blasphemy.
But when Virgultur betrayed the Emperor this myths started being murmured again, and the Revenant promised his sons that those who fought until the end and died with glory in battle would be saved by him and their souls would be kept until he called them to fight again by his side in a battle in where they would conquer the galaxy. Because of this the myths of the Eternal Hall were reborn, but this time Virgultur would be the champion of Malal, a true god, instead of the champion of Hella, a false one. This day, which they started calling the Dark Apocalypse, started being the hope of the Harvesters of Souls, and because of this they fight fearlessly, knowing that if they fall they will return again to fight at theirs primarch’s side when the moment is right.
“Brothers, do not fear death, for when the Dark Apocalypse arrives you'll be called from the depths of hell to fight for the Revenant again!” Reus Ghortan
THE CORRUPTION OF A LEGION
When the Harvesters of Souls fled to the Warp they didn't remain unaffected. As a matter of fact, many things changed as they gained the tainted power that Malal offered:
The primarch of the II Legion didn't take well having been fooled by Malal. He had made a pact with him in where he would take his Legion far away from the Imperium and then it would be destroyed so that Virgultur could return and rebuild it, but the Warp wasn't what the Revenant had thought of. Messis was destroyed, his Legion was decimated, and they were in a twisted place full of vicious monsters. It was in this condition that Virgultur felt into madness.
Over the first decades that the Harvesters of Souls spent in the vile mock up of a planet that Malal had given them, Virgultur spent most of his time alone discussing with Malal and other beings of the Warp. During that time he learned a lot of things that his father hadn't told him and that he hadn't understood in the time that he traveled through the Warp searching for help. He understood the nature of the Ruinous Powers and what they seeked, and he saw how they were beginning to taint his brothers and their Legions. Slowly he started to understand the plan that Malal had to destroy the Galaxy, and he then knew what his role was and what he had to do: put brother against brother and let the Imperium destroy itself. However when Virgultur returned from his retire he wasn't the same. His mind had been partially tore apart by the raw contact with the creatures of the Warp and he had descended into a spiral of paranoia and madness. The flaw of the Revenant had always been his pride and the inability to recognise that he has ever wrong so, instead of seeing that Malal had fooled him into a trap, he saw it as an opportunity to achieve what he had wanted; instead of seeing that he had been turned into a tool, he saw Malal as his tool. And in this way a new era started for him in which, from the shadows, he started tearing the Imperium apart.
The Endless Void and the Eternal Hall
The power of Malal didn't come without a price, but it was a price that Virgultur wasn't willing to pay. What Malal wanted was the souls of all the fallen Harvesters of Souls, the very essence of their life, in a similar way of how Slaanesh devours the souls of the Eldar. However, to escape this, Virgultur created The Eternal Hall. A parallel dimension on itself, The Eternal Hall is a safe place for the souls of the dead legionnaires to rest until Virgultur calls them again on the Dark Apocalypse, but only the ones that die with honour and serve their Legion until the end have this fate reserved, for those who run away or surrender to the enemy have no place in the ideal future that Virgultur wants to create and thus, are devoured by Malal. In this way Malal’s power is slowly growing, being fed the souls of craven and cowards, while an army of dead warriors is being reunited in The Eternal Hall, waiting for their primarch to call them again.
However, to create this place Virgultur needed too much power, a power that he didn't have. He knew that it could be done, as he had been shown that his father was creating a new dimension from the undergrounds of the Imperial Palace. So he gave up one of the only things of value that he still had… his own life. He went to Terra with a small incursion force, and faced the Emperor in singular fight. At the end, after hours of battle, when his sons were being decimated, he impaled himself in the Emperor’s fiery sword, saying to his ear “through this death you'll be destroyed, father”. It was with the power unleashed by his death that The Eternal Hall was created, even though the Harvesters of Souls managed to escape with the primarch’s body to the Warp, where the Necrontinus managed to reanimate him. However Virgultur’s soul was forever sealed to this new dimension, and it is thought that if one should be destroyed, the other would fall two.
The Reanimation Rituals
The main reason for the fall of the legion, the Reanimation Rituals also were one of the things that got most affected by the corruption of Malal. As dark cults started spreading through the legion, even the Necrontians started modifying the rituals to please their new god, and started making pacts with daemons to gain more power. Tainted as it was, the Necrontinus started growing and practicing their powers openly, so sorcerers started being a common sight in Harvesters of Souls warbands. At last, the biggest change to the ritual was that, to prove that a new recruit was willing to destroy everything in name of Malal, he should kill himself in order to be reanimated by the Necrontians, the most zealous recruits even inflicting themselves horrendous deaths to prove their loyalty to the legion.
The balance of death and life
Even though the Harvesters of Souls have taken Malal as their patron, they still maintain one of their most important beliefs before their fall: that the balance between death and life, chaos and order, darkness and light, must be maintained. Unlike everyone else, they do not see death as something bad, they see it as a solution, as they know that to live they must die (as their saying says, “live to die, die to live”). They see Malal as destruction, but they know that from destruction will raise creation. They see him as a tool to destroy the Imperium to then rebuild it. They see life as their darker side, more like a taint than a blessing, and because of this they believe that, because they're dead, they're better. Even though some have felt into the deepest madness, they all still understand the importance of this, they still only destroy what needs to be destroyed and save what need to be saved.
"Madness? What do you know about madness? I've watched madness in the eye and survived, I have been surrounded and caressed by it. You say to know madness but you know nothing mortal, you'll never do..." Virgultur, before killing a Space Marine Librarian.
Edited by The Traitor, 27 April 2017 - 09:41 PM.