Here's the first chapter as a taster:
Judging the true beginning of a tale is an imprecise and clumsy affair. I could begin with how I came to be one of the Angels of Blood or how I was taught to use senses beyond the five enjoyed by normal men – but I will not.
I could give you a scholarly precise of how we came to such a state – an abridged history of the slights and slurs that sowed the seed for one conflict and through doing so ensured another – but I will not. I will begin from when I first had an inkling of what was to come.
My brothers know me as Barachiel. In an ancient tongue it means the Angel of lightning. As I walk past a mirror, I catch a glimpse of my reflection. An aged face stares back at me with pale sapphire eyes and a close-cut battleground of a beard. Its blond hairs are giving way to salt and pepper silver.
I walk into the chamber. My Commander is there, deep in conference with Brother Corbulo. Their faces are grave, as if in contemplation of some great tragedy.
"Barachiel, I trust you are well?" Lord Dante's voice is as smooth as silk, despite the deep lines the years have cut into his noble face. I don't need my gift to know that his concern for me is genuine.
"I am, Lord. How may I serve you this day?
"I will get to that in time. First, tell me – is true that the history of our Father's legion is something of an obsession of yours?"
"Specifically the events leading up to the Primarch's sacrifice?"
I nod. Even though this is merely a conversation, my awareness has shifted to that strange state when time's eye dilates and everything moves at treacle-speed. My hearts race.
"Good. I and Corbulo wish to know a great deal. Not of the angel's final moments. All of us have relived those in our dreams and even in our waking hours. We need to know what it was like for battle-brother and line officer, both. Give us as much detail as you can, battle tactics, logistics, morale – we need it all."
"I shall do so, Lord."
It takes all my training to steady my mind and body. It is not the question that bothers me. Long have I pondered the ancient days when the Angel still walked among us. No, the thing that has pulled me bow-tight is the reason behind my lord's request. Even with my gift, I cannot presume to know the mind of one who was fighting the Emperor's foes more than a millennium before my birth. But still... This comes so soon after an avalanche of woe.
Mighty Cadia has fallen before what doomsayers are calling Abaddon's final Black Crusade. The Astronomicon is now a flickering candle against the darkness when once it was a burning tower, bringing the Emperor's light to the furthest reaches of the empyrean. The massed hive fleets of the Tyranid have turned countless once-fertile worlds to barren rocks, while the xenos native to our galaxy sense mankind's faltering strength, reaving and plundering with wild abandon. We repelled the might of Hive Fleet Leviathan when it set its all-hungering gaze on Baal, but only just. Sanguinius’ bloodline was never as prolific as his brothers’ and for good reasons. The Knights of Blood are gone and the Fleshtearers’ struggle against the red thirst is finally at an end.
Mankind recently knew hope with the founding of the Indomitus Crusade, but Guilliman’s attempt to emulate his father’s ambitions for the species he surpassed and failed in equal measure has been bludgeoned by blow after blow. Scores of fleets have been lost to the sea of souls, while the creation of the Primaris marines, proved to be hubris and nothing more. Corbulo will not speak of the eventual fate of the vat-matured titans we received from Mars, but I still see pain-daemons gnawing on the edge of reality every time I visit the apothecarion – their numbers and size swollen to grotesque levels by the feast of agony prepared by Cawl’s imperfect handiwork.
My mind caresses the edges of a thought so terrible that I am nearly unmanned, reduced to the boy who once walked trembling, shiv in hand, into a nest of fire-scorpions.
Dante looks at me as if my inner turmoil is laid bare for all to see. "Do all that you can – I ask nothing more."
Corbulo speaks. It is difficult for me to concentrate on his words. He is too close to our genetic sire in aspect and the blood in his veins sings to me.
"Keep this task a secret – if it became common knowledge among Sanguinius' sons it would blunt their killing edge and that simply would not do." His smile is dazzling, but doesn't quite reach his eyes.
I nod. “My only regret is that you did not come to me sooner, before Raguel the Sufferer fell for a second time. I spoke with him often, but not enough I fear for the task at hand.”
Dante and Corbulo exchange glances. Corbulo speaks; as he does so a shadow seems to fall across his perfect features.
“There is another.”