There lies locked within secret halls of the Imperium forbidden tomes entrusted to only the most faithful of the Emperor’s Librarians and Chaplains. Inside is everything the Imperium has managed to learn about the Warp spawn horror known collectively as Chaos.1
In respect to the Adrilles War, Khorne was the first of the Chaos Gods to enter the fray. From within the Realm of Chaos, the god Khorne commands from his carved brass throne, atop a mountain of skulls. In the Warp where time and space is not like that known to the Imperium, Khorne in his citadel felt the distress of the Warp. That distress was caused by the machinations of the Jager Corps. Its Psykers– guided by Grand Librarian Hoeth– learned how to use Warp portals to amplify and focus their psychic energy. By doing so, the Psykers were able to exert control over the Tyranids on Adrilles. This use of the Warp angered Khorne. It was through the Warp that his rage was channeled to the realms of mortals. How dare these mortals toy with his Warp.
Khorne knew, too, that others would feel or be pulled by the Warp and when these various groups clashed blood would be spilled and there would be souls for the taking.
Much of history’s attention on the Adrilles War is focused on dueling ideologies: Jagers versus Vlka Fenryka; Sautekh versus Rubicon. There is, however, a thread that weaves its way through both conflicts and holding each end of that thread is the god Khorne. The degree to which Khorne pulled that thread is still debated by scholars, but it is widely agreed that of all the Chaos Gods who took part in the Adrilles War it was Khorne who was predominant. Khorne’s influence was felt from the first battle fought to the final day of the conflict. For much of the war, Khorne’s forces were aligned with the Sautekh Necrons– fighting alongside one another but also jointly organizing offensive and defensive operations. It is speculated Khorne saw in Imotekh a warrior with a bloodlust that would ensure a steady flow of blood for the Blood God.
It is often stated that the forces of Khorne were the largest faction in the Adrilles War. Some historians argue it was Sautekh Necrons who were the most numerous. Critics of that point of view convincingly argue that even if the highest estimates (nearing 100,000) for Sautekh Necrons were true that the number was still a finite one. Khorne forces, on the other hand, were not bound to the material plane and were, therefore, theoretically infinite in number.
There is evidence that Nurgle3 and Tzeentch4 also had an interest in the Adrilles War, though the whys are far less clear. Both were far less active when compared to the ever present Khorne. It should be noted, however, that Imperium histories make only passing reference to any of the Chaos Gods. Instead, the Imperial histories emphasize the Warp storms and the psychic machinations of the Jagers as being responsible for the “mental distortion” that caused “mass hallucinations” where “enemies and allies” were perceived as “daemons”. It is in the unofficial histories and philosophies where far more emphasis is given to Chaos and its role in the war.
Notable battles of the Adrilles War in which the forces of Chaos participated:
- Battle of First Contact
- Battle at Hoher Goll Station
- Nurgle Rising
- The Klendathu Three
- The Assault on Grimmig
- Breaking Tide – The Klendathu Canyons
- The Battle of Harta Arle
“It is said when Khorne created U’Zuhl, his first act was to chop the head from the first creature he met, another Bloodletter, thus beginning his ritual of decapitation across the mortal and immortal universes. When U’Zuhl took his 888th skull, Khorne anointed him as his Sacred Executioner and he earned his title Skulltaker.” — from the Lexicanum, author unknown.
Summoned before Khorne, Skulltaker was given the task of leading a Chaos army through the Warp to find the source of the distress the god was feeling. When he and the horde stepped out of the Warp, they were on Grimmig where Imotekh and his Sautekh Necrons had recently wakened from stasis. The two forces clashed. The victor called a halt to hostilities and soon after the two leaders– Skulltaker and Imotekh– had come to terms. An alliance was forged. Most historians– that is, those with the fortitude to study Chaos and Sautekh lore– agree the Khorne and Sautekh alliance was the strongest alliance of the Adrilles War.
Skulltaker led the Khorne units in the Battle of First Contact— so called because it was the first battle of the Adrilles War in which the six major participants were present. During that battle, Skulltaker was near one of the Jager Corps’ focusing portals. The Tyranid Hive Tyrant had been slain only moments before. As the dust kicked up by that behemoth’s tumble from the sky settled, the portal flared and Skulltaker was consumed by its energies.
Some accounts of the Adrilles War suggest Skulltaker returned later as part of a Tzeentch army. This– as with much related to Chaos in the Adrilles War– is difficult to confirm, but if Skulltaker did indeed fight alongside Tzeentch it might have been under duress. This would also suggest Tzeentch had taken Skulltaker during the Battle of First Contact.
As Khorne pondered the meaning of the distress he was feeling from the Warp, one of his advisers warned him against haste. As payment for such cowardly advice, Khorne sent the coward to the forges. There he was ripped apart and put back together– reborn a Soulgrinder. There in that cursed form he will stay until Khorne is satisfied that he has shed his cowardice.
When Skulltaker left Khorne’s citadel after being given command of an army, the Soulgrinder trundled after him. During the Battle of First Contact, the Soulgrinder was a force of devastation. After the Battle of First Contact, Soulgrinder wandered the volcanic waste of northern Adrilles. He joined a band of Bloodletters hounded by Scarbrand. This screaming mass chased a unit of Rubicon Necrons into a vast canyon system. The Necrons were destroyed but not before Tyranids joined the fight. Over the next three days, the Soulgrinder, Scarbrand and his terrified Bloodletters fought a running battle against Tyranids. This three-day battle would become known as The Klendathu Three. At the end of the third day, no Tyranids remained in the canyons and now Khorne had a place of strength from which they could plan their next assaults on the planet Adrilles.
It was during The Klendathu Three that the Soulgrinder took the name Torment.
Skarbrand2 is a figure from nightmare. His history is spoken only in hushed tones because it is said if he hears the sound of his name echoing in the Warp he will seek out the source and take the speaker’s soul. This history has never been recorded in book or as data and yet it has persisted for tens of thousands of years within the Imperium.
It cannot be said Skarbrand led an army in the Adrilles War. What he did was hound Daemons within his vicinity. He drove them to murderous rage with his own bloodlust. It cannot even be said that he was among the army that emerged from the Warp with Skulltaker. Some claim Skarbrand emerged from the Warp the day after the Battle of First Contact. That he sought out Adrilles on his own volition as part of his ongoing quest to regain the favour of his god, Khorne.
What is known for certain is Skarbrand was present for the three days of fighting when Tyranids were destroyed within the Klendathu Canyons.
A Bloodhunter mounted on a Flesh Hound, Crimson gained his name and the command of an army after Skulltaker was seemingly destroyed during the Battle of First Contact. After the Battle of First Contact, Crimson returned to Grimmig to entreat with Imotekh.
As an award for killing a winged Tyranid Hive Tyrant during the Battle of First Contact, this Bloodthirster was given the name Tyrant Slayer. The Bloodthirster returned to Grimmig with Crimson after the Battle of First Contact.
This Herald of Khorne in his chariot was at the head of the small army that drove the Rubicon Necrons into the Klendathu Canyons. As his chariot rolled over a mass of Tyranid Genestealers, it was hit by a powerful psychic blast from a Zoanthrope. Its drivers dead and its armor cracked, the chariot ground to a halt, throwing up a wave of dirt as its momentum carried it onward. A split second later, Skullweaver came sailing through the dirt having used the chariot’s forward momentum to launch itself through the air at the Zoanthrope. The sound of the Zoanthrope and the Herald’s battle echoed within the towering canyon. Both damaged the other, but it the was Herald left standing when the final blow was struck.
When the Rubicon Necrons were destroyed and this particular nest of Tyranids eradicated, Bloodletters took up the chariot and Chaos continued its exploration of the canyons. They found more Tyranids. For the next three days, Chaos and Tyranids fought for control of the vast canyon system. In the last day’s fighting, Skullweaver in its chariot charged and killed a Carnifex. A moment later, another Carnifex charged the chariot and destroyed it. Like it had done against the Zoanthrope, the Herald of Khorne leaped off its destroyed vehicle and charged the Carnifex. This Tyranid had ranged weapons, however, and shredded Skullweaver before it could close the distance.
In the final day’s fighting in the Klendathu Canyons– where blood and viscera hung in the air like a mist because of the psychic and Chaotic energies unleashed during almost 72 hours of continuous fighting– a Zoanthrope exploded in a haze of shattered carapace and temporal distortion. When the blue glare faded there stood a new Herald of Khorne. This newcomer picked up the shattered weapon of Skullwearer and announced himself as the new commander of the army that would soon after kill the last Tyranid in the Klendathu Canyons. This Herald would become known as Soul Stealer.
At the Battle at Hoher Goll Station, this Bloodthirster tore a Space Wolf airship from the sky.
After three days of continuous fighting, the army of Khorne claimed the Klendathu Canyons as its own. It had killed all the Tyranids within. These canyons would become a fortified area from where Khorne could continue its war on Adrilles.
There is strong evidence to suggest a sizeable force of Chaos operated from the moon Grimmig.
Historical data provides context to the current struggles in our part of the 40K universe. If our campaign takes liberties with canon it does so for the benefit of our game and not as a slight to the work of Games Workshop and fans of 40K.