Loremasters, today we dive into the history of Ahzek Ahriman, the greatest Sorcerer of the Thousand Sons!
A Terran marine, Ahriman rose through the ranks of his legion to become their First Captain, Chief Librarian, and preeminent master of one of their psychic disciplines: precognition. Surviving the various battles of the Great Crusade, Ahriman found himself at the centre of the events that would lead to the fall of the Thousand Sons and their collective descent into the clutches of Tzeentch, Chaos God of sorcery and change, during the Horus Heresy. His actions after the Heresy – particularly creating and enacting the great spell that bears his name – would result in his eventual banishment from the Legion he had spent most of his existence trying to safeguard. His current status is that of wanderer, apparently fated to quest for something never achievable; understanding of the nature of Tzeentch itself.
Despite the nature of his doom, Ahriman has embraced his quest totally, and no bastion of knowledge in the entire galaxy can be considered safe from his rapacious intellect.
Ahzek Ahriman was born on Terra, among the wealthy tribes of the Achaemenid Empire, whose kings had allied with the Emperor during the Unification Wars early. Because of this alliance, Ahriman’s tribes were largely spared the horrors of the atomic wars and proto-Astartes invasions of the Unification period. Following the Emperor’s victory and Terra’s alliance with Mars, Ahriman and his twin brother Ohrmuzd were selected to be inducted into the ranks of the Legiones Astartes. The Ahriman brothers traveled to the stars alongside the Emperor and his legions as part of the Great Crusade, but five years into the expedition the Thousand Sons legion began manifesting psychic abilities, and with the manifestations began the terrible flesh-changes. Over time, the problem became so severe that many voices throughout the Imperium began suggesting that the Thousand Sons be disbanded. However, when the Crusade reached Magnus upon Prospero not long after, the Primarch of the Thousand Sons was seemingly able to eradicate the threat of the flesh-change; although only a fraction of the affected marines survived the mysterious process. One of those who perished was Ohrmuzd Ahriman, whose passing instilled in his twin both great grief and a great dread of the flesh-change. In remembrance of his brother, Ahzek had Ohrmuzd’s pendant (the twin of his own, both gifts from their mother) worked into the shoulder-guard of his armour.
Ahriman rose to hold the positions of Chief Librarian of the legion, Captain of the First Fellowship, commander of the elite Sekhmet and leader of the legion’s most powerful cult, the Corvidae, all at the same time. Despite this impressive record, little is currently known of the bulk of Ahriman’s career as a legionary. The earliest mention of him is a note of his five years’ secondment to the Word Bearers legion, where he found himself uncomfortable with their expressions of belief in the Emperor’s divinity without a knowledge-base to back it up. Despite this period being one he thought of unhappily, Ahriman did consider that he had become friends with the Word Bearers Astartes named Erebus during it. He is also on record as being in favour of the assignment of remembrancers to the Crusade forces, believing the documenting of his legion as being one way in which the wider body Imperium could learn to understand – and therefore no longer fear – the psyker. The earliest detailed mention of Ahriman in historical records currently known of is during the Aghoru campaign, a compliance action carried out by the Thousand Sons of the 28th Expedition towards the close of the second century of the Great Crusade.
During this campaign, Ahriman is noted to have risked his Primarch’s displeasure by leading a search team for him after Magnus made himself absent from the legion, despite Magnus’ prior insistence that he was not to be disturbed. This is the first time he is known to have both mistrusted the judgement of his Primarch and ignored his wishes. Towards the end of the campaign, when a contingent of Space Wolves arrived to convey a message to Magnus from Leman Russ, Ahriman found himself falling into an association with the Space Wolf Rune Priest Othere Wyrdmake, during which he shared information on the Thousand Sons’ psychic disciplines in what he thought was a meeting of like-minded individuals, but which would later prove treacherous. His perceived fledging kinship with the Rune Priest proved helpful however, when both the Space Wolves and the Thousand Sons were forced to engage in combat with xenos weaponforms and hostile denizens of the warp before leaving Aghoru.
Around this time, Ahriman was charged with inducting the remembrancer Lemuel Gaumon into the ways of the Thousand Sons by Magnus the Red, in an overt attempt to develop Gaumon’s own psychic abilities and help spread understanding of Magnus’ philosophies. Ahriman took Gaumon on as his Probationer, and spent a significant amount of time illuminating and training the remembrancer throughout the period leading up to the Burning of Prospero. This training included taking Gaumon along on combat missions during the pacification of Heliosa, where Ahriman was present for the return of the flesh-change in his legion and the execution of the afflicted Thousand Son by the Space Wolf Primarch, Leman Russ. The return of the flesh-change to the Thousand Sons after Magnus had previously promised that he had banished its danger forever made a deep impact on Ahriman, his feelings of dread at the possibility of mutation and hurt betrayal caused by his Primarch’s inability to protect the legion being so strong that Gaumon was able to detect them.
Ahzek Ahriman is next recorded being present at two of the most important historical events of this time period; the Triumph of Ullanor at which Horuswas made Warmaster and the Council of Nikaea, at which the Emperor outlawed the use of psychic powers within the Legiones Astartes. To Ahriman the Council of Nikaea felt more like a trial of the Thousand Sons, and his sense of angry betrayal and disillusion at the turn of events was made all the more keen by the fact that the first person to step forth and accuse the Thousand Sons of malign practices was his supposed ally and colleague, Othere Wyrdmake. Compounding this emotional turmoil, it was also at this time that Ahriman discerned that Magnus was not only aware of great powers within the Warp, but that he may previously have struck some kind of ‘bargain’ with them in order to halt the predations of the flesh-change upon the Thousand Sons. Aghast at the revelation, Ahriman’s ability to trust Magnus was shaken – though Magnus removed the details of the bargain from his Chief Librarian’s mind before Ahriman could puzzle it all out.
Ahriman is next spoken of in a another strained meeting with his Primarch, as Magnus unveiled his own discernment, that of the upcoming fall of Horus upon Davin. Ahriman, along with the other senior figures of the Thousand Sons, was enlisted in aiding Magnus in his attempt to psychically protect Horus. In the aftermath of his subsequent failure, Magnus explained to Ahriman that he had been thwarted by agents of something he did not know of or understand called the Primordial Annihilator…however Ahriman once again realised his Primarch was lying to him and that Magnus not only knew of this ‘Annihilator’, this ‘Chaos‘, he had dealt with it before. Rocked by these uncertain events and desperate to learn of the future, Ahriman authorised the ‘super-charging’ of the precognition power of the remembrancer Kallista Eris, attached to the Thousand Sons. While she was able to deliver a prophecy to Ahriman’s waiting ears, she also died – literally burnt out – in the process. Ahriman’s sanction of the death of an innocent prompted Lemuel Gaumon to turn his back upon his mentor, ending both his training and their friendship. Magnus similarly cast about for direction at this time and similarly, made a questionable moral choice – he decided to use sorcerous techniques to attempt to contact the Emperor directly and communicate to him the news of Horus’ betrayal and the machinations of Chaos; Ahriman was selected to help him enact the spell – thus learning of the existence of daemons – and to guard Magnus’ mortal body during the process. Again, in the the aftermath of failure, Ahriman discerned that Magnus was keeping knowledge from him and the Legion; this time learning not only the truth behind the cessation of the flesh-change – Magnus’ striking a sorcerous deal with a power of the Warp to save his children – but also why he and the other Corvidae had been unable to predict an incoming retributive attack on Prospero…Magnus, in his grief and shame, had prevented it.