Today we delve into Abaddon’s most unusual Black Crusades, the Ghost War and the Skullgather.
A Black Crusade is an incursion that is formed when the usually disparate forces of Chaos unite under a particularly strong Chaos Champion and go forth en masse to wage war against the Imperium of Man.
Following the devastating events of the Horus Heresy, the Imperium began the Great Scouring, a campaign to cast out all traitors who had sided with Chaos and drove them into the warp stormknown as the Eye of Terror. There, the followers of Chaos began to fight among each other for domination and territory and their vast armies eventually fractured.
Even so, the threat the exiles posed was far from gone. To this day they seek to overthrow the Imperium, launching separate raids and invasions against it. Once or twice within a millennium however, an exceptional Chaos Champion rises who is strong enough to bring his fellow warlords and their hosts under his sway. When this happens ancient rivalries are set aside and uneasy alliances are forged, clearing the way for what is called a Black Crusade.
The forces and fleets that gather for a Black Crusade are made up of all types of Chaos servants: the multitudinous hordes of the Lost and the Damned, ancient and towering Chaos Titans, the bizarre war machines of the Dark Mechanicum and the Daemons of the warp. Leading them into the realm of man are the vengeful warbands of the Chaos Space Marines.
When the crusade is launched, whole worlds fall prey to the rampaging hordes and the Dark Gods themselves divert their attention to the material realm, delighting in the sacrifices made in their names. Still, the nature of Chaos is fickle and unless it is repelled by the defenders, the crusade is bound to splinter into separate hosts and warbands who pursue their own ambitions.
7th Black Crusade – The Ghost War
The Seventh Black Crusade occurred in 811.M37. The forces of Chaos spewed forth from the Eye of Terror past Cadia and then disappeared. This is where it earned the name, the Ghost War. The following years saw a game of hide and seek which spread confusion, paranoia, disinformation and deceit. Raids became commonplace in far-flung areas but eventually they went back to the Eye and mankind had to simply wait for the next attack.
During the 7th Black Crusade, the entire Blood Angels Chapter fell upon Mackan to do battle with a vast Black Legion warband led by Abaddon the Despoiler himself. Though they had their full strength behind them, the aftermath of the battle saw the Blood Angels nearly destroyed at the hands of Abaddon and his primary lieutenants Telemachon Lyras and Iskandar Khayon. After the Black Legion departed from Mackan, the Blood Angels’ corpses were found desecrated and their Gene-seed ruined beyond recovery. The only exception being the Reclusiarch Thalastian Jorus and his Death Company, who had managed to survive the initial slaughter of their Chapter and launched a surprise attack on Abaddon and his honour guard weeks later. Jorus and the Death Company managed to kill many of the honour guard before being struck down and Abaddon would leave their corpses untouched, sitting upon thrones made from the armour of the Chaos Space Marines they had killed.
8th Black Crusade – The Skullgather
As the Eighth Black Crusade raged across the stars, the Black Legion struck out from the Eye of Terror in every direction. At first the Imperium could only guess at the Traitor Legion‘s plans, as some raids accounted for entire settlements where others only seemed to cause limited carnage by the horrific standards of the Black Legion. On the moons of Teekus, eight of the twenty crater cities were peeled open to the void, their inhabitants freezing in place while the others remained untouched. The chartist pilgrim vessel the Divine Path was waylaid en route and nine-hundred and ninety-nine of its passengers were murdered in ascending order of the pilgrim tokens they carried. The rest were left to weep over the fallen.
In what later became known as the Skullgather, tens of thousands were killed across the Segmentum Obscurus in a variety of ways and in specific numbers, their corpses left in ritualistic patterns. It was part of a plot to appease Tzeentch, the numbers and patterns creating a mathematical equation of terrible and profane perfection. While Imperial forces pursued the Black Legion, trying to bring them to battle, the Inquisition attempted to break the cipher, driving hundreds of adepts insane in the process.
Finally, on the forge world of Rithcarn, the Traitors instigated a massive uprising of the mutant workers, plunging the world into chaos and ruin. In the confusion, the Black Legion sacrificed the council of Tech-Magi in the gears of their own manufactorums; with their destruction, the complex sequence of death was complete and Tzeentch greatly pleased.
Abaddon devoted the Skullgather to pleasing the Changer of Ways