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40K Lore: Who is Luther of Caliban

5 Minute Read
Dec 9 2017

Savior, Commander, Traitor, Betrayed…Who is Luther of Caliban?

Loremasters, today we take a look at the man who was the greatest friend and the biggest threat to the Dark Angels: Luther of Caliban.

Luther was the man who discovered the Primarch Lion El’Jonson on the world of Caliban. Like Kor Phaeron, Luther was not a fully augmented Space Marine and was significantly smaller than his comrades.

Pre-Heresy History

By the time Luther was a young child, his entire family had already been killed in the harsh conditions on Caliban. Shortly after marriage, his wife and daughter also passed. Shortly after, Luther discovered the young Lion El’Jonson in the forest.

Luther raised the Lion as if he were his own child, even giving him his name. Before the discovery of the Lion, Luther was the foremost hero of his times on Caliban. He presented him to The Order, the force of feudal knights on the planet who helped raise him. Together, Luther and the Lion battled rival knights and the ferocious beasts of Caliban until the coming of the Emperor and the Great Crusade. In honor of his past with the Lion, Luther was made the second in command of the Dark Angels. But while the two were close friends, deep down Luther began to resent the Lion for the fame and glory he won the Order and Dark Angels.

The Great Betrayal

While crusading with Lion El’Jonson against the Sarosh Xenos, he discovered a bomb aboard the ship which would kill the Lion. Initially his jealousy encouraged him to leave it onboard and let the Lion die, however his better nature kicked in and he disabled it, with the help of the Librarian Zahariel, saving the Lion’s life. However somehow the Lion discovered his hesitation, and the two had a falling out. The Lion demanded Luther and his forces return to Caliban, ostensibly for recruitment and management. However many felt this was a banishment, especially after The Lion angrily scolded Luther for leaving Caliban to fight alongside Horus during the Zaramund Campaign.


Because of these factors, Luther was ultimately left to manage affairs on Caliban while the Lion waged the Great Crusade. Luther had to deal with a rebellion by the disgruntled nobility of Caliban who had their peasant farmers and lands confiscated by the Imperium. A cabal of Chaos Sorcerers also infiltrated Caliban to bring further instability, and Luther was made aware of Caliban’s possible Warp-infestation. Luther became convinced that Caliban would be destroyed by the Emperor as soon as this was discovered and became paranoid that the Lion had deliberately kept this from him as a death sentence. His suspicions grew after he learned that a cult of Terrans were in the process of a daemonic ritual, which was narrowly stopped by Zahariel, a librarian who Luther had grown fond of.

These factors ultimately led to Luther betraying the Lion, rallying many of the Dark Angels on Caliban to his cause and killing any dissidents. After attempting to utilize the Chaos Cultists own powers to his benefit, Luther seceded from the Imperium, claiming the Lion had betrayed them by leaving them on Caliban while the Great Crusade continued. Luther took to reading the books of a destroyed knightly order who had studied the Warp. He put what he learned into practice – a notable example occurred when the Librarian Israfael attacked him with a bolt of lightning, and it simply dissipated.

After turning against the Emperor, the political situation on Caliban remained tense and unstable. Luther was saved from a pro-Imperial conspiracy thanks to the efforts of Astelan and Galedan. He nonetheless drew increasingly distrustful of his primary advisers, Astelan, Zahariel, and the Lord Cypher. He became increasingly drawn to lore regarding the Ouroboros. Later, Luther met the newly arrived Chapter Master Belath on Caliban, but was forced to massacre much of the delegation when Astelan initiated hostilities against them. Lord Cypher was killed in the chaos, and Luther elevated Zahariel to the position. Later, Luther was seen welcoming a Death Guard fleet under Calas Typhon to the Zaramund System, which his own forces had just attacked.

The Lion Returns to Caliban

When the Lion returned to Caliban after the Horus Heresy, Luther attacked his fleet. The Lion and Luther engaged in single combat. In this battle Lion El’Jonson wounded Luther but could not bring himself to kill his oldest and dearest friend. Luther, however, was merciless and sent a sorcerous blast straight towards Lion El’Jonson which mortally wounded the Primarch. At that moment, realizing how far he had fallen, Luther began to weep for what he had done to his friend, and the Dark Angels captured him and held him prisoner on the Rock. At this point, the Gods of Chaos scattered Luther’s forces, the Fallen, through the warp. The intense battle, however, had made the planet unstable, and Caliban was destroyed.

Luther remains chained within the most secure cell of The Rock, guarded by Watchers in the Dark and his existence known only to the Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels Chapter, Commander Azrael, and those who held the rank before him. He is often used as an oracle to find the other Fallen. Azrael, like his predecessors, has attempted to make Luther repent for his crimes ten millennia earlier – but, like his predecessors, he has failed to do so. Luther only continues to rant and rave, claiming that Lion El’Jonson will come and absolve the Fallen, and that the day of the Lion’s return is close at hand.


Betrayer or Betrayed?

Astelan, an original member of the Dark Angels who was transported several millennia into the present when the Warp Storm tore Caliban apart, claims that it was the Lion who betrayed the Dark Angels, not Luther. His claim is considered heresy by Interrogator-Chaplain Boreas, and Commander Azrael has Astelan placed in a cell near Luther.

Luther Missing

For Ten Thousand Years Luther has been the second deepest secret within The Rock. But now, after all this time, he has escaped

If you’d like to learn more about the Dark History of the Dark Angels, check out the Lexicanum!

Author: Adam Harrison
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