Today let’s take a look at a theory that delves deep into Chaos God’s real plan for the Warmaster.
At the height of the Great Crusade a cunning plan laid down by the Gods of Chaos threatened to undo all the Emperor’s works and snuff out the fledgling Imperium. Thus was born the Horus Heresy, a galaxy-wide civil war of epic proportions. Much and more is known of this time and the battles fought, and yet great portions, as well as the deeper plans and motivations of all sides, remain hidden. Today we look at another theory going around. This one says that the Gods of Chaos never intended to win the war. Let us take a look.
The Story We’ve Been Told
By now pretty much all players and fans are familiar with the story of the Horus Heresy. After the Triumph at Ullanor, the Emperor returned to Holy Terra to work on his Webway Project. He left his “son” the Primarch Horus in charge of the war effort and named him Warmaster. A short time later Horus was wounded and ultimately corrupted by the Chaos Gods (and a hidden sect of their followers within Horus’ forces). Horus turned on the Master of Mankind and kicked off the great civil war.
The Imperium was rent asunder and brother was turned against brother with massive slaughter. For seven years the forces of the Warmaster wreaked havoc across the crumbling Imperium, while those who remained loyal to the Emperor struggled to fight back. At the heart of the war was a direct conflict between the Emperor and the Warmaster. Indeed the ultimate goal of the Chaos Gods was not the destruction of the Imperium, but the death of the Master of Mankind. Thus it was that Horus, after gaining immense power on Molech came to Terra with all his hosts and accompanied by his fallen brothers.
At Terra there took place the great siege, a conflict that pushed both sides to their limit. Yet at the final crux when Horus came face to face with his father it was the Warmaster and Champion of the Warp Powers that was destroyed. Though grievously injured the Emperor had thwarted the plans of the Dark Powers of the Warp. They had come perilously close to victory, but the Gods of Chaos have ultimately defeated the Emperor and the Imperium would survive, though it was at best a half victory. The Master of Mankind’s dream of a bright peaceful future died in blood on Terra and the galaxy was doomed to a future of war.
We’ve been lead to think that Horus’ death at Terra and the Emperor’s survival were defeats for the Chaos Gods; that their plans where thwarted. Indeed it would take another 10,000 years before they could build back up their power to make another major play for the Galaxy. However one theory, that’s gone around for a bit, is that the Chaos Gods always wanted Horus to fail and that what happened was exactly what they planned all along.
The theory goes all the way back to the novel Legion by the master Dan Abnett himself. In it a group of Xenos known as the Cabal convince the Alpha Legion to join Horus’ upcoming rebellion. They do this by convincing the Primarichs of the Alpha Legion that the best way to defeat Chaos is for Horus to win. It is their belief that if Horus wins and destroys the Emperor, then Chaos will in effect burn itself out rather quickly, as the entirety of humanity, Chaos’ primary conduit at the time, destroys itself under Horus’ and the Chaos Gods brutal rule. What cannot be allowed to happen, the Cabal states, is for the Emperor to win a half victory, one which dooms the galaxy to an eternity of war that will feed Chaos forever. Thus the Alpha Legion agrees to join Horus in order to tip the balance of events in his favor.
This brings us to the core of the theory. If we believe the Cabal that Horus winning would lead to the end of Chaos in short order, why would the Chaos Gods want that? Indeed if the Cabal is right and a tied conflict leading to an endless conflict was the best result for Chaos, wouldn’t they ultimately want that and be planning for that? Wouldn’t they, in the end, want Horus to lose, as he did? Indeed the outcome that happened seems to match the best-case scenario for Chaos, that the Cabal described. Of course, perhaps the Chaos Gods were so single-minded in their hatred of the Emperor that they couldn’t see that his death would lead to their defeat, or maybe they didn’t care. It’s also possible the Cabal was simply wrong, it did end up breaking up and some members, such as Eldrad recanted their earlier position. Yet there is evidence to suggest the Gods never wanted Horus to win.
Throughout the Horus Hersey and Siege of Terra novels, there are a number of passages that hint the Chaos Gods aren’t playing it straight with Horus or the other fallen Primarchs. Despite the massive power granted to the Primarchs, it’s clear there are downsides, and that the power may not be much of a boon at all. For instance, the Daemon Primarchs find themselves vulnerable to the Emperor’s defenses and are clearly slipping into madness. Abaddon, and several other characters, often note how despite their new powers the Daemon Primarchs seem somehow less than before. Abaddon continually notes that Horus himself seems diminished and is degrading.
In fact, we are informed during the Siege of Terra that holding the powers of the Chaos Gods within him is killing Horus and that he will die if he doesn’t best the Emperor quickly (and possibly even then). While this could be part of a plot by the Emperor, if it was part of the Chaos Gods’ plans it was either made to undermined Horus or incredibly risky. Then there is a series of conversations Abaddon has with the sorcerer Zardu Layak about Abaddon’s future as champion of the Chaos Gods culminating in Layak saying this in The First Wall:
“When you are dedicated to the powers, all victories are shared, for the ascension of one is the ascension of all. Rejoice in the knowledge that we step closer to Lord Horus’ final confrontation with the Emperor. We are delivering the Warmaster to his fate.”
“Delivering to the Warmaster to his fate” has a very ominous ring to it and throughout their conversations, Layak hints that Horus will not win. Ultimately I think the theory makes a lot of sense. Chaos wouldn’t want a quick victory, instead what happened was seemingly the best outcome for them. If this theory is true then Chaos didn’t lose the Horus Heresy, they in fact won and got exactly what they wanted.
In the grim darkness of the far future… there is only war.
Let us know what you think of this theory down in the comments!