To Praetor Maximus, Terra
By your command: the recently discovered source on the activities of the first chapter of the Adeptus Astartes known as the Dark Angels. By the Emperor's grace, this document was unearthed on Averam, a primitive feudal world in the outer spiral arm long forgotten by Imperial authority until recently, by Inquisitor Severus Sterndt. The Inquisitor continues to investigate the activities of these servants of the Emperor and thus requests that this document be kept under strict classification. A further update of this investigation will be transmitted shortly.
Lexicanium Alexius Vaan, assigned to Inquisitor Sterndt.
From the Chronicle of Averam - being an account of the sacking of this world and its saviours.
To Lord King Haberon of Averam, I commend this account of the recent tragedy and redemption that has befallen your world so that you, your children and indeed your people, may recall the deeds that transpired here long after the memory has faded. I desire most deeply that my meagre skill will do justice to these momentous events and crave your sufferance if you find that it does not. Indeed, I would not have presumed to set myself such a task had not I been urged to by countless folk desirous of knowledge of the chosen warriors and messengers of the Almighty Emperor. Now, lest I try your patience, here is my text.
In the four hundredth and ninety-fifth year of the second age there did come to the king of Averam a messenger from the gods. In this time, it was the age of king Meroving who ruled the world justly and with clear divine approval, as prosperity was to be found across the lands. This messenger did come to the king in the second season, at the fortress of Derax. He was clad in foreign garb, a suit of steel arrayed with many instruments and symbols. His stature was great, his power obvious and yet his countenance spoke of great age and hardship. It is told that from this stranger, man and beast alike shrank, for he projected an aura of great foreboding that quelled the spirit of even the most valiant of our warriors. With him came ten silent guardians clad in black steel from head to toe, their helms and greaves trimmed with burnished gold. He was forever in their presence and yet he never deigned consult with them of his purpose.
As I have said, this party came to Derax, from the forests that sprawl around that region, and requested an audience with Meroving. The king undaunted by these people and wishing to understand their purpose, allowed them to approach his court and converse with him. The foremost of these men was known to us as Fabius. It was he that so disturbed the people of Derax by his mere presence. He claimed to be the messenger of the true god of Averam whom our people have always sought in our study of the texts. At first the king and his lords were of a mind to heed the words of Fabius for it is foretold in the primary text that a messenger would come to proclaim the dawn of the third age. Certainly, his speech was one of eloquence and it is said that before the king he performed miracles, breathing life back into the sick and elevating the stature of our greatest warriors so that they were able to hue through steel with a single blow from their blades. He promised that soon all of Averam would be elevated to such a state as a gift of the true god if but Meroving would grant him access to the people of his kingdom.
When Fabius had concluded his speech the king did retire to consider his words and consult with his sage, who it is told he was never without. It was this sage that bade Meroving close his ears to the words of Fabius for he had foreseen a time of terrible suffering that would commence upon the arrival of such a man. The Histories say that the sage was in contact with the divine, for he used to talk of a holy city beyond the stars where resided the one true god whose words guided him and the course of the king. Certainly, the king placed great faith in him and thus he returned to Fabius and made it known that he could not grant his request. By way of conciliation he extended an offer of friendship to the strangers. The wisdom in the sage's word was soon made apparent, for this generous offer was met with great and uncontrolled anger. Fabius cursed our world and promised death and destruction if he was turned away. Seeing that he had made the correct choice, Meroving ordered him leave the kingdom, standing toe to toe with his adversary unconcerned by his greater height and implacable bodyguard. Seeing that the king was not to be cowed by threats, Fabius turned and left Derax at once, but many feared his promise to return.
For many days after the departure of Fabius, Averam dwelt in peace as it had beneath Meroving's guiding hand for many years. Then, at the end of the third season, strange portents occurred that signalled the arrival of a period of great suffering. From the shores of the Delb to the mountains of Karaknor strange lights were seen in the sky, flaming bolts from heaven that shone brightly whether it were day or night. In some places these bolts struck the ground with violent force scattering the people and laying ruin to our towns. All across the kingdom there was terror and confusion at these events, for nothing akin to it had ever happened before. The king ordered his lords to calm the populace, but little could be done so great was the feeling of foreboding that had settled across Averam. Then in many areas, people began to fall ill of a mysterious pestilence. Without warning healthy men, women and children succumbed, their bodies becoming wasted as if from famine, their eyes red with blood and their minds afflicted with madness. The king summoned the greatest men of the land and bade them tell of what they knew of the sickness, but none could find its equal in his knowledge. Even when the finest treatments were administered at the first onset of this plague, its progress could not be halted and the families of those who displayed symptoms immediately mourned them as if they were already dead. And yet some did not die. Those that clung to life for six days were seen to miraculously regain their strength, their forms acquiring a new stature that echoed that of Fabius. It was not only their physiques that were changed though. Those who lived appeared as strangers to those they had known previously. They projected a cold malevolence, were at times wild and violent and seemed to have no memory of their former selves.
Meroving was greatly troubled by his peoples' suffering and his inability to protect them. He feared that he had angered the true god by the dismissal of his messenger, although his sage continued to assure him that he had saved his people by this very act. Powerless to act in any other way, the king took to visiting the sick in the towns, seeking to lend his strength to the afflicted so that in some way he might ease their torment. On the third day of the first season of four hundred and ninety-six, with the pestilence still raging across the world, the king received grave news from the north. An injured and exhausted messenger arrived at Derax bearing tidings of the return of Fabius, this time with an army at his back. The lords of Averam listened with growing disquiet as the messenger related tales of the multitudes of black steel-clad warriors bearing weapons that hurled fire, how they had stormed fortress Laern and slaughtered the noble warriors of that stronghold. Most disturbing of all came stories of the survivors of the pestilence, whose character had so irrevocably been changed, making for the north in search of Fabius. All now looked to Meroving for guidance, as they had in all matters of account during his reign, but alas some cruel twist of fate chose then to decapitate the world of Averam, afflicting the king with the pestilence that he had striven to drive from his people. For five days the king lay in bed, wracked with fever. On the sixth he expired, unable to endure any more. Although all were overcome with grief at his passing, many inwardly thanked providence that he had not been allowed to descend into the madness of so many of his subjects. He was of fifty-nine years when his reign ended. Then came to the throne the father of the current monarch, he to who this work is dedicated lord Haberon, Onias the Second. At his father's death he was but of twenty years, but his wisdom was already apparent in the tasks Meroving had given to him in preparation for rule. As one, the nobility proclaimed him king and his first act was to summon the feudal forces of his many vassals so as the kingdom could be protected. This army, numbering many thousands of brave knights, were at once dispatched to Hyreia, which, the king's scouts told, lay in the path of advance of Fabius. I was both blessed and cursed by my accompanying of this host. For certain it was the most glorious army that had ever marched upon Averam, but its fate and to what I bore witness even now haunts my every thought. But I get ahead of myself, and for that I beg your forgiveness.
The host did march into Hyreia where we were welcomed by the people, who had heard of the approach and imminent arrival of Fabius and his black horde. In that time, there was in Hyreia a mighty citadel carved into the mountains, which had never fallen to the enemies of the people of Averam. It was to this stronghold that we journeyed and made ready for the defence of the kingdom. By the counsel of the nobles, and although he was reluctant to do so, Onias had remained in Derax and so our force was led by the king's cousin, Lord Helios who after Meroving was the finest warrior of his generation. His direction of the defence was masterful. By the first night after our arrival the Citadel of Hyreia was manned by our knights so that no weakness could be found. The main gate was where his milites were concentrated, but not to the extent that other areas were neglected. The battlements were crowded, in some places in ranks three deep, with our finest archers and the towers were crowned with numerous engines of destruction to smite our foes from afar. Even the corridors and passages of the stronghold were manned and not a single portal was left without sentries. I was honoured, as a member of the royal household, to witness this orchestration and survey our lines with the Lord Helios himself from the parapet of the main keep. I must confess that, as I witnessed this spectacle, I believed our victory was assured. At times I still cannot comprehend our destruction and yet it occurred without doubt the following day.