The War for the Emperor's Soul
It began almost ten thousand years ago.
A single candle guttered on an ornate silver stick in the centre of the room, throwing a yellowish, fitful light over the faces of the cowled figures stood in the dusty chamber. “The Golden Throne works,” one said, his voice aged and cracked. “The Emperor’s life can be sustained indefinitely.” “His soul lives on?” another inquired, his long, sharp nose protruding from under the lip of his hood. “It is not an empty husk?” “It is not,” the first confirmed. “The Emperor has ascended to the next plane, but the link ’twixt body and spirit remains strong.” “Then it can be brought back,” suggested the third, a young woman whose flowing white hair spilled from her hood and down to her waist. “The Emperor need not suffer this hideous eternal life in death.” “We cannot risk such a thing!” the first hissed. “What if the spiritual link were severed? What if the person brought back was not the man we once knew? Changed? News of the Emperor’s… ascension is already widespread. He is being revered as a god already on a hundred worlds. In this time of rebuilding, we need a symbol. The Emperor has shown us the way. Anyway, who would believe the Emperor had returned so soon? It will cause a civil war more devastating than that of the fool Horus, and even now we have yet to start counting the cost of that. No, better that this knowledge remains hidden. When we pass on to join the Emperor, it will die with us.” “You cannot deny Mankind the Emperor,” a fourth voice, deep and slow, stated firmly. “He and the empire he has built are Mankind’s only chance of survival.” The woman and the deep-voiced man both withdrew into the shadows and a moment later the door creaked open, a chill draught causing the candle flame to flit wildly. “Moriana, Promeus, wait!” the first man called out, but the door slammed shut in answer. “We cannot let them do this,” the hawk nosed man decided. “No, we cannot,” the first agreed. “We must act quickly, get organized and claim the initiative.” “It shall be done,” the other concurred.
The War for the Emperor’s Soul
As the 41st millennium comes to a close, Mankind stands on the precipice.
From the palaces of Holy Terra the High Lords of the Imperium watch as their domain crumbles. Armies and fleets fight with the valour of heroes, calling for reinforcements that do not exist. Every year more worlds are lost. Every year the battle lines draw closer to earth. The light of the Astronomicon flickers and grows dim. This the Age of the Imperium, an epoch of war already ten thousand years old. In this war mere survival is justly hailed as a victory.
Four hundred centuries have passed since man stepped out into the cold of space. Forty thousand years. And age so long that its history lies shrouded in legend. Who knows how Mankind came to be scattered across a million desperate worlds? Who remembers the wars that split the Earth asunder and dragged humanity down to the level of brute beasts? Who would recognize the names of Earth’s ancient ruins, of nations destroyed and peoples long since crumbled to dust?