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Luther, with Cypher Zahariel in the background
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"You were my brother, Anakin Luther! I loved you!"

Obi-Wan Lion El'Johnson

Luther was the best bro/father figure of the Primarch Lion El'Jonson before the events of the Horus Heresy.

Back Story[edit]

Luther was a Knight of The Order of Caliban, an organisation dedicated to protecting the people of that world from the Beasts that roamed its forests.

One day when riding through the glen with his merry band of men, he encountered Tarzan a naked wildman who had no business living alone in that environment. So they captured him and brought him back to civilisation, educated him and introduced him to their order, where they called him "Lion, Son of the Forest".

  • Before the discovery of the Lion, Luther had just recently lost both his young wife and daughter to as of yet unknown cause, though implied to have been during childbirth. He wonders how things would have turned out if the Lion had been raised with both a mother and sister. (All you AU fanfic writers get on this now. I want to see the Lion and his sister braiding each other's hair). Maybe the Lion and his brother Roboute could've had something in common. More's the pity. What makes this even more somber though is that these ruminations occur to Luther in sadness during the zenith of his Caliban conspiracy tomfuckery, even piercing through his quasi-corrupted fever dream.
  • In “Fallen Angels” Luther gives us a first-hand version of the discovery of the Lion. In it he describes how after a long and costly journey into the darkest and most dangerous parts of Caliban he and his fellow knights stopped near the banks of a river. As the other knights filled their water containers, a young boy appeared in their midst. The boy showed no fear but simply stared at them coldly. Luther being the only one in a position to do anything raised his gun and aimed at the boy. As the other knights screamed at Luther to kill the child the boy simply looked at Luther silently; Luther met the boy's eyes and he found that he simply could not pull the trigger and let the gun drop to the ground.
  • Given the new revelation that he had just lost his wife and daughter, his inability to kill the young Lion makes a lot more sense.
  • The Lion in his version is described as a young boy, which is odd as it appears that the Lion did not have the accelerated childhood that many of his other brothers seem to have experienced but aged in the same way as a normal human child would.
  • Out of all the Monsters of Caliban Luther desired to kill a Calibanite Lion. This is interesting because it raises the possibility that it was a Calibanite Lion that was responsible for the death of his family and drove him to venture so deep into the wild depths of Caliban where he discovered Lion El'Jonson; if true then was the Calibanite Lion killed by Jonson the one responsible?

In the end, Luther took the boy in and together the two warriors rose up the ranks of the Order and became living legends, eventually coming up with a plan to rid the whole world of the beasts and make it safe for everyone. This took some time, and eventually the Lion got promoted to the top job of Grand Master and Luther became his assistant. This is where the cracks had started to show, as many had thought that Luther was on track to gain the position if the Lion had not been discovered, and that Luther was one of the greatest men of his time, only to have been overshadowed by an even greater man due to circumstance.

  • It turns out that Luther was indeed named Grand Master of the Order for a time, but when the Lion was nominated for the position he stepped aside. Luther claims that he felt no resentment towards the Lion, but seeing as you needed to be both nominated and then voted into the position of Grand Master by your fellow knights that’s got to sting.

After that, Luther became essentially the Lion's public relations expert. Whilst the Lion drew up plans and strategy Luther went out to gather support by wining and dining the planet's nobility.

  • Given that the people of Caliban have a very knightly theme going on and that they are confirmed to have noble houses then it makes sense that there should be at least one or two Calibanite based Imperial Knight Houses hanging around somewhere on Caliban. Heck the Order itself might have had its own Imperial Knights (Come on forge world you know you want to).

At some point Luther gave his word that the Order would not trespass into the territory of the Knights of Lupus; an old and very traditional knightly order that aggressively opposed the Order and the Lion. The Order however declared war upon the Knights of Lupus due to a certain incident that saw the Knights of Lupus slaughter a small band of the Order's rangers because they were apparently too close to their lands. Leaving one left alive so that he could return to the Order with the decapitated remains of his friends.

During the final battle against the Knights of Lupus the Lion would lead a diversionary frontal attack whilst Luther was given the honour of leading the actual attack by attacking their blind spot when they were distracted. In the end Luther and the Lion ended up fighting what is essentially a very big Zombified flightless dragon (the badass Chaos version of a medieval-style dragon). The Lion killed the beast and was cheered by his fellow knights, whilst Luther ended up drenched in the creature's foul blood and feeling a bit sorry for himself.

Shortly afterwards the Emperor arrived and brought the Imperium to Caliban and told the Lion of his heritage and his destiny to lead the First Legion on the Great Crusade.

Great Crusade[edit]

The Lion took many of his Knights with him on this quest and although Luther was too old to become a Space Marine he was still augmented as much as was practical and was brought along as the second in command. Just like another geriatric chucklefuck who raised a Primarch.

This didn't last long though. Luther inwardly admitted his envy of the Lion and his Astartes brethren, and during a mission to Sarosh contemplated allowing an enemy nuclear bomb to detonate aboard the Dark Angel's flagship so he could take his rightful place in history. However, he did not follow through with this thought and successfully rescued the flagship and exposed the Saroshi plot.

Because of (or despite) the Lion's knowledge (or lack of) about Luther's private doubts, he sent him and select others back to Caliban in order to fortify it and train new Dark Angels for the ongoing crusade.

This is the subject of considerable nerdrage, since it was either seen as an exile for some perceived dishonour or it was part of a greater plan to protect the Imperium (or Caliban) from something that the Lion knew was brewing back on his homeworld but decided not to tell his followers about, just like his own father did with his sons. Or maybe it was because Luther was actively plotting to kill the Lion out of nothing but sheer jealousy, and only changed his mind once he was prodded by Zahariel. So much for ambiguity. If he just took a moment to pour his heart out to his best friend and speak with him on a personal level like an adult (looking at you Emps) maybe things would have turned out for the better.

Exile on Caliban[edit]

Back on Caliban, Luther became heavily dependent upon the Librarian Zahariel and the Lord Cypher.

Sometime after his exile on Caliban Luther was to respond to a call for aid from the primarch of the Luna Wolves, Horus Lupercal himself. Taking his men and ships he disobeyed the orders given to him by the Lion and fought alongside the likes of Abaddon and Typhus (Garviel Loken when he was being interrogated by Luther remembers when Luther and Abaddon competed against each other to see who could get to the objective first).

He would shock Typhus by revealing that he had Laughed in Abaddon’s face when he had suggested that the Luna Wolves had a greater military background to that of the Dark Angels and the Order. Typhus would then introduce Luther to Erebus who suggested the introduction of the warrior lodges to the ranks of the Dark Angels much to Luther’s amusement.

During the victory celebration the Lion managed to do what no enemy had ever done before; catch Horus by surprise. As if summoned there by the will of some vengeful god the Lion marched into the hall. Luther rose to his feet and tried to explain himself but was silenced by the Lion; Horus spoke up in Luther’s defence but was told in no uncertain terms to shut up. The Lion told Horus that if he wanted victory so badly then it should not have been at the expense of his Dark Angels and that he should instead have used his own sons. Luther then has his fleet taken from him as punishment for disobeying orders and for taking the garrisoned forces away from Caliban.

At this point, something had begun to twist inside Luther and his behaviour became erratic.

Lion El'Jonson had allowed the Death World of Caliban to become a Terran-administrated industrial world, replacing the forest with factory arcologies. Knights and peasants were replaced with workers. Though most of the planet was still heavily forested, only the areas designated for industrial use, farming and inhabitation were cleared of forest.

With the forests gone and mine shafts digging deep into the planet, bad things were waking up. Luther suspected that the Lion knew about these forces, and that he was planning on destroying the planet with the Calibanite Dark Angels on it after the world fueled the imperial war machine all that it could (he may be becoming a bit paranoid at this point) Still, Luther remained loyal to Johnson until a final discovery pushed him over the brink. The then Lord Cypher, that the Lion promoted completely out of the blue over more veteran knights, was actually the only survivor of the Knights of Lupus. The very knights that had realized that as bad as the Beasts were they were seemingly keeping the whatever was buried inside of Caliban from awakening fully as their extensive library, again, that the Lion had ordered preserved out of the blue, seemed to indicate. This was the last straw that cemented the idea that Jonson knew more than he let on (that at least was true) and wanted to get rid of Caliban in Luther's unhinged mind.

Luther needs to take some of the blame here as all the stuff that went wrong happened under his stewardship. He was in charge of the planet in the Lion’s absence and although he puts all the blame on the Lion for how the planet turned out pretty much all of the decisions regarding Caliban would have had his direct permission and authorization. It may seem a bit conspiratorial but it is possible that despite being an honourable man (at least at the beginning) who would not break an oath without just cause Luther may have actually subconsciously allowed Caliban to go to hell in order to justify his future actions.

Learning from the Knights of Lupus' collection of dusty tomes about rituals and incantations, he uncovered a "plot" where Terran colonists were apparently attempting to summon a creature called the Ouroboros onto Caliban. With Zahariel's assistance he broke up this coven and attempted to gain power over the creature for himself. After gaining access to the books from the Knights of Lupus that the Lion had hidden away, he started to dabble in the arcane arts; covering himself in runes and learning how to casts spells in the same manner as a chaos sorcerer. How advanced his studies were exactly is unknown but he was far along enough that he was able to nullify Israfael's psychic assault and resurrect Zahariel. He would even try his hand at summoning daemons, being so happy to succeed on his first time (believing he had achieved power enough to challenge even the Lion) he forgot to finish binding it to his will, allowing the daemon to leave the circle, where to Luther's surprise it took a knee and bowed to him.

Zahariel discovered that the Terran "plot" was actually false, that the Terrans were in fact attempting to banish the Ouroboros instead of summoning it, and that Luther was looking to gain power in an attempt to free Caliban from the oppression of the Imperium. Needless to say, the Dark Ones were intrigued.

Turning Traitor[edit]

Later, Luther captured one of Malcador's Knights-Errant: Garviel Loken, who was on Caliban to discover where the exiled Dark Angels loyalties lay, since no contact had been made from them in some time. This would prove to be a turning point, as Luther and his allies had no idea that the Horus Heresy was taking place around them and had been kept ignorant by the Watchers in the Dark and one of their Astartes allies (whose identity is not explicitly stated, but presumed to be Cypher) The Knights-Errant killed a Dark Angel during their escape, which would upset the balance of ignorance that had been maintained and set the Dark Angels on the path for the Fall.

With the help of that snake in the grass Astelan, Luther was able to round up all the Dark Angels on Caliban that would have opposed him and imprison them beneath Aldurukh. During the revolt Luther was able to kill a veteran Dark Angel with little more than a letter opener - Badass for a non-Astartes.

As they prepared to openly announce their secession from the Imperium a fleet led by Belath appeared suddenly above Caliban. Belath had been ordered to come and collect the newly trained Dark Angels and bring them back to the fleet in order to continue the fight against the Death Guard. Luther persuaded Belath to wait prior to departing in order to throw a grand feast to celebrate this grand occasion (anyone who has watched Game of Thrones probably has a good idea where this is going). Luther had hoped to turn Belath and his Dark Angels to his side and during the feast he gives an impassioned speech about the evils of the Imperium and how the Emperor and the Lion have abandoned them, all the while having Zahariel and his Librarians (now called the Mystai) reach into the minds of all those listening to make it easier for them to be manipulated. The plan worked almost too well for Zahariel (who was now under the influence of the Ouroboros) so he killed Belath claiming he was about to attack Luther. What happens next makes the “Red Wedding” look subtle and downplayed, much to Luther’s dismay and anger.

With the disaster of the feast behind them, Luther and Astelan claimed ownership of the Dark Angels fleet and Astelan agreed to do Luther’s dirty work since Luther needed to be seen as beyond reproach. They planned to expand their power base by “Liberating” nearby systems from the oppression of the Imperium. As they put their plan into practice they stumbled upon Calas Typhon and what remained of his fleet as they retreated from the relentless pursuit of Corswain.

Upon their reunion Luther welcomed Typhon with open arms and offered Typhon and his fleet a place to recuperate and repair their damaged starships in the Zaramund system. Unbeknownst to Luther, it was at this point that Typhon would begin his tranformation, after being confronted by a group of Nurgle worshiping pilgrims who already referred to him as "Great Lord Typhus" and beginning a sickening ritual where they started to erupt with infection. The Calibanite captain that was sent to spy on the Death Guard flew into a rage and started hacking the cultists to death and then tried to kill Typhon in front of his Grave Wardens, though at that time Typhus what completely oblivious to any change and couldn't figure out what had driven the Dark Angel to get so mad and try and kill him. During the fight although the Calibanite was able to inflict a seeming mortal wound on Typhon, the injuries the Dark Angel inflicted were only the catalyst for Typhon's final tranformation, then Typhus was able to defeat his opponent. Afterwards, asking what his own Grave Wardens had seen, they had witnessed nothing other than a Dark Angel hacking apart civilians and then trying to assassinate their Captain. To avoid further incident Typhus would then quietly leave the Zaramund system, leaving Luther completely nonplussed.

Typhus would present Luther with a weapon, a blade of horrific power, and instruction him that to complete his destiny (that would forever bind him to the ruinous powers) he would need to wield the blade to make a sacrifice. Luther would be tempted to complete the bargain by using it on Corswain when he turned up on Caliban looking for any loyal reinforcements he could bring with him on his way to Terra, but couldn't bring himself to slay such a noble son of Caliban. In a flashback to his duel with the Lion, the blade is shown driven deep into the Lion's midsection; Luther admits that although he used the blade he did "not kill" the Lion.

At some point before the Lion's return, fighting broke out on the surface between those loyal to the Lion and those loyal to Luther. “Angels of Darkness” tells us that apparently (remember this is Astelan here) agents of the Lion retook the fleet above Caliban, which resulted in the ships crashing into the planet’s surface, burning its atmosphere and turning the earth to ash with only the great shields protecting the Order's fortress-monasteries saving them from destruction.

The Fall of Caliban[edit]

When the Lion returned to Caliban after the Horus Heresy had finished, he found a world that despised him and the Imperium and a war took place which cracked the very core of the planet, leaving nothing but fragments.

According to the legend, Luther had been empowered by the Dark Gods and was now an equal for the Lion. This is where the lion is again the Emprahs mini me. The Lion could not bring himself to strike down Luther and that hesitation was monopolised by Luther who psychically struck him down, though in a final moment he realised his error and broke down in tears.

When the Dark Angels descended upon the site of the battle, they could not find the body of their Primarch, the only clue was given by the now-insane Luther, who had said that the Watchers in the Dark had taken the Lion away.

41st Millenium[edit]

Luther is still alive 10,000 years later, kept in a cell at the heart of The Rock known only to the Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels and his predecessors. The cell can only be unlocked using the Sword of Secrets and it is the duty of the holder of that blade to coerce Luther to admit to his crimes against their Primarch and the Imperium. Luther is old, especially for a man not blessed with being a full Space Marine. He is older than the fungus growing under your grandfather's toenails. Older than the pill line at a nursing home. Older than the rancid bacon I found in the back of my refrigerator last night. As such when he is not being interrogated by the Dark Angels Supreme Grand Master, he is kept in stasis to preserve what little life he has left. In the Legacy of Caliban novel series, Azrael comments as to the strict time limit he has to question the old coot for fear he'll give up the ghost before he can finish a sentence. He also remarks as to how difficult this is thanks to Ole Luther being nuttier than an unwanted fruitcake on Christmas eve. Did I mention he is old? (they probably should let the guy sleep outside of stasis for a good 8 hours. The lack of sleep is prob what's driven the guy nuts. How many hours of sleep in 10000 years do you think they let him have?)

Suffice to say that no Supreme Grand Master has succeeded in getting Luther to repent. Though during some of his interrogations, Luther has been of great help to his erstwhile kin, leading them to recover lost fragments of lore and technology hidden within the country sized bulk that is The Rock. Examples being the recovery of the STC for the Nephilim Jet Fighter. Luther's "help" can be fickle at best as most of what he utters are the lunatic ravings and riddles of a man off his ass on ether. He is convinced that the time is nigh when The Lion will return to forgive him of his sins and is quite adamant about this to his jailers. A point which causes no small amount of consternation to his attending Supreme Grand Master.

Luther's personal 'The First of the Fallen' novel reveals that Luther is not really in a stasis field, but is halted in time by the Watchers in the Dark. The maddening effects of his dealings with Chaos forces have left his mind in a less than ideal state (sometimes voicing "other" voices, threats, promises, bargains or other unearthly sounds, including demonic laughter), with himself admitting, in his more lucid moments, that his words should be treated as a unreliable source, as even his memory's are confused and sometimes conflict with each other. The one thing that stands out crystal clear is his observation at the gradual degradation of the Dark Angels, with each encounter with new Masters becoming harsher and more extreme (he straight up tells them that the Lion would be ashamed of them). Only Azrael has surprised Luther; Luther even suspects that it was Azrael himself who left Luther unfrozen, and with the door left wide open for him to leave; what Azrael is planning is yet to be revealed, but he has long desired to bring the hunt to an end, and get the Dark Angels back on track.

As of 8th Edition, an attack by the Fallen led by the Fallen daemon prince Marbas has allowed Luther to disappear from his cell. Azrael is naturally very concerned about what this might mean but has to keep the information to himself, considering that no-one else knew Luther was alive. Now reports are coming in that a gathering of the Fallen is massing in the Nihilus Sector, assembling in "numbers enough to bring the entire galaxy to heel" and Azrael is the only one who suspects the truth of who is leading them. It will be fun to see whether Luther is even sane enough to lead ten thousand Fallen in the first place, whether Chaos will let his marked soul walk around, and what the Lion will say to him when GeeDubs is finally ready to make his model and rules.

There is, however, a notable discrepancy in Luther's apparent break-out. According to pg. 25 of the Dark Angels' 9E Codex Supplement, Azrael found that Luther's cell had been blasted into and visibly damaged during Marbas' invasion. But in First of the Fallen, Luther saw that the door had simply been left open and walked out on his own, sounds of fighting in the distance but no one waiting outside the cell. And the book ends right there, with nary a daemon-prince or hooded traitor in sight. So either Luther completely imagined his "escape", Thorpe wasn't talking to the writers at GW, or there's something else going on here. Given that Luther's final memory/prophecy (the "Tale of the Heart") was about him venturing into the foundations of Aldurukh as a child, there's a possible implication that somebody let him out... and he never left the fortress-monastery at all.

Despite Azrael's suspicions of what awaits the Dark Angels in the Sommnium Stars, Luther might even now be wandering around in the deepest, darkest levels of the Rock, slowly coming closer and closer to the chamber at its very heart...


"Luther" is probably named for the monk Martin Luther (Not Martin Luther King Jr., who was himself named after the monk), who was one of the founders of the Protestant denomination. This is very significant to the Dark Angels' themes of Forgiveness and Repentance, as Martin Luther advocated that salvation was earned through faith alone and not through penitence or confession and decried the Catholic Church as corrupt. Though well-intentioned, the Reformation resulted in the splintering of Christianity on a scale not seen since the schism between the Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and some very messy conflicts.

When applied to 40k, many of the Fallen find justification for what they do and will not repent willingly, thus making it ever more difficult to make them see the error of their ways. Likewise, the conflict between the Fallen and the Loyalists often mimics the past conflict between Catholic and Protestants (real-life being less prone to Grimdark, Catholics and Protestants don't actively kill each other these days, though there are plenty of members of either side who cheerfully despise their opposite numbers), being that both were nominally of the same faith, yet of different minds about it.

Famous loyalist members of the Adeptus Astartes
Black Templars: Grimaldus - Helbrecht - Sigismund - Tankred
Blood Angels: Acrion - Astorath - Azkaellon - Corbulo - Dante - Donatos Aphael
Erasmus Tycho - Karlaen - Lemartes - Mephiston - Meros
Moriar - Rafen - Raldoron - Sanguinor - Thalastian Jorus
Blood Ravens: Apollo Diomedes - Avitus - Azariah Kyras - Brother-Sergeant Matiel
Cyrus - Davian Thule - Force Commander Aramus - Gabriel Angelos
Indrick Boreale - Isador Akios - Jonah Orion - Martellus - Tarkus - Thaddeus
Crimson Fists: Alessio Cortez - Alexis Polux - Pedro Kantor
Dark Angels: Asmodai - Azrael - Belial - Corswain - Ezekiel - Lazarus - Luther - Naaman - Sammael - Zahariel
Flesh Tearers: Gabriel Seth - Nassir Amit
Grey Knights: Anval Thawn - Arvann Stern - Castellan Crowe
Hyperion - Kaldor Draigo - Vorth Mordrak
Imperial Fists: Darnath Lysander - Slaughter Koorland - Maximus Thane
Tor Garadon - Vorn Hagen - Fafnir Rann
Iron Hands: Malkaan Feirros - Kardan Stronos
Lamenters: Malakim Phoros
Minotaurs: Asterion Moloc - Hecaton Aiakos - Ivanus Enkomi
Raptors: Lias Issodon
Raven Guard: Kayvaan Shrike - Korvydae - Kyrin Solaq
Red Scorpions: Carab Culln - Casan Sabius - Sevrin Loth - Sirae Karagon
Red Talons: Autek Mor
Salamanders: Adrax Agatone - Bray'arth Ashmantle - Tu'Shan - Vulkan He'stan - Xavier
Space Sharks: Tyberos the Red Wake
Space Wolves: Arjac Rockfist - Bjorn the Fell Handed - Bran Redmaw - Canis Wolfborn
Haegr the Mountain - Krom Dragongaze - Logan Grimnar - Lukas the Trickster
Njal Stormcaller - Ragnar Blackmane - Ulrik
Ultramarines: Aeonid Thiel - Antaro Chronus - Captain Titus - Cato Sicarius
Illiyan Nastase - Marneus Calgar - Ortan Cassius - Remus Ventanus
Severus Agemman - Torias Telion - Uriel Ventris - Varro Tigurius
White Scars: Kor'sarro Khan
Famous members of the Traitor Legions
Originating from
the Canon:
Abaddon - Ahzek Ahriman - Argel Tal - Cypher - Doomrider
Eidolon - Erebus - Fabius Bile - Haarken Worldclaimer - Honsou - Horus Aximand
Iskandar Khayon - Kharn - Kor Phaeron - Lheorvine Ukris - Lucius
Lugft Huron - Luther - Madox - Maloghurst - Necrosius the Undying - Occam - Sevatar
Shon'tu - Svane Vulfbad - Talos - Telemachon Lyras - Typhus - Ygethmor - Zardu Layak - Zhufor
Originating from
the games:
Araghast the Pillager - Azariah Kyras - Bale - Crull - Eliphas The Inheritor
Firaeveus Carron - Kain - Nemeroth - Neroth - Sindri Myr - Varius