"In the far future, there will be only war."
- – Sigismund to Garviel Loken, not knowing how right he would be.
"You will die as your weakling father died. Soulless. Honourless. Weeping. Ashamed."
- – Siggy's last words. Unlike other Astartes he didn't waste his dying breath recommending his soul to Big E or something, he told Abaddon of his monumental fail right to his face.
"Live by the sword; die by the sword."
- – Ancient Terran Proverb
Sigismund (also known as Siggy-diggy, Sig of the Dump, the Great Wilson, and Swagismund), is a Space Marine from Warhammer 40,000's backstory. He served as First Captain of the Imperial Fists Legion and equerry to his Primarch, Rogal Dorn. Following the Horus Heresy, he served as the first High Marshal of the Black Templars.
We don't know much about what he did, but during the Great Crusade, he became known for his skill and hotheadedness - and his unparalleled asskickery. Much like Ahmed Ibn Fadlan in the movie "13th Warrior", Sigismund lived among the World Eaters more than he did with his own legion (even being sparring buddies with Kharn, proof that the latter was always a swell guy) and began to take on their ways, for example, he took using heavy, dense black chains and chaining his weapons to his arms. Yep, that's right, the Black Templars got this tradition from a Traitor Legion! Siggy wisely took that little detail with him right to the grave, lest the Templars suffer a crisis of faith regarding their aesthetic.
When the Horus Heresy kicked off, he was with Rogal Dorn when the Eisenstein delivered news of the Isstvan III massacre. He had his first discussions with the Imperial "Saint" Euphrati Keeler, who told him that he would die unremembered under an unknown star if he left his father's side. This discussion affected Sigismund deeply, so he requested this to his father deploy someone else to the Retribution Fleet after Dorn ordered him to go; Dorn thought this was an odd request, but allowed it and Captain Yonnad was sent instead. Ironically, Sigismund's absence at Phall would lead Perturabo to make the wrong assumptions about how the battle would go, and result in the Fists nearly winning, and a large chunk of the Retribution Fleet escaping. When news came about the Isstvan V Dropsite Massacre and the full scale of rebellion became apparent, Sigismund was ordered to purge any remnant of the traitors in the Solar System, purging the memorial asteroid with his Templar elite and the Assault Cadre under Fafnir Rann. This began a fruitful five years of Rann talking shit to Sigismund while they killed every motherfucker in their path.
Sigismund then led a mission to Mars to retrieve as many weapons and suits of armour as was possible, since by that time Mars was FUCKED. Despite really, really wanting to kill everything standing between him and the traitor Fabricator-General Kelbor-Hal, Sigismund realized that the Imperial Fists couldn't retake the planet without reinforcements, ordering Imperial forces to retreat when the forges were surrounded by traitor Titans.
However, before leaving for Mars, Sigismund confessed his reasons for refusing to take the Retribution mission to his father, explaining the vision he had received from "Saint" Keeler. Unfortunately, Rogal Dorn flipped his shit and accused Sigismund of arrogance, superstition, and forgetting what it meant to be an Imperial Fist; that as a Space Marine and a servant of the Emperor, he had no right to determine his fate in such a way, comparing him to the rebels they were now fighting. When Sigismund begged Dorn to execute him then and there, Dorn disowned him as a son and from the Legion. To prevent Sigismund's "weakness" from tainting the rest of the Legion, however, he was allowed to retain his rank, but was dispatched out to the farthest fringes of the Solar System as a means of getting rid of him, a fate for Sigismund which was worse than death though he took solace in his duty. There he would remain until the Horus Heresy hit its climax.
Despite being quietly disowned for his involvement with Euphrati Keeler, Sigismund used his influence in the Legion to keep discrete tabs on her movements. When the Saint was targeted for assassination in the run-up to the Siege of Terra, Sigismund personally answered her distress call and returned to the homeworld, where he met Nathaniel Garro again. Knowing that Dorn would likely be extremely pissed at him for ignoring his orders a second time, he handed over all the information he had on the Saint to Garro, passing his self appointed duty as her guardian off to him.
Having been largely sidelined during the Battle of Pluto (still killing plenty of Alpha Legionaries), Sigismund was the first Imperial commander to engage the Traitors. He got swarmed by the Fifth Company of the Sons of Horus under Aximand, who was ready to move in on the wounded Sigismund and finish the job when Rann and First Lieutenant Boreas intervened. Sigismund then rallied hard and injured Aximand before making for Terra though he lost his ship and Boreas to Aximand.
Defending the First Wall, Sigismund defeated several Chaos Champions before facing Kharn and losing badly as the (not yet) Betrayer had been blessed by Khorne. As Kharn was about to kill Sigi, Dorn intervened and bitch-slapped Kharn out of the way. Later on he led a kill team against a Sons of Horus assault force that attempted to tunnel under the Saturnine Wall of the Imperial Palace, then went up to the top of the wall and got into a fight with Fulgrim. He managed to land a few hits, but Fulgrim, being a daemon prince, promptly beat him down. Dorn intervened again, forcing Fulgrim into an undignified retreat, after which father and gene-son saw off fifty-six of the III Legion's best fighters together.
In the time just before the Khan retook the Lion's Gate Spaceport, Sigismund and Kharn had their legendary final duel. At first they were pretty evenly matched, but when a slobbering Kharn realized he couldn't get a rise or even any sort of reaction out of Sigismund, he became increasingly unnerved, because Siggy's cold, contemptuous repose could've given a Necron or the Legion of the Damned something to admire. Kharn eventually received something of a vision of the future, when Sigismund's Black Templars would roam the galaxy bringing death to the enemies of the Master of Mankind, and that all of them would be as deadly and silent as Sigismund. This caused Kharn to panic for all of the 4 seconds it took Sigismund to exploit this opening and literally (not figuratively) cut Kharn to pieces. Kharn was panicking throughout every millisecond, but before his end, he still managed to say to Sigismund "I am not as damaged as you." And though he gave no outward reply, Sigismund likely thought in response "I know. And I don't care."
After the Heresy and the Iron Cage business, what remained of the Imperial Fists Legion was divided into five Chapters, in accordance with the Codex Astartes reforms. Dorn placed those now ex-Imperial Fists that were still burning with the need to tear traitors multiple new orifices, barehanded if necessary, under Sigismund's command. They became the Black Templars Chapter, while the third and fourth Chapters (formed from the more conservative/level-headed Marines and those more accepting of the Codex Astartes) were the Crimson Fists and Fists Exemplar. Those Astartes who had fought on the walls of the Imperial Palace became the Excoriators), while Rann would have to wait until the Third Founding before his head-takers got their big break and became the Executioners. Considering that the Black Templars are a Chapter of Space Marines that wants nothing else than to purge traitors, aliens and heretics with religious fervor, they promptly set out on their eternal Crusade vowing to never stop hunting down the enemies of the Imperium. And they are true to their word, too. Ten-thousand years, and they're still going strong, kicking heretic and xeno ass left, right and centre!
Sigismund would fight in the First Black Crusade, where by that point he was just shy of one thousand years old, having fought and killed everything the galaxy could throw at him (and given that it's 40K, that's a lot). Unlike most Imperials, he still believed the Traitor Legions would return, making the Black Templars the only Imperial force ready when the Black Legion invaded. Sigismund later faced Abaddon himself in battle during the First Black Crusade; the outcome was long unconfirmed, but as of the recent Black Legion books, we can finally say for certain that Abaddon killed Sigismund in single combat. The two were at a stalemate at first, with Abaddon being stronger and better armored, while Sigismund was quicker and more controlled. Over time though, Siggy's age started catching up with him, and his body slowed. When he realized he couldn't win, Siggy did his best Excalibur impression, except here Abaddon's torso was the stone the blade was plunged into, like that old Emperor's Champion art with the ork. You know the one. To match Siggy's final moment of badassery, Abaddon inflicted a mortal blow of his own, slaying the old warrior - Sigismund had realized he would only kill Abaddon by exposing himself, and he did it without hesitation.
BADASS. Abaddon's lieutenant felt that the playing field was only evened out by Sigismund's age bringing him down to the level of other Astartes. Even with this handicap Sigismund still put up a tremendous fight, almost killing Abaddon outright. The Black Knight came closer to killing the Despoiler than anyone else has (except maybe Thalastian Jorus). Best of all, the Black Legion high command treated him with the utmost respect in death. Abaddon cleaned him up as much as possible (he was kinda torn in two), and had his corpse sent back to Terra with the message that the Black Legion had arrived and declared its Long War against the God-Emperor. They didn't even steal the Black Sword, but returned it along with Sigismund's body.
Sigismund is sometimes referred to as the best duelist in all the Legiones Astartes. Regardless, several named characters could probably give him a run for his money; among them are Abaddon, Khârn, Lucius, Sevatar, Corswain, Azkaellon and Amit (the original Flesh Tearer) of the Blood Angels, and Argel Tal of the Word Bearers (but he had daemon powers, so that's kinda cheating). He not only bested Khârn in a duel many, many times (although Khârn was never serious in these fights, and preferred losing, a trait that he shared with Argel Tal), but also during the Great Crusade, the Fists and the World Eaters crusaded together for a while, which allowed Siggy to regularly fight in the World Eaters arenas against all of their best fighters. He never lost. Not once. This went on for around 10 years.
He also avoided lethal duels, viewing it as a sin to kill a cousin: the first Astartes he offed was during the Heresy. In the novel Betrayer and the novella Templar, Khârn and Sigismund then ended up becoming good friends until Horus fucked everything up, and Sevatar mentioned dueling him for 20 hours before he got tired of no one winning and decided to cheat by headbutting Sigismund just to end the bout.
It should be pointed out that in the HH Book: Templar, he is described as having never lost a duel. Ever. This means either:
- He's never duelled any Primarchs.
- However, Primarchs are OP and therefore an unfair opponent for any Astartes and typically don't stoop so low as to demonstrate it. They occasionally say, in novels, maybe a dude could tangle with a Primarch because they can't grasp just how OP those bastards are. Any mortal from any species, including freaks like Tyranids or technically Necrons would get smashed to paste and even super soldiers will only marginally last longer before literal demigods.
- Doesn't consider it a loss if his opponent cheats in the fight, as it did with Sevatar.
- Because he cheated, Jago is technically considered to have lost that sparring duel. Besides, if they had been trying to kill each other Sev would have been way dirtier way earlier, but Sig would have been expecting it as well. That duel was all around still a good indicator of their skill in regards to one another. Sev is regarded as one of the best Astartes close combatants and they basically tied. If the stats in the HH books are anything to go off of (admittedly not always, like the Primarchs being nerfed so they can still be balanced) then Sig, Sev and the Nemean are the overall best close "dueling" Astartes period. 1-on-1 ruleswise: Sev has almost no chance due to lack of Eternal Warrior.
- It's worth noting that Khârn later tried copying the move. Sigismund dropped him face-down on the floor.
- Always ended in a draw. This option is possible, although the context didn't seem to suggest this at all.
- It doesn't mean anything at all, because a sparring bout (even amongst Astartes who are at real risk of being maimed) does not accurately represent the fighters' true potential.
- For example, Khârn actually disdained the fighting pits because it's not about killing your opponent, making it an entirely different situation. While Nathaniel Garro also beat a Custodian in a duel, but realised that he would not likely be able to take him in a real fight.
He had some really, REALLY crappy Marines training him how to fight, seriously, surely he would have lost as an initiate.Sparring isn't the same as a duel ya git.
He received stats in the 3rd Horus Heresy book; Extermination, showing him to be a close-combat monster:
With Eternal Warrior, Fearless, Adamantium Will, a +2S AP2 weapon, instant death and re-rolls ones to hit when in challenges, 4 attacks at WS7, and forcing successful invulns to be re-rolled. He's the nastiest duelist character so far in virtually any incarnation of the rules, barring the Primarchs, Constantin Valdor, motherfucking Anacharis Scoria and the Cheestodes Tribune, and one of the few that has a fighting chance against some of the weaker among said Primarchs. Now that some Legions, namely Sons of Horus, Salamanders, and Imperial Fists, have access to Eternal Warrior from relics that non-Primarchs can take, he's descended from being an "I win as soon as I wound" button to merely "75% likely to win."
This still means pretty much all Legion characters barring Salamander Praetors and Eidolon are fucked as Sigismund is forced to challenge and most Legions have nothing, bar their Primarchs, who could stand up to Sigismund and hope to win (excluding terrible rolls).
In fact, even against his own Primarch (or any T6, 4++ Primarch barring Lorgar and Russ), Sigismund makes a good stab at it and causes just under 1 wound per turn mathematically during a challenge (what with IWND and all), which hilariously, is almost as much as Dorn's own brother can cause against him. While Sigismund receives 1.25 wounds/turn in return. Which is actually pretty good for Astartes vs Primarch combat. As of the fourth book in the Siege of Terra series, we even have fluff to back this up, as Sigismund was able to get in a few shots against Fulgrim before the Phoenician started beating him down.