|Battle Cry||Verses from the Book of Lorgar|
|Original Name||Imperial Heralds|
|Champion||Erebus, Kor Phaeron|
|Strength||More or less Legion strength|
|Specialty||Zealotry, use of Daemons, spreading Chaos|
|Colours||Dark crimson and steel|
"All I ever wanted was the Truth."
— Opening Line of the "Book of Lorgar", First Canticle of Chaos
There is a phenomenon of psychology that some people are prone to zealotry. The type of individual who is likely to end up becoming a fanatical member to a certain ideology will, if they somehow become disillusioned with it, often find it easier to adopt an opposing or opposite ideology and be just as fanatical to said new cause rather than simply lowering their commitment to this ideology and adjusting it as needed. The Word Bearers are this phenomenon at its most extreme.
The Emperor used the genetic templates of the Primarchs to create the Legiones Astartes after the powers of Chaos stole the gestating Primarchs. Those who received gene-seed from template number seventeen stood apart from their brother Astartes in duty and outlook. They fought with utter devotion and a fanatical zeal. Their original recruits were drawn from the sons of defeated enemies, raised to know the crimes of their fathers and the price of the Emperor's forgiveness. Thus while the other Legions went to war with righteousness, the XVIIth fought with the cold fury that only the condemned and redeemed could know. While other Legions took some time to acquire formal names, the XVIIth was named the Imperial Heralds almost immediately after their founding. This was due to their early role: to deliver the Emperor's ultimatum of submission or destruction. Upon defeating an enemy, the Imperial Heralds would empty their libraries and records of any contents deemed heretical or sorcerous. Condemned works, individuals, and buildings would be destroyed in the name of the Imperial Truth (though they also tended to exterminate the entire population of the places they conquered; see Antarctica). The Imperial Heralds repeated this process all across Terra during the Unification Wars. This gave the Imperial Heralds a rarely-spoken nickname among the greater Imperium: the Iconoclasts.
The planet Colchis was full of people that worshipped a watered down version of chaos. Primarch XVII was adopted by Kor Phaeron, one of the chief priests, and given the name Lorgar. Lorgar received a vision of the Emperor and formed a religion around him, leading to a six-year religious civil war that Lorgar's faction eventually won, shortly before the Emperor came to Colchis. During the Great Crusade, they bore the word of the Emperor to new worlds, wiping out any traces of dissenting faiths as they assimilated cultures into the Imperial way of life, including enforcing the worship of the God-Emperor.
Their thorough attention to this kept them far behind the pace of other expeditionary fleets and drew the ire of the Emperor. He repeatedly made it clear that he did not consider himself a god and wanted Lorgar to knock it off and catch up with the other fleets. Lorgar responded by penning the original Lectitio Divinitatus, which would much later form the core of the beliefs of the Temple of the Saviour Emperor. Finally, the Emperor had enough and ordered the Ultramarines to make an example for him. They torched the world of Khur and called the entire Word Bearers legion to kneel in its ashes before Guilliman, Malcador, and the Emperor.
To say Lorgar was devastated would be an understatement. He spent an entire month in seclusion, taking only the advice of Kor Phaeron and First Chaplain Erebus. They revealed to him that they had kept the old faith alive and that many worlds appeared to have religions that aligned with it, suggesting a more primal truth than worship of the God-Emperor. They convinced Lorgar that the primordial truth was truer than the Imperial Truth and he took his legion on a pilgrimage to the Eye of Terror to learn more about Chaos.
They were the guys who used to be really, really, really loyal to the Emprah. Like, these guys used to be the Church of the Emprah. After the Horus Heresy, they became the complete opposite. Now they go around fucking up the Emprah's sepulchre planets, relic worlds, and cardinal worlds, setting up cathedrals to the Chaos Gods in their places. They are also notable for being the one Chaos legion to still have Chaplains, known as Dark Apostles, which is probably because they invented the idea of Space Marine preachers and no other traitor Legions wanted them after the Horus Heresy was over, because there is little sense in having morale officer in Chaos force. Unlike the other Chaos legions and renegade chapters, Red Corsairs notwithstanding, these guys actually managed to sort of keep their shit together rather than having everyone with a slightly fancier costume take his ball and go home. They're sorta like grimdark Chaos Taliban. Except the Word Bearers make the Taliban look like peace-loving atheists in comparison.
First Chaplain Erebus was actually pretty much the driving force behind Horus turning to Chaos. At the climax of Horus Rising, Erebus steals a weapon from the Interex, which caused them to get all butthurt and blame Horus and the Luna Wolves for the theft. In the next book, False Gods, Horus and the merry Luna Wolves take a trip to Davin IV on Erebus's advice, during which all hell breaks loose and Horus takes some wounds and comes as close as a primarch can to dying (he basically took a nap). Abaddon, having as many daddy issues as Horus, decided it'd be a good idea to follow the advice of Erebus and take Horus to a local temple run by the serpent-worshiping locals, where it was said he could be healed. Erebus sent Horus into a trance and basically whispered sweet nothings about Chaos into his ear the entire time, planting the very first seed of corruption.
Yeah, we know what you're thinking: organization? Of a Traitor Legion? While it may surprise you, the Word Bearers still function as an organized Legion (though much looser than the Legiones Astartes). As such, they have a clearly designated hierarchy and command structure. While Lorgar remains the ultimate master of the Word Bearers, in reality he has allowed command to fall as such:
- Master of the Faith: The de facto head of the Word Bearers in Lorgar's absence, currently held by First Captain Kor Phaeron.
- Chief Dark Apostle: The head of the priesthood, currently held by Erebus.
- Dark Council: A collection of six Dark Apostles who oversee the overall actions of the Legion, and confirm the ascension of other Dark Apostles.
- Dark Apostle: spiritual leader of a Host, the primary organization of the Word Bearers following the Horus Heresy. Dark Apostles are confirmed by the Dark Council and in turn make the decisions of the rank and advancement for the Host.
- Coryphaus: The senior military commander of a host, comparable to a Chapter Master or First Captain. The Coryphaus leads the Host's returns during religious ceremonies (and trust us, the Word Bearers have a lot of religious ceremonies) and makes all tactical decisions during actual combat, freeing up the Dark Apostle to better commune with the Chaos Gods.
- Icon Bearers: A Word Bearer charged with carrying the Icon of the XVII Legion in battle, similar to a Company Standard Bearer in a Space Marine Chapter.
- Champion: The leader of Word Bearer squads, know as coteries. Comparable to a Squad Captain from the Legiones Astartes.
- Aspiring Champion: Another Squad leader, comparable to a Sergeant.
- Anointed: The Terminators of a Host.
- Gal Vorbak: The Possessed Marines of a Host.
- Warrior-Brother: The rank and file soldiers of a host.
- 04:00: Morning Prayer: The Word Bearers are roused from their cells to begin the day with sermons from the Book of Lorgar read by the Dark Apostle. Prayer lasts four hours, one dedicated to each of the Chaos Gods.
- 08:00: Morning Firing Rites: The Word Bearers engage in target practice. Often using human slaves captured during raids.
- 09:00: Battle Practice: The Word Bearers descend to the practice cages for training.
- 12:00: Midday Meal: A light meal is prepared by the Legion Serfs. Cooking the meal improperly will often see the Legion Serf become the next meal.
- 12:30: Tactical Indoctrination: The Word Bearers gather for a tactical briefing, showing which planets they will be invading, and locations of cathedrals to the False Emperor which must be destroyed.
- 14:00: Evening Firing Rites: The Word Bearers gather for target practice.
- 15:00: Evening Prayer: The Word Bearers gather for the Dark Apostle to lead them in prayer. Daemonic pacts are often made during Evening Prayer, and Marines may be blessed with possession.
- 19:00: Evening Meal: A feast is prepared by the Legion Serfs. Sometimes Legion Serfs are on the menu.
- 20:00: Evening Maintenance: Word Bearers will be stripped of their Power Armour (assuming they can still remove it) for repairs to be completed. Sometimes Warrior-Brothers will see the Apothecary to check on the status of mutations.
- 00:00: Rest Period: The Word Bearers retire to their cells for rest.
Famous Word Bearers
In the videogame Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate, an ENTIRE Word Bearers ARMY OF 10,000 MARINES is lead by the Chaos LORD Zymran, who is the main antagonist of the game. Apart from sounding MANLY, he does nothing but taunt the Ultramarines like a saturday mourning cartoon villain (Seriously all he needs is that large mustache to twirl and he'll be as contrived as the Warmaster himself). Ultimately somewhat forgettable.
There's also some faggot named Marduk, from the book series, as well as his awesome terminator Coryphaus, Kol Badar.