Khorne’s Eternal Hunt
The World Eaters‘ 4th assault company was instrumental in paving the way to ruin for the legion. Now the legionnaires fight a losing battle to keep the madness that has engulfed their brothers at bay. They desperately cling to the sense of honour and martial pride that damned them to begin with and worship Khorne by hunting for the worthiest prey that the galaxy has to offer. But at the end of their hunt, all that awaits them is either death or madness.
When the 12th Astartes Legion was reunited with its Primarch Angron, this was not the joyful occasion the battle brothers had envisioned: Angron had been spirited away from the side of his fellow gladiators by his father, the Emperor of Mankind. He had been denied an honourable death at the side of his comrades, and that made him resentful towards his father and, by extension, towards the warriors given over to his command. It quickly became clear that Angron considered the 12th legion a poor replacement for the army he had lost at the mountain of Fedan Mhor.
The brethren of the legion tried their best to prove themselves worthy in the eyes of their Primarch and followed him to a man whenever he threw himself at the most terrible opponents with the abandon of a true death seeker. They even renamed the legion from War Hounds to World Eaters in an attempt to find common ground with their estranged primogenitor. But Angron remained ever the distant father figure, difficult to please and quick to anger. And his continued wars of extermination threatened to bleed the legion dry before long.
The 12th’s officers were alarmed by this, for they realised that their legion could not survive the meat grinder of war without something, or someone, to inspire and motivate them. And the renaming of the War Hounds had shattered whatever identity the legion might have had to begin with. Yet an identity was what the battle brothers needed to strengthen their morale.
So their search for a common heritage that might serve as a means of inspiration grew more and more desperate. It was then that the actions of a young captain named Lorimar began to lead the legion down the road to damnation.
The quest for identity
Lorimar’s prowess in battle and his indomitable will allowed him to rise through the ranks of a legion for which power and fighting strength were everything. In an attempt to reconcile Angron with his legion, Lorimar was among the first volunteers when Angron ordered the surgical modifications that were to strengthen his warriors in battle.
While many of his brothers were turned into slavering madmen by the surgery, Lorimar was strengthened beyond his wildest expectations. His strength and bravery had been multiplied, and a latent tendency for aggression and brutality were considered, by himself and the legion, to be a minor price to pay for the improvements.
During the Iscarion campaign, Lorimar’s company fought side by side with battle brothers of the Word Bearers in the Eastern Fringe. It was Belzas Azalon, chaplain of the Piercing Gaze Chapter, who noticed Lorimar’s desire to give his legion a new identity in order to steel it against the relentless hardships of the Great Crusade. It was also Azalon who suggested to Lorimar the possibility of establishing warrior lodges within his legion and to use rites and traditions as a means of promoting a sense of community among the brothers of the World Eaters.
Lorimar, in turn, was thankful for the advice: It seemed like he had finally found a way to save his legion.
The Hound of War
On a feudal planet that had been isolated from the rest of mankind for millennia, the World Eaters’ advance ground to a halt, as Lorimar’s force was assaulted by an army of completely fearless, barbaric berserkers. While these barbarians could not hope to be a match for the Astartes, they continued to offer fierce resistance, motivated by their worship for a primitive god called Cron, the Hound of War. Meanwhile, nothing was as important to the World Eaters as martial pride, so when they finally conquered their enemies, they adopted some of their traditions and beliefs to honour the memory of their strength. The cult of Cron, with its set of values based on strength and honour, seemed to be the perfect opportunity to imbue the 4th assault company with a strong identity
The road to damnation
When Lorimar’s company was reunited with the rest of the legion, it became obvious that similar rites and traditions had taken root throughout all of the World Eaters’ companies. The legion’s officers saw this as an omen, for the new values and traditions served to embolden the battle brothers and even managed to strengthen the bond between the legion and its Primarch. And why not? Did these new values not embody all that was important to the 12th? Did they not form the perfect link between the “old” War Hounds and the “new” World Eaters? Combined with their battle prowess and further surgical breakthroughs, the World Eaters had honed themselves into the perfect weapon. Who could have known then that the World Eaters’ loyalty was slowly but surely shifting to another master?
The Emperor had become increasingly wary of the changes wrought by his son Angron, and so he openly reprimanded him in an attempt to bring the wayward legion back in line. But the public humiliation only served to turn Angron’s resentment towards his father into open hatred, and finally tip him over the precipice into full worship of the ruinous powers.
The Horus Heresy
Captain Lorimar stood at Angron’s side during the Istvaan campaign and the other battles of the Heresy. His father’s hatred for the Emperor had spread throughout the entire legion, and so Lorimar’s hatred of the Imperium lead him to commit countless atrocities on battlefields across the galaxy.
The battle of Istvaan, the way to Terra, the siege of the Imperial palace and the end of the Heresy, everything went by in a crimson blur of slaughter and frenzy. Even after the World Eaters had been forced to retreat from holy Terra, their campaign of slaughter and bloodletting continued across thousands of worlds. And Lorimar enjoyed being part of the maelstrom of madness that ensued.
Retreat and realisations
It was only during the Skalathrax campaign that Lorimar finally came to, realising that he and his brothers had been transformed from proud warriors to mindless killers. Everything he had done to save his legion from the madness of constant war would be for naught if the World Eaters succumbed to blood frenzy now! While the actions of the World Eaters Captain named Khârn the Betrayer led the legion to tear itself apart, Lorimar used every ounce of his authority to keep his company together as a fighting force and flee the planet that had turned into the legion’s grave.
The hunt begins
Like all World Eaters, the warriors of the 4th assault company are loyal servants of the blood god Khorne. But they abhor the mindless slaughter committed by their former brothers.
For them, honour and martial pride are the fundaments of the World Eaters legion, and so they keep prowling the galaxy, always on the hunt for the strongest opponents and the worthiest prey. They feel no satisfaction in putting defenceless planetary populations to the sword, testing their strength against only those whom they see as worthy opponents instead.
Lorimar’s force is known as “Khorne’s Eternal Hunt”, for the blood god demands eternal slaughter, and the galaxy provides endless prey.
Lorimar leads his warriors from the front of every battle, throwing himself at the most powerful enemies to either bring them down or die in the attempt. When the battle is over, he is given to bouts of dark brooding, for he knows that he and his brothers are truly damned: either to succumb to the madness that has claimed the rest of the legion, or to die on one of the countless battlefields of the 41st millennium. And to the more and more difficult task of not only retaining a minimum of organisation and discipline, but also the honour that led them down the road to damnation in the first place.
Homeworld and Recruitment
The name of Angron’s world has been lost in the mayhem of the Horus Heresy. There are records, however, that the World Eaters seemingly arbitrarily destroyed a number of worlds on their way to Terra, and some speculate that one of those worlds may have been the home world of the Primarch, annihilated in revenge for his fellow gladiators, although the truth of this has never been proven.
In any case, whether or not they know the name of Angron’s world, it seems that the World Eaters have never used it for recruiting new battle brothers.
The 4th assault company is not based on a planet or daemon world but operates from a fleet of ancient battleships ceaselessly prowling the galaxy.
The core of the force is made up of veterans of the long war, whose experience of ten millennia makes them warriors without compare. Tremendous efforts are needed to take out these legionnaires, and each loss is a heavy hit for Lorimar’s force.
However, replacing lost members of the company sometimes becomes a necessity, and there is much to suggest that Lorimar and his officers offer those who have managed to impress them in battle a place among their ranks. Where most loyal servants of the Emperor would rather die than be inducted into the armies of Chaos, there are those in the galaxy for whom such an opportunity is a dream fulfilled: On many feral worlds, primitive societies are worshipping incarnations of the blood god and leading a life of perpetual conflict. In the strongest warriors of these societies, the 4th assault company finds ample supply for replacing lost battle brothers.
Like all servants of Khorne, the legionnaires of the 4th assault company display a penchant for combat at close quarters. Whereas most of their legion has degenerated into frenzied madmen, however, the warriors of the 4th try their utmost to adhere to the tactics that once made the legion famous.
Therefore, quick assault troops like Raptors or Bikes are a regular sight in forces of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt, and it is a preferred tactic among officers of the company to keep harrying enemies on multiple fronts at the same time.
Although they recognise the importance of heavy fire support, warriors of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt prefer to arm themselves mainly for close combat. For them, melee is the most honourable way of taking down their prey. Where heavy weapon and artillery are necessary, they are often deployed in the form of tanks or daemon engines
Once in the midst of battle, the legionnaires of the 4th assault company tend to be overwhelmed by bloodlust and throw themselves at their opponents regardless of the consequences. Only the most powerful warriors and enemy commanders are deemed worthy prey, while their servants are but obstacles on the way to the true fight. Therefore, it is quite common among officers of the 4th to challenge their quarry to single combat – to them, this is the ultimate form of hunting.
Contrary to the rest of the legion, the World Eaters’ 4th assault company still boasts a fairly intact structure and chain of command. The legionnaires usually form squads that number eight members (or a multiple of eight) and are called “hunting packs”.
These squads are led by champions of the blood god that have excelled in battle and are fearsome warriors.
Apart from hunting packs of regular berzerkers (or „Huntsmen“), there are several other arms of the company: The “Hounds”, squads of bikers, and the “Harriers”, the company’s Raptor squads.
The most elite formation among the legionnaires is called the „Sons of Cron“. These chosen hunters are the most powerful warriors of the force, and there are whispers that among the ranks of the Sons there are some remnants of the feral barbarians whose cult originally led the company on the path to ruin.
The officers of the company determine their rank by fighting each other during ritualised gladiatorial combat that harkens back to the time when Angron still led the legion on the field of battle. The commanding officers, in keeping with the force’s organisation as a hunting party, are called “Huntmasters”. Each of these individuals is a fearsome veteran of a thousand wars as well as a resourceful and merciless hunter. Once a Huntmaster has chosen his prey, he will not relent until he has either run it down or perished in the attempt. Each Huntmaster wields the authority to lead a force of the 4th in battle. Some of them are additionally supreme commanders of the different arms of the company.
Lorimar and his officers are trying hard to keep the madness that has devoured the rest of the legion at bay. And even though they may be unable to prevent their warriors from succumbing to blood frenzy in battle, they still keep close watch on those who begin to show signs of madness away from the battlefield.
Just as dangerous are those who are gifted by the ruinous powers with more and more mutations, for the favour of Chaos is very likely to eventually shatter their sanity.
Legionnaires who prove to be psychologically or physically unstable are organised into special hunting packs called “The Lost”. Those outcasts form the vanguard in battle, smashing into the enemy lines, where the combination of their frenzy and their twisted bodies, swollen with the raw powers of Chaos, turn them into a whirlwind of destruction. This is also the best way of allowing these warriors to die honourable deaths before they are overwhelmed by madness and corruption. It is very rare for a squad of the Lost to survive a battle, and the officers of the company accept this fact. They know full well that the power that renders the Lost unstoppable on the field of battle may well turn against the company and pull it into the maelstrom of bloodlust and frenzy that has claimed the rest of the legion millennia ago.
Like all followers of Khorne, the legionnaires of the 4th are primarily armed for close combat. They prefer mighty chainblades, be it swords or axes, that pose a danger even for heavily armoured opponents in melee. Officers and elite troops also use power weapons, power fists and lightning claws. Heavy weapons are usually deployed on bikes as mobile heavy support platforms or via daemon engines.
The legionnaires’ power armour is mostly the same kind of plate they wore during the Heresy, though it has often been extensively modified to show the same features popular with all servants of Khorne. The most common features are the crimson colour that has become typical of the World Eaters, added brass trim and the characteristic helmet crests. Higher ranking members of the company additionally modify their armour according to their own preferences, adding archaic elements like chain tabards, bucklers, tilt plates or individualised facemasks.
Like other World Eaters, Lorimar’s warriors adorn themselves with the skulls of the slain. This tendency, however, also extends to other trophies of their past prey as well, be it bones or the fur cloaks that are worn by higher ranking officers and that have been made from the hides of their prey.
Also typical of the warriors of the 4th is the use of archaic hunting horns, wrought from bone or brass. On the battlefield, these are used by packs of huntsmen to give signals to one another and to frighten the prey. Whether some of the more potent artefacts have even more arcane uses has not yet been ascertained.
Ten millennia ago, Lorimar and his company were desperately searching for values and traditions to guide them during their life of endless battle. This led them to glorification of courage and power and, in time, to worship of the blood god Khorne. Contrary to the rest of their legion, however, the 4th does not see Khorne as the god of wanton slaughter but as the highest instance of honour and martial pride. The legionnaires are disgusted by the arbitrary slaughter committed by their former brothers. They acknowledge that oblivion inevitably awaits them, but they will always keep their honour. Lorimar and his warriors believe that their loyalty to Khorne is all that remains to them. Neither the Emperor that betrayed them, nor the Primarch that never accepted them have anything more to offer them. Only Khorne will always accept their loyalty and never turn them down. And only Khorne can assess their worth in battle.
For those who have to face Khorne’s Eternal Hunt in battle, such concepts of honour and pride make little difference. For in no way is the frenzy of the warriors of the 4th any different from that of their brothers, once the battle begins. And only death and to be sacrificed at the throne of Khorne await those who stand between the hunters and their prey.
Common warcries like „Blood for the blood god! Skulls for his throne!“ are used by warriors of the 4th assault company. However, there is one warcry that is only ever heard in armies of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt: The Skull Champion or Huntmaster intonates the ritual words. “The battle never ends!”, and his warriors answer: “Only the hunt is eternal!”