Of all the Traitor Legions the Death Guard have had by far the least coverage in Black Library’s Horus Heresy series so far, barring the loyalist Nathaniel Garro. With only the odd exception they have largely been observers or at best incidental players, Mortarion’s duel with The Khan in Scars being perhaps their most exciting scene yet. Whether as an intentional part of the wider Heresy plan or simply by happenstance, we simply haven’t had much of an insight as yet into Mortarion and his legion, either during or prior to the Heresy, though long-term fans of Warhammer 40k will know his eventual fate. On the basis of Daemonology, a new short story from the pen of Chris Wraight, that could be changing pretty soon.
These standalone short stories often serve to fill in little gaps in the wider story arc before full novels are released, and Daemonology certainly seems to follow that model. Taking place shortly after the aforementioned duel with The Khan, it sees Mortarion taking his anger out on a seemingly innocent and irrelevant world, though as with all of the Primarchs there is a method hidden within his madness. As the story progresses it also looks back at a little of his time on Terra prior to being united with his legion for the first time, and sheds some light on his unusual attitudes towards those elements of mankind who possess the ‘gift’ of psykerhood. Written with Chris Wraight’s usual care and craft, it’s short and sharp but packs plenty of detail into a small amount of story, including the usual teasing little hints scattered throughout that tie it nicely into a few other parts of the Heresy. To be fair, the title itself is a hint of what’s to come.
Clearly setting events in motion and revealing a little of Mortarion’s motivations, this certainly seems to be the precursor for a renewed involvement for the XIVth Legion in the Heresy story, and while it remains to be seen whether or not we’re going to see a full Death Guard-focused novel, if so it will be intriguing to see what happens next. Chris Wraight seems the obvious choice given Scars and this story, so here’s hoping he gets his hands dirty with the Death Guard next.