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Codex: Chaos Daemons (2008), p20-21 — The Damnation of Toreus

To be engulfed in a Warp rift is one of the most horrendous fates that can befall a planet. Both the populace and the world itself are twisted and tortured by the Daemons of Chaos. Such was the doom of Toreus.

When contact was re-established with Toreus after it had been cut off by a Warp storm for 300 years, Imperial forces found a world that had been utterly changed. Gone were the thriving metropolises, the verdant farmlands and the towering cathedrals and palaces. In their place stretched warped devastation. Great fissures rent the landscape, filled with bones. Brass towers stretched into the storm-filled skies. Huge mutant beasts hunted through dark forests of petrified trees. The stench of blood and sulphur made men retch. The air itself burnt their eyes and caused their hair to fall out in disgusting clumps.

The cities held horrors of their own. Stretched faces stared from brick and stone, and maze-like alleyways were filled with haunting whispers. The walls were burnt with shadows of men, women and children, which silently writhed in hunch-backed and claw-fingered agony. The sewers heaved with monstrous rats, and fountains of slime and gore burst through the cracked pavements and roadways. Once-golden domes were slicked with filthy verdigris, and crows with blood-matted feathers and glowing red eyes nested under cornices dripping with thick ichor. Statues of Imperial commanders and saints had sprouted horns and wings, and seemed to change position when not looked at.

The chill night brought its own terrors, as the boiling storm clouds parted to reveal a purple moon upon which leered a grinning fanged mouth. Skeletal bats as large as Thunderbolt fighters swooped through the sickly-hued skies. The stars danced and whirled about each other, tracing foul runes with their glittering trails. Bestial howls echoed from the hillsides and the empty streets reverberated to the crunching of teeth gnawing upon bones.

Archeodiviners of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica arrived to investigate what had become of Toreus and the three billion souls who had lived there. As soon as they reached the surface, the spykers were overwhelmed by the residual Chaos tainting the planet. Once went mad and attacked his fellows; he was only stopped when his head was chopped off. Two others perished miserably, their bodies aging and rotting as if centuries passed with every day. The remaining three were driven insane over the following days as they were assailed by visions of what had befallen the world. To this day Inquisitors pore over the transcripts of the archeodiviners' lunatic ravings and sobbing moans, trying to glean as much knowledge as possible on the foul spawn of the Warp.

Chaos Unleashed

The daemonic attack was heralded by a week of strange portents and omens. In the Temple of the Emperor Sanctified, blood dripped from the claws of the golden eagle above the altar. Astropaths vomited blood and wailed of a great ring of fire burning in the heavens. Birds were seen flying backwards and all the clocks of the city of Geheim stopped at two minutes to midnight. The daughter of Imperial Commander Ghorstwenckler attacked her father and tried to bite out his throat. Rioting mobs filled the streets and the Adeptus Arbites precinct was overrun by a plague of carnivorous toads. At a farm in the hinterlands, a grox was born with the head of a fish and the tail of a lion.

When the Warp rift finally engulfed Toreus it appeared in the skies as a pulsing ring of purple fire. Theosaphus Orbital Station imploded, and high-altitude auguries rained down onto the surface as blazing comets of molten metal. Fires engulfed the Forest of Lassenthus, their flames rising high into the air, and cackling minions of Tzeentch cavorted from the magical inferno. A pool of shadow swallowed the town of Kleist Hollows, as pustulent servants of Nurgle and lascivious Daemons of Slaanesh pulled themselves from its shimmering, oily depths. All across the doomed world portals opened and a host of Daemons poured forth.

A World Falls

The soldiers of Toreus fought vainly against the rampaging hordes. War raged on the flanks of Toreus' highest volcano, Mount Magathon, as the legion of the Bloodthirster An'kha'arak butchered 50,000 Imperial servants. Great skull-like caves burst from the rocky ground and from their maws rivers of lava poured down onto the beleaguered defenders of Toreus. An army of Bloodletters heaped the skulls of the slain into burning fissures and crimson smog filled the skies. Twisted spires of bone wrought in the shape of dismembered corpses towered from the volcano's summit. Fire and blood engulfed the plains around Mount Magathon, turning farms and towns into gore-drenched cinders. An'kha'arak surveyed his domain, sat upon a brass throne that drifted within the roaring flames at the volcano's peak.

The palaces of the Imperial Commander were besieged by hosts of Pink Horrors, Screamers, Daemonettes and Plaguebearers led by K'tzis'trix'a'tzar, Daemon Prince of Tzeentch. Commander Ghorstwenckler's personal guard retreated with their lord to the inner sanctum of the Palace of Ruminas, but physical defences were no proof against their daemonic foes. Monstrous Juggernauts appeared in the midst of the defenders, trampling and goring with bloody abandon while the Bloodletters riding upon their backs wantonly hacked and slashed at everything within reach. K'tzis'trix'a'tzar stormed through the panicked soldiers at the head of his horde, blasting apart heads and limbs with bolys of blue and pink lightning. The Imperial Commander fell to his knees at the feet of the Daemon Prince and pleaded for his life. K'tris'trix'a'tzar's cruel laughter echoed around the inner sanctum as the Daemon Prince invoked the name of his master and unleashed a spell of change of unprecedented power.

Mystical flames raged through the citadel, burning everything. From the ashes rose great shards of crystal and jagged mirrors that reflected the warped landscape of the Realm of Chaos. Two twin columns of fire rose into the sky - echoes of the Towers of Helixis that flank the doorway of Tzeentch's library - their flames flickering with the screaming souls of the damned. Between their flaming pinnacles burned a golden sun, which blinded every mortal that looked upon it.

All of Toreus bent and twisted to the insane whims of its daemonic conquerors. Vast mountains of skulls dwarfed the Stratberg Highlands. The city of Chuburis drowned in a lake of blood, and then rose from the depths, its inhabitants choking and covered in gore, only to be drowned again, and again. The cruel laughter of Daemonettes could be heard across the Plains of Antaris as they hunted thousands of humans from the backs of serpentine mounts.

Weeping mortals were caged in bars of smouldering brass and brought out one at a time to be hacked apart by leering Bloodletters. The Tallyman of Nurgle, Epidemius, rounded up millions of refugees and had them incarcerated within a great wall of suppurating flesh. Here he set to cataloguing each and every blemish, spot, boil and pox upon them, before feeding them to a pack of slobbering Beasts of Nurgle.

And then the Warp rift began to falter. Sensing that their grip on this world was beginning to weaken, the Daemons unleashed ever more heinous acts of corruption and depravity. They set to slaughtering every creature they could find, distilling down their essence in immense soul furnaces that blotted out the sun and swathed the world in pitch blackness. The screams of the dying were etched into the rocks themselves, whose shapes were altered by the warping power of Chaos.

Eventually the rift closed and the Daemons vanished, leaving a world changed beyond comprehension. There was nothing left of Toreus as it had been known, and in a rare moment of mercy the planet was virus bombed to remove any vestige of life that might have survived such hideous torment. In the words of Inquisitor Thrax, who was charged with leading the Exterminatus mission:

"Chaos had left its taint in every root, stone and atom. Toreus heaved and wailed in its agonising death throes and we ended its misery. There was nothing else that could be done."