The Wolf of Ash and Fire

The Wolf of Ash and Fire

This story came to me via Nick Kyme, pitched as an opportunity to do something that would reach many more people than normal, via the Apple Newsletter. A ten thousand word short story that would be broken into two parts, the first being free, the second being a paid for story. As it turned out, the whole thing was given away for free, which chafed a little at the time (and still does), but it did go to lots and lots of people, so who knows, maybe I’m up on the deal…

Anyway, the point of the story was to give those who’d never heard of the Horus Heresy an ‘in’, a way to access the grand mythology of the Warmaster’s rebellion by telling a prequel story to Dan’s most excellent novel, Horus Rising. BL originally wanted a story of Ullanor, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt that was a mistake. To tell the story of Ullanor would be an undertaking that would surely require more than ten thousand words, and would hem us in whenever we did come to tell a full story of that apocalyptic battle, as the best bits to tell in such a short space would, of course, be the climactic battle of that campaign, which then steals the thunder from tany novel. So I hunted around and came across the Gorro Hollowing in the Forge World book, Betrayal. This had all the elements I wanted, Horus as loyalist, the Emperor, orks and a means of foreshadowing Ullanor (and a few other elements besides…). Getting to write the Emperor is always good fun, and getting to show Horus in all his glory before Chaos came into the picture was a thrill, as it’d been years since we’d gotten to see him at his best.

It also allowed me to bring Hastur Sejanus into the picture, as we’d only ever seen him as a dead man at the opening of Horus Rising, so to see who he was and how his death went on to affect the Mournival was a great opportunity to pose the ‘what if?’ question of how history might have been different had Hastur lived, if Horus hadn’t seen into the realm of Chaos and if the Emperor hadn’t perfected his power of utter obliteration on that ork warlord…