A Lord Cypher must renounce his own name and enshroud his appearance under cloak and hood. But why and what purpose does a Cypher serve?
Via our good friend at Lexicanum
Cypher itself was originally a title within the Order of Caliban. To ensure their proud traditions were maintained, the ruling Masters secretly selected a single member to become the Lord Cypher. Upon taking the title, the Lord Cypher renounced his own name, enshrouding his very appearance beneath cloak and hood. It was forbidden for any others to recognize his old self, for the Lord Cypher was to forsake his very personality, and from that day onward was to instead embody the laws, customs and strict disciplines of the Order.
He was tasked the responsibility of ensuring the traditions of the Order were upheld, and that the recruits and Masters alike were never allowed to degenerate from their lofty ideals. The Lord Cypher advised the Masters on all matters of protocol and officiated at many important ceremonies. The Lord Cypher was a lofty position, one which the Order took extremely seriously, for it was known that it was the nature of the galaxy to recede and structures to collapse. The Cypher that appears in the fortieth millennium embodies many of these ancient tenets, although there has never been any absolute connection.
At least three Lord Cyphers have appeared in canon material:
- An elderly human Lord Cypher, who advised Luther and the Lion during the campaign against the Great Beasts. He passed away a few years after the coming of the Imperium to Caliban.
- A young Lord Cypher, who was one of Luther’s advisors during the first stages of his rebellion. He came to his position as a mortal human, but became a Dark Angels Space Marine during the recruitment period that followed the Imperium’s discovery of Caliban. This Lord Cypher was rumoured to be the last surviving Knight of Lupus, who escaped his order’s destruction and somehow made his way into the ranks of the Order. However, the novel Angels of Caliban makes this unlikely, as it portrays this Lord Cypher as an ally of the Watchers in the Dark and an enemy of Chaos, whereas the Knights of Lupus sought to preserve the Chaos-tainted Great Beasts of Caliban and books from their library contributed to Luther’s fall to Chaos. Furthermore, Zahariel recognised this Lord Cypher after removing his helm, which would be improbable if he was a former Knight of Lupus.
- Zahariel El’Zurias, who ordered the former Lord Cypher’s death after he attempted to kill him during a coup and was promoted to his place by Luther. It is not known if Zahariel is the Lord Cypher that is active in the fortieth millenium, but this would go some way towards explaining his enigmatic behaviour and allegiances, as Zahariel was a powerful Chaos sorcerer who joined a rebellion against the Imperium but was not aligned with Horus or the other traitor legions. Furthermore, the current Lord Cypher is said to be one of the Fallen, which Zahariel was.
At the end of the Horus Heresy, Lion El’Jonson returned to Caliban to find Luther turned to the forces of Chaos. El’Jonson landed and took up the fight against Luther while the Dark Angels fleet bombarded the planet from above.
When Luther defeated El’Jonson, he realized his mistakes and collapsed, unwilling to fight any more. The Chaos Gods realized their chosen had failed and sent a vast Warp Storm to suck up the traitor Dark Angels and spread them across time and space.
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