Khorne, known also as the Blood God, the Lord of Battles and the Hunter of Souls [8a], is the Chaos God of War, Death, Courage, Rage, Strength and Hate [1a], [2a], [3a]. He is by far the greatest and most powerful of all the Ruinous Powers [3a], for his domain encompasses the most primal of all human emotions - rage, hate and anger. The very name of Khorne is derived from the Dark Tongue word Kharneth, which means 'Lord of Rage' [1a]. Khorne is Lord of War and Death but also Lord of Martial Honour and Excellence at Arms and he is said to smile upon feats of valour, strength and blood-drenched warrior skill and revels in men who strive for glory in battle [5a]. He is the patron of proud warriors who set themselves against the odds and emerge triumphant through strength and skill, and is said to exalt the brave of both sides of the battle [1a], while at the same time laying his terrible vengeance upon the cowardly and craven [2a], [2b].
Thus it is that the followers of Khorne are just as likely to be comprised of remorseless berserk killers as well as honourable champions of the battlefield. The Warriors of Khorne, though gore-maddened berserkers all [1a], [2a], take no 'artful' approach to killing, for such indulgent displays serve only to empower Slaanesh, the honourless adversary of Khorne amongst the company of the gods. It is also due to the warrior-code of the devotees of Khorne, who believe it is the solemn right of every warrior to die an honourable death in battle with sword and axe in hand . Khorne is the mightiest of the Gods of Chaos.
Khorne is known by a thousand, thousand names in the North. In blood-drenched Norsca alone he is known as Kharnath, Akhar, Kjorn, Khorgar, the Axefather, the Bloodfather, the Bloodwolf and the Wolf-Father, and yet other uncounted multitudes of titles and aspects [1a], [2a]. The Blood God is worshipped by almost every tribe in the North [1a], [2a], [5b], for the Northmen are warrior-peoples who exalt in the contest of arms. Particularly the Norscans, who most eagerly of all embrace Khorne's call to eternal warfare [8a].
In the sagas of the North, Khorne is depicted as an raging, mightily thewed giant with the snarling head of a great wolf, clad in a set of burnished brass plate that easily turns aside any blow [1a], [2a]. His snarling wolf-like visage is concealed by a great winged helm and he clutches a massive battleaxe in his fist. Legends tell that the drawing of this dolorous weapon is the harbinger of calamity, and that Khorne could split asunder reality itself with the merest strike of this blade were it his desire [2a]. Upon his fingers he bears brass rings upon which are mounted the skulls of lesser, usurper war-gods, and his terrible bellows of fury echo across creation and shake entire worlds to their core [4a]. The works of daemonologists however posit that the Blood God resembles one of the Bloodthirster Greater Daemons, only far greater and far more terrible [5a]
Khorne Himself sits upon his Brass Throne atop an unimaginably tall mountain of skulls. The grizzly trophies having reaped since the first creature killed its sibling in rage [1a], [2a]. Their number is beyond counting, for every moment, the mountain grows taller as Khorne's warriors make bloody tithes to it, whether by the foes they slay in battle or by themselves slain. The mountain is said to reflect the bloodletting of mortal realms, forever feeding the already omnipotent Blood God, but never sating his infinite thirst for death. For Khorne cares not from whence blood flows, only that it flows, without cease for all eternity. It is said, however, that Khorne welcomes his servants who died in battle into his Halls, where they are said to fight on for all eternity under the Blood God's gaze [2b]. To bring these warriors into his fold, Khorne has charged his consort; the Daemon Princess, Valkia the Bloody, to descend onto the battlefield with every dawn and to carry the slain to his Brass Halls of Eternal Battle [2b] . The hope of this incredible fate reward drives the grim warriors of the Savage North to untold heights of bloodthirsty strength in battle, for to enter the Halls of Khorne is a reward without equal.
Khorne favours the Wolf as his sacred animal, for like Khorne himself the wolf respects only strength and longs after the scent of blood. Thus, wolves and hounds often bear strong association with Khorne, particularly amongst the Norse [10a]. It is perhaps for this reason that the Flesh-Hounds of Khorne tend to take on a lupine aspect when hunting in the realms of men. Other totemic beasts of Khorne are invariably those of power and strength; such as lions, powerful hunting hounds, and even oxen [8a].
The code of Khorne is a simple stricture: blood and death [5b]. His only commandment is that his followers kill and wage war without end. Every life taken in anger increases the Blood God's baleful power, and as a result, Khorne is said to look favourably upon warriors who slay even their own comrades in arms -- for all death is equal in his eyes [1a]. It is a common sentiment amongst Khorne's followers that a day without bloodshed is a day wasted, and that should a man let a day pass without killing, he shall incur the terrible wrath of Khorne. Thus, Champion of Chaos high in Khorne's favour are despised and feared by even their fellow servants of Chaos, for there is no telling when they shall slay even their own allies in their blood-lusting battle-frenzy.
While a god of uncontrolled death and destruction, Khorne is said to have inherited a savage code of martial honour, and ultimately considers the weak and helpless as unworthy of his scorn as they are of his mercy. The battle cry of the Warriors of Khorne reflects their god's love for wanton violence: "Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!" they cry when plunging into the thick of the raging maelstrom of combat that they so crave. To a follower of Khorne, the slaves of degenerate Slaanesh are effete weaklings without honour or strength. Just as the devotees of Tzeentch are book-bound cowards unwilling to engage in honest battle. Khorne's sacred number is eight -- and this is reflected in the organisation of His legions, as well as in more esoteric matters; like the number of syllables in a daemonic creature's name. Also note that the Mark of Khorne very vaguely resembles a stylised eight [8a].
The Lord of Rage
Khorne is the Blood God; Eternal Father and Inheritor of all Rage [6g]. The Lord of Battles, who sits resplendent in his fury atop the colossal Throne of Skulls amidst the endless ocean of blood within his great hall of brass. Khorne is the absolute and ultimate embodiment of murderous violence, and his influence touches the hearts of all creatures. For there are none amongst the races of the Old World who have no rejoiced in his hatred; none who have no used his tools of death; and none who have not honoured him with their savagery. All life arrives in the world in his colours, just as every infant's first instinct is to cry out in rage. The very sustenance required for survival is brought by his tools, and in that act there can be nothing but hate. If not of life, then of death [6g]. In the sagas of the Norse, it is said that it was Khorne who taught men the secrets of steel and the arts of war that they might slay each other in battle and feed his power.
Thus it is that Khorne is the greatest and most overtly powerful of the Chaos Gods [1a], [2a], [3a], for Khorne is eternal and ever-present. It is Khorne who drives the hordes of the North to war; it is Khorne who glimmers in the eye of the killer when he partakes of blood and battle; and it is to Khorne the warrior shouts his wordless battle-cry when the red mist is upon him. His influence permeates all spheres of conflict, from the bitter argument and skirmishes between individuals, to the earth-shattering wars waged by the races of the Old World [5b]. All cultures, not only those of the hard warriors of the northlands, pay him homage, whether they know it or not [2a]. Indeed, some scholars of heretical knowledge believe that the Elven god, Khaine, is but the Blood God Khorne in one of his multitudinous facets [5a]. Similarly, radical members of the Sigmarite and Myrmidian cults claim the same of mighty Ulric, another bloodthirsty god of war [6h]. These men prove ignorant of the greater truth, however: That Khorne needs neither deceit nor guile to enslave mortals to his cause. The drive to conquer and dominate exists and burns within all creatures, and it is in that molten core of violence that the hand of Khorne reaches out to bind men and women to his creed. Others turn to Khorne, unwittingly or not, to fulfil ambitions and desires, simple and grandiose. The militiaman who desires strength enough to repel his enemies that he might see his wife and child again, the aging knight who wishes the strength of his youth yet coursed through his veins, and the brave warrior who fights for the honour of his people -- all are ultimately ensnared and trapped in the embrace of the Lord of Battles [5a].
Khorne's love of death and destruction is a divine force all on its own. He desires only battle and the perpetuation of conflict, and so the Blood God puts none of his ineffable will into any activity that does not result in the shedding of blood. His lands in the Realm of Chaos are cracked and barren expanses, lifeless save for the rushing rivers of blood fed by the constant battling of his chosen warriors throughout his domain [4a], [5a]. These warriors, received by the Blood God into his glorious hall of brass, throw themselves into battle every day, from dawn 'til dusk. They fight for neither land nor riches nor honour, but simply for the thrill of battle and the favour of Khorne [4a]. Upon every new dawn, these warriors of Khorne's Hall rise up from death to fight again and again without respite. Thus it shall ever be until the ending of all; when Khorne shall set out and devour all creation in his rage, these favoured warriors at his side to bear witness to that terrible glory.
Khorne dwells within the eaved halls of his mighty Brass Fortress. His cavernous throne-room is held aloft by eight grand pillars inscribed with his wrathful commandments of rage, martial prowess and defiance [5a]. At his side are the wolf-like Flesh Hounds, including the mighty three-headed Karanak, the mightiest and most well-favoured of the Blood God's kennels. Some heretical scholars have described these creatures as a bodyguard to the Blood God, but this could not be further from the truth. To Khorne, they are merely pets and hunting companions, for the Blood God can never be bested in mortal combat and thus requires no protection. Even were another one of the gods to breach the confines of his great hall, Khorne alone would emerge triumphant; such is his infinite strength and skill [5a]. The fortress itself rises many leagues into the crimson sky, surrounded by a great moat of burning blood, filled with the hot blood of those who fell in glorious battle. Within his hall, a great firepit is lit that alone provides illumination for his table, the fire fed with the souls of cowards who abandoned their brethren in the midst of battle, whilst the blackened brass of the walls are wrought with monstrous carvings, depicting the infinite triumphs and rage of the occupant within [4a].
Warriors of Khorne
- ""Khorne!" they roared, invoking the sacred battle-name of Kharnath, the Blood God, Lord of Battles. "Khorne!" they howled until it seemed the walls must fall from the violence of their voices alone. "Khorne!" they shrieked as they gnashed their teeth and bit their shields."
- —Norseman Chaos Warriors at the Sacking of Wisborg
Khorne is a Warrior-God, and a clear patron for a warrior race such as the Northmen. He is perceived as an angry, raging god who rewards bloodthirsty feats of arms, and whose bellows of rage echo throughout all existence. He is the embodiment of the mortal desire to kill, sitting upon his dreadful throne of carven brass atop his mountain of skulls; representing both his unmatched lust for death and unapproachable mastery over all spheres of conflict. The followers of Khorne are a brutal lot, merciless, they kill for the love of killing. They are incredibly ferocious and brilliant warriors, albeit highly unstable and often uncontrollable ones. As Khorne condemns the use of trickery and magic as dishonourable, there are no wizards who serve the Blood God. Indeed, were a caster of spells to beseech Khorne for power, he would likely be struck down in an unspeakably brutal manner. Instead, the servants of Khorne count amongst their number Warrior-Priests known as Bloodfathers, their power being not of magic or spell, but of strength of sinew and steel. Amongst the men of the North, it is said that no man can best a Warrior-Priest in battle -- for there is no trick of sword and axe that Khorne has not revealed unto them. The servants of Khorne, for all their single-minded purity of purpose, are often highly varied in appearance, for they are a diverse group indeed. That being said however, all servants of the Axefather share some common characteristics: In order to prove themselves before their god, each man must have already acquitted himself well on the battlefield, and paid a mighty tithe of skulls at his altar -- thus, men who worship Khorne are possessed of great strength and courage, through this is not through grace of the soul; but through their dark bloodlust and their fervent desire to appease their hungry god.
Khorne maintains a titanic following amongst the people of the Northlands; for life in the far north is harsh and brutal, so utterly filled with war and violence that it is only prudent that the people there take up a war god for their patron. Though the worship of Khorne is upheld by all the tribes of the North, there are none more dedicated to his will than the bloodthirsty Norscans. Indeed, anyone living in the northern territories of the Empire and Kislev has likely witnessed first-hand how the rage of Khorne has transformed the already fearsome Marauders from above the Sea of Claws into living engines of destruction that could cut an oak tree in two with a single sweep of their axes. Thus, whenever the fur-clad warriors of the Norse emerge from their longships, their only desire may be to kill, maim and destroy in the name of their Blood God. Indeed, many tribes of Norsca embrace Khorne fully, dedicating themselves utterly to his creed of death and ruin, spending their days destroying the coastal settlements of the Empire and elsewhere. The Gorehunt, Snaegr, Schwarzvolf, Blood-Drinkers, Skraevold, Ironpelt and Aeslings, all mighty tribes of Norsca who have pledged their very souls unto the Lord of Battles. Crying his black name, willing themselves up into such a furious rage that they bite their shields and gnash their teeth even before throwing themselves into the fray with vicious abandon, slaying all foolish enough to oppose them; the blood-crazed Khornate berserkers of Norsca are truly awe-inspiringly ferocious opponents, and many thousands have been undone by their unimaginable fury. Furthermore, it is believed amongst the men of the north that a warrior who dies in battle, proving his valour before the Blood God, shall be carried by the his own paramour, the legendary warrior queen Valkia the Bloody, to the Halls of Khorne where he shall fight and feast for all eternity. This simple truth drives the Norsemen into even more insane heights of sadistic bravery, for to fight on for all eternity in the Brass Halls of Khorne after a glorious death in battle is an honour beyond all others.
There are no temples dedicated to Khorne, for it is said amongst his followers that he cares not for such things. He is the ultimate god of war, and his temple is the battlefield itself; the clash of sword and axe are his hymns and the warrior's wordless cries of rage are his prayers. In spite of this however, there do exist a multitude of small shrines dedicated to his glory; albeit fewer than one would expect given his legions of followers. Commonly, these shrines are little more than barbarous mounds of skulls reaped from the battlefield and laid out in his honour. The vast majority of these deathly shrines are located in the settlements of the Norscans, which is unsurprising, given their zealous worship of the Blood God. But some also exist in the few permanent encampments and hidden cities of the Hung and Kurgans. Indeed, it is a common proverb amongst the Northmen that Khorne is the easiest of the Dark Gods to worship, or at least the most simple; for where the veneration of the other gods requires the building of great soaring temples and the carrying out of complex ritual, Khorne is worshiped solely through battle -- the very lives taken in vicious combat themselves sacrifices unto his glory and might. Khorne's followers also tend to regard battlefields as holy places. If it was the sight of one where a truly epic confrontation of arms and great slaughter was held, all the better. Though Khorne's worship is accompanied by comparatively little ceremony as compared to his brothers in darkness, some of his followers have been known to celebrate the anniversaries of truly momentous battles and massacres. If that event was a particularly great triumph for the hosts of Khorne, then the violent celebration is likely to be all the more raucous.
The champions of Khorne are perhaps the mightiest of all the champions of Chaos in direct battle, as befits Khorne's status as the most directly potent of the Dark Gods. The warriors who serve Khorne, from both savage Norsca and beyond, view his favour as much as a practical consideration as anything else. Such a viewpoint is most prudent, for the favour of Khorne serves to impart superhuman strength and ferocity upon those who honour him through glorious battle: an indispensable boon for men whose lives are often a series of endless battles. However, the power of gods is not meant for mere mortals, and every warrior who serves Khorne soon finds himself set upon a road to overwhelming, all-consuming bloodlust that only the most strong willed can resist -- and only the very best can hope to sate. Those warriors who do survive these tests are molded into perhaps the most frightening killers in all the Old World, for they possess martial skill and iron determination beyond all compare. Tirelessly the followers of Khorne march in search of battle, and when the field is finally reached and the battle lines drawn, the Warriors of Khorne unleash the ferocity for which they are so famed; transforming into a roaring mass of sinew and iron that utterly crushes the enemy line like the fist of the Blood God himself.
The worshipers of Khorne display their devotion not only through their warrior-skill and berserker rage, but also through their outward appearance -- preferring the Blood God's colours of black, red and brass. They march under brass-bound banners decorated with amputated limbs and soaked in dark arterial blood, and proudly bear the battle-rune of Khorne displayed upon their heraldry and embossed upon the iron of their armour. Commonly, they also tend to forgo the use of shields in favour of massive two-handed runic battle-axes and swords, or even take up additional hand weapons, all the better to shed blood for their god.
Khorne's warriors regard a day without bloodshed as a wasted day, and any Norse or Kurgan army that contains many devotees of the Blood God will have to find fresh, worthy enemies on a regular basis; as each day that passes without bloodshed increases the tension within the barbarous ranks. Bereft of a clear objective or left without the promise of greater battles in the future, the warriors of Khorne may turn upon their allies or even each other in order to satisfy their battle-lust. The champions of Khorne are highly competitive, and unless they believe that their god has brought them together for some greater purpose, warriors from differing tribes are likely to fight to the death to prove who is more worthy to fight in the name of the Axefather. Some champions are so devoted to killing that they cut all ties to their homelands of Norsca or other places to lead solitary lives in the Chaos Wastes, slaughtering their way throughout that foul place and murdering any who dare approach them.
Those who excel in Khorne's faith receive his daemonic blessings -- mutation. These alterations almost always serve to increase the deadliness of the recipient, bestowing incredible strength or a beast-like visage. Indeed, the greatest of Khorne's servants sometimes ascend to daemonhood, such as Urlfdaemonkin, or Valkia the Bloody.
Those who bear the Mark of Khorne, the daemonic stigmata of his favour, become true terrors of the battlefield, consumed with the desire to seek out worthy foes and slay them in savage combat, even if they be fellow servants of Khorne. For the Blood God look most well of all upon those who sacrifice friend and enemy alike upon his altar. The Mark of Khorne fills the warrior with the merest portion of Khorne's rage, alone it is enough to propel them into battle as if were possessed -- transforming them into whirling dervishes bent to death and slaughter. Warriors bearing the Mark of Khorne are invariably more muscular and powerful than other servants of Chaos, and often possess some outward indicator of their 'blessing': such as a scar that eternally weeps blood, the reddening of the whites or pupils of the eyes, or perhaps they shall have Khorne's rune branded onto their flesh, or be blessed with a rapidly improving physique. Invariably however, the mutations of the Blood God are displayed proudly by the Norscans, as well as the other races of the north who worship the Blood God, for they serve as a vivid reminder of his existence, as well as an inspiration to those who are yet to win his dark favour.
Cults of Khorne
- "Our Blood Lord has given us many great blessings this night. The sacrifices must have appeased his almighty rage, for the blood in our skull-chalice became still. I drank deeply from the cup and felt renewed with almighty strength. I have no recollection of what occurred next, but when I awoke, the other seven were all dead. They were ripped to shreds, reduced to ooze upon the floor, bones ground to dust! What almighty power has my Lord gifted to me? There is still blood left in this sacred vessel. Tonight, I shall sip once more, and let the great wrath of Khorne descend upon city. I will sacrifice myself and all others who seek to oppose me. Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Throne of Khorne!"
- —From the diary of a Crimson Skull cultist, found by Witch Hunters in Talabheim
Although an extremely popular god amongst the savage Norsemen and other madmen of the Chaos Wastes, Khorne draws fewer cultists in the civilized world than his brother gods. Whereas the others offer rewards and enhancements that are far more attractive to soft, civilized men, a cultist who honours Khorne can expect no luxury or comfort, only a life of constant danger and violence and only the means to kill more efficiently, and in greater quantities. That being said, there are still a great numbers of men in the south who make prayers to Khorne, for the strength and power he bequeaths makes him an obvious and irresistible temptation for warriors.
There are very few established cults of Khorne within the Empire. There are various reasons for this; including the above given, and also because Khorne demands his followers to be sacrificing blood and skull to him at all times, making it difficult to maintain the secrecy necessary for Chaos Cults to evade Imperial suspicion and survive. Another reason is that due to the level of violence seen in Khornates, the hierarchical structure of these cults tend to collapse rather quickly as the members vie for leadership through combat, or as the organization simply falls into all out conflict which decimates the membership. Amazingly, however, there are various organized cults dedicated to Khorne which work towards subverting the minds of the soldiery of the Empire to the Blood God's worship and, eventually, to the destruction of the faiths of the southern gods. These cults include: the Wrath of Khorne, the Flayed Blood and the Crimson Skull; the latter being by far the best organized, most widespread and most powerful of the various organized Khornate cults. Members of Khornate cults tend to number in some multiple of eight, Khorne's favoured number, and unlike the other Chaos Cultists, do not congregate in secret temples to worship their god; rather, they see each battle, each kill, as their unholy ground, for it is here that they may worship their god. Some groups of cultists choose to congregate at the sites of old battlefields, or at the sites of the few Chaos Monoliths that exist within the endless forests of the Empire, for it is in these places that their god's influence is strongest.
While the Blood God despises subterfuge and deception as the tools of cowards, the cults of Khorne find it an unavoidable necessity that they must break the Blood God's commandment in this regard, and thus often act with a subtlety absent in the Norscan Chaos Warriors who serve the Blood God much more directly. Yet the cultists' own faith in the Skull Throne is strong indeed, and only a fool would doubt that they operate with a fanatic's zeal. Of the various cults, none embody this fact moreso than the Crimson Skull. While utterly devoted to Khorne, they realize that continuous acts of violence will only see them burned by the Witch Hunters. And so, instead of venting their fury upon the townsfolk and villagers of the Empire, they seek to infiltrate the cults and military of the Empire, turning the souls of the Empire's generals, warriors and religious leaders over to the bloody worship of Khorne by inciting them to horrific acts of vengeance and violence. Others sow the seeds of war between the various rival institutions of the Empire (for instance, the Churches of Ulric and Sigmar) in brutal and bloody ways, thus working towards inciting the Empire into civil war. Through this, they prepare for that day when the River Reik turns red with the blood of the peons who foolishly believed in the divinity of Sigmar, and the streets of Altdorf are paved with their skulls.
Originally, the Crimson Skull was the combination of the remnants of various dozens of failed attempts to create a truly cohesive group to serve the will of the Blood God, and was fully established several years before the outbreak of the Great War against Chaos. During the war, the Sigmarites and Ulricans were at each other's throats, moreso than usual, and it was becoming increasingly obvious that it would erupt into open war between the two powerful churches. The Crimson Skull, seeing an opportunity to fatally weaken the Empire and thus assure the victory of Chaos, infiltrated the most prestigious of the Ulrican orders: the Brotherhood of the Axe. By bringing the power of this fraternity to bear, they hoped to gain control over the greater Ulrican cult and then direct them to take up arms against the Sigmarites. The Crimson Skulls however did not anticipate Magnus the Pious, who in his quest to unite the Empire, came to Middenheim and walked into the Flame of Ulric (the fiery symbol of that god's blessing), emerging from it unscathed. This act thus granted some credibility to Sigmar's own divinity, and put to rest the greater theological debate driving the Ulricans and Sigmarites to each others' throats, for a time at least. Thus, the Crimson Skulls' attempts to turn the cults to war collapsed, and the Empire was able to throw back the Norscan and Kurgan hordes at Kislev.
The Crimson Skull still continues its subversive efforts however, and works to fan the flames of the still existing hatred and resentment of Sigmar and his lackeys that yet burns within the Ulrican church. Indeed to this day, the Skulls secretly maintain strong, yet secret influence within the Brotherhood of the Axe, and has enthralled many Ulricans into their order. These fresh converts are blissfully unaware that they have betrayed their god, and believe that the Crimson Skulls merely worship a somewhat more war-like form of Ulric. But other Ulricans brought into the cult are not so ignorant, and through careful persuasion and rhetoric abandon their old faith, embracing Khorne rightfully as the only true warrior amongst the heavens. Indeed, the current leader of the cult's cell in Middenheim is a former Ulrican priest known as Boris Eichermann, who possesses a direct bloodline to Artur, chieftain of the Teutogens of Sigmar's time. The Cult of the Crimson Skull is not a place for the faint hearted, for the initation ritual requires the murder of a Sigmarite priest and drinking the blood from his very skull. Those too weak to undertake this ritual are summarily slain and sacrificed; ultimately deemed unworthy of the honour of serving Khorne.
Aside from powerful, wide-spread cults, the worship of Khorne is most prolifically carried out by bands of outlaws. Amongst such lawless individuals, the sheer violent power of Khorne is well respected, and it is very common to see bandit groups venerating Khorne in some bastardized form.
Another niche in which Khornates can hide in is in the pitfighting rings that are prevalent in the more lawless and morally lax parts of the Empire, such as Marienburg (its technically not being considered part of the Empire notwithstanding). Most of the individuals brought to do battle in these barbarous establishments are criminals and other wanted men. Some may even be prisoners of war from the Norscan Marauder-bands who often raid and ravage Imperial coastlines. Once captured and put into these institutions, they often bring their heathenish faith with them. When these powerful warriors roar their god's foul name and slay their enemies with hideous ease, the other rabble become intrigued by these practices, and begin to mimic them in the hopes of becoming equally as fearsome as the Northmen. Those who do ape these heretical ways soon find themselves on the path of all-consuming bloodlust, with the Blood God of Norsca awaiting them at the end of it.
The Gifts of the Axefather
In the wastelands of the North, there is but one currency of any true value - the favour of the Dark Gods. Devoted followers from Norsca and beyond festoon themselves with the symbols and markers of their unholy fealty in the hopes of attracting their Lord's gaze, and they bare the corruptions granted as proof of favour given.
These physical alterations, which would force men of the Old World into the most desperate of concealments, are displayed both openly and brazenly within Norsca and the other northern wastelands enthralled to the will of Chaos. And while the warping tendrils of darkness touch all who live in the north to some degree, it is upon the Chosen of the Dark Powers that the greatest "blessings" are lavished. Such blessings take the form of crippling encumbrances as often as they do mighty boons, but all they are all adored by the Norse and Kurgans regardless. Such is their devoution to the unholy beings they claim as their gods.
For the thousands of warriors who cry out Khorne's name throughout the North, there is but one goal: to gather skulls. As they do this, the favour of Khorne imbues them further with the skills and talismans by which they may add to this tally. No matter the cost to their wits, minds or souls. Valkia the Bloody, Scyla Anfingrimm, Haargroth the Blooded and Egil Styrbjorn -- all worthy champions of the Blood God who have received his mighty blessings as rewards for the destruction they have sown on countless battlefields.
Gifts of Arms
As Khorne is a war-god, the first gifts he grants are those of arms and armour by which his followers may face the deadliest challenges and test their strength and skill in the fires of battle. These gifts make take the form of the unearthly protection of Chaos Plate; the hell-forged iron armour beaten into existence on the anvils of the Realm of Chaos and bequeathed to the Chosen of Khorne from amongst the men of Norsca and the other lands bordering the Chaos Wastes. They may also be in the form of the famed Collars of Khorne, brass talismans that grant their wearers protection from the honourless attacks of magicians. The Blood God may also bestow upon his followers mighty weapons of potent arcane origins, for such blades strike truer and deadlier than ordinary weapons. The very mightiest of Khorne's servants may receive weapons bearing within them the captured essence of one of his Greater Daemons; these blades are highly prized amongst the warriors who praise Khorne, for the devastation they wreak upon the battlefield is truly magnificent. Such mighty blades oft bear fearsome names, such as Slaupnir, the Kraken-Killer and the Ire of the Blood God, to name but a few and take on the forms of great axes and spears.
In certain cases, Khorne may will the weapons he bequeaths to be bound and fused with the flesh of the Champion, so that where their hands once were, their body now merely flows into the blade. The Champions of Khorne enjoy such disfigurements, for they loudly and openly declare their dedication to the warrior's path.
Gifts of Beasts
The next gift the Blood God may grant are those of beasts and creatures that aid his warriors in their hunts. The war-wont god may grant his warriors the company of the wolfish Flesh Hounds of his packs to aid them, or the mighty Juggernauts to carry them into battle. The Axefather grants no innate mastery over these fearsome creatures however, for if the warrior is not strong enough to break these beasts to his will, then he is unworthy of bearing the favour of the god of battle. For those who fail in this task, Khorne will allow his "gift" to tear their flesh and break their bones to marrow.
Gifts of Spirit
The perversions of spirit are another of the Blood God's gifts. His influence tears away the compassion and humanity in those who pay him honour, leaving in them only the lust for battle and the ability to deliver the killing blow without qualm. Where once a man might dread the prospect of war, the touch of the Axefather will make them seek any opportunity for it. They move ever more closely to the mental state of martial perfection expected by Khorne, and become able to concentrate on honing their mastery of sword, axe, spear and shield to a razor point. But with this comes an overpowering desire to close in with the enemy and cut them down in close quarters, regardless of the tactical prudence of such an act. Yet the iron determination of Khorne also allows them ignore all wounds and injury even unto the point of death in order to continue the fight. Truly, the Chosen of Khorne are the mightiest of all warriors to ever blight the Old World.
But the greatest gift of Khorne is that of the uncontrollable battle-rage he grants; his gift of bloodthirsty frenzy transforming the already mighty warriors of the North into uncontrollable berserkers possessed of such raw strength and aggression that even an entire score of foes are no threat to them. Consumed by the desire to shed blood, no weapon can harm them, and their sheer bloody-minded courage sees them reap a heft tally to bear before their god when death finally takes them and they stand at the threshold of his hall.
- "My Master is the Beginning and he is the End. He is the Master of mortals, and the core of our Dead Hearts. Deny him and you deny yourselves. Honour him, and acknowledge he to whom we owe it all."
- —The Saga of Khorne
Devotees of Khorne believe that their god's brazen throne sits atop a mountain of skulls amidst a sea of boiling blood within his great hall of blackened brass. Each skull of the mountain is a grizzly trophy of a champion victorious, or the remains of a champion defeated. The mountain is said to grow ever higher with the warfare of the mortal worlds. In the stygian shadow of the eaves of the Hall, it is said that there rests an anvil, where the furnace-daemons forge mighty weapons, armour and other artefacts for the favoured followers of Khorne.
No creature could look upon Khorne in his full, terrible aspect and survive. Such is the horror of his mien. There do, however, exist depictions of Khorne from the legends of the Norse and others that tend to portray him as an impossibly muscular figure of titanic stature, clad in bronze armour of intricate design capable of turning aside any blow. His visage is said to be that of a snarling wolf superimposed upon a human form, and is enclosed by a great winged helm. At his side rests a great rune-covered battleaxe; this terrible weapon is known variously as the Warmaker or the End of All Things and is said to be capable of rending asunder reality itself and laying waste to worlds with a single strike. The Axe of Khorne is second only to the Blood God himself in veneration amongst the tribes of Norsca, for the arms of great warriors often command as much respect in their martially-inclined society as the warriors themselves. Indeed, the Norscan veneration for Khorne is so great that many of that brutal land swear their grim oaths "by the Axe of Kharnath".
The Halls of Khorne are the god's dwelling within the Realm of Chaos -- a massive, magnificent fortress of brazen brass, encircled by a moat of burning blood. Within the Halls of Khorne the warriors of Blood who have died in glorious battle engage eternally in the furious combat they so cherished in life, amidst the light of a great firepit fed with the souls of those who abandoned their brothers in arms. Brought there by Valkia the Bloody, the Shield-Maiden of Khorne, these warriors battle amongst each other for the sheer thrill of battle and for the favour of the Blood God; who watches their combat from his mighty throne. The doors of the hall are cast from bloody brass, and so vast that hordes of men can pass through them standing shoulder to shoulder.
Khorne despises the other gods of Chaos with a passion. Particularly Slaanesh, who is his diametric opposite amongst the gods. The self-indulgent sensuality of the Prince of Pleasure is an anathema to the warrior-code of Khorne. Just as Khorne's doctrine of honour, duty and self-sacrifice is the bane of Slaanesh's dogma of self-indulgent pleasure seeking. As a result, the daemonic servants of Khorne and Slaanesh are quick to engage each other in battle, and their mortal counterparts are no less eager in that respect. As for Slaanesh himself, he can never hope to withstand Khorne in battle, for the Blood God is the oldest and greatest of all the Powers of Chaos while Slaanesh is the youngest and weakest. It is thus clear that any confrontation the Dark Prince were to make with the Axefather would end with the former much worse off. Indeed, according to the mythology of the Northmen, Slaanesh was once maneuvered by Tzeentch into waging a war with Khorne, which led to Slaanesh's humiliation at the Blood God's hand. In his own rage over his defeat, Slaanesh is said to have cursed his own servants to damnation, no doubt amusing Khorne all the more.
Khorne has little respect for Tzeentch, the Trickster God. Seeing the Raven as a coward and weakling, little better than Slaanesh. This is no doubt caused by the Blood God's antipathy for sorcery, which Tzeentch is lord of. While Tzeentch could never hope to stand against Khorne's fury, the Trickster possesses his own abilities and mastery which allow him to stand on an almost level playing field with the god of war. Though Khorne is undoubtedly the strongest of the gods, Tzeentch does not conduct himself fairly, being the most subtle and maddening of the Chaos Gods. Though the Changer delights in taunting and baiting Khorne, he knows not to draw his ire too greatly, for the vengeance the Blood God would wreak would be horrible indeed, and is more quick to flee from any martial altercations with the Lord of Skulls than to play into his hands by challenging him, as any physical battle between the two would no doubt end for the worst for the Changer. Whenever the Blood God attempts to strike, Tzeentch flees from the field of battle and melts into the shadows, no doubt infuriating Khorne all the more.
Tzeentch was undeniably more powerful than Khorne in the early ages of the world. It was he who led Chaos against the Old Ones. However eventually fearing Tzeentch’s total takeover Khorne forged an alliance with his other two brothers and they ambushed the Changer simultaneously. Tzeentch defeated Slaanesh and Nurgle but in the end of a duel of unprecedented onslaught Khorne was victorious, earning his place at the head of the Ruinous Powers. Undoubtedly this primordial duel resonates unimaginable loathing among the two still.
Nurgle is abhorrent to Khorne also. Though not quite to the extent of Slaanesh. The Crow God sits and waits in pestilence and, if it were his way, would happily fester unmoving for aeons while waiting for his schemes to come to fruition. Nurgle is quite happy for his followers to avoid direct combat, content for them simply to spread his plagues. To Khorne, such an approach is the epitome of cowardice and weakness, and does not have the honour of bloody combat. The Axefather revels in direct action, while Nurgle favours passivity. The corpulent slovenliness of Nurgle runs counter to the vital, active aspect of Khorne. Nurgle believes that his will shall be realized by the careful building and stewardship of his blessings, whereas the Blood God cares only for destruction.
Daemonic Servants of Khorne
The daemons of Khorne are much like their god: raging, bloodthirsty and incomparably deadly. Even the least of their number is a truly terrible foe. Whether this is down to their being skilled warriors, raging beasts, or even both. It is a terrible fate for a mortal man to face a daemon in battle, and it is even moreso when the daemon is of Khorne's vile pantheon, for their overriding purpose as dealers of violent death is only all too obvious.
The Daemons of Khorne are their god in microcosm - unrelenting embodiments of fury and bloodthirsty martial honour. They are the most physically powerful and single-mindedly vicious of all daemonic creatures. Despite being creatures fundamentally of arcane origins, as all daemons are, the creatures of Khorne utilize no sorcery, keeping in with the Blood God's teachings of martial honour. Most, if not all of them, also possess an impressive resistance to assaults of arcane nature. They are beyond any bargaining, and are possessed of the keen martial intellects to rival those of great generals and cunning huntsmen, and bear colossal martial prides that do not easily suffer wounding.
- Valkia the Bloody: Foremost amongst the number of the dread lords of Chaos who follow the Blood God is this fell warrior-queen of Norsca - Valkia the Bloody. Known also as the Shield-Maiden of Khorne, she is said to be the paramour of the wrathful war-god. Khorne is not known for his affections - his passions being chiefly of rage, hate and bloodthirst. Yet the sagas of the Norse teach that he looks upon her with something approaching fondness, this warrior he returned from the dead to carry out his will. Valkia is charged by her master to descend onto the battlefield each dawn and to pay more tithes to his throne of bones, and also to choose those warriors who will fight on in his halls after their death. When Valkia arrives onto the battlefield in her armour of dripping gore and bearing her barbed spear Slaupnir, the warriors of Chaos who honour Khorne fight with even greater vigour, for they know the Blood God watches them, testing their strength, judging their worth, and that to kill forever in his realm is a prize beyond all measure.
- Urlfdaemonkin: Another great daemonic servant of Khorne, and one of his mightiest champions in former life, Urlfdaemonkin, born as Urlf, was once a chieftain of the Snaegr tribe of Norsca - ardent worshipers of Khorne and savage warriors who are the scourge of all southern lands. Urlf was reckoned to be the greatest warrior and leader amongst them, and was raised up to daemonhood by Khorne for his strength. Urlf became venerated by his tribesmen as a lesser daemon-god of Chaos in his own right, and he is summoned by his tribesmen under the moon of his ascension to bestow the blessings of Khorne upon the acting chieftain, on the eve before the warriors of the Hall of the Snaegr take to the south to harvest great tithes of blood and skulls for the Blood God.
- Bloodthirsters: Bloodthirsters are not only the greatest of Khorne's daemonic creations, but also the greatest of daemonkind entire. Virtual gods of war, they stride the battlefield, their axes meting out death and ruination with even the least of strikes. It is the fury of war given form, the unfettered primal rage of the world made manifest. Such is to be expected of a creature whose only master is the ultimate god of bloodletting, slaughter and murder. A Bloodthirster's iron hard flesh is covered in coarse fur and brass armour, slick with the blood of innumerable victims. The face of the Bloodthirster is like that of a snarling hound, a visage alive with horrific savagery. In one hand it bears an ensorcelled axe that thirsts after death and slaughter, and the other hand it holds a long, barbed lash that can flay away the flesh from a victim's bones with a single crack.
- Heralds of Khorne: Greatest and most fearsome of the Bloodletters are the Heralds, vicious specimens of their kind driven on by their overwhelming, perpetual need for slaughter. The Heralds are the leaders of the Bloodletter hordes, who have gained that position by dint of raw strength and skill in battle. They attack their foes with a fury that eclipses that of lesser Bloodletters, and as their battle-rage grows, those around them become gripped in the throes of berserker frenzy that lends even greater strength to their blows. They hack and cleave their foes until naught remains a mound of corpses and limbs lying adrift a pool of blood, and another victory in the name of Blood God.
- Bloodletters: Khorne's Chosen, the Naked Slayers, the Takers of Skulls. These are the lesser daemonic creatures of the Khornate pantheon, deadly warriors believed to have been the foremost of Khorne's mortal warriors in life and whose will is as implacable and blood-hungry as Khorne himself. Sharp, needle-like teeth stud the daemon's slavering jaws, and rippling muscles lay barely concealed under its scaly red hide, knotted sinews that give the daemon enough strength in its jet black claws to rend apart even the strongest armour. Their might is guided by a killer instinct that surpasses that of mortal men, for a Bloodletter's thoughts are free of any compunction other than to slay Khorne's foes and reap skulls for their lord. Each Bloodletter bears a jagged steel blade known as a Hellblade, eternally wreathed in fire and said to be able to feed on the souls of mortals.
- Flesh Hounds: Flesh Hounds are rapacious wolf-like daemons, with heavily jawed heads both vaguely reptilian as well as savagely lupine. Their razor-sharp teeth and sword-like claws can tear apart both armour and flesh with ease. They are highly capable hunting beasts, able to track prey to impossible levels. The hide of a Flesh Hound is tough and ruddy, with rows of iron plates run into their flesh by iron rivulets in the shape of Khorne's rune. Flesh Hounds are lithe, yet powerful, able to dart aside from a swordsman's strike and pull a rider off his saddle in the same motion. Each Flesh Hound bears a brass circlet about its neck, forged in the heat of Khorne's rage at the great forge that lies in the shadow of the eaves of his great hall. Thus empowered, the Flesh Hounds of Khorne are immune to the effects of hostile magic, for Khorne is loathe to see his servants felled by the perfidious practices of the arcane.
- Juggernauts: Juggernauts are massive creatures part daemon and part ensorcelled steel and sinew. They are mighty beasts of groaning iron and brass, taller than a man and possessed of crushing mass. The hide of a juggernaut is composed of rivetted and fused metal plates, decorated with icons of Khorne and bathed in the lifeblood of its victims.
- The Skulltaker: Travelers of the Realm of Chaos tell of a fearsome wanderer to appears before the various strongholds dotted throughout the twisted landscape. There, he bellows out a terrible challenge, demanding that the greatest warriors of that fastness emerge from it and face him in battle. Those who do are inevitably slain by the wanderer's berserk fury, for he is Uzuhl, the Skulltaker, first amongst Khorne's Bloodletters. Astride his great Juggernaut, Khul'tayran, he seeks to face the greatest warriors of the mortal and immortal realms and claim their skulls for Khorne's throne. He is swifter and stronger than his fellow Bloodletters, and is said to possess knowledge of every weakness an enemy bears. Even so, the Skulltaker bears a mark upon one of his horns, the hammer blow of Ghal Maraz, a legacy of the time he challenged Sigmar Heldenhammer to battle in the ancient days of the Empire and was bested for the first and only time.
- Skarbrand the Exiled One: Once, the Bloodthirster known as Skarbrand was foremost among the number of Khorne's greater Daemonic servants, having battled long in his lord's name and having won victories beyond counting. In all the infinite years of Khorne's existence, none had placed more skulls at the base of his throne than Skarbrand, or spilled more blood of warrior and innocent alike for his glory, thus did Skarbrand enjoy Khorne's favour like no other. Yet, pride proved Skarbrand's downfall, as Tzeentch fanned the fires of his ego until he sought to usurp Khorne as the Lord of Battles, and one day, while the god's back was turned, Skarbrand summoned all his great strength for a single strike upon him. Though Skarbrand was mighty beyond all comprehension, a destroyer of worlds, who killed entire cities with single sweeps of his axe, he could not hope to harm the Blood God. Enraged at this insolence, Khorne's furious gaze fell upon Skarbrand. Cursing the daemon's name, Khorne took him up in his armoured fist and crushed him, throttling all rationality and thought from the daemon before throwing the daemon deep into the Realm of Chaos. For 8 days and nights, Skarbrand flew through the sky of the Realm of Chaos, lighting a trail of flaming blood until he finally smashed back to the earth. Bereft of all reason and inhibition, the Bloodthirster is now a witless embodiment of unreasoning fury, and slaughters entire worlds daily in his unholy madness. Khorne spares no more thought for Skarbrand, but laughs as he sees the Bloodthirster serving him more completely in damnation than he ever did in glory.
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Hordes of Chaos (6th Edition)
- 1a: pg. 18
- 2: Warhammer Armies: Warriors of Chaos (7th Edition)
- 3: Warhammer Armies: Warriors of Chaos (8th Edition)
- 3a: pg. 10
- 4: Warhammer Armies: Chaos Daemons (7th Edition)
- 4a: pg. 6
- 5: Liber Carnagia (RPG)
- 6: Liber Chaotica: Khorne (Background Book)
- 7: Warhammer Fantasy Battle Core Rulebook (8th Edition)
- 7e: pg. 222
- 8: Tome of Corruption (RPG)
- 8a: pg. 196
- 9: Tome of Salvation (RPG)
- 9e; pg. 135
- 10: Wulfrik (Novel) by C.L. Werner
- 11: Palace of the Plague Lord (Novel) by C.L. Werner
- 12: Blood for the Blood God (Novel) by C.L. Werner
- 13: Road of Skulls (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- 14: Valkia the Bloody (Novel) by Sarah Cawkwell
- 15: Blood Raven (Short Story) by Sarah Cawkwell
- 16: Reaper (Short Story) by Sarah Cawkwell