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Malus Darkblade, the Tyrant of Hag Graef, was always ambitious, even by the lofty standards of Hag Graef's warring families. For long years, he played the deadly game of politics an assassination and played it well, but finally his thirst for power led Darkblade into the clutches of a being darker even than he. Rumours of a great power hidden in the distant north set Darkblade on a quest that led him deep into the Realm of Chaos.[1a]
It is a testament to Darkblade's determination that he not only survived his journey, but at last came before the temple of Kul Hadar, in which his prize could be found. Alas for Darkblade, the great power within the temple was something not easily bent to mortal will. Long centuries ago, the Daemon Tz'arkan had been bound within Kul Hadar, and Darkblade now unwittingly presented it an opportunity for escape. Blinded by avarice, Darkblade was possessed by the Daemon. In that instant, his life and soul were forfeit. He had but one way of escaping his fate -- to find five artefacts of power that would fully free Tz'arkan from his ancient prison and thus see Darkblade's soul restored. He had only a year to succeed, or else remain in the Daemon's thrall for eternity.[1a]
Though the search took every waking hour of the allotted year,even killing his own father to get one of the artifacts. Darkblade finally succeeded in his quest. Upon the even of his doom, he returned to Kul Hadar with the artifacts, and performed the ritual that would set the Daemon free. But Tz'arkan had tricked the Dark Elf -- upon escaping from Darkblade's body, the treacherous Daemon stole his black soul. From that moment on, the fates of Darkblade and Tz'arkan were forever intertwined. In the years since, Darkblade has become legendary in Naggaroth, as a great warrior and leader whose hatred can overcome any opposition. Wielding the Warpsword of Khaine, the only surviving artefact from that long-distant quest, Darkblade has hacked a path of bloody ruin across the frozen north, drawing upon Tz'arkan's power when needed, but relying first and foremost on his own dark determination and limitless reservoir of hate.[1a]
The Daemon's CurseEdit
The bastard son of the Vaulkhar of Hag Graef, (hence the surname Darkblade, a name given to all bastard Druchii). Malus displayed all the "virtues" expected from a Dark Elf - unscrupulousness, cruelty, cunning and ambition. Like all of his kin, he sought to extend his influence as far as he could. In order to do so (and to escape the unfortunate consequences of an earlier business venture), Malus set off into the Chaos Wastes in search of an ancient treasure. He eventually found the treasure, but by doing so awakened the daemon Tz'arkan called the "Drinker of Worlds" by some.
After possessing Malus and threatening to take his soul even if he killed himself, he left the Dark Elf only by one chance: to gather five magical artefacts needed to free him. Tz'arkan set Malus a time limit of one year to succeed. The first artefact was a brass medallion in the shape of an octagon, covered in runes. Malus fought his way through a herd of Beastmen, killing a shaman and a mutated Beastman, which was guarding the Octagon in its cave. The Octagon of Praan protects the wearer seemingly from the majority of magic, save those of god-like power, though Malus has not worn it during every interaction he has had with sorcery. While wearing it, he is immune to most spells and can pass through magical wards without ill effect. The Octagon is eventually destroyed by Tz'arkan who reduced it to slag with a single magical blast.
Before setting out to find the second artefact, the Idol of Kolkuth. Malus returned to his home city of Hag Graef. Infiltrating an underground cult within the city, Malus cooperated with the temple to root them out. He was then sent before the Drachau of Hag Graef, where he blackmailed him into giving him a Writ of Iron, a set of documents giving him virtually the same level of power as the Drachau to accomplish a goal. Malus convinced the Drachau to give him the Writ so that he could exterminate the Skin Riders, a Norse pirate force who have no skin of their own due to the diseases that comes with their worship of Nurgle, and must hoard the skin of their captured prey in order to cover their raw bodies.
The pirates were reportedly based on the Island of Morhaut, where Malus had previously determined the Idol of Kolkuth was hidden. He used the Writ to take command of his eldest brother Bruglir's reaver fleet and storm the pirate's fortress, taking with him his half-sister Yasmir and other half-brother, Urial. He proceeded to play his siblings off against one another to prevent any of them from killing him. After a series of schemes, back-stabbing and double-crossing, Malus and the group finally defeated the Skinriders, although they were nearly undone when Bruglir's first-mate (also his mistress who had grown jealous of Yasmir and believed Bruglir never intended to honour his vow to give her command of a ship) betrayed them to the Skinrider Chief. During the final battle, Malus and Bruglir took the opportunity to attempt to kill one another with Malus emerging the victor.
While slaying the Skinriders, Malus found what he was looking for the entrance to a sanctum in another dimension, in which the sorcerer Eradorius had hidden the Idol. The labyrinth was a twisting maze of corridors that Malus was barely able to navigate successfully, and whose guardian was so fierce, even its own master, Eradorius was trapped inside where he died. The idol is barely a foot in height, made from brass, and was created by the sorcerer Eradorius, who fled to the island and made a sanctum in another dimension to hide both himself and the idol from Tz'arkan. The Idol has the ability to warp space and time for its possessor, allowing for transportation to wherever, and perhaps even whenever, the user wishes to go. Malus has used it successfully, though he loathed the experience and it proved to be not as accurate as he hoped it would. Malus only ever used the Idol twice in the series, once on the Isle of Morhaut to escape the tower it was placed in and the second time to escape a party of murderous autarii out to kill him in revenge. The Idol was lost beneath the rubble when the Temple of Tz'arkan crumbled.
Reaper of SoulsEdit
The third artifact Tz'arkan required was the Dagger of Torxus: a long black kris dagger said to be so dark that it appeared as a shard of the Outer Darkness itself. Tz'arkan briefly refers to the dagger as the "Reaper of Souls". The Dagger's modus operandi, so to speak, is ripping out the soul of anyone it stabs and binding the soul for all of eternity to that spot, meaning even a scratch is lethal. It was hidden within the crypt of a long dead Dark Elf lord, Eleuril the Damned, who had sworn to protect the Dagger from falling into the wrong hands at any cost. Getting into the crypt was comparatively easy for Malus, although somehow another group of Dark Elves had reached the tomb before him. Malus managed to sneak by them and get into the tomb first. It was when he picked up the Dagger that the problems started. The ancient lord awoke, forced the dagger from Malus, slew all of the Druchii nearby and nearly Malus along with them. However the dagger's vicious powers did not work on Malus; as his soul had already been taken by Tz'arkan, the dagger's powers were rendered useless. Although Malus survived the wound, he fell unconscious. When he awoke he found that the other Dark Elves had managed to take the Dagger.
Following the other Druchii he eventually found the raiding party which had taken the dagger and was surprised to find that it was his own father, Lurhan who led it. His half-sister Nagaira had conspired with his brother Isilvar; they’d known of the five relics he needed to find in order to free the daemon from its prison and reclaim his stolen soul. They knew he would seek the Dagger of Torxus in the tomb of Eleuril the Damned and so they’d arranged for Lurhan, his own father to get it first. Malus slew his father (although he did not recognize his father at first) in order to retrieve the dagger, making his name known as one who had committed patricide. Hunted by his father's followers, he fled wounded to the Black Ark of Naggor, a Black Ark that had become trapped in a sea of ice back during the Sundering, ruled by the self-styled Witch Lord, Balneth Bale, brother to Malus' mother Eldire.
Naggor is an enemy of Hag Graef in a bloody feud. When Malus first arrived he was faced the possibility of slavery. Bewitched by his half-sister, he eventually led Naggor's army in an attack on Hag Graef alongside Fuerlan, the son of Balneth Bale. With the help of his mother, Eldire, he was able to throw off the spell of his sister and flee once again, in the process wounding the Drachau (ruler) of the city. However he had now made an enemy of the Witch King himself. He had slain his father, the Vaulkhar (a military rank) of Har Graef, marched on his very own home city and wounded the Drachau. As Malekith regards all his servants as his possessions, he does not take lightly to the destruction of a Vaulkhar or to the mental crippling of the Drachau; to harm one of Malekith's vassals without his leave is to start a blood fued with the Witch King and by extent the entire druchii race. Malus also won himself the enemity of Naggor and Balneth Bale by leading the ark's army and the Witch Lord's son to their deaths outside Hag Graef's walls.
Malus then travelled to Har Ganeth, the City of Executioners, on the advice of his mother. From here, he infiltrated the Temple of Khaine. While inside, he fought with his half-brother Urial, a Chosen of Khaine. He encountered Yasmir once again, now a living saint of Khaine, who began to act strangely before Malus escaped. Within the Temple of Khaine, Malus discovered that the Warpsword there was actually a fake. Using a portal known as the Vermillion Gate, he was brought to the Chaos Wastes. A group of Chaos Worshippers then directed him towards the sword's location.
The Warpsword was guarded by a Dragon Ogre, who was impervious to Malus' weapon. Malus had to draw the Warpsword of Khaine, which killed the Dragon Ogre with a single slash. The name of the sword is certainly justified as the sword consumes the blood of its victims, like one would expect from the Dark Elf god of murder himself. However, the sword with the double-edged blade, a length similar to a draich, and a blade slightly wider at the point for extra cutting power is much older than Khaine, as indicated by Tz'arkan. Radiating invisible heat like the hottest Dwarf furnace, the hilt is always warm to the touch. The blade infuses the wielder with great strength, and can send its user into a murderous frenzy that will not stop until there are no enemies left in sight. The sword also possesses a quasi-sentience, able to help guide the wielders hand, know when enemies are nearby, and 'remember' the tastes of creatures it has touched before, such as Tz'arkan.
Tz'arkan implies many times that the Warpsword is more than just a blade, perhaps meaning that it can do more than cut through steel and flesh as just as easily as it would butter. Although Malus has never used the sword for any large acts of power. The sword can also affect magic, seen when Malus uses the blade to greatly weaken and then shatter a magical barrier. A prophecy of Khaine exists that claims a being known as the 'Scourge,' will one day arise and usher in an age of blood and death, the Warpsword is part of this prophecy, and so, he who wields it is considered a candidate for the position. Malus' brother Urial, attempted to become the Scourge, however, the Warpsword he wielded was fake. Yasmir is believed by the Temple of Khaine to be the bride of the Scourge, an unusual event, as Khaine does not share his beloved lightly. Yasmir killed Urial, eating his still-beating heart, and now that Malus now wields the Warpsword, he is considered to be the strongest prospect for the position of Scourge. This is a fact Malus' wishes kept concealed from the Witch-King, as the general populace believes the Witch-King to be the Scourge, a lie that was used by the Temple of Khaine and the Witch-King in order to solidify their power.
Lord of RuinEdit
With four artifacts in his possession, only the Amulet of Vaurog, a heavy, red-gold torque that renders its wearer impervious to all weapons, remained. However, the location of the amulet was known to neither Malus nor Tz'arkan. Using a ring given to him by his mother, Malus contacted Eldire, who told him that the path to the Amulet lay within the Fortress of Iron, Naggarond. Malus was later captured by the Endless, the personal bodyguard of dread Malekith, who brought him to Naggarond to be judged by the Witch King for his crimes in the 'Reaper of Souls.' It is also revealed that there was another purpose to Malus' capture; his sister Nagaira had arisen once more, and this time, she had brought an army of Chaos with her, which was killing and destroying the Watchtowers that guarded against the Chaos Wastes on the northern front. As two-thirds of the Druchii population were away due to it being raiding season, this was particularly bad news. Nagaira threatened to destroy Naggaroth unless Malus was handed over to her, but Malekith had no intention of kow-towing to the witch's threats, as both the Witch King and Malus recognised that she would simply use Tz'arkan (her true desire) to carry out her threats regardless. Malus was sent north by Malekith to take control of the forces at Ghrond, and to act as bait for Nagaira. Malus was unable to halt the Chaos horde with a pre-emptive attack, but he was capable of slowing them long enough for Malekith to arrive with reinforcements.
While slowing the Chaos horde, Malus stumbled upon their leader, a Champion of Chaos in league with Nagaira and wearing the Amulet of Vaurog. Malus was unable to kill the champion of the dark gods, no matter how many supposedly blows to the spine and abdomen he dealt with the Warpsword of Khaine, each time the Champion was unaffected. After escaping the Chaos horde's leader, Malus was named the Witch King's champion, and fought on the walls to hold Nagaira's horde at bay. Malus learned during an assault, much to his horror, that the Chaos champion was Lhunara, a druchii woman who served as Malus' lieutenant (and who came to love him) that Malus murdered shortly after his possession by Tz'arkan. As she had lay dying, Lhunara sold her soul to the Chaos Gods, and was resurrected as an undead revenant, desiring only to destroy Malus in revenge for his betrayal. During the final battle of Ghrond, Malus finally killed Nagaira, by forcing her to use more power than the Ruinous Powers were willing to give.
Moments later, Lhunara attacked and, realising he couldn't kill her with a weapon, defeated her with his bare hands. Having beaten her to a pulp, Malus regretfully told Lhunara he knew she'd been in love with him, and then crushed her skull with his fists, calling upon Tz'arkan's power. With all the necessary artifacts in his possession, Malus finally completed the ritual and freed himself from the Daemon. Tz'arkan however, tricked Malus, attempting to devour his soul after being released. Malus used the time-slowing effect of the chambers in the Temple of Tz'arkan, along with the Warpsword of Khaine, to continue fighting, despite the lack of his soul. The Dagger of Torxus is finally used by Malus Darkblade to destroy Tz'arkan's corporeal form, the two's energies somehow ripping each other apart; it is unknown if the dagger survived, but it is thought unlikely.
Although Tz'arkan had been banished, he managed to take Malus' soul with him. Malus does not bleed nor feel pain now. Soulless, Malus wandered through the Chaos Wastes for 10 years not caring for life or death with only the Warpsword of Khaine having survived the ritual. Then one day a sorcerer approached him and told him he knew where Tz'arkan was. Fearing for his life, the sorcerer had tattooed the map to Tz'arkan's hiding place onto his back to make sure Malus would need him further. Malus ended the man's illusions by slaying him, skinning the map from his back and feeding the rest to his ever-loyal Cold One Spite. Malus then set out to face Tz'arkan. Facing numerous foes from all the Four Gods of Chaos, he eventually found Tz'arkan within the realm of the Screaming God Child, a crazed entity of Chaos.
Malus was able to trick the God Child and flee but when the entity noticed this, he imprisoned Tz'arkan in Malus' body once more as a punishment. From then on Tz'arkan would take control of Malus whenever he slept. Thus Malus now drinks a magical potion that keeps him awake indefinitely. Only when the strength and savagery of the daemon is required does Malus imbibe a potion of sleep to wake the daemon. After many years Malus eventually returned to Hag Graef, where, with the backing of Malekith, he became the new Drachau, lord of the city. Traditionally, the Drachau of Hag Graef is also the general of the Witch King's armies. Nowadays, Malus is one of the preferred servants of Malekith, and upon his bidding, he rides to battle on his loyal and unusually intelligent Cold One Spite with the Warpsword of Khaine in his hand.