Apophas, the Cursed Scarab Lord, is the deathly executionor of Usirian.
Apophas was a jealous prince who lusted after the throne of Numas. To this end, he slit the throats of the entire royal line while they slept and proclaimed himself king. However, the people of Numas rebelled against him, and those loyal to the murdered king broke into the throne room and dragged the usurper to the temples to be judged. Of all the crimes in Nehekhara, the most terrible was regicide. Typically, those who attempted to seize the throne were denied the privilege of mummification, and their bones were thrown to the carrion of the desert.[1a]
Denied access to the lands of the honoured dead, these unfortunates were consigned, at best, to the torturous depths of the Nehekharan Underworld, or at worst, to utter oblivion. Apophas' crimes warranted a more severe punishment; he was entombed alive within a sarcophagus filled with flesh-eating scarabs. It is said that his death screams could be heard through the temple walls, but when the lid was opened, there was no trace of the beetles. All that remained was a skull picked clean of flesh. Before this was thrown into the deep desert, it was inscribed with a single magical hieroglyph cursing Apophas' soul for all eternity.[1a]
Upon his death, Apophas' soul was claimed by Usirian, god of the Underworld, to be tormented in perpetuity for his crimes. However, being of noble birth, Apophas was able to strike a bargain with Usirian, promising that, in exchange for his release, he would claim for the god a soul to stand in his stead, a perfect match for his own. Usirian agreed, and thus Apophas was reborn as the Cursed Scarab Lord. Apophas appears from a swarm of beetles that flow up from the ground until they reveal a black-swathed figure in their midst. Apophas is not a reanimated corpse but a desert revenant whose body is formed from a writhing swarm of scarabs. Atop this undulating mass, his skull looks upon the world in search of his chosen victim - a soul he believes can buy his freedom. In Apophas' hand is the same blade he used to slit the throats of his family, and it drips with their blood to this day. Only by slaying the perfect soul with this weapon can Apophas hope to earn his freedom.[1a]
The scarabs making up Apophas' form scuttle over rubble and through gaps in ruins without impediment. Apophas' body can even burst apart in an explosion of chitinous wings, flying across the battlefield before reforming into the mocking semblance of a man. Apophas sweeps aside those that stand between him and his prey, and when he opens his jaw, a tide of insects erupts forth to drown his foes. No matter how hard his enemies swipe and hack at his horrifying form, insect bodies flow over to fill open wounds and re-grow lost limbs. Apophas is utterly implacable, and he will not stop until his enemies lie dead by his hand. Apophas then binds his target's spirit in a mystical soul-cage before returning to the depths of the Underworld. Here the soul is placed on a pair of scales and compared with Apophas' own cursed spirit. However, the truth is no two souls are ever equal, and the scales are never balanced. Though he doesn't know it, Apophas has doomed himself to roam the lands for all eternity.[1a]
The Dead and the Damned
Apophas had accompanied the army of Nehehkhara when they sailed to the frozen land of Norsca. They were intent on reclaiming several potent artefacts, stolen by a band of Chaos Marauders over a decade prior. Untold thousands of men were slaughtered upon the swords and spears of King Settra's host as tribe after tribe was destroyed. Dragon Ogres were cut down by powerful Ushabti, Trolls were turned into pillars of sand by Sepulchral Stalkers and grotesque Giants were slain by the monstrous claws of ferocious Necrosphinxes. Driven by Settra's unyielding will, the legions of Nehekhara were unstoppable. Within five years, only one of the dozen Marauders remained alive, and only a single treasure — the Crown of Nehekhara — remained unclaimed.
After a long trek across the Hellwyrm Glacier, Settra's legions clashed with the warhost of Khagul Bloodfist, the last and most powerful of the Marauders and the one who had stolen Settra's crown all those many years ago. In the intervening years, Khagul's victories had seen him become a mighty Champion of Chaos, imbued with the power of Dark Gods whose names men fear to speak. Khagul commanded a great horde of Chaos, for his fame was such that tribesmen and warbands from leagues around flocked to his blood-drenched warbanner.
It was not only the Chaos Gods who had noticed his deeds, but Prince Apophas, the Cursed Scarab Lord, saw in Khagul a soul that might be the equal of his own; a spirit that could buy him his freedom from the tortures of Nehekhara's underworld prison. So it was that, as Settra led the fight against the assembled Chaos horde, carving his way through their armoured ranks, Apophas ambushed the unsuspecting Khagul.
The Chaos Champion had just finished dismembering a Tomb Scorpion when he was suddenly enveloped by a swarm of black beetles, which obscured his vision before coalescing into a shape resembling that of a man. The figure clutched a dagger in one hand, and his leering skull seemed to stare into Khagul's very soul. Without pause, Khagul's bodyguard launched themselves at the assassin, but the figure opened its mouth and vomited forth a surge of insects that drowned them beneath chitinous bodies. Apophas stalked towards his target, and Khagul readied his axe. The Chaos Champion hacked at the figure with frenzied swipes, but it was to no avail. Every time Khagul cut into Apophas' body a tide of scuttling scarabs would flow over the wound. In frustration, he raised his axe high above his head, preparing to strike the assassin's skull from its shoulders but, before the stroke fell, Apophas had slashed his dagger across the champion's throat. Khagul's blood burst forth in an arterial spray, and he slumped to his knees. Apophas drew the warrior's soul from his mortal body, capturing it before dragging it into the Underworld for all eternity...