- "You have read the signs as clearly as I. The growing power of Chaos makes no distinction between the living and the dead. Nagash must rise, or our realms of silence will fall."
- —Arkhan the Black, loyal servant of Nagash.[2a]
Arkhan the Black, known now and forever as the Liche King, was the first and most loyal of Nagash's followers.
Arkhan was born in Khemri during the reign of King Khetep. In his youth, he was known as a rake that spent most of his time in the temple of Asaph, mainly because his low nobility status left him no real opportunities for power.[5a] Nagash, seeking co-conspirators for his planned coup against King Thutep, promised Arkhan, along with several other lesser nobles, power and wealth if they would support him.[5c] Using his influence as the Grand Hierophant, Nagash made Arkhan into the Master of the levy of Khemri, making him responsible for the yearly census.[5d] Arkhan also proved himself to be the most adept in the study and development of Necromancy and was the first to imbibe the Elixir of Life after Nagash.[1a]
Vizier of the Undying King
- "The dead can never rule the living. They can only destroy them."
- —Arkhan the Black.[7a]
Nagash made Arkhan his grand vizier after he crowned himself king of Khemri. When Bhagar and Ka-Sabar rose in revolt, Arkhan was sent to punish them. Arkhan sacked Bhagar and used the reanimated population to construct a large tower in the west of Nehekhara to watch over future rebellions.[5b] Also, he hoped to study the Elixir of Immortality that his master had created and find a way to manufacture it himself.[5b] Arkhan was said to have never been defeated in an open battle and became one of Nagash’s favoured generals.[3a]
It is said that Arkhan died during the final siege of Khemri. One account tells that he held the armies of the seven kings at bay to allow his master to escape and that he was killed by a throwing spear after standing on a pyramid of corpses. Arkhan stared in horror at the shaft protruding from his chest, knowing that it had pierced his heart. With his dying breath, he threatened that a terrible curse would befall any who touched his corpse, and with that, he slumped to the ground. Within seconds, dark flames had consumed Arkhan's flesh leaving behind only a blackened skeleton.[1a] The Nehekharans honoured him for his bravery in battle with a cairn made of stones. He was the only one honoured this way.[3a] Another account tells that the people of Nehekhara erected the cairn out of fear of disturbing his remains.[1a]
The Liche King
Nagash raised Arkhan back to life after he had amassed enough strength in Nagashizzar,[7a] and had been contacted by the vampires that had survived Lahmia's fall. As a representative of Nagash, the vampires were forced to obey his commands as if they were from Nagash himself.[4b] The united Nehekharans under King Alcadizaar first proved victorious, driving Arkhan and his retinue back to Nagashizzar after his defeat at the Gates of Dawn, where Nagash was furious and decided to poison the source of the River Vitae to bring them down.[7b] In the final days of Nehekhara, it was Arkhan who defeated Alcadizaar and brought him in chains before Nagash.[4c] When the Fellblade brought death to his master, Arkhan fought for control over Nagashizzar against the other surviving disciples of Nagash, before retreating back to Nehekhara.[10a] There, he declared war on the living, falling on the civilization of Araby from his base in the Black Tower of Arkhan on the edges of Nehekhara, sacking Bel Aliad and beginning what Arabyan chroniclers would refer to as the Wars of Death.[3a]
When Nagash was reborn again, Arkhan accompanied him back to Nagashizzar.[4d] The Great Necromancer sent him to reacquire the fealty of the vampires. Arkhan travelled to the Silver Pinnacle, where he was rebuffed by Neferata.[8a]
Eventually, after Nagash had been destroyed by Sigmar, Arkhan returned to Nehekhara in 111 IC, carving out a realm on the edges of the domains of other Tomb Kings.[1a] The other Tomb Kings tolerated Arkhan as a potential ally that would follow any of their courses for the right price, safe for Settra. The King of Kings demanded nothing less than total obedience from all who lived near the Land of the Dead and clashed numerous times with him. These feuds ended with Arkhan feigning obedience and Settra retreating back to Khemri.[1a]
Arkhan’s main goal has been the return of Nagash to his full and divine power. For this purpose, the Liche King has travelled the world to acquire artefacts of the Great Necromancer. He acquired the first artefact when he allied with High Queen Khalida of Lybaras to destroy the ancient vampire Mandregan. While the High Queen took her vengeance, Arkhan looted the Staff of Nagash from his crypt.[1b] In 2453 IC, Arkhan lead his armies against Altdorf and stole the Liber Mortis from the vaults of the High Temple of Sigmar.[9a]
- The Tomb Blade of Arkhan - The flesh of those slain by this dread blade burns away, leaving behind only a charred skeleton enslaved for all eternity to Arkhan's dark will.[1a]
- Staff of Nagash - This staff was created by the Arch Necromancer Nagash to harness the reservation of dark magic within the accursed Black Pyramid.[1a]
- The Liber Mortis - This accursed tome is one of the fabled nine Books of Nagash, the most potent source of necromantic magic in the world.[1a]
- Arkhan was named “the Black” because he used to chew the "jusesh" root, which stains the teeth black when consumed regularly.[5a]
- Originally, the magical tome in the possession of Arkhan was the Cursed Book. In 8th Edition, it was changed to the Liber Mortis (which was also stated to be a book of Nagash, despite originally being described as the work of Van Hal).
- In Nagash novel series, Arkhan had planned treachery against his master, and conspired with the kings of Lahmia and Zandri to be granted their armies in exchange for the receipt of the Elixir of Life, but he was betrayed and taken to Lahmia.[5e] There, he was forced to create the Elixir of Life to Lamashizzar's court. And he would secretly teach Neferata necromancy.[6a] After a series of conspiracies and incidents, Arkhan would make Neferata the first vampire.[6c] He was slain by Abhorash after having killed Lamashizzar, and interred in a pauper’s tomb in the Great Necropolis of Lahmia.[6e][6d] This is clearly contradicted by lore exposed in other sources, where Arkham had been dead for centuries and had nothing to do with the creation of vampires.
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Tomb Kings (8th Edition)
- 2: The End Times Vol I: Nagash
- 2a: pg. 61
- 3: Warhammer Armies: Undead (4th Edition)
- 3a: pg. 93
- 4: Liber Necris
- 5: Time of Legends: Nagash the Sorcerer (Novel)
- 6: Time of Legends: Nagash the Unbroken (Novel)
- 7: Time of Legends: Nagash the Immortal (Novel)
- 8: Time of Legends: Blood of Nagash (Novel)
- 8a: Prologue
- 9: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rulebook (4th Edition)
- 9a: pg. 276
- 10: Time of Legends: Master of Death (Novel)
- 10a: Chapter Ten