The Cult of Khaine is the reigning religious organisation within the Dark Elf kingdom of Naggaroth. Ruled by the Hag Queens, the heart of the cult resides in Har Ganeth, with Hag Queen Hellebron chief amongst Khaine's disciples.
In the beginning, the Cult of Khaine was but one of the various Cults of Excess that sprang up within Ulthuan during the time of Aenarion. In that era, it was overshadowed by the Cult of Pleasure and the Cult of Luxury, which were in ascendance prior to the Elven civil war known as the Sundering.[1a][2a] It was not until the year 990, Restless Spite (-1745 IC) that it became the dominant Cult within Naggaroth, with the city of Har Ganeth as its bloody centre.[2b]
While Clar Karond prospered, politics and infighting became rife within Naggarond. Remnants of the many pleasure cults from Ulthuan continued to hold sway over the Dark Elves, but one sect in particular rose to dominate all others. They were cultists of Khaine, the God of Murder, and their bloody sacrifices made a great spectacle for the Dark Elves.
The fumes from their pyres swathed the city of the Witch King, and bloodthirsty mobs ran rampant through the streets, killing and maiming in mindless bursts of violence. Rather than quell these excesses, Malekith sought to focus the devotion of these Elves and turn it to his own ends.
The Witch King proclaimed himself a mortal incarnation of Khaine, his merciless instrument in the realm of the living. Malekith swore undying devotion to the Lord of Murder in the shrine of Naggarond, and poured a goblet of his divine blood into the braziers where the Witch Elves burnt the hearts of their sacrifices.[3a]
Morathi again aided her son, and gifted the Witch Elves of Khaine with the sacred Cauldrons of Blood. The Hag Queens who led the cult bathed in the blood of their sacrifices and rejuvenated their bodies, as did Morathi herself. Unlike Morathi, who kept the innermost secrets of the Cauldrons for herself, the Hag Queens' revivification was only temporary. As the months passed, they began to age once more and needed to bathe again to reclaim their beauty. For decades, the most powerful Witch Elves indulged themselves in this bloody manner, realising too late that Morathi had ensnared them with an addiction to eternal beauty.
The Hag Queen Hellebron, leader of the cult, once refused her ritual bathing, but became so decrepit and age-worn that her loyal followers had to sustain her with their own blood until she repented and bathed in a Cauldron once more. She has been defiant of Morathi ever since, but ultimately it is Morathi who controls the fate of the Hag Queens, not Hellebron.[3a]
- "My god knows nothing of mercy. He does not forgive. He cares nothing for redemption. He simply hungers, and I live to see him fed."
- —Grand Carnifex of Khaine[4b]
For the worshippers of Khaine, the greatest power in existence is the ability to end life. The act of killing is thought to bring the believer closer to Khaine and eventually, allow him to become as the gods themselves, holding the life of all around him in his hand.[4a]
- Conflict is necessary for peace to reign.[3b]
- Only slaughter gives the promise of life any meaning.[3b]
- Love is nothing unless tempered by the blackest of hatreds.[3b]
- Do as you will, Khaine forbids nothing, save denial of his divine will.[3b]
While the Temple of Khaine is the most influential cult thanks to their alliance with Malekith, other sects that worship Khaine exist in Naggaroth. These saw themselves as the heirs of the true faith, who worshipped Khaine not in great ceremonies, but in battle on the field and road. They rejected Malekith as the incarnation of Khaine and the central authority of a singular temple, leading to a bloody schism between the temple and the zealots.[4a] In this sectarian struggle, the Witch Elves abstained from taken part.[4a]
The "true believers" lost and were banished from Har Ganeth. The group clustered around the faith that one day, Khaine would send his Scourge to the world and the Time of Blood would begin, an era of slaughter and carnage without end. They would wander around Naggaroth, mastering the killing arts, deepen their devotion and wait for the promised day of reckoning.[4c] The so-called "true believers" rose up in a bloody revolution when Urial of Hag Graef proclaimed himself to be the Scourge, but he was foiled by his half-brother Malus Darkblade.
- Holy Scripture of the Cult of Khaine includes the Parables of Sundered Flesh.[4c]
- 1: Warhammer Armies: High Elves (7th Edition)
- 1a: pg. 37
- 2: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (7th Edition)
- 3: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (8th Edition)
- 4: Malus Darkblade Chronicle: Warpsword (Novel) by Dan Abnett & Mike Lee