- "A God named Khaine, a God of murder and death and bloodshed, only the wilfully blind could not see that this is none other than the Blood Lord himself, cloaked in one of his many guises to beguile and trick those who might otherwise repel him."
- —Liber Chaotic[1a]
Khaela Mensha Khaine, the Bloody-Handed God, the Lord of Murder or simply Khaine, is the Elven God of violence, war, cruelty, blood, destruction, and murder. He is the kindler of war, the ruthless personification of a vicious creed. Khaine believes that: conflict is necessary for peace to reign; only slaughter gives the promise of life any meaning; and love is nothing unless tempered by the blackest of hatreds. He is a god who gives his supplicants license to do as they will, and forbids nothing, save denial of his divine will.[2a]
It is, therefore, little wonder that it is Khaine's blessings the Dark Elves seek most keenly, for their lives are founded upon deeds of slaughter and torment. Where the High Elves treat warily with the Lord of Murder, the Dark Elves embrace him with abandon, sacrificing slaves, comrades and even their own children to catch Khaine's attention for even just a moment. Such devotion pleases the Bloody-Handed God in a way that the hollow observances of the High Elves never will, but Khaine is easily bored, and each passing year the sacrifices must become ever more wild and barbarous if they are to attract his ruddy gaze.[2a]
All Dark Elves are touched by Khaine to some degree, for their heritage is tainted by the Widowmaker and the acts of their ancestors performed at Aenarion's side. Many however, wholeheartedly embrace the Bloody-Handed God's cruel vision. Such Elves are known as the Knives of Khaine -- both revered and shunned by their fellows, they are loyal only to their ruthless creed.[2a]
Khaine is worshipped most fanatically by the Dark Elves. In their society, the Cult of Khaine is the most powerful religious cult, and regularly makes bloody sacrifices of slaves and even other Dark Elves. The initiates of this cult are the Witch Elves, who consider themselves the "brides of Khaine" and are led by the Hag Queens. The Cauldrons of Blood that the Dark Elves use are regularly adorned with large statues of Khaine. Additionally, on Death Night, the Witch Elves freely roam Dark Elf cities with impunity, killing all they find.
High Elves see Khaine as a necessary evil. High Elf Warriors pray to Khaine before battle, but are careful not to let his influence drive them to bloodlust and cloud their better judgement - as the High Elves say, "the sword of Khaine cuts both ways".
Wood Elves worship Khaine in times of war, but he is rather low in their sites, ranking 14th on the Wood Elf pantheonic mandala. They do not take the worship of Khaine to such excesses as the Dark Elves.
Some humans also worship Khaine. Imperials associate Khaine with Morr, citing myths that link the two as brothers, each battling for control over the province of death. The Lord of Murder is upheld by killers, thieves, and even some soldiers.[1a]
Khaine has multiple aspects that are revered, collectively called the "thousand faces of Khaine".[6a] The Executioners of Har Ganeth rever him as the Executioner, while other aspects include the Manticore,[6b] the scorpion,[7a] the hawk,[7a] the bull,[7a] the wounded warrior,[7a], the Iron Panther[6c] and the Deathbringer.[6c]
It is said that Khaine once imprisoned Kurnous and Isha, and for this he was challenged by the smith-God Vaul. Khaine won, crippling and blinding Vaul and making him his servant, forcing him to forge weapons and armour. However Kurnous and Isha were freed.
Elven Legends tell that Khaine will return in the Rhana Dandra, the final apocalyptic battle with Chaos, to fight the ruinous powers, and that his strength will be required to defeat them.
Connection to Khorne
For those familiar with Khorne, there are too many similarities to deny an association between the Blood God and the Lord of Murder. Those who defend Khaine claim Khorne is limited to battlefields and open war. Khorne is a Ruinous Power, a being of Chaos rather than being one of Elves’ many Gods. But the effect of Widowmaker on the Elves, to say nothing of the profane practices of Khaine’s most devoted servants, the Witch Elves, are all clear indicators of some association. To the Dark Elves, there is a distinction. They deny, even unto themselves, that they serve the Blood God. They suggest Khaine is no different in scope and power from those same deities embraced in the Old World.[1a]
The Dark Elves believe the distinction between Khorne and Khaine is one of degree. Where Khaine is the controlled violence of ritual and religious practice, Khorne is the uncontrolled savagery of the rabid dog, the wild killing sprees undertaken by the Norsemen and other madmen of the Chaos Wastes. And just as the Empire takes steps to eliminate followers of Khorne, so too do the Dark Elves snuff the lives of those who embrace the Blood God of Chaos. Khaine’s principal servants are the Witch Elves, called the Brides of Khaine. As maiden-Elves, his servants are wedded to him in midnight rites of blood sacrifice and cruel abasement. When the temple fires grow hot and the night black and cold, Khaine takes his new brides, and blood flows in torrents down the steps of his altar.[1a]
According to older lore, Khaine was the only Elven God worshipped by the Dark Elves. However more recent lore in 7th and 8th edition indicates that the Dark Elves also worship some of the other Elven Gods, primarily the Cytharai.
- "Blood of Khaine!" is a common swear among the Asur.[3a]
- Brass-colored eyes are regarded as a sign of favor from Khaine.[4a]
- Ravens are sacred to Khaine.[5a]
- Khaine has seventeen secret names which hold magical power when spoken aloud.[6d]
- Khaine's name is a play on the Biblical character of Caine, who became the first murderer after killing his brother Abel out of envy. This can also explain why Khaine is worshipped by the humans of the Old World, with Morr as his brother, as the latter-deity is god of the dead.
- 1: Tome of Corruption (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
- 1a: pg. 161
- 2: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (8th Edition)
- 2a: pg. 35
- 3: Sons of Ellyrion (novel) by Graham McNeill
- 3a: Chapter 11
- 4: Malus Darkblade Chronicle: Warpsword (Novel) by Dan Abnett & Mike Lee
- 4a: Chapter One: Bag of Bones
- 5: Malus Darkblade Chronicle: Lord of Ruin (Novel) by Dan Abnett & Mike Lee
- 5a: Chapter Two: The Double-Edged Sword
- 6: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (6th Edition)
- 7: Warhammer Armies: High Elves (5th Edition)
- 7a: pg. 11