The mad Vampire Admiral Luthor Harkon, born as Lutr of the Lahmian Harkoni tribe[10a], was the self-styled "Arch-Grand Commodore"[5a] and "Pirate King"[8a] of the Vampire Coast of eastern Lustria and leader of the Zombie Pirates.[1a][2a][3a][4b][5b][6a][7a]
During the End Times, he willingly bowed before the returned Nagash[8a] and became his Mortarch of the Abyss.[9b] He was finally destroyed by a Daemon-possessed Isabella von Carstein during the defence of Sylvania from the servants of Nurgle.[9g]
Lutr was born as a member of the Harkoni, a tribe of hillmen that lived near Lahmia a millennium before the birth of Sigmar. He had a military career in that city, and eventually was appointed leader of Lahmia's harbour guard by Abhorash.
Meanwhile, his relative Walak led the palace guard.[10a] Presumably, it was Abhorash or Walak who gave Lutr the Blood Kiss of vampirism, although he appears to have never had a relationship with the Order of the Blood Dragon or its ideals, and no memory was left of his heritage when he reappeared centuries later as a Vampire.[5b]
The Vampire Coast
- "From a dark place I came, and to darker places still I travel, dear heart. Wyrm-midden and filth my crib, man-flesh and dead-thing my down. To the coast of far away I sailed, to delve in dusty place. Not for glimmer, nor spark, but for Lizard-wyrd parchment and age-crusted name. Secrets and lies, from the birth of time, so all that is hidden be mine, my dear.
Slime-thing lovers call sailors to salty death in my name. With a touch, he rises once more, brine-blood vigor her delight. Her kiss is clammy little death. Her song calls men from every land, and my servants walk the land of swamp, doing death for all time.
Lizard-stone tumble, and dead grey-meat my supper, the names of the Eldest spill from my lips, my love. Axlotl. The City of Lizard no more. Its secret places, secrets abhorred.
But now High-Lizard cares. Cares to curse. Curse him thrice in payment shall I.
Now strangers heed the song of the Brine-Maid, and glimmer they seek as all Men may. Multitudes and legions land on sacred shore and make for Lizard-home. I shall steer them to riches beyond dreaming and do mischief to High-Lizard Lordling a-plenty.
Mine emissaries make gifts to greedsome strangers, the skulls of the unliving carry soul-scum skimmings, brine-song echoing still. These they accept, for bauble and toy is all. In doing acceptance they make abasement, for debt is eternal, beyond mortal-man's ken.
Now Lizard-things tremble, and stranger wreaks mischief across the land of the Eldest. Glimmer-greed grips the hearts of some, while others seek words, and others seek blood.
Who prevails, I care not. I shall endure. Lizard-thing shall die, and green-flesh shall wither. The Names of the Eldest shall be mine, and all dead-things whisper my name, my love."
Luthor Harkon passed out of known history until 876 IC[1a][3a][4b][6a][7a], when the annals of the Empire of Man[2a] record that a Norscan raiding party attacked an Imperial merchant ship and took everything of value from within its holds. Unfortunately for the raiders, this included the sarcophagus of Luthor Harkon.[5b]
The Norse ship must have then headed south towards Lustria, perhaps pursued by Imperial ships or perhaps just searching for new lands to plunder[2a], and by the time the longship broke apart on the shores of Lustria, all its crew had undergone a marked change in both allegiance and vital signs[5b] -- the Norse had either been enslaved or turned into Undead and now served a new master: the Vampire Luthor Harkon.[2a]
Though stranded many thousands of miles from home, Luthor never looked back and took his newly indentured vassals on a march of conquest, carving out a realm for himself on the eastern coast of the southern continent of Lustria. The winds and currents along that stretch of coast proved to be incredibly treacherous to unwary vessels and, over time, Luthor's army became swollen with the lifeless corpses of all manner of unfortunate mariners.[5b] This stretch of coast was later to become infamous as the "Vampire Coast" because any Elven ship which passed too close was destined to meet a dire fate.[2a] High Elf naval captains also reported ghostly ships in the fog, and a siren-wail that lured sailors to their doom.[3a]
It seems likely that subsequent Norse expeditions may have turned up here, swept in this direction by prevailing winds and currents. If so their crews were doomed to join the ranks of Luthor's Undead.[2a] Before long, the Vampire Coast had its own pirate fleet, crewed by the dead and the damned.[5b]
It is quite possible that Harkon might have become a great power in the world but for his colossal pride and greed. Determined to augment his magical abilities, Luthor took an expedition to the ruined Lizardmen city of Huatl, hoping to find some secret that would increase his might. It was on the third week of his excavations that his servants uncovered an undisturbed chamber, sealed tight with ancient and powerful glyphs. Convinced that this vault concealed great secrets from him, Luthor commanded his servants to break down the door, yet the power of the glyphs thwarted him.
Each time Luthor's Zombies assailed the portal, the witchfires in their eyes dimmed and extinguished as the magic that animated them was drained away by the glyphs. Enraged, Luthor assailed the vault with his own Dark Magic, but the seals had been placed to defeat greater sorcerers than he and, faced with a direct assault, responded in kind. As the chamber began to collapse around him, Harkon found that he could not break the magical conduit between himself and the glyphs -- worse, he realised that they were not just draining his magical energies, but his very life force.
With a supreme effort, Harkon managed to break free from the glyphs and staggered outside, just before the passageway collapsed and the vault was swallowed once more. But the magical backlash shattered his mind and severed his connection to the Winds of Magic. As such, unlike other Vampires, beyond his power to control his Undead hordes, he has no magical abilities, but his unusual condition means that he emanates a peculiar anti-magic field.[5b]
Now Luthor teeters on the brink of insanity -- his personality fractured into a dozen different facets which battle for dominance within his mind, and his actions guided by whichever is in ascendance. If no single personality is dominant, Harkon remains almost motionless as the battle within his mind rages. This can result in Luthor being driven by his more lucid traits, but more often can lead to the more extreme character traits surfacing.
In addition, when Luthor is severely wounded and the strain is too much for the dominant personality, another, stronger, facet of himself takes over and continues the fight. In the years since, the only common goal that Harkon's various personalities have been able to work towards is that of finding a cure for his condition. To this end, he has bent his obsessions to seizing Slann artefacts, hoping their power can heal his damaged psyche.[5b]
Luthor's Vampire realm has thus become a source of great annoyance to the Lizardmen. He desires many of the precious arcane artefacts hidden in the vaults of their pyramid temples, and covets above all the mummified remains of the Slann. He regularly dispatches his servants to steal these items and with the Undead immune to the pestilence of the jungle they can only be stopped by the vigilance of the Lizardmen armies.[2a]
In 930 IC[3a][4b][6a][7a] Lord Xltep of Itza, aided by the ancient Kroxigor Nakai[3a], halted Luthor's attempt to penetrate the Lustrian interior with a shambling horde of drowned pirates and sailors, comprehensively defeating Luthor Harkon's horde at the Battle of the Eclipse[4b], thus fulfilling the Prophecy of Huanca-Zlanpac.[6a][7a]
Thirsting for vengeance against the Lizardmen, in 1011 IC Luthor Harkon orchestrated a dread enchantment to draw vessels sailing the Great Ocean off-course with its siren-wail to be shipwrecked on the Vampire Coast. Over the course of several centuries, he amassed a sizeable horde of Undead warriors by reanimating the corpses of his victims. Sixteen years later, he dispatched his Undead warriors aboard the decaying hulks of shipwrecked vessels, and the so-called Zombie Pirates of the Vampire Coast struck fear into the already superstitious mariners across the oceans of the world as they brought more victims back to join Harkon's armies.[4b]
In 1351 IC, Harkon was finally ready to mobilise a vast horde of Zombie Pirates and marched out of the fetid swamps of the Vampire Coast. The host was enveloped by a dank, stinking mist that seemed to creep along as the Undead advanced.
Despite heroic rearguard actions by desperate Skink sentinels, the horde fell upon the Temple-City of Axlotl, slaughtered its defenders, and cast it down so completely that it is said that no stone now stands upon another. Though the Skink Priests evacuated the most precious of artefacts, Harkon returned to his lair with countless items of arcane power.[4b]
The sacking of the Temple-City of Axlotl has made the eradication of his realm of utmost importance to the Slann Mage-Priests. With the coming of new races to Lustria from 1492 IC onwards, Harkon hatched a scheme to further his own ambitions, no matter the consequences of the invasion. He dispatched emissaries to the more black-hearted invaders, messengers bearing gifts -- gilded Ebony Skulls containing the power to call forth Harkon's servants, the reanimated corpses of seamen drowned off the Vampire Coast.
Each is an inky-black skull that must be cast to the ground to unlock the dark powers within. Once broken, the owner may call on the services of Luthor's servants and will thus be eternally in his debt. With these terrifying allies the invaders plunder the sacred places of the Lizardmen, thereby furthering Harkon's own power with every battle won.[4f]
The End Times
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Battle of the Mortis Delta
Although tinged with the lunacy that had afflicted him for centuries, Harkon had risen to become the self-proclaimed Pirate King of the Vampire Coast. He was not yet so mad that upon Nagash's return he had not willingly bowed before the great master of death.
Harkon's ships answered the summons, sailing away with holds full of zombies.[8a] It was a ramshackle conglomeration of ships from nearly every era of every seafaring nation in the world. Algae and rot had set deeply within both ships and crew alike, but for all that the fleet sailed at great speed. Fell winds drove them and they sailed beneath skies of black.[8b]
As the fleet neared the Mortis Delta, Harkon, feeling he had risked enough, gave the order. Knarrs, trade-cogs, and heavy merchantmen turned for shore. Likewise, all the warships that hauled barges serving as transports turned. They built up momentum before cutting loose the hulks behind them, tacking quickly into the wind before they too grounded themselves upon the shallows.
As the flagship, the Black Coffin, headed out to deeper waters with the rest of the fleet, a full third of his ships smashed to timbers upon the jagged reefs. Here and there, a few ships navigated deeper channels before grinding ashore. One of those would be the Desolation, the rotten ship of Harkon's second-in-command, Captain Drekla. Already thin grey lines could be seen shambling out of the water to form up on the banks.[8b]
Harkon opened hostilities by firing Queen Bess, the Hellhammer Cannon that took up most of the Black Coffin's middle deck. It spoke in tongues of fire, its roar heard all the way to the city of Zandri. Its tremendous shot screamed across the waters before hitting the Claw of Usirian, splintering bone and sending petrified timbers spinning hundreds of feet into the air.
The great warbarge sank in moments, taking hundreds of warriors and crew to the bottom. When the great cannon spoke next, it was accompanied by others up and down the approaching line, for the wind had brought more of the black-sailed ships closer so that lesser ordnance might join the chorus. Stoically the Khemrian fleet weathered the hail of shot, unflinching as geysers of spray erupted in the water around them, or debris whirled across their deck.[8b]
By the time the carronades began to sweep fire into the low-decked barges, King Kalhazzar of Zandri, leader of the Nehekharan fleet, realised something was wrong -- he had expected his shore batteries of Screaming Skull Catapults to fire at the incoming ships, but in the gloom he could just make out flashes of dark magic and the blaze of fire on shore where he knew the nearest batteries to be. He realised few, if any, of the catapults would be firing, and drawing forth his glittering khopesh, the king ordered ramming speed.[8b]
When the enemy warbarges were close enough to be seen and heard, Luthor Harkon had his secret weapon unleashed -- some dozen ships in his fleet carried fully-loaded Salamander bladders in barrels of salt water, procured at the cost of many decades and zombies. Working in teams of two and three, zombies untied the cumbersome bladders and lurched into position. The weapons' short range was not an issue, for the low-silhouetted warbarges were swiftly making headway across the water towards Harkon's front line of sail.
Gouts of flame belched forth as the first wave of barges sent their rams crashing into the rotting timbers of Harkon's vanguard. Blazing ships lit the darkness across the Mortis Delta. Some of Harkon's own craft were set alight as zombies misfired, or burning warbarges used their rams to impale the larger men-o'-war. One advantage of the rotten, soggy timbers was the fact that they made poor fuel for the flame, and thus burned slowly, but they tended to split catastrophically when rammed.[8b]
The battle was in full swing, with Harkon's second line of ships turning to deliver broadsides into the foe, when some Nehekharan warbarges streaked ahead to inflict crippling damage with their rams. Grappling hooks lashed ships together and fierce boarding actions were fought with sword, spear and club. The waters were aswarm with mortis sharks, and Harkon watched a rotting leviathan rise out of the waves to consume a small craft whole before submerging again. With targets on either side now, the Black Coffin opened up with a rolling bombardment, while carronades swept opposing decks clear with grapeshot.[8b]
Never before had such a naval battle taken place. Golden-plated warbarges rammed high-decked cogs, and skeletal crews duelled while liquid fire spread all around them. Longboats from Norsca lashed themselves to speedy kebentiu. Fell Bats swooped low to attack crew with scything claws, while Banshees skimmed over the waves or glided through decks, their wailing screeches splitting skulls.
At the bottom of the Mortis Delta, zombies from Lustria continued to grab and grasp at their foes until they sank too deeply beneath the thick sediment. The battle raged for two full days, illuminated only by burning ships and the ethereal glow of spectres. Not until the last warbarge was sunk, did the fighting stop. Harkon's fleet, although but a fraction of its former rotten glory, was victorious. The Battle of Mortis Delta was won.[8b]
After the battle, Luthor Harkon summoned Captain Drekla to his quarters aboard the Black Coffin and presented him with King Kalhazzar's sun-blanched skull, as a token of his appreciation for his excellent work silencing the shore batteries.[8b]
Battle of the Temple of Ualatp
In the end, it took Luthor Harkon's minions over two weeks of non-stop labour to dredge out the ships that were salvageable after the Battle of the Mortis Delta. Hauling up the wrecks had entailed a great deal of further fighting. Enemy warriors from sunken ships proved a continual hazard. Some bobbed up to the surface clinging to debris, while others eventually navigated the thick layers of silt on the delta's bottom to emerge on some nearby shoreline.
There was no telling when the next mud-covered group of Undead castaways would attack. In between battles, Harkon had been busy directing zombie crews in their repair operations, the crude patches making many ships close to watertight once again.[8c]
When Harkon's shambolic fleet finally sailed upstream from the Terrorport of Zandri, it was impressive in its size, if not condition. Even with a few vessels surrendering to ruptured repairs and sinking en route, over one hundred and fifty ships remained seaworthy.
All of these craft sat low in the water, as their hulls, both above and below decks, were packed with the living dead. Most pumped out bilge water as they went, as hasty repairs or general rot gave way, and let in the river. Meandering upstream against the current, it was not a swift fleet.[8c]
With pride of place at the centre of the armada sailed Luthor Harkon's flagship, the triple masted man-o'-war, the Black Coffin, with its black sails billowing. Harkon willed his Fell Bats to circle the fleet, alerting him of dangers or opportunities. Several times Harkon ordered anchors dropped so that river forts could be bombarded or troops disembarked to ransack the temples that overlooked the river.[8c]
In one of these occasions, Harkon spotted Pharoakh's Landing, a stone ledge with steep steps carved into the limestone cliffs that led up to a craggy hill dotted with ruins. It was also one of the only locations on the Mortis River where it was possible for ships to disgorge troops. Intent on plunder, the Pirate King ordered Captain Drekla to disembark with a landing party of zombies, and as this army mounted the top of the long stair, Drekla saw what was emerging from out of the deep desert -- unbeknownst to them, Mannfred von Carstein had taken refuge from King Behedesh's Zandrian army atop the hill in a ruined Temple of Ualatp, and now Behedesh had sent his second in command, King Nemhetum, to deal with the unexpected newcomers while he led the assault on the temple.[8c]
Soon both Drekla and Mannfred sent bats to Harkon to plead for reinforcements, and the Pirate King acted swiftly. Summoning the winged creatures that nested upside down upon the fleet's masts, the Black Coffin became the centre of a swirling vortex of bats. Only then did Harkon sprout enormous, membranous wings akin to great, ragged sailcloths himself, flying upwards at the head of a black cloud of fluttering vermin. Some of this flying swarm peeled off to begin an aerial battle with carrion, while others raked the Tomb King's forces on the stairs to the temple.
Luthor Harkon, however, decided to attack Hierophant Hapusneb of Zandri at the base of the hill instead of aiding Mannfred, believing that the whole desert army would crumble if its master sorcerer was slain. By the time the Liche Priest picked out the hurtling bat-form streaking downwards from the black clouds it was too late. Luthor Harkon swept by, his twin blades delivering a decapitating scissor-stroke, but to Harkon's bitter disappointment, King Behedesh's army still fought on. Nevertheless, without their Hierophant they lost the ability to replenish their losses, succumbing at last to eternity. This allowed Mannfred and Helmut von Carstein to destroy the King's Tomb Guard, and eventually Behedesh was treacherously killed by Helmut as he duelled Mannfred.[8c]
Battle of the Gates of Khemri
Although a late arrival at the final battle, Luthor Harkon, the self-proclaimed Vampire King of the Lustrian Coast, at last came to join the battle before the walls of Khemri. With him he brought his right hand, Captain Drekla, the Silver Hook of Sartosa, and his innumerable zombie formations. Alongside this motley crew fought Mannfred von Carstein.[8d]
Much to Mannfred von Carstein's growing ire, Luthor Harkon had insisted upon several raids along their river journey. These minor battles did no more than slow them down and capture tomb plunder. But at last, the armada had neared the city and Harkon ordered his transports run aground. Soon every ship was emptying its holds, and waves of zombies were shambling across the floodplain towards the battle that raged just before the shadows of Khemri's walls.
The addition of two powerful vampire lords and many tens of thousands more infantry were much needed reinforcements, and they arrived none too soon[8e], as the whole of the western flank would have been open for King Phurthotek, but for the newly arriving zombie legions headed by Mannfred von Carstein and Luthor Harkon.[8f]
Defence of Sylvania
After Nagash's conquest of Nehekhara, Luthor Harkon became one of the Nine Mortarchs of Nagash, receiving the title of "Mortarch of the Abyss."[9d] By the final stages of the End Times, he was one of the five Mortarchs that still remained by the Great Necromancer's side, together with Arkhan the Black, Krell, Vlad von Carstein, and Mannfred von Carstein[9a], and had been deployed with his Zombie Pirates on the eastern marches of Sylvania.[9b]
When an army of Nurgle Daemons led by a possessed Isabella von Carstein and the Nameless, who had taken control of Luthor Huss's body, was sent by Archaon to invade Sylvania, Harkon joined Mannfred atop Grim Moor, deploying his zombies on the southern hills, between a charred Sigmarite shrine and the abandoned coaching inn known as the Dead and Buried.[9b]
Mannfred would neither rely on Harkon's troops for his victory, nor entirely ignore their presence. The Lord of Sylvania was confident that his will was stronger than his rival's, for whom he held only contempt, and would not hesitate to wrench command of the pirate's hordes from Harkon if need arose. Mannfred's own zombies would head the attack, driven quickly onto the foe by the necromancers whose carrion carts were spread throughout the unbreathing mass. Only when the Daemons were pinned beneath the rotting dead would Mannfred unleash his true thrust: his Wights and the coffin-mad vampires.[9b]
After the battle was joined by Mannfred, Harkon's horde pressed onto the Daemons' southern flank. Already heavily engaged to their front, the Plaguebearers could spare few blades for this secondary threat, but still the pirate's forces fared far less well than Mannfred's. Harkon had never been a true adept of the necromancer's art, and his conjurings were sparse and fragile, easily disrupted by the two seeming mortals at the heart of the daemonic host.
This made the Zombie Pirates' lines not as tightly packed as Mannfred's. This weakness was soon -- if unwittingly -- exploited by the Beasts of Nurgle, who bounded through the gaps looking for fresh playmates. Never so spry as they thought, the creatures all too often slammed into knots of zombies. The beasts' confusion was quickly swamped by a desire to play with as many zombies as possible. Their affectionate flailing ripped the heart from many a formation, and Harkon's attack began to stall.
Mannfred had attention enough to spare that he took note of his fellow Mortarch's plight, but he paid it no mind. Where his forces fought, the Daemons were held at bay -- nothing else mattered. In fact, when he saw a frustrated Harkon draw his bone-hilted sabre and join the next charge, Mannfred weakened the magics binding the pirate's vanguard together.
His interference was rewarded almost at once, and a pair of slavering beasts burst through the crumbling ranks and pounced joyfully on the pirate, bearing him to the ground. The Daemons wouldn't be enough to kill him, but the indignity of their embrace was amusing to the arrogant Lord of Sylvania.[9b]
After losing his clash with Isabella von Carstein and the Nameless, Mannfred returned to the Dead and Buried atop his Dread Abyssal, Ashigaroth, which had been cursed by Isabella. Trying to save his steed, he killed a scarred Vampire -- one of Harkon's captains -- and shredding his soul, the Lord of Sylvania fed the scraps to Ashigaroth. This was enough to begin the Dread Abyssal's remission. By then Luthor Harkon, always quicker than his appearance suggested, had slipped silently from the inn's interior, and had his blade at Mannfred's throat before he could react. He was, however, spared by the timely intervention of Vlad von Carstein, who had just arrived at the head of a band of Drakenhof Templars.[9c]
Vlad quickly took command of the remaining Undead forces and leaders and organised a defence within the walls of the inn. Harkon had great respect for Vlad as a leader, but little faith as to his true allegiance. Too often, Vlad had shown greater attachment to the living than to his own kind, and in Harkon's eyes that made the elder von Carstein but a sliver better than the mortals whose favour he courted.
Nonetheless, Harkon was glad that Vlad was now left with the burden of keeping Mannfred in order. Despite his bluster, Harkon had no desire to test his might against the Lord of Sylvania. He had seen too many make the attempt before, and fail in the striving.[9c]
Luthor Harkon and Captain Drekla supposedly chose to help Mannfred hold the western courtyard of the inn, but neither had any real desire to fight at the Lord of Sylvania's side. Accordingly, they stood ready on the courtyard's north edge, as far from Mannfred as possible.
Harkon's madness returned as soon as the battle was joined. He strutted along the north wall, bellowing orders to followers he did not have, his cutlass scabbarded more often than it swung free. He would have perished many times over had not loyal Drekla ever been in his wake, hacking apart those zombies that came too close to the Pirate King.[9e]
When the Plaguebearers finally reached the Dead and Buried from the north, it was Harkon's cutlass that hacked down the first, the Daemon collapsing with an accusatory look in its eye, but dozens more came behind, thick black flies swarming all around.[9e]
Eventually, the defence of the inn became an impossible situation. In the centre of the courtyard, Harkon and Drekla fought alongside the last of the Drakenhof Templars, a shrinking ring of defiance that would scarcely last. Zombies and Plaguebearers pressed close all about, the former echoing the Nameless' whispered chant, the latter droning their never ending count. Harkon's insanity had grown deeper as the battle had raged. He hurled nautical insults with every thrust, the tangle of words so obscure as to be unintelligible.
Drekla, by contrast, fought without speaking, his heavy cutlass rising and falling like an executioner's axe, ichor and slime spattering his barnacle-encrusted coat. The captain used his hook to pinion his foes in place, trapping them beneath the brutal impact of his blade. From time to time he had to forgo this tactic in order to latch hold of Harkon's crossbelt, to stop his master's madness from carrying him deeper into the horde.[9f]
In the end, with a booming laugh that shook the Dead and Buried's timbers, the Great Unclean One Pusregnant charged through the splintered fence and into the western courtyard, crushing three Plaguebearers and two Drakenhof Templars, and then whirled his massive rusty blade in a slow but implacable arc, scything down a dozen zombies and the last of the midnight-armoured warriors.
Harkon saw the beast approach, and spitting an oath that would have made the hoariest of merchantsmen blush, he hurled himself at Pusregnant. Roaring with mirth, the Great Unclean One swung his flail, the linked skulls chattering as they hurled through the air. The impact would have pulped Harkon's flesh to ruin had they struck, but once again Drekla hauled his master clear. This time, however, the captain did so at the cost of his own miserable existence. The cluster of laughing skulls missed their intended target, but struck Drekla across the chest and tore him apart.[9f]
Taking advantage of the Greater Daemon's surprise, Mannfred made Ashigaroth leap onto Pusregnant's back, and as the Daemon heaved and twisted trying to dislogde the Great Abyssal from his back, Harkon lunged forward, his cutlass spearing deep into the Great Unclean One's seeping guts. Stinking fluid splashed across Harkon's sword arm, and crowing Nurglings tumbled forth from Pusregnant's bowels, scratching and biting at the Vampire who had disturbed their slumber.
Harkon ignored them, and ripped his blade free of the Daemon's guts with a sound like tearing cloth. Pusregnant bellowed again, his heavy sword plunging down to split the Vampire admiral in twain. At that very moment, Mannfred lunged down with all his strength, the tip of Gheistvor piercing the folds of flesh about the Great Unclean One's skull, and then splitting the thick, crusted ridge of bone beneath.
Pusregnant's dying roar cut off as Gheistvor's steel passed through the base of his festering brain and into his warped spine. Ashigaroth leapt clear as the Great Unclean One's corpse slumped forward, almost crushing Harkon beneath his bulk.[9f]
Mannfred moved quickly to snare the power of the vile spirit of the Daemon as his own, healing the last of Ashigaroth's pestilent wounds. He then realised that Isabella von Carstein had finally reached the courtyard, and having little desire to risk another encounter with her, he gave the countess a mocking wave and directed Ashigaroth skyward. Harkon, mad though he was, saw the sense in the Lord of Sylvania's departure. Too spent for flight, he ran up the mound that was Pusregnant's corpse, then flung himself upward, grasping for a handhold on Ashigaroth's flank.
Harkon's straining fingers locked around a nodule of bone, and he too was borne clear of the swirling flies below. However, Mannfred had neither the desire nor need to save Harkon's wretched existence. With a snarl, the Lord of Sylvania lashed out. Gheistvor's enchanted blade hacked through Harkon's arm, severing it at the elbow. As Mannfred sped south to report his failure, a piece of Harkon still clinging to his mount, the Vampire admiral plunged back into the fate he had sought to escape.[9f]
Harkon's fall was cushioned by the thick carpet of dead in the courtyard, but not sufficiently. There was a sound like a rotten bough breaking as he landed, his lower left leg twisting sideways at a sickening angle and pitching him face-first into the mounds of the slain. Still the Lord of the Vampire Coast did not give up.
Shouting with madness and pain, he pushed himself up onto his knees by jamming the point of his cutlass downward into the trampled dead. As the Daemons crowded close, Harkon sent the heavy blade sweeping out in an arc before him, slitting the flesh of the Plaguebearers' bellies and groins. He shouted a fresh challenge with each foe that fell, daring the Daemons to face his cutlass, to finish what Mannfred had begun.[9f]
A dozen daemons had sunk lifeless to join the mass of corpses when their ranks parted to allow Isabella's passage. She regarded the crippled Harkon for a moment, a slight smile playing across her face, ignoring the vile torrent of curses that spilled from the other's lips. Then, without giving voice to a single word, she stepped inside the arc of Harkon's flailing cutlass. Isabella's own blade parried the admiral's strike. Before Harkon could attempt another, Isabella stamped hard on the flat of his blade, trapping it against the soft flesh of his victims.
The countess' own sword blurred once, and Harkon's weapon-hand fell twitching from his wrist. As Harkon's fresh stream of agonised vitriol split the air, Isabella gestured to the Plaguebearers. They came forward, seizing Harkon by his ruined arms and holding him fast. Ignoring the spittle that flecked her face, she knelt before Harkon.
Murmuring calming words utterly at odds with the cruel smile upon her lips, she took the Vampire's head in her hands as might a lover, and held him tight. Isabella watched with rapt delight as her curse took hold. In moments, Harkon's Undead body had collapsed into foetid liquid. Thus ended the reign of the Pirate King of the Vampire Coast.[9f]
- 4 Conquest of the New World (6th Edition)
- 8 The End Times: Nagash (8th Edition)
- 9 The End Times: Archaon (8th Edition)