The Sword of Khaine, known more poetically as the Widowmaker or the Godslayer, is a cursed magical sword that was said to be forged from a fragment of the greatest sword forged for the Elven war god Khaine by the smith god Vaul.
It is sometimes considered the most powerful weapon in the Warhammer World, even more than Ghal Maraz or the Axes of the Dwarf Ancestor God Grimnir, capable of even killing the gods. The weapon is considered so powerful that if it were wielded again it could change the course of the history of the Elves and of the whole world.
At the beginning of the second age of the world, Khaine had locked in the deepest abysses of his dungeons the other Elven gods Kurnous and Isha, where he practised endless torments upon them to feed their anger with their pain. Of all the Elven gods, not even Asuryan, who at first allowed the torture and then did not know how to stop it, dared to challenge Khaine to free his siblings. That was when Vaul, the blacksmith, discovered the way to save them without having to fight against the mighty war god. He agreed with Khaine to forge a hundred divine swords before the next Moon of Khaine.
At the end of the term Vaul had only prepared ninety-nine swords, so he mixed among them a mortal sword so as not to break his commitment and free the gods. Khaine was satisfied and Kurnous and Isha were released from the fire and pain. Freshly fed and strengthened in their respective celestial kingdoms, Khaine realised the deception and mounted up for war in anger, swearing vengeance.
The whole pantheon was wracked by the wrath of Khaine. None dared again to face him as the Bloody God shattered everything in his wake with the ninety-nine Vaul swords. While searching for the solution the world reached the brink of destruction.
Then Vaul forged the last sword, and made it more powerful than all the previous ones, and captured within it the essence of the same death, along with the hatred of all the daemons and the power of the gods. The forged sword was so powerful that its greed for death could reach gods and worlds alike, destroying the essence of its enemies, but also of the one who wielded it. With such power within it, the gods feared the sword even more than Khaine.
Then, when all seemed lost, Eldanesh, the greatest of all the Elven heroes who had ever existed or will exist, knelt before the gods and offered to be the Bearer of the Sword. Isha wept for his death, and Asuryan tried to persuade him against it, confessing that the sword contained all the destruction and hatred in the world, and that his thirst for blood would become so great that he would not settle for the death of his enemies and corrupt his own soul; taking him down the paths of hatred to his own darkness.
The darkness of the blade would invade him and the daemons of the sword would devour his soul while he himself became little more than a daemon. In spite of everything and having to face Khaine, Eldanesh, to the astonishment and admiration of gods and Men, drew the sword and advanced towards the Desolation of Khaine.
When Khaine saw Eldanesh approach, for the first time since he had wielded the ninety-nine swords, Khaine came out of his state of savage fury and laughed at the mortal who was trying to face a god. But at that moment the war god saw the black-edged blade that Eldanesh held in his right hand, and saw his death reflected in that weapon, a blade with a spirit so close to his own nature.
The fight that followed was titanic. Eldanesh, despite being practically a god among the elves, was still a mortal among the gods, but his sword broke all the others. Seeing his death approach, and feeling only for the second time in his life fear, Khaine crossed the blade of Eldanesh with the last of the ninety-nine swords forged by Vaul, the best of them, the Death that Cries, the heart of the hero, and wounded Eldanesh. Eldanesh's blood flowed through the wound as life escaped from his shattered body, merging with the souls of his ancestors in the lakes of Isha, beyond the knowledge of mortals where only the gods have vision and mandate.
Khaine, however, could not forget the Elf who had the courage to fight him, and admired and honoured him. At the same time, even the war god feared to wield the Sword, and decided to give it instead to the mortal Elves where it would serve as a throbbing, ever-present curse and homage to a lost time.
By the will of Asuryan, Khaine was cursed for shedding the blood of Eldanesh such that the blood of that hero forever after dripped continuously from his hands. This was done so that for all time the war god would see the reflection of his own courage and boldness in the blood of the mortal Elves, and he will thus never try again to destroy the world. As such, he was thereafter called Khaela Mensha Khaine by the Elves, the Bloody-Handed God.
The Sword of Khaine is the physical manifestation in the mortal realm of murder and violence. It seems to possess a malign intelligence, and constantly lusts for blood. The blade calls to Elven warriors, whispering in their minds and urging them to draw it, promising endless power in exchange for bloodshed. To draw the Godslayer is to invite Khaine into your heart and soul.[1a]
The blade has a corrupting influence not just on its wielder, but on all who are in close proximity to it. The malign forces emanating from the Widowmaker change personalities, replacing empathy with callousness, reason with hatred, and mercy with ruthlessness.[2a]
The Widowmaker appears to take on different forms to suit the personal preferences of the viewer. To Aenarion the Defender it appeared as a sword. For Malekith, it was a sceptre, and for Caledor the Conqueror the Godslayer was a lance. In all cases, the sword perpetually drips blood.[1a]
The Sword of Khaine was forged by Vaul, the smith god of the Elven Pantheon. During its forging, it was heated using the fiery breath of Draugnir, father of Dragons. However, the bloodthirsty blade took more from Draugnir than was given, and as a result the fate of the Dragons and Draugnir's descendants was forever bound to that of the elves.[1b]
The Widowmaker is embedded within the Altar of Khaine, in the Shrine of Khaine which is located on the Blighted Isle (off the coast of northern Ulthuan). The Blighted Isle is currently under control of the High Elves, who generally seek to prevent anyone from drawing the blade again. However, this does not stop the Dark Elves from attempting to capture the island, and many battles have been fought there.[1a]
During the Coming of Chaos, after the Old Ones' polar star gates were destroyed and the arcane power of Chaos flooded into the world, when the Elven race was on the verge of annihilation, the wife of the first Phoenix King Aenarion, Astarielle, was killed by the Greater Daemon of Slaanesh N'Kari. In his grief, Aenarion travelled to the Blighted Isle and drew the Sword of Khaine, which cursed his line forever.
The blade exerted its influence and Aenarion's mood darkened, turning callous and cruel. Bloodsports became common in the kingdom of Nagarythe where Aenarion ruled. Aenarion even contemplated attacking his friend and ally Caledor Dragontamer, who took issue with his course of action after drawing the blade, but the Daemons returned before it could be done.
Aenarion was already the anointed of Asuryan, but the Sword of Khaine made him nigh unstoppable. He used the sword to kill four Greater Daemons of Chaos at once, although he was mortally wounded in the process. Before dying he thrust the Widowmaker back into the Altar of Khaine, where it remains.[1a]
His descendants, the twins Tyrion and Teclis, are tainted by the blade's curse like all of his line before [1d] and the blade is known to have called to Tyrion, tempting him to draw it.[1a] The Sword is known to have called to Caledor the Conqueror, a later Phoenix King, although he resisted the urge to draw it.[1c] There is speculation that the former Phoenix King Tethlis may have attempted to draw the blade and was slain by his own bodyguard, but others say Tethlis fell to a Dark Elf assassin, so his fate remains unclear.[1a]
The Sword of Khaine is fused to the Altar of Khaine on the Blighted Isle north of Ulthuan. According to the Elven myth, the sword was forged by Vaul, expressly for the use of Khaine, the elven god of war and murder. This would mean that the sword was not designed to be used by mortals, as it is a power beyond their control.
Although traditionally regarded as a sword, Khaine's blade appears as a different weapon to every individual who sees it, but always dripping blood. Even against the dark of the sky it is visible, a deeper blackness obscuring the fearful stars. Along the blade red runes glow sensuously. Blood condenses from the air about them, dripping down the channel in the centre of the sword.[3a]
The Sword is supposed to look different for every wielder; for Aenarion, it was a sword — upon Malekith's first journey to the Isle, it flickered between axe, sword, and spear before settling on a sceptre of rule — a symbol that he could destroy the world with all of elvenkind as his weapon. During the End Times, Malekith once more gazed upon the weapon, now a spear with a head of crimson lightning and a shaft of bone.[6a]
For Caledor I it was a lance — no one knew what Tethlis had seen, he did not live long enough to tell. Thus it surprised Tyrion, as it was a sword for him, as it had been for Aenarion.
It is said that the sword is always hungry for the destruction and blood of others, exerting its influence and appearing in the dreams of all the Elves (in particular warriors), calling out to them. Tyrion, being the greatest warrior of the elves and of Aenarion's blood, is the Sword's favored bearer, but has rejected it several times.
- Godslayer, Widowmaker, Doom of Worlds, Spear of Vengeance, Deathshard, Icefang, and Heavenblight. By many names it is called, by mortal and daemons and gods. But one name alone it truly holds: Sword of Khaine, the Lord of Murder.
- Eoloran Anar always refused to speak of the Sword of Khaine by name, often calling it simply ‘the Doom’ or ‘that infernal blade’. There would be a haunted look in his eye as he spoke of the Widowmaker, a distant memory of sights that none would ever see, even in nightmare.[5a]
- 1: Warhammer Armies: High Elves (8th Edition)
- 2: End Times: Khaine (Volume Three)
- 2a: pg. 88
- 3: Warhammer Armies: High Elves (5th Edition)
- 3a: pg. 61
- 4: Aenarion (Short Story) by Gav Thorpe
- 5: Shadow King (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- 5a: Chapter 4
- 6: The Curse of Khaine (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- 6a: Chapter 21
- Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (4th Edition)
- pg. 7
- Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (7th Edition)
- pg. 8
- Warhammer Armies: High Elves (7th Edition)
- pg. 17
- pg. 18
- Warhammer Armies: High Elves (8th Edition)
- pg. 17
- The End Times III - Khaine