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 weapon 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.
While often referred to as a sword, the Widowmaker has no fixed shape, changing itself to fit those who would wield it. It has appeared as a scepter, a lance and as a spell book.
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; when Aenarion arrived at the Shrine of Khaine, the weapon shifted multiple times, appearing as a blur of sword, knife, axe, bow and strange weapons unknown to elfkind, before settling in the form of a long-bladed sword, its black blade etched with red runes of woe and destruction.[6a]
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