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Skulltaker

U'Zhul standing upon the skulls of his enemies.

U'Zhul, better known as Skulltaker, Khorne's Champion, the Blooded Wanderer, the Slayer of Kings and as Vrkas during his mortal life, is a mighty Daemon Prince of Khorne who takes the form of a hulking Bloodletter.

History

Vrkas was once a mighty Kurgan Warlord and Zar of the Dolgan tribe. Forging disparate warbands into a mighty army, he led them into battle against the forces of the Tong. A hundred warlords fell to to the Dolgan's axe, but with each victory the warriors of the defeated Chieftains swore fealty to Vrkas and his army swelled.[2]

Vrkas then led his army into the Tong's homeland and slaughtered all in his path. It was during the last and greatest battle that he finally met a worthy foe, for Teiyogtei Khagan was the mightiest Tong warlord to have ever lived. Wielding the daemon sword Bloodeater, Khagan was able to best Vrkas with his superior weapon. The Kurgan warlord was captured and spitted atop a spike, and days went by as his body was slowly and painfully impaled. Whilst any other warrior would have begged for death, Vrkas was consumed by hatred. Khagan had denied him a warrior's death and so, with great strenght, he pulled himself from the spike and crawled across the wastes, his entrails following behind.[2]

Vrkas soon came across a great forge. It was here that Teiyogtei Khagan had forged the mighty daemon sword that he had used to best the Kurgan Zar. As Vrkas approached, dying, a voice called out to him from the forge itself. A mighty Bloodthirster's soul had been enslaved to power the forge. Defeated and destroyed long ago by Khagan, the daemon had guided Vrkas to him as an instrument of vengeance. He empowered the dying Kurgan with the forge's might, gifting him near impenetrable armour, regeneration and a sword as black as midnight. Thus, Vrkas was reborn as the Skulltaker.[2]

Over the coming years the name of the Skulltaker was made legend, a tireless Chaos Champion of Khorne, who challenged and slew any warlord he encountered, offering their skulls to the Blood God. Tales abounded of how he had killed the Chaos Dragon Shaneeth and placed its bleeding heads at the foot of the Skull Throne; how he rode against the Ogres of the Marrowchewer, and alone scoured them from the land; how he dared face the Sin Stealer of the decadent Ulvags and vanquished the daemon from the realm of mortals for a thousand years; how he visited destruction upon the blasphemous city of Po and left not one of Lashor’s children alive within its accursed walls...[2]

Eventually the Skulltaker ventured into the lands of the Tong and their subjugated allies. None could stand against him, not the craftiest Hung, the strongest Kurgan or most monstrous Gor. All who did battle with him were cut down, their bodies left heaped in great carrion mounds. No tribe or nation had been able to defy the armies of Teiyogtei, but the Skulltaker cut a path through them as though they were feeble children. Eventually, the great Teiyogtei rode forth to personally deal with this threat.[1]

Facing Teiyogtei Khagan in his mighty kingdom, the Skulltaker became engaged in a duel of epic proportions. The two Champions clashed with Daemon blade and fought for days. Eventually, the Skulltaker was able to mortally wound his enemy, but not before Teiyogtei drove Bloodeater into his stomach. Vengeance should have been fulfilled and the Skulltaker should have died that day, but he could only be banished, not destroyed. Such was Khorne's blessing upon the vengeful warrior.[2]

The Skulltaker would return hundreds of years later to destroy the Tong's homeland. Slaughtering each of Teiyogtei's successors, he offered their skulls to his ancient forge and thus destroyed their entire realm, drawing it into the lands of Khorne and erasing it from existence in the mortal world. The Skulltaker was rewarded for this with ascension to daemonhood, taking on a form resembling a mighty Bloodletter and wearing a cloak of skulls. The man once known as Vrkas had became one of Khorne's mightiest followers.[2]

Deamonhood

When not campaigning with his master's armies, Skulltaker roams the Realm of Chaos atop his mighty Juggernaut, Kuhl'tyran. He appears before fortress and stronghold, bellowing challenge after challenge to the greatest warriors within until one of their number is foolish enough to meet him in single combat. When a foe emerges, Skulltaker dismounts from his loyal steed, salutes the enemy with upturned blade and charges forward to claim another skull in the Blood God's name.[1a]

Such duels are brief and bloody, for Skulltaker is swifter than the last beat of a shattered heart and knows every weakness of every enemy. Skulltaker does not slay his foes outright, but shatters their limbs, leaving them helpless. Skulltaker's clawed grasp settles upon his fallen opponent's head, magical fire gouts from his fingertips, searing away skin and sinew until pale bone is laid bare for all to see. With a single perfect twist borne of long practice, Skulltaker breaks the naked skull free of its spine and tosses it into a coarse woven sack filled with trophies from previous victims. He then bellows his challenges at the fortress once more, striking down any further champions that emerge until no others present themselves or boredom sets in. Mounting Kuhl'tyran once more, Skulltaker departs in search of fresh foes.[1a]

U'Zhul is just as feared in the mortal realms as he is in the courts of the Dark Gods. He is drawn by tales of martial prowess and rumour of mighty combatants who might offer some small challenge. History is littered with accounts of his appearance before the gates of Bretonnian castles, Ogre feasthalls, Elf mansions, Nehekharan necropolises and Dwarf holds, each time demanding that an accomplished warrior be sent forth to face him. Such encounters never end well for mortals. Indeed, in all the legends surrounding the Skulltaker there is but one account that tells of anything other than his victory. In the legends of the Empire, he battles Sigmar in the Worlds Edge Mountains for three days without pause, but ultimately earns naught for his defeat.

Skulltaker still bears the scar he earned that day, and he takes great pleasure in repaying the debt on Sigmar's inheritors at every opportunity -- Daemons have long memories, and little desire to grant forgiveness. Over the millennia, the Skulltaker's collection of trophies has become so massive as to be beyond counting. Whilst U'Zhul collects skulls from all his victims, it is only those of mighty individuals he truly cherishes, for with the taking of the skull he inherits a portion of the enemy's strength. He hooks his most prized skulls, mementos of close fought and satisfactory battles all, onto his cloak. All others he sets upon the parapet of Khorne's Brass Citadel to watch the approaches to the Blood God's lair. So it is that a Daemon that began existence as a Bloodletter has become something to command the respect of the Dark Gods themselves.[1a]

Wargear

  • Cloak of Skulls: Forged from the claimed crania of favoured victims and heavy with dark enchantments, the Cloak of Skulls offers formidable protection against the enemy's blows and spells.[1a]
  • The Slayer Sword: Crafted from a single shard of Khorne's boundless wrath, this blade blazes with unholy energy and has an uncanny ability to find the foe's weak spot.[1a]

Trivia

  • The daemonic blade wielded by Archaon is known also known as U'zhul, or the Slayer of Kings. It is hinted that an essense of this great daemon is bound within the sword.

Sources

  • 1 Warhammer Armies: Daemons of Chaos (8th Edition)
    • 1a pg. 34
  • 2: Warhammer: Blood For the Blood God

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