"Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light." -Dylan Thomas
In Warhammer 40,000
Khaine is one of the three Eldar gods that survived the Fall of the Eldar (the other two being Cegorach and Isha), although he was trampled and pushed out of the Warp and into realspace while Khorne was busy piledriving baby Slaanesh all over Eldar heaven. Because of this, he's no longer "alive" in a spiritual sense and is now shattered into a bajillion physical pieces. These pieces made their way into the Craftworlds, where they can be used to summon a manifestation of Khaine when the need arises. An Avatar of Khaine is a towering daemonic creature that turns anything it can get its hands on into a pile of ash. He's also the angriest god of the Eldar pantheon, and while he can't really contest with the RAGE of Angron and Doombreed, he probably comes close.
It has been hinted at that Khaine (as well as the rest of the Eldar pantheon) is one of the Old Ones, and so strictly speaking is not exclusively an Eldar deity. He was also the Bloody-Handed God of War for the Hrud.
The story of the single angriest Eldar entity ever
Long ago, when the Eldar were the most powerful race in the universe and they hadn't raped themselves yet, Khaine heard from Lileath, the prophesy giver of the Eldar pantheon, that the Eldar would one day kill him. Khaine decided to murder every last one of the pansies to ensure that never happened. However, Isha, the mother-goddess of the Eldar, wept for them because no sane mother would want her own children butchered to death by a maniacal god of war. Khaine's rage gets pretty visible at this point because he had the hots for Isha and still completely ignored her, even after she immediately used her common sense and said she was not getting with a genocidal manifestation of pure wrath (per the book Path of the Eldar. Speaking of which, this book basically says that Eldar Exarchs and Khaine have severe psychological problems. Too bad the only gods who come close to being psychologists are this warmongering atheist and this squawking politician patron of spontaneous casters. The last one would be this god who doesn't believe that you (or he) exists).
Anyway, then Asuryan, the Phoenix King of the Eldar gods, intervened and decided to spare the Eldar from their would-be fate at the bloody hands of Khaine, and Isha from having to see it, by creating a barrier to separate mortals from gods for all eternity. This ensured that the mortal Eldar would never have the chance to kill Khaine and that Khaine would never be able to enter the mortal realm and kill all of the Eldar. This worked for Khaine, but not so well for Isha.
Isha missed talking to her children and so cheated through the whole barrier deal by having Vaul the Artificer (the best craftsman of the Eldar gods) make spirit stones to communicate with them. Khaine however, discovered this, and cried foul on Isha and her husband Kurnous. Asuryan, not wanting to look like a biased dick, told Khaine that he could do whatever he wanted with the two, so naturally Khaine chose eternal torment. Vaul got pissed at this and bargained with Khaine that he would make a hundred of his finest swords in a year in exchange for Isha and Kurnous' release, which Khaine agreed to.
However, because Vaul decided to jerk off on the last day rather than work, he couldn't make the last sword in time and instead tried to trick Khaine by putting one normal sword among the bunch of ninety-nine epic swords he made, thinking that Khaine, with his short attention span and inability to count beyond 10, wouldn't notice and would just accept the fuckheug pile of swords as is. However, he didn't count on Khaine being a total mathfag/detailfag whenever he's weaponwhoring, and so Khaine got almighty pissed over this and fucked over Vaul by beating the shit out of him and chaining him to an anvil. Yeah, a lot of people reeeaaallly love to screw with Khaine. Too bad the guy has a terrible sense of humor.
Then he murdered Eldanesh, an Eldar champion, in an unspecified incident after which Asuryan condemned him to have blood eternally drip from his hands to remind him of his crime, earning him the title "Khaela Mensha". All of this was after he and Eldanesh fought side by side against the Necrons (so called "Autochinii" in the wonderful novel Path of the Eldar by Gav Thorpe), but before the War in Heaven in the Eldar interpretation of it, in which it is a war precipitated by the wrongful death of Eldanesh.
When the Chaos god Slaanesh was birthed from the accumulated Warp energy of the Eldar's galactic empire of excess and decadence, Khaine tried to battle the newborn god and managed to put up a pretty good fight, despite the fact The Great Hermaphrodite had already consumed the other Eldar gods and was backed by the Ruinous Powers themselves. After lord knows how long he was beaten and about to be devoured, but then Khorne appeared and challenged Slaanesh to a battle, as he claimed that Khaine was his property and that Slaanesh had no right to eat him. Needless to say, Slaanesh lost. While Khorne was busy piledriving and backbreaking Slaanesh into oblivion, Khaine was in the middle of it and got shattered into a million pieces, presumably because Khorne had left his axe back at the Brass Citadel and Khaine was the only available melee weapon at the time. Or maybe he made a fine object on which to drop Slaanesh over and over again. The rest is history.
So in the end, Lileath's prophesy did come true in a sense. The Eldar were responsible for the birth of Slaanesh, who sort of got Khaine killed, but not totally because technically he is still "alive". It's just that he's not up and about anymore, like Cegorach and Isha, and now has to live with the fact that he, the Eldar god of war and destruction, was himself destroyed. Either way, it was either Just As Planned by Tzeentch, who was the only Chaos God who didn't directly intervene during the fall of the Eldar, or Cegorach, because that hilarious son of a bitch just HAD to do it to put Khaine in his place before he slipped back into the Webway. Hell, for all we know, the two could have orchestrated the entire Fall of the Eldar just to be the only two entities who managed to successfully screw with Khaine and get away with it.
The Avatar of Khaine
The Avatar of Khaine is a unique Eldar daemon unit. The Avatar is basically a small fragment of Khaine's power given form (although small is very relative; an Avatar is about as powerful as a Greater Daemon of Chaos) through one of his fragments present in a Craftworld.
The Eldar will only summon the Avatar into battle under the most dire of circumstances when there is no other choice. This is because in order to summon the Avatar, the Eldar must sacrifice one of their Exarchs, known as the "Young King", in order to bring him into existence, and this only lasts for a limited amount of time. Like any daemon, after some time, the Avatar will eventually degenerate and disappear, taking the sacrificed Exarch with it. There is an alternative method of awakening the Avatar, but it requires no less than six Phoenix Lords to show up on a craftworld simultaneously and place their weapons at the Avatar's feet. The concentration of psychic energy is enough to not only awaken the Avatar without needing a sacrifice but to supercharge him, granting him additional attacks, range and imperviousness to plasma-weapons.
On the tabletop, this thing has gone from having its stats rolled randomly to being a dedicated melee monstrous creature which has the notable ability of immunity to flamer and melta weapons, because Khaine is also the Eldar god of fire. Although there are multiple Avatars, since each Craftworld only has one, it's considered a special character. In the current codex, the Avatar's been delegated to the Lord of War slot. it's mostly overshadowed by the Wraithknight in spite of the fact that he's WS, BS, and I10 and delivers 7 S9 Armorbane attacks on the charge.
He used to be really strong, but Games Workshop's authors have taken a liking to murdering Avatars every chance they get depending on marketing needs. Because of this, the Avatar has been:
- Killed hilariously by Marneus Calgar in hand-to-hand combat in the 5th edition Space Marine codex (after sweeping through a Devastator and Terminator squad, but still).
- Possessed by Heartslayer, a Keeper of Secrets (oh, the irony), during the invasion of the Eldar Craftworld Kher-Ys.
- Trampled to death by twelve stampeding Carnifexes during the battle between Craftworld Iyanden and the Hive Fleet Kraken. What happened was that the Avatar goaded the swarm's Hive Tyrant into a duel. What the Avatar failed to realize was that this wasn't tabletop and that the Tyranids are a pragmatic instead of an idealistic lot who have no concept of honorable or dirty fighting, so the Hive Tyrant just raised his brow at this and sent twelve Carnifexes to run the Avatar over. (Weirdly, Matt Ward gave him a more dignified death than this bullshit.)
- Strangled (WTF?)/neck snapped by Fulgrim. Which doesn't make much sense considering the Avatar neither breathes nor has bones. Then again, Astartes (and humanity in general) have proven time and again that they can kill anything, all thanks to the favoritism and plot armor brought to them by Games Workshop.
- Killed by the Sanguinor. This is actually a believable one since the Sanguinor is (probably) literally Sanguinius reborn sooo...yeah.
- "Put out of his misery" by Lorgar (who was at the time considered to be the worst fighter out of all the Primarchs). Though the Avatar was heavily damaged even before the fight, unable to even stand and driven mad by centuries spent in the Warp, and this was just a few pages before Lorgar proved to be a top level badass as he battled and bested Anggrath, the uber-Bloodthirster of Khorne who can eat Avatars and Titans like cookies.
- Killed by Gabriel Angelos' 3rd company without the aid of anything heavier than a Dreadnought during the Tartarus Campaign (though a video game example is slightly less ridiculous because it's usually up to the player rather than plot armor). The presence of Isador Akios, though he was already descending towards heresy, probably helped too.
- Killed in a break-dancing competition by a Khornate Bloodthirster during the Eldar's incursion on Lorn V (at least this one's non-canon).
- Killed in single combat by Epistolary Anteas of the Blood Ravens during the Kronus Campaign. (Yep, Papa Smurf himself just got outdone by a Librarian). (This might not be entirely canon; Anteas is only credited with stealing the pieces of the Avatar's armor, and the in-game Librarian is only fighting the Avatar single-handedly because of engine limitations. The cutscene is designed to show off monstrous creatures, which Spess Mehreens don't have.)
- Killed twice by Force Commander Hair Gel's squad during the fighting to pacify the Eldar in subsector Aurelia. Though to be honest, both of these battles are really fucking hard if you don't have a well-managed squad, and nothing short of greater daemons is more than a speedbump for Tarkus or Cyrus.
- Stabbed in the heart by Maugan Ra to temper his Maugetar. See? Even in its own faction, the thing gets killed anticlimactically.
- Abandoned on a Maiden World, where its connection to the Eldar was severed, reducing it to a mindless state of rage. The now-unbound Avatar consequently called out to the Orks of the nearby Octarius system, which were happy to answer it. It's kind of sad that the only time the Avatar isn't being a jobber is when he's being used by someone else entirely.
- Killed by the Legion of the Damned when assisting the Invaders in their assault on Craftworld Idharae. When the Legion realized their flaming bolters did squat against the Avatar, they instead brought the roof down on it. Bringing down the roof...sigh...
- Possibly defended Farseer Caerys' last base on Kaurava III only to be blown away by VANCE MOTHERFUCKING STUBBS and his 100 Baneblades after they refused to fuck off.
Similar to his 40k part only not in pieces. He is given a LOT more respect in this version of him, shown to be a powerful, mighty god that is renowned and feared (as he should be, you pussies).
There was no prophesy that the Elves would harm him, so that 40k story about him trying to wipe the mortal elves out didn't happen in the Fantasy universe because he had no reason to dislike the mortal elves. The Swords of Vaul story DID happen however, and that final Sword was the Widowmaker which somehow ended up in the mortal world (a lot of Khaine's shit does actually, probably at a 1:1 ratio with Lileath's). He's not outright evil (other than the fact he likes war just like the Fantasy players), rather he's pretty neutral and the High Elves love to acknowledge the dualities of "evil has to be killed by good, there can be no joy without sorrow, etc" with him.
Overall, Khaine is a huge asshole and High Elves acknowledge him as part of the pantheon but do not actually worship him (barring a small minority amongst the Nagarythe who are a bit more fucked up than the rest of the lot, which is saying something). Dark Elves on the other hand praise him in Asuryan's place (when they aren't worshiping Slaanesh anyway). High Elves do not insult him however, and still include a depiction of him amongst the High Elf Pantheon. The Shrine of Khaine is a hotly fought over place between the High and Dark Elves, the former trying to prevent his worship and the latter trying to, well, worship at it. It's the location of the Widowmaker (see below).
He's not overly fond of ANY of the elf races in the mortal world, but since the Dark Elves revere him instead of big boss Asuryan (Eldar confirmed for Dark Elves, Dark Eldar confirmed for
badass Dark Elves *FWIP* TRAITOR, DIE IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD ASURYAN AND THE PHOENIX KING! What Phoenix King? You mean Malekith lol?) he grants them boons then sits back with some popcorn and watches the Elves slaughter each other.
His love of war combined with his elfness and that his most ardent worshipers are scantily-clad women means he's probably the secret love-child of Khorne and Slaanesh (tsundere confirmed).
The Sword of Khaine
Long ago, when the Old Ones left and Daemons were overrunning the world, Aenarion, the first Phoenix King of the High Elves (as well as the father of the king of the Dark Elves) took up the Sword to help fight off the Daemons. He used it to kick so much ass he eventually drove the Daemons back. During the final battle against the Daemons, while his best bud created a Vortex to syphon off the extra magic and keep the Daemons from manifesting properly, he used the sword to fight and kill all four avatars of the Chaos Gods, killing a Lord of Change, Bloodthirster and Keeper of Secrets single-handedly (though his HUEG dragon helped him against the Great Unclean One). Suck it Marneus.
Aenarion, mortally wounded, took his (also mortally wounded) dragon and flew across half a continent (which, thanks to the size of the Warhammer world, means a full sized continent) back to the island then stuck it in the ground at the Shrine, where it remains to this day.
Some editions imply the Widowmaker being grabbed by Aenarion and thus causing the Dark Elves to happen is Khaine's plan come to fruition so there'd always be elves fighting and thus his portfolio would mean something. Other times, he's with the other gods in facepalming when he nabbed it and cursed himself. It's open to interpretation.
Khaine Lives In Death
Khaine was the main focus of The End Times' third book, which focused on the conclusion of the Elven wars.
So Malekith, king of the Druchii and all-around bad person, manages to repeat the ritual of becoming the Phoenix King once again and succeeds this time, reclaiming the title that was rightfully his. Tyrion, the closest thing to a guardian as Ulthuan has had the entire event, finds this to be a breaking point in a series of upsets (Including being utterly unaware that his own illegitimate daughter was sacrificed to summon the king of the spooky scary skeletons and the death of the last Phoenix King) decides that enough is enough. At the Shrine of Khaine, Tyrion reaches for the Widowmaker, and thus becomes possessed by the big guy himself as his Avatar.
This possession does a 180 on his personality; where once Tyrion was a noble prince who was dedicated to defending his land, Khaine's possession turned him into a murderous asshole. Well, that and Morathi's attempts at wooing him. This too affected the Elves as well, as they also surrendered to their murderous impulses and Witches joined with his host. Together, they rampaged through Wood Elves and murdered Orion (and Kurnous), they executed Kohril when he stole the Widowmaker in hopes of ending the war early, and generally just stopped caring about protecting their land.
This all comes to a head at the Isle of the Dead, where all Elves had a massive battle, with Malekith's side being bolstered by the ghosts of Phoenix Kings past who sought to repay a debt to their creator. Eventually Malekith, now bearing Asuryan's power, and Tyrion the Avatar of Khaine battled. It was long, bloody, and terrible, but eventually it ended when Alith Anar managed to snipe out Tyrion's heart. Tyrion's death also spelled the death of Khaine, and thus his madness faded from the world and the Old Gods faded from the world. When Tyrion was resurrected in the last book, it was free of the Bloody Handed one's influence.
|The High Elves of Warhammer Fantasy|
|Characters:||Eltharion - Everqueen - Teclis - Tyrion|
|Cadai:||Asuryan - Hoeth - Isha - Kurnous - Lileath - Loec - Mathlann - Vaul|
|Cytharai:|| Addaioth - Anath Raema - Atharti - Drakira|
Eldrazor - Ellinill - Ereth Khial - Estreuth - Hekarti
Hukon - Khaine - Ladrielle - Morai-Heg - Nethu
|Events:||The War of the Beard - The invasion of Naggaroth|
|Misc:||Ulthuan - The Vortex - Waystone - Widowmaker|
|Appearances:||Blood Bowl - Dreadfleet - Mordheim - Warhammer Fantasy Battle|
|The Gods of the Eldar|
|Asuryan - Cegorach - Isha - Kurnous - Khaine - Lileath - Morai-Heg - Vaul - Ynnead|