"Through hate, all things are possible."
- – Malus Darkblade
"If nothing else, Malus Darkblade, you can be counted upon to react to adversity with as much violence as possible."
- – Tz'arkan, Drinker of Souls, Greater Daemon of
"An encouraged person will eventually get his drive from encouragement; he becomes more dependent. A person that never really receives encouragement learns to move out of spite; he becomes more independent."
- – Criss Jami
Malus Darkblade is a right hard tough bastard who simply won't die. Putting them other fantasy characters to shame, while he may be selfish, arrogant, wicked, and basically everything you would expect from a Dark Elf, he is actually portrayed somewhat believably as well in the five novels written of him by Dan 'All hail the great one' Abnett and Mike Lee. He showed moments of comradeship and faith towards his companions, and constantly shows, and is even described as having, genuine "affection" for his giant fuckoff murderlizard, which he names "Spite," in reflection of one of his most important moral values. Despite generally being what we'd consider a nasty little sociopath, Malus isn't one-dimensional morally, he has a surprising level of complexity in his character. He definitely values getting ahead and looking out for number one in all situations, but still has something that, while not exactly honour, might pass for it in the context of druchii society.
Darkblade, incidentally, in the books at least, isn't his given or familial name, but rather it's an epithet, and a derogatory one at that, for bastard children implying that he is a faulty creation.
His Cold One (nauglir), Spite, is unusually intelligent for his breed, a necessary trait to survive as Spite was the runt of his clutch and when full grown is small by Cold One standards in the books (though "small" for them equals 20 feet from snout to tail tip), and seems to be the one living thing that has unconditional affection for Malus. Generally, the druchii have to coat themselves in nauglir venom (which has unfortunate long-term effects of killing the sense of smell, taste and touch - there is treatment to reverse this but its expensive even for the nobles) in order for their mounts not to NOM them, but Spite eventually stopped wanting to NOM Malus even though Malus smelt of daemon. Malus only had to boop him on the snoot once, and maybe actually felt bad about it, despite being the a nasty little sociopath he is. The relationship between the two is positively noblebright in comparison to just about everything else that goes down in the series.
He is one of the most popular Warhammer Fantasy characters then because he has that rarest of qualities; actual character. His refusal to give up and his hard as nails approach at slaying the fuck out of anything that gets in his way has made many fanboys hold a torch for him.
If he wasn't a pansy elf and a dark one at that, he and Gotrek would be firm drinking buddies.
"Shut UP, daemon."
- – Malus Darkblade, all the friggin' time (a running joke in the comics, referenced often in the books, too.)
Malus comes from a series of comic stories (also written by Abnett) from the days when GW actually cared about making a good story without making it serve a purpose like releasing new models. Malus is the son of a Dark Elf noble, and his soul is stolen by the daemon Tz'arkan when Malus was questing for treasure (Tz'arkan describes himself as a servant of Tzeentch in the comic but of Slaanesh in the books, sort of; he doesn't typically act particularly Slaaneshi, except when in the presence of a Slaaneshi cult (though he does pay homage when seeing an idol of Slaanesh), but he seems pretty driven by nyehehe JUST AS PLANNED rather than lust and excess, so draw your conclusions—really, why this changed is anyone's guess and doesn't seem to make much sense other than to fit Tza'arkan into a plot which involves a secret and forbidden cult of Slaanesh trying to subvert druchii society), Malus had to find five artifacts in order to free the daemon and himself, only for the daemon to steal his soul when it was freed.
"If you see the Lord of Murder before I do, tell him I'm coming. Tell him that when I get there I'm going to kick his brass teeth straight down his throat."
- – Malus Darkblade
A series of books were written which greatly expanded upon the story and characters. Malus is still a Dark Elf noble's son, but rather than being the favorite he's the hated bastard in a family with more incest than Game of Thrones. He has five older half-siblings, and they share the same father, a Dark Elf noble second in command of Hag Graef named Lurhan. The half-siblings also share the same mother between themselves;
- Bruglir (male, the first child, a renowned Corsair, in an incestuous relationship with his younger sister Yasmir, won't let anyone else have her if he's nearby and considers Urial not worth killing despite Yasmir's repeated requests.)
- Isilvar (male, the second child, a skilled merchant, slaver, hierophant of a secret, underground and very much forbidden Slaaneshi cult, who is in a incestuous triad with his younger sister Nagaira along with Malus. This is apparently nothing to write home about in their world.)
- Yasmir (female, the third child, most beautiful woman in Hag Graef, alpha bitch extraordinaire, in an incestuous relationship with her older brother Bruglir though she really sluts it up when Bruglir's away on raids or at war...which is apparently, by Druchii standards, completely acceptable.)
- Nagaira (female, the fourth child, a Dark Elf Sorceress, pretty thicc which makes her fat by Dark Elf standards, secret Slaanesh worshiper and in an incestuous relationship with Malus and Isilvar), and
- Urial (male, the fifth child, born deformed to the mother of the other four who died giving birth to him, was sacrificed to Khaine but a miracle ensured he survived, became a priest of Khaine since he was too handicapped to be an assassin, has incestuous lust for Yasmir but she despises him.)
Malus' mother is a Sorceress named Eldire who is trying to carry out a prophecy with him and made a deal with Lurhan to have Malus (she secretly killed Lurhan's first wife with slow-acting poison while she was pregnant, which is also why Urial was born a cripple). However, Lurhan hates Malus and has secretly conspired to have Malus killed ever since the latter reached adulthood (only fear of Eldire's retribution prevented Lurhan from having Malus outright killed.)
There's a short story which involves Malus going on a rite of passage for Dark Elf nobles called a Haskeer cruise; the young noble is given command of a force and has to conduct a successful raid and return. The send-off they get, how many retainers they have and the amount of ships under their command is a reflection of their status in the family; Malus got one ship - the Manticore, one retainer and no send-off. Malus was introduced being dragged there after surviving a failed assassination attempt from one of his siblings involving a poisonous snake (Malus only survived because the snake bit Malus' two "bodyservants" - that is to say, rape slaves - first, so didn't have enough venom to kill when it bit him). Let us not forget that, whilst a popular and well-developed character with a pretty solid fanbase, he's still who he is. Whether he's a product of his environment or Always Chaotic Evil is not quite fleshed out, although most stories about the elves/Aeldari, and the amount of time the reader gets to spend inside Malus's head, so to speak, lean towards the former with a really big handicap from the latter. Other members of the crew include the captain Hathan Gul, and the tsundere female first mate, a corsair named Lhunara, with whom he alternatively shares flirtations and blows. Sadly, the ship sailed in the first book. Originally, this motley crew were slated to go raid Bretonnia, but Malus arranged for them to raid Ulthuan because he wanted the cruise over and done with and Ulthuan was closer—not to mention elven slaves being worth about 100x their fantasy-European equivalents, despite the fact that Ulthuan was about equivalently much more dangerous.
Malus suspected his retainer—a down-on-his-luck noble called Silar—was hired by Lurhan to kill him. When Silar confronted Malus, Malus learned that was wrong; Silar was too brutally honest for that subterfuge and in his own way he had his sense of honor and duty to Malus for the time that his contract covered, and generally wasn't a dude who was about subtlety. Their ultimate confrontation where this was revealed was actually over his disapproval of Malus' suicidal (to Silar) plan to raid Ulthuan. Surprised by Malus' move, and seeking a better position that what Gul offered her, Lhunara approached them and spilled the beans to Malus; Lurhan had actually arranged with the captain to get Malus killed by a Bretonnian Duke they had an arrangement with (the corsairs took prisoners from the Duke's dungeons as slaves, in exchange they'd leave the area under his care unmolested). Malus decided to go ahead with attacking Ulthuan and, through a combination of luck, cunning and a surprise attack was successful. He captured a village of High Elf civilians but was forced to kill them in a ruse to trap a High Elf Sea Guard patrol (much to Malus' chagrin, due to the aforementioned value of pointy ears at the flesh markets) and escape. They took a lot of treasure from the High Elves, but Malus gave it to crew to make them loyal to him instead of Hathan Gul; Gul himself was tortured by Malus in a suitably grimdark manner for the whole Uriah Gambit and killed by his former crew (with Malus keeping Gul's gold false teeth as mementos).
The Daemon's Curse
Malus is now a successful nobleman, Silar and Lhunara are his retainers and Lhunara has gone dere dere for Malus. He also gained the service of Arleth Vann, a renegade assassin from the Temple of Khaine. After coming back from a very successful slave raid (where Malus and his crew tortured a couple as entertainment for the trip), they were ambushed and their captives were all killed, making the raid a bust. Malus confronted the one responsible for the ambush, a smug noble called Fuerlan who was Malus' cousin, which led to Malus getting Fuerlan tortured in a pretty spectacular fashion, especially considering that Fuerlan was a special "hostage" (in the medieval European sense, where a noble would be left at another court, and treated with all due respect to his station, as long as shit didn't go down between the two countries; and, conversely, bad shit happening to the hostage could lead to serious political ramifications. Which it did. Malus took "just don't kill him" a little too close to heart and got up to some of the jolly old pasttimes the deldar are notorious for).
After enduring some unfortunate political blowback for Fuerlan's torture, Malus learned of a treasure that could increase his power in a temple to the north, and took a personal regiment of Cold One Knights along with his retainers on the trip. Along the way, he encountered and had to negotiate a truce with a tribe of Shades (a feral and aberrant branch of the druchii who even the "dark cousins" to the regular elves thought of as "dark cousins"; their cruelty to their slaves horrified even Malus; the Shades removed the eyes and tongues of their slaves while regularly cutting on them in addition to the standard Dark Elf abuses). Then the tribe double-crossed him and he and his warband had to fight their way free. After braving a fierce blizzard they encountered Beastmen near the temple and tried to negotiate a truce with them.
When they got to the temple, Malus got his followers to hold the line against a tide of traitorous Beastmen while he went in alone. Ignoring symbols and statues of Chaos he entered the chamber. He took a ring for himself from the hoard, which awakened the daemon Tz'arkan who possessed him. The daemon announced to Malus what happened, pointing out the Dark Elf's greed. Horrified, Malus tried to commit suicide only for Tz'arkan to stop him by pointing out that if he did Malus would be his plaything for eternity (In the Warhammer Fantasy world, exorcisms involve killing the possessed, with Luthor Huss as the sole exception.)
Malus and Tz'arkhan have a conversation about the latter's plan; he wanted to be free of the temple, so he tasked Malus to gather five artifacts for the ritual to free Tz'arkan or his soul would be claimed by the daemon. Malus also had a time limit of one year to accomplish this. Enraged and in despair, Malus fled the temple with Tz'arkan's laughter ringing in his ears. In unthinking rage and shame he killed his lieutenants (starting, in a surprisingly emotional scene, with a horrified Lhunara) and then going full RIP AND TEAR the remaining Beastmen.
Afterwards, he started on a quest with Tz'arkan for the first artifact The Octagon of Praan, a gem that protected its wearer from hostile magic. He acquired this after the killing the Bray-Shaman, a leader of a group of beastmen who, at least initially, he contacted under peaceful terms but then just went full murdertenderizer. When busy not almost getting killed, Malus learned that Tz'arkan could give him power, enhancing his physical abilities beyond mortal means whilst making him uncontrollably violent and making him more susceptible to the daemon's influence. The powerlevel boost thus gained seemed to have addictive qualities, not unlike the combat stimms (or daemonic aid ) over in the other Warhammer. It is described as having pretty drastic (skin pallour, dark bulging veins, etc.) effects on his appearance, and being pretty unmistakable as what it was, so Malus wasn't overtly keen on using it, but wound up having to do so all too many times: as daemons are generally big on temptation, Tza'arkan would be constantly reminding Malus that this was a possibility, sort of like twiddling around with a syringe in a junkie's face every five minutes.
Malus returned to Hag Graef to plan getting the second artifact - the Idol of Kolkuth, but got captured by Lurhan's soldiers. He was gruesomely tortured by his father, who was trying to manipulate him into requesting death so Eldire couldn't blame Lurhan for Malus' death. A combination of spite and Tz'arkan's power kept Malus alive, long enough for Eldire to visit him in secret. Eldire and Nagaira worked together to free him, magically heal his wounds and inducted him into the Slaaneshi cult. Then Malus learned they didn't want him, but Tz'arkan, so he sought a way out. During this time, Malus took on another retainer, a witty, down-to-earth (for a Dark Elf) city guard named Hauclir. Eventually his schemes came to the attention of the Drachau of Hag Graef, and Malus made him an offer. There was a fleet of Nurgle-worshiping pirates called the Skinriders - named for the fact that they lost their skins due to disease or injury and wore the skin of those they fought or captured - who often attacked the Dark Elves. Malus asked for a Writ of Iron from the Drachau; a legal document that gives the carrier the authority of the issuer, and since this was issued by the ruler of Hag Graef Malus was now the second-most powerful person in the city (with the caveat that if the carrier failed their duty, the Writ would be melted down and the molten remains were poured down their throat).
Malus used this to bring Urial and some warriors from the Temple of Khaine with him. He also brought along Yasmir to placate Bruglir, which outraged Yasmir since she was a spoiled snob who couldn't handle not being in control of a situation. Urial used some magic to teleport them to Burglir's ship. There they find out that Bruglir was cheating on Yasmir with his female lieutenant, a scarred woman named Tanithra. Especially problematic since apparently only the male in druchii relationships must maintain his continence, as a show of strength, while the female may slut it up at will and then there's the question of whether rape slaves count. For reasons, this dynamic isn't totally fleshed out, but it is seen in evidence in some other places including deldar 40K novels as well. Yasmir, being thereby justifiably outraged and, bound by her culture's code of conduct to take offense and then take measures about it, flips her shit when she finds out Bruglir is fucking around with the lady-pirate lieutenant. He, according again to druchii standards, doesn't really concern himself with her extensive court of admirers back home.
None of them are happy about the state of affairs until Malus reminded them that with the Writ he's in charge, though he played to Bruglir's pride and vanity when the latter threatened to kill him anyway. During the voyage the loss of control and Bruglir's sleeping around also sent Yasmir round the bend, so she rarely left her cabin, and started getting into Khainite worship, much to the delight of Urial who saw it as a chance to get close to her. During this time Malus learned that Bruglir had promised Tanithra a captaincy, and was using that to string her along and extort sex from her. Around this time she started to resent that situation, which Malus considered in case it could be useful later. They encountered a few Skinrider ships and had a vicious battle, with Hauclir retrieving the maps to their main base and nearly getting trapped on the ship as it sank. The Dark Elves won after taking some losses, and commandeered one of the Skinrider ships, with Urial's Khainite blessings keeping the crew from getting infected by all the diseases on board. They decided to pull a Trojan Horse stunt to kill them, with Bruglir putting Tanithra in charge of the ship and calling that keeping his promise; this naturally made Tanithra even madder.
Reaper of Souls
Malus sought to get the next artifact, the Dagger of Torxus. It was a powerful weapon that would take the soul of anyone it cut and bind them to that spot. Malus was stabbed with it, but due to Tz'arkhan already having his soul, it just rendered Malus unconscious.
Malus also tracked down the raiding party that took the Dagger, which turned to be led by Lurhan. After a fierce fight Malus was forced to kill Lurhan in self-defense to get the Dagger, making Malus a kinslayer for slaying his own father even though Lurhan wanted to do the same to him. This proved a bittersweet moment for Malus, since though Malus wanted to kill his father for ages, under those circumstances he'd broken Malekith's laws since his father was a noble so now Malus was an outlaw among the Dark Elves, and Tz'arkhan was happy to troll him about it all.
Lord of Ruin
Malus fought the Chaos Champion. Their helm got knocked off during the fight, revealing it to be an undead Lhunara, Malus' former retainer; in her dying moments she had pledged herself to the Chaos Gods in exchange for revenge against Malus.
Malus found a severely wounded Hauclir and faced a moral dilemma; get rid of the Warpsword and let the daemonic power in his blood heal Hauclir or keep the Warpsword and let him die. Malus did something compassionate for someone besides himself or Spite and dropped the weapon and successfully healed Hauclir. Unfortunately he didn't get the weapon in time, and Tz'arkan took over. Now in control of Malus, Tz'arkan used his powers to compel Spite and rode the Cold One into the ground to get back to the Temple in time, leaving Spite nearly dead from exhaustion. It's revealed the reason for Tz'arkan's deadline was there was a ground level volcano beneath the temple that was about to erupt and Tz'arkan wanted to get free before then. The ritual was carried out and Tz'arkan left Malus' body, but took his soul as well. Malus fought back, destroying Tz'arkhan's body but the daemon fled with Malus' soul. Malus took up the Warpsword, the only artifact not destroyed or lost in the aftermath, killed a group of Beastmen gathered outside, nursed Spite back to health by feeding him the dead Beastmen and rode out to track down the daemon and get his soul back.
Wandering the chaos wastes as a soulless unstoppable killer, he then found out where the daemon was hiding and went on another quest to reclaim his soul. A Chaos follower knew where Tz'arkan was hiding and tried to stop Malus betraying him by tattooing the map onto his back. Undaunted, Malus flayed the map from the Chaos follower's back and fed him to Spite. Malus found Tz'arkan and reclaimed his soul, but in doing so was cursed to have the daemon trapped back inside of himself again.
Expect huge amounts of derp and rage, punctuated by /tg/ extracting humor from it.
Now he has returned to Naggaroth and what will this strange, legendary dark elf do? Well GW is coyly stopping us answering that question, because they won't move the damn plot along and let Malus kick Malekith's tin ass! Except where he returns to fuck his sister and try to assassinate the Witch King in the End Times. Typical Druchii fashion, that goes as well as expected.
Be careful what you wish for because, unfortunately, he'll never get the chance now. During the final invasion of Ulthuan, Malus drew on Tz'arkan's power one too many times. With that Tz'arkan took over and consumed Malus so he died, causing him to be ripped apart from the inside out while Tz'arkan took physical form, his new body proved too much weight for Spite and broke the Cold One's back, leading the daemon to crush and trample Spite to death. No Malus! Don't go, we liked you.....cue fan boys grieving.
- File:Darkblade vs Furries.png
...but it hurts.