- "Damn these eyes, these cursed organs that only gaze upon what the light reveals to them! They can be fooled, they can be tricked! I must see clearly! I must see TRUTH!"
- —Kovaht, during one of his maddened fits
Trueborn Archon and high-functioning psychopath, Kovaht Kairn is the leader of the Kabal of the Creeping Doom, an infamous minor Kabal within Commorragh. Duplicitous and enigmatic, Kairn is best known as collector of secrets and valuable information, having established a widespread network of spies and informants throughout the realms of the Dark City and beyond. If anyone has something to hide, it is more than likely that the self-styled Lord of Secrets knows of it and is willing to share, for a price of course. However, Kairn is also known for his unpredictability, possessed of a dual personality that switches back and forth at the most random of intervals. One moment he will be calm, composed, and mysterious, the next he will become a raving paranoiac, accusing everyone within earshot of plotting against him.
The Third Child
Kovaht was the third child born to Archon Kalabos Kairn, Master of the Kabal of the Shattered Visage, one of the many minor Kabals that claimed alligence to the powerful House Kairn; a supposed decendant of the first Eldar Pleasure Cults. Raised within the spires of Upper Commorragh as a esteemed, if incredibly overlooked, Kabal princeling, Kovhat grew up with everything a young Trueborn could have wanted, accept for the attention of his father.
This was mainly due to the fact that Kovaht had both an older brother and older sister, Kindalos and Khadra Kairn, both of which had spent most of their young lives (by Dark Eldar standards) trying to gain their father's favor and thus become his heir to the leadership of the Kabal. Kindalos was a warrior of tremendous skill, honing his fighting skills day after day by facing the most Kabal's most formidable fighters, testing his limits in gladiatorial arenas across the Dark City, all in relentless pursuit of becoming the greatest fighter in all of Commorragh. Khadra meanwhile was of a craftier bent, skilled in manipulation and subterfuge, essential skills to have considering the sheer amount of inter-family coups, betrayals, and assassinations that went on seemingly unnoticed between the Kairn-held Kabals. With a one child a suberb fighter and the other a master manipulator, it was easy to forget about Kovaht, who hadn't any time to develop any noticeable traits considering he only just recently been delivered from his mother's womb.
Thus Kovaht Kairn grew up an outcast within his own family, living in the shadow of his older siblings who treated him like an amusing pet. Even his his own father tended to overlook his third child, as he had done little to gain his attention, let alone his interest. Where Kindalos was wrathful Kovaht was surprisingly reserved, where Khadra was malicious Kovaht was merely sadistic and little more. So seemingly unremarkable was he that Kalabos often mused over whether he should simply put his useless son out of his misery, but his children seemed to be amused by his presence. His daughter even had a pet name for him; calling Kovaht "My Little Secret-Keeper", as she could practically tell him anything and he wouldn't say a word, just processing whatever was said to him then moving on.
But unbeknownst to all, Kovaht did indeed have a special trait: his mask of composure. Though he seemed quiet and calm, on the inside festered a venomous jealousy of both his siblings, and a burning hatred of the father who had overlooked and neglected him all his life. He could do one thing, he could keep a secret, and House Kairn had plenty of those, secrets that were casually mentioned in his presence, for what was the harm? Little Kovaht wouldn't tell as soul, now would he? As it turned out they were all dead wrong, for Kovaht was tired of simply keeping secrets; and decided to cause a little damage with them instead...
A House Divided
Even as the unnoticed third wheel of the Kairn family, Kovaht was still an Archon's son, and that gave him just enough influence to set his plans into motion. Slowly but surely, Kovaht bribed, bartered, and threatened enough of his father's Kabal to establish his own little spy network. Then he simply sat back and waited for the inevitable falsehood to come his way so that he might exploit it.
That falsehood came in the form of one of his sister's myriad schemes, as Khadra had been seen conversing with the envoy of a rival Kabal. Though he did not know what exactly Khadra had planned, Kovaht only needed the suspicion of betrayal in order to spin a web of lies and conspires that would eventually reach his father. When it did, Kalabos was delivered the news that his own daughter was the mastermind behind a coup that would see him dead, his Kabal destroyed, and her an Archon at the beck and call of his rivals. Flying into a rage, Archon Kairn ignored Khadra's protestations to the contrary, and gave her over to the Haemonculi for "punishment". She died in agony, screaming for seven days straight before finally expiring. Thus did Kovaht destroy his first rival sibling, without anyone suspecting his involvement.
His brother Kindalos was admittedly harder to gather dirt on, as the eldest son of Kalabos tended to shun politics altogether, but Kovaht was patient. Eventually he learned that Kindalos has garnered many enemies during his time in the arenas, many of which would be quiet happy to see him dead. Kovaht contacted these disgruntled patrons through intermediaries, going by the alias of "His Shrouded Majesty", and promised his brother's death in return for the resources to perpetrate his plot. A deal was struck, and Kindalos was sent to a far-off arena, lured by the promise of one-on-one combat with Lilith Hesperax herself, a challenge he considered to be a true test of his abilities. Instead, the arena doors locked behind him and the cramped fighting pit was suddenly filled with all manner of savage creatures dragged from the darkest depths of the Webway. Kindalos died in combat, the one way he never expected to go, torn to bloody shreds under an onslaught of claws, teeth, and feral rage.
Finally, all was that was left standing between Kovaht and his birthright was his own father, who at the deaths of his other children had become increasingly paranoid of late, surrounding himself in guards and barricading himself within the walls of the Kabal's compound. There were a number of ways Kovaht could have had Kalabos assassinated, but he wanted his greatest triumph to be more... personal. Thus he simply had one of his fahter's Incubi bodyguards assassinated, and personally doned his armor, masquerading as one of Kalabos' most trusted servants. Then, as the Archon prepared to address the Kabal of the Shattered Visage over the recent "security breaches", Kovaht strode up to his father, and stabbed him from behind with his Klaive. As his Kalabos stood there, impaled from behind, Kovaht removed his helmet and whispered six words into his dying father's ear before he slid to the ground, dead:
- "Are you proud of me, father?"
- —Kovaht Kairn
In front of every Kabalite, servant, and slave, Kovaht stood over the late Archon's corpse and proclaimed his dominance over the Kabal, naming himself responsible for the deaths of his siblings, and claiming the rank of Archon by right of birth. Seeing with what ease this once unremarkable child turned betrayer had dispatched their leader, the Kabal of the Shattered Visage bowed before him in subservience. To celebrate his accomplishment, Kovaht would then re-name them the Kabal of the Creeping Doom, as it had been subtle, creeping doom that had brought down Archon Kalabos and brought about Kovaht's reign.
Decent into Madness
Cementing his authority over his new Kabal was not the most simple of tasks for Kovaht, but it was not that difficult either. Seeing as throughout the entirety of his coup he had killed only four people (His siblings, his father, and an unfortunate Incubus), he still had the entirety of the Kabal's resources at his disposal. Most of the Kabalites simply took the change of leadership in stride, see as successions of this kind were practically commonplace within Commorragh, and even more commonplace within House Kairn. Granted, there were a few rebellious elements still loyal to his father, but a few grusome executions restored the order of things in no time, and thus Kovaht stabilized his power base.
The next task at hand was the most important: to expand the Creeping Doom's influence. The Kabal of the Shattered Visage, despite it's connections to House Kairn, had been a mediocre Kabal at best, with little influence and little reputation. Few shook with terror when the heard the Kabal's name, but Kovaht planned to change that. Just as he had once spread eyes and ears throughout his father's Kabal, he now planned to spread his spies throughout all of Commoragh!
Of course, doing so was slow going, but one of the few benefits of being a minor Kabal was the anonymity that came with that status. If a Kabalite of the Black Heart came knocking, everyone would watch their backs, but if a Kabalite of the Creeping Doom approached, no one would care. Thus Kovaht slowly but surely spread his network of informants, spies, and assassins across the Dark City, virtually unnoticed due to the shroud of obscurity that surrounded them. Thus Kovaht became like a great spider in the center of a web of secrets, conspiracies, and information of all sorts. Any and all were welcome to come and barter for the valuable intelligence he collected, bringing tribute to the self-proclaimed "Lord of Secrets" in the form of slaves, exotic wargear, and valuables of all kinds. Thus the Kabal's coffer's began to overflow, for there were many within Commoragh that benefited from Kovaht's successful new enterprise.
However, the cost of keeping so many secrets became apparent as the years went by, and Kovaht began to sink too deep into the shadowy world he had created. Discerning the truth in a city filled with so many lies was hardly an easy task, and soon the Archon of the Creeping Doom began to show increased signs of paranoia. Any in his position might have naturally felt somewhat paranoid, for while the Kabal of the Creeping Doom took no sides, that did not mean that no one would ever try and make a move against them, trustworthiness being a practically alien concept to the Dark Eldar. Thus Kovaht began to fear potential betrayals to an almost insane level, cross-referencing the identities of his most trusted warriors, installing the most potent of security systems into his personal chambers, and surrounding himself in an elite guard of Incubi, all of which had their tongues removed so that they could speak no falsehoods in the Archon's presence. And yet, the more and more fearful Kovaht became, the more and more he tried to hide his growing instability behind a calm, aloof demeanor.
But while his growing paranoia was beginning affecting Archon, it effected his Kabal even more. All Dark Eldar learned to watch themselves around Kovaht Kairn, for the Lord of Secrets rewarded even the utterance of even tiniest of white lies in his presence with the most horrendous of punishments. On occasion an unfortunate messenger accidentally second-guessed himself during a report on the Kabal's current supplies, and Kovaht made him drink an entire flask of Liquid Agony for lying in the face of his Archon. The Kabalite screamed for hours before his nervous system finally gave out. Another time one of Kovaht's Dracons sold the coordinates of an Imperial Trade Route to an envoy of another Kabal in return for a Mindphase Gauntlet, without Kovaht's permission. The Master of the Creeping doom personally dragged him into a Haemonculi Laboratory and paid the fleshcrafters within to be as creative as possible with their new "test subject". The Dracon was never heard from again, though some speculate that Kovaht still visits the Laboratory on a daily basis to watch the still-living "traitor" suffer at the hands of his tormentors.
The final straw came with the arrival of Archon Veth'aan Kairn, Lord of the Kabal of the Subtle Blade, Favored of House Kairn, and Kovaht's cousin by blood, who had arrived within the Creeping Doom's secluded fortress with the stated goal of bartering for information. In actuality Veth'aan had been sent by his patron House to "appraise" the loyalty of Kovaht's Kabal, House Kairn having heard of the the young Archon's growing instabilities and thus had sent an agent into his lair out of caution if nothing else. However, this act only agravated Kovaht, his paranoia having risen to such monumental levels that the mere suspicion of an ulterior motive was enough to send him over the edge.
When the Lord of the Subtle Blade did arrive with a full honor guard of Inccubi in tow, Kovaht was surprisingly open, treating his fellow Archon and his retinue as if they were long lost friends come home at last. In a surprising move he invited Veth'aan into his personal quarters to discuss their business, a place that ordinarily was off limits to all but Kovaht himself on the pain of agonizing death. But, once Archon Veth'aan and his bodyguards were inside, Kovaht locked the door and activated a security countermeasure that flooded his quarters with a potent neurotoxin gas, the antidote to which the Archon of the Creeping Doom ingested daily. Any who didn't succumb to the poison immediately were killed be Kovaht, while he ranted of how he had seen their through their "petty deception".
A few days later, Archon Veth'aan's severed head was delivered to the Kabal of the Subtle Blade's holdings within Upper Commoragh by a terrified slave-messenger. Carved into the flesh of late Archon's plalid forehead head were five words: I SHALL NOT BE DECEIVED.
Ythanikn, the Twilight Expanse
By the time news of Veth'aan's death had spread throughout House Kairn, the respective Kabals under the House's control had already mobalized their collective forces to strike down the Kabal of the Creeping Doom before it could become a real threat. Falling upon the Creeping Doom's fortress like a dark tide, the forces of House Kairn breached the walls of the compound only to find it... empty. There was not so much as a trace that the Kabal of the Creeping Doom had operated from the fortress, let alone occupied it.
In truth, Kovaht had long since been aware of his precarious position within House Kairn even before the madness had set in, as to the elder members of the House his network would always represent a threat to them. In preparation for the inevitable conflict, Kovaht began secretly siphoning away enormous chunk's of the Kabal's resources in order to create a second base to which the Kabal could fall back to, and the Lord of Secrets knew just the place to construct it.
Ythanikn, also referred to as the Twilight Expanse, was a satellite realm of Commoragh, one of the many spread around the Dark City through the interdimensional properties of the Webway. However, Ythanikn was a realm seemingly half-formed, a miniscule pocket of reality composed of a great sea of palpable gloom over which massive 'Earthbergs" of black stone hovered silently. Nothing dwelt in this eerily silent land of shadow and nightmare save only the strangest and deadliest of creatures, gargantuan warp-monsters that swam through the currents of the dark sea below, rarely surfacing unless a particularly appetizing morsel flitted overhead. Kovaht, having discovered the location of the place through a barter with an Dark Kin Corsair (whom he had killed later on to protect the Expanse's location), found Ythanikn to his liking immediately.
Thus the true fortress of the Creeping Doom had been under construction; a tower of jagged black metal seated on the largest of the Expanse's earthbergs, filled with labyrinthine corridors and deadly traps, slave pits and torture chambers, barracks and armories, even a fully functional Port through which the Kabalites could dock and refuel their valuble spacecraft. Within just three short centuries, Kovaht's dark fortress was complete, the Nightfallen Spiral had been created, much to the Archon's delight. From there it had been a relatively simple matter for the Creeping Doom to slip from the Dark City into their new base of opperations, leaving none the wiser.
From then on the Kabal began to conduct all it's various "enterprises" from the safety of the Twilight Expanse, and thus when the Imperium did invade Commoragh, neither Kovaht nor the majority of his forces were there to witness the fall of House Kairn firsthand, though the turmoil the attack cause did allow the Archon to greatly expand the influence of his already formidable spy network. Of course, when Asdrubael Vect came to power, the cunning leader of the Black Heart quickly discerned the location of Ythanikn and paid Kovaht a personal visit, demanding that he bow and scrape before his new Overlord. Kovaht did exactly that, giving all the impression that he and his "minor" Kabal would not interfere with Vect's meteoric rise to power. A few decades later, Kovaht finally managed to kill off the last of the sleeper agents that the Kabal of the Black Heart had seeded within the Creeping Doom, which did nothing to help his steadily growing paranoia.
(MORE TO COME)
Kovaht's psychological condition would at first glance would be described as a multiple personality disorder, when in fact there is so much more complex. His species naturally possesses an incredibly broad emotional and mental spectrum, but Kovaht has spent most of his life hiding his emotions within himself as to keep up his aloof and mysterious persona. However, all this pent up fear, anger, and paranoia has resulted in an emotional bomb waiting to go off; which is precisely what happens. His composure slips for an instant and suddenly all his pent-up fears and desires come pouring forth in a torrent of primal impulse, more specifically manifesting as a liar's fear of being caught and a conspirator's suspicion of his fellows, only on a downright psychotic scale.
As of late, these repressed emotional responses have begun to form what could almost be described as the formation of another separate soul through Kovaht's own latent psychic ability. This aberrant thing is a creature made up of Kovaht's most deep-rooted fears and desires: the Dark Eldar's natural sadism, Kovaht's own personal fear of conspiracy and of course, every Eldar's fear for his or her soul being devoured by She-Who-Thirsts. This separate soul is constantly whispering in Kovaht's mind; telling him to trust no one, to always suspect betrayal, to fear all falsehoods, even the smallest of white lies. Every day the voice gets stronger, and every day it becomes harder for Kovaht to think, harder for him to maintain his precious composure.
For the most part, Kovaht is a collected, cunning and extremely ruthless individual, who cautiously measures the risk and reward of every task he undertakes. But if pushed too far, he becomes a raging monster of pure emotional impulse, raving like a madman and cursing all of existence for be so very untrustworthy.
Standing at nearly seven feet tall, like most Dark Eldar Kovaht is a thin yet muscular individual with pointed ears, strikingly attractive features, and jet-black hair which he typically wears at shoulder length. However, on closer inspection, one notices that Kovaht looks almost starved, his face all sharp angles as though his flesh has been drawn too tight over his skull, his eyes sunken deep into their sockets and ringed with dark circles, even his skin is tinged a sickly yellowish color. All of these features are the result of so many sleepless nights, kept awake by the constant whispering in his head, so much so that those who look upon him can see the barely restrained madness in his eyes.
When viewed with Witch Sight however, Kovaht takes a very different form. He appears as a ghostly shell, barely containing a miasma of ethereal darkness in which a shapeless yet monstrous psychic creature lurks, waiting for the slightest opportunity to assume dominance over the Archon’s soul.
Abilities and Traits
Despite his instabilities, Kovaht is still a cunning and utterly remorseless manipulator, with a penchant for subterfuge. Preferring to have his opponents killed or simply catch them unawares, the Archon of the Creeping Doom rarely engages his enemies directly, instead destroying them from afar through assassination, sabotage, and fear-mongering, culling the strongest of his opponents to weaken and demoralize the enemy force before striking the final blow. A meticulous planner, Kovaht never enters a situation he thinks he cannot win, and is always watching his back, for paranoia or not, there are quite a few beings throughout the galaxy that would like to see him dead.
But if the need arises, the Lord of Secrets is more than capable of defending himself. As an Archon, he is naturally stronger, faster, and more agile than most Dark Eldar, utilizing the malefic technology of his kind to terrify his opponents for easier and more satisfying kills. Kovaht prefers to attack at long range, for while he is a more than adequate fighter in close quarters, it is far easier for him to reign in his inner psychosis while comfortably distant from the battlefront.
- Malevolent Visage - A masterfully crafted Archon Warsuit custom-built to Archon Kairn's exact specifications, the Visage is a close-fitting suit of armor that provides formidable protection through the use of lightweight alloys and energy shielding. However, every aspect of this armor, from it's daemonic horned helm to the mottled psycho-reactive paint that swirls against it's surface, is designed to terrify all that look upon it. So far the Visage has excelled at doing just that.
- Deathly Embrace - Though he prefers not to engage in melee combat, if pressed Kovaht relies on his prized Huskblade Deathly Embrace, a sinister weapon that once belonged to his father. Trailing acrid smoke as it swings through the air, Deathly Embrace is an exotic Power Sword that drains the vitality from those that fall to it's edge, reducing them to shriveled corpses that quickly crumble into dust. Kovaht mainly uses this Huskblade to dispatch "potential traitors" within the ranks of his Kabal, as the sight of a possible turncoat being transformed into a lifeless cadaver then disintegrating into nothing sends a strong message.
- Darklight Blast Pistol - A large pistol-like weapon who's unassuming appearance belies it's sheer potency, a single blast of anti-material energy from this Blast Pistol can bore a massive hole in any vehicle regardless of how well armored, or vaporize an enemy foot soldier in an instant. Kovaht typically relies on this pistol as his means of long-ranged combat, and he is a deadly shot.
- Shadow Field - Built into Kovaht's Archon Warsuit, this arcane device projects a dark miasma around it's wielder when activated, proof against almost any attack and making the Archon extremely hard to target. In addition, the psychological effect that this mantle of darkness has on those who face the Lord of Secrets goes great lengths to unnerve and demoralize the enemy, something Kovaht takes full advantage of.
- Phantasm Grenade Launcher - Hidden underneath a decorative frill, this specialized backpack can launch volleys of small, disc-shaped grenades at the enemy from twin tubes. These grenades are in fact made of a highly reactive substance that upon contact with the air dissolves into clouds of psychotropic gas. A single whiff of this potent gas fills the mind with horrific nightmares and delusions, allowing Kovaht to send entire ranks of enemies scattering before him in terror.
Feel free to add your own!
- "Spiders! Wretched crawling insects spinning webs of lies in my ears! I shall not be deceived, I shall....... I shall...... I..... what was I saying?"
- —Kovaht Kairn, recovering from one of his maddened fits
- "Trust me, once you've experienced what other side off my soul is capable of, you'll be begging for my regular brand of cruelty."
- —Kovaht Kairn
Feel free to add your own!
- "Foul Eldar curr!! I will scour your being from the face of the galaxy with holy fire and blessed steel! Come and face me! Come and face my wrath!!"
- —Dragons Amaranthine Lord of the Foundry, Delkor Va'Shan