Fan of Shadows
Morghoul, like all skorne paingivers, gave up his house loyalties to pursue a higher path. After building his reputation plying his trade for a dozen houses, Morghoul cemented his reputation when he was contracted by the domina of House Vokuul of Halaak to unravel any plots against her rule. When Morghoul's work was finished, the domina had to apoint a new heir, but she had obtained complete loyalty from the members of her house.
The Vokuul participated in the defence of Halaak when Vinter Raelthorne IV came to the city. The domina ordered Morghoul to help drive off the invaders, but Morghoul refused, claiming that the work he was contracted for was finished, and that he no longer had to do anything the domina asked of him. After the Vokuul were conquered, Morghoul presented himself to Vinter, offering his services as master tormentor to the new Archdominar. Vinter accepted, seeing the use Morghoul would be in keeping the houses in order.
When Vinter led an army west to conquer Corvis, Morghoul stayed behind and discovered a plot to overthrow the Conqueror. Making use of the tunnels of Halaak, Morghoul stalked the Tyrants and their retainers for weeks, torturing those whom he suspected had useful information, leaving behind him nearly a hundred corpses. The betrayers unleashed their most skilled assassins to stop Morghoul; all failed, their mutilated corpses appearing in the gutters and across the rooftops.
When Vinter returns, Morghoul reveals to his lord the information he had obtained, including the whereabouts of every secret passage and poorly guarded sector of the capital. The Conqueror gathers an army of loyalists and assaults the gates of Halaak while Morghoul slips into the city and captures the heads of the largest houses. Vinter defeats the usurpers and has the ranking members of the rebellion slowly tortured to death by Morghoul in a lengthy public display.
When Vinter dispatches Makeda for a second invasion of western Immoren, he sends Morghoul with the Army of the Western Reaches to ensure their loyalty and root out treachery. Soon Morghoul is given conflicting orders by both Makeda and Vinter: Makeda requesting that Morghoul find out whether Lord Tyrant Hexeris and Supreme Aptimus Zaal were conspiring against her, whilst Vinter demands Morghoul to find out if Asheth Magnus, a renegade Cygnaran general loyal to Vinter, who defied Vinter and Makeda's plan to abandon Eastwall in favour of attacking Fort Falk, is planning to betray him. Morghoul decides to obey Vinter.
Even after several hours of patient torture, applying all of his arts, Morghoul is unable to break Magnus, and he realises Magnus is holding out because he actually believes in what he's saying. Morghoul decides to ask Magnus why he refused to obey the plan if not for treachery, and Magnus answers he's not required to blindly follow a flawed order, and continues to mock Morghoul and the skorne as if trying to provoke him to more torture. Morghoul finds a certain undeniable logic in Magnus' explanation: perhaps Makeda also considered the plan foolish and yet proceeded out of loyalty to the Conqueror. Unable to grasp the truth, Morghoul continues to accuse Magnus of unable to understand Vinter's plans, yet Magnus only reveals to him Vinter is no reborn skorne ancestor, but only a human who is using both Magnus himself and the skorne for his own nefarious purpose. Telling Magnus his life means nothing to Vinter, and that the Conqueror has forsaken both of them, Morghoul leaves for Makeda's army, leaving Magnus alone.
Makeda initially refuses to believe Morghoul when he delivers the new, startling and almost inconceivable fact, though the proof becomes incontrovertible during the hopeless attack on Fort Falk on Vinter's orders. With Morghoul's support, Makeda swiftly roots out the Conqueror's loyalists before coming to confront him at the Abyssal Fortress. When the garrison is fighting Makeda's army, Vinter slips away from the fortress, and after her victory Makeda proclaims herself Supreme Archdomina of the Skorne Empire. She then plans to lead an army to reclaim the capital before the houses descend into infighting again, but Morghoul advises her to let the army travel back west, with only himself heading to Halaak to deliver word of Makeda's ascension, seize control of the paingivers and turn them against her enemies, essentially securing the capital.
At Halaak, Master Tormentor Jyvaash Komorn, the legendary leader of the notorious Bloodrunners, confronts Morghoul, decrying him as an upstart and a heretic. After a short and brutal duel, Morghoul kills Komorn and takes the Fan of Shadows, an artefact of fearsome reputation long associated with the murderous craft of the Bloodrunners, from Komorn's very fingers.
Assuming absolute control of the paingiver caste, Morghoul sets about the immediate subjugation of the capital. Once examples are made of the most impertinent, the other houses quickly see the wisdom of accepting Makeda’s rule and bow to the banner of House Balaash. Morghoul leaves subordinates to stalk the empire, enforcing absolute obedience, while he returns to the Army of the Western Reaches, which soon receives an order from Makeda to launch an invasion of Ios, home to the descendants of the skorne's ancient enemies, the elves of Lyoss.
Makeda and Morghoul's army heads north to the Twilight Gate, the fortification guarding the sole entrance into Ios through its southern mountains. Through torturing an Iosan, Morghoul discovers the existence of a watchtower with a commanding view of the Twilight Gate and the valley, and Makeda tasks him with raiding and taking over the watchtower after nightfall. When Makeda's main army strikes, Morghoul leads his force down from the watchtower to join her. Though the skorne suffer considerable casualties, the Twilight Gate eventually falls after its wall are breached and the warcaster in charge killed. Soon after, following an order from Aptimus Marketh, Morghoul leads a task force to seize a mine from the Iosans, which is full of minerals receptive to mortitheurgy, and will allow the skorne to craft sacral stones and to fabricate especially resilient vessels for immortals and ancestral guardians.
Following the invasion of Ios, Morghoul reforms the paingivers into an expansive house with branches in every major city of the empire, a tight network of agents monitoring the activities of all influential skorne. The paingivers' duties have expanded to include gathering intelligence and conducting investigations under the centralised authority of Dominar Morghoul. Morghoul’s reforms to the paingiver caste have caused a sharp escalation in recruitment efforts, bringing in new members to act as a safeguard against potential upheaval or rebellion. The secrets of the empire flow through their fingers each day, feeding up through secret channels to Morghoul. He positions himself at the centre of this network, so that he might sift through the information and recognise patterns that others may overlook.
Neither ambition nor loyalty motivates Morghoul; rather, he is devoted to the deeper philosophies and destiny of his people. He truly believes in the ultimate glory and triumph of the skorne, a civilisation forged in the crucible of destruction and hardship. In this regard, Morghoul weighs Supreme Archdomina Makeda by the same standards he once applied to Vinter Raelthorne, and should she fail to meet the challenge ahead or become an impediment to the skorne, she will fall by his hand.