Xerxis

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Skorne.png Xerxis Skorne.png

Fury of Halaak

Xerxis1.jpg

Race Skorne (Malzash)
Gender Male
Weapons Pillars of Halaak
Lamentor
War Standard
Birth Unknown
Tyrant Xerxis is the head of House Kophar, one of the strongest houses subordinate to the royal house of Balaash, and one of the greatest champions and commanders of the skorne. He arose from the cataphract tradition and is unrivalled among the Army of the Western Reaches in his mastery of strategy.[1]

History

Xerxis was born into House Kophar, a proud warrior house of Halaak, one of the most respected of those who fought against Archdominar Vaactash, Makeda's grandfather during his wars to subjugate the region. House Kophar boasts more who have qualified as cataphracts than any other house of Halaak.[1]

In the civil war between Makeda and her brother Akkad, Xerxis fought on the side of Makeda, and was tasked with leading her main army and providing a distraction so she could confront and kill Akkad in his headquarters. Xerxis proved his loyalty to Makeda during the Second Unification, when many skorne houses betrayed Supreme Archdominar Vinter Raelthorne IV when he was campaigning abroad. The Betrayers gave him many opportunities to join them, but he refused and endured the extended siege of the Balaash's fortress until Vinter returned and restored order.[2][1]

Xerxis joins the Army of the Western Reaches when Vinter launches the second invasion of western Immoren. He is assigned to the Southern Bloodstone sabaoth, whose initial target is Eastwall, a fortress in the south of Cygnar whose conquest was extensively prepared by Vinter's allies. When Makeda summons the highest-ranking tyrants of the Army of the Western Reaches, before the meeting, Lord Tyrant Hexeris, from the Northern Bloodstone sabaoth, asks Xerxis to go help him in the north, but Xerxis only gives a neutral answer.[3]

During the meeting, Makeda informs the tyrants of a change in plan: they are no longer to assault Eastwall, but Fort Falk to the north, and Xerxis is assigned to a small cohort to screen the relocation of the army that is to attack Eastwall. Even against the numerically superior Cygnaran army, Xerxis and the majority of his cohort manage to survive.[3]

Immediately afterwards, Hexeris summons Xerxis again to join him at the Castle of the Keys. Xerxis knows Makeda is going to take Fort Falk, but since she doesn't give him any order, he decides to heed Hexeris' request. When he arrives at the Castle of the Keys, two massive armies of the Circle Orboros and the Legion of Everblight are falling upon the skorne at the same time. The two-fronted assault results in high casualties among their army, but during the desperate battle Xerxis earns the privilege of future exaltation.[3][1]

When the truth about Supreme Archdominar Vinter is revealed, Xerxis accompanies Makeda and Master Tormentor Morghoul to the Abyssal Fortress to confront him. Their army manages to defeat the garrison, but when they enter the fortress Vinter was long gone, apparently willingly. Makeda proclaims herself Supreme Archdomina of the Skorne Empire, then returns to the west with the majority of the army, only sending Morghoul to Halaak to maintain order.[4]

When Makeda learns of some occult ritual of tremendous power is about to be invoked at a site northwest of Scarleforth Lake, whose successful completion will have a catastrophic impact on all skorne western holdings, Xerxis is ordered to circle north and strike from the west, while Makeda moves from the east and Void Seer Mordikaar from the northwest. He gets into a fight with two Circle warlocks Kaya and Grayle, along with the warbeast Laris, at the same time. Xerxis successfully subdues Kaya, but before he could kill her Grayle stabs at his back with his two swords. Seeing Xerxis' plight, his subordinate orders a line of Cataphracts to rush forward, shield Xerxis and carry him away from the battlefield.[5]

Xerxis, Fury of Halaak.

Makeda soon announces her plan to the rest of the tyrants: invade Ios, the home of the descendants of the skorne's ancient enemies, the elves of Lyoss. Xerxis is given a small force to test the heavily fortified Aeryth Dawnguard in the northeast to keep the garrison engaged while Makeda's army penetrates the interior via the Twilight Gate in the south. Xerxis sets out even before his wounds have healed, and lest his injuries hinder him, he summons the enormous cerops Suruk, whom he tamed years ago, to be his mount.[5][6]

Xerxis' army advances quickly towards Aeryth Dawnguard, easily overrunning the light opposition they face. Rather than attacking Aeryth Dawnguard, he conducts strikes against less fortified positions in the area around the fortress to force the defenders to come to him - his mission is only to neutralise the northern Iosan garrison and prevent them from interfering with Makeda. He deduces Aeryth Dawnguard probably doesn't have enough remaining forces to challenge him as long as he doesn't directly attack the fort.[7]

A short time after, Supreme Aptimus Zaal arrives at Xerxis' camp with a small force of warbeasts and immortals. Zaal repeats a warning from an ancestral guardian to him and attempts to convince him to stay back since he still hasn't fully recovered from his wounds: Makeda would not thank him for throwing his life away needlessly. Reluctantly, Xerxis decides to heed Zaal's advice.[8]

When the Iosans launch another attack, Zaal convinces Xerxis to retreat or else he'll die. Xerxis gives the only answer the hoksune code allows - he'll willingly accept death - but Zaal tells him to gather what troops he can and smash south through the Iosan line: Zaal will die today, but Xerxis must survive - he can go die some other day Makeda has need of him still. Xerxis curses in disgust, but listens to Zaal nonetheless.[8]

Personality

Xerxis is a consummate soldier and general, an unflinching adherent of the hoksune code, whose most important precept is the willingness to embrace death in battle. An adherent enters combat accepting he has already died, a resumption of life only earned through courage and martial prowess. Xerxis feels no shame in being Makeda's vassal, whom he views with complete respect and whose commands he follows without hesitation.[1][7]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Forces of Hordes: Skorne
  2. The Warlock Sagas: Instruments of War
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Hordes: Evolution
  4. Hordes: Metamorphosis
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hordes: Domination
  6. Hordes: Gargantuans
  7. 7.0 7.1 Hordes: Exigence
  8. 8.0 8.1 No Quarter 60