Sholen Skara was a formidable and notorious Magister of the Forces of Chaos who served under both Archon Nadzybar and Archon Urlock Gaur during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Skara was the leader of a genocidal Chaos Cult known as the Kith which committed countless atrocities during the Sabbat Worlds campaign. He was captured alive by the forces of the Imperium in 768.M41 on the Ocean World of Sapiencia, and was handed over to the Inquisition for interrogation. He subsequently escaped from custody, and was killed during a strike action against him by the Iron Snakes Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes on Valens 160 sometime around 778.M41.
Sholen Skara was a notorious Magister of the Chaotic forces during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade who expressed his depravity in individual, vile ways, and commanded utter allegiance from the Chaos Cult troopers known as the Kith who served him. One of the Imperial Crusade's first encounters with Skara occurred in 760.M41 upon the world of Sverren. This world had been in Imperial hands since 758.M41 but it was overrun by the Chaotic forces after Archon Nadzybar himself launched a fierce and bloody counter-assault against the Crusade. This time the fighting was primarily focused on the tropical Southern Continent. Two years previously, the Imperial Guard's General Bulledin had faced the forces of the Archenemy, and though the previous land war on Sverren had hardly produced a glorious outcome for the servants of the Emperor, he soon found himself charged with the command of the Imperial forces in the second Sverren campaign. Bulledin was charged with denying the enemy an advantage and to hold Sverren's key fuel depots until Imperial relief forces could reach him.
Determined not to repeat the mistakes of his earlier difficulties in the Sverren theatre, Bulledin vowed not to let the planet bedevil him twice. His determination proved pivotal in preserving the morale of the Imperial ground forces. By the time Bulledin's armies had been reached by the relief convoys, it was determined that they had been resisting the troops of both Magister Skara, commanding his atrocious Kith, and the hosts of Archon Nadzybar himself. The Archenemy forces were soon driven back to the jungle-walled cities of the Southern Continent, where they stood firm in the face of strong Imperial resistance. Skara and the Archon began a retreat after 16 months of intense fighting, for the forces of the Archenemy on Sverrin were broken, and they fell into disarray, the momentum of their counter-strike spent. Both Skara and the Archon Nadzybar pulled their forces off-world and retreated to their primary base located on the world of Balhaut. Had a less determined man than General Bulledin been in command of the Sverren holding forces, or if Bulledin had possessed a true appreciation of the forces arrayed against him, it is likely that Sverren would have been lost by midwinter 760.M41.
In 765.M41, in preparation for a massive Chaotic assault on the world of Fabia, Archon Nadzybar brought his forces to Balhaut for a brief period of rearming and resupply. By that time, Balhaut had been under the control of Magister Skara for several years. Unbeknownst to the Archon, he had been expertly manoeuvred into committing a gross mistake, as the Warmaster Slaydo had spread rumours and hearsay amongst the Imperial fleet, suspecting correctly that it had been infiltrated by Chaotic agents. This ensured that the Archon's warhost was catastrophically surprised when the Imperial Crusade unexpectedly concentrated its full force against Balhaut before the Forces of Chaos were prepared to meet them. By hour 44 of the assault, intense ground fighting had ignited on the Western Plains as well as at Balopolis where General Currell's forces found themselves engaging Magister Skara and his so-called Kith. Curell was severely injured soon after hour 48, and forced to withdraw from the fighting.
Inevitably, the Imperial forces made their way towards the dark heart of the capital city of Balopolis, to the Archon's fortress which was known as the Oligarchy. After assaulting it for nine days, Warmaster Slaydo finally confronted Archon Nadzybar in single combat, which resulted in both their deaths. The Imperials had won an important victory. As for the forces of the Archenemy, most of the Archon's brutal Magisters perished during the vicious fighting on Balhaut, though there were some lamentable exceptions. During the confusion at Balopolis, Sholen Skara and a large contingent of his Kith followers succeeded in escaping from the fires of Balhaut.
Skara's fate at Balhaut remained unknown for several years following Nadzybar's death. In the aftermath of the fighting, as the Imperial forces secured their occupation, the legacy of the murderous Magisters was revealed. Skara's murder-camps on the Balopolis Peninsula contained hideous evidence of the genocide the Kith had wrought on the population of Balhaut, perhaps for no other reason than the pursuit of their own twisted entertainment. Imperial personnel who witnessed these discoveries were plagued by terrible mental distress and even insanity. Still others, most notably Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt were driven on in a relentless obsession to destroy the perpetrators of these atrocities forever.
Following his flight from Balhaut, Skara took refuge on Sapiencia, an Ocean World. Supported by his Kith followers the architect of the Balopolis murder-camps established a new stronghold from which to mount counterstrike operations at the Imperial bases on Voltemand and Caligula. After a single mass Imperial Guard assault in early 768.M41 reconquered Sapiencia, Skara's plans were swiftly brought to an end. The masterful orbital drop onto the beaches of the primary island groups would prove to be one of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade's swiftest victories, mostly due to the capture of the genocidal Magister early in the assault -- which was chiefly due to the efforts of one Sergeant Dermon Caffran of the Tanith First and Only infantry regiment. The vile Kith destroyed themselves in a mass suicide ritual in accordance with their dark cult beliefs. Skara craved death himself as would any true devotee of Khorne, but this was denied, as his murderous career finally ended when he was given over to the tender mercies of the Holy Ordos of the Inquisition, pending interrogation. At least, that was the assumption.
Escape and Death
Unfortunately, fate had other plans in store. The Magister was aware that the fleet he was a prisoner on would require supplies and resources prior to warping away from the Sabbat Worlds to an Inquisition Fortress on Khulan, and calculated that they would be forced to halt in the Valens system for resupply.
Just before the escort fleet entered the Valens System, Skara was reported to have suffered a seizure, with a life-threating number of symptoms making themselves manifest. The fleet subsequently requested medical aid from Valens 160. Unbeknownst to the Imperium, the Hive World of Valens 160 already had an infiltration unit of the Magister's vile Kith, and the arrival of the fleet transporting the Magister was their signal to strike.
The fleet and the prison barge Excommunicado were overrun and the Magister escaped to the planet. Encouraged and inflamed by Skara, the Kith either converted or slaughtered nearly the entire Hive World's population, and the system went silent. The distress call from the fleet and the system was not processed until a few years later due to bureaucratic inertia, when the lack of an astropathic signal from the system came to the attention of the Sabbat Worlds Administratum Offices sometime around 778.M41.
Upon realising the nature of the problem, the Sabbat World's Crusade Command assigned the duty to either recover, or kill Sholen Skara, to the Iron Snakes chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. When the Iron Snakes detachment (Squad Orpheon) on the frigate Serpentra entered the Valens system, most of the details mentioned above were confirmed by their investigation of the remains of the fleet carrying the Magister.
The Iron Snakes subsequently landed Squad Orpheon into the capital of Valens 160, a Hive named Plethorapolites, to find that the city was decorated with the corpses of the Hive World's population in a ghastly display. Their appearance was noted by Magister Skara, who sent waves upon waves of his Kith cultists in an attempt to drown the Astartes behind a sea of bodies and end them in such a way. When this failed, the Magister attempted to bury them under a wave of bodies of his maddened cultists.
In spite of such terrible odds, the Iron Snakes suffered no losses, though they were grievously wounded during the action fought. Finding themselves unable to secure Skara without being overrun, Brother Captain Porphyrion of the Iron Snakes (the commander of the detachment) took the decision to eliminate the Magister. The kill was made by the Brother Captain, who hurled his Power Spear at the Magister, which resulted in him being impaled and killed as the structure he was in (a service shuttle) disintegrated with the force of the throw.
Despite the victory of the Iron Snakes, it was won at a great price. While no Astartes had died, it was clear that the Hive World of Valens 160 was completely dead, most of its industries and infrastructure badly damaged, perhaps to the point of beyond recovery. It remains a sobering lesson of the loss of another world due to the depredations of Chaos, and this was made quite clear in the astropathic messages sent to Warmaster Macaroth of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, and the Inquisition.
At the time of his capture on Sapiencia, Skara was a tall human male with a shaved head who wore tight-fitting black robes that served to emphasize his powerful musculature.
- Sabbat Worlds Crusade (Background Book) by Dan Abnett, pp. 18, 34, 49. 66
- Ghostmaker (Novel) by Dan Abnett, pp. 393, 401-402, 405-407
- Necropolis (Novel) by Dan Abnett, pg. 636