"Pain is the only universal constant. Pain is all. It is the key to creation and destruction both. Thus does he who masters pain become a god."
- —Urien Rakarth, an excerpt from his address to his audience prior to the Mallendroch Massacre
Urien Rakarth is a Drukhari and the Master Haemonculus of the Prophets of Flesh coven. A depraved genius in the fields of bodily manipulation and anatomical sculpture, Rakarth's skill as a fleshcrafter is legendary.
Though he once enjoyed a senior position in the intrigues that bind Commorragh, he has transcended squabbles over power and prestige entirely. Now, only the most grandiose transmogrifications of Commorrite society pique his interest -- those that allow him to revel in the depravity of his twisted imagination.
From the lowliest menial to the highest lord, there is not a soul in the Dark City that does not know the name Urien Rakarth. He is a dark legend, to some a figure of virtual folklore, to others a grim and monstrous fact.
Infamous for his perverse carnivals of pain, the ancient Haemonculus is feted amongst the Dark City's upper echelons as a truly gifted artist of agonies. Yet the black well of Urien Rakarth's evil desires is dug far deeper than anyone knows.
"I have long taken an interest in humans and their crude dabbling in fleshcraft. The Adeptus Astartes are powerful warriors, but their creators have always been too restricted in their vision. This Primarch, Roboute Guilliman, occludes his mind to so many possibilities, and as such will never achieve the perfection he seeks -- the perfection that I define through the practise of my craft. If he wishes to learn from the master, let him come to me. I will gladly make room for him in my grandest oubliette."
- — Master Haemonculus Urien Rakarth
Urien's wizened body has long lost the ability to regain the glory of a recently-fed Drukhari, for he is indeterminably ancient and has been alive since the time before the Fall of the Aeldari.
Over the ineffable span of his existence, Urien has died to bolt, flame, blade, bullet, toxin, hard vacuum and more grisly fates besides. Each time he dies, Urien's remains are used to slowly grow another iteration of the Master Haemonculus, for he is the progenitor of the Haemonculi's regeneration process and each of his surgically altered bones holds the key to a dark resurrection.
Rakarth has crossed the veil so many times that he savours death like a fine wine, revelling in the peaks of agony and the transcendent knowledge that comes with each new demise.
In recent centuries, however, something seems to have been corrupted in the regeneration process -- either accidentally or by Urien's own design -- and Urien's latest incarnations have each borne a vestigial part of the one before. So it is that Urien is now a truly horrific sight, his compound spines sprouting from his back in ghastly profusion and his leering face tied onto his skull with cords of leathery flesh.
Rakarth boasts many sets of limbs -- some stripped, silvered and re-strung as fully functional appendages; some atrophied and disturbing, pushing out of his many-spined sump to beckon weakly at those nearby. So profoundly have these constant regenerations affected Urien's metabolism that his artificially toughened flesh is able to reknit and heal at an incredible rate. Rakarth welcomes all forms of injury, especially upon the battlefield, for it forces him to adapt his body to accommodate the wound.
Most Haemonculi are to some degree political creatures, at least within the ranks of their own coven. It is not in the nature of the Drukhari to be content with their lot, and normally the more powerful a Commorrite becomes, the more elaborate the plots and intrigues that surround him. Not so Urien Rakarth, who has long ago left behind such petty squabbles.
For long centuries now Rakarth has been a dark force of nature, so steeped in the Haemonculus' arts that some believe him to be practically a demi-god of torment. This is not to say that Rakarth overlooks those rare fools who attempt to work against his interests. Rather, their horrific fates are sealed so suddenly that it seems as though they were indeed struck down by some vengeful -- and revoltingly creative -- deity.
Despite the panoply of cruel artefacts that Urien possesses, the true weapons of this demented fiend are the repugnant creations that shamble out from his flesh-pens -- a menagerie of horrors that strains the sanity of all who behold it.
Blood-spattered Wracks and towering Grotesques stalk between living sculptures that moan and stagger as rapacious haemovores writhe in the gore beneath. At the head of this gruesome procession comes Rakarth himself, theatrically conducting the carnage about him like a ringmaster at some hellish circus.
Rakarth often deigns to enter realspace accompanied by a coven, Kabal or Wych Cult. To set his creations loose upon the field of battle is to display his masterpieces to the galaxy at large, and every true artist needs an audience. Urien feels nothing but a faint tinge of amusement at such squabbling, yet the constant queue of ready catspaws serves him well.
In recent years, Rakarth has demanded the aid of Kabal and cult alike to gather an ever-growing tide of living victims from the material dimension. His allies are too caught up in their own machinations to question whether the Master Haemonculus has a deeper purpose; they simply assume that Rakarth requires this living ocean of tribute to sustain his experiments.
Their ignorance suits Urien's purposes well, for it would not do to have his deeds examined too closely by the upper echelons of Commorrite society.
In 999.M41 due to the instability of Khaine's Gate, Rakarth worked with Asdrubael Vect, the supreme overlord of Commorragh, to create a pocket dimension to store slaves and raw materials. This was intended as fodder for Commorragh to prey upon should a cataclysmic dysjunction occur and the daemons of the Warp invade the Dark City.
Asdrubael Vect's Funeral
Few spectacles are as extreme as the gnashing, thrashing carnival of pain Rakarth unleashes upon his prey, and competition is extremely fierce for the honour of the Master Haemonculus' presence.
For this reason, Commorragh was abuzz when the Sculptor of Torments announced he would display his craft openly at the wake of Asdrubael Vect. Archons from every corner of the Dark City came to view the grim spectacle, little knowing it was they who would become the subjects of Urien's latest masterpiece.
Following the death of Vect, a funeral by the Harlequins of the Masque of the Veiled Path was organised and attended by many of the Archons of the Dark City who had been both allies and rivals of Vect. However, at the crescendo of the service, the Archons were massacred by the Harlequins in a bloody spectacle.
Their blood was used to resurrect Vect, who was reborn with a perfect body imbued with a new "dark power." After the massacre, Rakarth and his Prophets of Flesh coven resurrected many of the dead.
All who had remained faithful to Vect were resurrected back to their full health, but his foes were reborn as grotesque abominations and twisted monstrosities enslaved to Vect's will. They were to become immortal mockeries of their former selves, living embodiments of the fate of all those who dared to cross the supreme overlord of Commorragh -- and testaments to the skill of Urien Rakarth in the art of agony.
Carnivals of Pain
"When I look upon the lesser races I am filled with disgust. Left to their own devices, they lead lives that are pitifully brief and completely devoid of meaning. How many of their generations have passed by in my lifetime? The answer is beneath my attention. Yet with the correct application of my art, each of those wretched beings can be made to endure an eternity of suffering, and it is through their screams that they show me their value."
When a horde of Rakarth's creations descends upon their chosen target, the main attractions travel in specially modified Raiders, chained down with heavy manacles or trapped inside barbed cages. They will attack in the dead of night, or from the midst of some spectacular natural phenomenon -- whatever Urien judges will lend his show the most gravitas and display his exhibits in their best light.
His audience skim low amid the slaughter, watching with ghoulish avidity from the decks of sleek pleasure-skiffs as truly appalling torments are inflicted on the chosen prey.
To view such high art is a rare privilege for any Commorrite, and even those Archons who have gone beyond the hope of rejuvenation will leave the carnival of pain with the healthy sheen of one centuries younger. Indeed, among those who consider Rakarth to be a deity-in-waiting -- perhaps even one of the Dark Muses reborn -- the apparently miraculous properties of his displays only serve to provide more proof.
Yet in the Dark City, nothing comes for free. Though the Master Haemonculus has no interest in such tawdry concepts as fiscal remuneration, the Drukhari who attend his displays must pay a price nonetheless.
From some, Rakarth will ask a simple favour, a marker to be called in at some point in the future when it suits him best. These individuals are held to their bargain by the secret implantation of parasitic slit-worms. These vile little horrors lay dormant in the host until such time as the Master Haemonculus comes to collect.
Should the indebted attempt to wriggle out of their deal, the last thing they will ever feel is a sudden, peristaltic surge of motion throughout their body. Seconds later, the slit worms burst from every pore, exsanguinating their victim before expiring themselves amid a cacophony of horrific squeals.
From others, the price for attending the carnival of pain is more straightforward, if no less unpleasant. Perhaps they will be asked to donate a patch of their own skin, or a portion of their memories.
Perhaps more will be required, an eye, perhaps a limb, even a name. The least fortunate may be taken altogether, their destiny to be transformed into the next exhibit that Rakarth wishes to display.
Yet even the threat of so terrible a fate does nothing to dissuade Rakarth's audiences, for this thrill of personal danger does more to entice than it does to dissuade.
Whatever the eventual fate of those who attend a carnival of pain, the spectacle they will first enjoy justifies almost any price. As Rakarth's horrors burst from their restraints, a waking nightmare descends upon the foe. Local defenders and panicked citizens are torn limb from limb, messily devoured, or dragged from their hiding places to take unwilling roles in the madman's pageant that has engulfed their homes.
As the pace of the carnage increases, rolling tidal waves of terror and agony engulf coven forces and onlookers alike, sending the Drukhari into ecstasies so potent that their effect surpasses even the gladiatorial displays of the Wych Cults.
While these horrifying spectacles are undeniably impressive, there are those who theorise that Rakarth's blood-soaked exhibitions are but a means to an end. Rumours in the Dark City persist of his vast riches being put to strange, clandestine uses, and of shield-shrouded Venoms despatched on secret missions while his audience's eyes are fixed elsewhere.
Indeed, if the Master Haemonculus is in fact working toward some greater end than art for its own sake, he has so far kept the secret well.
Like all Haemonculi, Urien has an undying enthusiasm for crafting symphonies of pain. He carries a variety of strange weapons to war, including a gauntlet that can inject his own highly mutagenic ichor into his foes and a blade that can kill with the slightest scratch.
Rather than covering his amorphous body in bulky armour, he simply abstracts it further by using a clone field to project multiple overlapping hololight images of himself onto the battlefield. Thus obscured, he is able to avoid his enemies' attacks, allowing him to concentrate on harvesting choice subjects for use in his torturous experiments.
To aid in the harvest Urien carries the Casket of Flensing -- an impossibly intricate puzzle-box that, when opened, unleashes a swarm of bound, evil spirits upon his victims. The souls rip the flesh from the heads of their prey with needle-like fangs, before tearing skulls from spinal columns and carrying them back to Urien with the stillconscious brains left writhing inside.
Rakarth is almost always accompanied into battle by the worm-like alien haemovores which writhe beneath him like demented pets.
But the true weapons of this demented fiend are the sanity-blasting horrors that he creates in the darkness of his laboratories.
- Codex: Drukhari (8th Edition), pp. 6, 69, 91
- Codex: Dark Eldar (7th Edition), pp. 38-39, 52, 75
- Codex: Dark Eldar (5th Edition), pg. 54
- Codex: Dark Eldar (3rd Edition), pg. 40
- Haemonculus Covens - A Codex: Dark Eldar Supplement (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), "The Chronicle of Endless Woe"
- Psychic Awakening: Phoenix Rising (8th Edition), pp. 16-17