- "Kill! Maim! Burn! Kill! Maim! Burn! Kill! Maim! Burn! Kill! Maim! Burn! Kill! Maim! Burn! Kill! Maim! Burn! Kill! Maim! Burn!"
The Battle of Skalathrax was the final campaign the World Eaters Traitor Legion fought as a unified Space Marine Legion against their hated rivals the Emperor's Children Legion on the Daemon World of Skalathrax located deep within the Eye of Terror. Due to the actions of the former World Eaters Captain Khârn the Betrayer, the XII Legion all but consumed itself in a bitter internecine conflict that saw it fractured into countless smaller warbands. The World Eaters Legion would not reunite again except briefly for the First War for Armageddon in the 41st Millennium.
In the aftermath of the Horus Heresy, the World Eaters descended to new depths of bloodlust and destruction, reaving across the already shattered Imperium of Man before plunging into the twisted depths of the Eye of Terror. The story of the World Eaters' search for a homeworld is a defining point in their Legion's history. Khârn, the former Equerry of the Primarch Angron and a Khornate Berzerker, would earn the enmity of his Legion for his infamous actions upon the Daemon World of Skalathrax. The World Eaters and the Chaos Space Marines of the Emperor's Children Legion fought one another amidst the bone chilling cold of that frigid Daemon World within the Eye. After a full day of vicious fighting, the deeply frigid Skalathrax night began. Horrified by environmental conditions so cold that they affected even the superhuman metabolisms of Astartes, the Emperor's Children and the World Eaters agreed to a temporary ceasefire, and both sides took to their shelters. The freezing night brought conditions so severe that they could kill even a Chaos Space Marine in a matter of moments during the deepest portion of the long night. Khârn fell into a terrible rage over the idea of being delayed from his slaughter for even a single night. Maddened when he saw his fellow Legionaries creeping back to their shelters like cowards, he took up a Flamer and burned them to ash, slaying with his Chain Axe Gorechild any who tried to stand against him.
During the ensuing chaos, Khârn was assaulted by three unknown assailants. Undeterred, the berserker lept at his foes. A stray Bolter round struck Khârn in his breastplate, sending his leap wide, forcing him to dispatch the concealed warrior with an improvised backhand strike of his Chain Axe. He then whirled around and clove through the Bolter of the third assailant before slamming him insensible to the ground. He then hurled Gorechild to his left. The Chain Axe bit deep into the throat of the last Astartes, arterial blood spraying into the air. Standing over the prone warrior as he attempted to scrabble for his weapon, Khârn recognised the face of his assailant -- it was his old trainer from his first days with the XII Legion, Centurion Gruner. Backed into a corner amongst the bodies of his fallen brethren, Gruner spoke of madness and betrayal, cursing Khârn for daring to strike down the Battle-Brothers of his own Legion.
Khârn would hear none of it, and cut down Gruner where he stood. As the foremost berserker champion of the XII Legion, Khârn had stood upon the walls of the Imperial Palace during the last hours of the World Eaters' great campaign in service to Khorne upon the sacred soil of Mankind's homeworld. He had been the last to be borne away from Terra after Horus' assault had failed, his body broken after he had slain one million of the False Emperor's lackeys through the breach of the Imperial Palace's defences at the Lion's Gate. None alive amongst the mortal servants of the Blood God would ever surpass this tally of kills. "The Contest" that Khârn had proclaimed for which Berserker could claim the most skulls on behalf of the XII Legion's patron Chaos God was finally over, and he had been its victor. Khârn believed that it was the weakness of his fellow Traitor Space Marines that had led to their defeat during the Battle of Terra -- the weakness of the other Traitor Legions as well as the weakness found amongst his own brethren in the World Eaters. Filled with disgust for his fellow Astartes' weakness, the Chosen of Khorne continued to slay Emperor's Children and World Eaters alike, earning him the title of "the Betrayer" from the other World Eaters. His actions at Skalathrax shattered his Legion's unity and reduced it to scattered, individual war bands of Khornate Berserkers that would reave through the Eye of Terror and beyond for the next 10,000 standard years.
Yet the Blood God was ultimately pleased with the slaughter, even as the Daemon Primarch Angron's Legion ceased to exist as a coherent military entity. Though Angron would periodically gather the disparate World Eaters warbands into something resembling the glory of the old XII Legion, the World Eaters were condemned to roam the battlefields of the galaxy in search of never-ending war. Individual squads and warbands joined other forces simply for the opportunity to spill blood and take skulls. Many World Eaters to this day still bear a burning hatred of Khârn for his actions, while others, more devoted to the Eight-Fold Path of Khorne, grudgingly admire his single-minded devotion to blood and slaughter.
- Black Crusade: The Tome of Blood (RPG), pp. 25-26
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 59
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 48
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 49
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), pg. 26
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pp. 100-101
- Index Astartes III, "Chosen of Khorne - The World Eaters Space Marine Legion"
- White Dwarf 230 (US), "WH40K 3rd: Bitter and Twisted - Khârn the Betrayer", p. 42
- White Dwarf 227 (US), "Chapter Approved: Chaos, Khârn the Betrayer", pp. 73-80
- White Dwarf 201 (US), "The Betrayer", pp. 87-90
- The Weakness of Others (Novella) by Laurie Goulding