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- "It's there, I know it is, lurking in the shadows, stalking me like an animal. It's death itself I tell you, just watching me, waiting… Oh blessed Emperor, why won't it just kill me?"
- — The ravings of Cardinal Salem
Deathleaper is a unique Lictor created by the Hive Mind of Hive Fleet Leviathan as its ultimate assassin, but who the creature was truly hunting for remains elusive. First encountered on the Imperial world of St. Caspelan in 997.M41, this Tyranid terror weapon spread fear and undermined the population's morale, breaking their will to oppose the coming swarm. Far from being a mindless assassin, Deathleaper instinctively knew that the death of St. Caspelan's spiritual leader, Cardinal Salem, would have only created a martyr. Instead, Deathleaper infiltrated the Cardinal's bunkers, slaughtered his advisors and hacked through his bodyguard, only to leave the Cardinal himself unharmed, covered in the blood and viscera of his closest aides. The vile Lictor continued its brutal psychological torture of the Cardinal by repeating this gruesome carnage for ten days, bypassing ever-increasing levels of security. Each time, Deathleaper came within a claw's grasp of the Cardinal before once again mysteriously fleeing from the bloody scene. The knowledge that the Tyranid assassin could eliminate him at any time was more than the Cardinal's sanity could take. His panic-stricken paranoia and broken mind did more to break the morale of the Caspelan Planetary Defence Forces than any mere execution could have accomplished. As terror and confusion reigned free, Hive Fleet Leviathan invaded the world. The swarm of the great Devourer easily butchered its leaderless prey due solely to the actions of the Deathleaper.
- Codex: Tyranids (6th Edition), pp. 162-164
- Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), pg. 59