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He is merely a Cleaver, albeit one of their best. He is also dead, self repairing and somewhat unstoppable.
Solomon Wreath on the Cleaver

The Black Cleaver, formerly known as the White Cleaver, is a recurring antagonist in the Skulduggery Pleasant book series. Originally a normal Cleaver, he was captured and experimented on by Neferain Serpine, who turned him into an undead weapon. Although loyal to Serpine at first, the Cleaver would changes masters until his death.

After a failed raid on Serpine's base, the Cleaver was captured and turned into a zombie by Serpine himself, who used him as a bodyguard and weapon. Given a white suit to replace his old grey one, the Cleaver became known as the White Cleaver. But because he was created with necromancy, the Necromancers of Ireland held more sway over him and was ordered to abandon Serpine's services during his assault on the Irish Sanctuary, and joined the Necromancers at the Irish Tempel.

Now working for the Necromancers, the White Cleaver took part in the Battle of Aranmore Farm as part of the Necromancer Contingency and would continue to serve them up until he was torn apart by Lord Vile. However, the Cleaver survived due to his undead nature and his body parts were gathered by Vaurien Scapegrace and his minion Thraser, who handed him over to Dr. Nye in exchange for new bodies. Nye put him back together and gave him a black suit. Now kown as the Black Cleaver, he was turned into the bodyguard of the Grand Mage of the Irish Sanctuary, but was still under Nye's control.

Nye was later imprisoned for siding with the mage supremacist of Roarheaven after their failed attempt to conquer the world, but was broken out by Eliza Scorn, the rival of Grand Mage China Sorrows. As a favor for Eliza, Nye ordered the Black Cleaver to assassinate China during the battle against Darquesse. Although he killed many mages who stood in his way, the Black Cleaver failed in this mission and finally meet his end at the hands of Tanith Low, who tricked him into taking his armor off before decapitating him.

Battle vs. Rudol von Stroheim (by Wassboss)[]

Auron Tenebrae, High Priest of the Necromancy Temple in Ireland, pulls the lapels of his jacket up to cover his face from the stiff breeze as he waits. He had never been a fan of the cold even as a younger man but now his old bones seem especially susceptible to the winter's frost. Glancing over at his bodyguard, a tall man dressed in a white with a scythe strapped across his back he envies his indifference. Can the undead even feel the effects of the cold? His musings are interrupted by the a arrival of a small Volkswagen beetle which pulls up right next to the pair. Out steps a youngish looking man, dressed in black robes much like Tenebrae minus the winter jacket. He is Tibur Lockley recently appointed High Priest of the German branch of the Necromancy Temple. 

"Ah Auron it is so good to see you again" he says cheerfully. 

"And you likewise Tibur," he responds tersely. Tibur eyes his bodyguard nervously. 

"I didn't know you could get Cleavers for private useage?" 

"Yes well this one isn't you standard Cleaver. But enough with the small talk I'm freezing out here." 

Tibur smiles. "Blunt as ever I see. Very well then if you'd like to follow me." He leads Tenebrae and the White Cleaver into the forest. The ground is uneven and the path they are using is barely a path at all, if you weren't specifically looking for it you would never even know it was there. After a few miles of walking they reach a thick layer of vegetation. Tenebrae gestures for the Cleaver to slice through it but Tibur holds his hand to stop him and shadows pull the brush apart to allow them through. On the other side sits a small shack, old and run down. Tibur gives the door a gentle push and it creaks open to reveal a stone staircase leading down. Producing a flashlight from his robe they descend, eventually reaching a solid metal door with a large circular symbol carved into it. 

"Hold this steady would you" Tibur says handing his torch to Tenebrae. He kneels down and begins to trace his hand across the symbol carefully, talking as he does. "You know this place has been owned by the Necromancy Temple for centuries but it's only recently that this chamber was rediscovered? After the war it was taken over by a splinter group who worked for the Nazi's during WW2 who used it for god knows what before they disappeared, probably killed or imprisoned by the Soviets. It was only after I was appointed High Priest that it came to our attention again." 

"That is certainly a curious tale but I don't understand what that has to do with me" Tenebrae says bluntly. Tibur finishes tracing the symbol and the door opens to reveal a high tech scientific laboratory on the other side. 

"Well you see Auron you're a much more knowledgeable Necromancer than I am. I was hoping you might be able to help us understand what is going on in here." He leads him further into the laboratory, past long abandoned science-magic equipment coated in dust from decades of disuse. At the furthest corner of the lab the room opens up considerably to reveal a large tube filled with fluid and a man's body encased within. Dressed in a green military uniform, he has light blonde hair and what appears to be some sort of metal mask covering the right eye and surrounding area. "This has been the most interesting discovery. We don't know who this man is or why he's down here but preliminary studies show that his body is mostly cybernetic but interestingly no traces of magic so we know he wasn't a mage."

As Tibur is speaking Tenebrae studies the curious specimen. Suddenly he sees a flicker of movement, as if the man within has just flexed his fingers. "This man, do we know if he's still alive?"

Tibur shakes his head. "It's almost impossible he would have been able to survive down here for as long as this without proper scientific care. Apparently the mechanical parts of him would still function but all brain activity would have ceased long ago." Satisfied Tenebrae is about to dismiss the movement as his mind playing tricks on him when the man's eyes flicker open. Gaze flickering around the room it eventually settles on Tenebrae who feels a knot of fear in his stomach. 

"Tibur we need to get out of here now" he snaps, who for the first time notices the subject has awoken. Before he can react the man's hand smashes through the glass, the fluid gushing out. Panicking he tightly grasps the dagger attached to his belt and a stream of shadows envelops him, Tenebrae and the White Cleaver, shadowalking them back above ground and outside the shed. 

"This is not good," he says flustered. "There's a goddamn cyborg Nazi down there just waiting to wreak havoc. What are we going to do Auron?" 

"What we always do," Tenebrae replies calmly "We go back to our temples and pretend we know nothing of this. How would anybody know this is even linked to us Necromancers?"

"No. We can't just bury our heads in the sand like normal. We're talking about a living breathing Nazi down there. The German Sanctuary has a very strict law on this kind of thing, more so than any other Sanctuary for obvious reasons. There will be investigations and they will find out about our involvement. They're just itching for a reason to claim we're a bunch of magical cultists or terrorists and this is exactly the thing they'll use to get rid of our presence in Germany. Auron we have to stop him getting out."

"What do you purpose then?" 

"I'll get in touch with the Temple, get them to send over some other Necromancers to help us in the meantime though we'll need to stop him from escaping." Tenebrae immediately realises what he is asking and turns to address the Cleaver. 

"Cleaver you are to stop this man from leaving the laboratory at all costs. Kill or disable him whichever you deem necessary." Without hesitation or question the Cleaver marches down into the lab.


Testing all his mechanical enhancements are still functioning, Rudol von Stroheim surveys his surroundings. "Where am I? The last thing I remember is fighting against the Russians in Stalingrad and then I wake to find myself in a laboratory" He blasts a couple of holes in the wall testing his various firearms and analyses the equipment around him. Everything he can see is written in German but the letters have faded as if none of it has been used in years. "How long have I been unconscious for?" he ponders. All he knows is that to get some answers he's going to have to get the hell out of here. Those people that were watching him, who were they? Why did they run off? Satisfied that his body still functions properly he strides out into the main area of the lab, coming face to face with a armour clad figure standing still as a statue. "Who are you?" he barks, a demand more than a question but the figure doesn't respond. "I asked you who the hell you are!" he says, louder this time and takes a step forward. The figure responds immediately by drawing a large scythe from his back. "So that's how you want to do this is it?" Stroheim says smiling. 

Quick as a flash the White Cleaver closes the distance between the two and brings his scythe arching upwards. Taken aback by this sheer speed of the attack Stroheim only just barely manages to twist his body out of the way. The next blow is just as quick but he's prepared this time and grabs the staff of the weapon, just below the head before it can strike him. A shotgun snakes out of his back and blasts the Cleaver in the face, sending him flying back. The blast doesn't manage to penetrate his helmet however and he lands gracefully on his feet, launching himself at Stroheim again. Yet more firearms are produced from within Stroheim's body and he opens fire the bullets ricocheting off the armour ineffectively. A Panzerschreck is the next weapon to be brought out and a rocket tears through the air between them, striking the Cleaver head on and sending him crashing into the far wall, a bloody gaping hole in his torso. Stroheim is surprised to see the Cleaver get back to his feet, the supposedly mortal wound rapidly healing over. 

"AHA!. You must be one of those vampire drones created by Kars. Well don't you worry I've got something that will shred you to pieces." Tearing open his jacket to reveal his bare torso beneath, a machine gun protruding from his abdomen. The White Cleaver, as impassive as ever, responds to the threat by twirling his scythe as if to say "bring it on". Flinging his arms out theatrically Stroheim let's loose with a barrage of bullets. The Cleaver has to time to respond as hundreds of 30mm bullets collide with him, completely bypassing his armour and driving him back with the sheer force of the rounds. "I'LL TURN YOU INTO SWISS CHEESE!" Stroheim screams, laughing manically as more and more chunks get torn out of the Cleaver's body. After a minute of constant fire he finally runs out of ammo and the Cleaver is barely being held together by loose strands of muscle and bone. Admiring his handiwork Stroheim retracts his torso gun thinking the battle is over and begins to button up his jacket. However when he looks back up he finds not a pulverised gooey mess of human body parts but the last of the horrific wounds being patched up by the Cleaver's regeneration.

"IMPOSSIBLE!! No vampire should be able to survive such a barrage," he says an expression of shock etched upon his face, quickly replaced with a sly grin. "Nevertheless, I may have underestimated your ability to sustain damage there is still one thing you undead monsters cannot survive." A pair of shoulder UV lights slide up from his soldiers. "Take this Vampire!" he screeches as an blast of ultra violet light illuminates the lab. The light blinds the Cleaver momentarily but his eyes adjust enough to be able to make out the shape of his opponent. Keeping his head down he runs forward, using the light to his own advantage to make himself harder to see. Stroheim notices him only at the last second and far too late to be able to do anything as the scythe comes swinging across. It effortlessly slices through his midsection, cutting off the power to the lights and sending his upper body clattering to the floor. Stroheim looks up helplessly at the White Cleaver who winds up for another swing. But this cyborg has one more trip up his sleeve. 

He fires off his mechanical hand which latches itself onto the Cleaver's throat, it's fingers digging deep into it's neck. He reaches up with his hands to try and pull it off but the grip is far stronger than what he can manage, driving him backwards until it has him pinned against the wall. Stroheim drags himself forward with his remaining arm, pausing to grab the cleaver's scythe and stopping just short of where the White Cleaver is still struggling against the vice like grip of his dismembered hand. Clutching the scythe's shaft between his teeth he uses his arm to launch himself into the air, releasing the grip of his mechanical hand on the Cleaver's throat. As he does so he fires a blast of concentrated ultraviolet light through his eye, piercing through the Cleaver's primary motor cortex and disabling his ability to move. Transferring the scythe from his mouth to his hand, Stroheim swings it with all his might, aiming for the gap between the armour now revealed by the hand's removal. The blade easily cuts through the neck muscles and sinews, decapitating the White Cleaver.

Stroheim hits the floor hard and rolls along the floor, coming to rest against one of the disused machines. He sits there for a while, watching the Cleaver's body, unsure even now if he is actually dead. Finally satisfied of his victory he let's out a deep breath before letting out his iconic cry. 

"GERMAN SCIENCE IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD."

Winner: Rudol von Stroheim 

Expert's Opinion []

Stroheim won because of the sheer numbers of options he had in order to combat his opponent. The White Cleaver was only able to compete at a close range and while his high regeneration was normally enough allow him to close the distance against Stroheim he struggled. Furthermore Stroheim's abdominal machine gun and immense physical strength gave him the ability to decapitate or utterly obliterate the White Cleaver, the only two ways he can be put down.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

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