Nefarian Serpine was Mevolent's most trusted General during the great war. He masterminded the death of Skulduggery's wife and child, killing them in front of him, knowing that Skulduggery would get too angry to think properly. He was right - Skulduggery, in his rage, wanted to kill Serpine without using his magic and grabbed the nearest weapon, which was a poisoned dagger which Serpine had laid out for him. Serpine then captured, tortured and finally killed him. Skulduggery returned seeking revenge. However, before he could punish Serpine the Truce stopped him.
Although Mevolent is dead, Serpine still plotted the return of the Faceless Ones. He spent several years pooling resources while Skulduggery tried to prove to the Elders that Serpine was still evil, but the Elders refused to believe that he would break the Truce.
Just before the start of the novel, Serpine assasinated Gordon Edgley because Gordon wouldn't hand the key to the Caves to Serpine, therefore stopping Serpine from gaining the Sceptre of the Ancients. He then hires an assassin to steal the key, but is stopped by Skulduggery and Valkyrie
Serpine then has a meeting with Mr. Bliss. During the meeting Mr. Bliss informs Serpine that two spies have been killed, but Serpine denies having anything to do with it.
Serpine then sends Hollow Men to the Caves, where his minions capture Skulduggery, however Skulduggery is freed. Serpine uses one of the Cleavers that were part of the rescue team, and then injects magical fluid into him, making the Cleaver undead. Serpine then does the same to himself.
After Mr. Bliss is revealed to be a traitor, Mr. Bliss steals the key to the Caves, and hands it to Serpine. Serpine then goes to the Caves, and he finally gets his hand on the Sceptre. Using the Sceptre he kills two of the Elders, Eachan Meritorious and Morwenna Crow, and the third Elder, Sagacious Tome, is revealed to be another traitor. However, when Serpine still can't access the Book of Names, he kills the last Elder.
After Skulduggery and Valkyrie realise that Serpine's true plan is to use the Book of Names to control someone who knows how to bring the Faceless Ones back, the two try to stop him at the Sanctuary. During the battle, Mr. Bliss is revealed to actually be against Serpine. Serpine also destroys the Book of Names by accident using the Sceptre. His plan failed, Serpine decides to torture Valkyrie using his red hand, a Necromancy trick. However, Skulduggery uses the sceptre and fires it on Serpine, killing him.
In the alternate reality Serpine is still alive, and has betrayed Mevolent. However, he still worships The Faceless Ones. He attempted to join China Sorrows' Resistance. China, however, does not trust him completely and has him wear a glove that suppresses his magical abilities. He serves as a guide for Skulduggery and Valkyrie into Mevolent's Palace, and later convinces them to remove his glove, fighting Baron Vengeous alongside Skulduggery. However, he betrays them and turns the Sceptre over to the alternate universe's China Sorrows. Later, after Darquesse is transported to the alternate universe, Serpine murders China with his red hand from behind, and attempts to take the Sceptre for himself. He fails, and the Sceptre is transported along with Darquesse.
When Valkyrie is taken prisoner in the Alternate Dimension, Serpine rescues her. He is then revealed to be the new leader of The Resistance. He offers Valkyrie a deal that if she confronts Mevolent and pretends she is Darquesse he will free Skulduggery and Erskine Ravel, she agrees. She confronts Mevolent and he shoots her with the Magic-Sucker. It does nothing so he throws it on the ground. Peregrine then Teleports behind him and takes it. As Mevolent approaches Valkyrie he teleports her away. When she is back in the village Serpine takes her to Skulduggery and Ravel. When the Magic-Sucker is stolen by Skulduggery and Valkyrie which he knew they would he stops them and orders them to hand it over. Vile is noticed by Valkyrie and he destroys the Magic-Sucker. Serpine is then teleported away by Peregrine.
A psychopathic individual, Serpine was regarded by many to be insane, Skulduggery included. In many ways he was a fanatical terrorist with a religious agenda who believed that all human life except his own was insignificant and seeked to destroy humanity in the name of his gods. Nefarian presented himself in a cultured and sophisticated manner and possessed a dry, cynical sense of humour and a eloquent, theatrical way of speaking. Serpine was highly intelligent and cunning, capable of creating complex and unpredictable plans to achieve his goals. He was also sadistic, relishing in torturing people - even going so far as to target their loved ones, as he did with Skulduggery Pleasant. Despite being very calm and reserved in the best of times, Serpine was capable of frightening outbursts of rage when his plans go wrong, which makes him dangerous but very reckless.
Magic and abilities
Serpine was an extremely powerful sorcerer, as evidenced by him being one of Mevolent's Three Generals and the fact that he collected a number of magical powers and knowledge of rare forms of sorcery. Serpine had a skinless red hand that caused agonizing pain to anyone he pointed at and also kill anyone (it doesn't work on undead beings, such as Skulduggery) by pointing. His red right hand is extremely powerful, shown when Serpine uses it to battle Lord Vile to a standstill, but Lord Vile quickly gains the upper hand in their fight.
He could also gather purple vapor in his hand either to blast at people or retrieve objects out of his reach. He could create objects, for example a cage used to trap Skulduggery or block objects which are fired at him. For example, he blocked bullets when Skulduggery fired them at him. He could also do spells, as he placed a binding spell on some shackles. He experimented with Necromancy on the White Cleaver, and then himself, which enabled him to regenerate. When he moves the fingers on his left hand in a wave motion it courses objects to contract and expand, as if breathing.
Serpine also has quick reflexes, able to catch a dagger that Mr Bliss threw at him. It can be presumed that he has some skill in knife combat, often carrying a dagger around with him. He is skilled, but not that strong in melee combat this is shown on his Battle card which give him a six for fighting ability.
Neferian is a tall man (although not as big as Mr Bliss) with short black hair, thin lips and glittering emerald eyes. He often wears a suit and his right hand has a black glove that covers his skinless red hand that glistens with blood and wet muscle.