In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, the Dahaka serves as the physical manifestation of the inevitability of fate. The beast is the guardian of the Timeline, and seems to appear only when the Timeline is disrupted.
But, in The Sands of Time, the Prince uses the Sands of Time to massively manipulate the Timeline and cheat his own death. Therefore it is the Dahaka's duty to make sure that the Prince meets his death in order to restore the timeline.
The Dahaka appears as a massive and powerfully built humanoid, clad in black. It has long ram-like horns that twist in the form of a lemniscate, the symbol of infinity, and its eyes burn with a fierce inner light, though the area around it is always covered in shadows. It also has the ability to shoot four or more tentacles from its abdomen, which it uses to capture the Prince should he fail to keep enough distance between him and the Dahaka (see the Dahaka Chases below). Every aspect of this being suggests it is a creature of a more supernatural world. Until the very end of the game, it is impossible to fight the Dahaka, as it is seemingly invincible to sword thrusts, and as stated above, if the Prince goes within its close proximity, the Dahaka captures the Prince with its tentacles.
At several points in the game, (known amongst players as "Dahaka Chases") the Dahaka will catch up with the Prince and chase after him. The player will then have to flee through a series of obstacles in order to escape the beast. If it does catch him, it will reduce the Prince to sand and absorb him, thus eliminating him and his actions from the Timeline. The Dahaka appears blurry during these moments and can sometimes teleport a few yards at a time. During his adventures, the Prince discovers that, like all the Empress' sandy minions, the Dahaka has an intense aversion to water. Contact with water harms the creature, and it cannot pass through the curtains of water that cover certain palace doors and corridors. The Prince must exploit this weakness to escape the thing. Because of this weakness to water, some fans speculate that the Dahaka is a Sand creature and was probably created by the same beings that created the timeline, the empress of time and the many time artifacts (dagger, amulet, hourglass etc) and was created for the purpose of preventing the misuse of the timeline by the sands.
Additionally, the Dahaka will appear in the past during two cutscenes. The first occurs after the Prince unlocks the throne room. In the Central Hall, the Sandwraith suddenly appears before him, then the Dahaka blocks the exit, causing the Prince to surmise that the monster has somehow followed him to the past. Strangely enough, as the Prince begins to flee, the Dahaka grabs the Sandwraith, kills it, and leaves. Later, after the Prince has himself become the Sandwraith and travelled back in time using the Mask of the Wraith, he encounters his past self at the same time and place. Knowing of the attack beforehand, the Prince is able to elude the Dahaka, allowing his past self to perish and freeing himself from the Mask. Although no explicit explanation is given about the Dahaka's odd behavior in these scenes, it is likely that, because the Sands do not yet exist and the Prince's fate is not yet sealed, the Dahaka is only attempting to block the fate-altering powers of the Mask by preventing the same person from existing twice at once.
If the Prince fails to acquire the Water Sword, and kill The Empress in a final duel in the Present, the Dahaka will come forth to claim the Empress' body and then the Prince's Amulet. Both are the last relics of the Sands of Time. With those two things gone, the Dahaka no longer has a purpose to exist in this timeline and vanishes into the mists. However, if the Prince manages to claim the Water Sword, he will challenge the Dahaka to a final battle, with the Empress assisting him. In the end of the fight, the Empress strikes the Dahaka with a blast of energy and knocks him to the edge of the platform. The Prince then attacks, driving the water sword into the Dahaka's skull, causing it to lose its grip and fall into the sea below. In the official ending, there is an explosion of dark power that rises from the water, grown to a massive size, the Dahaka ascends over the Prince and the Empress, flailing in rage. It then collapses back into the water, and is destroyed forever.
The fact that one can escape the Dahaka can be seen as a suggestion from the game's designers that while fate seems inevitable, it can in fact be avoided and even conquered.
During the game the Dahaka appears to speak in a bizarre language but in actuality it talks in backward speech, able to be heard by reversing time. If the Dahaka says something, wait until he is finished speaking, and use the Sands of Time to reverse time, and if you have done this correctly, you can fully understand what the Dahaka is saying. Phrases like: "All who have come before you have fallen" "Come to me... come to your death!" "Disrupt the Timeline no further" "No one escapes the Dahaka" and "You cannot change your fate, you have fallen" will be understandable with this process.
The Dahaka can be compared to the Marut, a somewhat similar creature from Dungeons and Dragons. Both are massive, dark-colored, extra-plannar beings who unendingly hunt down those who have cheated death, seeking to bring about their rightful and inevitable demise. Both creatures are known to walk steadily toward their prey when they've located it, and use short-range teleportation (a dimension door spell, in the Marut's case) to gain ground during such chases. They are both extraordinarily powerful creatures that are impossible to defeat by all but the greatest of characters, and both have resistance to damage from all normal means save for one weakness (Water in the Dahaka's case, and Chaotically-aligned damaged for the Marut)
The Dahaka is also somewhat similar to the Balrog from the Lord of the Rings, as both are giant, nigh-unstoppable demonic creatures of a similar visage, wreathed in shadow. In Warrior Within, there is even a scene where the Prince (in Sand Wraith form) is chased by the Dahaka over a bridge of sorts, which promptly gives way under them. The Prince manages to grab hold of a ledge, while the Dahaka tumbles down into the darkness below, but not before making a last attempt to pull the Prince down with him by using his tentacles. The Prince, however, skillfully slices the tentacles off just as they are about to grab him, screaming "Die, you bastard!". This is highly reminiscent of the scene from the movie Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, by Peter Jackson, where Gandalf finds himself in a similar situation, but unlike the Prince, is pulled down by the Balrog's flaming whip as the giant demon falls. It is highly likely that this scene in Warrior Within was inspired by the one from the Fellowship of the Ring, perhaps being a pun of sorts.
Dahaka Quotes: "Your End Is Near" and "You are quick mortal quick to die."
Meanings of Dahāka (达哈卡的意思)
· The meaning of Dahāka is uncertain. Among the meanings suggested are "stinging" (source uncertain),
· "burning" (cf. Sanskrit dahana), "man" or "manlike" (cf. Khotanese daha), "huge" (cf. Pashto lōy) or
· "foreign" (cf. the Scythian Dahae and the Vedic dasas). In Persian mythology, Dahāka is treated as a proper
· name, and is the source of the Zahhāk of the Shāhnāma. Zahhāk or Zohhāk (in Persian: ?????) is a figure of
· Persian mythology, evident in ancient Iranian folklore as A?i Dahāka, the name by which he also appears in
· the texts of the Avesta. In Middle Persian he is called Dahāg or Bēvar-Asp, the latter meaning "[he who has]
· 10,000 horses".