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Everyone I ever read FAQ-wise says it's impossible to beat Khull-Khuum except to do the one thing the game expects you to do: trap him. However, confronting Khull-Khuum can take three forms.
1 - The scripted use of his Crucible to trap him in his own orb. This is what the game expects you to do, because it makes the most sense story-wise.
2 - Run like heck to the gate and throw yourself through. It's a little harder as the portal will only open randomly if you don't have the four silver artifacts. And if you do, then there's no reason not to perform #1.
3 - Defeat him in combat. Yes, yes you can indeed kill him, if you abuse the combat mechanics and play 'hit and run' with him. You cannot survive two hits, though with full protection and shielding you can in fact survive ONE. I personally did this the first time I played, using the Shadow Claymore for damage. It a darned long time, but it can be done.
"When you appear to be doing nothing at all, you're doing it right."