Even though they would never admit it, they know in their hearts that, try as they might to allay their fate, Slaanesh will claim them in the end. The slow decline into powerlessness is what the Dark Eldar fear most of all, for in birthing Slaanesh from the endless tides of the Warp, the Eldar have created their greatest enemy. Slaanesh, in its dire awakening, has developed a taste for the souls of the Eldar. Where before, when an Eldar died, they would pass peacefully into the Warp in order to be reborn, now they face eternal torment, for Slaanesh has a perverse and twisted appetite that can never be sated.
Unless extraordinary measures have been taken to prevent it, whenever an Eldar dies, Slaanesh will be waiting on the other side to consume him. She Who Thirsts will not rest until it has claimed every Eldar soul in the galaxy. The Eldar are doomed, and they know it well. The Eldar race fights on against innumerable foes and their inevitable extinction.
As if the unnatural hunger of a voracious and sinister god was not a dire enough threat, the Eldar must also contend with a galaxy no longer theirs. In the bloody wake of the Fall, the race of Mankind has grown to preeminence. The Imperium has ascended, conquering much of the galaxy in the name of the corpse-god it calls Emperor.
The Eldar, whose maturation patterns span nearly a century, cannot compete in numbers with a race whose generations multiply with the frantic pace of vermin.
Raw manpower is the Imperium's greatest strength, but also its weakness. The teeming armies of Mankind, carving up the galaxy with the enthusiasm of a demented butcher, have swept aside many dangers whilst stamping their mark upon the stars. In the process they have awoken many more.
Now, more than ever, the gods of Chaos find the galaxy ripe for conquest, for weak-willed humans make easy playthings, and they are truly without number.
The Eldar see in Humanity their own failings and fear the bitter destiny that they will reap, for the race of Man unknowingly feeds the Dark Gods with their constant wars and the rich fodder of emotion that results. The Ork race has spread across the galaxy from end to end, fighting with insane vigour purely for the sake of violence itself.
The greenskin race has become so prolific that many Eldar seers believe it has reached critical mass, their numbers too large for even the most protracted cull to have any real effect. Should the Ork hordes unite their efforts, all the artifice and cunning of the Eldar would not be enough to stop them from drowning the galaxy in blood.
As the 41st Millennium draws to a close, new foes and old emerge in force — foremost amongst them, the invasion fleets of the Tyranids. As hostile and inimicable to life as a plague made flesh, the Hive Mind has crossed the interstellar void purely to feed. Each Craftworld and Exodite planet represents a bounty of biomass the Hive Fleets covet greatly.
They will expend billions of weapon-beasts in order to devour Eldar realms, fashioning ever deadlier creatures from the remains of their foes. However, at least the Tyranids are confined to the fringes of the galaxy. Not so the Eldar's oldest enemies. From their tombs the dread Necrons awake -- nigh-immortal foes from before the Fall, their lords eager to renew their timeless war against the Eldar race. For those Eldar who yet survive, war is their only hope.
Their foes -- both new and old -- lack the technology, wisdom and skill of the Children of the Stars; in numbers alone are their enemies insurmountable.
Even when staring extinction in the face, the Eldar will not flee nor yield. They are a proud race, determined that the flame of the Craftworlds blaze brightly once more rather than flicker and die out. The once-glorious history of the Eldar is preserved only in myth; most of the truths of ages past have long been lost. In the millennia since the Fall, the Craftworld Eldar have been locked in an endless struggle to survive, and they have no choice but to fight with every weapon at their disposal.
Inexorable, unstoppable, the Time of Ending tightened its stranglehold upon the twilight years of the 41st Millennium. Amongst those caught in its grip are the Eldar, the race of psychically gifted humanoid aliens that once ruled the stars. Brought low by their own pride and blind hedonism, they now skirt the precipice of oblivion. Only through the most desperate ploys can they hope to survive.
Though the Eldar long ago learned how to stave off the awful, soul-sucking attention of "She Who Thirsts" -- known as Slaanesh in the tongues of men -- they have not fully escaped the curse of the deity their hubris spawned. The enigmatic Harlequins , having pledged their souls to the trickster god Cegorach , slip through Slaanesh's clawed grasp by always staying one step ahead. No matter the methods they use to escape the notice of the Dark God that haunts them, all Eldar sacrifice much in the process. None can claim to be the equal of their ancient forebears, the Aeldari -- they who married physical excellence with prodigious psychic ability, safe in the knowledge that upon their deaths they would rejoin the endless cycle and be reborn.
There are those amongst the Eldar that seek a way back to those halcyon days. Their peers consider them dangerously deluded. To return to the glowing, incandescent existence of aeons past is to attract Slaanesh's gaze, and hence court the worst kind of disaster. Some Eldar refuse to abandon the glorious dream of building the ancient stellar empire anew, or at least burning bright before the end. This arch-manipulator has been plucking at the strings of fate since before the dawn of the Imperium of Man. His prescience is like a diamond blade, sharpened by the intensity of his conviction.
By weaving the tangled skeins of destiny, the Farseer guides his people to the most favourable of futures. Eldrad has long perceived a nascent presence in the Infinity Circuits of the Craftworlds, a distant heartbeat that pulses slow and steady behind the thrum of lost energies. It is comprised not of one life sign, but hundreds of billions -- the sum total of every dead Eldar's soul across the galaxy.
Though individually these echoes are near insignificant, together they form something so strong that — if it were brought to wakefulness -- it could prove potent enough to overcome the Eldar curse entirely. This is Ynnead , the slumbering God of the Dead. The prophecies of the fabled Seer Kysaduras tell that when every Eldar has passed from mortal existence, Ynnead will rise up and defeat Slaanesh forever more.
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It was Eldrad Ulthran who put into motion a plan to bring forth Ynnead, a ploy of such conceited ambition it could buckle the fabric of space and time. Enlisting the aid of the Harlequin Masque of the Midnight Sorrow , he stole away the fossilised crystal statues of long-dead Farseers from their Craftworlds and gathered them upon Coheria , a moon of the Imperial word of Port Demesnus covered in sands of potent psychoactive crystal.
With his Crystal Council acting as a hyperspatial link to each Craftworld, Eldrad channelled the spirits of the Infinity Circuits onto Coheria. Though Ynnead stirred in his slumber, he did not fully awaken -- not yet, at least. Screams filled the air, some of agony, some of ecstasy. Within the confines of the Crucibael arena, the Dark City of Commorragh's elite had gathered in great number to witness the finest spectacle that the Wych Cult of Strife could muster.
The Commorrite attendees of the mile-wide arena had paid handsomely for the privilege of being allowed through its statue-framed portals. Some had ceded large portions of their territory to secure their seats; others had handed over thousands of slaves. Still more had performed lethal errands on behalf of the arena's owners, or committed even darker atrocities to secure a few solar hours of precious attendance. It was worth every sacrifice, for they were there not merely to be entertained, but to feast.
The Dark Eldar take their sustenance from suffering. Their souls, long ago condemned by the coming of She Who Thirsts, are constantly drained away, ever so slowly but appreciably nonetheless. Only by witnessing the pain of others can they stave off the aching void that claims their spirits, and the older a Dark Eldar soul becomes, the more grievous the atrocities needed to sustain it. Because of this unique blend of sadism and parasitism, the arenas in Commorragh's heartlands combine the role of twisted circus and gluttonous feast. The spectacles mounted there are increasingly outlandish; a seemingly endless supply of enslaved warriors and champions of the "lesser races" are hacked to pieces each night for the edification of the thirsting crowd.
In the most prestigious arenas, the death toll rises ever higher as the Wych Cults strive to outdo each other in skill and imagination. Through such loathsome displays, the wealthiest Commorrites are reinvigorated -- for a time, at least. This site has played host to countless legendary figures, even being treated to the consummate blade work of the Phoenix Lord Jain Zar , first of the Howling Banshees.
With a capacity of well over a million, the nightly spectaculars staged there are stunning in their magnitude and lucrative beyond measure. No small amount of this tithe is given unto Lelith herself, for the Queen of Knives has ruled here for longer than even the longest-lived of her Succubi rivals remember. She feeds on countless souls every night, and would do anything to preserve her beauty.
Since the Cult of Strife's realspace raid upon the world of Valedor , the Crucibael has cultivated some very highly prized battle-fodder indeed. It was driven to the brink of disaster by not one, but two Tyranid Hive Fleets , and finally tipped into oblivion by an alliance of Craftworlders and Dark Eldar using the doomsday device known as the Fireheart. Before Valedor met its fiery end, the Wych Cult of Strife captured whole swarms of Tyranids, later interbreeding them to enliven their arenas.
It was that ravenous brood that Lelith Hesperax unleashed from her stasis prisons on what became known as the Night of Revelations. Even though the Tyranids were famous for being deadly in the extreme, utterly alien and all but impervious to pain, they were not the only attraction that had drawn so large a crowd that night.
There was one amongst the Succubi who had risen from the gutter to high favour under the patronage of the aristocratic Lady Malys.
So far had this gladiatrix's fame spread that even a troupe of Harlequins had come to see her and her Bloodbrides fight. Some had touted her as ft to challenge Lelith Hesperax in personal combat. This claim was usually a death sentence for even the most skilled warrior, for Lady Hesperax was so immensely gifted in the art of combat that those who faced her usually died in solar seconds.
Yet there was something special about this fashionable new challenger. Known in Commorragh as the Daughter of Shades, as Amharoc to the Eldar Corsairs that once called her mistress, and as Yvraine to the Craftworlders that once called her kin, this tall and regal Succubus was a favourite in certain wealthy Dark Eldar circles.
She was not a true Commorrite, and hence was interestingly controversial, famed for her lightning transformations from stately elegance to a whirlwind of violence. When roused to anger, she would shuck off her courtly regalia to slash open the throats of those who had earned her ire. Yvraine's mercurial temperament had endeared her to those who respected decisive violence -- in essence, the vast majority of the Dark City's inhabitants.
The night Yvraine met Lelith in single combat, the Crucibael had already borne witness to several violent displays.