|Submitted By: Date: August 9, 2005, 08:41:34 AM Views: 4128
|Summary: A brief history of the Dark Eldar, and their Society in Commorragh.
Dark Eldar History
The origins of the Dark Eldar can be found in the Fall, the great cataclysm that nearly destroyed the entire Eldar race. It was an event so terrible that not only did it kill trillions of Eldar, but it breached the gap between Real Space and the Warp, and gave birth to a Chaos God…
To understand the reasons for the Fall, you must know something of the Eldar mind and soul.
An Eldar’s mind is incredibly complex. Their senses are extremely sharp, able to perceive incredible levels of detail. Their emotions can be so strong that a human’s are merely pale shadows by comparison. They are extremely intelligent; their thought processes are much faster than a human’s. All of this means that an Eldar experiences the universe and all its sensations to a greatly heightened degree.
Similarly, an Eldar’s soul is much brighter in the Warp than those of ‘lesser’ sentients. Eldar are able to affect the nether-realm much more than most other races. They are all latent psychics and have the ability to become very powerful psykers with training. It is the strength of their souls that was one of the causes of their downfall.
Before the Fall, the Eldar had an immense galaxy-spanning empire comprising millions of worlds, larger and more powerful than even the Imperium of Man at the height of its power. The Eldar lived in relative peace--barbarian races such as the Orks were kept at easily manageable numbers and never had the strength to threaten the might of the Eldar empire. The humans were not yet virulently xenophobic and did not have a large domain, and the Tyranid Hive Fleets still voyaged through the voids between galaxies. The C’tan and Necrons, ancient foes of the Eldar, were long ago defeated and still remained dormant.
Life on the Eldar worlds was idyllic, with fantastically sophisticated machines to take care of all labour and manufacturing required, leaving the Eldar free to indulge in other, more entertaining pursuits. With all menial work taken care of for them, the Eldar became indolent and decadent. They began to experiment more and more with the arts of pleasure, delving ever deeper into hedonism. Over the millennia, the Eldar became more obsessed with their decadence, with law and order breaking down, the traditional forms and structures of society disappearing. Eldar grouped together into loose sects called Pleasure Cults. These cults were dedicated to achieving the highest levels of hedonistic sensation, and their ceremonies and practices became ever more extreme, eventually involving violence and sacrifice of their own kind. Some Eldar hated what their race had become and left the Homeworlds for the virgin Maiden Worlds, or left on the newly-constructed Craftworlds, leaving the Pleasure Cults to their madness.
Meanwhile, something terrible was stirring in the Warp. The millennia of Eldar hedonism had made a massive impact in the shadow-realm of Chaos. First the psi-energy of trillions of decadent Eldar had coalesced into a presence, which grew and grew over thousands of years, getting stronger and more defined until suddenly it sparked into an intelligence – a shatteringly huge and malign sentience with an immense and bottomless thirst for Eldar souls. This was the birth of Slaanesh…
When Slaanesh came into being, the results were apocalyptic. A massively powerful psychic shockwave scythed across the galaxy. The souls of almost every Eldar were stripped from them in an instant and devoured by the new-born God. There were few survivors. Most were driven mad, their minds trapped half in the real world and half in the swirling insanity of the Warp. A great Warp-rift opened in the centre of the near-annihilated Eldar empire, swallowing the innermost worlds into what is now known as the Eye of Terror.
Of the Pleasure Cults only a few of the youngest among them remained sane and able, shielded to a small degree from the ravagers of the newborn god by their inexperience, not yet fully inducted into the most extreme pleasures of their cults. They found to their horror that Slaanesh had not yet finished with the Eldar – She was slowly draining their souls while they still lived.
To escape this these survivors fled in small groups to the Webway, the system of sealed tunnels that run throughout the Warp and enabled the Eldar to traverse the galaxy safe from attack by Daemons and other Warp creatures. Deep in the Webway, these small groups came together and laid the foundations of Commorragh. More and more survivors began to arrive, and added their own parts to the new city, making it even larger and more heavily populated.
Some Kabals can trace their history back to the creation of the Dark City, including Asdrubael Vect’s Kabal of the Black Heart.
Although the Webway is protected almost completely from the influences of Chaos, Slaanesh’s leeching of Dark Eldar spirits is only reduced, not halted entirely. To replace this drained spirit-essence the Dark Eldar have learned to consume the souls of others. This is the primary reason for their constant slave raids. Besides providing labour and various amusements for their masters, slaves are the Dark Eldar’s main source of souls.
Why the Dark Eldar still suffer the soul-leeching by Slaanesh is a matter of debate. Some say that the successive generations of Dark Eldar are somehow ‘cursed’ by the events of the Fall, while others say that it is the wild, undisciplined lifestyle that echoes the Pre-Fall days that makes their souls so attuned to Slaanesh’s thirst.
There is another reason why Dark Eldar devour souls. All Eldar are extremely long-lived--but not immortal. When any Eldar dies, of causes natural or otherwise, Slaanesh waits to consume the released spirit. Other Eldar have Waystones in which to ‘catch’ their spirits in upon death, denying Slaanesh the chance to take them. Dark Eldar do not have these, so their only other recourse is to never die. To stave off weakness and death from old age, very ancient Dark Eldar consume huge numbers of souls. The influx of life-essence rejuvenates them and keeps
them alive, vital and strong.
It is also the need to consume souls that gives a practical reason to the Dark Eldar practice of torturing their slaves, though sadistic amusement is, of course, just as much motivation. It is known that the torture somehow ‘refines’ and ‘distils’ the victim’s soul, somehow improving its quality when consumed. This is probably due to the connection between the soul and emotion--extreme emotions and sensations will ‘brighten’ the soul, enriching it, so it provides more sustainance when devoured.
And so it is that Slaanesh is the arch-nemesis of the Dark Eldar, as indeed She is for all Eldar. The Dark Kin will not even refer to Slaanesh by name, instead referring to their dire foe as ‘She Who Thirsts’, ‘The Great Enemy’, ‘The Nightmare That Hungers’, ‘She Who Must Not Be Named’ and other such sinister terms. Dark Eldar view Slaanesh with a mixture of terror and deepest loathing. It is Her looming presence in the Warp and ever-present draining on their souls that fills the Dark Eldar with desperation and drives them to ever more twisted acts of depravity and brutality.
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