Daughters of Khaine
"She could never take an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. The weak and flaccid parity would make her nearly puke. She wants an eye for a tooth, and a life for an eye."
- – Helen Zahavi
"Let's show the gutless pigs how the warriors of Pah-Dishah can fight! By Tarim, we'll give the devils scarlet wine to drink this dawn..."
- – Red Sonja
The Daughters of Khaine are a nation of elves (though closer to a collection of scattered communities than a nation) led by Morathi who combine the Khainite religion with shadow magic.
They are an army, with a few exceptions, of armed elven women and monstergirls in bikinis. As they worship Khaine, to them the clash of arms is the height of their religion, holy rites practiced and perfected with all the high-level skill and grace of aelf-kind. As blades flash, they shed their visage of cold and distant beauty, how they tend to be when not in battle, their ecstatic faces lighting up with each fresh kill. In contrast to even other aelves, especially the Idoneth Deepkin, many Daughters of Khaine have lived far beyond the average elf lifespan, which is already longer than that of other races (except maybe the males - see below).
The Daughters of Khaine have carved out their own empire, rising from an obscure cult from days long gone to an emergent power. The faction was founded by Morathi. After leaving the Great Alliance because Nagash revealed her dark secret, Morathi sought to establish her own dwellings in Ulgu. Malerion cruelly rejected her suggestion of splitting the rule of the thirteen Dominions, for he claimed all the Shadowlands as his own. Her protests were met with scorn until, as either a jest or a plot to get rid of her, Malerion granted his mother a small parcel of land in the middle of the Umbral Veil, the darkest and most impenetrable of all regions in Ulgu. It was so dangerous that none save Malerion himself had ever returned from those cloying mists with their sanity intact.
Morathi went there and exceeded her son's expectations. She bent the shadows into a protective shroud around her new land. Her only followers were the aelven witch-cults that had maintained their worship of Khaine. To ensure their loyalty, Morathi built a temple to Khaine, naming it Hagg Nar, and taught them the secrets of navigating the murky currents. Hagg Nar began as a pitiful kingdom, and Morathi brooded over her mean existence. She refused to despair and worked out a plan, the beginnings of which occurred when her son arrived claiming they had, at last, found the lost aelf-souls from the world-that-was, and that they needed Morathi’s aid in order to save them. Acting as the bait, Morathi helped Malerion and the other gods Tyrion and Teclis to capture Slaanesh and imprison him/her between Hysh and Ulgu.
Eventually, in her search for something to change the balance of power, she felt the power of Khaine's heart in her dreams. She put all her effort into finding it and after a long search found the heart of Khaine, the god she had pretended to worship in the past. However it was guarded by Kharybtar, the father of Kharibdysses. Morathi tried to charm the sea monster, and it worked for a time. But when she tried to grab the heart, he attacked. Eventually she defeated Kharybtar by constricting him in her coils, but not before he dealt her a fatal blow. Morathi would've died, but she was able to siphon power from Khaine's heart and survived. Thus did she escape with the heart.
Led by Morathi, the Daughters of Khaine spread outwards from the temple-city of Hagg Nar. Morathi had previously gained the knowledge her son has of shadow-shifting magic, and used it to access the shadow paths that allow swift travel over the vast distances of Ulgu. Fighting all manner of foes across all thirteen Dominions, the Daughters of Khaine secretly expand, establishing dozens of new temples. Having help capture Slaanesh, Morathi was given some of the elf souls drawn from Slaanesh to remake as elves who would help her. However Morathi was greedy, and took more than her allotted share. However, some of them had been altered by their time with Slaanesh. There were those with serpentine mutations akin to Morathi, these became the Melusae. Others had bat-like wings and long tails, these became the Khinerai. Their numbers swelled as Morathi drew more than her allotted share of souls from Slaanesh, which of course, tipped off Slaanesh's followers as to where the captured god is hiding and also made it more likely Slaanesh will one day be able to break free.
Unlike some other factions within Age of Sigmar, but very much like others, the Daughters of Khaine are in essence a theocracy. There are many sects of Daughters of Khaine, each worshiping a different aspect of the aelf god of battle and bloodshed. Although the rites and rituals might differ, all the Khainites follow a strict hierarchy in their organisation. They worship Khaine and Morathi is his High Oracle, the one who discerns his will and their overall leader. Though they know about the other gods of Order, they pay no homage to them. Beneath Morathi are the High Priestesses, which include the Slaughter Queens, Hag Queens and Bloodwrack Medusae. They are the keepers of each shrine’s most sacred artefacts, and commanders of the Sisterhood of Blood. The degree of authority held by each of these figures, along with their specific title, varies between the sects, but a single word from Morathi can alter the influence of any other ranking.
Of all the warriors of the temples, the Scáthborn – the Melusai and Khinerai – are closest to Morathi herself, yet they often remain hidden from those outside the cult. The Medusae are made from Aelves converted by Morathi herself; though this is seen as an immense honor Morathi binds them with the most binding of magical oaths, but none among the Khainites would dare question her in this. This is partially due to their forms resulting from daemonic taint which would cause negative sentiment among their allies and the fact that Morathi uses them as something of a secret police. The most public-facing Khainites are the Witch Aelves and Sisters of Slaughter. Their most important shrines are the Cauldrons of Blood, gifts from Khaine himself (at least, what Morathi’s claims each time she gifts one of the great iron cauldrons to the temple of a newly founded Khainite sect). The covenites see it as a sign of their god’s favour that the cauldrons never seem to overflow, no matter how much blood is poured within them following a battle – all assume Khaine himself takes the surplus as an offering.
War covens are the most important organisations to the Daughters of Khaine, their structure laid out by Morathi herself. It is through violence that the Khainites expand their territories, defend their temples and worship their god. Weapons practice and mock duels take up the majority of their daily lives, yet these are not mere military drills, but religious ceremonies, treated with all the gravitas that others might use when reading their most holy of tomes or offering prayers to their god. From their temples in various realms, the Daughters of Khaine scour the Mortal Realms for blood sacrifices. At Morathi's edict, they also search for the shards of their god, scattered across the Realms. They do this for the glory of Khaine and to see him reborn.
Morathi claims to speak for Khaine, and she does wield his unbreakable iron heart, but none know that Morathi’s power is a lie and that Khaine is dead. While their devotions to Khaine could one day lead to his rebirth, Morathi is deliberately preventing that. The reason for this is that she is siphoning the power - either by co-opting it before it reaches the heart or pulling it from Khaine's heart - to reach godhood herself. The prayers that her daughters scream and the ritual offerings they make only serve to enhance her own power, not Khaine’s. Outside Morathi herself, only a handful of the "altered" members of the Daughters of Khaine are aware of this deception, and they, willingly or otherwise, are bound by the most binding of oaths and magic to serve Morathi and keep this secret. Also, the blood surplus poured into the Cauldron's doesn't go to Khaine. It flows back to Hagg Nar through Morathi’s magics, to the Mother of all Cauldrons, the Máthcoir, from which The High Oracle absorbs and repurposes the blood’s energies for her own nefarious gain.
Recently, a few of the elven members of the Daughters of Khaine have grown suspicious, especially since there are some who have started worshiping Morathi alongside Khaine. However, even something as small as questioning Morathi or second-guessing her role in Khaine's religion brings out Morathi's inner Inquisition. So far, those members of the Daughters of Khaine who do this get quickly silenced by Morathi or the Medusae as heretics (in one story, a Melusae is shown eavesdropping on a priestess' prayers, where she enquires to Khaine about an acolyte's devotion to Morathi rather than Khaine, and quickly crystallized the dissenting priestess forevermore to prevent any challenge to Morathi's authority). As long as Morathi holds control over Khaine's heart, there is little hope for his revival.
Their society is brutal, especially given that it's leader is Morathi and they worship Khaine. They serve Khaine with fanatical devotion, which is problematic considering that Khaine is the god of murder. While the Daughters of Khaine crave bloodshed and murder, they serve alongside the forces of Order – albeit tenuously. Given their tendency towards collateral damage (and rumors of kidnapping innocents and gruesome rituals), they are less respected allies and more tolerated because they're useful. Their views on the other major groups are varied. As builders of cities and civilizations, the Daughters of Khaine are at odds with the forces of Destruction. While it is said that they have an aversion to the Death faction because of a dislike for anything death-related since they nearly went extinct, it's more likely that this due to Morathi's personal grudge against Nagash for striking her and outing her true from to the rest of the pantheon. Despite their distaste for the other two, the one faction they truly hate is Chaos; they could give the Stormcast Eternals a run for their money in hating Chaos, and prosecute their crusades with particular violence against the servants of Slaanesh.
If you're wondering why Morathi is mentioned so often that's deliberate; Morathi keeps as much of a stranglehold on Khainite society as she can. It would be out-of-character for her to do anything less (she kind of a control freak). All Khainites are either warriors that serve in their religious order, or they are leathanam (see below). Temples are found only in some realms; confirmed realms are Ulgu, Azyr and Ghyran. When they are not fighting, the Witch Aelves and Sisters of Slaughter usually participate in ritualized gladiator matches or shady pit fights. They also partake of a form of bladed dancing for the entertainment of others.
The female aelves tend to dye their hair with blood and, in a throwback to Warhammer fantasy, have rituals of rebirth keep the covenite sisters youthful in appearance and supple in body. Even among their ranks, there are some who are considered extremists; the Sisters of Slaughters' are members who graft masks of living metal to their faces with boiling blood. While the elven members are accepted by others, the Melusae and Khinerai are not. When fighting alongside, they are concealed by a glamour so they too appear to be aelves; this could also explain some of their teamkilling tendencies among alliances with other Order factions, as they're keeping the existence of these mutated elves secret.
The cities and temples of the Daughters of Khaine are ruled by the female elves while the male elves are slaves. Remember that leathanam class mentioned earlier? Apart from the Doomfire Warlocks, this class is made up exclusively of all the males in this faction; disregarded menials who are little more than worker drones (we know what you're thinking: something, something, feminist power fantasy. Doesn't help that some of the Witch Aelves dye their hair bright colors...). While the women outnumber the men, this is not the paradise some think it would be. Morathi deliberately made only a few male elves, and then only from the weakest and most broken of souls retrieved from Slaanesh ensuring they would be weak. Even male elves a Daughter of Khaine gives birth to are cursed with this same weakness as Morathi siphons part of their souls to power the Cauldrons of Blood - the true energy powering them rather than the power of Khaine. While some male aelves manage to harness shadow magic and become Doomfire Warlocks, Morathi has them branded with mind-control runes (while deceiving them into thinking they're protection against Slaanesh). Even then, Doomfire Warlocks have a pariah status because of their gender, and primarily because of this are rarely seen by non-Khainites. While they worship a male deity, again this is superficial as stated before because Khaine's power is limited to his heart, he actually has no say over the Daughters of Khaine's actions and Morathi secretly siphons his power for herself.
So essentially they're a matriarchal elven society with a penchant for manipulation, ruthlessness, aggressive misandry and skimpy outfits who originate from a dark realm and follow the commands of an insane female figure. Sound familiar? (though Morathi isn't a god, she carries the heart of one and seeks to become one herself).
The Daughters of Khaine are divided into Temples, in a manner similar to Stormcast Chambers or Sylvaneth Wargroves.
- HAGG NAR; Hagg Nar lies deep in the Umbral Veil, the darkest region of the Shadowlands. The first of the Daughters of Khaine temples, it was built atop the Hellelux,a geyser of shadow magic that spews shrouding mists.
- DRAICHI GANETH; Draichi Ganeth translates as ‘the bladedkillers’. Their main temple is found in the northern barrens of Fuarthorn in Ulgu, but their war pilgrimages and lesser shrines can be found across the realms.
- THE KRAITH; The sect known as the Kraith, also called the Crimson Cult, are true disciples of slaughter, and have earned a reputation as the least compromising of all the Daughters of Khaine.
- KHAILEBRON; This sect has learned well the arts of concealment, stealth and obfuscation. Those who worship at the temples of Khailebron revere the assassin and the unseen killer, and strive to be masters of ambushes and sudden strikes.
- KHELT NAR; Khelt Nar has become the fastest growing of the sects established by Morathi. It began as Ironshard, a single Khainite shrine founded by the High Oracle atop a flat-topped mountain of iron known as the Rothtor.
Dark Elves, now with 50% more Sneks.