Hedonites of Slaanesh
"Everything in excess is opposed to nature"
- – Hippocrates
Hedonites of Slaanesh
The Hedonites of Slaanesh are the vast armies of hedonists that follow, or once followed, Slaanesh, until the Chaos God was trapped in a realm between realms by the vengeful Aelven pantheon. Despite their patron’s fall from (relative) grace, these obsessive marauders have still made their mark on the Mortal Realms.
A Godly Faction…Without a God
The new followers of the Dark Prince were faced with a unique predicament. How do you have a faction centered around a god, when that god goes missing. Initially the writers at GW didn’t care as they were content to let Slaanesh (and his minions) wallow in obscurity as they weren’t quite sure what to do with this traditionally NSFW faction in their new “market-friendly” mindset. Eventually they settled on making Slaanesh a deity of general Excess, Indulgences, and Sensations (rather than pure Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll), and released an updated line of Daemon miniatures for AoS and 40k. And with this update came our first actual look into how the hosts of Slaanesh function in the Mortal Realms.
The followers of the Dark Prince, be they daemonic or mortal, can be classified into one of three camps in regards to how they view Slaanesh’s absence.
- Invaders: The largest of the groups, most devotees simply act like “normal”, pillaging and plundering the Mortal Realms. Whether it’s in spite of Slaanesh’s disappearance or that they don’t particularly care, the Invader Hosts boast large amounts of infantry and are usually lead by several champions who bicker and squabble over who’s actually in charge.
- Pretenders: Slaanesh being gone has left a very noticeable power vacuum in the Realm of Chaos, one that some of his more megalomaniacal servants have decided to pounce on like starved animals. The Pretender Hosts are cults of personality, with a single vainglorious and charismatic champion (usually a Keeper of Secrets) at the center, their goal being to prove their worth as the lone worthy successor to their fallen god’s throne.
- Godseekers: The supplicants of the Godseeker Hosts refuse to accept Slaanesh’s disappearance and now devote their entire existence to finding his whereabouts and freeing him. Over the years, these warbands have evolved to be expert trackers and extremely quick, usually comprised of copious cavalry and chariots.
Age of Myth
After gorging on 99.9% of the elf souls from the Old World Slaanesh, feeling super bloated and lethargic, curled up and took a nap in a pocket realm. Whilst he was asleep, a partly digested/mutated Morathi clawed her way out of his gullet and fled to the Mortal Realms where she reunited with Maleketh (now called Malerion) and later Tyrion and Teclis. This unlikely quartet hatched a scheme to return to Slaanesh’s hangover spot and retrieve all those souls lost in his belly. Using themselves as bait, they captured and imprisoned Slaanesh in the sub-realm Uhl-Gysh, between the realms of Light and Shadow. Here they began pumping the Chaos God’s belly to dredge up all the souls he had consumed to remake their knife-eared race. He remains trapped due to 66 enchanted chains that bind his immense body and power, but not completely as he is still able to whisper and command some of his stronger minions.
Slaanesh's daemons all felt an inconceivable sense of loss in response to their master’s capture. This malaise resulted in the Dark Prince’s minions dividing into three major hosts; Invaders, Pretenders, and Godseekers. The other Chaos Gods for their part didn’t seem too fussed about Slaanesh’s imprisonment, with Khorne even annexing a significant chunk of Slaanesh's territory, but since they needed a fourth player in their “Great Game” they reluctantly allowed the Skaven’s deity the Great Horned Rat to ascend.
Age of Chaos
As their deity was missing, Slaanesh's followers took the more subtle route when it came to infiltrating the Mortal Realms. As each Chaos God seemed to have a realm or two they focused on, Slaanesh's daemons spread out across the realms, all with their own goals. In Chamon, the Herald-Daemon Prince pair known as Syll'Esske manage to take the duardin city Karak Zorkai by corrupting a hedonistic dawi, turning his fellow duardin into cyborg-esque war-golems. While in Shyish, a Slaaneshi Chaos Lord fights with a savage tribe of cannibals called the Unmade.
Collectively, the Hedonites focus their greatest efforts on Ulgu and Hysh (unsurprising, given aelves are the favorite target for Slaanesh's vore fetish and they could likely smell their master’s scent wafting from between the realms). In Hysh, they subtly manipulated the Lumineth aelves with whispers like a clique of gossipy high school girls (such as telling one how much taller their rival's tower is or how much prettier their newest artwork is) until the tensions erupted into the civil war known as Spirefall. In Ulgu, their actions did not go unnoticed, because - whatever their flaws - the Daughters of Khaine were vigilant against Slaanesh and very warlike. But the Ulguites tendency for secret vices provides fertile ground for Slaanesh’s influence. So a back and forth of guerrilla warfare, dubbed the Cathtrar Dhule by the Aelves, was waves across Ulgu, continuing on into the modern day.
As for Slaanesh himself, he started to manipulate and prod at the shackles binding him. He discovered that each chain could only be broken by a certain condition being met. One such chain could only be snapped by his greatest enemy, meaning Khorne. So Slaanesh influenced Shalaxi Helbane to steal a skull from the Blood God’s precious skull throne. Khorne reacted thusly and sic’d his guard dog Karanak on the KoS, leading to a realm-wide Road Runner and Wily Coyote styled chase. When Karnak was banished, Khorne was so infuriated that his roars of rage reached Slaanesh and shattered one of the chains keeping Slaanesh trapped. Part is his power returned, the Dark Prince quickly wove an illusion around where the chain was to keep his guards ignorant and began plotting more ways to break his bonds…
Age of Sigmar
The Slaaneshi Chaos Lord Lascallion uses his supernatural senses to trace the hedonism of the Mortarch of Blood, Neferata. He becomes an obsessed fanboy of Neferata, and is able to pierce the illusions she used to hide Nulahmia, seeking to claim her as his consort. His first assault is repelled by her armies, the second by the intervention of the Stormcast Eternals and the third sees him fall literally into an uncertain fate (a pit of skeletons with no confirmation that he died). The weakening of Slaanesh's prisons allows Godseeker hosts to determine that Slaanesh is close to Ulgu. As a result, they invade the realm and come into renewed conflict with the Daughters of Khaine.
Nagash's Necroquake, which altered the properties of magic across the realms, broke another chain. Another chain required the power of Khorne to break it, but Slaanesh knew that Khorne would not be tricked into helping him twice. Fortunately for Slaanesh, Archaon and Dorghar found him. Archaon tried unsuccesssfully to break the chain using his sword, but when Slaanesh explained what was needed, Archaon got Dorghar's khornate head to bite the chain, severing it.
A host of Godseekers travelled to Hagg Nar following a prophecy about Slaanesh. They witness Morathi enact her plan to achieve godhood, which involved the times sacrifice of countless Slaaneshi champions and diving back into the Dark Prince’s maw to absorb the souls of the ancient Phoenix Kings of Ulthuan. Her plan succeeded, but her tampering with the Chaos God led to a fraction of Slaanesh's essence erupting from her cauldron and flying across the horizon. Of course, stealing divine power to become a god oneself is a big deal, so Morathi's plan to become a goddess broke yet another of the chains binding Slaanesh.
The Hedonites followed this fleshy comet to a crater in Ghur where it coalesced into a form so beautiful and terrible entire swathes of the Hedonites died, so overcome in rapture. Soon this Newborn coalesced into twin demigods called Dexcessa and Synessa, who set their sights on the beleaguered city of Excelsis, which was already under siege from the rampaging horde of Kragnos. Across the realms, followers of Slaanesh have found themselves surging with power thanks to the Newborn’s birth.
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