Story:The Shape Of The Nightmare To Come 50k section15
Section 15: The Dying: Biel-Tan, the Eldar, and the Lord of the Dead
The Eldar, already a dying race by M41, suffered ever greater misery during the Second Age of Strife. The craftworlds, slow and cumbersome as they were, were difficult to defend against the New Devourer. Many craftworlds, though they fought valiantly for months, eventually fell to the New Devourer. Craftworlds were gutted, their towers cast down, their people slain and devoured. Often, all that remained of a craft world was its titanic wraith bone skeleton, the pulsing infinity circuit, and the innumerable scattered soul gems, which glimmered with the life their murdered bodies had lost.
These ghost Craftworlds drifted, silent and alone, as the Eldar race was slowly, gradually culled. With a much reduced population, the remaining Eldar found it hard to defend what little colonial assets they still possessed. Often, the Exodites, confined to their paradise worlds, were left to fend for themselves. Some Exodite colonies were attacked by opportunistic alien empires, such as the Hax Paterinius, a race of utterly alien, multi-limbed creatures, that traveled the void using their Unam, ships made of pure energy. The Hax was thought to have unintentionally destroyed over a dozen Exodite worlds, as the Hax moved onto the world, and Terra-formed it to their preferred environment. Unfortunately, the Hax were native to worlds filled with sulphuric acid vapour, and temperatures hot enough to melt lead, and thus their Terra-forming often killed the native population. The Hax were a peaceful race, and only ever fought in self defence. Nevertheless, they killed millions of Eldar in those early days.
Some Exodite colonies were far more shrewd. When the Astronomicon spluttered and died, the sudden anarchy that shattered the Imperium, drove the surviving power magnates and opportunistic warlords into a frenzy of land grabbing, and many maiden worlds were seized this way. Some Exodite worlds, such as the one led by Alessair Hurom, dismantled the physical evidence of their culture, including all the buildings and even the crop fields, before they hid themselves. Thus, the post-Imperial forces arrived to find pristine, empty worlds, and eagerly colonised them. However, slowly, the Exodites, under false guises and using trickery, charm and subterfuge, infiltrated all the high offices of these various petty Imperiums, becoming the strange, sinister lords of the realms, who, bizarrely, never seemed to die of old age. Many of the northernmost Imperiums, those small Imperiums bordering Thexian and East Chaos-Imperial space, are likely to be led, in secret, by Exodites, such as the Hurom Imperium.
With the death of the Emperor, a great wailing cry erupted throughout the warp, as Slannesh groaned. The Star Father, in its first waking moments, struck at Slannesh first, sending the perverse prince reeling, at least initially. This shudder of frustrated lust and pride slammed into each craftworld's Infinity Circuit like a hurricane. Though the barrage was resisted easily by the Craftworlds, the Farseers were suddenly aware of new potential futures suddenly coming into existence. No matter how hard they scanned all possible futures, the predominant one was always the same. A great white fist, pressing the galaxy down. The galaxy would be silent, cold and heartless. At first, the Farseers feared that this future represented the final victory of the Yngir star-hungry. However, this doom came not from the sterile dimensions of the C'tan, but instead from the warp of all places. Flinching back from their visions, like children pulling their hands away from fire, they realised they had to act.
The sudden upsurge in Eldar deaths, due to the New Devourer, opened a new avenue to the Craftworlders. They all felt it, shifting beneath the surface of every single Craftworld. Its name was death, yet it was hope. Ynnead, the god of the dead. It was growing, and they knew it.
The Eldar knew, while alive, they could not save the universe from the ancient enemy, and their souls would never be safe, not really. Eventually, craftworlds became less and less frequent. Stories of the Eldar became myths, then legends, then lies, to the rest of the galaxy, as the craftworlds pulled their forces from active engagement. The Farseers would not explain what they were planning, as all their children returned to the craftworlds. They offered each of their people a stark choice: They could stay with their craftworld, and help save the galaxy and the Eldar, or they could leave their craftworlds, never to return, and their soul stones would be disconnected from the Infinity Circuit, and they would become of the Path of the Outcast. Only roughly seventy thousand Eldar took this path. The others were too hopeful, or too naïve. Once the outcasts left, the Farseers, in their mercy, unleashed a nerve toxin throughout their craftworlds, killing billions of Eldar at that moment, in an act of betrayal few Eldar could comprehend, even as they choked their last breaths. The Warlocks and Farseers then collected all the soulstones, and 'emptied' them, directly into the Infinity Circuit, before they each ritually fell upon their blades, and their souls too transmitted into the growing Infinity Circuit.
The great combined spirit rose up, swelled with such a vast sacrifice. It pulsed and swirled and… it did nothing. The vast, unimaginable power of Ynnead was trapped within the Infinity Circuit. For, though many craftworlds followed the route of sacrifice, there was one notable exception. Biel-Tan refused to accept such a morbid view of the situation. When approached by the other Farseers of the other craftworlds, Asitar blade song, the ruling Autarch of the Swordwind, responded:
"Sacrifice? Death? Have you all lost your minds? We are the Asur! The Eldar! Our empire is overrun by barbarian mon keigh, and pathetic usurpers, and you wish to give them our empire without even resistance? This is our galaxy, not theirs! We are close to victory, do not falter now!"
The delusional leaders of Biel-Tan, could not accept defeat. They considered their craftworld was on the verge of snatching back the galaxy from the filthy Imperium. When the Imperium collapsed, they took this as a sign, and moved to full mobilisation, leaving their fellow craftworlds to fester, like they wished.
Many of the outcasts from the other craftworlds, appalled at the actions of the Farseers, joined with Biel-Tan, taking new oaths of loyalty. Wild Riders from Saim Hann, spirit seers and the legendary Yriel, from Iyanden, vast numbers of rangers from Alaitoc, and even a few dissidents from the black craft world, were amongst the many Eldar, loyal to the war effort. Using their perfectly honed combined arms tactics, and utilising their superior FTL system, the Sword Wind's armies were devastatingly effective. From 488.M45, to 333.M46, the Biel-Tan engaged and defeated three Petty Imperiums, the pathetically slow and inexperienced armies of the small clusters of human worlds vastly insufficient in the face of the finely crafted killing machine, that was the Eldar warhost.
Across the entire galaxy, the Biel-Tan set up discreet colonial outposts, from where they could stage incursions anywhere in the galaxy virtually. Only the areas which had never had Webway access, were totally free of potential Biel-Tan. The combined military genius of both Asitar and Yriel was invaluable to the Biel-Tan wars, and they were instrumental in many of the victories of the period.
Ignoring the strong advice of the Harlequins, the Biel-Tan struck at Tau targets, and even engaged in a direct war with the Tau, when they founded a Sept World on the site of a Maiden world. The war lasted several years, with Biel-Tan abandoning the world, after seeding it with a special fungus, which would prevent the Tau from ever growing crops upon the world, essentially making it useless for colonisation.
A large force of Eldar later struck at Tallarn-occupied space, and decimated several worlds. It was only the unexpected (and short-lived) alliance of Tallarn and Ophelia against the Eldar, which drove them off.
The Cossedus Imperium, an industrially active power in the galactic centre, was engaged by Biel-Tan's 1st fleet, which stripped that Imperium of its naval power in just seven years, leaving it open to be torn apart by rival Imperiums, ceasing upon the weakness.
Increased Necron activity led to many more engagements with their ancient foes. Initially, they were successful. Of course, once the Ophilim-Kiasoz was unleashed, at the battle of Fornostia, the Biel-Tan could no longer engage the Necrons on their own, for fear of the Deceiver unleashing that terrible device once more. Nevertheless, the Eldar continued to engage the Necrons discreetly.
In the year 000.M47, a troupe of harlequins came to Biel-Tan, to perform the dance of the fall. However, these supposed Harlequins were, in fact, Dark Eldar Wyches in disguise, sent on a mission of assassination. When they were brought before the twin thrones of Yriel and Asitar, the Wyches threw off their disguises, and battle was suddenly joined. These Wyches were of the Wych Cult of Strife, led by Lilith Hesperax herself. Startled civilians were slain by the scores suddenly, as the Dire Avengers, the bodyguards to Yriel and Asitar, fought with one another. The battle in the throne room was as if one in legends, with the superhuman Eldar darting unbelievably fast, faster than the mortal eye could follow. Asiter, the mistress of Biel-Tan, and master Autarch, fought off scores of the psychotic Eldar, their blades and whips clashing with fine wraith bone blades, and immortal skill.
Lilith, her near-naked body unblemished by any scars, such was her skill, dueled with Yriel, prince of Iyanden, and husband to Asitar. Their battle ranged from the high-vaulted rafters of the throne room, down to the personal chambers of Yriel himself. The two combatants' blades were near invisible, as they exchanged blows and parries with inhuman skill and speed. Lilith scored small cut after small cut against Yriel, somehow bypassing his personal force field. Bleeding and tired, Yriel at last finished the battle, driving the Spear of Twilight straight through the cursed Archite witch.
Lilith hissed perversely, as Yriel kicked her from his blade. Before her death, it was said she tasted her own blood, for the first time in her life, and she giggled mockingly, before Yriel finished her, with a decapitating blow. The Wyches were defeated.
Asitar, furious, sent the surviving Wyches back to Commoragh, with every orifice sealed shut, and their bodies filled with vile wasp-like Jindi Bugs, which tore them apart from within.
Within a year, the Biel-Tan leaders received another gift: a cask of perfectly blended Commoraghan wine (which was surprisingly, un-poisoned), along with a message, written in blood, but in a supreme hand all the same. It congratulated Biel-Tan on electing such an 'exquisitely brutal' mistress as their leader, and wished her good luck in her war with the Mon Keigh. It was signed by Vect himself.
Though the Biel-Tan had fallen out of favour with the Harlequins, and still enemies of the monstrous Dark Eldar, they were still a formidable faction throughout the period, right up until M51. They never lost their arrogant sense of self-worth, and still believed that they could reclaim their empire, even as the galaxy tumbled down about their ears.
Such was the way of the last of the few, the remnants of the great Eldar corpse.
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 05: The Adamantine Worlds: The Adeptus Mechanicus, The Awakening, and The War of Two Spheres
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 07: The Crusade of Insanity: The Templars on the Rampage
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 08: Ravagers and Rogues: Piracy in the Second Age of Strife
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 12: Warriors of Fortune: Mercenaries in the Second Age of Strife
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 15: The Dying: Biel-Tan, the Eldar, and the Lord of the Dead
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 18: The Xenos Resurgent: Alien Empires of the Second Age of Strife
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 20: The Hammer Shattered: What Happened to the Imperial Guard?
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 21: The Psychic Apocalypse, The Black Ships, and the Nex…
- The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 22: The Blood and the Sword: BloodKnights of Baal, and the Legacy of Mephiston the Undying