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Distracted as she was, only the sound of armoured footsteps on the sand saved Yvraine from a swift decapitation. She leaned back, an Incubus' Klaive whistling less than a finger's breadth from her nose as another of the weapons came in low. With her own blade, she turned the second Klaive aside and upwards, ensuring it crashed into the first hard enough to buy her some space. She levelled a solid kick to the midriff of one of the assailants and a hard elbow to the other, giving her time to recover. Yvraine snarled as she saw that six more Incubi were circling around her, and that her Bloodbrides were similarly beset.

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A shrine of Howling Banshees came upon the parasitic impostor at the heart of the Craftworld. Led by the Farseer H'daei after her rune-casting revealed the gruesome truth, the Aspect Warriors charged screaming into the open throne room, blades raised. The first few Howling Banshees to charge the Masque and her daemon cohort made the mistake of meeting her gaze -- and fell to her hypnotic swaying dance immediately, stumbling to their knees in supplication. H'daei found her protective Ghosthelm burning so hot with clashing psychic energies she was forced to take it off -- one glance from the Masque, and she too fell under the daemon's spell.

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Not for nothing is Drivot known as the 'diatribist', for his writings are full of ranting meanderings that frequently lead the reader along paths of reasoning only a madman could hope to navigate. With wild abandonment, Drivot relates his tale of a (previously unheard of) Elven god of the sea, wealth and happiness, and his union with the Amazon goddess called Rigg. The result of this marriage was the 'Mother of all Amazons', Kalith. [6b]

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The children of Kalith were given a special role in the creation of the world, Drivot claims. Alongside their godly creators, they became the special, favoured servants, the viziers of the masters of creation - the handmaidens of the gods. The Amazons shared in an age where the forces of boundless creation were worked upon the surface of the world, and other beings raised up by the servants of the Old Ones. Through this aeon of creation, the Amazons stood at the right hand of the creators. They were possessed of tremendous wisdom each was clean of limb and never grew old. They were exclusively female, for as long as they stood at the side of the creators, they were nigh immortal, and had no need of conventional reproduction. They also wielded the power of the creators, going out in the world and transforming it according to the Old Ones' plans. [6b]

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Other details of the Amazons' world remain vague. Rothnikson describes their habitat as flimsy wooden dwellings built upon stilts amongst the ruins of Lizardmen temples. But although he mentions a number of such cities, he fails to provide any clue as to where such settlements might be located. Furthermore, Rothnikson goes on to offer tantalising glimpses of further mysteries — the Temple of Karra in Genaina, the Great Shrine of Rigg upon the shores of Lake Lokka and the untold riches of the otherworldly Royal Palace of the Sisterhood. [6a]

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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.

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For the warriors of Biel-Tan, to make planetfall upon Ursulia was much like looking upon the face of a once-beautiful dilettante badly burned by some horrific twist of fate. The Craftworlders did not take the loss well. Expressions had hardened to stony scowls under the hoods of those Rangers searching the twisted forests for Exodite survivors. They had found only death. In the space of time it had taken for Biel-Tan's outriders to arrive at Ursulia, the planet had already suffered beyond comprehension.

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The Masque threw back her head and gave a horrendous scream. The sound was so loud it shattered a section of the Webway wall behind her. A gale of psychic emanations roared into the tunnels, swirling into a tornado that carried the Daemonettes and their queen away and out of sight in the space of a few terrifying moments. The Eldar fought to keep their footing, embedding their blades and fingernails in the psychoplastic crystal of the tunnel's walls. The Solitaire strode through the gale as if it were no more than a summer breeze, fingers outstretched to draw a complex rune of warding over the breach. With a sigh of relief, the troupe's Shadowseer turned the ebbing gale of energy into a harmless, sparkling mist.

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The slow but disastrous fragmentation was not confined to the physical realm. With the Infinity Circuit suddenly flooded with the psychic energy of death, the daemons that had invaded it were banished utterly, repelled from its reaches by the sheer trauma of the Yncarne's manifestation. The ancestral Eldar souls who had once dwelt in that timeless limbo found themselves stranded on the brink of the abyss, with eternal darkness on one side and the seething soul-hunger of Slaanesh on the other.

The Scorpion is an Eldar super-heavy grav-tank utilised exclusively by the Eldar, and is amongst the largest vehicles recorded capable of anti-gravitic movement in the galaxy. Known to the Eldar as one of the Engines of Vaul , it combines sophisticated and powerful weaponry with the grace and speed that have come to be associated with the Eldar's vehicles. Protected by a Holo-Field and armed with twin-linked Pulsars , the Scorpion has earned nicknames like the "Grave-maker" and "Deathsled" from the Imperium's tank crews. The Eldar regard the huge machines of the Imperium or Orks as crude and ungainly when compared with the grace of a Scorpion as it skims into battle.

High above the carnage, Asdrubael Vect 's gigantic viewing pyramid rose on a thrumming cushion of sound. The bass note of its grav-engines squirmed in the guts of all present as it headed towards the heart of the Corespur district. The Tyrant of Commorragh had not ruled over his impossible domain for so long without developing a keen instinct for when to be elsewhere, and did not intend to linger. Instead, he sent his proxies to restore order. Sleek knife-craft peeled away from the titanic fuselage of Vect's pyramid, veering silently towards the arena's heart.

Only when a knot of Daemonettes sprinted from the shadows of a ruined theatre did the fates show their true hand. Lathriel's warriors scythed down the first wave of daemon invaders, but the Slaaneshi creatures were fast, and hell-bent on reaching Yvraine. Many Biel-Tani fell to slashing talons and gouging blades before the Daughter of Shades stretched out her arms, her body glowing with the power of souls from beyond. She gave a great sigh, grey mist pouring from her mouth to wind around every fiend in the great chamber. There came a horrible keening, as if a thousand ghosts gave voice to their anguish at once -- and when the mist had cleared, the daemons were gone.

In her mind's eye, Yvraine saw the God of the Dead, Ynnead. He was a shooting star from a crystal moon, then a shimmering constellation, a trillion points of light that glowed in the outline of a solemn face. The God of the Dead's immense eyes fell upon her, and even though the slitted orbs were all but closed, the thin sliver of awareness that he focussed upon her was excruciating. His merest scrutiny bared her soul, and in that moment she was claimed utterly and forever as his own. This was a legend made real, the most remote of possibilities wrought in starlight. The apparition was so bright that it seared itself into Yvraine's consciousness forever, making her blind to anything other than his glory. Then the godly star-mirage breathed a single word -- a whisper, yet deafening in its intensity.

Lost in the vastness of space, the Craftworlds float in utter isolation like scattered jewels upon a pall of velvet. Distant from the warmth of sun or planet, their domes gaze into the darkness of empty space. Inner lights glisten like phosphorus through semi-transparent surfaces. Within them live the survivors of a civilisation abandoned aeons ago amidst terrifying destruction. These are the Eldar, a race that is all but extinct, the last remnants of a people whose mere dreams once overturned worlds and quenched suns. The starfaring history of the Eldar is long indeed, and encompasses glories and sorrows alike. When their empire was at its height, their homeworlds were paradises, their powers godlike and their armies unsurpassed. As the centuries slid past, their status as lords of the galaxy bred an arrogance that led to a cataclysmic end. A proportion of their race survived that dark time by fleeing from disaster upon the great vessels known as craftworlds. Others settled verdant planets far from the heart of their empire, and still more hid in private realms of their own making. Yet there was no real escape from what was to come.

First to emerge was the Yncarne, hissing and whispering in the voices of the dead. The Ulthwéan Council felt the cold mantle of terror upon them at the sight. The creature came forward like a ghost, slow and ethereal, the energies of the otherworld swirling around it. It was slender and androgynous, yet far larger and more fearsome than any Eldar warrior save perhaps the Avatar of the Bloody-Handed God. Where the living statue of Khaela Mensha Khaine was a creature of fire, iron and blood, the Yncarne manifested a shuddering chill that was both invigorating and shocking, like a deluge of ice water.

The most integral part of any Eldar Craftworld is its Infinity Circuit -- that Wraithbone core that runs like a skeleton throughout the immense structure, forming a limbo-like haven for the souls of the Craftworld's dead. This is usually protected by the teleporting, psycho-crystalline creatures known as Warp Spiders from whom the Aspect Warriors took their own name, yet the daemon infestation spread by the Masque was so severe even they could not hold it at bay. The Craftworld groaned like the living thing that it was, a terrible screaming haunting the cusp of hearing as the Daemonette host devoured the spirits of Biel-Tan's ancient dead from within.

The Exodite worlds are generally considered backward and rustic compared to the rest of the space-roaming Eldar (and thus are commonly thought to be the equivalent of the Wood Elves instead of High Elves), although they still possess a good deal of the Eldar's advanced technology. One of the pieces of technology they have maintained is the Infinity Circuit, although on the Exodite worlds these are known as World Spirits and exist in the form of grids of stone menhirs, obelisks, and stone circles all crafted from psychoactive crystal. Despite the presence of some technology, these worlds are often agricultural, however, and it is not uncommon for groups of Exodites to exist in a primitive, nomadic state, living off roaming herds of pastoral animals and seasonal harvests. This is the most common image of the Exodite life among Craftworld Eldar. Many Craftworld Outcasts will find a refuge among these Eldar, who are generally more accepting.

The tunnel through reality known as the Bridge of Stars yawned, spasmed and pulsed. Through that secret aperture came the Ynnari, the favoured of Ynnead. The combination of the Seer Council's runic powers and the powerful psyche of the Yncarne had brought the Reborn safely to the crystal havens of Ulthwé, one step closer to securing the two lost Croneswords that Yvraine sought from the husk of the lost Eldar empire. Though the manner of their coming had cost the lives of several Farseers and driven some of the Ynnari half-mad with fear, the stillness that descended upon Ulthwé's Dome of Crystal Seers after their safe passage was a balm to the soul.

As a silver moon glimmered upon the parched surface of Belial IV, the echoes of Aeldari long dead flitted and moaned amongst the ruins, crying out as the darkest incarnation of their ancient society fell upon their would-be saviours. Even the Bloodbrides and Incubi amongst the Ynnari ranks were under no illusions as to what their Commorrite brethren intended for them, and so dived into the fray alongside the Black Guardians of Ulthwé and the Harlequins of the Midnight Sorrow.

The Fire Dragons are Eldar Aspect Warriors who seek to embody the writhing, sinewy dragons of Eldar Mythology. No Eldar Aspect Warriors revel more in destruction than those who serve the Shrine of the Fire Dragons. Taking as their totem the fierce, fire-breathing creatures of Eldar legend, they epitomise the brutal, wanton destruction of war. When called to arms their goal is the total annihilation of their foes, to the exclusion of all else. Fire Dragons are aggressive and warlike close combat fighters who utilise heat-based weaponry to destroy enemy armoured vehicles and drive the foe from his fortified strongpoints. They have an unsurpassed mastery of their chosen and highly dangerous weapons, and take savage delight in the devastation they create. For this reason, the Eldar believe that the Fire Dragons are the embodiment of the Eldar War God Kaela Mensha Khaine 's penchant for pure destruction. It is said that Fire Dragon Exarchs generate a corona of lambent flame around themselves when the battle lust is upon them.