Pulsating Possessed Space Marine of Slaanesh
Index Xenos: Kabal of the Dread Shadow
“We are each our own daemon, and we shall make this universe our Hell.” – Archon Dax'Sszeth Xelkireth, the Last Dawn of Vidassar Prime
Do you know why they call him the Scourge Lord, child? It is said that our dread Duke was so in love with flight and the thrill of high speed, he underwent the metamorphosis to become a scourge. Wings still bleeding, our Lord fought his way from the oubliettes of the Dark Creed to the highest aeries amongst the great spires of our city. He fought against hellions, the many predator birds, and even other scourges all seeking to prevent his ascension. His victory screams could be heard throughout the Alaenviirdrin, the scourges joined their voices with his and it rained blood on our district for three days without end. Why did he do that, you ask? Well, child, I guess it was because he could. No my son, do not look to the aeries when a shadow passes over you. It’s the last shadow you’ll see… – A tale overheard from a slave told to her child.
“We learnt long ago that the inscrutable universe turns upon an axis of suffering, because pain is inevitable.” – Master Haemonculus Urien Rakarth
Like the rest of the Dark Eldar race, the Dread Shadow kabalites are much taller and more slender than human beings. Spanning millennia in lifespan, their skin ranges from an alabaster pale to ghostly translucent grey-blue as the Dark Eldar ages. Eye color ranges greatly amongst the Dark Eldar from natural purples and blues to cosmetically altered irises suiting the personality of the individual kabalite.
Prominent kabalites of the Dread Shadow often times undergo many cosmetic surgeries. The most common of these are feathered quills grafted in place of hair emulating their archon, Duke Dax'Sszeth Xelkireth the Dread Shadow himself. Honored trueborn may eventually become Scourges and if they survive the metamorphosis, join the elite ranks of the Dread Shadows' scourges.
The Kabal of the Dread Shadow is composed of cloned Dark Eldar and trueborn. When a trueborn reaches the rank of dracon, he or she is then sent to the allied Haemonculi coven, the Dark Creed, and is cloned. The cloning of the dracon is a great honor amongst the Dread Shadow ranks, though the cloned kabalites are the lowest caste within the Kabal’s social structure.
House Xelkireth founded Twilight Cult of the Last Caress, one of the many pleasure-murder cults responsible for the Fall. Duke Dax’Sszeth Xelkireth, the Lord of House Xelkireth, witnessed the birth screams of She Who Thirsts that rocked the pleasure palaces of the Webway. Dax’Sszeth secured his webway sub-realm, Alaenviirdrin, against the chaos of the post-Fall anarchical power vacuum left destruction of the Eldar empire. Dax’Sszeth masterminded the subversion of many rival sub-realms and in time, Alaenviirdrin rivaled Shaa-dom in size.
"My grounds. Where screams are flowers, and pain their fragrance.” – Haemonculus Gruemenael
The Kabal of the Dread Shadow maintain large holdings in Commorragh, claiming the Alaenviirdrin district, neighboring the Sorrow Fell district of High Commorragh and the shadow realm of Aelindrach. After witnessing the conquest of the many competing sub-realms during the Breaching, then only holding the title of Lord, Dax’Sszeth Xelkireth merged his holdings with the Commorragh via gate portals before Asdrubael Vect could bring the sub-realm under heel or annihilate House Xelkireth. A sprawling bastion, the Shadowspire dominates the Alaenviirdrin. Twice since it’s re-inception as a Kabal, has House Xelkireth absorbed a kabal that momentarily allowed a glimmer of weakness to be apparent in the politic-slaughter games of the Dark City’s noble houses. Growing in both size and power, the Dread Shadow now rivals the size of the once Grand Companies of the Heresy-era Legions.
Only once in the kabal’s history has anyone ever been as vainglorious as to attempt to assassinate Dax’Sszeth. The would be upstart infiltrated the Shadowspire and made his way to the personal chambers of Duke Xelkireth. Finding Dax’Sszeth waiting for him, the Duke strangled him with an agoniser nearly to the point of death. Dax’Sszeth personally tortured the wretch for months, drinking his agony before turning him over to his personal haemonculi, Izzraen’vyr. The wretch still lives, his screaming body kept living acting as a personal greeter to all who enter the Shadowspire.
Dax’Sszeth’s retaliation did not end with the assassin. Bribing, coercing and flaying those who would not talk, Duke Xelkireth discovered the conspirators. A loose affiliation of three smaller Kabals, all seeking to gain what was not theirs, Dax’Sszeth plotted their collective demises. Over several centuries his plan went into effect. Dax’Sszeth simply murdered one archon’s entire court, sending a not so subtle message to the Kabal of the Black Decent’s archon. Later in the same week, the archon’s remains found encased in a small sphere of force. The archon had gone to open a gift allegedly sent by one of his co-conspirators, only to be trapped in an ever shrinking forcefield. His Kabal consumed itself in the power vacuum left in his wake. The archon of the second kabal was kidnapped when frequenting one of the many pleasure palaces of High Commorragh. His incubi bodyguard found slain in the streets. The archon was found a few days later, flesh-crafted into a throne in his inner-sanctum. The new presiding archon of the Kabal of Lords of the Shade has sworn allegiance to the Dread Shadows and has moved within their patronage. The third and final archon of the Kabal of the Blood Hawks was killed by his own dracons when word had reached the kabal that the Dread Shadow had discovered their plot. The Blood Hawks pleaded with Dax’Sszeth to spare their lives and gave to him their archon’s heart, Dax’Sszeth’s appointed Niss’Charkiira, a former consort and dracon of the Dread Shadows archonship over the Blood Hawks.
“You dare challenge me, monkeigh? I, the harvester of souls, the ambassador of pain? Let me educate you; I need a new plaything.” – Archon Dax'Sszeth Xelkireth, Kabal of the Dread Shadow
First contact with the Imperium of Man and the Kabal of the Dread Shadow occurred in 753.M36 at Vidassar Prime, in Segmentum Ultima, to the galactic southwest of the Gates of Varl. The Dread Shadow’s flagship, a torture class cruiser The Herald of Perdition, accompanied by several corsair class cruisers, ambushed the Imperial fleet stationed in Vidassar system. With the Imperial fleet left crippled, the Dread Shadow’s warriors boarded and captured the surviving crewmen. Turning their attention to the system’s star, the Forlorn Hope and the Dread Raven set to extinguishing the system’s star.
As Vidassar Prime’s sun dimmed, the invasion began. Screaming out of the webway the Kabal of the Dread Shadow descended upon the unsuspecting planetary defense force. The defenders never even managed to get a distress call out for assistance. The only evidence of the Kabal’s passing is blurry pict-footage and the recorded screams of their victims. Vidassar Prime’s entire populace was enslaved. The ghostworld has since been re-colonized and the new residents still claim to hear the haunted screams of echoing in the hivestreets on a quiet night.
“Another flawless victory. Ah well. It almost makes one long for a loss, just to keep things interesting. Almost, but not quite…” – Lady Aurelia Malys, the Dhenial Massacre
The Kabal of the Dread Shadow is able to call to their command vast amounts of kabalite warriors. Unlike their Craftworld cousins, the kabals do not use mere citizens as a military force. Each kabalite warrior has decades, if not centuries of martial experience. Sponsoring its own Wych Cult, the Cult of the Last Caress, the Dread Shadow add to their already formidable combat prowess by having a staunch arena support. The Cult of the Last Caress is lead by the Succubus Sinafae Maeghrym, a of Alaenviirdrin’s citizenry. The Dread Shadow’s real strength however, lies in the superior aerial firepower at its disposal. Maintaining a massive fleet capable of engaging entire Imperial sub-sectors, the Dread Shadow commands several wings of razorwing jetfighters and voidraven bombers. The Kabal also relies on several elite scourges handpicked by Dax’Sszeth, whom they revere as the Scourge Lord. Preferring hit and run blitz style raids, Dax’Sszeth is able to call upon an impressive amount of aerial firepower.
“How typical that the humans should rely upon crude technology to protect them. How fitting that we, the Dark Eldar should kill them where they feel safest.” – Lord Kraegeth, Kabal of the Slaughtered Heart
The Kabalites of the Dread Shadow are some of the best equipped and well-armed forces in Commorragh. Unique, heavily modified and custom designed weaponry is not an uncommon sight amongst the kabalites of the Dread Shadow. Maintaining their own forges in Alaenviirdrin, the Kabal of the Dread Shadow are capable of producing their own wargear. Each kabalite warrior has a personal armory that he or she excesses before each realspace raid, picking from trophies to personalized favorite armaments. The Dread Shadow have been known to arm and supply smaller kabals for favors, slaves and other esoteric compensations.
“Eyes without life, maggot-ridden corpses, mountains of skulls. These are some of my favorite things.” – Dracon Borkor
At the top of the kabal is its sole archon, Dax’Sszeth Xelkireth. Dax’Sszeth suffers no defiance or betrayal and his wrath is legendary. The Scourge Lord has been known to flay the skin of his subordinates for the slightest incompetence, only to surgically have it attached reversed, marring the vanity of foolish enough to gain his ire. Under their archon reside the dracons, the masters of the trueborn caste. The dracons are military commanders in their own right and often lead smaller sorties for the Dread Shadow. The scourges loyal to the Dread Shadow are treated as equals to trueborns and the solarites as Dracons. This has lead to fierce rivalry between the two factions. While vying for favor is permissible, Dax’Sszeth will not tolerate the wasteful death of either faction. Below the trueborn caste are the cloned kabalite warriors. Each an accomplished marksmen and skilled martial combatant, the warrior caste is the second most numerous caste within the Kabal. A cloned warrior can never reach the same status as that of a trueborn, but can still gain recognition within the warrior ranks and are highly valued commodities. Below the warrior caste are the Kabal’s artisans and weaponsmiths. These expert craftsmen make up the largest of the Kabal’s caste are treated like favored servants, though slaves they still remain. Highly skilled craftsmen however, are much sought after and often traded like cattle. The Haemonculi ancients of the Dark Creed and the Succubi of Cult of the Last Caress are given the same deference as a high favored dracon, but they exist outside of the Kabal structure.
Dax’Sszeth hates Asdrubael Vect with the all the intense fiery passion of a newborn star. Duke Xelkireth still remembers the Coup of Commorragh, though has learned to hide his distaste for the commoner upstart. When the Houses of Yllithian, Xelian and Kraillach fell, Dax’Sszeth secretly took in what little survivors remained. Swearing their fealty to House Xelkireth, the noble highborn yearn for revenge. Always watching, always plotting, Dax’Sszeth keeps his council in these matters to himself, lest he follow the footsteps of Kelithresh and El’uriaq of Shaa-dom. House Xelkireth is not alone in this hate, many noble houses never forgave Vect for usurping their power.
Threat Index and Imperial Policy
“They’ve come for your souls, I’ve seen it. They’ve come to feed on your souls…” – Oelle Blackwinter, Primaris Psyker
Imperial response to the Dark Eldar is slowly growing. With the loss of the Thaxar Rift, naval base at Bakka, and the increased raids in Segmentum Tempestus, the Administratum has acknowledge the Dark Eldar threat as more than piratical raids. Knowledgeable agents of the Ordo Xenos believe the Shadow Dark Eldar to be a threat to the Imperial Navy and Imperial citizens anywhere near webway access. Unfortunately, the Imperium is ill-equipped to find the many webway portals and even fewer of the Inquisitors of the Ordo Xenos know how to activate them.
The sectors surrounding the Maelstrom and the Gates of Varl are the favored hunting grounds of the Kabal of the Dread Shadow. The Blood Angels have reported increased Eldar pirate activity in the sectors directly under their protection, having already skirmished with the Dark Eldar on several occasions. The Administratum is remiss to address the Dread Shadow threat due to increasing Chaos and Ork activity near and around the Maelstrom. Having learned much of the Imperium over the last ten millennia the Dark Eldar are weary to spark the full wrath of the Imperium of Man.