"I can show you a portal that can take you to a special place. There you will experience pleasure without conscience, delights without boundaries. There you will find wealth without working, gratifications beyond count. Won't you come with me?"
- —Siren song of Sha'ris, Deacon of Lust
A Herald of Slaanesh is an elite form of Daemonette, a Lesser Daemon of Slaanesh, the Prince of Chaos. Off all the Chaos Gods, it is Slaanesh whose desires and practises are most alike those of a mortal ruler, and to this end he surrounds himself with a court to attend and entertain him. Made up of the immortal and the immoral alike, only those in great favour are given the honour of basking in his presence.
The more privileged a Daemonette is -- the more she pleases the Dark Prince -- the closer to his throne she is allowed to approach, and the most favoured of all such Lesser Daemons of Slaanesh are instilled with a greater measure of his divine power. These are the handmaidens, fastest and most deadly of his courtesans, creatures of impossible grace and horrifying cruelty.
Also known as the Heralds of Slaanesh, these daemons are more powerful than their sisters, and are allowed free reign within the Pleasure Palace in the Realm of Chaos. The greatest of their kind are even privileged enough to ascend Slaanesh's dais, where they feed their twisted patron sweetmeats and stroke his body with their oiled claws.
"Hope, love, hate. All are but desire by other names. Thus it is that desire is always foremost amongst the concerns of mortals, and through their desires we shall lead them into our benighted paradise."
- —Proclamations of Elsand'daa'arai
When they are not reclining around their master's throne, the Heralds of Slaanesh serve him in other ways. Primarily, the handmaidens act as lieutenants in the Dark Prince's Legions of Excess, leading the Lesser Daemons of the legions' constituent cavalcades to fulfil the desires of each legion's ruling Keeper of Secrets. There are a number of titles borne by the Heralds of Slaanesh, such as Artisan of Pain, Abbess of Avarice, or a High Bacchante of Glut. Whatever the epithet, a Slaaneshi Herald is a beacon of depravity, and wherever she goes, she whips the other minions of the Dark Prince into a hedonistic furore, inspiring them to new heights of depravity. To them, battle is but an ongoing dance, and the Heralds are accomplished choreographers and performers both; on the battlefield, they cast agonising psychic powers to render their foes insensate and inspire them to give in to their deepest needs, before nimbly falling upon them with bladed limbs. Some are known to go into battle riding Seeker Chariots.
While they are masterful warriors and leaders, it is also to these depraved creatures that the Lord of Excess entrusts his more subtle machinations -- such as acting as temptresses within the varied circles of torment that surround the Pleasure Palace, or seducing weak-willed mortals to their god's cause -- as of all his daemons, they are most sensitive to the delicacy that the Dark Prince's ploys require on occasion. They might establish Slaaneshi Chaos Cults, corrupt Planetary Governors, or simply assassinate a troublesome commander in his quarters. With promises of glory and self-fulfilment, the Herald twists the aspirations and ambitions of her prey into self-obsession, paranoia and madness, luring the victim onto the indulgent road towards self-destruction and the furtherance of the Dark Prince's desires.
Notable Heralds of Slaanesh
- The Masque of Slaanesh - The Masque of Slaanesh is the most infamous Daemonette to have ever plagued the sentient creatures of the galaxy. Once the Chaos God Slaanesh's favoured dancer and chief handmaiden, she was cast out by her master, and cursed to forever dance through the Materium and Immaterium alike. The Masque has turned this curse into a potent weapon, forcing any being she manages to seduce with her hypnotic dance to join her performance until the unfortunate soul drops dead from exhaustion.
- Lustfury - Lustfury, Queen of Avarice, is a Herald of Slaanesh who was part of a daemonic invasion of an Aeldari Maiden World after it was caught in a Warp Storm. Unfortunately for the daemons, the Harlequins of the Masque of the Laughing Circus discovered the world's plight and brought the forces of the Craftworld Saim-Hann and the Drukhari of Commorragh to save the Maiden World. However, the daemons proved victorious and defeated the Aeldari, with Lustfury personally slaying many before the daemonic legions proceeded to then wreak havoc on the now-defenceless Maiden World.
- The Devil-in-the-Bush - The Devil-in-the-Bush was a Herald of Slaanesh defeated during the Geratomran Reconquest of 398.M41. After having leeched sufficient force to subsist on the material plane from an unidentified psyker who happened to be the niece of Geratomro's Planetary Governor, the Devil-in-the-Bush proceeded to corrupt the Governor's family and the planet's nobility to the worship of Slaanesh. As the planet had already declared its freedom from the Imperium before the Herald's intervention and was fighting the forces of the Astra Militarum, the Devil-in-the-Bush summoned its allies from the Emperor's Children Traitor Marines and led the enthralled Geratomran nobles in foul rituals of hedonistic pleasure to open a Warp Rift on Geratomro which would allow legions of Daemonettes to join the fight. These efforts were thwarted by a Black Templars Emperor's Champion and the crew of the Shadowsword Lux Imperator of the 7th Paragonian Super Heavy Tank Company.
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (8th Edition), pp. 63, 64, 100-101
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (6th Edition), pg. 58
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (4th Edition), pp. 32-35, 51
- White Dwarf 392 (UK), "Battle Report: Eye of the Storm", pp. 46-57
- Baneblade (Novel) by Guy Haley