Malan'tai was a minor Craftworld of the Aeldari. It was destroyed in 812.M41 by a splinter of Tyranid Hive Fleet Naga and was the location of the first known encounter with the potent Tyranid Zoanthrope later called the "Doom of Malan'tai" by the Aeldari.
The derelict Craftworld became nothing more than a drifting, lifeless husk floating through the void. In 994.M41, Craftworld Iyanden came to Malan'tai to see if its people could find anything of use to help with repairs of their home after their recent battle with Hive Fleet Kraken, but instead, they found the abandoned Craftworld swarming with vile Orks.
When the Aeldari finally regained control of Malan'tai, they discovered that the Orks had stolen or destroyed anything of use. With heavy hearts, they altered the abandoned Craftworld's course towards the nearest sun and headed home.
The Fall of the Eldar
Ten Terran millennia ago the once proud empire of the Aeldari reached the pinnacle of its achievement and began its slow slide into decadence, corruption, and ultimate destruction. The proud and haughty Aeldari saw themselves as the perfect race, above the squalor and petty squabbling of the "lesser races" of the galaxy. They had mastered technology and tamed the Webway, transcended the need for toil and suffering, and their worlds were peaceful and rich with art and music.
Unfortunately, as pride goes before a fall, the arrogance and hubris of the Aeldari slowly ate away at the heart of their glorious empire. Aeldari society turned decadent and depraved, the people filling their ample leisure with dark excesses. Not all Aeldari in these dark times became gibbering sybarites devoted only to pleasure and excess, however. There were those who foresaw the disastrous end that was coming.
These Aeldari, derided as self-punishing puritanical fanatics by their brethren, built massive, continent-sized starships with which to flee the depravity of their people. These vessels, called Craftworlds by their masters, fled to the furthest reaches of space with numerous like-minded Exodites. It was in these out-of-the-way places that the Exodites believed they would be safe from both the excesses of their brethren and the coming doom that they had foreseen.
Eventually, the sheer depravity and excess of Aeldari society brought about the birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh. With a mighty scream and a burst of pure psychic power, Slaanesh came forth from the Warp and destroyed the Aeldari Empire in an instant. Billions died in agony, their souls devoured by Slaanesh. This event created the Eye of Terror, a massive tear in reality where the Warp and realspace co-exist, and it swallowed the seat of Aeldari society whole.
Even the far-flung Exodites who had fled their peoples' slide into madness, and the people and crew of the numerous Craftworlds, heard the cries of Slaanesh's coming. Sadness filled their hearts at the loss of their kinsmen and their once great civilisation. The Aeldari felt resignation as well, for they knew that there was nothing that they could do, and that this fate was their final punishment. The Craftworlds with their refugees scattered to the solar winds, hounded across the galaxy by the Forces of Chaos.
Few survived the initial solar decades as they were caught and killed in the psychic fallout of the birth of Slaanesh. The rest dispersed, traversing the stars and carrying their precious cargo -- those lucky few who survived the Fall of the Aeldari -- to the farthest reaches of the galaxy.
As they travelled and the Terran centuries passed, the Craftworlds slowly took on their final shape. They grew in size to meet the needs of their populations, the Bonesingers reshaping the vessels into something more akin to wandering planetoids than mere starships.
Each Craftworld became a world unto itself. Even before the Fall each Craftworld had developed unique cultures among their populations, foreshadowing the manifold Paths and Aspects that the Aeldari would soon come to follow. Some were dedicated to martial prowess while others were more content to contemplate the mysteries of the vast unknown.
In the early years, following the catastrophic event of the Fall, the Craftworld Malan'tai grievously suffered the predations of Ork raiders. This forced the Aeldari of Malan'tai to fortify their vessel, which became nothing less than a mobile fortress bristling with formidable defences to counter the threat. Eventually, Malan'tai formed an alliance with its sister Craftworlds, Iyanden and Idharae.
The Naga Strikes
In 808.M41, a large splintered tendril of Hive Fleet Behemoth, later designated as Hive Fleet Naga -- known to the Aeldari as Shai'naid, the "Endless Winding Serpent" -- encroached upon a concentration of Aeldari worlds in the Ybaric Cluster, which lay beyond the eastern fringe of the Vidar Sector. To their credit, Malan'tai, and its sister Craftworlds of Iyanden and Idharae, responded almost immediately, but even so, they were too slow.
By the time the first Aeldari fleets had engaged Hive Fleet Naga, Halathel, largest and most prosperous of the Exodite worlds, was all but overrun by Tyranids. Even with aid of forces from Malan'tai and Idharae, the Exodites could not repel the invaders. Iyanden's forces, under the command of Admiral Draech, arrived at Halathel to discover its World Spirit destroyed and its defenders consumed. Determined to exact vengeance for Halathel, the Iyanden fleet engaged the orbiting Hive Ships, but underestimated the menace of their foes. Draech's flagship, the Auspicious Illumination of Eternity, was destroyed early in the battle, and for a time, it seemed that the whole Aeldari fleet would be lost alongside it. Only when a young Prince named Yriel took command did the tide of battle turn.
Realising that the smaller Tyranid vessels could not function if the greater Bio-Ships were destroyed, Yriel converged his forces on these targets, but it was only when the Prince unleashed boarding parties to destroy the living starships from within that he meet with success. Though many Aeldari lives were lost and hundred of Ghost Warriors destroyed, the ships were finally slain. With their passing, the smaller Tyranid vessels flew into an uncoordinated frenzy and were easy prey.
Though the strength of Hive Fleet Naga had been greatly diminished, its threat was not yet ended. Over the following years, Yriel's forces joined with those of Malan'tai and Idharae to fight hundreds of engagements against the Tyranids, both in the cold dark of space and amidst the horror of partially-digested worlds. Little by little, the Tyranids were scoured from the Ybaric Cluster, and victory was at last won -- though not without great cost. Idharae, which was never the most populous of Craftworlds to begin with, lost many of its warriors defending the Maiden World of Eth-aelas, and its halls were ever after empty and joyless places. Malan'tai would suffer a far worse fate.
The Doom of Malan'tai
The Aeldari legend of the "Doom of Malan'tai" refers not only to the tale of an entire Craftworld's death, but also to the abominable Tyranid creature that caused it -- to the Aeldari, the two are indistinguishable. The lament speaks of a Tyranid creature unlike any other, a beast that gorged not upon flesh and blood, but upon the life-force of its victims, leaving only soulless oblivion in its wake.
The Doom of Malan'tai was an adaptation of the Zoanthrope bioform, and its weak physical appearance belied its true horror. So it was that, when a lone, wounded bio-ship invaded Craftworld Malan'tai, the Aeldari did not at first realise that the true threat lay not with the towering Tyranid monsters rampaging through their home, but with the unassuming creature left relatively unhindered to feed on Aeldari souls.
As it fed, the Doom of Malan'tai's power grew, the absorbed life-energy enhancing its fearsome psychic might. Once it had gorged on the spirits of the Craftworld's Infinity Circuit, it was nigh invulnerable, possessing the power to pulp Aeldari warriors, snap Wraithbone war-constructs, and shatter towering spires with cataclysmic bolts of psychic energy.
It was all that the few Aeldari survivors could do to escape Malan'tai, a Craftworld found adrift in space many standard years later, reduced to nought but a cold, lifeless shell. Of the loathsome creature that had brought about its destruction, there was no sign.
The Battle of the Ghost Halls
In 800.M41, a dire vision from the Prognosticars resulted in a Grey Knights Space Marine strike force being despatched to a point in space where no worlds were known to exist. On arrival, the strike force encountered the massive, bio-acid scorched hulk of Craftworld Malan'tai.
Though its inhabitants were all but been destroyed by Tyranids, Malan'tai was not so empty as it first appeared. The ancient Keeper of Secrets N'kari and his kind stalked the fallen halls, growing bloated with power on Aeldari Spirit Stones. To fight such a foe would ordinarily be beyond even the Grey Knights, but the Prognosticars dictated more than the location of this new threat -- they also bade Brother-Captain Pelenas to take as many Purifiers as he could muster.
As the Grey Knights launched their assault on the despoiled Malan'tai, the Purifiers led the charge, a bow wave of cleansing azure flame preceding their advance. The fire roared through the desolate halls like a hungry spirit, crackling and growing as it consumed the daemons in its path, scattering those hellspawn that survived and leaving them ripe prey for the advancing Grey Knights. N'kari was finally cornered in the shattered Dome of Crystal Seers.
The Greater Daemon fought with fury -- in a matter of moments his spear claimed the lives of a dozen Purifiers and struck down Pelenas. Yet, before the daemon could strike the killing blow on the fallen Brother-Captain, Justicar Anval Thawn threw himself into the daemon's path and was laid low in his Captain's place.
With N'kari's weapon momentarily trapped in the prison of Thawn's flesh, the surviving Purifiers were able to complete the ritual of Twelve Bloody Swords, which drained N'kari of his stolen power and left him vulnerable to Pelenas' deathblow. In the battle's aftermath, the bulk of the Grey Knights strike force returned to Titan with the bodies of the fallen. A score of Purifiers remained aboard the Craftworld, standing guard over the empty halls until contact could be made with another Aeldari Craftworld, and the recovery of the remaining Spirit Stones could begin.
The Fate of Malan'tai
In 994.M41, Iyanden Farseer Taec Silvereye sent an expedition to Malan'tai, with the goal of salvaging anything that could be used to speed Iyanden's repairs following their recent battle with Hive Fleet Kraken. Unfortunately, the abandoned Craftworld was now found to be swarming with Orks. When the Aeldari finally regained control of Malan'tai, they discovered that the Orks had already stolen or destroyed anything of use. With heavy hearts, they altered the Craftworld's course towards the nearest sun and headed home.
According to Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), the destruction of Malan'tai took place circa 808.M41 or 812.M41. This conflicts with Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition), as the Grey Knights supposedly encountered the ruin of Malan'tai in the aftermath of its destruction, in 800.M41.
- Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition), pg. 14
- Codex: Tyranids (6th Edition), pg. 107
- Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), pp. 16-17, 58
- Iyanden - A Codex: Eldar Supplement (6th Edition), pp. 11-12, 58