- "There is a very good reason why so many of the galaxy's cultures and societies are afraid of the dark."
- — Inquisitor Bastalek Grimm
A Mandrake is a foul humanoid creature who was once one of the Drukhari of Commorragh that lurk within the darkest corners of the Webway's labyrinthine confines. Its name is a translation into Imperial Low Gothic of a word in the Aeldari Lexicon.
The Mandrakes can be found in Aelindrach, a region of Commorragh. Literally fallen into shadow, it is one of the several districts of Commorragh that exists in more than one dimension at once. In Aelindrach, shadows thicken and writhe as living things, flowing into one another and attempting to capture those that venture into the district.
It is in Aelindrach that Mandrakes and Shaderavens make their lairs. Rumour has it that somewhere in Aelindrach lies a portal to a world where shade-daemons exist who can freeze the soul with but a touch.
This vile breed of their species is secretly feared even by other Drukhari, for a Mandrake can pull itself into any region of space-time through another being's shadow, emerging with a sibilant hiss to sink its frigid claws and teeth into flesh.
Their ebony skins writhe with blasphemous runes and their faces shift and flow, one moment a featureless mask, the next parting to reveal a maw filled with sharpened teeth. Mandrakes exist both in realspace and a cursed shadow world that may be a part of the Immaterium. To fight them is to combat a living shadow.
The true origins of the Mandrakes remain shrouded in time and secrecy. Some Aeldari savants claim that the Mandrakes are descended from those of their species inhabiting the Webway who before the Fall of the Aeldari engaged in heinous acts of lust with daemonic entities of the Warp when the lost Aeldari Empire was at its most decadent.
Others hold that the living shadows are descended from a forbidden Aeldari pleasure cult that found its own way to escape the devastation of the Fall, fleeing into a nightmare dimension of shadow within the Immaterium and reemerging as something no longer quite natural. Young Drukhari call the Mandrakes "creepers" and whisper that they crawl from one shadow to another and can emerge from one's reflection into the real universe.
They believe that the Mandrakes are the absence of light given life, and in that they may very well be right. Such theories do not seem so far-fetched when one examines the Mandrakes' appearance.
Their flesh is night-black and seems to absorb rather than reflect light, their featureless faces shift like rancid oil while their hair is the color of splintered bone. Surrounding them is an aura of darkness and cold that saps the strength from all those with the misfortune to be standing nearby.
Often the first sign of an imminent Mandrake attack will be the sudden onset of freezing temperatures, flash freezing all the moisture out of the very air. The shapes set into their flesh are Aeldari sigils of destruction that pulse with a venomous green brilliance when the Mandrake feeds upon the terror and pain of its victims.
Mandrakes possess the ability to channel these stolen life energies, shaping blasts of blue-white cold fire known as Baleblasts that emerge from their taloned hands to freeze their foes in place. When they finally fall upon their terrified prey, they use not only the natural weapons of claw and fang, but also hideous, sickle-shaped blades similar to the surgical tools beloved of the Haemonculi.
- "Just when you’re watching the ceiling, they come through the walls. If the things we fight ever run out of ways to surprise you, I expect it’s because their most recent surprise finally did the job for good."
- — Private Mercito Grant
Like all the inhabitants of the Dark City, the Mandrakes thrive on the infliction of pain and terror on other living things. As a result of their unsurpassed abilities at stealth, many Drukhari Archons have sought to hire the Mandrakes' services for a realspace raid by his or her Kabal.
The Mandrakes normally ask for a share of any slaves taken as their payment, but sometimes for reasons unknown, they will ask for something far more arcane, such as a heartbeat, a true name or a voice.
Such requests are rarely denied, for the Mandrakes' only clothing is a patchwork garment created from the flayed skins of those who have betrayed them. They are infamous for their ability to track down any quarry and they are able to manifest anywhere in the universe that shadows gather.
Sometimes, a Mandrake of particular age and power will join a Drukhari raid and will lead others of its kind in the taking of slaves or in pursuit of one of its more esoteric desires. These hideous creatures are called Nightfiends among the Drukhari and they may possess many powers of shadow that remain unknown even to the denizens of Commorragh.
- Kheradruakh, the Decapitator - A four-armed, hollow-eyed haunter of Commorragh’s depths, the Mandrake known as the Decapitator is a figure of stark terror to all. The walls of his lair are lined with hundreds if not thousands of skulls, claimed from victims on battlefields all across the galaxy. What Kheradruakh wants with this collection of macabre trophies is anyone’s guess. Yet all are fastidiously arranged, staring with non-existent eyes at a single point in space directly above the Decapitator’s dais, and the air almost hums with a building sense of forbidden power about to break through the veil.
- Baleblast - Mandrakes can channel the life energies stolen from their prey into blasts of freezing flame, wreathing their victims in spectral fires that burn through flesh and soul alike.
- Close Combat Weapon (Usually an evil-looking blade or sickle-sword of unknown manufacture)
- Codex: Dark Eldar (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), "Blades for Hire"
- Codex: Dark Eldar (5th Edition), pp. 10, 33
- Codex: Dark Eldar (4th Edition), pg. 8
- Only War: Enemies of the Imperium (RPG), pg. 92