"We fight not for ourselves, but for the fate of all Eldar."
- — Prince Yriel
Prince Yriel, High Admiral and an Aeldari Autarch of Craftworld Iyanden, is a brilliant if reckless commander in Iyanden's grand fleet. He is not of pure Iyanden blood but is honoured as one of the greatest defenders and servants of Iyanden.
High Admiral of Iyanden's armada and bastard scion of the House of Ulthanash, Prince Yriel is a consummate Aeldari fleet commander. The incidents that shaped much of Yriel's life came when he led a bold attack against an encroaching Chaos Warfleet. His victory over the scions of the Dark Gods was overwhelming, but it temporarily left Craftworld Iyanden all but unprotected and killed thousands of Aeldari.
Instead of accolades, Yriel earned bitter censure from the Craftworld's leaders. Driven by pride, he became an Outcast, vowing never to set foot on Iyanden again. When he left, his followers -- the Eldritch Raiders -- left with him. Under Yriel's leadership, they were to become the galaxy's most feared Aeldari Corsair ﬂeet.
It is likely that Yriel would never have returned to the world-ship that spurned him had it not been assailed by the Tyranid Hive Fleet Kraken in 992.M41. The ﬂame of Iyanden was all but snuffed out when the Corsair prince led his Raiders in a glorious return. As the Craftworld was about to fall, Yriel and his Eldritch Raiders blew a sizeable hole in the Tyranid's fleet and reinforced Iyanden's forces within the Craftworld's corridors and on its surface.
In a daring series of strikes, the hammer of Yriel's attack crushed the Tyranid ﬂeet against the anvil of the Craftworld's guns. On Iyanden's surface he drew forth the ill-fated Spear of Twilight from the Shrine of Ulthanash, a weapon so potent it curses the soul of any who near it. With this mighty artefact he slew the Tyranid leader-beast, a Hive Tyrant, in a single blow, and in doing so, unmade its swarms and their connection to the Hive Mind.
Yriel was then restored to his position as an Autarch of Iyanden and the Craftworld's High Admiral. However, in saving his people Yriel had doomed himself. The Spear is no mortal weapon, and cannot be abandoned. Though he technically holds the office of Autarch of Iyanden, Yriel still plies the stars, seeking a way to restore his Craftworld to its former majesty before it finally fades into myth.
Yriel was recently slain defending Iyanden from an assault by the Plague Fleets of Nurgle at the time of the 13th Black Crusade. He was resurrected by Yvraine, the leader of the Ynnari and prophet of Ynnead, the Aeldari God of the Dead. She revealed that the "Spear of Twilight" was actually one of the Crone Swords, the legendary blades that could be used to bring Ynnead to full consciousness. She transformed the "Spear" back into its true form as a sword and plunged it into Yriel's chest, using Ynnead's power to restore him to life so that he could continue to lead Iyanden into a new age of hope for the Aeldari.
High Admiral of the Eldritch Raiders and bastard scion of the House of Ulthanash, Prince Yriel is a consummate Aeldari military commander. Yriel is a scion of the House of Ulthanash, one of the oldest and noblest lineages in the Aeldari race. In Aeldari mythology Ulthanash was friend to Eldanesh, the greatest hero of the mortal Aeldari, and fought at his side in many perilous battles. Alas, Ulthanash came to quarrel with Eldanesh, and thus walked a path that brought much woe down upon the nascent Aeldari race.
Though the two heroes fought as brothers once more before the end, there has ever after been mistrust between those Aeldari on the Asuryani Craftworlds who can trace their lineage back to the House of Ulthanash, and those that claim descent from the House of Eldanesh.
In his youth, despite his lack of years, Yriel was chosen to walk the Path of Command; a level of trust that many speculated was unwarranted, especially in light of future events. Before his success against Hive Fleet Naga, Yriel had always been something of an outcast, isolated for his status as a half-blood. The prince's mother might have hailed from the noblest of lineages, but his father was a different matter.
Though few speak on the matter in Yriel's presence, rumours abound that the prince's sire was an Outcast from another Craftworld, a title-less walker whose feet and soul followed the Path of Exile. Such would likely mean that he carried the blood of both Eldanesh and Ulthanash, which would well account for his monstrous pride. However, there are a few who whisper that Yriel's father was not an Outcast from a Craftworld at all but rather that he hailed from a darker realm by far -- Commorragh, the Dark City of the Drukhari. Those same whispers suggest that it is Yriel's loathing for this half of his nature that drives him to continually strive for fresh challenges.
The Naga's Strike
"Let fire reign. Burn it. Burn it all. There is nothing here for us now."
As the centuries ground on, the Warp Storms around the Ybaric Cluster faded, allowing contact with the Exodite worlds therein. Alas, no sooner had the Warp Storms faded than a new enemy descended in 131.809.M41. Hive Fleet Naga, a remnant of the Behemoth that was, had set its sights on the bountiful worlds of the Ybaric Cluster. To their credit, Iyanden, and its sister Craftworlds of Malan'tai 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, and a second tendril of the Hive Fleet was turning back rimwards towards the Maiden World of Eth-aelas. The Exodites of Halathel were unable to abandon their kin's souls contained in the planet's World Spirit and so began to fortify Halathel's World Spirit shrine while begging with nearby Craftworlds for assistance.
The first tendril outstripped the crippled Malan'tai fleet to arrive at Halathel first, and in 801809.M41 launched waves of Mycetic Spores onto the planet. The defenders withdraw to the World Spirit shrine to make a desperate last stand. Thousands of Termagants and Hormagaunts hurled themselves at the shrine's walls to deplete the enemy's ammunition stores, but the Exodites held out for three days and three nights until the Tyranids ceased their assault. When the Tyranids launched their second siege on the shrine, it dwarfed the first in numbers and fury. By dusk, Naga had broken through the outer defences and began pouring through the breaches. Exodite Lord Wei-yannil stood against the Hive Tyrant, leading the assault to buy time for the Aeldari to withdraw. Both combatants were slain in the fight -- Wei-yannil slew the Hive Tyrant, but was then torn apart himself by the beast's rampaging Tyrant Guard. With the synapse creature's death, the Tyranid swarm lost cohesion and withdrew.
Above Halathel, a fresh fleet from Iyanden commanded by Admiral Draech engaged the Hive Ships orbiting the planet. But even with the 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 ships from within that he meet with success. Though many Aeldari lives were lost and hundreds 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. On the planet below, the World Spirit shrine was finally taken by the forces of the Great Devourer when dozens of Trygons emerged from burrowed tunnels beneath the shrine's walls. In less than an hour, the remaining Aeldari defenders were massacred and the World Spirit was destroyed. Yriel, overwhelmed by rage, gave the order to scour all life from Halathel.
In the following months, 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 suffered far worse and was destroyed when an aberrant form of Tyranid life devoured the Craftworld's Infinity Circuit and used the stolen power to slay the rest of Malan'tai's living Aeldari.
The Aeldari of Iyanden could taste a glorious destiny, and their hearts burned to claim it. No one typified the mood of Iyanden more than Prince Yriel, now risen to High Admiral of the Iyanden fleet. Yriel believed that it was Iyanden's destiny to reclaim the stars, and moreover, that he would be the architect of its rise. Kelmon and others on the Seer Council saw the dangers of Yriel's hubris and had many times sought for a way to humble the prince. If Yriel could be tamed, they thought, perhaps his example would cool the ardour of their people. Alas, each effort came to naught. Through his victories, Yriel had become more than a hero to the folk of Iyanden; he was a herald of the flame that was blazing anew. Every small censure Kelmon could devise was thwarted, for the common people of Iyanden were ill-inclined to follow the counsel of cooler heads whilst Yriel continued to know such success.
At last, Yriel encountered a foe worthy of his mettle. As Iyanden skirted the edge of what the Imperium knew as the Vidar Sector, its scouts brought word that much of that sector was in thrall to a mighty pirate armada, whose ships flew under the colours of Argan Kallorax. Further investigations determined that Kallorax was a renegade of the Raven Guard Chapter, who had long ago turned his allegiance to Chaos. After turning traitor, Kallorax seized control of a small but effective pirate band and set about carving his own bloody legend. Now, his followers numbered thousands of cultists, renegades, betrayers and scoundrels -- the dregs of a dozen star systems. Many planets paid Kallorax fealty, and every attempt the Imperium had yet made to obliterate him had ended in disaster.
Even Iyanden's mighty fleet was eclipsed by the sheer number of pirate warships at Kallorax's command. Many of Iyanden's council cautioned against becoming embroiled in battle with such an entrenched foe, affirming that they should leave the humans to blast each other apart in whatever manner suited their barbarous nature. But others on the council deemed that the threat of Kallorax must be ended once and for all. None argued for this course longer and louder than Yriel, but even his words failed to sway his peers. In the end, the matter was decided only when Firesight, the foremost of Iyanden's Farseers, supported Yriel's cause. This was most unexpected, for Kelmon had been the prince's most vocal detractor in recent years, ever at the forefront of attempts to curtail his influence. Yriel was distrustful of the Farseer's motives at first, but quickly forgot his suspicions when it became clear that Kellamon's support ensured that Iyanden would confront Kallorax's armada.
Kelmon never spoke of why he supported Yriel. As the long days of debate has passed, the Farseer had consulted the runes but had found only ambiguity. Each time, the pattern had been the same, with the runes of pride, doom and salvation orbiting that of Asuryan. It was clear that great events were nigh, and that Yriel would be pivotal in them. As to the shape of those events, Kelmon was uncertain, but having tried and failed for many years to contain Yriel's arrogance, he had resolved instead to encourage it. If Yriel was doomed, as the runes suggested, better that he burn bright and brief, rather than become an enduring blaze whose flames would consume the entire Craftworld.
War Amidst the Stars
For nearly a decade, Yriel led Iyanden's forces against Kallorax's armada. Guided by his own keen instincts and by the divinations of the craftworld's Farseers, Yriel set about isolating and destroying Kallorax's forces. This was not a war of fleets arrayed gloriously for head-on battle, but one of ambush and subterfuge. Yriel began to monitor the spaceways for distress calls, loosing his vessels to the hunt only when an attack was well underway and the pirates distracted with their plunder. The merchant vessels that had acted as unwitting bait seldom survived, but then, such was not Yriel's priority. Better by far that the dull-witted humans could make themselves useful by their deaths than live on to pollute the galaxy with their presence. Even so, a few fortunate vessels did survive, their crews at the fitfully blazing wreckage, wondering at what manner of force had wrought their salvation. Yriel's attacks were not limited to spaceborne engagements; any installation under Kallorax's command was a potential target. Swift-winged Vampire Raiders carried Wraithguard and Wraithblade strike forces against fuelling stations, asteroid bases, monitoring posts and slave yards. They struck without warning and left nothing but ruin in their wake. Little by little, Kallorax's supply chains withered and died.
Angered by his losses, but powerless to carry the fight to an enemy whose base of operations was unknown, Kallorax sought ways to "motivate" his minions. Fear galvanised Kallorax's crews where avarice had not, and soon, the Aeldari experienced their first losses. Yet still, Kallorax's anger grew. On the occasions where the pirates actually managed to destroy a more substantial vessel, the losses they suffered in return rendered the success almost meaningless. Yriel's ships were simply too swift and too well led to permit Kallorax anything but the most trivial of victories.
Matters finally came to a head at the planet Agrion -- the location of a key orbital shipyard from which the pirates staged their raids. Here, Kallorax finally experienced an Aeldari attack for himself. This was the closest to a conventional naval action the two sides had yet fought, with some four-score Iyanden vessels engaging a pirate fleet nearly twice their number. This was also the closest Kallorax ever came to a victory, for in the throes of battle, his forces managed to destroy or cripple a dozen Aeldari capital ships. Unfortunately, this success cost him half of his own forces. This included the pride of his fleet, the Hades-class Heavy Cruiser Deathless Reaver, whose Warp engines had been breached early in the battle by a pinpoint salvo from Yriel's flagship, Flame of Asuryan.
When the pirate vessels at last withdrew in disarray, Yriel ordered his warriors aboard the shipyard. Alas, renegades aboard the shipyard recognised that they had nowhere to run and resolved to make the attackers pay for their temerity in blood. Yriel's forces breached the hangar bays easily enough but, once inside, the Aspect Warrior vanguard were cut apart by a storm of bolter fire. Determined not to fail, the Aeldari pressed on through the storm, but the resistance grew heavier the deeper into the station they fought. The pirates had the flotsam of a hundred battles to press into service, and every access point was defended by barricades and Icarus emplacements. Loathe to lose more lives aboard the shipyard than he had already, Yriel ordered the Aspect Warriors to retreat, and loosed his ghost warriors to the hunt. Guided by the precise commands of Spiritseers, the wraith-constructs advanced through the storm of shells and missiles, weathering blows that would have torn a mortal Aeldari apart. Kallorax's forces fled as Wraithlords tore down the barricades, but there was nowhere to hide from the vengeance of the dead. In a final, terrible battle amongst the coolant ducts of the shipyard's reactor, the ghost warriors scoured the station clean of foes, then used plasma charges to scuttle it.
In the wake of the Battle of Agrion, Kallorax faced a sizable rebellion. Though this was swiftly and bloodily put down, and the ringleader's mutilated (and not yet dead) body riveted to the prow of Kallorax's personal shuttlecraft, the pirate admiral knew that the challenges would only increase unless he managed to put an end to the Aeldari's predations. Kallorax now directed his cabal of Sorcerers to divine the location of the Aeldari base. Unfortunately for him, the Seers of Iyanden had anticipated such a move and had woven a psychic shield that obscured their forces from the Sorcerer's sight. In a rage, Kallorax had his Sorcerers put to death, and instead forged pacts with Daemons, offering up ever-increasing numbers of lives in the hope of attracting the attention of a being powerful enough to give him the answers that he sought.
In the end, after an unthinkable tally of lives had ended upon Kallorax's sacrificial pyres, just such an entity granted the admiral the information he desired. This was N'Kari, a Slaaneshi Daemon whose own monstrous pride allowed him to sense that of the Iyanden Aeldari, even through their psychic shield. N'kari granted Kallorax the Craftworld's location in exchange for a number of spirit stones that the pirates had seized during their battles and the promise of more to come once Kallorax had taken his revenge. Ignorant of the spirit stones' function, and therefore puzzled by the Daemon's seemingly inconsequential price, Kallorax nonetheless struck the bargain and quickly mobilised every warship at his command.
So it was Iyanden scouts soon brought word that a mighty armada of ships was converging on the Craftworld. Many were appalled, seeing in the very attack they had sought to avoid. Yriel wasted no time deflecting the recriminations that came his way. Instead, he gathered his own ships and struck at the Chaos fleet whilst it was yet distant from Iyanden. Yriel was so confident in victory that he mustered every ship the Craftworld possessed, from the largest Void Stalker to the smallest Darkstar.
Battle of The Burning Moon
So began the Battle of the Burning Moon -- the greatest naval confrontation seen in that part of the galaxy for many centuries. Kallorax's armada, though ti had suffered greatly from Yriel's previous attacks, still dwarfed Iyanden's forces, and the Aeldari were forced to rely on every iota of their cunning. Fortunately, the sheer size of Kallorax's armada soon began to work against it, when Yriel ordered his ships to engage full speed and close to point blank range.
At such velocities, even Aeldari gunners could hope to provide little in the way of accurate fire, but such was not Yriel's plan. So tightly-packed and poorly crewed were Kallorax's vessels that barely any of their salvoes hit the Aeldari craft it was aimed at, instead tearing gaping wounds in the hulls of their allies, slaughtering crews and unseating gun batteries. As sections of the Chaos vessels went dark, agile Aeldari bombers slipped into the silenced kill zones to inflict more damage, sometimes flying into the ravaged superstructure itself to destroy vital systems.
Some of these daring pilots were consumed in the ensuing explosions; others safely rode the bow-wave of energy into open space. Yet not everything in that battle favoured the Aeldari. Ponderous though Kallorax's ships might have been, their sheer firepower was devastating. Even the smallest mistake by an Aeldari helmsman could prove disastrous. The punishing volley of shells, missiles and torpedoes could shred the Aeldari vessels' delicate steering vanes and solar sails in the blink of an eye, leaving the craft adrift or out of control and easy prey for a second salvo. Many of Yriel's ships were crippled by stray shots; others were overwhelmed by the endless fighter-craft and Heldrakes that swarmed and boiled in the vacuum between the duelling starships.
At the heart of the battle line, the Flame of Asuryan vied with Kallorax's newly-promoted flagship, the Riot Hunger. The Chaos vessel was vaster by far than Yriel's ship but here, as elsewhere, victory went to the swifter combatant, not the most muscular. Swooping low under the rippling torpedoes from the Chaos ship, Flame of Asuryan tore a great rent in the Riot Hunger's hull. Soon, Vampire Raiders were loose in the space beyond, deploying Yriel's boarding party of Wraithblades into the very heart of the command superstructure. Klaxons blared as Kallorax ordered the Shadow Guard, his inner circle of Renegade Space Marines, to defend the breach.
These were the veterans of a thousand shipping raids, murderers of whole colonies; they were black-hearted killers who had slain the finest warriors of the Adeptus Astartes at their master's command, and now they came forward to slaughter perfidious aliens in his name. Not all of Yriel's assault force had come aboard the Riot Hunger in Vampire Raiders. Like Kallorax, the Aeldari prince had committed his finest warriors to this battle. Theses were Wraithknights, and much too massive to be accommodated within a Vampire's sleek hull. Instead, they had used their jump jets to cross the void between the two vessels, tearing their way through the Riot Hunger's ravaged hull and into the vaulted chambers beyond to join the fight.
Duel to the Death
Aeldari prince and Traitor admiral duelled as their vassals fought and died around them. The Shadow Guard strove furiously, but the hardy wraithbone shells of the ghosts warriors were nigh-impervious to their blows, and every sweep of a Wraithblade's axe claimed an enemy's life. Meanwhile, Yriel and Kallorax fought on. The pirate lord was a lumbering brute, swinging his cumbersome Warp axe with enough force to shatter a blast door. Yriel evaded every blow with effortless grace and darted forwards to land his own immaculate strikes whenever the opportunity presented itself. Kallorax laughed, for Yriel's blows were but the stings of a bothersome insect. A cooler-headed foe would have shrugged off these jibes, but Yriel's pride chafed at the mockery and spurred him to take ever greater risks.
Twice the ragged blade of Kallorax's weapon passed within a hair's breadth of the Aeldari prince's brow -- so close, in fact, that Yriel fancied he could hear the whispering voice of the Daemon-bound within. Again, the pirate lord lashed out, and again Yriel dodged the blow, but this time, Kallorax slammed an armoured gauntlet forwards as well. The mesh armour plates along Yriel's midriff stiffened to absorb the impact, but still the force of the blow hurled the prince into a bulkhead. Stunned, Yriel fell to his knees. Sensing his triumph at last, Kallorax advanced, axe readied for a final strike. Gathering what wits he could, Yriel threw himself forwards, ducked low under the axe and buried his sword to the hilt in Kallorax's chest. All at once, the pirate lord felt his strength flee. With one last curse, he toppled over, stone dead.
A Dying Act of Malice
Few of the Shadow Guard long outlived their master, but Yriel had little chance to crow over his victory, or even complete the destruction of the Riot Hunger. Scarcely had Kallorax fallen when a desperate telepathic message from the Flame of Asuryan warned Yriel that a spearhead of three Chaos cruisers had breached the Aeldari cordon and were driving hard for Iyanden itself. Yriel knew that three cruisers was a laughable force to send against an entire craftworld, but he assumed that Kallorax had known it too, which meant some deeper ploy was at hand. Knowing that the Flame of Asuryan was the only ship close enough to intercept the attackers, and ill-inclined to leave the take to another, Yriel abandoned his attack on the Riot Hunger. He was soon aboard his own vessel once more, pushing its engines to their limit.
The Flame of Asuryan overtook one of the Chaos ships within minutes, its prow batterings blazing into life to send the cruiser, engines firing fitfully, listing into the darkness. A second vessel was crippled a few minutes later, its engines flaring one last time as the pulsars tore its engine vaults open into space. Only one Chaos cruiser now remained, and the crews of Yriel's ship knew that their victory was sealed. Though there were no vessels escorting the craftworld -- Yriel had commandeered every battle-capable vessel for his attack -- a single cruiser could not hope to endure its weapon batteries long enough to inflict serious damage.
Then the Flame's sensors detected a torpedo launch from the cruiser, and everything changed. A spread of three dozen torpedoes had been fired in all, a pitiful gesture that would normally have been laughable against a vessel of Iyanden's enormous size. Alas, the Flame's sensors showed that these were no ordinary warheads, but modified Cyclonic Torpedoes -- one of the Imperium's many tools of planetary Exterminatus. Such weapons were famously inaccurate, and of little use against warships, but a Craftworld was a much larger -- and much slower -- target. If even one of those warheads stuck home, the damage would be incalculable.
Now Yriel cursed his folly at stripping Iyanden's defences; the torpedoes were too small, too fast and too distant for the Flame's weapons to target. This wouldn't have mattered if but one squadron of fighters had remained aboard the Craftworld to engage the inbound warheads, but with nothing left to do to save his home, Yriel directed the Flame's weaponry against the third and final cruiser which was soon nothing more than a twisted and slagged ruin of metal. But his eyes never left Iyanden, and the sleek torpedoes he knew were almost upon it.
Bright sparks of light flared as the Craftworld's Firestorm defence lasers sought to engage the torpedoes. Here and there, explosions lit the darkness as the incoming warheads were struck and punched into clouds of shrapnel and vapour. All in all, the firestorm batteries tracked and destroyed thirty-five of the inbound torpedoes, but through a malign quirk of fate, the thirty-sixth evaded all efforts and pitted against it. The torpedo struck the craftworld high on its upper port-side quadrant. There was a brilliant flash of light and a portion of the Craftworld's wraithbone hull simply vaporised. Yriel watched, helpless, as fires tore across the Craftworld's outer hull and raced through the passageways exposed by the explosion, and he wept at the terrible beauty of the sight.
Knowing that he could do nothing for the dead, Yriel ordered the Flame of Asuryan to come about and return to the battle. It was many hours before the last of the Chaos starships were finally destroyed -- but so great was the wrath of the Aeldari that not even one of the pirate vessels escaped. Yriel saw little of the ensuing battle; the sight of Iyanden afire still danced before his eyes, and he could find nothing to drive the image away. He spoke not another word until the final few Chaos vessels had been reduced to scrap, and the battle was at last finished.
Yriel had won the Battle of the Burning Moon, but the cost was more than he had been prepared to pay. No few of Iyanden's starships had been destroyed, and every single vessel was in need of substantial repair. The damage to the craftworld itself was far worse. Tens of thousands of Aeldari had died instantly when the cyclonic torpedo struck; worse, their spirit stones had been destroyed in the same moment, dooming the slain to suffer Slaanesh's cruel embrace.
The Price of Arrogance
Yriel was sorrowful for the dead, but he did not weep. He knew that their fate would have been Iyanden's also, had he not made a pre-emptive strike on Kallorax's fleet. He assured himself that some sacrifices were necessary if Iyanden's destiny was to be fulfilled, and he was certain that the deaths aboard the Craftworld would be of little account when held alongside his great victory.
In this, Yriel greatly misjudged the mood of his people. More than tens of thousands of lives had been lost when the torpedo struck. The Fire of Creation in the heart of Asuryan's shrine -- a flame that had blazed since the Craftworld's maiden voyage -- burned no longer. It was a portent of despair that even the dullest wit could comprehend; Iyanden was no longer worthy of its great destiny. Kelmon's cautions about Yriel were remembered, and at last heeded. So it was that Yriel was not feted and honoured as he had anticipated, but bidden to justify his chosen course. Yriel was outraged at being questioned so. Along with his closest followers, he departed voluntarily into exile, declaring darkly that he would never set foot on Iyanden again.
Kelmon watched the disgraced prince depart with a tumult of emotions. He was glad that the Craftworld's madness had at last burnt itself out, but he despaired at the price. Iyanden had suffered grievous harms, and had lost not only its ablest admiral, but also a sizable portion of the fleet, for many vessels had chosen to enter exile alongside Yriel. Kelmon knew that, in encouraging Yriel's rashness, he was just as responsible as the prince for what had happened, but he drew strength from the fact that his actions had diverted a greater disaster; Or so he thought. Kelmon's mood soured when he cast the runes again, for their pattern was unchanged. The runes of pride, doom and salvation were in orbit about Asuryan; whatever fate they alluded to had not yet been averted.
The Doom of Iyanden
Never, in all the preceding millennia, had Iyanden been humbled so. The physical damage wrought upon the Craftworld was without precedent, but the loss of Asuryan's Flame gouged a far more grievous wound in Iyanden's collective psyche. But a greater peril was soon to come. It is likely that Yriel would have never returned to the home that spurned him had Iyanden not faced annihilation in the face of the assault of Hive Fleet Kraken in 992.M41. When the Tyranids came again, they did so in numbers greater than ever before.
With its fleet now completely destroyed, Iyanden was fully engulfed, as clouds of spores settled, infecting the Craftworld itself. Twisted forms struggled to emerge from the beautiful harmony of Iyanden's architecture. A horrific psychic scream resounded around the Craftworld's infrastructure as seething hordes of clawed, scuttling aliens were disgorged into its heart. Huge battles erupted all over Iyanden; the fighting was bitter and close-ranged, with enemy forces often only separated by the width of a wraithbone wall.
Kelmon Farsight, senior Farseer of Iyanden's Council, knew that, barring a miracle, Iyanden was doomed. Again and again, he consulted the runes, desperate for hope. Each time, he saw only the same; the runes for pride, doom and salvation circling that of Asuryan. As the Tyranids swarmed across Iyanden, Kelmon sealed himself away in the Chambers of Starlight, his meditation halls, and sought enlightenment. The Tyranids advanced as never before, but still Kelmon remained hidden in the Chambers of Starlight. Desperate obsession drove the Farseer now, and he did not heed how his absence caused his people to lose heart.
Emerging at last from the Chambers of Starlight, Kelmon gathered together what Farseers remained and led them to the Dome of the Crystal Seers. A message needed to be sent, he told them, one which had to breach the Shadow in the Warp if there was to be any chance of survival. Working in concert, Iyanden's surviving Farseers sent a focussed beam of psychic energy through the Hive Mind's choking presence, driving aside the writhing tendrils with telepathic light. Kelmon's mind soared across empty light years of space, touching at last upon that of Yriel, Iyanden's greatest exile.
Kelmon had planned to offer an apology, to promise that Yriel's name would be restored if only he would return to defend his home in its desperate need. In the end, he had opportunity to say none of these things. Scarcely had Kelmon made contact when the floor heaved, and the Tyranids burst into the dome. A half-dozen Farseers were slain in the moment of the breach, either by the bio-electric bursts of Trygons or the waves of Termagants that followed in their wake. Kelmon felt the contact sever, cursed his ill luck, and called down eldritch fire upon his attackers.
The Outcast Returns
Many light years distant, Yrield experienced Kelmon's contact as a waking dream, filled with darkness and emotion. He glimpsed snatches of Tyranids rampaging through the ruined domes of his former home; he saw the shattered wraithbone spires, and he saw the ravaged bodies of the dead lying thick in the passageways. Yriel did not need to hear the words Kelmon had planned to speak, for he knew the truth. Iyanden was fighting for survival.
He had to return home -- but he would not do so alone. Yriel had not been idle in the fifty Terran years since leaving Iyanden. In that time, he had forged his followers into a pirate fleet known as the Eldritch Raiders. Operating out of many of Kallorax's old strongholds, Yriel had continued the war against Chaos. Along the way, he had clashed with the Imperium of Man many times.
Upon realising that they could not defeat Yriel in space-bound battle, the humans had instead attempted to foster rivalry between the Eldritch Raiders and two other pirate companies -- Xian's Black Raiders and the Scarlet Command. This quickly backfired when Yriel simply seized control of his rivals' fleets. Yriel convened a council of his fleet captains, and announced his intention to return to Iyanden. He warned them that he was almost certainly sailing into the jaws of death, and bade only the willing to follow him. Not one vessel elected to remain behind. Outcasts all, they were still Aeldari, and thus possessed a sense of duty that far eclipsed the petty honour codes of other races. They would fight.
Attack of the Eldritch Raiders
As the claws of the Kraken dug deep into Iyanden's defences, the flame of Iyanden's defiance was all but snuffed out until the corsair prince led his Raiders in a glorious return. Like the burning spear of Khaine, Yriel's forces tore through Hive Fleet Kraken's blockade and ripped the heart out of the attacking swarm. Then, without pause, they came about to strike at two more waves. Not a single Tyranid ship reached the Craftworld through that maelstrom of plasma, though the cost of the Raiders was dear. Nearly a hundred vessels had accompanied Yrield, and scarcely a third of them remained by the time the second wave of Tyranids was naught but ichor-flecked debris. Bloodied but unswerving, the Raiders prepared to sell their lives to the last in order to turn back the next wave of Tyranids. Vigilant eyes watched the scanners, waiting for the first tell-tale blip that would indicate the onset of the next assault -- an assault that did not come. They space-borne threat had been defeated.
The space battle had been won, but under Iyanden's skies, the battle for the Craftworld's soul still raged. The Tyranid hordes now turned and hurled themselves at the Aeldari with renewed ferocity. This unexpected assault shattered the Fortress of the Red Moon and sent its defenders reeling. No longer was there a concerted defence of Iyanden, just a series of doomed pockets of resistance, fighting to survive. Iyanna Arienal gathered what ghost warriors she could and formed a breakwater of the dead that she hoped would buy time for the living to counter-attack. Wraithcannons and D-Sythes blazed darkly amongst the ruins as reborn ancestors perished anew to save what descendants they could. They did not hold for long. This attack was led by a Hive Tyrant larger than any the Aeldari had yet faced. Neither shuriken nor blade could pierce the creature's hide, and every sweep of his claws reduced a ghost warrior to ruin.
In an act of loyalty that restored Yriel as a hero, the Raider Prince and his people disembarked form their sleek ships to reinforce the wavering ground troops. Yriel himself led the charge, and not one of the Hive Mind's abominations could stand before him, for he had taken up the Spear of Twilight from its resting place in the Shrine of Ulthanash. This was a cursed weapon of legend, likely to prove as fatal to the wielder as to his enemies, but the hour was too late for Yriel to heed any personal danger. The Hive Tyrant thundered to meet the Aeldari prince, but the creature's savage strength and ferocity proved no match for the awesome energies of the Spear of Twilight. With one fluid motion, Yriel thrust the weapon into the monster's gaping maw and out through the back of its chitinous skull. It was as perfect a blow as any that had ever been struck. With a howling scream, the Tyrant collapsed and died at Yriel's feet. The last echoes of the monster's death shriek signalled the defeat of the alien horde. With their synaptic conduit severed, the remaining Tyranids ceased to attack as a united wave and reverted to instinct. In that heartbeat, the hunters at last became the hunted, as those Aeldari who had yet the strength to stand surged forwards to claim vengeance for the dead. Iyanden had been saved.
The Price of Victory
"We may have won the battle, but our ancestors have lost their souls."
- — Prince Yriel
The victory on Iyanden was a hollow one indeed, for though the Craftworld's defenders had repulsed the invaders, there were barely any left alive to witness the victory. Iyanden stood in ruins, a crumbling remnant of its former glory. Four-fifths of the population lay dead or dying in the battle-scarred halls -- a terrible blow to the declining Aeldari race.
Amongst the dead lay Kelmon Farsight, surrounded by the bodies of a dozen Tyranids rent by psychic fire. Iyanden's graceful and majestic fleet had been reduced to a pitiful shadow of its once mighty statue, the blasted remains orbiting in deathly silence around the shattered worldship. The Craftworld's once-beautiful landscape was covered in the blackened corpses of Tyranids. The eldritch architecture was devastated; slender wraithbone towers and magnificent crystal domes lay broken and shattered. Worse still, the very souls contained in those spirit stones that had been destroyed by the Tyranids were lost forever.
Yet even in the darkness, some hope remained. Silvereye assumed Kelmon's place at the head of the council and begged Yriel to stay. Iyanden needed all of its sons and daughters if it were to survive. Yriel did not answer at first. He could feel the baleful energies of the Spear of Twilight coursing through him and knew that he had changed his destiny forever by taking up the blade. Yet Yriel knew also that he could not abandon Iyanden a second time. Thus did the Scion of the Hosue of Ulthanash at last come home.
A Craftworld Divided
"It is our duty to rekindle the fire of hope in our people, not to quarrel with one another about who breathes life into the flame."
- — Farseer Taec Silvereye
The Kraken's onslaught had not only disrupted the balance between life and death, it had also destroyed Iyanden's unity, and those Aeldari that remained, living and dead, polarised into two factions. One group, in which Yriel was the loudest voice, wished to continue the war against Chaos. They no longer believed that the Craftworld's might was sufficient to achieve lasting victory, but would not despair.
The other group believed that Iyanden could rise from the ashes like the phoenix of myth, and that the Craftworld's forces should not be frittered away on a fatalistic crusade. This second faction was far smaller, at least at first, but many influential individuals, including the Spiritseer Iyanna Arienal, swelled its ranks.
It fell to Taec Silvereye, as head of Iyanden's council, to keep the peace between these two factions. Yriel was given whatever forces could be spared in order to prosecute campaigns, but not to the point that Iyanden was left unprotected or that Iyanna Arienal could not pursue her goals of returning the Craftworld to greatness. Thus did Taec Sivereye keep death and life in balance. It was a solution that pleased neither faction, but it held Iyanden together.
The Prince and the Seer
The fight against Chaos now consumed Yriel's whole life, interrupted only when other foes drew near enough to threaten Iyanden. Time and again, Yriel led the armies and fleets of the Craftworld against forces that greatly outnumbered those of Iyanden. In another Autarch, this would perhaps have led to disaster, but Yriel's reckless days were behind him, and he never over-reached himself. To his supporters, Yriel was a hero, a hand of Khaine that reached out to slaughter the Craftworld's enemies. To his detractors, he was the greatest danger Iyanden faced. Rumours told that the prince neither slept nor ate, that the Spear of Twilight now sustained his life even as it slowly stole it away. They spoke of how Yriel could feel the hand of death upon his shoulder, and that this constant reminder drove him to seek a lasting legacy for his people before death claimed him.
Iyanna Arienal and her followers were no less active than Yriel. They had thrown their hopes into an ancient prophecy; that of the Pheonix Arisen, which told of the Eldar race reborn anew. At Iyanna's direction, they sought the Tears of Morai-Heg, gemstone fragments possessed of ancient magic that the Spiritseer said would see the rebirth accomplished . The Tears had been lost for thousands of years, and Iyanna's followers sought clues to their whereabouts more often than they did the gems themselves. The search brought the Eldar into contact with humans, Orks and other primitives. Some could be bartered with, on those few occasions where Iyanna was able to lower herself to deal with them as equals. Most of the time, however, only the threat of application of force saw the search fulfilled. Reclaiming the first Tear alone left a dozen worlds in ruin, and as many again were left fearful that the Eldar would return to slay those that had survived.
Slowly, the balance of power within Iyanden began to shift. Yriel's victories came at an ever-increasing price, and for little obvious benefit. Iyanna's, on the other hand, gave the people of Iyanden a sense of hope and of progress. Where each of Yriel's triumphs was but another costly victory in a war that had no perceivable end, ever Tear of Morai-Heg that Iyanna recovered was a step closer to fulfilling the prophecy. Within a few short years, Iyanna Arienal's faction had grown so influential that it now comletely overshadowed Yriel's. The Spiritseer could now count on the allegiance of almost all of the Craftworld's ghost warriors and a good portion of the living besides. Yet Taec Silvereye still kept his neutrality and thus maintained a (mostly) harmonious balance on the Craftworld.
Many dangers arose to confront Iyanden in this time; the Daemon horde of M'Kar the Reborn and the Necrons of the Sautekh Dynasty to name but two. Even an Imperial sector fleet, led by the ambitious but woefully overconfident High Commodore Rassoloth, chanced its arm against the Craftworld. All of these Yriel despatched with ease. Alas, each victory was blighted by tragedy, for ghost warrior spirit stones were destroyed in every battle, their souls cast into the Warp to be devoured by Slaanesh. Yet if the ghost warriors did not fight, the Craftworld would be destroyed, and the infinity circuit itself would die alongside. Thus was their sacrifice truly noble; better that a few walk knowingly into oblivion than all be consumed.
Only one threat in all this time came close to ending Iyanden: the forces of WAAAGH! Rekkfist. As the Craftworld broached the Antellas System, the runes warned Taec Silvereye that the planets in Iyanden's path were heavily infested with Orks -- any attempt to pass through would end in disaster. Nor was retreat an option; Iyanden's fleet had already engaged several Kill Kroozers, and there could be no doubt that the Orks knew of the craftworld's presence. The only hope remaining to the Eldar of Iyanden was for them to unleash a pre-emptive attack on Rekkfist's empire. It said much for the scale of the Ork threat that Yriel and Iyanna put aside their differences and agreed to work in concert; the needs of survival transcended the sanctity of ideology. Whilst Iyanna did not go so far as to put her supporters under Yriel's command, she had them offer the prince every assistance and ceased questioning his leadership in public. It seemed that the great threat presented by the Orks had brought the two halves of Iyanden's people together in a way that no peaceable endeavour could ever have achieved.
The Battle for Antellas Begins
Easily outmanoeuvring the Ork fleet, Yriel launched a series of daring attacks on the ramshackle shipyards and battle stations orbiting Antellas Prime. The planetary defences thus neutralised, Iyanna Arienal took her own forces down to the surface, not to fight a conventional war, but to throw the Orks into chaos. Most of those she took with were wraith-constructs, but she also led warriors who knew the skills of the silent stalker; Crimson Hunters, Warp Spiders, Striking Scorpions and Rangers. They struck the gloom-laden forest of Antellas Prime, wielding terror and shadow as weapons. Ork patrols were ambushed and eliminated, Warbosses despatched from afar by Ranger long rifles, or up close with the slash of power blade. Quickly, these attacks spread disquiet amongst the Orks. Refffist's lads loved a fight as much as any of their kind, but no Ork yet had seen an Eldar and lived to speak of it, and so rumours of a supernatural enemy quickly spread. Rekkfist himself didn't believe the hearsay, but he was also a pragmatist and so ordered that the forests be set alight. Over the next week, every Skorcha and Burna on Antellas was brought to bear, and soon, the ancient woodland was ablaze. Iyanna's forces now had no choice but to stand and fight.
Meanwhile, in the outer darkness of the Antellas System, Iyanden had troubles of its own. Yriel's hit and run attacks had crippled or destroyed many of the Ork starships, and those that remained were too distant to offer threat to either Iyandne or the Eldar forces of Antellas. Unfortunately, it was then that a massive craft emerged from the Warp almost directly on top of Iyanden. This was no mere kroozer, but a vast Space Hulk, a twisted conglomerate of ships, asteroids and wreckage melded together by its time in the immaterium, all repurposed to Orkoid design. At first, Taec Silvereye feared that Iyanden had been deliberately ambushed, but then quickly deemed that the Orks would have been unable to guide their monstrous vessel with sufficient precision. This was not a greenskin plan, just the most damnable ill fortune. Likely, the craft had intended to join with Rekkfist's forces, or was a much-belated arrival of the same WAAAGH! that had swept across Antellas. Between the inherent unpredictability of Ork behaviour and the unstable eddies of the Warp, it was little wonder that the runes had given no warning.
For a moment, both Craftworld and hulk were silently in mutual shock at the other's presence; then, as if at some prearranged signal, weapons batteries on both vessels lit up and missiles flared across the void. A heartbeat later, Yriel's fleet screamed back towards Iyanden. It had been the plan that he would lead his forces to Iyanna's aid once the Ork starships had been driven back, but the Ork hulk's arrival had changed everything. Ordinarily, even a space-going fortress like a hulk would have stood little chance against a Craftworld, but Iyanden was but a shadow of its former might. Fortunately, the prince had left fully half of his space-worthy vessels to screen the craftworld from any unseen threats. Unfortunately, such was the sheer brutish size of the Ork craft, and so crammed was it with redundancies and backup systems, that it absorbed the combined firepower of Iyanden and its escort fleet without so much as a shudder. Boarding torpedoes slammed home into Iyanden, spilling thousands of Orks into the Craftworld's domes. Taec Silvereye mustered the defence, directing the efforts of those ghost warriors that remained aboard the craftworld whilst the Spiritseers laboured to awaken others from the infinity circuit. It was not enough. The Orks were everywhere, and the overwhelming numbers swept aside what their brute force could not crush.
Meanwhile, on Antellas Prime, Iyanna Arienal had a surprise of her own to unleash upon WAAAGH! Rekkfist. As the Orks advanced through the ashen remains of the forest and charged home against her army, she sent a telepathic signal high into the mountains that summoned her Hemlock Wraithfighters to the fray. These sleek craft had been hidden since Iyanna had first made planetfall on Antellas Prime. She had intended to use them, and their soul-severing weapons, as the capstone to a carefully built strategy of terror, but now they came to rout Rekkfist's horde. Eighty Wraithfighters screamed low over the charging Orks, the whine of their distortion scythes easily audible over the greenskins' bellowing. Then, all at once, the bellowing stopped. Orks tumbled lifeless to the ground, their brutish souls cast into the hungry Warp. Battlewagons and Warbikes slowed to a halt, their crews slumped dead at the controls. Rokkits and flakk shells split the skies as the surviving Orks sought to bring down the sinister Eldar craft, but the damage had been done; Rekkfist's horde had been thrown into disorder by the Wraithfighter's attack, and Iyanna now threw her ground forces forwards to capitalise on the disarray. Bloodied but unbreaten, Rekkfist roared for reinforcements and, all across Antellas Prime, Mek tellyportas burst into life as they flooded fresh troops into the battle zone. As the Ork reinforcements began to arrive, Iyanna looked upon the forces now arrayed against her and knew that she could not prevail. Where was Yriel, she wondered, silently cursing the prince for his abandonment of her war host.
In space, Yriel's fleet had at last joined the battle for Iyanden. The prince was briefly tempted to have his warriors disembark and fight aboard the Craftworld as they had against Hive Fleet Kraken, but quickly discarded the idea. The Ork hull was pounding Iyanden's outer hull with kannon shells and rokkits even as it launched more boarding torpedoes at the Craftworld. There could be no victory until it was destroyed. Detailing half his ships to intercept and destroy the boarding torpedoes, Yriel led the rest in low-level flight across the hulk's surface, blasting apart the stanchions that bound together the ruined starships and captive asteroids that formed its hull. After a dozen such flights, the hulk began to break up, jumbled wreckage spinning lazily into space from the force of the explosions. Thousands of greenskin bodies vented into space as the hulk's structure finally lost integrity. With a grim smile, Yriel turned his fleet back towards Iyanden.
Despite the efforts of the fleet, countless boarding torpedoes had breached Iyanden, and the Orks had spread far and wide throughout the Craftworld. The greenskins avoided the ghost halls, for the clamouring of spirit voices made them uneasy, but they wrought much damage elsewhere. Taec Silvereye had fallen back before the horde, trading distance for time in which other ghost warriors could be awoken and marshalled to the fight, but at last, he had run out of places to retreat to. Then, as the Farseer prepared for what he knew would be the final assault, salvation came from a most unlikely source. Without warning, Iyanden's webway portal flared and a new and sinister force burst onto the Craftworld. These were warriors of the Wraithkind Kabal and the Cult of the Flayed Hand -- the Dark Eldar of cruel Commorragh had come to their cousins' aid. Like a wind of blades they swept through the passageways and halls of Iyanden, leaving only mutilated greenskin corpses in their wake. Seeing the Orks falter, though not knowing the cause, Taec Silvereye urged his own forces forwards. By the time Yriel arrived, not an Ork remained alive within Iyanden's halls.
Moments later, Yriel's fleet was on the move again, this time carrying reinforcement to Antellas Prime where Iyanna Arienal was still embattled. To everyone's surprise, the Dark Eldar Archons offered their aid once more, explaining that they found great amusement in Iyanden's necromantic dabbling and would be delighted to bear further witness. Disgusted, but unable to refuse any aid, Yriel agreed to allow the dark kin aboard his vessels.
Yriel arrived at Antellas Prime to discover a chaotic and fragmented war underway. Had Rekkfist been able to muster their warbands into a single mass, Iyanna's forces would surely have been overwhelmed. As it was, the Ork tellyportas had spat Rekkfist's reinforcements out all across the northern continent. They had converged, but slowly, and the Eldar had taken advantage of the opportunity to isolate and destroy scattered warbands. Iyanna's warriors were faster and far more manoeuvrable than the Orks, but the Eldar had another advantage too; the ghost warriors were tireless and could continue the fight long after their flesh and blood kin grew weary. Nonetheless, the Eldar knew that this was a fight that they could not win without aid from the rest of the craftworld. Thus, there were none in Iyanna's host that did not rejoice when Yriel's fleet moved into orbit overhead.
The swift Raiders of the Dark Eldar were the first into the fray, the crews laughing wildly as their Splinter Rifles took a bloody toll of the greenskins. Lithe Wyches sprang from the decks of their hurtling craft, eager to practice their cruel pursuits. Next came Ravagers, their Dark Lances reducing Trukks and tanks to smouldering ruins. Then, finally, the first of Yriel's Vampire Raiders set down alongside Iyanna Arieanl's position, disgorging Guardians, Aspect Warriors and Wraithguard into the thick of the fight. At their head came Yriel himself, the Spear of Twilight glimmering evilly in his hands. No words did Yriel have for Iyana Arienal, nor she for him; whatever differences lay between them, they now faced a common enemy who would pay dearly for the harms inflicted upon their Craftworld.
And so it was. Though the fighting lasted for the better part of three days, when it was done, the power of WAAAGH! Rekkfist had been broken forever. Rekkfist was dead, slain by Yriel's hand when the prince had led a reckless charge into the heart of the green tide. Yriel would have died there too, crushed beneath a Stompa's gigantic foot, if Iyanna Arienal had not possessed the foresight to instruct two Wraithknights to ensure the admiral's safety. Rivals they may have been, but the Spiritseer knew an Iyanden without Yriel would not survive for long. As it was, the Wraithknights' heavy wraithcannons brought the Stompa to a halt, smoke billowing from its amrour, and Yriel lived to fight another day.
Rekkfist's lieutenant, Snakra, tried to rescue the battle, throwing whole squadrons of Dakkajets into the fight. The air was full of mechanical growls as heavy-calibre shoots opened up on the Eldar positions. Without a word, the Wraithguard formed an impenetrable wall of bodies around the living and, through their mighty frames fractured and shattered beneath supa shoota shells, their sacrifice ensured that the living were spared. A moment later, a sonic boom echoed across the vally; Dakkajet wreckage span out of the skies as Razorwings blasted the Ork fighters to scrap. In the end, and after much toil, the Eldar commanded a battlefield thick with mangled dead. Not all of the Orks had been slain, Some had fled into the hills, perhaps to one day reclaim Antellas. Yriel and Iyanna cared not -- the threat to Iyanden had been vanquished. Nor did they trouble themselves with the hundreds of caged greenskins that the Dark Eldar had taken back into the webway as "payment for services rendered." Those savages had challenged the supremacy of the Eldar, and they would pay a steep price in the shadowy realm of Commorragh.
A Brief Respite
With the Orks of WAAAGH! Rekkfist defeated, the Eldar of Iyanden at last experienced a few brief years of relative peace. There were still wars and battles to be fought, of course, for the galaxy was ever a cruel home, and Yriel's spear seldom found itself resting idle.
But these, at least, were not conflicts fought for Iyanden's very survival; never since that time have alien feet tread uninvited through the Craftworld's hallowed halls. This period of relative calm allowed the Bonesingers to affect a great many repairs; as the millennium drew to a close, their constant labours had seen a substantial part of the Craftworld restored to glory. Given another thousand Terran years, or so the Bonesingers said, Iyanden would perhaps be made whole.
Though it all, Iyanna Arienal continued her search to fulfill the prophecy of the Phoenix Arisen. Fully half the Tears of Morai-Heg had now been discovered, or so she said, although shared no details of her final goal with even her closest supporters. On those rare times she could be found aboard the Craftworld, Iyanna could invariably be found communing with Olari Dreamshaper, one of the oldest of Iyanden's Bonesingers. It was rumoured that they talk only of the Craftworld's infinity circuit, though one knew the reason behind it.
The Kraken's Legacy
A desperate decision from the past now came back to haunt Iyanden. In the aftermath of the battle with Hive Fleet Kraken, the Craftworld's Farseers had created an artificial Warp Storm to block the Tyranid pursuit. Hundreds of bio-ships had plunged into that otherwordly tempest, and the Eldar assumed they had all been destroyed, or at least banished to where they could wreak no immediate harm.
Alas, this was not the case. Forewarned by the prophecies of Taec Silvereye, the Eldar of Iyanden learned that the fickle eddies of the Warp had cast the Kraken's tendril back into realspace. Worse, the bio-ships had reappeared near Dûriel -- a world known to the Imperium as Valedor -- directly in the path of Hive Fleet Leviathan. The two fleets could not be permitted to combine, lest an unstoppable potent strain of Tyranids emerge to threaten Iyanden again. The Tyranids had to be stopped, and they had to be stopped at Dûriel.
Iyanden knew its forces were too distant to reach Dûriel in time, and too few to guarantee victory, but it would not need to stand alone. Biel-Tan soon pledged its aid, and even the dark kin of Commorragh agreed to join the fight. Indeed, it was the Dark Eldar who provided the solution -- a psychically triggered device that could spark the planet's molten core into a cataclysmic fury, destroying Dûriel and every Tyranid upon it. This device was known as the Fireheart, but it could not be detonated remotely -- Dûriel could be destroyed, but it would require the seers who actived the Fireheart to perish along with it.
The Red Death of Dûriel
In 778.999.M41, Dûriel had become a crucible of war as the Eldar fought to prevent the melding of Hive Fleets Kraken and Leviathan. The Swordwind of Biel-Tan arrived first to Dûriel, and thus bore the burden of the initial fighting, but Iyanden's forces soon found that their own battles began before they even reached their destination. The unthinkable had happened -- the Tyranids had breached the Webway.
As Iyanden's vanguard confirmed that the Dûriel Webway gate had been compromised, Taec Silvereye ordered the Craftworld's Ghost Warriors to lead the counterattack. A wall of implacable wraithbone forms blocked the glowing Webway tunnels, a barrier that only the mightiest bio-abominations could breach.
Suncannons and D-Scythes flared, and the Tyranid infestation stalled. Then, Iyanden's Avatar, reborn in rage and fire, entered the battle. As the molten giant plunged into the Tyranid lines, the glory of Khaine swept over the Guardians and ghost warriors that came in his wake. Those Tyranids that were not hacked down or torn apart by shuriken were trampled underfoot as the Eldar of Iyanden forced their way through the webway portal and onto Dûriel's embattled surface.
They arrived to find the final battle for Dûriel well underway atop the mountain known as the Godpeak. As the Farseers of Biel-Tan bent the Fireheart to their will, the combined Eldar and Dark Eldar hosts fought to keep the Tyranid swarms at bay. The air reverberated with alien roars and the hissing of shuriken fire. Time and again, the Tyranids hurled themselves at the Eldar positions, the ruthless will of the Hive Mind ever probing for a weakness to exploit. It did not find one.
The Eldar fought at the last as the planet came apart beneath them. Taec Silvereye perished there, guiding the Wraithguard of House Illumenwë as they held back the doomed Tyranid swarms long enough for the remaining Eldar to escape. In the skies above, Yriel led the Iyanden fleet against the bio-ships of Hive Fleet Kraken, harnessing his hard-won experience to destroy every last obscene vessel.
Even then, at the last, it seemed as if the Hive Mind might win its prize, that the precious bio-information encoded in the Kraken swarms might be reclaimed by Hive Fleet Leviathan, but a last minute strike by Dark Eldar fighter-craft delayed the reabsorption long enough for the Fireheart to complete its cataclysmic purpose. Though many lives had been spent, the union of the hive fleets had been denied. Iyanden was safe again.
The End Times Approach
Though Iyanden had lost comparatively few of its warriors during the defeat of the twin hive fleets, those losses it had suffered were hard to bear. Many of its Farseers had perished during the pivotal battle at the Godpeak, Taec Silvereye amongst them, and the absence of their wisdom would hurt the Craftworld greatly in the future. Many thought also that Iyanna Airenal had been slain. She had been ever at Taec Silvereye's side during that battle, and most had assumed that the Farseer's fate had been hers also.
Yet this fear, at least, was unfounded, for Iyanna was soon discovered amongst the wounded. She had tried to remain at Taec's side, she insisted, but the Farseer had ordered her to leave and continue her work. As for Yriel, he was weary to his bones. He sensed that Dûriel had been his last battle and that the Spear of Twilight had burnt away all but the last of his soul. For nearly ten years, he had fought the enemies of his craftworld without rest and without companionship -- whatever hope he had remaining was not for his own fate, but for that of his kin.
In the depths of night, Yriel returned to the Shrine of Ulthanash, whence he had taken the Spear of Twilight those long years ago. He said no farewells and spoke not of his purpose. No one marked his passage. The prince soon stood within the shrine, before the very reliquary where the Spear of Twilight had once lain. He bowed his head, intending to return the weapon to its rightful repose, even though the act would claim his life. With one last whispered prayer to Asuryan, he began to lower the Spear of Twilight into its cradle, only to stop when the felt a hand upon his. Yriel looked up and beheld the smooth, dark mask of the Shadowseer Sylandri Veilwalker, who he had not seen since he had first taken up the spear.
The Shadowseer told the prince that his labours were not yet done; that night was descending upon the galaxy, but that a chance of an Aeldari Empire restored waited in the dawn. As Yriel listened, the walls of the shrine flickered with vibrant images of worlds afire, of daemons loose among the stars and of the Aeldari Gods reborn to glory.
Yriel felt his soul grown strong again, though whether it was the Shadowseer's words, her touch or the images he saw that wrought this change, he did not know. Yriel drew the Spear of Twilight to his side once more and stood tall -- taller, indeed, than he had in many years. In that moment, he saw that he had many more battles to fight -- it was not yet time for his soul to know peace. Veilwalker's illusions faded away, and she beckoned Yriel after her into the shadows of the shrine. Tightening his grip on the Spear of Twilight, Yriel followed. It was a long time before he was seen in that part of the galaxy again. Meanwhile, the story of Iyanden Craftworld continues on, but to what destination, not even the gods can say.
Death and Rebirth
In the closing days of the 41st Millennium during the 13th Black Crusade, Iyanden was again invaded. This time, Space Hulks carrying the daemonic legions of the Daemon Prince Gara'gugul'gor threatened the Craftworld in the name of the Plague Lord Nurgle. Iyanden was only saved thanks to the efforts of Yriel and the newly arrived Ynnari, the Aeldari of all factions who served the slowly awakening Aeldari God of the Dead, Ynnead.
In the final stages of the battle Yriel used the Spear of Twilight to destroy Gara'gugul'gor and his Space Hulk at the cost of his own life. However shortly after his corpse was recovered brought to Iyanden. Yriel was resurrected by Yvraine, the leader of the Ynnari and chosen prophet of Ynnead who revealed that the Spear of Twilight was actually one of the five legendary Crone Swords, five ancient Aeldari artefacts lost for millennia.
Guided by the hand of Ynnead, Yvraine transformed the "Spear" into its true form as a sword and plunged its blade into Yriel's body. As Ynnead's power flowed through the sword, Yriel was resurrected, ready to lead the Aeldari forward into a new and hopeful future.
- Eye of Wrath - A monocular device worn over Yriel's left eye that can unleash a tempest of lightning upon those under his gaze.
- Heavy Aspect Armour - Incorporating thick armoured plates but retaining much of the vaunted Aeldari flexibility, Heavy Aspect Armour is amongst the finest forms of personal protection in the galaxy.
- Forceshield - A Forceshield is a wrist-mounted device that contains a powerful gravitic projector that can deflect almost any ranged or melee attack. The force field projector's small size sets it apart from the more clunky and restrictive armour used by other races.
- Plasma Grenades - Aeldari Plasma Grenades use a small amount of exploding plasma that is deliberately released from an electromagentic containment field held within the grenade's core to blind the enemy and prevent them from properly using their terrain to defend their position against advancing enemy forces.
- Spear of Twilight - Eternally bound to this Cursed Blade of the House of Ulthanesh, this weapon is said to contain the baleful energies of a dying sun, a literal supernova of power. Yriel constantly battles with the sentient energies of the Spear of Twilight to prevent them from consuming him, his Forceshield allaying the worst of the weapon's effects. However, the day will come when he no longer possesses the willpower to master the Spear, and on that day he will be consumed by the weapon's raging internal fires. However, the "Spear" was recently revealed to be one of the Crone Swords intended to awaken the Aeldari God of the Dead Ynnead. It was used by Ynnead's prophet, Yvraine, to resurrect Yriel after he was slain defeating the forces of the Nurglite Daemon Prince Gara'gugul'gor.
Yriel first appeared in the Warhammer 40,000 universe as the "self-styled 'Lord Prince Yriel,'" where it is mentioned that Imperium-fostered rivalries between Yriel and other pirate bands resulted in factional fighting; his conquest and absorption of two of these rival groups (Xian's Black Raiders and the Scarlet Command) transformed him into the single most powerful Aeldari pirate operating in the galaxy.
- Battlefleet Gothic 2010 Compendium, "Doom of the Eldar -Yriel's Raiders, and the Warfleets of the Craftworld Eldar," pp. 124-145
- Battlefleet Gothic Resources, "Yriel's Raiders" by Matt Keefe
- Codex: Eldar (6th Edition), pp. 54, 65-66
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pp. 29, 52-53
- Codex: Tyranids (6th Edition) (Ebook), pp. 33-34, 39-43
- Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), pp. 16-17, 24-25
- Craftworld Iyanden - A Codex: Eldar Supplement (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 13-16, 18, 20-23, 25, 31-32, 34-35, 37, 39-40, 42-44, 48, 55, 99
- Gathering Storm - Part Two - Fracture of Biel-Tan (7th Edition), pp. 70-76
- Warhammer 40,000: Chapter Approved - The Book of the Astronomican, pg. 43
- Warhammer 40,000: Planetsrike (3rd Edition), pg. 56
- White Dwarf 164 (UK), "Doom of the Eldar," by Jervis Johnson, pp. 27-32
- Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 126
- Games Workshop Online Catalogue - Iyanden: A Codex Eldar Supplement
- Valedor (Ebook) by Guy Haley (Cover)