"Honestly! Being spooked by a few unknown xenos skulking around near the dig site! That hill is hundreds of metres away, and at that range, a few infantry can hardly pose a threat to -"
- — Final words of Alek Lir, Excavator Engine Driver
The Shadow Spectres are a recently re-discovered group of Eldar Aspect Warriors who specialise in the deployment of highly-mobile, infantry-based anti-armour firepower who are experts at striking at enemy vehicles from concealment and extreme long-range. Armed with Prism Rifles, each a potent anti-tank weapon, and equipped with Jetpacks, their mobility allows them to hunt down their chosen targets with the implacable patience of the dead, materialising seemingly from the very air to unleash their overwhelming firepower. The Shadow Spectres represent the Eldar God of War Kaela Mensha Khaine in his aspect as the Eternal Warrior, for whom death is no release from duty. It is therefore appropriate that the Shadow Spectres Aspect Shrine has historically been associated with the Wraithguard. Traditionally, Eldar who lose their lives in service to the Shadow Spectres Shrine have their Spirit Stone transferred to a Wraithbone combat walker body; in turn, the Wraithguard have acted as the guardians of the Shadow Spectre Shrine for many Terran millennia.
Shadow Spectres are equipped and armed with Jetpacks, Holofield emitters, and Prism Rifles, which are infantry versions of the massive Prism Cannons deployed on Eldar Fire Prism grav-tanks. These weapons release highly focused blasts of laser energy that can vaporise the armour of even the heaviest vehicles. The Shadow Spectres use their Jetpacks to remain highly mobile across the battle space and to find the most advantageous terrain from which to strike against enemy armoured vehicles. Additionally, Shadow Spectre Aspect Warriors are capable of combining the power of their Prism Rifles using a sophisticated targeting matrix known as the Ghostlight. The Ghostlight combines each individual shot from a squad of Shadow Spectres into a single searing blast of energy with a greatly magnified range that allows the Aspect Warriors to destroy an enemy's armoured support from an unseen location far across the battlefield. Instead of firing their Prism Rifles (or the Exarch's Prism Lance) individually the squad may take a single Ghostlight shot of greatly enhanced power which is particularly useful when used against the most powerful armoured targets like Space Marine Land Raiders.
In the Eldar mythic cycles, Asuryan, the Phoenix King, is the chief and greatest of all the Eldar Gods and the king of the Eldar pantheon. Asurmen, also known as the Hand of Asuryan, was the penultimate warrior of all the Eldar, for his extraordinary powers placed him at the Pinnacle of Might. Prior to the Fall of the Eldar, Asurmen was the Eldar who led the Craftworlds away from the ancient Eldar homeworlds of their now lost interstellar empire and it was he who founded the first of the Aspect Warrior Shrines, the Shrine of Asur, upon a barren world of the same name his people initially settled. Asurmen found that he could not give up the Path of the Warrior to follow a different Eldar Path, for he desired to use his skills to protect what remained of his species after the birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh, "She Who Thirsts." From the Shrine of Asur sprang the first Aspect Warriors, and the Path of the Warrior was opened for the very first time to all Eldar. Asurmen then travelled amongst more of the different Craftworlds than any other member of his race, teaching those Eldar who wanted to learn the Dire Avengers' suite of combat skills. Those Eldar learned at the feet of their master, and in turn they assumed the mantle of Exarchs before spreading throughout the galaxy. The first Exarchs, the Asurya, the children of Asurmen, were the greatest of his students and went on to become the Phoenix Lords of the other Aspect Shrines, the first masters of the other specialised Eldar combat disciplines. It was then that the different Warrior Aspects were formalised within the culture of the Eldar Craftworlds, taking as their model the skills and teachings of their founders.
Irillyth was once one of these disciples of Asurmen, and became the founder of the Shrine of the Shadow Spectres Aspect on the Mymeara Craftworld. The Eldar mythic cycles speak of a time when, during his training under Asurmen, Irillyth was gifted with a terrible vision. In it he saw the destruction of the Mymearan Craftworld at the hands of an intelligent alien race that was, even then, still in its infancy. Still reeling from the near-destruction of the Eldar race during the Fall, Irillyth vowed not to allow any more of his kind to be wiped out, and he set out to find the threatened Craftworld and prepare it for the battles that lay ahead of them. Searching the pathways of the Webway for decades for his lost brethren, he imparted his skills to other Craftworlds as he travelled, but the location of Mymeara continued to remain elusive. During this time, the legends of the Phoenix Lords also tell of the many great battles Irillyth fought against the creatures of Slaanesh that had infiltrated the great Eldar Labyrinthine Dimension.
Whilst exploring a particular region of the Webway that he had never come across before in his travels, Irillyth was confronted by a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh who had broken through from the Warp and had set about opening up sealed portals for its brethren to flood through into the Webway. Irillyth battled the Greater Daemon even as its infernal followers poured through the breach, searing away yet more of the protective Eldar runes from the bindings on the portals. It is unknown how long this battle lasted, but eventually Irillyth proved to be victorious and cast the terrible creature and its fell minions back from whence they came. The legends go on to tell that, exhausted by his titanic struggle, the Phoenix Lord fell into a long sleep, during which he was to be gifted with the knowledge of Mymeara's location.
Once he awoke, Irillyth found the portal that led to Mymeara and set about training its warriors in his ways of war, namely stealth, swiftness and all-consuming firepower. Eventually the day came when the Phoenix Lord spoke to Mymeara's Council of Seers to reveal his true purpose for coming to their Craftworld. He spoke of his original vision and of the terrible fate that awaited the people of Mymeara, but he provided the frightened Eldar the hope of preventing such a terrible outcome if he launched a preemptive assault upon their enemy before they became unstoppable.
The Mymearan Council of Seers bowed to the Phoenix Lord's wisdom, allowing Irillyth to take with him a great war host composed of nearly half of the Craftworld's warriors. With a heavy heart, Irillyth left that day using the very same Webway portal he had arrived from, for since he had reached Mymeara his vision of the Craftworld's future had altered. He knew now that Mymeara would survive with his help, but at the cost of his own life and the lives of all those who came with him on his quest to find Mymeara's nemesis. What lay beyond the point of his own death was unknown, but Irillyth feared that to lose so many of their own would still bring about Mymeara's eventual demise.
Those left behind on the Craftworld waited for word of the Phoenix Lord and their war host's victory, but none came. After many Terran decades had passed, the Mymearans had to accept that their brethren had undoubtedly been killed and that the Phoenix Lord had fallen. In truth, Irillyth had succeeded in destroying the threat to the Craftworld, but had been struck down during the fierce fighting on that reptilian enemy race's homeworld, a place known in Eldar legend as Bethalmae, or later to the Imperium of Man as the Mining World of Betalis III. There, the Phoenix Lord remained unrecovered, the cave where his body and precious war panoply lay was slowly covered beneath centuries of glacially-deposited rocks as the planet's global Ice Age advanced. But the Phoenix Lord was not truly dead, for like all Phoenix Lords, Irillyth was immortal. He was no single warrior, but a psychic gestalt collective of those individual Exarchs that had become him over the centuries, their souls held within the Spirit Stones that adorned his armour and wargear. And so, Irillyth remained trapped within the cave, his spirit awaiting the day he would be rediscovered and the Shade of Twilight could be reborn to serve the Eldar race once more.
With the loss of the Phoenix Lord, Irillyth's disciples and Shadow Spectre Aspect Shrines began to wane on other Craftworlds, as one-by-one their shrines' Exarchs died in battle. Soon the Shadow Spectre Aspect Shrines were deserted, becoming dark, haunted places in the Craftworlds shunned by most Eldar. To them it was just another part of their culture lost in the continuing downfall of their race. Eventually, the Shadow Spectres Aspect became extinct on all of the known Craftworlds or so it was thought by the Eldar, who did not know that a small number of Shadow Spectres had remained active on long-hidden Mymeara. The discovery of the location of Bethalmae in the late 41st Millennium, known to the Imperium as Betalis III, meant that Irillyth's armour could finally be recovered. Bel-Annath, a Farseer of the Mymeara Craftworld, led a mission to re-animate the spirit host of the Phoenix Lord, and succeeded. The Eldars' reward at the Battle of Dawning Twilight, as the Betalis III Campaign is known to them, was the restoration of Irillyth, the Phoenix Lord of the Shadow Spectres, who was reborn into the service of his people, his destiny having come full circle.
The Shadow Spectres are masters of striking at an enemy's heavy armour forces from the unseen, using their Jetpacks, Prism Rifles, Prism Blasters and the Ghostlight targetting matrix to destroy armoured vehicles from far across the battlefield where retaliation is almost impossible because the Shadow Spectres will be long gone before the enemy can return fire to their location. The Shadow Spectres' use of shimmering Holo-fields also makes it very difficult for enemy targetting sensors to get a lock on them even if they can be visually located. Shadow Spectres normally operate in squads of 3-5 Aspect Warriors, not including their Exarch. When the Ghostlight is used to combine a Shadow Spectre squad's fire into a single, long-range anti-armour strike, it is the Shadow Spectre Exarch who makes the determination of target and initiates the attack.
Shadow Spectres Exarchs
An Eldar Exarch is the leader of an Aspect Shrine. An Exarch has travelled so far down the Path of the Warrior that he or she can no longer leave it and so dedicates him or herself fully as a high priest of Khaine in service to the Aspect of the War God that he or she represents. Exarchs wear more elaborate and ornate versions of Aspect Armour which incorporates the spirits of their past wearers, granting an Exarch not only wisdom and knowledge stretching across the millennia but a raw pool of potent psychic energy that can be used in combat.
In addition to a Jetpack and Holo-field emitter, Shadow Spectre Exarchs are also outfitted with the more advanced Exarch Armour for their Aspect and a weapon known as a Prism Blaster, which is similar to a Prism Rifle but with a longer barrel that further focuses and refines the weapon's beam to provide even greater range with a more powerful beam, and a Haywire Launcher, which fires a potent anti-vehicle warhead similar to the Haywire Grenades used by the Dark Eldar. This warhead detonates with a small explosion that unleashes a powerful electro-magnetic pulse that overloads Cogitator (computer) systems and blinds Autosenses, disabling them. The Exarch can also enhance the abilities of his squad of Shadow Spectres by calibrating the Ghostlight so that the squad can fire more accurately when the device's matrix is used. Exarchs are highly experienced warriors who are capable of judging the best opportunities for the squad to withdraw, regroup, and take up a new firing position that will enhance their combat effectiveness against enemy armour.
The long-lost Phoenix Lord of the Shadow Spectres is Irillyth, the "Shade of Twilight," whose origins lay with the comparatively minor Craftworld of Mymeara. A former disciple of Asurmen, the first of the Eldar Phoenix Lords, Irillyth was the founder of the Aspect Shrine of the Shadow Spectre. During his training under Asurmen, Irillyth was gifted with a terrible psychic vision of the future. In it he saw the destruction of Craftworld Mymeara at the hands of an unknown alien race. Still reeling from the near-destruction of his race during the Fall of the Eldar in the 30th Millennium, Irillyth vowed not to allow any more of his kin to be wiped out and he set out to find Mymeara and prepare it for the battle that lay ahead. Thus was a new Warrior Aspect born. Irillyth eventually disappeared and was thought lost to the Eldar race. Millennia passed, and the Phoenix Lord's sacred Aspect Armour remained unrecovered, waiting to be rediscovered so the Shade of Twilight could be reborn within a new form found within the body of one of his Exarchs. Over the millennia after Irillyth's disappearance, the Shadow Spectre Aspect Shrines were soon deserted, one by one on every Craftworld, until eventually the Shadow Spectres Aspect became extinct amongst the Eldar. Or so it was thought. With the discovery of Betalis III (known to the Eldar as Bethalmae) by the Imperium of Man, a mission to find and recover Irillyth's Aspect Armour and the spirit of the Phoenix Lord was led by Bel-Annath, a Farseer of the Mymeara Craftworld. He successfully reanimated the spirit host of the lost Phoenix Lord, and the Shade of Twilight was reborn to serve his race once more and to revitalise the Shadow Spectres Aspect on all of the Craftworlds. In addition to his Phoenix Lord Armour, which is an even more finely-crafted of Shadow Spectre Exarch Armour, Irillyth wields a unique, master-crafted Prism Rifle with an integrated Power Glaive known as the Spear of Starlight. The Phoenix Lord's expertise with this weapon allows him to use it equally effectively at extreme range or in close-combat, as well as on the move. The Spear of Starlight is able to be used in conjunction with a Shadow Spectres squad's Ghostlight.
Shadow Spectre Wargear
- Aspect Armour - Like all Eldar Aspect Warriors, the Shadow Spectres are defined by their armour and wargear, which is unique to each Aspect Shrine and worn, unchanged, by many successive generations of the Aspect Warriors belonging to that shrine. The helmet is regarded as the most significant part of an Aspect Warrior's armour, for once the mask is donned, the Eldar within will hide himself beneath what the Eldar refer to as the "war mask." Essentially, the individual's consciousness is subsumed into the gestalt warrior spirit of the Aspect. Also incorporated within the armour's breastplate is the Eldar warrior's Spirit Stone. As the Eldar possess a highly developed appreciation of beauty they will oft times incorporate other gems simply for aesthetic decoration.
- Apperceptive Hood - The Shadow Spectres' Aspect Armour incorporates a large armoured hood, the exact function of which remains unclear, although from initial reports it is assumed that it collects and disseminates sensor information. It is also theorised that it may contain thought-activated communications systems, targeting data relayed from the Aspect Warrior's primary weapon and the controls for the Aspect Warrior's holo-field generator. It has been further theorised by Imperial Intelligence that the Apperceptive Hood may also possess a unique function which provides the Aspect Warrior with an enhanced proprioception: the warrior's self-awareness of his bodily position in relationship to itself. Sensory information collected by the helmet is fed directly into the warrior's cerebellum, the area of the brain responsible for coordinating unconscious movements, which allows the Shadow Spectre to swiftly move and react without conscious effort. Such enhancement would allow for very rapid and intuitive control over the armour's Jetpack.
- Prism Rifle - Rarely encountered by the Imperium before the campaign on Betalis III, the ritual weapon of the Shadow Spectre Warrior Aspect is the Prism Rifle. This weapon relies upon the same Eldar weapons technology as that found in the far larger Prism Cannon, a vehicle-mounted anti-tank weapon carried by the Fire Prism gravity tank. Prism Weapons are considered a marvel of design even by the sophisticated technological standards of the Eldar.
- Jetpack - The Shadow Spectres make use of a Jetpack which is integral to these Aspect Warriors' armour. The Eldar's ancient mastery of anti-gravity technology resulted in the creation of this highly advanced flight system. The Eldar's personal flight pack incorporates sophisticated stabilisation and self-correcting controls, allowing the Eldar warrior within to adjust altitude and velocity with his subconscious thoughts via a cybernetic mind-link. The delicacy of such control allows for speed, reactivity and maneuverability unknown to the other intelligent races of the galaxy. The Shadow Spectres' Jetpack operates almost silently, allowing the user to move with stealth and effect repeated surprise ambushes. The Jetpack's top speed and maximum altitude are currently unknown.
- Presentient Robes - The Shadow Spectres' robes, whilst seemingly purely decorative, are actually an integral part of this Aspect's disruptive holo-field technology. These robes incorporate billowing, semi-transparent threads that seem to possess a life of their own. The steamers constantly swirl around the warrior, but somehow avoid becoming snagged and do not impede the warrior's actions in combat. These presentient attributes were hitherto unknown until the Shadow Spectres were encountered by Imperial forces during the campaign on Betalis III, and it is likely that even other Eldar Craftworlds do not understand the technologies that animate the Shadow Spectre Aspect Shrine's strange and unique garb.
- Insignia - Upon his Aspect Armour's helmet the Aspect Warrior bears the runic symbol of his shrine traced into the forehead, a common practice within all Aspect Shrines. Other tracery includes a vine pattern. Mainly associated with the Craftworld of Biel-Tan, this example is probably a far older design that has been adopted by that Craftworld. Some of the runic symbols witnessed being used by the Shadow Spectres on Betalis III incorporated other designs that have also been adopted by other Craftworlds. Originally these older symbols were probably in wider use amongst the Eldar. It is believed that this particular rune symbolises the twisting path of fate, including attributes such as destiny, fecundity and the journey of the immortal spirit through life and death.
- Imperial Armour Volume Eleven - The Doom of Mymeara, pp. 138-143
- Rogue Trader: The Koronus Bestiary (RPG), pg. 52
- Forge World Shadow Spectres Aspect Warrior Squad Rules
- Forge World Shadow Spectres Aspect Warrior Squad Models
- Forge World Details of Irillyth the Shade of Twilight
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