The Masque of Slaanesh, also known simply as The Masque, is the most infamous Daemonette and Herald of Slaanesh to have ever plagued the sentient creatures of the galaxy. Once the Chaos God Slaanesh's favoured dancer and chief handmaiden, she was cast out by her master, and cursed to forever dance through the Materium and Immaterium alike. The Masque has turned this curse into a potent weapon, forcing any being she manages to seduce with her hypnotic dance to join her performance until the unfortunate soul drops dead from exhaustion.
Fall From Grace
Once the chief handmaiden of Slaanesh, the Masque used to comb the Dark Prince's shining hair and oil it with fragrant balms. When Slaanesh's mood was grim, the Masque would dance to lighten his thoughts, enrapturing her god with the most dazzling and acrobatic displays. Yet for all of Slaanesh's indulgence, the Masque was ultimately to become the most despised of all the Prince of Pleasure's servants.
During the eternal wrangling and wars within the Realm of Chaos between the Chaos Gods known as the Great Game, it came about that Tzeentch tricked Slaanesh into an unwinnable battle against both Khorne and Nurgle -- the ill-fated Provocation Wars. It was a hard-fought series of campaigns that ended only with the Dark Prince's utter defeat and subsequent humiliation by his arch-nemesis. Seeing the dark mood of her master, the Masque took it upon herself to ease his heart with her most energetic and scintillating dance ever. Where once her leaps and pirouettes had brought laughter and joy, now Slaanesh's bitter heart saw mockery, each perfect combination of moves calculated to be barbs to his pierced pride.
Slaanesh's emotions came to a boiling point, and the Prince of Pleasure unleashed his frustrations on his handmaiden, branding her as a traitor, and placing a fell curse upon her, proclaiming that if she so wanted to dance then she must dance forevermore without pause. And so it came to be that the Masque was forced to dance eternally across space and time, for both mortal and immortal audiences.
Such has been the Masque's doom, to dance across eternity. In the circles of Slaanesh's realm, she pirouettes for other Daemonettes, entrancing them with her sinuous movements until they are so enraptured they can no longer move or speak. She dances at the gates of Khorne, mocking the Bloodletters who snarl and growl at her impudence. The Masque dances across the mortal worlds of the galaxy, trapping those who witness her. Where mortals indulge their senses, where excess overcomes restraint, the Masque appears to lead the incautious on a dance of doom.
As she enacts the tales of Slaanesh's glorious history, his bespoke destiny and his most unholy conquests, her golden mask flickers and changes, matching the roles of the characters she plays, in a manner eerily similar to the way a Harlequin troupe performs. So powerful is the lure of the Masque's display that all who see it feel compelled to join in the performance. Immortal daemons and crude mortals alike feel this calling in their hearts and are powerless to resist, joining the show as if they had rehearsed their parts for an eternity.
In the "Dance of Dreaming," where the character of the slumbering prince awaits to be born, the Masque's troupe is lulled into a lethargic trance, whilst in the "Dance of Death," a re-enactment of one of Slaanesh's great victories over Khorne, the cast leap and flail and claw at their eyes and throats. Consumed by the ecstasy and agony of the Masque's aura, they will happily dance themselves to death, using up their last ounce of energy, their dying breath, to keep pace with her twirls and somersaults.
The Masque has been known to turn up unheralded on battlefields across the galaxy. She has danced to the screams of those massacred by Khorne's Bloodletters, and pirouetted to the droning count of Nurgle's Plaguebearers, a figure of grace amongst the brutal and the bloated. More often, however, the Masque will appear alongside the cavalcades of her master's daemonic Legions of Excess. Her insane prancing reaches new heights when she is at the centre of a Courante Legion, surrounded by cavorting Daemonettes. There, her dazzling acrobatics inspire her sisters to magnificent performances of bloodshed. If she could follow her own will that is where she might stay, but Slaanesh can be petulant, and still refuses to remove the hex upon her. So does the Masque continue dancing wherever the fickle whims of her curse takes her.
Battle of Biel-Tan
During the Battle of Biel-Tan The Masque emerged on the Craftworld of Biel-Tan alongside the Bloodthirster Skarbrand and was able to invade Biel-Tan through a Webway portal on the Daemon World of Ursulia that had once been an Exodite-controlled Maiden World before it was invaded by the joint daemonic forces of Khorne and Slaanesh.
The Masque was eventually able to invade Biel-tan's Infinity Circuit and would have consumed all of its souls for Slaanesh if not for the efforts of Yvraine of the Ynnari, who was able to summon the Yncarne, the Avatar of Ynnead, the Aeldari God of the Dead, banish the daemon back to the Warp with his power.
As noted above, the Masque's behaviour is eerily similar to that of the Eldar Harlequins. This is not surprising, as the Prince of Pleasure was born from the collective hedonistic depravity of the Eldar race. Enticing Eldar, especially Harlequins, into dancing themselves to death is one of the Masque's favorite activities. The Harlequins have a performance that tells the tale of how the Masque once managed to infiltrate one of their Troupes, and entranced both the Troupe and the audience with her whirling spell. It was only when a Solitaire appeared that the spell was eventually broken; as the only Eldar able to impersonate "She-Who-Thirsts," the Solitaire was immune to the Masque's spell, and was able to match her move for move for six Terran days and nights until the Masque finally faltered and missed a step. Horrified at this failure, the Masque fled, and she now seeks eternal revenge on the servants of Cegorach.
- Serrated Claws
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (8th Edition), pp. 64, 100
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (6th Edition), pg. 58
- Codex: Chaos Daemons (4th Edition), pg. 51
- The Gathering Storm - Part II - Fracture of Biel-Tan (7th Edition), pp. 22-32