The Coven of the Shattered HelixDistinctive Beliefs:
Perhaps unique among the Covens of Commorragh the Shattered Helix follow a regime of advancement via improvement, with the majority of the Haemonculi bretherin sporting modifications beyond what might be considered - even by their own jaded views - as tasteful. In fact many of the members of the Coven proper are believed to have once been Wracks and a grim rumour is that somewhere within the flesh bone spire they occupy is an ancient with a body reminiscent of a grotesque.Notable Members:
The Ophidian Lord - Original leader/founder of the Coven - a haemonculus who was in another coven and through some great wrongdoing/failure etc was condemned to grotesquery. Left fully aware of his predicament and kept in constant pain he was kept as a cruel jest amongst his former brethren and a grim reminder of the price of failure and treachery.
Somehow he escaped his former captors and over the centuries has drawn to him slaves and followers to build the Coven of the Shattered Helix. Over the centuries since regaining his position of power within Commorragh the Ophidian Lord has further modified his enlarged and distended form, distancing himself from the pitiful creature he once was. Now the mask of his punishment is hidden beneath an ornately fanged death mask, and his legs have been replaced with gravitic suspensors and multiple arms able to manipulate the many tools of his trade.
The Brothers Grymm - Three conjoined Haemonculi, the regeneration processes corrupted in some way, forming a triumvirate spinning gently above the ground like some dread, fleshy carousel. How they became fused is unknown, indeed it is unsure whether they were even three to begin with, or whether due to experimentation into the regeneration process, unstable modification of their original flesh or stranger things still a single body became three, piece by piece. The mind splintering also, forming a triptych where once was one.
Comhlacht Cré-umha (Metalflysh) - Masked by a horned helm, forehead adorned with the stretched skin from the face of a chosen victim. The helm itself is said to be fused to his own flesh, whether by design or accident is unknown. All that is known is that his ever-growing horns are kept the length they are by Wrack attendants who use files made from the bones of hardy prisoners to maintain them. The heavy, almost crude surgical apparatus mounted on his shoulders, fused to his spine by flesh and sinew and arcane science, seems to have almost grown out of the bronze metallic flesh of his back and bare chest. Disdaining the suspensors or other means of conveyance favoured by his kindred, he stalks barefoot through Dark City and battlefield alike, wicked, saw-edged scalpel in one hand, the fingers of the other elongated, bladed, the self same gold-rimmed, black metal that crowns his shoulders and is his face his minion slaves never far behind. It is said he was once a Wrack himself and that only by creating the change that has been wrought upon his body was he elevated to the realms of Haemonculi.
Wendigo - The fanged maw of a beast extends from an otherwise outwardly Eldar torso, his arms are unnaturally lengthened and end in vicious animalistic claws which coupled with the strange taloned protrusions from his shoulders lend a vicious aspect to the creature. Smaller more traditional Dark Eldar limbs wrap around his abdomen, clutching the surgical apparatus that allow him to go about his work and the myriad of twisted spine tails wrap around the scorched and broken remnants of his lower legs.
'The ancient spider that lurks at the heart of the metal web that bears the trophies' - More commonly known as 'The Spider', 'Ancient Spider' and 'Rack' accordingly this Haemonculus is both honoured and bound by the role it holds. The personal flesh-physician to the Inked Archon it's torso is bounded in metal; large baroque armour with expansive vanes and a trophy pole jutting almost the height of the creature again, leaving only the bare shrunken flesh of the creatures face exposed. From the waist down he is cloaked in thick leathery robes creating a suitably extravagant figure, seemingly designed to fit the role of surgeon, trophy keeper and jailor to the Archon who acknowledges him with the name 'Rack' if at all.Notable Units
The Bone Crows - A number of Scourge aeries loyal to the Shattered Helix. Their modifications were all carried out by that coven and the improvements offered by the Haemonculi has engendered an uncharacteristic loyalty amongst the scourge brethren for their masters. Keeping themselves spread across the spires of the Dark City they prevent themselves being targeted by a single enemy and they still act in service to a number of other Kabals, Covens & Cults, to disguise their service to their true masters. Often used as messengers by the Kabal of the Envenomed Mark, and the Inked Archon himself, none the less they stay distinct from it, clad in armour of their true masters design. Bone plates harvested from great beasts, slaves, and other aberrant creations, then grown, twisted & reshaped by the arcane science of the Haemonculi to fit their altered forms.
Black feathers and 'unnatural' bone armour
The Naeddre - Great hulking serpentine monstrosities, these four armed creations are the twisted products of the Coven Master's work with Sslyth. Their scaled heads fused to the dark metal of masks of traditional Grotesques these creatures have been similarly manipulated with the esoteric arts of the Haemonculi.
The Engines of Agony - Myriad in form, ranging from the traditional patterns of the Talos & the Cronos to the arcane Minos and artistic assassin-engines, these constructions roam amid the halls and oubliettes of the Coven. The Kabal of the Envenomed Mark & The Inked Archon
A formerly proud and arrogant Eldar prince, he went from strength to strength within the shadowed halls of Commorragh. Slowly building power within a Kabal he became known for his rapid strikes and daring real-space raids, showing an elegance, hubris and predilection for cut-throat operations that distinguished him from his peers and guaranteed his ascension to that of Archon.
In a fashion typical of an Archon his careless overconfidence caused his downfall. Attacking an Imperial Hive World for the vast potential slaughter he was lured into costly street level fighting believing the mon-keigh defenders to be too beneath him to harm his forces. Heedless of the damage being done to the Kabal around him him continued his onslaught, driving those with him deeper into the hive, supping deeply on the terror of its populace as they were driven before him by his court. However though empowered by the slaughter the forces of the Imperium were able to gather and slowly reduced his retinue to tatters. His favoured consorts and bodyguards die-ing around him he fell to the concentrated power of a storm-trooper platoon. Scarred, scored and burned by the blasts his blackened corpse was dragged back to Commorragh by the remnants of his force. There his body, spirit & the Kabal tied to both were bought by a coven of Haemonculi. Seeing the merit of an Archon bound to them, they brought him back, his body regenerating to the screams and agony of those tormented below him.
When he woke his perfect form was marred by a mark. A blue-black tattoo above his heart. The mark of the coven, his new 'owners'. The shark smiles of the Haemonculi as they informed him of the deal etched on his mind. Yes he was theirs, but he lived and the position of Archon was still his. He threw himself into the next raid, furious, revelling in the slaughter, desperate, and he fell again. When he woke a second mark had joined the first. He retired to his tower then, incensed, raging and frenzied. He drew his fractured Kabalites to him, bringing more into his service, urgently trying to rebuild his forces to overthrow the coven to which he was bound. His force was small and when he tried to overthrow and slay his keepers he was crushed efficiently and brutally. That earned a mark for him and the few who had fought with him. Beyond the mark the Haemonculi only smiled their hideous shark-toothed smile and released him to continue rebuilding his Kabal. The message was clear, he was theirs and he was as much of a threat to them as a trained hunting hound to it's owner. He did not fight for his freedom again. He rebuilt his Kabal, using the tools & powers the coven put at his disposal he grudgingly engineered his return as a major figure in the realspace raids and commerce in slaves and pain that feeds the dark city.
As time went on, again and again he fell, in the raids, in the backstabbing politics of High Commorragh and in his own emotionless experimentation with pain, ecstasy and any thing that would return what was in part lost to him when the Haemonculi claimed him. Each time he rose again his skin had a new mark, an additional blue-black flaw, a reminder of each failure. As they multiplied across his previously perfect skin he became colder, seemingly apathetic, a glacial indifference pervading his being, only to be broken when the white hot rage shattered his facade.
His personal armoury filled with the myriad of exotic armaments & wards of his kind, no expense spared for the favoured hound, his court furnished with the finest companions, attendants & furnishings, and his trophies grew in number and variety. Nothing soothed his rage or peaked his enthusiasm.
He threw himself into combat, heedless of injury or death, for he would be reborn once more, his perfection was lost to him, so it mattered no longer, each death a moment, each waking another. He was their pet, their hunting dog, and they were his masters, he would fight for them, and death would be his momentary release from servitude, only to awake his body perfect once more, bar the ink that covers his skin, staining him dark, no longer alabaster.
But there is no end and they say that when his skin is black and blue with marks, the Heamonculi will take white ink and begin anew…..Notable Units & Individuals:The Court of the Inked Archon
Ur-Ghuls - Cackling Abominations
The remains of an upstart Dracon and his followers. Survivors of the Envenomed Marks original fall. The Dracon chafed seeing his Archon kept as the pet of Haemonculi and chained by the apathy within him. Given time this frustration eventually changed to disdain and contempt for his former master. Gathering other surviving members of the original Kabal he struck at the Inked Archon, hoping that destruction of the puppet would release the Kabal from the strings of the Coven. Apathetic to the last the Inked Archon ignored this upstarts challenge and progress through the Kabal halls until the traitors blade came for his throat. No less able as a warrior, the Archon fought his challenger to a standstill, arrogantly wounding but never finishing him. When the Dracon was disarmed, kneeling, arm clutched to the gaping wounds in his side, the Inked Archon simply returned to his palanquin and ignored the taunts. Had the Haemonculi not intervened the Archon's intention was to allow his Dracon to return to his duties, chided, but unbowed.
The Shattered Helix would have no such mercy. An example was to be made. To all parties. The Dracon and his retinue were removed to the Coven's oubliette and what returned many cycles later was monstrous. Daemon bound into mortal flesh, tortured to insanity, overwhelmed by sensation. They took their places in the Inked Archon's court. Under the guise of strange modified Eldar driven to insanity and useful only as pets or attack dogs, similar to Grotesques but somehow worse.
Kein Yr'aanys - Drawn from the ranks of the Envenomed Mark and promoted to the rank of Dracon at the word of the Inked Archon's masters. Yr'aanys replaced the traitorous Dracon who still stands at his Archon's side, a twisted mockery of his old self. A Trueborn of previously unknown standing, he languished in the lower echelons of the Kabals elite, passed over due to questionable heritage until his ruthless streak was noted by the Shattered Helix. Summoned by the Haemonculi he was politely interrogated to ascertain his loyalties. Finding them suitable he was offered augmentation, and advancement. He accepted and so returned to the halls of the Kabal with the Covens mark inked into his cheek, and their favour overt in his wargear and in his very flesh. His predecessor was barely taken from the Inked Archons presence when his replacement made his entrance. His armour strangely gilded, almost unique, a hexrifle in his arrogant and practiced grip and an elongated spine, hung with drug dispensers. His former betters grudgingly accepted him into their number, though not without a few murderous tests of his worth. Only when his chambers were filled with glass statues of would be assassins, both beast & 'man', did they consider him suitably scrutinised.
Now he leads other Trueborn in his Archon's raids, or on occasion his true masters Wrack servants, as his pleasure dictates. In either case he leads with arrogance and precise fire from the arcane weapon in his grasp.
Beastmasters - Though his apathy for freedom and the tangled politics of the Dark City is high, none-the-less it pleases the Inked Archon to have a suitable Court. With that in mind his Haemonculi masters purchased for him the finest beast trainers of the shamanic which cults that their many servants could find. Each was brought before members of the Coven and studied, tested and ultimately bound to them, before they were sent to the Court of their pet. There they were tasked to go out and find suitable beasts to please their new faux-master, those that did so and entertained him would be allowed to join him, those that did not would be fed to the menagerie of the others. Of those bought for him, all returned, and many's creatures were found to be sufficiently novel and were thus gifted with his colours, protection and entrance into his Kabal.
The Bone Crows - See Coven of the Shattered Helix
Lady Isdraab Dread Archon of the Glass Splinters Corsairs
The Lady Isdrab surrounds herself with the professional gladiators of the wych cults, always training with them, learning their dance of death, and taking it as her own. Though resistant to give up her power as an 'Archon' by joining the wych cults proper, due to her absence from Commorragh the remains of the Kabal she was part of decayed and was consumed by numerous other factions. She is not considered a true Archon in the eyes of the Kabals, her own raiders little more than pirates, and no longer even resembling an actual Kabal.
Prior to her departure from the Dark City she was a Dracon in a Kabal, who's name is now lost to all but the very learned and those with long memories. It is believed that she tried to overthrow her Archon and in doing so claim rulership over all that was his, as is the way of Commorragh. Making allegiances with various fel forces and factions she made a lightning raid on her former masters throne room, her own raider ploughing through the glass crystal and bone edifice to signal the strike. She and her which cult allies cut through the court as the lord Archon himself watched in amusement, it was only when it became clear that his many reinforcements were not coming that he raged and deigned to enter the fray. Isdraab's few kabalite warriors fell before him, being cut down to a man like wheat before the scythe, only her wych allies could hold their ground against him, flowing over him like water, dodging the howling arcs of his dread blade, cutting and thrusting to distract him more than to harm him. He raged on and threw himself through them to reach her - his would be assassin - opening himself up to cuts and tears as he did, so when he collided bodily with her his armour was slick with his own blood as well as others, but glutted on the slaughter he would not stop. His blade spat fury and hate as he swung at her, again & again, her own skills with the blade no match for his own and his fury. Her armour torn and her own weapons shattered at her feet it looked as though she had gambled all and lost. As her master, stood on one of her wrists, lowered his face towards her, his blade inches from her chest, malice and foul pleasure creasing his lips, she acted. The foulest bargain she had made had gifted her with a weapon, something to be used in the final moments of failure to bring all that was desired, she had dared not use it lest she must, and now it seemed she must. Tapping at a control in her wrist a glass blade sprang forth. Twisting, using the wrenching pain to fuel her, its firey touch filling her body with motion. His own blade pierced her as she threw herself at him, its point held within her breast as she struck. Her blade tore the flesh from his skull, shattering as it did so, slicing his throat, slivers of glass burrowing deep into his bones. Her own hand was not spared the devastation of the arcane thing, shards of its form embedded in her knuckles, lacerating her wrist, hand and arm. Her master fell, his face a mess of ragged flesh and glass splinters, tendrils of the stuff rapidly worming its way beneath his muscles, changing them also, his last gasping breaths etched in terror as his body stiffened and froze parts changed into pure crystalline glass. She rose, taking his blade buried in her chest as her own and strode through the carnage, even as the wychs around her cut down the reinforcements that had finally broken through the delays arrayed against them. Seating herself on his throne, using the form of his blade to hide the damage to her weakened arm, she proclaimed herself Archon, and warned those to lay down their blades in service to her or die where they stood, twitching and gasping as glass crawled beneath their skins, gesturing contemptuously at their previous master as she did so. They all knew of the glass plague that had spread throughout Commorragh in the tumultuous past, and how it had been 'cleansed' from the city by Haemonculi covens. Fearing she might have the backing of the covens, many in the Kabal sided with her immediately, whilst others merely swore oaths to guarantee their survival planning to move against her at the soonest availability. Little did any of them know the true extent of the 'weapon' she had used to avert her destruction.
As she consolidated her power members of the Kabal began to die. Splinters of glass erupting through their organs, growing outwards and shredding their insides piecemeal. At first it seemed random, but over time patterns began to emerge. The weapon was slowly excising the rebellious element from her Kabal, finding those who wished her dead or had began to plan against her and slaying them, tortuously slowly.
However though the thinner numbers were more loyal and it acted as a deterrent against treachery, there were still those who fostered hatred within them, knowing it would kill them none-the-less they had time enough to do something. They sold information to other Kabals, assassins, mercenaries, anyone who might prosper from the fall of Archon Isdraab, and then as their Kabal was harried on all sides by enemies who knew too much, striking at key targets and escaping, they attacked. Like a man dying of many deep singular stabs, blood slowly leaking from his body, the Archon Isdraabs Kabal faltered. When the remains of the treacherous element within rose, it was the final sword blow that slays.
Knowing her enemies were too many and her forces too few Isdraab gathered her wych allies and her few kabalites and fled. A daring lightning raid on the skyports of her enemies and her own hangers, gained her enough vessels to escape, and so she did. Plunging into one of the many portals to the Satellite Realms, her fleet raced through the webway, leaving all who fell behind to the depredations of the enemy, bursting forth into real-space deep within a far corner of the galaxy.
From there they have raided planets and fleets, attacking anyone to maintain their survival, sheltering in the few corners of the webway they could still access. Isdraab still claims the title Archon for herself, in fact as her fleet has grown she has taken to calling herself Dread Archon, and her crews of wych-trained kabalites, and true bloodbrides follow her unquestioningly. From their hiding place amid the labyrinth dimension they strike at many corners of the Imperium, taking what they need, be in replacement crew, food stuffs, or slaves. Her depredations are known about in certain circles such that Eldar pirates have flocked to her banner, and many an Outcast stalks the corridors of her fleet.
The Lady herself has changed little from her days in Commorragh, still ruling with the mind of an Archon, fighting with her preferred style of a wych. The blade of her former master always in one gloved and leather bound hand, splinters of glass rising upwards around it like a crown of razor peaks. For as her blade struck down her lord, so it bit the hand that wielded it. Beneath the leather and metal gauntlet is the truth, disguised as a unique weapon - akin to a the bladed hydra gauntlet of the wych cults. The spears of glass pierce her hand and wrist, great unhealed suppurations now held open with sheets of glass scar-tissue, from which the spikes grow. Glass moves under the skin, slowly growing out and through it, passing through the her own glassened flesh as if through water, holding the ancient blade in her hand, fused almost, though removable, breaking the glass that binds it suitably exquisite agony, and destined to heal when the hilt is returned to its grasp.Notable Units:
The Harpys - Full enclosed in armoured suits that protect them from the cold void in which they ply their trade, the Harpys are select warriors trained in void combat and tactical strikes on the surface of enemy vessels. Wielding weapons specifically to disable or destroy void ship subsystems, or simply to carve through the hulls of a beleaguered foe the Harpys descend on trails of cold fire from their aviary clusters within the Fleet, bringing death to forces sent against them and sowing chaos in their wake.
- Operating out of a single jagged spire deep within the Webway the Eachuisge are a coterie of former reaver pilots turned aerial experts. Seeming to run the gambit between a vicious aerial display team that delights the crowds of Commorragh with a mixture of acrobatics and bloodsports and an elite unit of mercenary pilots selling their service to the highest bidder, Eldar or otherwise. Though their name is known by many, their location is not. In fact their hidden bolt-hole within the Webway is almost entirely unvisited. It is said that they only way to contact and hire these aces is via an almost equally unknown realspace station. Shrouded by asteroids in the Le Grange point between a triad of distant cold stars, the station of overtly elegant construction hangs silently in the void. Strange as it may seem the station is empty, unpowered and seemingly dead. Its purpose is as a focus, a point of contact. Potential clients must board the station, either via the large void-docks or the smaller hangers, and navigate their way through the bleak metallic corridors to a central communications centre, from where they can send an encoded message directly to the Eachuisges aviary. It is said that responses are not directly forthcoming. One is expected to dictate the event their services are required for, specify the price they will be given and leave. If such an arrangement suits the Eachuisge then they will appear as specified, but not before. If however they find it displeasing, then one will meet them much sooner than expected, as their attack craft pour out of Webway gates concealed amongst the asteroids and one is unlikely to return.
However it is rumoured that agents of one kind or another have gained their exclusive contract for the foreseeable future.Blades of the Obsidian Pyre
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