??? - M30
|Worlds now within the Eye of Terror
|Unknown, the first Haemonculi were said to be its masters
The Eldar Empire was the domain of the Eldar and the dominant power in the Galaxy following the War in Heaven, a state of affairs which lasted until The Fall. The Empire was known for its technological prowess and complete mastery of the galaxy, as well as its gradual descent into cruelty, excess, and hedonism.
Before the Fall
Emerging from the ruin of the War in Heaven, with the Old Ones destroyed and the Necrons in hidden hibernation, the Eldar quickly became the masters of the Galaxy. The technological and cultural accomplishments of the Eldar soon eclipsed those of any other race, and they developed a dismissive and condescending attitude to the other civilizations of the Galaxy. With their mastery of the Webway, the Eldar went on to occupy a large portion of the Galaxy, pushing other "lesser" races such as Orks away to its fringes, dismissing them as a mere nuisance. As their power and prowess grew, the Eldar soon evolved past the need for physical labor, relying on autonomotons to perform all basic economic functions. Thus on hundreds of Paradise Worlds seeded across the Galaxy, the Eldar pursued their inclinations according to their own will, indulging in every whim and curiosity. This initially allowed for the creation of beautiful accomplishments as the Eldar learned much about the universe which had since been forgotten. At this stage in history, when an Eldar died their soul eventually dissolved peacefully into the Warp to be reborn again. The Warp was not yet a hostile place for Eldar souls, and was inhabited by their own Gods.
The size of the Eldar Empire varies in different sources, ranging from ten thousand systems to ten million. Labor and even military conquest at this time was done purely by artificial constructs, which led to the Eldar themselves becoming bored and without purpose.
Fall of the Eldar
However slowly but surely, pride and excess began to eat away at the Eldar race. Thinking all secrets were theirs to uncover and all pleasures were theirs to partake, the Eldar spent their centuries-long lives fulfilling their every desire. Fueled by an inexhaustible curiosity, many gave way to their darkest and most hedonistic impulses. Exotic "pleasure cults" soon sprang up all over the Eldar domains, each dedicated to esoteric knowledge or sensual excess. As these cults gained a tighter hold over the Eldar, they gradually declined into a cruel and hedonistic society. Eldar society eventually descended into full-scale anarchy as their excess grew past any limit thought possible. Brother fought brother and sadistic killers stalked the streets in pursuit of victims for their vile lusts. No life was spared and in the pursuit of their murderous and perverse pleasures. Eldar feasted upon each other in the streets. As sickening vice took Eldar society, they were unknowingly feeding a powerful psychic entity in the Warp with their dark desires. As what would become the doom of the Eldar grew, social order broke down and gangs battled vigilante's as many others fled as refugees.
However not all Eldar succumb to these dark impulses. Some heeded the bad omens that haunted their dreams, fleeing to found Exodite Worlds or Craftworlds. Slowly but surely this psychic being, eventually becoming known as Slaanesh, fully matured in the Warp. It was to become a shadow of themselves, of what they had become: a noble and prideful being brought low by perversity and excess. When Slaanesh was finally born, shortly before humanity's Great Crusade, there was not a single Eldar who did not feel the pain. With a psionic cry, Slaanesh assaulted the universe and the spirits of the Eldar were drawn from their bodies and sucked into the warp. The fate of these unfortunate souls was not a pleasant one, for they had to suffer an eternity of torture at the hands of Slaanesh. Not even the Eldar Gods were spared; they too were consumed by Slaanesh, and it is said that only the Laughing God survived. The epicenter of the psychic implosion lay within the heart of the Eldar homeworlds where the Eldar population was concentrated. Most of the Eldar across thousands of light years died, their spirits sucked into the warp, and many fleeing craftworlds were overtaken. Far from Eldar space, many of the Exodite worlds survived the Fall, though some shared the fate of numerous Craftworlds and the homeworlds. The Eldar were now a scattered race, to be hunted by the Great Enemy for the rest of eternity. To avoid the fate of the Eldar Empire, the surviving Eldar abandoned their hedonistic ways and seek to concentrate their minds (most notably with the Path System). Not all Eldar changed their ways however, those within the Eldar Empire colonies of the Webway remained safe from Slaanesh's birth cries and continued to pursue the ways of their ancestors. These beings eventually become known as the Dark Eldar.
The area that was the centre of the Eldar empire became the Eye of Terror. The ancient Crone Worlds of the Eldar are now the homes of the followers of Chaos. With the Eldar Empire all but wiped out, other races would come to inherit the Galaxy. Thanks to the violent psychic implosion that saw Slaanesh born, the Warp Storms that had stopped humanity from interstellar travel during the Age of Strife finally subsided. This allowed the Emperor to launch his Great Crusade, reuniting the disparate human colonies into the Imperium.
- 1: Codex: Eldar (4th Edition) pg.2-5
- 2: Codex: Eldar (3rd Edition) pg.3-7
- 3: Codex: Dark Eldar (5th Edition) pg.5-7
- 4: Haemonculus Covens - A Codex: Dark Eldar Supplement - The Chronicle of Endless Woe
- 5: Asurmen: Hand of Asuryan (Novel), pg. 87
- 6: Throneworld (Novel), pg. 53