"Convincing someone to see your viewpoint is so much easier when they don't have a choice."
- —Savi Rainbringer, Sorceress Matriarch of the Unforgotten Sins
The Darkling Covens, sometimes simply called Darklings, are matriarchal aelven cults that originated in Ulgu, the Realm of Shadows, led by female sorceresses and their martial followers that are dedicated to the acquisition of power and influence. The Darkling Covens live secretly and uneasily among the Free Peoples' cities in Azyr and the Cities of Sigmar in the rest of the Mortal Realms.
Led by ruthless and powerful Darkling Sorceresses who are masters of enchantment and enslaving the minds of others, the Darkling Covens have spread tendrils of their subtle control throughout the Mortal Realms. Wherever the forces of Order are to be found, the sorceresses of the Darkling Covens will have some influence, or at least a spy or two, within their ranks. When the Darkling Covens' warriors march to war with their "allies" they invariably strike to kill, for restraint in such matters is an alien concept to them.
The first Darkling Covens were formed by aelven refugees that fled to Azyrheim when their empires fell in Ulgu. These insular wizard-queens and their followers did not blend into Azyr's culture, instead forming their own hidden society and secret cults.
Upon arrival in the Eternal City of Azyrheim, these shadowy spellcasters remained apart from their fellow refugees. Insular by nature, they were unwilling to share their accumulated knowledge and expertise with the already-established Eldritch Council or the Collegiate Arcane. Instead, they formed their own cults and hidden orders. Collectively, these would become known as the Darkling Covens.
They retained the knowledge of their terrible sorceries, performing dark rituals in the shadows of the Eternal City's gleaming towers, whilst carefully avoiding the attention of the inquisitors of the Order of Azyr. As the centuries passed, they spread their influence throughout Azyrheim, bribing or blackmailing powerful individuals, while securing the allegiances with subtle enchantments -- many believe they have the largest spy networks in the Mortal Realms.
The Darklings seeded their influence into the workings of the Eternal City with human Freeguild soldiers, duardin Dispossessed clan chiefs and aelven Wanderers all falling victim to the bewitching spells of the sorceresses. The Darkling Covens' myriad spies secretly enact the desires of the covens, their minds shackled by dark enchantments.
The Darkling Covens now boast legions of ruthless Black Guard warriors arrayed in pitchblack metals, who are as infamously grim of purpose as they are without mercy -- each a killer, awaiting only their Darkling Sorceress' commands.
Goals and Ideals
The Darklings do nothing without a purpose. All actions, decisions and assistance is purely to further each of their interests. Ambition is all to the Darkling Covens, from their greatest sorceresses, to their spymasters and elite warriors of the Black Guard. They believe that conscience is a weakness and kindness is foolhardy. Having lost their aelven empires of old in Ulgu, the Darkling Sorceresses that lead the Darkling Covens in the Age of Sigmar desperately crave wide-spread power once more, but their years of exile in Azyr have taught them the value of ruling from the shadows.
The Darkling Covens trust none outside their ranks; indeed, they seldom entirely trust their own fellows -- but they make frequent use of others to carry out a wide variety of tasks for them, for the sake of misdirection, if nothing else.
The Darkling Sorceresses' arcane control over their thralls is near absolute, there is frequently nothing they won't do if commanded to act. The thralls, however, often lack grace. When the Sorceresses deem a task unsuitable for a thrall, they turn to other ways: favours, mercenaries, and blackmail.
On occasion the Darkling Covens will find common purpose with the Sigmarite armies of Azyrheim but always with a specific goal that benefits their quest for power. Some are also on good terms with the aelven Order Serpentis as during the Age of Myth the sorceresses aided that order in the creation of the first Black Dragons and many Darkling Sorceresses ride upon one of these great wyrms when they fight against their foes in the Mortal Realms.
Some Darkling Covens have also found common cause with the Idoneth Deepkin and even provide them with shipments of potent souls in exchange for promises of aid in the future.
Many amongst the covens worship and venerate Malerion, the god of shadows and lord of Ulgu, as their patron deity.
The Darkling Covens gather into various orders and surround their true allegiances in secrecy, but in the end, each answers to a single mistress, a powerful Darkling Sorceress who holds absolute power within her coven. The sorceresses that lead the Darkling Covens go by many different names and titles, but they are all incredibly powerful wielders of dark arcane arts, who will sacrifice their underlings without a second thought if it furthers their goals.
Darkling Covens can field entire regiments of magically-dominated soldiers, ensorcelled aelves who will throw away their lives without hesitation to protect their mistress. The ebon-armoured Black Guard, the elite bodyguards of the ruling sorceresses, are an exception and always retain their free will.
Each ruling sorceress tends to have a retinue of Darkling major-domos and generals to assist her with martial and other matters beneath her notice, all of which serve at her will. Other Darklings like the Black Guard are warriors that are each dedicated to a specific sorceress, with the sole exception of the forbidding, skull-masked warriors known as "Executioners," who answer to none and serve alongside the Darkling Covens for mysterious reasons of their own.
The Darkling Covens are exclusively aelven. They allow no beings they regard as "lesser" -- such as men and duardin -- to ever claim to be part of their ranks. They mostly keep to themselves, interacting with others only when they must, or if they have something to gain. Their pawns though, are legion, and can come from any culture, creed, species, and profession.
In the 1st Edition Grand Alliance of Order sourcebook, the Darkling Covens were said to be refugees from aelven empires that had existed in both Ulgu, the Realm of Shadows, and Shyish, the Realm of Death. All further references to the Darkling Covens starting in the 2nd Edition and in the Warhammer Age of Sigmar - Soulbound roleplaying game, mention only Ulgu as the origin realm of the covens.
- Battletome Order: Cities of Sigmar (2nd Edition), pp. 38-39
- Grand Alliance of Order (1st Edition), pp. 242-251
- Warhammer Age of Sigmar - Soulbound: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 188
|Grand Alliance of Order Factions|
|Free Peoples||Cities of Sigmar (Collegiate Arcane • Darkling Covens • Devoted of Sigmar • Dispossessed • Eldritch Council • Freeguild • Ironweld Arsenal • Order of Azyr • Order Draconis • Order Serpentis • Phoenix Temple • Scourge Privateers • Shadowblades • Stormcast Eternals • Swifthawk Agents • Wanderers)|
|Aelven Factions||Idoneth Deepkin • Lumineth Realm-lords • Darkling Covens • Daughters of Khaine • Eldritch Council • Lion Rangers • Order Draconis • Order Serpentis • Phoenix Temple • Scourge Privateers • Shadowblades • Swifthawk Agents • Wanderers|
|Duardin Factions||Fyreslayers • Kharadron Overlords • Dispossessed|
|Others||Monsters of Order • Seraphon • Soulbound • Stormcast Eternals • Sylvaneth|