From out of blackness they come, emerging from the depths of the realms' seas upon a surging tide of magic. These merciless raiders do not seek merely to slaughter or enslave, however, for they are the Idoneth Deepkin - they have come to take their victims' very souls.
The oceans of the Mortal Realms do not easily divulge even the least of their secrets. In those unplumbed depths lie wonders untold, sunken treasures and a diversity of creatures beyond count. Occasionally some hint of these watery marvels is wrested from the gloom, brought up from the crushing depths upon a fisherman's line or carried to shore by wayward tides. The greatest of the seas' secrets use layered veils of powerful magics to ensure that none who bear witness to them live to tell the tale.
The Idoneth Deepkin are a mysterious race of aelves that dwell in absolute secrecy in the most profound reaches of the realms. When they emerge upon the surface world, they do so for one purpose and one purpose only: war. They are raiders, constantly sending forth their armies вЂ“ known as phalanxes - in waves. Their attacks are swift, yet there are warning signs for those perceptive enough to pick up upon them. Even hundreds of miles from water, a salt tang hangs heavy in the air, an eerie keening and the sound of crashing waves can be heard in the roar of the wind, and a chill mist rises. Sailors and coast dwellers have learned to recognise and fear such portents.
These invaders seek neither plunder nor land, but rather they hunt mortal souls. The Idoneth Deepkin arrive in a mystic haze, a swell of fear rolling before them. Even when they fight upon dry land, the Idoneth Deepkin bring with them the magic of their kingdoms, an ethersea of roiling currents and crushing pressures. Many a stunned landsman has gasped in disbelief to see legendary behemoths of the deep swimming through the air, fighting under the command of the cold-eyed aelf warriors.
With the speed of a flood tide, the Idoneth attack, massed Namarti infantry advancing to the fore with eel-mounted cavalry darting in upon the flanks. Sinister, finned shapes skim menacingly from the murk, aelf-riders upon their backs pouring out a fusillade of harpoon fire. Pounding drums radiate distorting magic as hulking Leviadons glide through the air, missiles glancing off their thick armoured shells.
At the zenith of the battle, the Idoneth surge, unstoppable in their fury. As the tide recedes, so too does the Idoneth battle line, yet they continue to rain arrows and launch counter-attacks even as they withdraw. In their passing, the Idoneth leave ruin, death and sleepers that will never awaken вЂ“ victims whose souls have been stolen. Retreating beneath the waves, the Idoneth return to the utter isolation of the depths.
'I shall tell thee, boy, of what happened to the town of Westmorr, what you know now as just the Old Ruins. 'Twas an odd day, for that morn we awoke to the smell of the sea вЂ“ passing strange, for the salt winds had never carried so far. At sunset the fog rose, thickening while we slept, rolling across the village like a damp shroud. The air itself grew heavy, so thick that the torches of the nightwatch fizzled out, and a man had to gasp to draw breath. From out of those mists they came - writhing dragons and hulking behemoths from the old tales, their great fangs flashing in the murk. They came floating over the land, swarming over the town walls. I have never seen anything like it. The watchmen, the militia - all slain. Cruel phantoms danced among them too, the beasts answering to their commands.In the morning the mists were gone, and so were all of Westmorr's folk 'cept for those that slept unwaking. It is no myth, I was there! I alone escaped to tell thee, I- pardon me lad, but it feels like the Six Smiths themselves are hammering my skull...'
First there is blackness, a fathomless nothing. Yet something stirs the void, ripples sent forth from what lies beyond.
Victims do not believe what they are seeing, their heartbeats quickening even as their movements slow. Disoriented, they feel as though they are underwater, their vision refracting as if they peer through shifting currents. Unsure if their eyes are playing tricks, menacing shapes seem to take form just beyond the edge of their sight. And then, sliding from out of utter darkness comes the stuff of nightmares - man-eating sea monsters out of old fishermen's tales.
Rising out of tempestuous waters, the Idoneth Deepkin rush in like the tide, bringing their eldritch seas along with them. They terrorise those who dwell along the shorelines, but nowhere, no matter how far inland, is safe from their raids. Striking swiftly, the Idoneth collect their tally of souls before retreating as suddenly as they arrived. In their wake they leave the dead and the doomed, sleepers whose souls have been stolen, fated to soon wither and join their slain kin. The magic of the Idoneth ensures that any survivors remember little, their memories smothered by a lingering fear of the mysteries that lie hidden within the sea's depths.
A Strange Genesis
They were born out of agony and unimaginable suffering, delivered from an eternity of torment and temptation. This horrific beginning has twisted and shaped every aspect of how the aelves known as the Idoneth Deepkin have developed. Theirs is a long history of shadow and pain.
The tale of how the Idoneth Deepkin came to be begins before the Age of Myth. It is a time that only the immortal gods recall, an era when the forces of Chaos battled for dominion of the world-that-was. So great were the destructive forces unleashed during that period that the planet began to break apart, and the Dark Gods revelled in their victory.
Slaanesh - the Chaos God of excess - hungers for all mortal souls, but none more so than those of aelfkind. With their long lifespans and heightened senses, aelves produce the sweetest spirit-stuff, a luscious delicacy that the Dark Prince will stop at nothing to consume. At the end of the world-that-was, Slaanesh gorged himself nearly unto sedation in the grandest feast of all. Even the underworlds were plundered and a banquet made of every aelf that had ever been, until there were no more souls to ingest... or so it seemed.
Those aelves who worshipped Mathlann, Lord of the Deeps, remained out of sight, at least for a short while, for their god was King of Storm and Sea, and the fathomless depths were part of his domain. There, hidden at the bottom of the darkest of oceans, he had long collected his due in secret. Yet as the world-that-was shattered, it was not long before even the watery underworlds of Mathlann were drained and laid bare. Slaanesh scented more aelf souls, and rooted out each remote enclave. Those souls he worked hardest to find tasted best, and Slaanesh devoured them all, destroying the sea-god that sought to protect them.
Thus, when the surviving deities awoke and explored the eight realms of Azyr, Aqshy, Ghur, Ghyran, Shyish, Hysh, Chamon and Ulgu they found no sign of aelfkind or their gods of old. Desperately the newborn aelf gods Teclis, Tyrion and Malerion searched, but they found no trace of any kin. The three did encounter Sigmar, however, and they joined his growing pantheon. They helped to bring civilisation to the primitive tribes of mankind that populated the realms. Some few aelves were discovered, and they inhabited the newly built city of Azyrheim in the Realm of Heavens, but this was but the barest fraction of a once prosperous and noble race. The aelf gods continued their search, at last following a mysterious thread to discover where Slaanesh attempted to recuperate from his unbridled gluttony.
The tale of how Slaanesh was lured and entrapped in the Hidden Gloaming - a twilight territory between Hysh and Ulgu - is a venture replete with masterworks of arcana and dire peril. In the end, Slaanesh was frozen like an insect in amber. The Dark Prince was tortured, and the process of drawing out that upon which he had glutted himself was begun. Under a pact agreed between them, Teclis, Tyrion and Malerion would receive a share of any souls that were recovered to reshape and settle as they felt best. The first souls regurgitated into being were the last Slaanesh had swallowed, those aelves that had been hidden in the sea god Mathlann's sunken underworlds.
It was Teclis who received these spirit-essences, and he used them to remake aelves in the image he most fondly recalled - noble and bright of spirit. In Hysh, Teclis wrought for his new charges the luminescent city of Leiriu, the Bright Haven or City of Reflection. He taught the Cythai - the Awakened - of the elder days, of their dreaded foes and of the aelven pantheon of old. Although it was believed that the aelf gods had been slain by their archenemies the Ruinous Powers, theirs had always been a cyclical tale, and it was Teclis' desire to revive the old gods, bringing them back with a new generation of worshippers. Yet something was amiss.
The new aelves were not adjusting well. They were withdrawn, and grew resentful under Teclis' tutelage. The Cythai fought amongst themselves and split into factions. The god's inner eye could penetrate anything given time, yet within each of the newly formed aelves there remained shadows into which Teclis could not yet peer. Fearing contamination, Teclis wove purifying spells, seeking to root out the darkness. The new aelves shied from this light of truth, and its glare sent some into madness.
Fearful for their lives, the remaining aelves fled. They scattered across the Mortal Realms, seeking sanctuary in the deep places beneath the waves, for the sea called to them. Teclis' caution bid him destroy his failed creations, for he felt in them repressed horror, a legacy of their nightmarish incarceration. It was his brother Tyrion's plea for leniency that stayed his hand, and thus he allowed them to escape. And so were the seeds of the Idoneth Deepkin planted.
Over time each of the Cythai's enclaves developed differently, but all were affected by their new environs and self-imposed isolation. The magic they learned from Teclis was adapted to allow them to live underwater, even at the most crushing of depths. They grew attuned to their new surroundings, learning to trust vibrations and changes in pressure more than sight or sound, and some of them became adept in the art of seeing the flaring soul-stuff that animates the living. The deep places forced the aelves to overcome new dangers, yet there was another dilemma that threatened to send them into early extinction. They soon discovered that desperate new measures were needed if they were to survive.
The Great Emptiness
No matter how far the Cythai fled, no matter how isolated their deepwater refuges were, there was one threat from which they could never escape. The Awakened were doomed, cursed by a choice between extinction and a grim plight, forever to be haunted by the ramifications wrought by their sinister past.
Although they did not realise it, a curse hung heavy over the aelves that fled from Teclis' tutelage. Despite the rigours of arcane purification to which they had been subjected, the souls reclaimed out of Slaanesh were each irrevocably marked. Some descended into what the aelves called mallachi, a state of raging madness that ended in savage debauchery. Luckily, few suffered such degradations. There was, however, a more prevalent flaw that was discovered just as the undersea settlements became more established, and newborn aelves began to appear.
Since learning of their origins and of Slaanesh, the Awakened held a lingering fear that they might suffer from contamination. Those fears were realised when almost none of their offspring lived beyond infancy. Like their parents, newborn aelves were perfect in form, yet those who had learned to perceive spirit-essence could see that the vast majority of their progeny were born with swiftly withering souls. The lives of those so afflicted would be cut short with cruel inevitability.
Each of the enclaves realised their doom - with only one in a hundred of their children surviving, their race would be a short-lived one. The word the aelves had begun to use to refer to themselves - Idoneth - meant 'extreme seclusion'. However, like many of the words in the rich language taught to them by Teclis, the term could also have different meanings dependent upon inflection. The root word of Idoneth could also mean 'desperate measures', an irony in the name that only later became apparent.
The Idoneth sought an arcane cure to secure some kind of future for their race. Aelfkind had always been blessed with long lifespans, but between losses to deepwater monstrosities and those who succumbed to mallachi, the enclaves were rapidly dwindling in number, with precious few offspring surviving to replace the dead and the forsaken.
No spell provided any type of cure, until some groups of Idoneth learned how to remove a creature's animating life-force from its body, and others discovered how to implant it within an afflicted shell. At first, the Idoneth attempted to transplant the spirit-stuff of undersea beasts, but early trials met only with dismay as the energies flickered and went out within days. Realising the souls of such creatures offered but a dim light compared to their own, the Idoneth sought quarry richer in spirit. That search brought them once more to the surface world.
Souls stolen from mankind proved capable of sustaining Idoneth offspring, although it often took a half-dozen such spirits to empower an aelf to live even a third of their normal lifespan. Other souls, such as those of duardin, Sylvaneth and orruks, worked equally well for the Idoneth's purpose. The aelves tirelessly experimented and perfected techniques that would aid them in finding, stealing and safekeeping this vital resource.
Even as new generations of Idoneth were born, the same ratio of healthy to cursed offspring remained, and so a constant supply of souls was required to maintain their populations. At first, these spirit-essences were harvested simply to avoid their people's extinction. Soon, however, more were needed to fund expansion, and to continue the raids required to meet the growing demand. So did the Idoneth's attacks become the stuff of folklore and legend across the Mortal Realms.
Those born with atrophied souls but granted an extended life through a stolen spirit are Namarti, a word meaning both blessed and damned. The Namarti are physically flawless, but far shorter-lived than those born free of their race's curse. To make matters more difficult for their kind, many of their formative years must be spent undergoing long arcane rituals, and so they develop skills more slowly. Most burdensome of all, however, is the belief held by other Idoneth that the Namarti are tainted, a lesser class of being because they possess the stolen soul of some creature traditionally considered low-cultured and barbaric by aelves. As a consequence, the Idoneth have a distinct caste system. Those few born with intact souls are the noble class, destined to become either Akhelians, the warrior caste, or Isharann, priests and users of magic. The majority are Namarti, who are treated as subservient thralls beneath the command of the nobles, and typically serve as soldiers and workers within the thriving underwater cities.
That Which is the Soul
The soul is the animating life-force of a living creature, the being's divine spark. It typically departs only in death, travelling out towards the underworld of the deceased's belief system, or drifting into the Realm of Chaos. The Idoneth Deepkin, however, have perfected the art of severing this spirit-force from a creature's physical form entirely, drawing it out and collecting it. Once a soul is removed, the victim falls into a deep sleep, never to wake. Such spirit-theft means that Idoneth raids typically leave settlements as empty ruins, inhabited only by the dead and by those who soon will be.
The Deep Places
The Idoneth Deepkin come from the fathomless depths. There, at the lowest reaches of the Mortal Realms, they have built secluded strongholds, great bastions that have grown to become aelf nations. Uncharted by other races and utterly isolated, such deep places are full of both mystery and horror.
The Unseen Menace
The Idoneth Deepkin rely not only upon their soul raiding to survive, but also secrecy, for they need solitude like surface dwellers need air. For entire ages the Idoneth Deepkin's isolation has been assured, yet a new era is dawning upon the Mortal Realms.
To simply sustain their undersea empires, each enclave of the Idoneth Deepkin must secure a tremendous number of souls. However, in order for them to grow their kingdoms, even more are required. Although the first of the Idoneth struggled with the moral dilemma of wresting the life-force from others so that their own kind could live, such considerations have long since worn away. All through the Age of Chaos and into the Age of Sigmar the Idoneth have launched their raids, for it has become their very way of life.
Over the millennia, the Idoneth have adapted their forces, battlefield tactics and even their magic to not only perfect these raids, but to prevent others from discovering the truth behind them. They attack with speed and surprise, striking quickly from under the cover of their magically conjured etherseas. Yet these incursions are not the careless rampages of bloodthirsty savages, for the Idoneth are aelves, and all their deeds are approached with the utmost skill and precision. Their efforts often require both military and arcane assets to work in perfect conjunction.
While the depths are subject to constant assault from predatory creatures, they are not threatened by the nation-building activities of other empires, and are far removed from political intrigue or even well-meaning diplomacy. The Idoneth's craving for seclusion is regarded by the other races who know of their existence not as aloofness but obsessive isolationism. To preserve the secrecy of their kingdoms the Deepkin would go to any lengths, and they frequently do.
The Tidecasters of the Idoneth are masters of current and motion. Their spells can transport entire phalanxes across the oceans at speeds unimaginable to surface dwellers. With such ability to traverse great distances, the Idoneth can launch raids easily along any coastline. Using rivers and waterways they can travel far inland. This means they can pick and choose their quarry, letting their Soulscryers guide them towards the richest yields of souls. Most enclaves are careful not to overtax the same areas, and so the Idoneth's raids are often spaced out over several generations of their targets' lifespans. The eldest amongst their prey might recall legends of nearby settlements left abandoned save for mysterious sleepers, or tall tales of sea monsters that once swam across the fields, but there are seldom any actual witnesses.
That few members of other races gaze upon the Idoneth Deepkin and survive can be attributed to the prowess of the phalanxes and the efficiency of their raids, but there is also another factor. Surrounded by their ethereal sea, the spell-casting Isharann and the supernatural Eidolons of Mathlann can harness the obliviating energies of the tide and the abyss. It is true that those whose souls are stolen fall into a comatose state, a slumber from which they never waken. Yet the remainder - terrified onlookers, keen-eyed night watchmen or even warriors in the grips of battle fury - are entranced by the lulling sound of lapping waves, the tranquil whisper of rhythmic surf and the siren call of the primordial sea. Those lucky enough to stir from their mystic stupor find they remember nothing. Even those wounded in the raid recall scant little of their attackers.
Though the Idoneth are masters of clouding their victims' memories using the bewitching magic of the ocean deeps, their own history has taught them that some experiences are so horrifying that the mind does not need to be compelled to suppress them.
Naught but myth
As the Age of Chaos dawned, the Idoneth felt more strongly than ever about maintaining their secrecy. Even other enclaves did not know the whereabouts of their distant kin, for each group met but rarely. Even those who attended the assembrals - periodic gatherings of the leaders of each faction so that they might not wholly lose contact with each other - took pains to conceal their movements so that none might divine the locations of their strongholds. To other races and the growing forces of Chaos, the invaders from the ocean were little more than a myth. The few who survived the raids and by chance avoided the memory-wiping magic of their attackers were reckoned madmen, and their warnings fell on deaf ears.
Around the borders of the Idoneth's cities the wreckage and waste resulting from their raids began to pile, so that each was encircled by a zone of sunken ships and the fish-picked bones of giant predators. These became another form of defence, for any cover upon the sea bed soon became the hunting grounds of the voracious sea monsters that stalked the deeps. The Idoneth felt secure, but it would not last.
The first few chinks in the era of solitude began with the return of an age-old nemesis. The Seekers of Slaanesh - wayward armies of daemons and tainted mortals - roamed the lands and seas of the realms in search of their missing god. One such questing army sought traces of their patron in Ulgu and chanced upon an Idoneth attack. Intrigued, the army's leader, the Keeper of Secrets known as Sslish the Depraved, followed the aelves and assailed them. At first the daemons were successful, but when an Eidolon of Mathlann was summoned the Chaos forces were annihilated. Yet daemons are immortal, and Keepers of Secrets often prove to be ill named.
Nigh on a century later, the Gaunt Summoners, seers and spellcasters of immense power in thrall to Archaon, began to follow strange threads of magic. Their unanswered questions led them to the true name of Sslish the Depraved, and so the greater daemon was brought out of banishment to stand before the SummonersвЂ™ master. Seeking still more information of what he suspected was an elusive foe of old, the Everchosen commanded the skaven Lords of Decay to plunder the oceans of the realms, to dredge their depths in search of these mysterious aelves. Most of the interlopers were caught and destroyed by the vigilant Idoneth Deepkin. Yet not all.
So began a new era for the aelves of the abyss. It was a time of invasions, of carefully crafted ambushes awaiting them in seemingly peaceful coastal settlements. The hunters had once again become the hunted, and many eyes sought to peer into a watery world previously considered the haunt of nothing more than beasts.
In a vicious cycle, the Idoneth Deepkin were forced to raid more often, for they needed to bolster their phalanxes and replace warriors that had been lost defending their empires. So were the Idoneth revealed at last to many of the other races of the Mortal Realms. To some it was as if the myths of old had come alive - the stories of cold-eyed raiders who rose from the waters to prey upon them proved to be true. To others it was simply confirmation of something they had long suspected. More importantly, it represented a chance to strike back against the raiders who had attacked them and then fled so quickly back to the impenetrable sea.
With the Age of Sigmar a new era was dawning. The forces of Order sought to negotiate with the Idoneth Deepkin, to count them amongst their growing civilisations and to ally with them against the forces of Chaos. However, their militant and isolationist views put them in frequent conflict with the races of the surface world, including other aelven factions. The Idoneth are compelled to raid, and some enclaves see no difference in the life-force of the Sylvaneth or Daughters of Khaine to that of men or orruks. Indeed, some enclaves far prefer it. Souls and their peopleвЂ™s solitude are the only currency the Idoneth Deepkin care about, giving not a whit for money, gems or diplomatic ties. So it is, at best, a fragile peace they hold with the forces of Sigmar and his allies.
The Idoneth Deepkin at war
Most other races of the Mortal Realms know nothing about the Idoneth save perhaps myths or rumours. The aelves of the deep have worked very hard to maintain their reclusive status, and the secret to their success has been the devastating thoroughness of their attacks.
Sudden ambushes and hit-and-run assaults are the forte of the Idoneth Deepkinэs phalanxes. Whether raiding for souls or sallying forth to attack foes approaching too closely to their underwater strongholds, the Idoneth advance with the speed of a surging wave. However, as swift as their warriors are, they are not the first thing to assail the foe.
Wherever the Idoneth Deepkin go, they bring the magic of their kingdoms with them. Before any troops arrive upon a battlefield a strange force washes over their destination, subtle at first, but becoming more and more pronounced. The area affected by this supernatural atmosphere can range from the size of a small fishing village to that of a sprawling city and its outlying defences. On land, no matter how far from a body of water, sea mists rise and the salt tang of the ocean hangs in the air. Underwater the effect is equally singular, as the liquid shimmers, growing ever murkier as if clouds of silt were wafting in upon some alien tide. This is the ethersea, a pervading aura of magic that lends aid to the Idoneth while thwarting the efforts of their foes.
As it manifests slowly, most observers surrounded by the ethersea dismiss the first signs, thinking them as tricks of the light. From the edges of the thickening mists phantasmal forms flicker from the nothingness, lone shapes at first, then entire shoals of fish dart through coral formations that rise from the ground. In the distance can be seen sunken relics that seem to materialise out of the darkened periphery. There lie the rotting hulks of shipwrecks or the half-buried bones of some enormous leviathan. Ethereal sea life gathers around such relics, a sight not so unusual underwater, but startling to see upon dry land.
Many opposing warriors drop their weapons in amazement, streams of bubbles issuing from their slackened jaws as they watch fish and other creatures of the deep glide in from the edges of the battlefield. Like mirages, they appear and disappear. Most are illusions, figments conjured to the battlefield by the spellcasters of the Idoneth, which vanish before a waving hand can reach out to brush them aside like gossamer. Sometimes, however, a hand sweeping out to scatter an illusionary shoal comes back missing fingers, clouds of blood billowing forth as if immersed underwater. Yet these are just distractions as the true threat arrives.
From the murky cover of the ethersea an Idoneth phalanx begins to arrive. Waves of Namarti act as light skirmishers. Reavers loose flights of arrows while Thralls advance, twirling two-handed blades in nimble arcs. The appearance of these graceful warriors is unnerving to those foes close enough to see, for the Namarti have no eyes. A thin veil of unbroken flesh stretches over each socket, lending them a disturbingly impassive aspect. Yet the aelves move as if they could see clearly, deftly reacting to any enemy attack.
For those who have not faced the Idoneth before - or have no memory of doing so - the next attack wave is more disconcerting still, for it is comprised of the Akhelians, the warrior nobility of the enclaves. More heavily armoured than the Namarti, they advance to war mounted atop creatures of the deeps - hulking Leviadons, voracious Allopexes or slithering Fangmora Eels. These aquatic beasts seldom breach the surface of the oceans, and to see them swimming through the air is a terrifying sight for those unaccustomed to such wonders. Many of the Idonethэs victims flee at this point, but in truth the horrors are only just beginning.
As one wave of the assault recedes another rushes in to take its place. Like the rising tide, each onrush seems to grow stronger, to penetrate further into any remaining defences. The brief lulls between these attacks are far from soothing, for disturbing shapes flit in the ethersea, playing upon victims' minds until they leap at every shadow.
Such apparitions are not simply evidence of fear running rampant amongst the enemy ranks, but also the panic-inducing magic of the Isharann at work. It is these practitioners of the arcane who bring the ethersea, and who wield the power of repression as a weapon just as their Akhelian counterparts wield the blade. As the foe scatters before this mental assault, mask-helmed figures bearing wicked scythe-hooks stride through the confusion, cruelly harvesting life-force as it departs bodies rent by sweeping blows. Meanwhile, those among the Isharann gifted with the spirit-sight single out particularly bright souls, illuminating them as blazing beacons which other Idoneth Deepkin are drawn towards like ocean predators in a feeding frenzy.
Finally, amidst the maelstrom of combat comes the shimmering form of an Eidolon of Mathlann. To foes it appears as a wrathful incarnation of an ocean deity, or some terrible daemon of the deeps. Whatever the truth, the Eidolons manifest as cloaked aelf-like figures that radiate the irresistible power of the seas, and inspire the aelves to greater feats of magic or fury.
As the tide rushes in, swift and unstoppable, so too does it ebb. Whether they feel the magic of the ethersea fading, have collected enough souls, or wish to avoid being drawn into a prolonged battle, the Idoneth Deepkin soon enact a strategic retreat, loosing volleys and counter-attacks as they leave. As suddenly as it arrived, the phalanx is gone, retreating back beneath the waves once again.
'We soon learned that the best way to halt rampaging sea monsters was to employ our own.' - Mor'u, first of the EmbailorsSince the founding of their undersea kingdoms, the Idoneth Deepkin have been forced to fight all manner of hostile sea creatures. As the aelves became more accustomed to their new environments, many turned their hand towards taming these animals, seeing their potential as beasts of burden or allies in war.
Most attempts to subdue sea monsters ended in violence. There were a few successes where a handful of Ochtar and Deepmares cooperated with the Idoneth, but no creatures could be domesticated, and most remained dangerously wild despite the best efforts of would-be beast handlers. Eventually, a new school of Isharann was founded - the Embailors.
There are many peoples of the realms that demonstrate a special sympathy with certain creatures, such as the Stormcast Eternals and their Dracoth allies, or the Fyreslayers and their Magmadroth steeds. Although such a bond was sought by the Idoneth with the beasts of the deeps, it was not to be.
Unable to tame most creatures, the Embailors instead used magic to break them, wearing the beasts down mentally so that they might be directed by any Akhelians brave enough to ride them. It was a long and distasteful process, punctuated by violent outbreaks and great loss of life. Many times sea monsters broke their bonds to rampage into densely populated cities, wreaking havoc before being hunted down and slain.
For the magical domination to work it was discovered that the blinding of the bond-beasts was required. Besides, the Embailors reasoned, in the deep places sight was seldom needed, and in the ethersea there were many other senses that could be attuned to work as well as or better than eyesight. So it was in this way that many ocean monsters were subdued and eventually enlisted into the Idoneth's work forces. The deadliest of the beasts were swiftly pressed into service with the phalanxes, where their strength and ferocity could be brought to bear against the Idoneth's foes.
Throughout the strongholds of each of the enclaves can be found all manner of bond-beasts at work. In the rare instances where light is needed, luminar fish are floated into position, their bioluminescence able to brighten even the largest abyssal vaults. The rock-boring druilfish aids Namarti in carving out underhalls or expanding the cave networks of some undersea cities. The arcane charge of the stora is drained to power many of the fanes of the Isharann, while the molten discharge of the fuiadon is channelled to fire the forges. It is in war, however, that the bond-beasts have truly earned their place amongst the Idoneth.
Akhelian cavalry are the elite heart of the Idoneth Deepkin military. The mighty Leviadon is the living fortress of the phalanxes, able to hold the centre of the Idoneth battle line or plough straight through the enemy no matter how deep or well armoured their formations. The blood-seeking Allopex rends gaping holes in enemy monsters and armies alike. Most common of all bond-beasts are the serpentine Fangmora Eels, creatures famed for their swiftness, aggressive tenacity and razor-sharp teeth.
Thus have some of the most ferocious creatures of the ocean depths been forced to serve those they once preyed upon. To this day, the Embailors are still seeking new creatures that they might bind into service.
- Namarti Thralls - Like all aelves, Namarti Thralls possess a physical grace that to other races appears almost supernatural. The Thralls march to war for the Idoneth as the main body of infantry, and it is their task to screen their comrades, then to engage and hold the foe in place. . In battle the Namarti Thralls fight with an array of weapons known as Ianmari - two handed swords, great scythe-axes or polearms of intricate design.
- Namarti Reavers -
- Akhelian Kings -
- Isharann Tidecasters -
- Isharann Soulrenders -
- Isharann Soulscryers -
- Eidolons of Mathlann -
- Volturnos - Volturnos, High King of the Deep is the first of the Idoneth and the last of the Cythai.
- Lotann - Lotann, Warden of Soul Ledgers
The Safety of solitude
It is not only beasts that the Idoneth struggle to connect with, but also other races and even members of their own kind. The enclaves routinely feud or withdraw from each other. In extreme cases they even go to war. This fervent isolationism pervades Idoneth society, and typically the aelves seek long periods of reclusion. During such times they attempt to minimise their cognitive processes, numbing their minds so that they might not think, feel or dream. Although it is long since their founders escaped Slaanesh, something terrible remains buried deep in their collective psyche.
The Idoneth Deepkin are secretive, their every move shrouded by spells of forgetfulness. Unbeknownst to the surface dwellers whom they prey upon, these mysterious aelves have fought and died to preserve their undersea kingdoms for thousands of years.
The true history of the Idoneth Deepkin begins before their ancestors arrived in the Mortal Realms. It was during the final stages of the destruction of the world-that-was that Slaanesh uncovered the last clusters of aelf-kind. These had been secreted by Mathlann, the aelven god of the deeps, but they were devoured all the same.
The Age of Myth
- To other races this is a time of gods and legends, but to the Idoneth Deepkin it is neither.
- A New Beginning - The first souls to be freed from bloated Slaanesh are the last the god consumed. Teclis the Illuminator reshapes this new race, teaching them magic in hopes of rebuilding the noble and glorious aelf empires of old.
- The Time of Exodus - The aelves moulded by Teclis prove volatile, first factionalising and then rebelling against their saviour. They grow to resent the god and shy away from his light of truth. Referring to themselves as the Cythai, or Awakened, these aelves flee, seeking sanctuary in the deepest place they can find - beneath the waves. They settle, albeit briefly, deep beneath the waves of the Gealus Ocean in Hysh, the Realm of Light. There they establish the city of Gealrachi, but the aelves are too divided to remain as a single people. Upon discovering the whirlways, they use them to spread out across the Mortal Realms. So are the first of the Idoneth Deepkin kingdoms founded.
- Bleak Reality - Now scattered across the Mortal Realms, each Idoneth faction makes the same discovery - no gods answer their calls. Worse is to come. To their horror, the aelves find that the vast majority of their offspring are born with withered souls. After many trials they find the means by which to steal replacement souls, and begin raiding immediately.
- The Missing Fleets - Travel at sea has always been a perilous venture, for ships disappear without trace due to storms or sea monsters. The Idoneth hunt the shipping lanes of the rapidly growing civilisations that have sprung up across the realms. They ambush fleets, sending the wrecks of entire convoys sinking to the sea floor. Such is the demand for souls, however, that coastal raids soon begin.
- The Sleeping City - The Ionrach enclave depletes all the fishing villages along the coast of Chosta-Fe, but they require more souls. Mustering all their forces, the Ionrach invade the underhalls of the duardin of Gronbek. The duardin fight hard to protect their treasure hoards, yet by the end of the battle, half the mountainhold inhabitants are dead and the remainder lie sleeping, never to awaken. Not a single gemstone or ingot of gold is taken.
- The Flotsam Isles War - During a long campaign against orruk forces, Volturnos of the Ionrach earns a Kingship. His destruction of the flotsam islands constructed by the greenskins all but ends the threat they once posed, and begins the meteoric rise that eventually sees him named High King.
- Legends of the Sea - By this point every coastline and shipping lane near to an Idoneth Deepkin colony is rife with myths and legends attempting to explain missing convoys, ransacked towns and strange discoveries of villages with sleeping populations that will not stir. The Idoneth"s development of magics which centre around the repression of memories ensures that even those foes who witness the Idoneth Deepkin and live soon forget about the sea aelves. Most losses suffered by their victims are blamed on the rising Chaos powers.
- The White Blade - Gwyth Banrionic, the first, and many say greatest, of the Dhom-hain Queens, leads a soul raid on the Sylvaneth inhabiting the coasts of Ghyran's Tendril Sea. The legendary general falls in battle after Alarielle herself arrives to aid the beleaguered forest folk. The famous Banmhar - the White Blade enchanted by Teclis himself - is lost during the hasty retreat from the enraged life-goddess. Since that time many questing parties have been sent out from Rundhar seeking the lost sword, but no sign of it has yet been found. Some say that Alarielle herself keeps the heirloom, for the Everqueen proves immune to the Idoneth's enchantments, and has not forgiven them since that day.
The Age of Chaos
- The wonders of the Age of Myth slowly crumble away beneath a growing Chaos assault. The mainlands of the surface dwellers are assailed, at first by daemons but soon also by mutated traitors and their own corrupted kinsmen. The undersea kingdoms of the Idoneth remain undiscovered by the servants of the Dark Gods, although many mindless monsters tainted by Chaos energies find their way to the ocean depths.
- Brother against brother - When Ionrach colonies begin probing the Ominod Sea near the Black Trough they spark a simmering feud that culminates in a brief but violent war between the Dhom-hain and Ionrach enclaves. Several additional Idoneth Deepkin factions take sides, but most remain neutral and call for peace. Several battles вЂ“ including the infamous Battle of Tears and the ambush at Glyngulch вЂ“ take place in Ghur, Ghyran and Hysh. The Dhom-hain cease to attend the assembrals.
- The Nautilar - Following disagreements over the recent internal strife, nearly a quarter of the Akhelians and Isharann of the Ionrach split off to form the Nautilar. They establish a city atop the shell of a Great Scaphodon, a continent-sized beast that wanders the seabeds of Ghur.
- Aelf Wars - Conflicts begin between the Daughters of Khaine and the Idoneth Deepkin. Several enclaves, notably the Fuethan and the Dhom-hain, show a preference for stealing aelf-souls over those of other races, whom they deem inferior. Although the temples of Morathi's kin prove difficult to find, hidden as they are in the Shadowlands of Ulgu, several war covens are found by the Idoneth and ambushed. The Khainites known as the Kraith vow revenge upon all Idoneth Deepkin.
- Discovered by Daemons - The questing armies of Slaanesh grow more and more prolific. They seek any sign of their missing god, leaving no corner of the Mortal Realms unturned, but concentrating especially upon Ulgu. In the Realm of Shadows, an army led by the Keeper of Secrets Sslish the Depraved picks up the scent of an Idoneth Deepkin raid from the Aighmar enclave and follows them back to their colony. Sslish is defeated but more trouble is soon to follow.
- Red Tides - The Nautilar and Dhom-hain put aside old grievances to annihilate a massive Bonesplitter orruk fleet. Appearing amidst the greenskins' vast raft-flotillas, the Idoneth smash apart the crude ships, dooming tens of thousands of orruks. So much blood is spilled in the water that it attracts all manner of Ghurish marine predators, which partake in a vast feeding frenzy.
- An ill omen - Following seams of realmstone, a skaven army tunnels up into one of the lesser colonies of the reclusive Mor'phann enclave in Shyish. There, along the base of the sea floor of the Great Quagmire, the battle is swift and one-sided. The victorious Mor'phann are put on high alert, redoubling their protective measures around their capital of Mor'drechi.
- Hunters of Chaos - The Briomdar actively send raids into the thick forests off the Mantle Coast, not to secure souls, but rather to cull the rising numbers of beastmen that infest the once-verdant glades. The Idoneth Deepkin form no alliance with the Sylvaneth there, and sometimes prey upon them, yet even they cannot bear to see the Children of Alarielle fall to Chaos.
The Age of Sigmar
- A new age begins as Sigmar's reopening of Azyr to the other Mortal Realms heralds a time of great change for the isolationist enclaves of the Idoneth Deepkin.
- By order of the Everchosen - Archaon, Exalted Grand Marshal of the Apocalypse, has long suspected the deep waters of the realms to harbour some sort of aelven presence. Although it takes a great deal of time, the Everchosen wrings the knowledge he seeks out of Sslish the Depraved and a number of Verminlords. Archaon puts great pressure upon the skaven to plumb the realms' oceans until they find definitive signs of the Idoneth.
- Soul Shattering - Over the course of a decade, three new skaven tunnels are detected and destroyed by the Mor'phann before the Idoneth are discovered by the ratmen. Alas, Aighmar, a descendent enclave, does not fare so well. In a series of campaigns culminating in the Siege of Blackfire, Aighmar's domains are breached and ultimately annihilated by the skaven, and its chorrileum is damaged beyond salvation.
- Council of Disharmony - When the Ionrach attempt to organise an assembral to aid the beset Mor'phann - who would never themselves ask for help - the Fuethan instead instigate what threatens to become a civil war. Staving off all-out conflict, the councils of the Ionrach steer the dispute towards de'comhrac, honour duels between Akhelian Kings. All too often, however, these ritual combats between Kings grow to larger battles where multiple phalanxes clash with one another.
- The Coast of Horns - The Idoneth of Dhom-hain become the first of their kind to encounter the Stormcast Eternals when Sigmar's Warriors arrive on the battlefield along Ghur's Coast of Horns. The desperation of the situation as well as the Idoneth's inability to sever the souls of the Stormcasts leads the two factions to form a temporary alliance.
- The Tide of Filth - The Briomdar stronghold of Green Gulch is invaded by Nurgle's Plague Legions, who seek the hidden refuge of Alarielle. Led by a triumvirate of Great Unclean Ones, the daemon armies threaten to contaminate the entire underwater fortress. Timely reinforcements are delivered by the Ionrach, led by High King Volturnos, who himself hunts down and slays the trio of greater daemons. Thanks to the magics of the Tidecasters, the filth is soon washed away. Following the battle, Volturnos seeks the Everqueen, hoping to make amends for the rift that lies between her and the Idoneth Deepkin. Alarielle, fearing a Chaos trap, remains in seclusion.
- Doompools - Tzeentchian forces tamper with many of the whirlways, the deep-sea Realmgates that the Idoneth use to traverse the realms. Many whirlways spawn strange vortexes that spin away, spewing daemons. Several grow into vast doompools that threaten to suck everything nearby into the Realm of Chaos. Many enclaves band together to close these swirling portals, fighting numerous campaigns against the daemons that seek to keep them open.
- Warden of the soul-ledgers - Thanks to his exemplary work, Lotann, greatest of Soul Wardens, is granted the title Warden of the Soul Ledgers at an historic Idoneth assembral. Thus does Lotann begin to aid not only the Ionrach, but all the enclaves of the Idoneth Deepkin.
- An alliance forestalled - Stormcast Eternal emissaries visit the Ionrach capital of Priom, beseeching the aid of the largest of the Idoneth enclaves. An assembral is held, with many enclaves abstaining or voting against any such alliance, despite the impassioned pleas of High King Volturnos. So did Sigmar's Stormhosts fight the battles of the Realmgate Wars with little to no help offered from the Idoneth Deepkin.
- Siege of the Great Scaphodon - Many enclaves report skaven incursions, but none are as damaging as the invasion of the Nautilar. The skaven fleet of decrepit submersibles and carc-ships, little more than the vermin-infested corpses of sea monsters, invade the Idoneth city-nation built upon the back of a Great Scaphodon. Spires are toppled, and the inner-whorl sectors of the titanic beast's shell are overrun with ratmen. Using strange drills, the skaven burrow deep into the Nautilar's capital.
The battles last for six years, spreading through nearly all of the hundreds of miles of shell-structures built upon the Great Scaphodon. The stubborn defence of the Nautilar staves off defeat, but it is only the arrival of High King Volturnos and the Stormcast Eternals that allows the Idoneth to take the offensive. At last, the skaven leader - Grystleback the Grey - is slain, but the damage caused to the Nautilar's empire is catastrophic, and the ratmen's lingering taint remains. The Nautilar go on to join the Ionrach in allying with the Stormcasts in several key conflicts.
- The Umbral Sea Ambush - Hoping to bring an end to hostilities between the Idoneth Deepkin and the Daughters of Khaine, High King Volturnos accepts a meeting with their leader, Morathi. He is eager to work out a truce between the two aelf peoples, but Volturnos is deceived. He has been lured into a meeting not with the High Oracle of Khaine, but with the Masque - a powerful daemon of Slaanesh. In the ensuing battle Volturnos loses an eye, but escapes with his life.
- Growing Civilisations - In many places across the Mortal Realms the forces of Chaos have been beaten back. Sigmar's Stormhosts lead the way in establishing settlements where none have stood since the Age of Myth.
Despite the obvious signs that the seeds of hope have been planted and are sprouting, the majority of Idoneth Deepkin remain isolationists. Only the Ionrach and their direct offshoots make any real effort to form alliances. Instead, the new cities raised by the resurgent forces of Order prove too tempting a target for the Fuethan, and the enclave launches a series of raids to claim the souls of their inhabitants. The trade routes that stretch from Azyrheim to the newly founded colonies become rich hunting grounds.
- The Draining of the Khaphtar Sea - When a skaven gnawhole drains the Khaphtar Sea, the Idoneth Deepkin who dwell there are exposed. Although the enclave cunningly escapes destruction with the aid of their kin from the Laebrean Basin, they are revealed to Nagash for the first time. Upon learning of a new race that steals the souls he regards as rightfully his, Nagash marks a new target for extermination.
- The Stirring of Slaanesh - The greatest of threats to aelven kind begins to stir once more. Due to the machinations of Morathi, the self-proclaimed High Oracle of Khaine, the trap that has long held the Chaos God Slaanesh has begun to shift.
Sensing their patron more than ever, Slaaneshi armies grow more daring in their searches, and dread fills the hearts of the Idoneth. The Ionrach call an emergency assembral, beseeching their disparate kin to join forces with the Stormcast Eternals and the growing coalition of Order. It is not so much the fact that the enclaves all share the same enemy which sways more of them to join, but that the undersea kingdoms no longer offer the unassailable sanctuary they once did.
- The Necroquake - A vast spell of Nagash's creation reaches its climax, sending waves of necromantic energy coursing over all of the Mortal Realms. In Shyish, the endless reservoirs of death magic are pulled towards a common point, a great Nadir that sinks through all of the underworlds. The Ymmerloc Idoneth of the arctic Helfrost in Shyish send warnings to their kin, but enclaves throughout the realms have already begun to feel the spell's effects.
Even as the domains of the Idoneth Deepkin are assailed by the undead, pleas for aid begin to arrive from the surface worlds as many of the nascent cities of Order find themselves sorely pressed by the legions of the Great Necromancer. Reluctantly, many enclaves send some of their phalanxes to aid the land dwellers. The Briomdar and Motlynians go to Alarielle's aid, whilst the Mor'phann and Ymmerloc join forces to aid the Stormhosts in Shyish. The Ionrach send troops everywhere, diverting significant resources to help their deep-sea kin and Order allies alike.