Maiden Worlds, or Lilaethan in the Eldar Lexicon, are the lush paradise worlds originally created through advanced terraforming techniques from lifeless Dead Worlds by the Eldar before the Fall of their race's ancient interstellar empire in the 30th Millennium. The creation of these worlds involved seeding formerly barren planets with life, gradually leading to their transformation into lush, life-supporting worlds. The seeding of worlds was part of a program of colonisation which would take many thousands of years to reach fruition, and the result would only be seen by much later generations of Eldar, though in fact many of these worlds ended up being settled by other sentient races like humans and Orks, much to the Eldar's chagrin and anger.
The terraforming of Dead Worlds to make them habitable for Eldar life was part of a program of colonization which would take many thousands of years to reach fruition, and the result would only be seen by later generations of Eldar. The development of a lifeless planet into a Maiden World was a slow one. Simple bacteria were first introduced to create a stable, oxygenated atmosphere and gradually more complex organisms were added to stabilise the growing eco-systems of the planet. Eventually, in the distant future, the world would be ready to colonise by the Eldar. Once the process began it was fairly self-sustaining but took thousands of Terran years to complete.
These terraformed worlds are referred to by the Eldar as Lilaethan ("Maiden Worlds" in the Eldar Lexicon) after Lileath, the Eldar Goddess of Dreams. They are often extremely rich in natural resources and safe from any virulent microorganisms because their ecosystems were genetically engineered to resist harmful lifeforms. The Eldar consider these worlds, even when uninhabited or currently inhabited by another sentient species, as rightfully their own, created by their forefathers for them to settle.
As the ancient star-spanning Eldar empire neared its Fall, many groups among the Eldar denounced their decadent societies, abandoning their homeworlds in a series of migrations called the Exodus. These Exodites travelled far from their collapsing empire and settled the still-barren Maiden Worlds. The terraformed worlds survived the Fall of the Eldar, and continued to develop on their own. In the Age of the Imperium these worlds are now verdant paradises. Inevitably, many have been settled by the colonists of non-Eldar intelligent races. Although these races may have lived on the Maiden Worlds for thousands of years, the descendants of the colonists are considered nothing less than invaders by the Eldar of the Craftworlds.
After the Fall, the Eldar began to settle the verdant worlds they had created, sometimes finding these planets already inhabited by other sentient races. The "invaders" are given the choice of either leaving peacefully or being exterminated by the military forces of the Craftworlds. Even in cases where the colonists are feral human or Ork savages with no technological means of leaving the planet, the Eldar have mercilessly followed through with the threat of extermination.
Known Maiden Worlds
- Hannibal - An Eldar Maiden World later settled by human colonists.
- Twenty-Eight Four - An unnamed Eldar Maiden World brought to Imperial Compliance by the Emperor's Children Legion during the Great Crusade in the Perdus Region.
- Torvendis - A sentient Maiden World at the very heart of the Warp rift called the Maelstrom. After being tortured and driven insane by the daemonic Chaos minions inhabiting it, it eventually destroyed itself as revenge against the Chaos Gods who had imprisoned it and treasured it for so long.
- Eth-aelas - The site of the destruction by the Eldar of the second tendril of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Naga.
- Lilae'Fionnadh (Dread Pearl) - An ancient Maiden World lost to a Warp Storm during the Fall of the Eldar and later colonised after its return to realspace by human settlers who renamed the planet Dread Pearl.
- Codex: Eldar (2nd Edition)
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition)
- White Dwarf 126, p. 28
- Inquisition War Trilogy (Novel Series), Harlequin
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Daemon World (Novel)
- Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), p.16-17
- Rogue Trader: Lure of the Expanse by Fantasy Flight Games, p. 97