The Wych Cults or Hekatarri of Commorragh are second in prestige in Dark Eldar society only to the Kabals that sponsor them. The Dark Eldar thrive upon expert displays of bloodletting, and in the pursuit of murder the Wyches are talented females indeed. Gladiatorial fighters and combatants without equal, the Wyches are true artists in the realm of physical combat.
Melee kills invigorate the Dark Eldar because of the greater torment involved in the death of the victim. This reality is magnified in the Wych Cults, whose curved, envenomed blades extend the exquisite pain of every perfect cut. The knife or Venom Blade is a symbolic weapon for the Wych Cults; each blade is specially-crafted by a master and kept in a sheath outfitted with a gravitic sharpening field to ensure it is always ready to take a life. The myriad fighting styles of the Wych Cults are all based on the use of deception and cunning. They wield a variety of outlandish-looking weapons that can extend, enmesh, retract, split in two or snap an opponent's own weapon with a supple twist of the wielder's pale wrist. Many Wyches specialise in the use of these kinds of melee weapons. Amongst their number are the Wyches known as the Lacerai, who use segmented Razorflails that can split apart and lash out like a whip; the Hydrae, who use crystalline Hydra Gauntlets that can sprout and regrow a deadly profusion of new crystal blades; and the Yraqnae, who use electrified Shardnets and extendable, twin-bladed Impalers to ensure their victims never escape with their bodies -- or lives -- intact.
An exception to the otherwise genderless meritocratic Dark Eldar civilisation, Hekatarii, as the Wyches call themselves in the Eldar Lexicon, are almost exclusively female, and strictly matriarcal. This is because Dark Eldar females find it easier to attain the levels of athletic maneuverability and grace that their craft of killing demands. Male Wyches do exist, but rarely attain high rank in their cult and only the most exceptional male Wyches are ever allowed to do battle in the gladiatorial arenas of the Dark City. Despite this, strong males are a valuable asset for their cults, for they ensure that it is never at a lack for strong or talented offspring, and female Wyches often compete between themselves for the rights to take the most promising males as mates.
All Wyches take great pride in their appearance. They enter combat dressed with as much aesthetic care as if they were to meet a lover. Regardless of the cult they serve, Wyches wear the bladed black armour of the arena over one side of an impeccably elegant and skintight bodysuit known as a Wychsuit. The other side has sections deliberately cut away to expose their pale flesh, as if to tempt Death himself. The Wyches use a variety of combat drugs distilled by the Haemonculi covens to increase their already superhuman dexterity. When outnumbered in combat, Wyches will roll, backflip and pirouette out of the way of the foe, stabbing their blades into any vulnerable points on their enemies' bodies, slitting throats and gouging out eyes as they go. They flow like water around their foes' attempts to land a blow, their expressions of aloof arrogance melting into infuriating smiles of superiority as they drink in each fresh scream of agony.
Most Wyches wield a close combat weapon and Splinter Pistol, while others may make use of Shardnets, Impalers, Hydra Gauntlets and the dreaded Dark Eldar Razorflails. Squads of Wyches in combat also often use Plasma Grenades and Haywire Grenades for crowd control purposes and every Wych is armoured in her Wychsuit. Each squad of Wyches is led by one of their most skilled number, who is known as a Hekatrix and reports to the Wych Cult's ruling Succubus. The Hekatrixes with the most talent for murder may earn a place in the Succubus' own elite clique of murderesses, the Hekatrix Bloodbrides, who are led by an officer known as a Syren.
Types of WychesEdit
- Lacerai - The Lacerai are Wyches who wield the vicious, segmented Dark Eldar Razorflails in combat that lash out like a whip at their opponents.
- Hydrae - The Hydrae are Wyches who wield the strange weapons known as Dark Eldar Hydra Gauntlets that can sprout and regrow new crystalline blades from an unknown extradimensional source.
- Yraqnae - Yraqnae are Wyches who make use of the electrified Shardnets and twin-bladed Impalers of the Dark City's arenas to more artistically slay their victims without resorting to the use of any ranged weapon at all.
Each squad of Dark Eldar Wyches is led by a more skilled Wych known as a Hekatrix, who in her turn reports to the Wych Cult's ruling Succubus. It is common for a Succubus to gather the most talented and skilled of her Hekatrix handmaidens into a clique of elite murdereresses, led by the most skilled Hekatrix in the cult, who holds the rank of Syren. These cliques, whose members are known as Hekatrix Bloodbrides, are usually plagued by often intense rivalries for the Succubus' favour. When combat begins, however, Bloodbrides become an unstoppable force, ritually anointing themselves with the blood they spill from the foe as a foul testament to their own dark prowess in the arts of death, pain and terror. Hekatrix Bloodbrides are armoured in Wychsuits, and normally make use of Plasma Grenades, a Splinter Pistol and close combat weapons like Razorflails, Hydra Gauntlets, Shardnets and Impalers. The Bloodbrides' commanding Syren normally uses a Blast Pistol, a close combat weapon like a Venom Blade, Agoniser or another Power Weapon and sometimes keeps a Phantasm Grenade Launcher in reserve to deal with more immediate threats.
Notable Wych CultsEdit
There are dozens of Wych Cults operating amidst the labyrinthine corridors of the Dark City of Commorragh. Some of the most prominent are listed below:
- Cult of the Blade Denied
- Cult of the Flayed Hand
- Cult of Grief
- Cult of the Lethal Blade
- Cult of Murder
- Cult of Red Grief
- Cult of Strife - The Cult of Strife is a Wych Cult lead by the Succubus Lelith Hesperax. Like their Succubus, the Wyches in this cult refuse to use the standard Dark Eldar combat drugs to amplify their physical abilities, as they believe that the use of such stimulants lessens the sensations experienced in the heat of battle.
- Cult of the Seventh Woe
- Cult of Violation
- Cult of Woe
- Cult of Wrath
- Codex: Dark Eldar (5th Edition), pg. 27
- Codex: Dark Eldar (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 9