40K Lore: Dark Eldar Wyches
Loremasters, today we learn about the Wyches of the Dread Dark Eldar!
Wyches, also known as Hekatarii are gladiatorial warriors of the Dark Eldar, they each belong to one of the various Wych Cults of Commoragh. Wyches fight in arenas in duels with one another and with various captured aliens and beasts; few survive their first duel but those who live learn quickly. Ruled over by their Succubi, the Wyches are highly proficient at close-quarters combat, practising their skills for their entire lives. Wyches often use a cocktail of combat-enhancing drugs to improve their performance on the battlefield. A Wych squad-leader is known as a Hekatrix.
Because of Dark Eldar‘s unending need to bathe in murderous sensations, the Dark Eldar have evolved the Hekatarii, known in common parlance as the Wych Cults. Each Wych Cult is a thousands-strong organisation of gladiators that put on nightly displays of the most incredible violence; not only for the edification of the masses, but also for their literal sustenance. Such is the scale of the carnage staged by these armies of warrior-athletes that their audiences leave the arena with the glow of well-fed predators. In this way the populace is kept from full-scale anarchy – at least, those portions of Commorragh wealthy enough to attend the Wych Cults’ nightly performances.
Each Wych Cult has its own arena, which is as much a display of their wealth and status as it is a stage for their spectacles of violence. Comparing architectural masterpieces such as The Crucibael or Moedh Stair to the primitive amphitheaters of other civilisations would be much like comparing a glittering palace to a mud hut. Likewise, the Dark Eldar athletes that perform within them make the most gifted human acrobat look like an uncoordinated ape by comparison. Each arena has its own deadly charms and challenges, from staples such as spinning blades and enraged predatory beasts, to gravity-wells, kinetic inversion snares or even more esoteric and inventive hazards.
Most of the Hekatarii are female, for they are more often able to attain the pinnacle of poise and grace their craft demands. Male Wyches ensure that their Wych Cult is never wanting for strong offspring, yet though they are valued they rarely attain high rank. Certainly the Succubi who rule over the Wych Cults are universally female.
Almost every Wych Cult enjoys the patronage of a powerful Archon, for there is much glory to be had for the founders of the feast. More than this, however, the Wych Cults are powerful allies. After all, each is comprised solely of trained killers who enjoy nothing more than to prove their consummate skills in battle. This mutually agreeable arrangement ensures that the Wych Cults never run short of slaves and exotic combat stimulants. A good patron is always generous lest his stable of warrior athletes decides to bite the hand that feeds them. Meanwhile, the Archon gains the allegiance of a sisterhood of exceptionally trained Hekatarii to lend their blades to his raids upon realspace.
Lelith Hesperax is the Succubus of the Wych Cult of Strife. She is best known for her abilities in the Dark Eldar coliseums and is considered the undisputed master of the gladiatorial arenas. Instances have been recorded of her fighting up to ten opponents simultaneously without receiving a scratch. Her preferred combat dress is to expose as much bare skin as she can and to wear her floor-length hair loose in order to taunt her opponents into attacking, a fact that draws significant attention from spectators.
Away from the coliseums of Commorragh and on the battlefields of the 41st millennium she is unmatched in hand to hand combat and her speed and skill make her a truly deadly opponent. She later allied herself with the Ynnari in the quest to resurrect Ynnead.