More Eldary thoughts.
“Dear. Mr Thorpe.
Are Harlequins trapped on a Path like the Exarchs are?
The short answer is no. The long answer gives away too many of my ideas about Harlequins that I have vowed never to reveal in full. Here is the medium answer…
In the time leading up to, during and following the Fall, the Eldar society as it had been was fragmented. There were four different responses to the creation of Slaanesh and the potential doom of the Eldar, leading to the emergence of four different Eldar sub-societies.
Let’s deal with the Exodites first. They saw something of the cataclysm to come and decided to try to wind back time. They left for the Maiden Worlds and retrenched their lives in a culture that existed (or they believed to have existed) before the descent into hedonism that led to the Fall. Their attitude harks back in time, trying to reverse the state of the Eldar. The spirits of their dead are locked up in the World Spirit of each Maiden World, forever protected from Slaanesh but divorced from reality, unable to truly die.
Then we have the Craftworld Eldar. They fled at the time of the Fall, and through the creation and adoption of the Eldar path, they seek to maintain the status quo, suppressing the cultural and personal factors that led to the Fall. They are in stasis, neither going back nor going forward. Their spirits end up in the infinity circuit of each Craftworld, neither dead nor alive, trapped for eternity but able to be given the semblance of life again in spirit stones.
Next are the Dark Eldar. I don’t know what new information and revelations may be in the forthcoming codex, but here’s where we were the last time I talked to anyone else about this sort of thing. The Dark Eldar strive to maintain the society of the Eldar as it was at the time of the Fall, ignoring the lesson of the past but unable to move forward. They live entirely in the present, hand-to-mouth in a psychic sense, sustaining their existence on a day-by-day basis. Their spirits are drained and replenished in an unending cycle.
Which brings us to the Harlequins. They see themselves as the future of the Eldar. They look upon the other Eldar societies and see that all of them are simply trying to survive rather than change. They are the true radicals of the Eldar, and they have a plan so audacious it fills other Eldar with horror. Their plan, their existence, stems from the myth of the Laughing God. This myth tells us that the Laughing God, Cegorach, eluded Slaanesh’s grasp and survives to this day. He is the only god to have properly survived the Fall according to the Harlequins, and in this lies their secret.
The myth goes on to say that every now and then Cegorach steals the soul of an Eldar from under the nose of Slaanesh, spiriting it away to safety (possibly whilst dancing, that’s Harlequins for you). They believe that in the long term, the only way to defeat Slaanesh is to break the link between the Eldar and She Who Thirsts. The Harlequins see themselves as those saved by the Laughing God, and in performing their masques, and in particular the Dance Without End, seek to show the other Eldar that the Fall cannot be turned back, it cannot be ignored, it cannot be appeased. The future of the Eldar depends upon being able to live in freedom from Slaanesh’s grip, and the only way to do that is to be rescued by the Laughing God. Their spirits…? Their spirits are saved by Cegorach, free to live and die without the touch of Slaanesh.