In the final years before the Fall and the collapse of the Eldar civilisation, those Eldar still sane enough to be appalled by the spiralling degeneration of their society fled in the giant spaceships known as Craftworlds. Some of these were trading ships, while others were scratch-built generation ships. Reia-Hal was of the latter type, and one of the last to leave. The order for the Craftworld to be built came from the great prophet Farseer Vandora, one of the greatest psykers ever seen among the Eldar at the time, or since by her Craftworld-kin’s descendents. Having remained at home trying in vain to help stop the rapid deterioration of her people’s ethics and sanity until the last possible moment, Vandora only left as her society collapsed around her, rescuing those few of her kin that could still be saved. The million or so Eldar refugees she took with her had a great and terrible understanding of how dire the depravity of their people became in those last days, and were some of the first to hear of the cataclysmic birth of Slaanesh that tore the heart out of their realm and almost all living there – therefore they developed an even grimmer determination to survive and avoid the same fate.
Fleeing the Eye of Terror which had consumed her homelands, Vandora instructed her kin to set course for the other side of the galaxy, far away from the ruin of their empire, and start a new beginning. Their Craftworld was christened Reia-Hal, or “Hawk of the Rising Star”, after the great bird of prey in Eldar mythology who was the son of the Great Hawk and Faolchú. The Eldar legends tell of Reia-Hal the Star Hawk appearing after the War in Heaven as a new star rose in the sky; he gathered up the bodies of the children of Kurnous and Isha whom Khaine had killed and carried them to the sky where they were turned into planets and moons. Eldanesh became the red moon above the Eldar homeworld, and the others were scattered throughout the firmament for the mortal children of the gods to settle. It is this concept of creating new life and hope out of the ashes of tragedy that his name represents and is carried on in the spirit of Reia-Hal craftworld. A hawk with outspread wings and a great 4-pointed star superimposed therefore features prominently in Reia-Hal heraldry. The craftworld rune is Isha’s Chalice (most commonly associated with Biel-Tann) set above and joined to the Soulstone rune. Together they symbolise the preservation and rebirth of the Eldar civilization despite the great cataclysm of the Fall.
It took over 10,000 years for Reia-Hal to traverse the length of the galaxy towards the star that the Star Hawk rose from in Eldar myth, guided all the way by Vandora until she passed into the Craftworld’s Infinity Circuit. Until then Vandora had been the sole chief consul of the Seer Council, but now with her passing Reia-Hal reorganised their Council to be led by a pentamerism of the Craftworld’s most accomplished Seers, who would be known as the Five. Almost traditionally, one of Vandora’s direct-line descendents has always sat on the Seer Council, and often reached the honoured position of one of the Five. The House of Vandora’s current representative on the Seer Council is High Farseer Velora, who has inherited his ancestor’s clairvoyant prowess and is universally recognised as foremost among the Five. Velora himself is a wise and gifted Seer, but even he sometimes seeks out Vandora’s spirit in the Dome of Crystal Seers for advice in particularly difficult times. Such difficult times have been growing ever more frequent, with campaigns such as Medusa V, the 13th Black Crusade, and clashes around the Drasanac nebula to prevent the discovery of their protectorate maiden world of Mironin Raibha ("Preserved Dream").
Domestic affairs across the craftworld itself are handled by Eldar on the Path of the Administrator, collectively referred to as the Court of Asuryan after the king of the Eldar pantheon who would often arbitrate the disputes of his fellow gods.
The Reia-Hal have a unique structure to their Seer Council. The council is formed of several “rings” of seers, which are advanced through on a merit basis, with the innermost circle consisting of a small group of council elders known simply as “the Five”. The Five consist of the wisest and most venerable farseers of the craftworld at that time, and handle much of the council’s official communication with other political bodies. The Five are the head of the guiding council by virtue of their prodigious psychic abilities and are considered the ultimate authority on the Craftworld, with many important decision such as the craftworld’s course through the void being made by them or at least influenced by their advice. In turn, many of the Five’s decisions involving the craftworld’s foreign policy are taken with input from other bodies (such as the ancestor spirits of the infinity circuit, or the Court of Exarches in times of war). It is a relatively slow back-and-forth of democratic process, but the conservative caution from the time before Warseer Kamité’s reforms remains in the Reia-Hal psyche, and most of them would rather see a correct decision made than a rash one. Notable exceptions are events that threaten multiple craftworlds such as the 13th Black Crusade or the Medusa V campaign, where the Reia-Hal were quick to decide to stand with their brothers. This is thanks to Vandora, and her principle that they must work together with their kin of the other craftworlds if they were ever to regain what they had lost. Sadly, when it is a matter of domestic interest rather than raw survival, this principle moves closer to being easier said than done.
Crime in the traditional sense is rare on a craftworld, thanks to the easy availability of most resources and the strong self-discipline that the Eldar path attempts to cultivate. While the Reia-Hal recognise and accept their own volatile natures, they do not tolerate its effects outside the confines of the warrior path. Violence against another Eldar of Reia-Hal meets with mandatory transferral to the Path of the Warrior until they master themselves, or else permanent exile from the craftworld. Though there is no official stigma against such Eldar once they return to the civilian paths, personal resentment on behalf of the victim or their family and friends is another matter.
To an outsider the Eldar might seem to be a post-scarcity society, totally self-sufficient. This is not strictly true, and although they do not use currency in the traditional sense, the Reia-Hal do use a system to assign value to their goods. Like most other craftworlds, Reia-Hal’s “finances” are handled by the infinity circuit which tracks a balance of every Eldar’s resource consumption against worthy contributions to the craftworld, which is understood by the Eldar themselves on an innate level. Though esoteric, it is based on the subconscious opinions of the receivers and of the majority population as a whole, which makes it reasonably fair. For example, the work of Farseers is rated very highly by general consensus and they receive a large amount of “credit” for their efforts. Corsair fleets who have undertaken campaigns on Reia-Hal’s behalf can expect to receive hospitality and supplies in return. Poor work ethic, though rare among the Eldar given the deeply-ingrained stigma against hedonism, usually results in exile to the Path of the Outcast. Of course, there are occasional disagreements of opinion, and a feeling of being underappreciated has sometimes driven a Reia-Hal to join the corsair fleets, where the rewards of their individual work are more visceral.
The resource situation on Reia-Hal is governed by the unique nature of Eldar technology, and the craftworld’s own specific design as a generation ship. Most construction is based on warp-based psychoplastics created and moulded by talented Eldar bonesingers, which can be dissolved back into the warp once their use is exhausted. Metals are also used, and these must be obtained from temporary mining stations set up on maiden worlds. The volume required is kept to a minimum by highly efficient recycling processes, where Eldar on the Path of the Artificer use psychically instigated nano-reassembly to return weathered metals to pristine state.
Most domestic energy for homes, industry and machines comes directly from the warp via the channelling medium of wraithbone, energy which is also used to split hydrogen and oxygen from water for vehicle fuel (some of the larger vehicles instead use small fusion reactors). This water is drawn from the various fresh and saltwater seas that cover certain areas of the craftworld, which provide both a source of food and a preserve for the aquatic species saved from their original homeworld.
Food production is largely automated, with large areas of arable land tended by semi-sentient robots overseen by Eldar on the Path of the Agrarian. Like most Eldar, the Reia-Hal prefer the product of Eldar hands to that of automata - such mass-production is restricted to staples where possible, while specialised Agrarians, Treesingers and Herdsmen produce more luxurious foods.
The craftworld’s air is replenished by large forests of trees specially modified to maximise oxygen production, which are separate from the more biodiverse trees found in the craftworld’s nature preserves. Occasionally the craftworld’s soil needs regenerating with minerals drawn from the maiden worlds, though this is mitigated by the negligible growth of the craftworld since its construction. Reia-Hal was built to accommodate many times more Eldar than ultimately succeeded in escaping on it, and the craftworld’s population has not grown as fast as was hoped following the exodus.
The Path of the Scientist is designed as much for the Eldar’s own personal understanding of the universe as for the good of the craftworld. Although the psychically-augmented technologies of the Eldar are miraculous by the standards of other races, they are still nothing compared to the heights reached prior to the Fall. Some of the Reia-Hal view this as a good thing, but the will to rediscover what they have lost remains strong among the Eldar of the Technologist path.
The traditional heraldry of Reia-Hal is dark blue, originally the ritual colour of the Brotherhood of Endobai who venerated the mythical bird dynasty of which the Star Hawk was a scion. This colour can be seen on the ceremonial armour of its guardians and vehicle hulls, although this is often hidden behind gceilfi (a less advanced version of ranger coldras, which retains the adaptive camouflage but without the sensor-baffling properties) on the battlefield. Their Avatar however always wears blue armour, which glows almost white with the heat emanating from his molten skin after he has been awakened. The ceremonial armour of Reia-Hal’s aspect warriors is usually in the colours of their respective shrine, which temporarily supersedes the craftworld’s own colours. Like the guardians, practicality supplants ritual on the battlefield and the armour contains gceilfi adaptive camo.
The inhabitants of Reia-Hal have a particular code when it comes to how their spirit-stones are worn, with female Eldar having them set into the flesh of their forehead at birth, whereas males go by the more traditional route of bearing it on the front of their robes, or on a chain round their neck. This code is a throwback to their original homeworld, where newborn female Eldar would be anointed with a more mundane gem in honour of a similar Urna supposedly worn by the goddess Lileath.
Although the Eldar ceremony of soul binding (roughly equivalent to marriage) is not a requisite of a relationship or of treading the Path of Maternity, it is a deeply symbolic act that all craftworlders honour - in the case of the Reia-Hal, through the wearing of rune-inscribed bracelets by the bound couple. Each pair of bracelets has a unique pattern of runes, the style and order of which symbolise the personalities and shared experiences that connect the two Eldar. Each bracelet also incorporates a small psi-reactive gemstone, which glows when placed near its counterpart.
THE PATH OF WANDERING
It is one of the great tragedies of the Eldar race that a small but significant portion of their young generation choose the physically and spiritually dangerous Path of Wandering early in life. The Reia-Hal tolerate this, partly out of respect for an individual’s right of choice, and partly because they interpret the Path of Wandering as a way to allow an Eldar to face up to the dark passions within themselves, just as the Warrior Path faces up to their bloodlust. Resisting the lure of Slaanesh without the discipline and guidance present on the Craftworld is one of the hardest tests of the Eldar psyche, and for this reason those that master the Ranger path suffer no stigma when they return home to take up more conventional paths.
In 879.M41 Fenix Etherion formed a unique body of elite rangers known as the Shada Kurnous (the “Spears of Kurnous”). They continue to hone their stealth and fieldcraft skills even after returning to Reia-Hal and taking up other paths, and pledge to return to the ranger path whenever the craftworld requests (much as former aspect warriors can return to their path as warlocks). The dangers of retaking any martial path, and the Path of Wandering in particular, are well known. There was significant opposition to Fenix’s proposition, and the Court of Asuryan ruled that an aspiring Shad must undergo a series of trials both mental and physical before being accepted.
Nevertheless, the Shada Kurnous form a valuable corps of professional volunteers that can be called upon at any time (indeed, the Reia-Hal make at least as much use of the Shada as they do their citizen militia) and at any given time there will be many members of the Shada spread across the surrounding systems performing a variety of daring exploration, espionage, infiltration and sabotage missions.