"What fool would plan to defeat their enemy by dying forever themselves?"
- – Asdrubael Vect
Ynnead is the Eldar god of the dead and may or may not be the reincarnation of David Bowie. Ha! Bet you can't unsee that now!!!! (Cegorach pls)). He was previously more of a concept than an actual being, representative of what may be the last hope of the Eldar against their eternal enemy, Slaanesh - and possibly Chaos in its entirety.
When Slaanesh was born, she devoured most of the Eldar race, and their souls, and most of their gods, and basically caused a lot of things to get badly screwed up, making a terrible mess in the toilet afterwards that the Eldar were forced to mop up. The crap on the wall that won't scrub off was that the surviving Eldar found Slaanesh was constantly hungering for their souls, laying in wait for the moment when any member of their race died to completely consume them. In the past the Eldar believed that when they died, their soul would be reincarnated - with Slaanesh's coming, the Eldar's ability to reincarnate disappeared. To save themselves from this fate, the Craftworld Eldar use spiritstones to trap their souls upon death. The spiritstone is then used to intern the soul within the Infinity Circuit of a Craftworld, next to a carefully placed egg timer, where the soul is free to roam around and commingle with the other Eldar souls of the Craftworld.
As more souls over time have been added to the infinity circuits, the Eldar Farseers perceived something stirring from this collection of souls; this was Ynnead, a god formed from untainted Eldar souls and the power of Asuryan, the king of the Eldar gods, who passed on his power to the Farseers of the Eldar before he was devoured by Slaanesh. The Farseers believed that when the last Craftworld Eldar dies, Ynnead will be fully born and will rise up to cast down Slaanesh, destroying him/her/it forever. It's unknown whether this would have been feasible or not considering Slaanesh's immense power, but Ynnead represented the Eldar race's last, best hope for a better future, and so all their efforts went toward making him as strong as possible.
Worship of Ynnead was, and likely remains, pretty controversial among the Aeldari, as would be expected of xenos modeled on the "dying elder race" shtick. Death is literally his entire purpose and portfolio, and the species that alternately worships and reviles him is coming increasingly closer to extinction - about as permanent of a death as you can get in this universe. Their last and best hope is essentially a gamble involving the soul of every single Eldar, alive or dead, on the off chance that they might be rid of Slannesh forever, and if that fails...
Those who accept Ynnead have the following point of view: Ynnead is the Eldar god of the dead. Or at least he will be, as he is currently being created. He is in godly limbo at the moment while the Eldar try to amass enough pure souls, or at least souls that have overcome petty desires, in the various Craftworlds' Infinity Circuits which are bonded together by the Eternal Matrix that links all the Infinity circuits and World Spirits together through the Webway, to give him enough mojo to become a proper god.
With the release of the Gathering Storm, it turns out that the Ynnead is anathema to the Chaos Gods and they are actually afraid of it - yeah, and Khorne wears high heels. On the other hand, Slaanesh has already been put on a bus in Age of Sigmar (Never mind he's getting some new stuff already) and Ynnead is a pretty good way to put Slaanesh on a bus in 40k too.
Other Aeldari see the worshipers of Ynnead as a misguided heretical death cult who are risking the souls of the Aeldari race on a gamble. It also doesn’t help that the Yncarne bears more than a passing resemblance to Slaanesh.1
Basically, Ynnead is the Eldar's last hope against Slaanesh. Ynnead is the Eldar god of the dead and may or may not be the reincarnation of David Bowie. He's alive (for a given value) and active now, but this is new fluff and as always in WH40k the Eldars' plan did not survive contact with reality.
Slaanesh was born out of unbridled hedonism, giving them the theme of extreme pleasure. Ynnead is born out of the dead post-fall Eldar who are vengeful but still optimistic stuck-ups, so Ynnead would theoretically be born out of the Eldar's vengeance and hopes for a better tomorrow. Assuming it follows the same process as Slaanesh; Ynnead probably won't go rogue and will follow the main purpose of its creation. Probably.
Could the Eldar have simply had a bunch of Farseers, Warlocks, and Exarchs of each Path commit ritual suicide to reincarnate as an Eldar-Emperor being like the ancient human shaman did in outdated fluff? Probably, but these are Eldar. Their whole schtick is being cowardly pussy-tards. They would probably be too afraid of failing and being eaten to take such a chance. Or worse, it succeeds inside Slaanesh, further strengthening the abomination. That sounds about right for 40K.
Something to consider: Ynnead is a very different god then any other active entity in the setting. All of the other gods are immortal beings of perpetual nature. They are always focused on the concept of being endless, be it stagnation, warfare, evolution or excess. Only The Emperor shares a base concept with Ynnead, which is the concept of finality. Ynnead is the god of Death, and death is by its very concept a mortal thing, making it impossible for the Chaos gods to comprehend. So few demons are truly destroyed that the ruinous powers don’t actually view the concept beyond something mortals do in their spare time, and facing mortality would be such an alien concept that it would make them fear its existence. Ynnead was able to negate the position of Slaanesh, the disease of nurgle, the sorceries of tzeench and stop the senseless conflict of khorne. It’s existence is the possibility of ending them, and so they fear what they cannot understand. Ynnead May be small now but if it ever reaches a higher strength, the Chaos gods will have major problems.
The Gathering StormEdit
Surprise! Instead of sucking up all the dead Eldar souls, Ynnead is prematurely "born" during the 13th Black Crusade following the fall of Cadia. Eldrad Ulthran attempts to summon him early by stealing the fossilized bodies of all the dead Farseers from all the Craftworlds, and conducting an elaborate ritual on a crystal moon. It gets fucked up by the Deathwatch, and only a tiny fraction of Ynnead enters the Materium.
After searching through space, this fragment discovers Yvraine. Due to her history, she was considered the ultimate expression of being Eldar because apparently the true Eldar are supposed to travel all the paths of life, even the dark ones. With her is the Visarch, a former Exarch of the Dire Avengers who trained Yvraine and had his heart broken when she chose to leave rather than succeed him. He ended up sneaking into Comorragh, pretended to be an Incubus, and fought his way to Yvraine after she unlocked the power of The Sword of Sorrows, one of the severed fingers of Morai-Heg forged into a sword by Vaul. The Visarch would later get his own sweet croneblade, The Sword of Silence, when it was pulled from the heart of Craftworld Biel-Tan.
Together, Yvraine and the Visarch become the prophets of Ynnead, preaching that not ALL the Eldar have to die for Ynnead to be born. This ends up fracturing Eldar society at all levels, and Biel-Tan ends up tearing itself apart over whether or not this is actually Eldar heresy. The destruction of Biel-Tan causes all kinds of Warp holes to tear themselves into existence around the ruins, and Ynnead births an Avatar through them known as the Yncarne (get the pun?), the one-horned ghost-fire model that's been making the rounds in photos of the latest White Dwarf.
Yvraine, Visarch, and Yncarne are now gathering an army of all the branches of the Eldar race who believe they can fight Chaos without all having to hara-kiri, while those who don't believe in Ynnead are preparing to kill all the heretics for daring to alter the fate of the Eldar. Eldrad himself is imprisoned and placed on trial by the Eldar Inquisition, because he's not Eldar enough, and proposed, after his failure to birth Ynnead, allying with the Imperium of Man to defeat Chaos once and for all. Even if the other Eldar don't like the idea of becoming best buddies with the Imperium they still reluctantly agreed that they are still the best of a bad bunch, what with the other options being either the Orks or Tau both of who are either too "young" (translated as to naïve and inexperienced to face the forces of Chaos and lack the incredible power of any major faction) or simply too uncooperative and uncouth to be allied with (basically ever alien that isn’t a devoted Imperial citizen ordered to cooperate), that didn't stop Yvraine from helping to resurrect Roboute Guilliman, so perhaps an actual alliance may be possible.
It may also be that Ynnead simply disagrees with the stupidity of not allying with the only faction both willing and able and actively doing something against chaos. It could also be possible that once Guilliman gets in charge the Imperium will stop killing everything that isn't human and start killing everything that is a demon with them.
The five Croneswords are legendary shapeshifting blades said to have been formed from the five broken fingers of the severed hand of Morai-Heg. According to legend, the five blades are imbued with a connection to Ynnead, and will reveal themselves when the unborn god begins to stir, where the blades will find their way into the right hands and lead to the eventual salvation of the Eldar race.
The blades are as follows:
- Kha-vir, the Sword of Sorrows - The first awakened blade, appeared to Yvraine while in the fighting pits of Commoragh
- Asu-var, the Sword of Silent Screams - Was pulled out of the Biel-Tan Infinity Circuit before the craftworld broke apart, is now held by the Visarch
- Vilith-zhar, the Sword of Souls - Currently wielded by the Yncarne, was recovered from Belial IV.
- The Spear of Twilight - Relic weapon of the Iyanden Craftworld, said to drain the life of its wielder. Had been wielded by Prince Yriel since the invasion of Hive Fleet Kraken, it's power awakened after Yriel fell to Nurgle daemons and resurrected him.
- The fifth blade has not been found, but is currently being sought on the Necron infested Exodite World of Agarimethea by Nuadhu Fireheart of Craftworld Saim-Hann. (potentially a returned special character for the next codex?)