- "While most of our folk live in the security of our fortified cities one of the clans, the Shades of the Blackspine Mountains, is a notable exception. The Shades are a silent and deadly brotherhood of warriors who guard the mountain passes to the west. They live apart from the rest of Dark Elf society, waging an endless war against the enemies of Malekith."
- —Furion of Clar Karond.[1a]
Shades are scouts without compare, able to move as swiftly and silently as ghosts through thick forest, across razor-sharp rocks and along the twisting caverns of the Underworld Sea.[2a] The Shade's hardiness makes them valued additions to any raiding fleet, and many Dreadlords expend much wealth in enticing them to their cause.[3a] Companies of Shades disembark from the fleet under cover of darkness, before moving inland to locate targets for the Dark Elves' raids. From hidden positions, they spy on the opposing forces, determining their location and strength, and ambush enemy pickets and outriders to conceal the presence of the Dark Elf army. When the warriors of the fleet attack, the Shades use their skins to infiltrate behind the enemy battle line, from which position they can harass the foe as they advance, or strike out and slay the crew of war machines.[2a]
Hardened to the harsh climate of the Blackspine Mountains and locked in an eternal battle with the ferocious creatures of Naggaroth, the Shades are well-armed and canny fighters. All carry repeater crossbows that they use for hunting, while many carry extra swords and daggers, or heavier blades. The Shades were once city-dwellers like other dark Elves and formed the ruling elite of Clar Karond. It was nobles and warriors from the Shade family that were keenest to explore the Underworld Sea, seeking a passage to the western coast. As their explorations took them further and further into the dark, unknown chambers, their enemies in Clar Karond gathered against them. Eventually they were ousted from power, and rather than serve as slaves to their usurpers, they chose voluntary exile in the harsh mountains.[2a]
For a score of centuries the Shades have lived in the mountains, learning the secrets of survival in one of the fiercest climates in the world. The rulers of Clar Karond fear that one day the Shades will return to stake their claim to the city, but this is unlikely, for the clans of the Shades now seem more at home on wind-swept mountain ridges and in shadowy canyons. Even amongst the vicious Dark Elves, the Shades are considered feral, for they practice all manner of strange, unforgiving rites. Their children are abandoned outside the camps on midwinter's eve and are expected to survive and find their way home. Animal sacrifices made to the beating of drums liven the cold nights whilst the Shades drink fermented blood, and the tents of the Shades are made from the skins of their prey — whether Elf, Man, Orc or other beast.[2a]
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The Shade tribe of the Knives of Khaine fought at the Battle of Reaver's Mark at the command of Malus Darkblade. After the battle they flayed the skin off dead High Elves to sell at profit. They committed gruesome atrocities against the Elves of Tor Emyrath. Although they were one of the clans under the auspices of Morathi, it is unknown whether they survived or remained loyal long enough to fight under the Aestyrion in the later stages of the war.[4a]
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (6th Edition)
- 1a: pg. 7
- 2: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (7th Edition)
- 2a: pg. 48
- 3: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (8th Edition)
- 3a: pg. 40
- 4: The End Times III: Khaine (Book 1)
- 4a: pg. 38