Thursday, 8 March 2018

Thy Soul to Keep, Part 2

The Mists of War

Kalyustar came to his senses to find himself held by grim looking Wörtbaders. The armed peasants looked at van Toorn in puzzlement.

"But... Herr Hexenjäger... that falling star left a bloody trail in the sky!" said one.
"He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named is coming!" added another speaking in panic over him.
"We must hurry or..."
"Enough! Can't you see that was a sign from Sigmar? The God-King will deliver retribution to those that threaten this land! And I can not wait to be in Wörtbab to question this treacherous wizard" van Toorn's damning gaze fell on Kalyustar.
"There is wisdom in these men's words, Witch Hunter. Lunaghast still speaks to me and..."
"Silence!" a fist to the stern cut the word's out of Kalyustar's mouth.
As he gasped on the ground, a red haze creeped in, filling his lungs. The wizard convulsed, his mind and body ravaged by the vanishing voice of Lunaghast and a violent thirst for battle.
A Red Mist now covered the whole Harrowmark.

The Wörtbaders spread around swinging their weapons at the creeping mist, an unnatural frenzy in their eyes. A greenish glow cut through it as the Haunted Gate flicker and the Raidho Othalas emerged from it.

The Red Mist parted to reveal a regal looking spirit surveying the woods from the battlements of the Freebooter's Tower. Below it, his minions advanced through the woods.

"He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named!" the wisper came from the Wörtbaders.
"Prepare your bows and pistols! We'll fight them and we'll send them away from your lands!" the note of aggression in van Toorn's voice resonated with the men, replacing their fear with battle lust.

The Kharadron spread out of the Gate and levelled their weapons at the advancing undead. And yet, the ghosts advanced, material and aetheric shots alike passing through their forms. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named floated down from the Freeboter's Tower and joined his servants.

With a chilling laughter, Lyrd Radclyffe emerged from the Red Mist and riding past Kalyustar schyted through the Wörtbaders.

Kalyustar fought the pain wracking him and harnessed his powers to dispatch the Hexwraith.

Screaming furiously, van Toorn charged and mauled the Deathrattle warrior that had been jarringly advancing towards them. The Witch Hunter then turned towards the distant duardin, a homicidal light in his eyes.

The duardin stubbornly planted their feet and prepared another salvo. Yet, they too were about to give in to frenzy. That much Kalyustar could see through the ruddy haze.

It is the Mist. Run, Soulchemist! the voice came clear, chasing away the pain that was plaguing Kalyustar. Without a second tought, the wizard slinked away into the woods. As he sped up, he glanced back to see humans, duardin and nighthaunt bathed in the seething Red Mist, their battle frenzy growing stronger with every bloody lung-full.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Thy Soul to Keep, Part 1

The Well of Souls

The Balemoon had risen every night since Kalyustar had found the shadeglass skull. The voices had come even more often, and by the Balemoon light they spoke of the Shattered Circle, where the souls of those dieing in the region were drawn. There, Kalyustar could find his lost men. If only he could continue to evade van Toorn. He had left the Witch Hunter for dead, but knew that it took more then some spirit hosts to do away with the Azyrite. And then, next to the Balemoon, Lunaghast had appeared. 'Follow the Balemoon now, Soulchemist! Use the secrets unveiled by Lunaghast to rejoin with your men'. Kalyustar looked up at the two moons and knew that was right. His men had died for him, they deserved a new life, a new chance to fight.

The morning mist was lifting as Kalyustar and Lucius left Wörtbad and made for the clearing were the ruined dais known as the Shattered Circle laid, trapping the souls of the departed.

They were almost at the clearing when they spied the Rotmoons in their elaborate armours and ruffs shouting cheerfully in the direction of a crew of Kharadron also converging toward the Circle.
"It seems the orruks are invoking the Code of the sky-pirates" wispered Lucius arming his repeater crossbow.

"We better..."
Kalyustar did not hear Lucius finishing his phrase. The wizard's attention had been caught by the low moaning of a spirit host, floating around as if searching for something.

An enourmous hook wistled through the woods, impaled Lucius and then dragged him towards the Kharadron. Kalyustar barely heard the guttural laughs of the orruks as he found himself repeating a cantrip the voices were wispering.

The spirits heard the cantrip and were drawn in the open, there to be caught by the rays of the setting Balemoon. As their essence dissipated, Kalyustar moved forward and trapped it in the shadeglass skull.

The Kharadron advanced towards the Circle, more of their kind approaching from the east. Kalyustar could not understand why, but they too seemed intent on collecting the souls drawn to the Circle.

Pieter van Toorn slowly advanced through a decrepit graveyard. Although he loathed Lunaghast, he had to admit that the Dark Moon had indeed revealed him where to find Kalyustar. Yet, he stopped, realising the Rotmoons were striking an alliance with the Kharadron.

The main group of Kharadron halted, listening to the orruks' offers. In response, one of the duardins rushed for Kalyustar, menacingly swinging his sky-pick. The wizard took a step back and out of his robes tossed a glimmering vial at the duardin's feet.
"Perhaps you should reconsider your priorities, master Kharadron, if nothing else, for this aether-gold".

Screaming in frustration, Kapitán da Leeva charged in, his pistol firing a mixture of rock salt and screaming gheists. The apparitions dragged the duardin away, leaving Kalyustar at the mercy of the orruk's cutlass.

Grinning, van Toorn prepared to charge. No one but him would have the wizard. The sudden arrival of a Rotmoon halted him on his track. He readied himself to take the charge, yet the orruk never made to him. As the brute stepped into the Balemoon light, he fell to the ground, his soul dragged toward the centre of the Circle.

Spitefully, the orruk's soul took a Kharadron with it. Orruks and duardin's were now fighting to claim control of the Shattered Circle. Kapitán da Leeva pistol continued to spit salt and gheists.

van Toorn let them fight. Their quarrels were none of his concerns. When the Kharadron withdrew, their arcane devices loaded with souls, and the orruks disappeared into the woods, the Witch Hunter gestured to the men that had been hiding in the graveyard.

"Those were the Raidho Othalas, they ship-wrecked during the last storm and..." the man's word died on his lips under the Witch Hunter's stern gaze.
"Keep your local news for yourself. I'm not interested in those Arkanauts, yet. This wizard left me at the mercy of Sigmar's enemies. That's a grievance I have to settle."

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Of Renegades and Comm-link Stations

No, I haven't been super-productive and finished all these lovely models in the 5 days since I've finished Kalyustar. In fact, they were ready before I started working on him, but I hadn't the time to post them. You know, real life getting in the way of the hobby.

The Renegades known as Marduk's Heralds were a project I had in mind since painting the baddies from Assassinorum: Execution Force. I simply kept postposing it as Age of Sigmar was taking all of my the attention. But with the release of the new edition of WH40k and the beginning of our campaign in the Malfactus Rift I returned to it. I wanted to turn the three Chaos Sapce Marines from Assassinorum into a full squad, but I wanted to do it on a budget.

I had a couple of sprues of Tactical Marines left over from my Iron Hands army, all the unused bits from the Chaos Terminator Lord and Chaos backpacks kindly thrown into our commonal bits box by my gaming mates, which made for a really good starting point. However, I was still missing a few arms, heads and shoulder pads. After an afternoon rummaging in said commonal bits box, I fished out Chaos Warriors heads and arms, Chaos Forsaken shoulder pads and a Plague Monk banner giving me all the bits I needed. I didn't have enough weapons to give all the basic Marines the same equipment, but with the new rules mixing equipments is finally viable gamewise, so I didn't bothered at all!

The colour scheme was already set since I painted Marduk Fatebender, so I simply replicated the purple and magenta armour with green, yellow and brown as spot colours.

Marduk Fatebender

The ruined comm-link station, instead, was a new idea that emerged as we were planning scenarios for the Malfactus Rift campaign. In fact, in the narrative for that campaign, this terrain will represent a failing Astronomicon Repeater. Although, with Malign Portents and Dread Solstice having drawn us back into the Mortal Realms, we don't know when we are actually going to play that game!

I've combined a Thermic Plasma Regulator with Ryza Ruins, using an old movement tray (who said they became useless after Age of Sigmar release?) for the flooring. For the antenna I've used various Eldar and Imperium vehicles bits, again fished from the commonal bits box. The cooler (?) I cut to make room for the antenna ended up as some sort of control panel on the platform.

I painted the comm-link station to match my Mancunius Dome terrains, but going for reddish walls to distinguish it from the more hab-block like terrains I already had.

A corner of Mancunius Dome

The rusted metal was painted by stippling brown, orange and metail paints onto the model. In doing so, the antenna came of, but it was good as I then repositioned it, leaving more space on the platform so that taller models can be placed on it.

I'm not sure when they all will see the tabletop, but sure they will.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Kalyustar the Soulchemist

Kalyustar stared into the empty sockets of the skull. Its green-black shine had an almost eerie quality. Kalyustar's thoughts drifted back, to the Eclipse. Back then, his obsession was the elusive sigmarite, the only substance in the Realms he had not been able to add to his laboratory. He had wrested many secrets from sorcerers and priests, in the gloom of the Eclipse, until a wizened sorcerer pointed him towards Shyish and its realmstone. In the Harrowmark, he had come so close to capture a large amount of it, only to see it fall in the ghostly hands of the White Lady. And now, as more dread portents plunged the Realms in confusion, he held it in its vitrified form. Yet, he was no longer sure he could waste it to capture some sigmarite. And then, the voices came back. 'With me, you could capture an even more elusive substance. With me, you could refine and mould it'. Kalyustar the Soulchemist, the voices had called him. But whose soul was to be melted and refashioned in the crucible of his magic?

I wanted to model a new version of Kalyustar, the Wizard I had created for the Ex Profundis' Eclipse competion, ever since, during the Harrowmark Run campaign I had started to turn in-game events into the beginning of a possible fall from grace.

When Malign Portent was announced and with Warboss Kurgan and Wailslake we started to plan for our next campaign, I decided it was time to do it. We were already setting our campaigns in Shiysh, in the Harrowmark region created by Warboss Kurgan, so it only seemed logical to explore how Kalyustar would be affected by the events of the Time of Tribulations. After some chat on the DAoS group, I took on the suggestion by Matthew Benner to use a regular Battle Wizard with scrying sphere, but to swap the sphere for a skull, to hint at Kalyustar's inner struggle over alchemy or necromancy.

I once again found a Liberator head and cut the halo and cheek guards to recreate Kalyustar's mask. Kalyustar's staff was again made exactly in the same way as for the first model: the twin-tailed comet staff top was shaved to leave only the sphere, which was then topped with the Liberator halo and decorated with vials from the Freeguild Crossbowmen/Handgunners. More vials were added to Kalyustar's belt, as a nod to the vials hanging from the barding of his horse in his previous incarnation.

For the skull, I had initially used one from the Khemri Skeleton Warriors, but I realised it looked too big and I was not really happy with the almost caricatural look of the eye sockets (first WIP picture). I then replaced it with a smaller, more realistic skull (second WIP pic). I also dry-fitted the left arm with the open hand hovering above the scrying sphere, as I really liked the idea of him kind of caressing the skull. Unfortunately, the hand hid the face if I wanted to keep it staring at the skull. So I took another left arm from the Wizard kit, removed the staff hand and replaced it with the open hand.

The flowing stole of the left arm was square, so I shaved it and touched it up with green stuff. At the same time, I resculpted the area around the sleeve rim that had been damaged when removing the staff. In this way, both arms are now covered in pointy sleeves. The addition of the drawn back hood from the Wizard kit completed the conversion and ensured that all elements of the original model were also in the new one.
I have obviously replicated the colour scheme of the first model, but went for slightly darker hues for the mask and robe and added some corrosion to the staff top. As I was painting the model, I realised that, if I had painted the skull as if bone, this would have created no contrast between the mask and the skull. Luckly, the fluff in Malign Portent made it clear that Shadeglass is vitrified Shyishian realmstone. It was too good a narrative hook not to pick it up.
Now, Kalyustar the Soulchemist, formerly of the Gilded Hand, will fight through the Time of Tribulations in our very own Skirmish campaign Thy Soul to Keep. Who knows, at the end of it, I might have to convert yet another Kalyustar as a fully fledged Necromancer.