Monday, 29 July 2019

For whom the bell tolls

It occurred to me that I've never shared photos of this guy despite him being the second Death Guard model I ever actually painted. He's actually one of the models which tempted me back to 40k in mid-2017. I liked that he was something other than a guy cuddling a gun. There was a peculiarly entertaining lack of heroism about the glum bell-wielder. I didn't know at the time that the Blightbringer would be among the first of the many bizarre and intriguing models other than glorious combatants looking all heroic and stuff.

He was also the first model who got the Synod of Suffering paint scheme in something like its final form. In my first attempt, it was more or less the same but the cloth was painted as ragged human skin. It looked a bit silly, to be honest. As you might have noticed if you've seen my work, one of my primary inspirations for my Nurgle is the idea of the slow dilapidation and corrosion of the manmade. This is because these are things which make me uneasy and spooked. I remember once when I was out walking, I came across what looked like an abandoned production facility of some sort, with crumbling sheds and a larger, maudlin building. And here's the thing: I've sat by myself high in the Alps, nobody for miles, only the wind sighing, and felt no sense of desolation. But in that corroded echo of human ambition, I felt unnerved, as if unseen presences were watching me from the dark, disintegrating buildings.

To bring this back to the cloth on Plague Marines, I decided to work in a way which would first create a simplistic version of the 'uncorrupted' colour scheme and then smear on the grime. I chose white as the colour for the cloth partly because of the implication of purity (and subsequent defilement) associated with that colour, and partly because the gross stains would be easiest to apply over white! I liked the effect, and thus my new army started in earnest.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

The hope of spring

This is a strange era for the Wood Elves. The King and Queen who have ruled them for centuries are gone. Now there is a new King and Queen in the Woods... can they live up to their mighty forebears?

Friday, 26 July 2019

Plagueburst Crawlers

 Anyone else notice that we’re moving backwards?”
The tone of Lord Eiterfex’s voice was light, but Belisarius Cawl knew that tone. The Lord of Suffering was, in his slow and inexorable way, getting angry. Cawl didn’t blame him: The Imperium had done a good job of making Saxon Decimus Ultimus formidable: the hive city’s walls were encrusted in weapons batteries, and landing strips high in the city’s upper flanks were spitting out flights of fighters and bombers which were creating a miserable attrition rate among the Airborne Pestilence. Seeing Hytothrax the Younger being humbled probably amused Eiterfex, but not enough to compensate for the fact that the advance had stalled. The Imperium had been ruthlessly efficient in leveling six kilometres of the outer city and shanty towns around the hive, so that by the time the Death Guard arrived there was an almost impenetrable barrier. Even here, a kilometre from that killing field, enemy munitions tumbled past periodically.

Finis Omnium lumbered past, heading back into the relative safety of the wider urban sprawl. The ancient Reaver Titan was dragging its left leg a little, and the wet spark of faltering void shields gave the air an unpleasant, electric edge.
Eiterfex watched the titan with an air of faint interest. Cawl barely dared to breathe.

"You know, he's broken the backs of six worlds. Six. Credit to the Throne-rats. They've bloodied our noses good and hard."
The light quality in Eiterfex's voice had become even more pronounced. None dared approach him for a moment. Eventually, it was Sergeant Thrombax who spoke.
"Let's be real about this, boss. We screwed up going after the lesser cities first." 
There was another long, dangerous pause before Eiterfex grunted. 
"Oh well," he replied, "it was a gamble. We lost this one."
He stared into the distance.

"Alright," he said eventually, "pull back. That goes for Doomhark and that upstart Hytothrax. All divisions move back to the second city."
Thrombax nodded and wandered off, bellowing orders. 
"Cawl," said Eiterfex after a moment, "get your Crawlers ready. The Throne-rats will see us pull back. They won't be stupid enough to fall for it. But they will attempt to secure the outer urban sprawl. The Brass Reapers are only days out now, so they won't want to take any chances. They think the end is in sight. And it is in the hopeful nature of these poor creatures that their downfall always comes.
"I think we let them have back that ground we just took."
Eiterfex chuckled. It was a whispery, dry thing. 
"And then, Cawl... we shall rain down horrors upon them."

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Foul Blightspawn

"It's a funny thing, you know," rasped Brother Sardus Vomortis, "people often say that my order are sadists. I don't know where that came from. I'm a scientist."
He scratched at his side absently, the rhythmic throb of the churn in his guts drowning out the distant sound of screams. On the table, the eldar spat curses in its own heathen tongue and struggled against the bonds. 

"May Khaine himself be avenged upon you, filthy warp-soaked mon-keigh!"
Sardus looked around. He didn't raise an eyebrow, because his flesh and his armour had long since melded together and made such notions absurd, but he managed to convey the impression that the gesture would have imparted. 
"There's really no need to get angry," Sardus replied in halting but passage Asuryn, to the eldar's visible surprise, "I'm not here to harm you. Not in the long run, at any rate."
He lumbered over, dragging up a chair made of mouldering Astartes bones. He sat heavily. The chair had no back - it would have got in the way of his tank. It grumbled faintly in protest but held. Sardus looked at the eldar long and hard. 
"It's all about survival, you know," he said, "ultimately, that's all it's ever really about. We live in a universe which tries to kill us all, and it will have its way in the end. But we can forestall that end with the application of science."
The eldar spat. 
"What would you know of science, lowly ape-thing?"
Sardus grunted and reached down. From the putrid deck of the ship, he lifted a beautiful blueish gem and held it for the eldar to see. The alien grew deathly still. 
"I understand that this is a wonderful piece of science," said Sardus, "an absolutely incredible achievement. A literal defiance of species-wide damnation. From what I have read and observed, the stone resonates in just such a way and holds just the correct properties that it draws eldar aether-matter into it with a pull which, over a short distance, is greater than the pull of the warp. From there, the eldar's fellows release the aether-matter into a purpose built psychically resonant haven within the Craftworld. I offer no mockery when I say that your people were truly among the galaxy's greatest minds to devise such an invention."
The eldar stared at the gem, wide-eyed. He did not plead or beg, which Sardus admired, but the alien's fear could be felt almost physically. 

"It's a good solution, I'll grant," he went on, "especially as the alternative is so appalling. The Dark Prince devours your souls if they enter the warp unshielded. And we're not talking about the few moments of pain and surprise that humans feel before they ignite and the warp's predators shred their consciousness. Your people remain conscious indefinitely."
Sardus held the spirit stone out and wagged it, like a teacher waving a book at a stubborn student. 
"But, I started this discussion by talking about survival. And what does an eldar do to survive if his spirit stone is lost?"
The eldar's eyes widened and he might have spoken then, but Sardus was too fast. He hurled the stone against the wall. Astartes strength and the warp tainted malice of the ship did all the work. The stone shattered. The eldar stared at the remains in utter desolation.
"Now," said Sardus, "we can have a proper discussion. Let us examine the facts. You are trapped and weaponless on an enemy ship, surrounded by what you would call corruption and disease. And you cannot allow yourself to die. It is not a matter of honour or loyalty. You must make a determination about how to survive. As a scientist, I wish to help you make the best choice. I am also, after a fashion, a gardener. A gardener understands that his plants will die without the correct care and that a plant who stings is still a thing of beauty."
He stood up heavily and clumped over to a workbench. With surprising dexterity, he began to examine vials of unmarked liquid. 

"What insane riddles are these?" demanded the eldar, though his voice was empty and flat. Sardus glanced over his shoulder. 
"That feeling? That is despair. You are damned, and you can conceive of no way back. I can offer you no way out, before you ask. But what I can do is to help you recognise that being damned is not the worst thing that can happen to you."
The eldar regained a little of his former anger.
"You speak madness!"
Sardus snorted a small laugh. 
"Very probably. But that's kind of the point I'm making.  We need to stop thinking rationally in an irrational universe."
Sardus returned to the table and loomed over the eldar. He held a seemingly innocuous vial of clear liquid in his armoured hand. 
"A choice lies in your future. In the one case, you can continue to deny the nature of the universe around you and the events unfolding. In that case, you will die a very unpleasant death, and that will be only the beginning of your suffering. In the other case, you must accept a truth which will be difficult for you. I am no insensitive to that. You must embrace the knowledge that the world you have known is a hysterical lie smeared across the truth. Decay, debasement, and degradation are inevitable. In resisting these things, we give ourselves pain and heartbreak. By embracing them, we must face a moment of unhappiness. But beyond that, we are ironclad. We will survive much longer. And when death finally comes, the Ur-father himself will welcome us to the Garden. Embrace the Ur-father. Embrace the force that the world hides behind the name Nurgle. Your soul will be damned, but you will rejoice in it. Survival, you see?"

The eldar spat.
Sardus shrugged, the motion tectonic in his corroded power plate. The stench rolling off of him killed the eldar's defiance and he fell to coughing. 
Sardus regarded him for a moment longer before grabbing the alien's face and forcing the vial of liquid down his throat. 
"Call when you change your mind," he said mildly. He lumbered back to his workbench as the screaming began. the churn in his guts continued to work slowly, unhurried. 
Eventually, the eldar changed its mind.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Adept Primaris Rebyka Darlayn

A strange word, is it not? So much power, so much potential, so much hate, so much fear, all wrapped in six letters. A fitting name, though, because part of it is silent and unseen. Just one letter, one little letter 'P'. There is so much about an actual psyker that remains unseen.
I am a Primaris Battle Psyker. I look thirty-five, which is a little more than a third of my real age, sidereal. Partly a conceit to vanity, for I am considered attractive. Partly pragmatism: an individual of my skill and potency cannot be allowed to die simply by the tyranny of age. I was born psychic. The Black Ships came for me when I was seven years old, standard. Since then, I have served His Divine Majesty as an adept of the Scholastica Psykana.

I am not like those poor shackled wretches, chained in their own filth, who are herded into battle in crude Wyrdvane covens. I pity them for their fate, but see the necessity of it. I have seen what seeks to enter the world through them, and what must be done to deny such creatures. Most of those poor, shuffling creatures may live painful lives, but most will reach the Emperor's Light. Regardless, I am a different order of being.  

I can summon lightning to blast the enemies of the Imperium to ashes. I can fill the foe's mind with nightmares and shadows so that they scarcely know how to point their weapons. I can restore balance to broken men and screen my own troops from unfriendly eyes. I have stood alongside legends. Ulyssiad Sagath knows my name, and I bear a token from Aegyptor Astagath. Why do I tell you this? Because I want you to understand who I am before you attempt to lie to me. You are going to die. Let us not pretend otherwise. You, Corporal Vaylin Weisser of the 885th Volscani Cataphracts, are a traitor and a heretic. You will be remembered as such. We are here to determine two things. The first is whether a footnote will be added saying that you offered all that you knew and accepted the justice of Commissar DeSarco, the lady standing behind you. The second is whether, in doing so, in offering me everything you know, there is a small chance that you may yet be redeemed and reach the Emperor's Light. If you do not give me everything I ask for and mean it, your soul will ignite in the warp seconds after it leaves your body. This is not my judgement. This is not even the judgement of His Divine Majesty. This is the choice before you now. Confess your sins, tell me every single thing you know about the archenemy's movements in the Rubicon Sector and have a chance at redemption. Defy me and face death and damnation. Shall we begin?

The boom of DeSarco's bolt pistol was deafening. Adept Darlayn did not flinch. She looked at the corpse of the Traitor Guardsman, his head exploded like a rotten fruit. DeSarco called out into the hallway, and a pair of grim faced Ophelian Guardsmen entered. Without a word, they hauled the corpse away. Darlayn carefully added some notes to her docket. 
"Did you get anything?" DeSarco asked quietly. 
Darlayn didn't look up. 
"Some basics of troop deployment. He had no idea where Eiterfex is. He'd never even seen the Plague Lord, truthfully."

DeSarco grunted with an entire lack of surprise. She looked at Darlayn sidelong. They had been friends a long time, but neither one of them ever lost sight of the fact that part of DeSarco's job was to keep an eye on Darlayn. DeSarco was good at picking up on Darlayn's subtle tells. After twenty five interrogations, the Primaris Battle Psyker's iron will could not quite contain her tiredness. 
"You need a break, Byka?" DeSarco asked quietly. 
Darlayn looked up, pride and determination in her eyes. After a moment, she sighed and nodded.
"Just a short one," she replied. 
DeSarco pulled up a chair and sat down. They sat in companionable silence for a while. Servitors trundled in and scrubbed the blood from the floor and the wide interrogation table. Slowly, Darlayn centred herself and refocused her mind. She allowed herself a moment of sorrow for the faint sounds she had heard in the echoes of DeSarco's pistol: the shrieks of the dead traitor as he immolated in the Sea of Souls, and the Neverborn ripped his essence to shreds. Evidently, he had not sought redemption with enough conviction. 
Will they ever learn, I wonder?  she thought to herself. Then she sighed and pushed the thought away. She called for the Guardsmen standing outside.
"Send in the next one," she said. 

Friday, 28 June 2019


I am a bisexual.

I have been out for 17 years, and I am proud. As Pride month closes, I am as proud as ever. I'm proud of the brave LGBT community around the world, daring to live as they were made despite the predations of tiny little frightened people who would see them killed or mutilated.

I have never met an LGBT person who hadn't received violence or aggression for being the way we are. I've certainly taken some flack for it. But what makes me so filled with pride is that the majority of us just get on with it. The people who hate us have an overwhelming victim complex, believing that their very existence is under threat by us just being here. They make up their little fantasies about our all-powerful agenda and delude themselves into believing that they're oppressed underdogs if the law mildly rebukes them for acts of violence. I'm white, male, British and can pass for straight if necessary. It means that I can provide a control group. I can tell you, whether people know about my sexuality does make a massive difference. A white man who appears to be straight is coddled by the world's institutions. Factor LGBT into it, and suddenly he's the object of fear.

That's where the chips have fallen. We accept it. We shrug it off, laugh it off (I enjoy reading what foaming anxiety-filled nonsense pours from the snouts of madmen like Kevin Swanson or Jim Corr). When we can, we fight back. The road to recognition is long, and it isn't over yet by a long way. Insecure manbabies like that oaf Ramzan Kadyrov still like to lock us up and murder us to make themselves feel more masculine. Empty-minded blowhards like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson will go along with our demonization just because they're too weak and pathetic to stand against it. And you know what? Get over yourselves. The LGBT community has been taking the rubbish of these industrial-strength wankers since time immemorial. We've made a lot of progress towards equal rights in the last few decades. Now, a bunch of simpering cowards and simpletons who don't know how to deal with the actual problems are blaming us again. I don't think that they realise how pathetic it makes them look (not that it matters a great deal, given that they're appealing to a base of fearful idiots). And I don't think they really understand how little we really fear them.

So yeah, we face these threats. But we don't tune into a vulpine news channel where millionaires sob about how oppressed they are. We live our lives. I love that my fellow LGBT people have the courage to live a truth rather than a lie. We have Pride Month partially to push back at the demented creatures who wish us ill purely for existing, and partially to celebrate the bravery we have all, at some time, had to show. Any LGBT person you meet has been brave at least once: when they came out. It's actually the most massive burden being lifted, and it's really easy. Once the words are out, you wonder how you could have been so difficult. But beforehand, we all had to overcome incredible fear and anxiety about how it would turn out. There are sadly many accounts of families degenerating into howling beasts rather than accept a simple and harmless truth about a loved one. My own parents didn't disown me, but never seem to have really accepted reality either. We get on fine, but I recognise that they feel the need to shelter themselves from unexpected truths. If we're honest, the world doesn't change much when you come out - but it feels like it will, and overcoming that takes a moment of massive courage. Every time you see someone who acknowledges their LGBT sexuality, remember that no matter how timid they seem, they faced that.

And I love that the vast, vast majority of heterosexuals are proud to stand with us. The frantic, swivel-eyed lunatics are a small portion of monsters and madmen. They like to make noise, and sometimes they get into positions of power where they can act on their violent urges, but that doesn't change the fact that they're the detritus of history. Just as they were wrong about race, religion, women and everything else they've had positions on, they are wrong about the LGBT community. As with all bigots, homophobes will eventually be rendered extinct. Reason will slowly displace hatred, and love will replace fear. The LGBT community is not a threat to anyone. We're just people, as diverse in personality and ideology as any other sampling of humanity.

Much love to both bravery of the LGBT community and our allies, who represent the vast majority of heterosexuals. Together we will make a better world.

Friday, 31 May 2019

The Great Taurus

This probably isn't one of my best paint jobs, but I'm really pleased with it anyway. I'm pleased with it basically because it involved me stepping waaaay out of my comfort zone.

I nearly chickened out and painted him red, ala the 90s paint job. But I didn't want to do that: I envision the Great Taurus as a near-molten mass of burning embers. It isn't an animal in any true sense, more like a daemon of the harsh landscape. I imagine that when it moves, it does so with a fizz and hiss and crackle, furnace heat blasting out of its joints. 

The thing is, this effect called upon me to do everything in completely the opposite way I normally would. The recesses would be brightest, and inconsistencies were actually desirable. This was going to be a ... hair raising experience. 

So I sprayed him black, then... uh... Averland Sunset yellow. I looked at what I'd done with a dull, distant sense of hysteria. If this went wrong, it was going to go very wrong. With a sort of crazed reckless determination, I grabbed a drybrush and heavily drybrushed the whole model Fire Dragon Bright. It looked unutterably horrible. Before I could cower out, I grabbed the Mephiston Red and hammered the model with a heavily drybrushed layer of it. It looked like a film of a John Blanche nightmare directed by Gary Morley. But I was committed now.

I did a sort of rough wetbrush layer with Eshin Grey over the top. Mercifully, it was starting to look like something. I then applied two layers of Nuln Oil over the grey areas to give it the uneven impression of ash and coals.

I picked out his horns, nose ring, hooves and eyes in brass colours, and applied small amounts of Carroburg Crimson, Fuegan Orange and Ardcoat to soften rougher edges and give a bit of a glow. 

It's worth noting that this is a very beautiful model to work with, which is puzzling for a model that was sculpted 25 years ago. It remains an imposing, ferocious and distinct monster which I'm pleased to have been able to get hold of.