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"It's a rare forest that holds no monsters..."
                Traditional saying amongst the Free Peoples of the Bitterfruit Vale, Realm of Ghyran


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"My poppets, my puppets, my children, my will...

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"Carve your dead wood, string your puppet with sinew...

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 "Take the lost, take the forgotten, take the dead and chill-rotten...
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"Bind them in place and kiss them to life...
Heart of darkwood, hate sharp as a knife."


 
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"The Grey Marches are hers. She sees and knows all."

 

 

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I have to say I wonder about the good sense of living in a place literally called Bitterfruit. 

Beautiful tree-people!

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"There is a lesson to learn here - your dreams, ideals and morals are your own. Don't expect to find common cause in all of the mortals of the Known Realms, they are just as selfish and self-centred as you are."
  Follies; Everard Hemp of Hammerhal.

"Everyone thinks that because they have a human face, they must think like us. Idiots. Remember this - they aren't human. They look like that only because our expectation is that they look like that. They are not us. The Wild doesn’t care about you. They don't care about you."
  Collem Worl, veteran of the Cold Iron Brigade, Free Peoples Militia of Harrowdown.

                                                                                                                                                                 ~
Here, at the edge of the great, dark, dead forest that filled the Grey Marches, amidst the falling snow and drifting mists, they stood and watched as the loping pack of ghuls scrambled through snow and over broken earth and rock. Frostbitten and chill-blasted flesh painted the scavengers in tones of black and pained red as they pulled themselves along with withered limbs and cracked nails. The ghuls stank, a foetid stench of animal sweat, rotten meat and the sharp musk of urine. They smelt like mortals. Like men.

Ilaranim watched them with something approaching disgust in her eyes, spirit-form smoking with barely held anger. Her grip tightened on the blade she held, the obsidian weapon sheened with frost.

"Disgusting," she murmured. "They should be culled."

Moralanith inclined his antlered head in acknowledgement, his own dark stone blade cradled in his true-form arm, glinting amidst the dark ironwood bark.

"You know the rule. As the Reeve stated, if they set foot amongst the Darkwood, they are ours."

The other tree-revenants of Moralanith’s warparty stood amongst the dead trees, true-form bark as dark and hard as the trees themselves, spirit-forms glowing with an eerie lambency in what thin light there was. All held blades or hooked sickles of glittering obsidian. They stared at the broken-fleshed and rag-clad ghuls with patience and tired hatred in equal measure as the scavenger pack disappeared over the snowbound and wind-blasted moors of the Grey Marches. Their stink lingered in the winter air long after they had passed.

"They will find food. More lost mortals or foolish travellers." Ilaranim turned to face her seed-mate, eyes glittering angrily behind her pale cascade of hair. "They will feed and grow stronger, and that old crone will whisper in our King’s ear and let them. They will grow and we will wish we had dealt with them now."

"Perhaps. Perhaps they will die, out there in the cold. Perhaps they and other fleshborn will kill each other. As long as they remain outside our borders, what should we care? The Reeve will not risk losing more of us to the crone’s healing. For that, I am grateful." Moralanith looked at her then, affection and fatigue in the depths of his gaze. "I would not lose you to her bitter harvests."

Ilaranim’s anger dulled and she reached out to stroke the fingers of her spirit-form along her seed-mate’s cheek.

"I surrender to your wisdom my love. Let the fleshborn destroy each other as they want. We shall endure, as we always have, all these long seasons. The Darkwood stands."

"The Darkwood stands." echoed Moralanith.

The tree-revenants stepped back into the dark embrace of the forest, stepped further and were gone, leaving only swirling eddies of snow and mist to show they had ever been there. Beyond the borders of the dark forest, along the broken ground of the Grey Marches, a lone ghul still struggled through the snow. Older, thinner than the rest of its pack, it stumbled along their tracks on limping, frost-eaten feet. Thin matted hair hung in rank rat-tails from its gasping head and stinking breath steamed in the air as it croaked bleating cries out to its lost kin. The straggler fell, rose and staggered on. Fell again. The croaking cries grew fainter.

The ghul, the once-man, the fleshborn died cold and alone. Unwitnessed. Uncared for.

~
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True spirits of our Grove are few in number now. Too many lost to our King’s madness and the magic of the crone. 

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We do what little we can to protect our home. We do not care for the worries and troubles of the Known Realms.

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We will endure. We will survive this long winter of the soul.

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The Darkwood stands.

     ~
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     ~

Edited by KnaveOfScribes
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Hey folks, very quick reply from me to all your comments and a little  heads up on what's to come next.

Flemmingmma - Man, apologies for missing your comment first time round. My bad. I'm actually poking away at a submission for it - hopefully I can get it sorted by the deadline.

Kirjava13  & S133arcanite - Ha thank you guys, much appreciated.

So what's next? Well the rough plan (if I can get stuff undercoated in the next few days) is to paint the first 5 Revenants. Really looking forward to doing these, I love the models. I've got another 5 revs to assemble, which will probably end up as Spits for a bit of variation, then there's a Citadel Wood which I need to add bits too for my first Wildwood. Looking forward to that actually, I've got some nice little extras in mind for each tree to bump up the grimdark. Then there's 3 characters to paint and a Treeman. Should be enough to keep me busy for a month or two.

The other thing I'm excited about is a little expansion to the realm of the Grey Marches I'm going to start. Inspired by the awesome Gardens Of Hecate blog (seriously, check that stuff out for amazing gothic fantasy stuff) I'm going to do a few examples of the other personalities and minor ascendants and godlings trapped or living in the Marches. Mainly this will allow me to scratch the hobby itch of wanting to try new armies, but also it gives me a little break from painting trees all the time. The first one is most likely going to be a Fyreslayer conversion, because the Shadespire models are lovely and I've wanted to do a duardin of some kind for a while. It'll make sense, I promise.

That's all for now, I'll be back soon with a proper update.

Cheers all, Knave.

 

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Awesome work and love the narrative included.

That Ogroid conversion is stunning.

Can't wait for the next update!

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Ye shall wait no more Deep Six! Although its not much of an update unfortunately. Thank you very much though, its great to hear that you're enjoying the story as much as the models. The Man-Stag will have a proper reveal soon I think.

As for current progress, its been all about Revenants and dat bark. Spent a few hours last night working on the bark parts of the 5 revs, and while it was great to see how quick and easy they were to paint and how little is left once you do the bark..... I may have messed up a little and used too much Deck Tan on the final highlight. Here they are after the sepia glaze and the first thin black glaze:

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As you can see, they are super light at the moment. I've since added another thicker back glaze which has darkened them down a fair bit, but I think I'm going to have to do a few more thin glazes to darken them down gradually. We shall see. Bit of a shame but nothing unfixable I don't think.

Extras-wise, like I say theres still 3 characters, a treeman, a wood and 5 spites to work on. I'm also sorting out a duardin, because the Shadespire Chosen Axes are calling to me. The first of the extra minor godlings is pretty much planned out and will be a nice nod to my favourite forgotten Dwarf faction and their associated god. If this first conversion works out, I may tweak the entire Chosen Axes band to the same idea. I'll also be coming up with a few more extra personalities of note in the Grey Marches, including a warrior of the fae Sheeda,  a ghul pack-chief and a few other random things.

More updates soon.

Knave

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Afternoon folks

AthlorianStoners - man, that's a very nice thing to say, thank you! Shall do my best to keep the good things coming.

Andrew Goldman - again, thanks man, really appreciate that. I'm trying to keep that grimdark feel going so hopefully you'll continue to like things.

Spent the morning taking pics of the completed Tree Revenants and then uploading them ready for showing off - that'll come tomorrow or Friday I think. Next I'm probably moving onto the first of the 20 Spite Revenants and then a wyldwood, so expect lots of pics of grey plastic over the next week or so - yay! I have made a start on painting Mother Aldwynter, but I think I need to start her again and have an actual plan in mind this time... The parts for my first Ur-Hesht Duardin are also on their way and I'm really looking forward to doing him, both as a project and as a quick little break from painting wood.

I've also got to get my finger out and sort out my BL submission - only a couple of weeks left deadline wise. Fun times.

Here's another completed spell/objective marker done at the same time as the Revenants - I'm off to find a couple of decent sized birds I can use as Aetherwings....

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Knave

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"To serve, to be steadfast, to obey, even in the face of madness. That is what it means to be loyal."

                                Attributed to Kwan-Xi, warrior philosopher of the Jade City, Realm of Shyish.

 

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"Shout your defiance all you wish. Your voices are few in number."

 

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"Stand in my path, resist my attentions. It will bring you no joy."

 

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"You are the ironbark, the life-spirit, Her lost children."

 

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"I am winter’s touch, I am the crone of ages. I am patient."

 

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"You will all be my children in the end."

 ~

 

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Fantastic project. Always love good old GrimDark, and leaning on real life folklore and aesthetics is also a plus. Look forward to Duardin and other future projects.

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Afternoon everyone

Flamingwalnut - thanks man, much appreciated. I'm enjoying bringing in the real-life folklore stuff, as well as subtle little nods to the World-That-Was too, more of that to come for sure. The Ur-Hesht Duardin will be coming up soon, I need to get the Spites, Wyldwood and a character done first though I think.

Speaking of which, the last few days have been about putting a Citadel Wood together. Now, I'm not normally a huge fan of GWs scenery - once past the glory days of the card Necromunda and 40k Firebase and Bastion, I personally feel that the current plastic stuff suffers from being a little too over-the-top and silly sometimes. It also doesn't seem to go together all that well without bleedin' great gaps and loads of mouldlines - case in point, the trees. They need a lot of gs work and I know for a fact I still haven't got all the mouldlines off. But, in their defence, they do actually look pretty decent with the extras added and when you leave the branches bare. These are the first of the Wyldwoods I need to  do (probably doing three bases of trees altogether) and each one has been themed a little to make painting them more attractive and interesting. There's a life tree, a death tree and a spirit tree so far - I'll think of more to do for the others.

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As mentioned, these are next up on the slate after the first 5 Spite-Revenants, who are awaiting undercoating. Once those two are done, I'll be doing a character and probably the firs Ur-Hesht Duardin, then its more Spites. Or some Kurnoth. Haven't decided yet.

Another update to come in the next few days, revealing the Spites.

Till then folks,

Knave

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"Trying to reason with the mad is like trying to play Kingtaker with a Gryph-hound – you can take all the time you want to set up the board and explain the rules, the moves and the tactics, but the beast is still going to jump on the table, eat all the pieces and shat all over the board. And yet you are still surprised by this for some reason."

                                Follies; Everard Hemp of Hammerhal.

 

"One man’s madness is another’s sanity."

                                Common saying amongst the Free Peoples.

 

~

Moralanith could already hear their whispered laughter, faint and high and cruel. It crept from every shadow and from behind every dark twisted tree-trunk, coming and going as lightly as the half-glimpsed shapes that moved in the darkness. He felt a twist of annoyance in his breast, tinged with something like disgust towards what his cousins had become, and snapped at the creeping shadows.

 

"Enough of your games. Show yourselves or remove yourselves, I would speak with the Reeve."

 

They slipped from the shadows, spirit-forms bearing sharp smiles and flickering talons the length of daggers, circling Moralanith in slow drifts of mist and snow. Madness danced in their eyes. Those of the grove who had become closest to their King over the long ages of their exile had become... twisted in a way, touched by the madness of their ruler. Only a few like Moralanith still held to their sanity, still held to the purity of the Darkwood. In other times, in better times, these grove-spirits would have been named Spites and made pariahs, outcasts. Now they formed the majority of the groves numbers. And still the madness of their King spread amongst them.

 

One of the Spites number stepped forward, head cocked like a hunting bird staring at its prey. Her head was crowned with horns, echoing Moralanith’s own – a mark of their Kings favour. Her sharp smile grew wider and Moralanith felt his own face harden in response.

 

"Hello little guardian. Aren't we oh-so proud and far from our friends?" Her sing-song voice was obscenely beautiful. The other Spites hissed laughter and echoed snatches of her words in whispers.

 

"Know your place, singer," Moralanith let a touch of his anger bleed into his voice. "As you say, I am a guardian and therefore I go where I will in the Darkwood. You and your giggling shades have no sway over me."

 

The whispering laughter of the Spites grew louder, crueller. The horned Spite pouted mockingly, stepped closer to Moralanith, within arm’s reach. Her sing-song voice dropped to a soft whisper.

 

"Oh I know that, little guardian. I know and they know and He knows. But you are still all alone. And anything could happen to you, all alone." She was lover-close now and reached out to stroke the tip of one of her talons feather-light over his lamentiri. "Anything... at all... "

 

She looked up into his face and Moralanith could see the madness dancing in her eyes. The other Spites whispered and hissed her last words in mocking echoes. He gripped her wrist with his own ironbark hand and twisted it away from his spirit-form, snarling his reply into her smiling face.

 

"Your weakness is disgusting. I can smell the touch of the crone on you, like stale death, and you willingly embrace our Kings madness instead of trying to bring Him back to us fully. You and all your kind will be the end of the Darkwood."

 

"Careful, little guardian." She was smiling still, cruel and wide, and leant in as close as she could. "We are the Darkwood, as much as you and your boring little friends are, and you need us. Never forget that." Whip--ast, she nipped at Moralanith with a kiss that was as much a bite as it was a kiss.

 

Moralanith pushed her away with a curse and glared at the circling Spites as they hissed laughter at him. He turned away in frustration and began to stride away from the heart of the Darkwood, spitting his parting words.

 

"The day I need you, cousin, is the day I pluck my own lamentiri from my body. Keep to your shadows and games, rot here for all I care."

 

"Come back soon little guardian!" the horned Spite called in her clear sing-song voice. "I'll look for you and sing to you and tell you all our Kings secrets! We will sing together! I'll look for you!"

 

As Moralanith strode away in anger, leaving the Spites behind him, their laughter grew louder and harsher, madness spiralling around them in the shadows of the Darkwood.

                                                                                                                                                                       

~

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"They are the cruelty of life, the harshness of the wild. And now the madness of our King also."

 

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"Do not listen to their songs, their whispers. Do not listen to their screams, their wails."

 

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"They are the Court now, our King's nearest and beloved."

 

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"Favoured and feted, outcasts no more. Our cousins of Spite."

 

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~

 

 

 

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Update time, hurrah!

Got some hobby stuff done over the weekend as some of you may have seen on my instagram page. It's mainly been assembly - the Spites and the trees - and then undercoating, but I also picked up another 2 boxes of Revenants (more wood, oh god...) and the Chosen Axes box as well as enough bits to turn them into Ur-Hesht Duardin. Other than that I also did a bit of painting and tried not to get too distracted by the thought of an =][=28 project or Guard, or Necrons. Or Drukhari. Or how to work in some Idoneth (although that's pretty much already worked out...). Results below!

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Had to take a pretty shot for the atmosphere before undercoating.

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And it was about time Mother Aldwynter got some love. Really happy with how the grey highlights worked on the red robes,  and her ratty fox fur stole. Not much left to do on her other than details now.

That's all for now folks, I'll be back soon with more progress and probably a fully painted old woman.

Cheers, Knave.

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“To be defeated is hard enough. To be cast aside and forgotten, that is a more terrible thing to endure.”
Attributed to unknown Aelvish philosopher.
~

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“Hellish and heavenly and earthly All-hag, goddess of crossroads.”

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“Witch queen, gorgon-eyed terrible dark one.”

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“Gorgo, Mormo, moon of a thousand forms”

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“They name me Arch-Crone, Goddess of Wisdom and Death, Bone Mother. I am the worm in your apple, the spider in your garden. I am the lost and the forgotten, and none of you know my true name.
But in time, you will.”
~
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“Don’t blink. Don’t follow their lights. Don’t speak to them. Never listen to them.”

                                Advice for travellers of the Mist Road, Realm of Ghyran.

~

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“Our king is in his counting house, tallying his kin.”

 

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“One for sorrow, two for mirth.”

 

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“Three for killing, four for birth.”

 

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“Five keep secrets, six will tell.”

 

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“Seven for the devil, her own self.”

~

Edited by KnaveOfScribes
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Cheers for the likes and the comments folks, much appreciated. More updates to come possibly later today, if not definitely tomorrow.

AthlorianStoners - Thanks man, I'm really happy with how the Spites turned out, they're nice and simple to paint and tweaking the magpie counting rhyme was fun.

Flemingmma - The tree is a spare branch from the citadel wood kit and the owl is from the Treeman kit.

Right, pics to upload and I shall return with a proper update.

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“The Grey Marches are a cold and desolate place, bound in eternal winter and wrapped in a caul of death. What life clings there is a bitter, twisted thing, and can do naught but endure. Trust not the forests, nor the rivers, nor the mountains, for the land has a long memory and remembers all.”

                Travels Through The Realms, Unfinished. Dieter van Ganza of Anvilguard.

 

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Really love your stuff. Very Grimm faerie tales

 

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Excellent conversions and beautiful paintjobs. This is really getting my sap pumping for my idea to do my own sylvaneth project.

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Morning Folks

LLV - Thanks man, glad to hear you like it. That Grimm vibe was one of the things I wanted to have, proper old-school scary faerie tales. Great to hear its coming across.

Metalface13 - Always great to know someone is getting inspired, thanks :) You should totally get on the wood-wagon.

Small update time - had a roughish week so far which has cut my writing desire a bit, meaning that I'm a little behind on the fluff side of things compared to the painting side of things. Which sucks but hopefully I can get the writing back on track this weekend. Painting wise, things are going full speed. I've got the wood and spirit methods down to a fine art now so things don't take too long to paint at all, downside being I'm running out of things to paint and will have to buy more - the hobbyists curse. Currently on the painting slate are the next 5 Tree-revs, as well as a few other things. Here's how they stand so far, in a slightly disappointing quality pic:

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So what's next? Well, these guys, a treeman, a Knight-questor, a branchwych and 3 Kurnoth hunters, all of which takes me to just over 1k points. Worryingly the model I ordered from an Italian bits site for the Question two weeks ago still hasn't turned up, so will have to chase that. And if the recent games I've played have taught me anything its that I need more trees for movement shenanigans (only lost one game though, against Overlord gun line). My shopping list grows longer. There's talk of summer Blood Bowl too so I might need to grab an Elfheim Eagles team to convert into a Dark Elf team....

More updates soon!
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