Liberator Prime Stoneham cleaned the ichor from his warhammer and counted his troops: half a dozen Liberators, a couple of Judicators, and Judicator Prime Sparrowclaw. The assault on Marrowpeak had been successful, but at great cost: scorch marks revealed where lightning had burst the faithful back to Azyrheim, and the bodies of broken bloodbound lay heaped around each crater.
“Sparrowclaw, get everyone together. We need to find a realmgate to take us back to the musterhalls.” The Judicator Prime nodded, and called orders to the remaining Hallowed Knights.
The route to the realmgate would take them through Candlefane Vale. The thought filled Stoneham with something close to dead. He muttered a quick prayer and twisted his hammer in his hand.
“Sigmar protect us.”
The Duke Mauvaises Graines surveyed his estate. He could see workers toiling in the gloom, sowing crops for the changing season. Bitter winds swept through the fields, carrying with it the ever-present howl of nighthaunt.
“A storm’s coming, sire,” croaked Morrlyn. The seer consulted a pocket dial, watching its green pin spin slowly counterwise.
“Something the matter, old man?”
“I’m not sure sire. There’s copper on the air. Blood and thunder.”
Lightning cracked. Storms were rare this deep in the Candlefane Vale. When they came they could be brutal, washing hamlets from existence and driving ancient creatures from the barrows. He looked back out at the men in the field, and felt a fatherly tug in his heart. He called into the keep, “Riverblood!”
Out from the chamber stepped a colossal warrior. Lord Riverblood was the head of Mauvaises Graines' knightly order, and the Duke’s equerry.
“Sire, can I be of service?”
“Sound the alarm bell. I want the freemen in from the fields. And form up hunting parties – I want to make sure we’re ready if some foul leviathan crosses the vale.”
“As you wish.”
From the rear of the castle, an animal cry went up. The smells in the air had drawn the attention of the Duke’s menagerie, and they began to bay at the sky.
“Care to take a walk, Morrlyn?”
Further down the valley, thunder rumbled. The Hallowed Knights paused at the crest of a great barrow, sighting stars to get a fix on the realmgate.
“To have Voss’s Prosecutors with us now,” muttered Sparrowclaw, “Or even Otford’s lantern to see by.”
“Have faith, friend.” Stoneham clapped the Judicator’s shoulder, “We’ll see the halls of Azyrheim by tomorrow’s night, I swear it.”
“Movement!” The shout came from Jentar, a Liberator at the crest of the mound. She gestured to a glimmer some hundred yards off. Gaunt shapes loped across the fields, led by brute in rusty plate.
“Form up!" Stoneham bellowed, "Liberators to the front, Judicators behind. Don’t attack until the last second: for all we know they could be the faithful.”
“Hah!” Sparrowclaw laughed, “Better to place your faith in gods than miracles.”
Beneath his silver mask, Stoneham smiled.
The Duke halted as he saw the glimmering shape on the hill ahead. Riverblood had taken his knights rimward, while he, Morrlyn and the house guard made for the Marrowpeak pass.
In another flash, he saw it: a lightning beetle. Twenty legs tottered, supporting a silver-blue shell glistened in the starlight. Its mandibles clacked together, in some crude approximation of language, shouting at his men.
“Steady yourselves, men of Shyish. These things spit electricity and have hides as thick as steel. But, if you can, spare its life. Remember – it, like you, is merely afraid.”
Morrlyn cast him a withering look, “Is the menagerie not full enough, sire?”
The Duke ignored the old man, and drew his blade. “Form on me, faithful of Candlefane!”
So, with RAW17 just around the corner I figured it was time to paste my hunter and leviathan's backstory. The Duke of Mauvaises Graines is my hunter, a noble warrior and benevolent lord of the Candlefane Vale... sort of...
The Duke's my ghoul king, converted from an Orruk brute with leftover bits from a Crypt Haunter kit. He'll be my hunter for the event, seeking to expand his menagerie. He'll be supported by Morrlyn – a necromancer/old Mordheim dreg – and an array of ghouls and gals. Riverblood will be the Court's general, heading up an Abbatoir.
I kept the Ironjawz theme for his conversion, kitbashing the weapons from a Morghast as cleavers. He made his debut at Blackout a few weeks ago, and was impressively sniped off the table in the first turn of three of my games. These noble warriors will be defending the Vale from beastly intrusions.
Knowing I'd be taking a court to RAW, I got in all kinds of knots about what Leviathan to make. I wanted it to be a metaphor, playing into the delusions the Flesh Eater Courts are known for. Initially I thought about having some sort of large spirit host, the souls of the court, doubling as a monster they wanted to capture. I also thought about having a mirror-tree, in which the court see the monsters they are reflected back at themselves. I then thought about getting some sort of noble stag and making it a hunting party... but I couldn't find the right kind of thing for that.
I then listened to the recent Hardcore History about the romans and celtic tribes, and started thinking 'Man, what would the court see those formations as?' The thought was still with me while I read Plague Garden, and I thought there might be something in the whole 'locking shields' vibe of Stormcast chambers.
I'll be honest, I hoped the models would be knit together more tightly than the sculpts allow, but I still like the idea. To the Stormcast, acting as one body is the best way to wield the strength of every warrior in the chamber – to be the anvil or the hammer. But to a ghoul king? That's just a great shiny creature with way too many legs and sharp bits.
Anyway, four weeks to go and I think everything's together. Just down to list selection now. Might blog about that in a week or so.