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Greetings dudes and dudetts – I can’t believe it has been so long since I last posted! I think that in the last 6 weeks I have been on 8 flights and slept in 6 hotels, visited 4 countries, and attended a wedding and a funeral. I have had practically zero hobby time as a result, and even when I had settled back at home, I found myself strangely lethargic with respect to getting any hobby done… just no mojo, y’know? I had a blast catching up with all the blogs that I follow, (you clever bunch!), I had a crack at AoS skirmish a few weeks back, and I’ve even dusted off my Praetorians for a game of new 40k!

AoS skirmish was a strange one… me and my pal Ross played the whole campaign in an afternoon, and we genuinely had high hopes, but we were both disappointed to find that it was all a bit unfulfilling. The game seemed to lack the depth of a proper skirmish, but ended up being slower and clunkier than full-fat AoS as we progressed our respective warbands. It also ended up being pretty one sided, which never makes for an enjoyable gaming experience… Either undead are over-powered, or Daemons are just a bit shite. My first taste of 8th edition was also pretty underwhelming as well… Vehicles are just plain weird, (especially with combat), and it didn’t help that it was a pick-up game against someone who was actively looking for ways to exploit the rules to win. I’ll give it a few more goes before I make my mind up, but sadly, it didn’t set my world on fire.

But hey, never mind about all that! I actually managed to finally finish a thing to share with you all. May I present the leader of my Exodite warband for the Chapel project – Eldranar the Huntsmaster:

 

He is intended as a more rustic & savage incarnation of the Dire Avenger Exarch, and his equipment reflects that. I used the body of an elf Shadow Warrior as my start point, with arms and doodabs from the Avenger kit. I also looted Space Wolves & Sylvaneth kits for trinkets & fetishes. The head is from the Guardian close combat set, and the sleeves and fur on the cloak were sculpted by me. The base is from Black Tree, kindly provided by Mark @ heresyofus, and really helps to pose the model and give him some height. Here he is from a few more angles:

I deliberately kept a very tight control of the painting palette, with greens, browns, whites and bone colours forming the main scheme. Some stronger Autumnal accents are provided by the ochre, the red on the banner and base, and the yellowy-gold of the metallics. A bit of freehand on the back banner and some gem work completes the piece. I hope you like him – he was a bugger to make and paint, and I’m not sure I’m painting my best at the moment, but hopefully the effort was worth it. Here he is with Lindethiel, my warband Spiritseer, (showing what an imposing figure she is!):

 

And here is some fluff for those that like a read:

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Eldranar was bored. Since his appointment as master of the royal hunt, he had barely left the court of Prince Ereniel – apparently, the young prince found hunting to be an uncouth activity, and as a result, it had fallen out of favour with the social elites and elders of the Crimson Tree clan. Eldranar had always lived for the heady thrill of the chase, and for the raw beauty of the glades, rivers and mountains that made him feel so alive and vital. Now all of this was denied to him, as he and his fellow huntsmen became reduced to a courtly accoutrement for the Prince and his gaggle of sycophants. Courtly life felt like an incarceration that leached the pleasure out of life and deadened his soul, and his mind wandered as he endured yet another interminable day of courtly petitions and pleas from an endless procession of supplicants. Fortunately, his lowly position as a Knight of the court meant that he and his four companions were sat towards the rear of the hall, where his lack of focus would not be noted.

How Eldranar yearned to be free again – to run with his brother-huntsmen, to be at one with the world, to feel his blood sing with the joy of tracking and killing the evil things that crept and lurked in the forests around his home. He knew that without constant culling, the tribes of savage Ygnari would multiply to threaten travellers and outlying settlements, the stealthy ambushes of the carnivorous Raulig would go unchecked and unpunished, and the nesting broods of sulchari would spread and multiply. Indeed, he had heard rumours that the glades that surrounded the clan settlement had become wild and dangerous, and that the roads connected the Crimson Tree clan to the other settlements were becoming less and less travelled. Eldranar suspected that it was no coincidence that visits from the other clans had become increasingly rare in recent months.

It hadn’t always been this way. The old Queen and Prince Consort, parents to the current prince, had remained committed hunters until the end of their long lives, and it had been a pleasure and privilege to manage their hunts and the wider holdings of the clan. They had respected the old ways, and it had been personally saddening to Eldranar when they both passed out of life a season ago. The Prince Consort left the world of the living after a suddenly illness, and it was said that the sadness felt by the Queen was so poignant that she had willingly followed her husband to join him within the world spirit. Their passing had left the young Prince as the sole heir, but the nut had fallen far from the tree, and son was a very different ruler to his parents. Eldranar found Prince Ereniel to be decadent and effete, and far more concerned with taxes, banquets, costumes and dances than he was with defending and preserving the sanctity of his ancestral lands. He had no respect for the old ways, or for those that stood for such values. This wasn’t entirely surprising to Eldranar – Ereniel had been soft as a youth, and he had resisted all attempts by his parents and advisors to hone his martial skills. What was disappointing was the extent to which the Royal Court had declined into decadence, and the speed with which a life of gratification had been grasped by those who should know better. Eldranar feared that a rot had taken hold at the heart of the Crimson Tree clan, and would ultimately prove to be its downfall.

Eldranar’s reverie was broken as sudden silence descended in the hall, followed by urgent whisperings and murmurs. His gaze followed those of the gathered court, and his attention was drawn to the wide circular space at the centre of the vaulted court. He shifted in his seat to gain a better view of the source of the sudden unease, and saw a tall, powerful figure was striding across the hall to address the Prince. Eldranar could see why the court had reacted as it had – the figure was an eldritch amalgam of Wychwood and flesh, clearly Eldar in origin, and hugely imposing. A ceremonial halberd was held comfortably in the one hand that remained flesh, while the helmed face gave no indication of intention as the towering figure halted creakingly in front of the royal dais. In the stunned and sudden silence, the only sound was the harsh caw of a raven that rode in the branches that sprouted from the visitor’s shoulder.

Prince Ereniel seemed to shrink back in his throne. “What is the meaning of this?  Who are you?” he demanded. His manner was imperious, but his voice sounding shrill and panicked in the still air. The figure stirred, and the blank faceplate of its helm appeared to wither and retract from the visage within. A breathless murmur rippled around the room, as the crowd recognised the face of Lindethiel, a Shaper of legendary power, and Spiritseer to generations of royals of the Crimson Tree clan. Lindethiel had ever been a source of unease to those around her, with few being comfortable with the commune she shared with those who had passed over to the world spirit. Furthermore, her acerbic nature was widely considered to be as sharp as the thorns of the Wychwood that she could so easily shape to her will, and many were secretly relieved when, half a year ago, she had announced her withdrawal from the realm of life. To see her returned, and in such a transformed state, was a shock that overwhelmed the usual passiveness of the Eldar race.

The Prince appeared particularly upset to see her, visibly paling as he recognised the haughty features of the Seer. “Lindethiel! This isn’t possible – you shouldn’t be here, you can’t be here… You were dead! Abomination! I demand that you leave!” Lindethiel’s eyes flashed with anger, and her Wychwood body straightened to an even more imposing height. Her voice cracked with authority as she addressed the Prince. “You insolent pup! Who are you address me so? I, who first served your Mother’s great grandfather… I, who protected and nurtured this clan for a thousand years before your existence was ever conceived… I, who have sacrificed everything and more for this clan! I see your soul Ereniel, I see right through you – and yet you dare sit there in your silks and perfume, soft and week in your decadence, and you presume to call me ‘abomination’? You seek to tell me where I can and cannot be? You worm! You cur! You should be on your knees and begging my counsel, not sitting in your Mother’s throne, fat and idle, and seeking to instruct your betters!”

At each utterance, Lindethiel’s eyes burned brighter, glowing with power as her anger grew. The gems around the neck of her ghost helm glowed in sympathy, and worms of eldritch lightning flowed and dripped from the tip of her halberd. The raven cawed again as air itself grew charged, and the smell of ozone filled the audience chamber, reminding Eldranar of summer storms on mountain tops. He watched tensely as the prince’s face grew thunderous in response – furious, and yet fearful. The young man cast his eyes around the court, desperately looking for support that simply was not there. Clearly, the prince had overestimated the strength of his grip on the court, and Eldranar was particularly pleased to see that the palace guard showed no sign of moving to intervene in the situation – a fact that seemed to settle any thoughts of pushing the conflict that the prince might have had. Resigned, the young ruler sought to compose himself, and addressed Lindethiel in a manner more fitting to their respective positions. “My apologies Seer Lindethiel, the shock of your – ah, appearance, has caused me to forget my manners. Our hearts are filled with joy at your return, and I bid you welcome. Will you share your counsel with us, and tell us how we can serve you?”

“Better”, said Lindethiel, and her anger seemed to subside a little. “I come with grim tidings Ereniel. I have discovered signs of an existential threat to this world, and yet it is not of this world. It is psychic in nature, and is bleeding into our world via the Webway… This must be investigated and stopped, and I require weapons and warriors to join me in this endeavour.” The court gasped – both at the seriousness of the claims, and at the audacity of the request. The royal armoury was the most precious heirloom that the Crimson Tree clan possessed – a small but priceless repository of archaic weapons, each many millennia old, and all gifted or traded with their Craftworld kin over the long history of the clan. The use of these weapons was vanishingly rare, and they were only ever deployed to defend the clan, so to request free access to the armoury for an off-world expedition was simply unheard of. Ereniel sat in silence as he considered how to meet this request. Eldranar could sense the internal conflict as the prince struggled to come up with a way of denying Lindethiel without attracting her ire. Lindethiel could also sense the prince wavering. “Make no mistake Ereniel, this is not a request – it is a demand. The future of the clan – of all the clans on this world – hangs in the balance. It falls to us to meet this threat, and we will not be found wanting, not as long as I draw breath.”

Ereniel bowed his head. “Yes of course my Lady Lindethiel. If this threat is as severe as you say then the armoury is yours.” The princes head lifted and he met Lindethiel’s gaze over steepled fingers, a sly smile on his face. “However, I cannot instruct any member of this clan to accompany you on a quest to meet a threat that no one other than you can perceive. A journey through the Webway to an unknown world sounds dangerous, probably fatal, and I cannot not endorse it on hearsay – even if that hearsay comes from one as august as yourself… You may seek to build your party with volunteers only.” Eldranar saw the trap that the prince had laid – it was unlikely that anyone would risk the displeasure of their prince on such a venture, especially the trained fighters of the clan guard, and Lindethiel would only meet with resistance and resentment if she attempted to force the issue, and contempt if she begged… Her reputation and prestige had got her this far, but the rules of their society did not allow her to dictate the actions of others. Without warriors to bear arms, the promise of access to the royal armoury was all but worthless. Eldranar saw that Lindethiel understood the situation all too well – it was her turn to cast her eyes around the court room, seeking support for her cause. Eldranar saw that none was forthcoming… and that was when he made the decision to stand.

His voice rang clearly in the awkward silence. “Seer Lindethiel, I am Eldranar – Huntsmaster to this court. I doubt you recall me, but I remember you well, and I have full confidence in your cause. Besides, I find my skills are somewhat obsolete of late, and so I choose to stand with you on this quest.” Eldranar sensed his men stirring behind him, and was gratified to turn and see that all four had stood to join him. He turned back to Lindethiel. “We may not be warriors my Lady, but we are adept at hunting and surviving in the wilds, and we are all proficient killers. Will you accept us to your cause?” Lindethiel bowed her head in acknowledgement – “Huntsmaster Eldranar, I do recall you, and I will gladly receive you and your men to my cause” she replied with a slight smile. Eldranar was strangely gratified to see frustration writ large upon the prince’s face as he and his men made their way through the benches to stand with Lindethiel. There was a tightness to Ereniel’s jaw as he said, “Very well Seer Lindethiel, you and your… party may immediately draw from the armoury. I am sure that the needs of so small a group can be easily met”. The sneering tone was unmissable.

Lindethiel replied curtly. “Thank you Ereniel, your generosity is a credit to your parents, and to theirs before them. However, I will delay my visit to your armoury if I may – I wish to seek to expand my party.” The prince had the audacity to laugh – “Expand your party? My dear, it is unlikely that you will find anyone else foolish enough to join this… folly” he said, his lip curling with contempt as he glanced at Eldranar… “But do try, by all means!” His gaze swept the court, eliciting quiet chuckles from the sycophants. Lindethiel smiled in return. “Ereniel, I would use the word courageous rather than foolish… but I fear you are right – it seems unlikely that I will find further help from this generation of degenerates. Instead, I will look for support from those who went before you all – from your sires and grand sires. I will petition the dead for their aid, seeing as, with few exceptions, the current crop of the living is so week, cowardly, and feeble of will!” Lindethiel turned and strode from the audience chamber with Eldranar and his huntsmen in tow, listening to the angry mutterings growing in her wake as her insults struck home. The prince was sputtering, shouting, insisting that Lindethiel stop, demanding that she repeal her accusation, arguing that the armoury was not open to the spirits of the dead.

Lindethiel finally did stop at the doorway, and turned to address the prince once more. “Ereniel? You are a worm, and I can’t help but wonder how you could possibly be your parent’s son. They were noble, wise, and, when last I saw them, so very healthy! I think I might seek them out in the world spirit and ask them about that… I wonder what they might tell me about you… what they might tell me about how they died… what they remember of their last hours. Now I think of it, it is suspicious how they both passed so suddenly, don’t you think, Ereniel?” Eldranar saw the look of terror that settled on Ereniel’s face as they turned to leave.

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So, the cast of characters grows, and we have a sub-plot to boot! I hope you enjoyed that little read, and that Eldranar has piqued your interest 🙂

So that’s it for now guys! Again, sorry that it has taken me so long to get my a55 in gear – normal service should resume from here on in. I am now on a 3 week countdown for the annual OldHammer extravaganza that is BOYL, and I need to get a Shadow Wars gang painted for the Helsreach table, a ToyHammer jetbike racer built and painted, and I’m also hoping to sort out a Dreadnought for some glorious gladiatorial mayhem. I am also hooking up with Mark at Heresyofus to start work on the Albino Forest board on the weekend, (can’t wait!), and I have a few more cracks at 8th ed planned. It’s gonna be a fun-filled and hectic few weeks!

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