Sunday, 8 July 2018

AoS - At the Court of the Silver King - Prologue

'At the Court of the Silver King' is going to be my first narrative-driven foray into painting and modelling in the Age of Sigmar. At the centre of this shall be my Flesh Eater Courts army, the mad minions of the legendary Silver King himself. I shall also be converting several small war bands representing characters and forces that are travelling to the Silver King's court with myriad interests and intrigues in mind.

As I complete characters and units for this project I shall be posting them on the blog alongside some narrative prose to create a sense of this corner of the mortal realms I am creating. While I cant guarantee a high quality, I hope this will give me the chance to try and improve some creative writing skills as writing is something I enjoy doing and would love to get better at!

I started getting miniatures together for this project when the Flesh Eater Courts battle tome first came out (about two years ago I think) but due to uni and only having sporadic moments of interest in AoS I haven't really gotten much done. With the release of the second edition of Age of Sigmar I have been reinvigorated and I've gathered together all the plans and notes I started compiling two years ago in order to actually start this planned narrative project.

We begin our story on the wind-swept deck of The Revenger, a ship of Scourge Privateers taking their deadly cargo across the Gloom Sea...

The Revenger glided effortlessly across the dark seas, cutting through the waves like a sharp knife through cloth. Its crimson hull glinted in the moonlight, as did the armour of the corsairs who prowled its decks. They were on the look out. Twice already that night had monstrous fell bats descended upon the ship to reap a bloody harvest, and the corsairs did not wish to be taken unawares again. They were a long way from Azyrheim and new crew would be hard to recruit in the realm of death. They had been in Shyish a year, and not a second passed without the aelfs wishing they were anywhere else in the Mortal Realms. Ordinarily they were smugglers, mercenaries, or privateers in service of the free guilds; tonight however they carried a very different cargo. 

Stood at the prow of the ship was a Stormcast Eternal, though he was most unlike the other champions of Sigmar’s armies the aelf corsairs had encountered before. He had been in the realm of death for far longer than they had and his sigmarite armour was chipped and encrusted with filth. His shield had been lost and a tomb-relic had taken its place, whilst his sword was stained with old blood. He had asked for passage across the Gloom Sea to Gravenport, and the corsairs had not dared to deny him, their captain hoping to have the lonely warrior off ship as soon as possible. 

Captain Vallach Kildare, known on the Gloom Sea as the 'Sea-Snake' narrowed his eyes at the Knight Questor who stood at the prow of the Revenger. Though Vallach had been born in Azyrheim, and Stormcasts were nothing new to him, he always distrusted Sigmar's holiest servants. They were a little too shiny for his liking, a little too aloof. This warrior however was grimy, and brusque, and almost definitely hiding something. What in all the realms could a Stormcast want in a place like Gravenport? The city was a cult centre for the worship of Nagash, he would not be welcome there.

Indeed, Gravenport was a dismal city, always seemingly cloaked in rain. Its people were fat; cowed and kept plump by the Church as food for the grisly nobility. The ghouls had held Gravenport for hundreds of years, having been annexed to serve as a glorified larder. Though rulership of the city changed regularly as courtiers fell in and out of favour with their king, the Church of Nagash's Black Hand remained a steady constant. The clerics of the church were thin necromancers in austere amethyst robes, emancipated shepherds guiding a bloated flock. Vallach delivered only food to Gravenport: rich, fatty foods. Great barrels of butter, lard, and oil; crates of chocolate, cheese, and sweet meats from far off lands. The necromancers paid him in gold and gorged their pudgy subjects on thick cream and honey. The Captain had never seen any of the ghouls of the court at the docks but imagined them sitting in their citadel greedily licking their lips from afar.

He did not know how the Stormcast would be received in Gravenport. After all, Sigmar and Nagash were not on pleasant terms, though if the Knight Questor had business at the Lion's Den further inland then there was little the Church could do to stop him. King Valmurion Argenstar XXIV ruled with an iron fist, and while a pious ruler the ghoul king would never allow the Arch-Papess to deny him guests from any lands. He constantly sought new amusements, and failing that new courses for his table...

Vallach was pulled from his thoughts as Morvhana joined him on the quarterdeck. His first-mate's eyes were narrowed, roving, and suspicious. While he stared across the deck to the where the Stormcast stood, she looked out across the mists wary of any more fell bats in the nights sky.

"The lookouts still haven't seen any other ships, the Earl's fleet should be prowling these waters so close to Gravenport. I don't like this Vallach, not one bit" she idly fingered the handles of her repeater hand-bows and continued to scan the fog. He knew she was right, the keen aelven eyes of his crew should have spotted at least one azure sail of the royal navy by now. Earl Grymtyde, who ruled the costal city on behalf of the king, was known to be shrewd and overprotective of his domains; sweeping the Gloom Sea of pirates and chaos marauders with regular zeal.

A peal of thunder rang out across the nights sky. The crew instinctively turned towards the Stormcast at the sound of Sigmar's wrath, but when the warrior drew his sword and turned to face the sea the privateers understood that this was not a portent of Azyr but rather something else. The second peal of thunder revealed the true nature of the storm. The clouds above twisted into the shape of shrieking skulls and a wave of spectral energy descended from out the night's sky. 

"Draw swords!! To battle!! To battle!!" shouted Vallach as he drew his longsword, and already his men were pointing hand-bows skywards and loosing bolts at the oncoming gheist-storm. They passed through the wailing wave of spirits who sped downwards undeterred, shrieking in a thousand lost tongues. Vallach thought he would soon be facing a host of nighthaunt, ghosts of the damned come to claim the souls of his crew, little did he realise the true intent of the spell was much more singular. As the wave of spectres approached they seemed to coalesce into a larger, firmer shape: that of a huge upraised scythe. Before Vallach could shout any orders the monstrous scythe swung in a deadly arc faster than even an aelf could perceive, slicing the Revenger cleanly in twain... 

Beginning my Age of Sigmar projects, I have a crew of Scourge Privateers whom I converted last summer after being inspired by Nick Horth's 'City of Secrets' which was a great little read that really helped ground the Mortal Realms for me. Though they may be shipwrecked now, I hope that Vallach and his crew will return to the narrative at some point, perhaps even with some new allies...

This was my first attempt at painting a candy red colour and while by no means perfect, I am pleased with my initial foray into this technique. I don't know if its a style I'll use on anything else but its always fun to try something different every now and again. 

The crew of the Revenger
 Captain Vallach Kildare the Seasnake, and First-mate Morvhana Chillwind
Telemore the Wind-Rider 

Artorian Fellstrider

One of the protagonists of my projects is the Stormcast Knight-Questor: Artorian Fellstrider. A devout member of the Celestial Vindicators sent by Sigmar on a perilous mission to find a mysterious individual. He has spent decades searching the realm of the death for his quarry, eventually leading him to the Court of the Silver King... 

I really love this miniature which first came out in the Silver Tower set, though I elected to make mine look as if he had been travelling for a long time, being inspired by the AoS28 movement. In fact I loved this miniature so much, it is what inspired me to make this a narrative project rather than simply another army. Colourscheme-wise I was inspired by the Celestial Vidicators in the book: 'Warbeast' by Gav Thorpe, which I really enjoyed for adding a lot of humanity to the Stormcasts in that early phase of Age of Sigmar where it was unclear what kind of heroes they were.

I hope you enjoyed this beginning of my Age of Sigmar narrative and I look forward to continuing it in the coming months. The new edition has really spurred me on to do something with my Flesh-Eater Courts and I look forward to exploring Age of Sigmar now that the world and its lore has been suitably expanded these past few years.

I don't know how often this narrative project will be updated, I do after all have a few other projects on the go and my painting time isn't exactly frequent, but I hope to get some more chapters in by the end of the year. They will all be easily findable on the Age of Sigmar page of the blog. 

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