I planned this model to be my second contribution to Fembruary, alongside the genestealer hunting Imperial agent I showed previously, although truth be told she could equally fit in with Azazel’s call to make February “finish a neglected model month” as she’s been sitting untouched and unloved for almost a year. The wait is over however and, with both community challenges chaining me to my painting desk she’s finished at long last.
My aim for Fembruary was to paint powerful, non-sexualised women and I like to think that nothing ticks that box quite so well as a thousand year old, possibly possessed witch.
Of course, continuing the theme of cross-over projects and community challenges that seems to surround this model, she was originally envisioned as part of HeresyOfUs’ Chapel project. However as the rest of my Ordo Mors warband continues to languish in unpainted purgatory here she is with a squad of Imperial guardsmen for company. How the poor guardsmen feel about this we can only guess.
Something I was keen to emphasis with my Inquisitorial retinue for the Chapel is the “aloneness” of Inquisitor Morix. Here is a man who’s dedicated his life to rooting out heresy and specifically to working with the dead. Whilst many Inquisitorial warbands are made up of a cavalcade of crazy characters I felt that having too many friends and sidekicks along for the ride would reduce the sense of isolation I wanted to imbue him with. Of course he does have a few acolytes but I wanted to avoid creating a sense of community around him. Ultimately this isn’t the story of a group of friends fighting crime in the 41st Millennium, it’s the story of Inquisitor Morix and the others are very much just the supporting cast. Without him the group wouldn’t struggle onwards to complete his final mission, or return his body to Terra. They would simply scatter to pursue their own agendas.
As an aside I’ve often fancied putting together a retinue that leaned heavily on the traditional Inquisitorial tropes and my initial idea for this project was to make a group of Chapter-serfs tasked with the returning the body of the Space Marine they had served to be interred in the Chapel. Perhaps someday these projects will come together but in the meantime Morix is where the action is.
As yet I’m not certain which of the characters I’ve been making of the Chapel will actually make it into Morix’s retinue, but even so each has been pitched to avoid reducing the Inquisitor’s sense of isolation. The witch is a shunned, unsanctioned pysker – who may or may not be possessed already. The dwarf is a vat-bred creation who, despite being gifted with a razor sharp intelligence and a wealth of knowledge lacks any empathy or emotional range to avoid him questioning his lowly station or turning upon his rightful masters. The scout is a free agent, roaming alone ahead of the warband where his roguish behaviour and lax attitude to Inquisitorial protocol won’t get him into too much trouble with the boss. And yes, you’ve not seen him yet – but you will soon…
Of course, this is all very well but how to maintain the remoteness of Morix once I started on the rank and file of the warband? As the population of the warband grew it would be harder and harder to maintain the sense that Morix was in it alone. For a while I toyed with the idea of undead servitors but in the end the option I went for was to unleash the dogs.
I’ve always liked the idea of cyber-hounds but until GW gets around to making them (maybe if they add Arbites to Necromunda he said wishfully) the only option was to grab a set of gryph hounds and a load of greenstuff and make my own.
Do keep in mind that these are all WIPs at the moment. For instance I’m still working out exactly what’s going on with the cables on the pack alpha’s head.
I know that in theory one is never lonely with a dog but I can’t imagine Morix petting these beasts. This is not the relationship of friends, the deep bond between human (perfectly crafted in the Emperor’s image) and animal (intrinsically lesser but still descended from the line of Blessed Terra) that crosses the boundary between species. Rather this is a master and his servants, a power-armoured alpha male and the savage hunting beasts which will undoubtedly kill and eat him if he becomes weak. I suspect he doesn’t get invited to many parties either…
I know it’s been a while since I’ve shown anything of my Chapel warband (insert appropriate excuses about the busyness of real life here) but that doesn’t mean I’ve been idle. Indeed my determination to bring my best work to the project has seen me putting in many hours tinkering away with the various members of Inquistior Morix’s retinue – but has also meant that whenever work and life have piled on the pressure I’ve been content to turn my attention to more straightforward projects, rather than burdening myself with an additional suite of challenges. Plus, as the initial Chapel game has been and gone, there’s no particular hurry to get them finished, no looming deadline encouraging me to put in long nocturnal hours with brush in hand when I’m already putting in long diurnal (mostly) hours at work. That said there’s plans for a return to the Chapel and as ever the Imperium may be slow to respond but with xenos, witches and unquiet spirits alike abroad in the Emperor’s domain the arrival of Inquisitorial sanction remains inevitable.
Last time I showed pictures of Morix (back in July dare I admit it) I noted that the “skellie-bird”, his cyber-familiar which had been perched on his fist in the earliest WIPs had flown off somewhere but would be returning “shortly”. Who knew then that “shortly” would turn out to be such a long time away? Not I that’s for sure. However I’m pleased to announce that he’s back at last, perched where he belongs, and undoubtedly chattering secrets into his master’s ear.
However he doesn’t need to sit there permanently. After all his role is to be a spy and a scout and to do that he must be able to flit away, leaving his master looking as though he’s punching someone whilst looking the other way and shouting.
Where then does the skellie-bird go when he’s not at Morix’s side? Naturally he needed a perch from which he can spy out the route ahead or listen in on the whispered conversations of those who believe themselves free from the pitiless gaze of the Inquisition. Inspired by pictures of the Albino Woods board I put together this warped, bio-mechanical tree.
Without wishing to over promise and under deliver I’m planning to show some pictures of the rest of Morix’s retinue before the end of the week – in the meantime any thoughts or feedback you have on the bid and his perch are much appreciated.
I recently received this wonderful picture from Mark at HeresyOfUs (also posted on his blog alongside a selection of equally atmospheric images) and couldn’t resist the opportunity to show it to you all. It features the two Ostium Guides I made earlier in the year, wending their way through the depths of the Albino Woods during the recent Chapel game. Seeing models I created transposed into the landscape in which I imagined them brings the whole project to life and was simply too inspiring to let pass without comment.
When I create a model I’m not making a playing piece but a character, a denizen of the 41st Millennium, the Old World, the Mortal Realms or wherever. Each model should be a snapshot of a person or creature, living their life. I imagine the environment that would exist around them, the place they would live, the setting and situation that makes them who they are. Thus to actually see my Ostium Guides walking through the Albino Woods as though they had stepped straight out of the image I had imagined before I even started cobbling together bits, was a profoundly moving experience. This was the picture I had in my head before I began and now it comes full circle and not only do I get to see it with my eyes rather than just my mind, but I also get to show it to other people. Of course some of you will be nodding in agreement at this point and some will be scratching your heads and wondering about my sanity, although the latter is probably business as usual.
For anyone out there who’s yet to take a look at HeresyOfUs I strongly recommend you head over there, particularly if you’re drawn to the gothic darkness of 40k.
As for those of you still wondering what’s become of Inquisitor Morix and the rest of my Chapel retinue fear not, work is still in progress. I know I’ve been saying that for a while but hopefully you’ll find it’s been worth the wait.
Animals have no choice beyond survival but man does have choice and he must use his unique gifts now to play the role for which he has truly evolved, as responsible custodian of the last wild places, not merely their exploiter. We can never escape the inherent responsibility our genius bestows upon us. We must learn to love and conserve what is inspiring and beautiful, not only what is economically profitable… To love in the universal sense is not the refuge-seeking philosophy of the romantic. It is the necessary ethic of our own survival.
-Mike Tomkies, Golden Eagle Years
The second Ostium Guide, husband to the first, is now completed. Let those who dare to brave the Chapel first follow in their footsteps through the haunted depths of the Albino Woods.
Life in the forest may be harsh, for there are witches and revenants, strange beasts and wood ghasts all abroad. Rain and chill may sap a body of its strength, and what is left of a life reliant on physical prowess when that power is broken by time or sickness? Yet there is still culture to be found amongst the people of the forest, still music and laughter, still joy and the capturing of passion in art. Those who dwell beneath the stark white boughs do not do so as guttering candles, battling against the gale. Instead the forces that might snuff them breathe life and delight into them, energising brief lives spent far from the misery of Imperial toil and servitude in the great hives.
Just a week to go now before the disparate warbands brave the Chapel itself. For those not yet in the know (where have you been?!) the Chapel is a narrative driven game bringing together a plucky band of hobbyists and bloggers, all put together by Mark of HeresyOfUs. Sadly, real life being what it is, I won’t be able to make it but fear not, this isn’t the end of the road for Inquisitor Morix and his grim faced agents of the Ordo Mors. Mark has already hinted that the Chapel will call once more to those caught in its web and though Morix may have found himself diverted upon the road he knows that the path of his destiny leads straight into the archotech heart of that strangest of worlds. The will of the Imperium will not be denied.
We have suffered from loosening our roots in the natural world and loosing the sense of wonder, deepened intuition and perception that naturally occur when we see nature’s most extraordinary and beautiful phenomena. We are humbled by such glimpses of glorious creation and the mind opens, the soul becomes inspired at last.
– Mike Tomkies, Golden Eagle Years
Finished at last; the first of my Ostium Guides ready to lead intrepid explorers through the twisting paths of the Albino Woods and into the heart of the Chapel itself.
Divesting herself of all technology but for that which she can carry on her back she becomes one with the groves and glades of her forest home, attuning herself to its moods and reawakening instincts stifled by millennia beneath the Imperial yoke. Yet agents of the Imperium must beware for although she will not renege on a deal or break a solemn promise she does not forget the generations of persecution that her kind have suffered, or the horrors perpetrated against those of abhuman stock which drove her people into the forest in the first place. The wilderness has made her kind strong, and she will not risk her own survival for those who cannot rise to its challenges or heed its warnings.