In the Horus Heresy novels the Warmaster’s equerry is an individual known as Maloghurst the Twisted. For those who’ve not read the books the nick-name comes from the complexity of his mind but is later compounded by the crippling injuries he suffers when his Stormbird is shot down (that’s not a spoiler – it happens four pages into a series of 34 books and counting). Maloghurst appears first in the early novels, particularly Horus Rising, then reappears later on in Vengeful Spirit (which I’ve not read yet so keep your spoilers to yourself!) As well as being an advisor to Horus he also serves as an enforcer, strategist and herald to the Warmaster.
You may be wondering where all this is going. When I came across the rules for Maloghurst in Forge World’s Horus Heresy series it struck me that for a Chaos lord to stand out he really needs an equerry. Horus has Maloghurst, Angron has Kharn, Lorgar has Erebus and so on. If my own Chaos Lord Kallamoon Kell was to keep up with the Joneses, as it were, he’d better find himself an equerry too. Someone to threaten his enemies into submission, rally his troops and carry his banner. Thus Kordel Bitterblade was born.
Once a proud Astartes, then a twisted son of Chaos. Built for war then broken by it. Shattered by fell weaponry on a nameless terror-world, rebuilt upon Kell’s order by the finest of his flesh-wrights to serve as his herald, to go before him so that all might know the horror of his wrath and the desolation of his mercy.
At some point much of Kordel’s body has been rebuilt following terrible injuries (echoing those suffered by Maloghurst in a little nod to the original character). To represent this I gave him a bionic leg and arm to replace those he’d lost – a very literal sign of what the favour of the Chaos gods will cost.
I used the banner as an opportunity to practice freehand, with what I think has been a little success. I’m also rather pleased with the greenstuff work on his shoulder, creating a fanged mouth biting at a strip of sigil-tattooed parchment.
I’m still in two minds about the background of the character. Was he a rival Chaos Lord who fought against Kell for dominance – only to be defeated and rebuilt in shame as a banner-slave to remind everyone of what passes for justice and compassion from the Lord of Ruin? Or was he a former battle-brother of Kell’s who fought at his side for the Emperor’s glory, fell alongside him and – after nearly dying in the defence of his lord – was rebuilt and honoured with his current role in recognition of his loyalty? Or is the truth somewhere between the two – were they once brothers, then rivals? Does his rank and the banner he carries serve as a symbol of both treachery and fidelity? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.