The Red Host of Nir-Kezhar

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    • Wall Relief Plates of Ancient Times are out now.


      Hunger gnawed in his gut, and his eyes were dry like desert sand, yet still Hamukk bore a smile on his hollow-cheeked face. He had done it! He had outsmarted the stunted masters with their log-thick arms and coiled beards. He had outran their stumped feet and cruel hands. He had hid, and he had sneaked. He had covered his tracks and kept one step ahead of their vicious lackeys all of the time. The jackals! The dogs! All outwitted. His long plight of labour and hardship was at long last over. Freedom would be his, and slavery but a rotten memory with which to scare his future grandchildren. Praise the gods!

      Hamukk, son of Bernu and Ishya, of the Human tribe Lakash, ran a calloused hand through his dirty, straight black hair. That hand had only three and a half fingers left. He shivered at the thought, yet smirked triumphantly at the certain knowledge that his captors would never set their brands and blades and tongs to him again. The thrill ran through him, blood rushing in his veins and feeding his hopes. And all thanks to a chance overhearing!

      That sun-scorched day would stay with him forever. That moment, when he stood chest-deep in the muddy river waters and harvested reeds with a burnt clay sickle, and the priestly acolytes walked past slothfully. Their conversation had for some reason raised his interest from the very start, and he had memorized every word of theirs. They had talked of a labyrinth, a place of darkness through which no man not chosen by the gods or anointed in blood by demons could pass. They had named the location, and it was not far off. Most importantly, they discussed rumours of long maze tunnels leading out to hostile tribal grounds with gates wide open and undefended. Thereupon the short, bulky acolytes had reaffirmed their faith in their foul gods by praising the deities for watching over the labyrinth.

      A labyrinth! He had trekked through mountain ravines all his life before being caught by the devious blockbeards from the lowlands, and he would take his chances with a mere handmade maze any day. The trick was to not walk in circles, he had decided. Hamukk had then and there determined that this was a sign from
      his people's gods, and had acted quickly, stealing provisions and torches in the night, running off into the windy wastelands, zigzagging through nigh-on lifeless terrain and walking in a long crescent toward the spot mentioned by the acolytes.

      It was indeed undefended, except for by some scorpions just inside the entrance. They had nearly been the end of him, but he had glimpsed them in the ruddy light and brought his flaming torch down upon the venomous critters, scaring off the scorpions and clearing the way. Fire truly was a stolen gift from the gods. It gave man power over beast, and man power over darkness. With his torches he had already made it through most of the maze, he was sure.

      There were costly relief carvings everywhere on the walls, painted in gaudy colours and covered with figures. The relief carvings seldom repeated and thus he had good reason to think that he had not gone in small circles more than thrice. In the light of his flame he could spot the accursed Dwarfs' conception of gods, goddesses, demons and myths. He spotted historical scenes of slavery, warfare and hardship, as well as great works undertaken, sorcery and above all atrocities. There was flaying and maiming and crushing, done by malevolent Dwarfs, usually against Humans and Goblins. They did indeed like to brag about their cruelties, didn't they? But those scenes no longer concerned him. He was no longer part of their malice and torture. His trusty torches would carry him through, like a beacon of the gods. Yet there was only one torch left now, and still there was no end in sight of the maze...

      The cocky smile vanished. Hamukk swallowed, and moved faster, more rashly than before. He stopped memorizing relief scenes for the sake of speed. The exit must be here somewhere! As the flames burned out their oily fuel, he ripped off his bandages, his headband, his loincloth and even loose hair to feed the fire. He could get other clothes later, but not another life. Steps clattered and echoed through the cool labyrinth, faster and faster. He blowed as much air as he dared into the dying embers, blowing up small flame tongues anew. Hamukk saw less and less of the richly carved stone walls around him, and relied ever more on his hands to guide him along the walls. The darkness was closing in. Damn...!

      The torch went out with a sputter and sizzle. Hamukk blinked at the coloured lights dancing across his retina. When they were gone, nothing remained. There was not even moonlight reflected in the corridor. Everything went solid black.

      Teeth clattered as the escaped slave fought a wild panic welling up from within. He began scrambling down corridors, hands shaking on walls to his left and right as he sought guidance. He slid past corners in a stumbling jog, panting and whining. He fell and rose, unseen bruises already aching on all limbs. He had to get out! He ran for it, ran hard, and crashed into a stone wall. The violent impact stole away his breath and senses, for how long he did not know.

      Hamukk eventually woke up on the smooth floor, or was he perhaps still asleep? It was impossible to tell the difference. His eyes gave the same report whether they were shut or open. Blackness, and nothing more.

      The man's head was strangely numb yet at the same time beset with sharp pangs of pain. Hamukk suspected that his headlong collision with the wall had damaged his mind. His nose was broken, and he had lost two of his teeth, worn by millstone flakes as they were. He prayed to three gods and seven goddesses, yet heard no response. Was he already in the netherworld? Was this the place of dust and darkness that all men feared to enter? How would the other spirits react to a living man among themselves? Or was he even still alive?

      Hamukk had no way to tell. For untold hours he sat on his haunches while his head spinned worse and worse. His thoughts turned into a maelstrom of confusion. At last, he reached the bewildered conclusion that demons were stealing away his mind. He rose up and swore heinously at them, uttering such foul words that men would have killed him for the insult. Yes. Demons! It was the demons! The former slave fell silent for a while. Then he whispered: "Reveal yourselves."

      And in the darkness, the eyes of all the relief figures on the walls lit up, like a nightsky of red embers. Watching him, uncaring. It was as if all the gods had convened to judge his soul, and found him a subject unworthy to even assemble court for. They stared at him. Forever.

      It was the final straw. Hamukk fell hard to his knees, warm blood trickling across the cold obsidian floor. He clawed at his eyes in madness. And screamed until his lungs burst.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().

    • MadHatter's K'daai Fireborn

      Once upon a time on Chaos Dwarfs Online before the End Times, MadHatter and I conducted a special miniature trade. I had bid for some Squat Exoarmour suits on Swedish Ebay, but that headgear fanatic bidded higher! When this was discovered, he offered me the uncorrupted Squat Exoarmours for my 40k army, if I converted the Chaos Squat Exoarmours into K'daai rocketjumpers for him. Said and done.

      This might turn out to be both the first and last commission sculpt not intended for casting that I'll ever do outside my circle of close friends (except for some odd small quickjobs). As a principle, I don't accept unique commissions. If lots of work shall be poured into something, it should better get available for lots of collectors in the end by casting and selling. If I sculpt for only one customer, only that one benefits from all work. If I sculpt for casting, dozens or hundreds can benefit from the fruits of one's labour. Easy equation.

      Ladies and gentlemen, let me reveal to you the exception that proves the above rule: The hot, the soaring, the crazy K'daai unit of Madhatter!

      The explosive powder fuel of the Rocketrisen contain a critical ingredient, namely distilled souls of mortals. As the exhaust flames shoots out, anyone beholding the spectacle of the volatile Daemonjets may catch glimpses of faces shrieking in agony, quickly come, quickly gone in the impossible stream of powerful flames.



      The leader of the nigh-on suicidal Rocketrisen is a living testament to the lethal dangers to both body and soul of these maniac warriors. Having lost both sanity and feet to baleful accidents, the Daemonsmiths have replaced his legs with large exhaust ports shaped like rune-carved cloven hooves. Thus the infamous, cackling madman continues to lead his handpicked brethren, seeming to live only for the pyromaniac slaughter of foes and innocents alike. Truly the terror of the battlefield.



      Twin fuel hoses hang from the lips of the grisly metal mask which adorns the clumsy fullplate armour suit. When properly activated, the union of their flames may produce sorcerous bolts which the bearer, assisted by fell Daemonic runes in his arcane armour, may direct with some rudimentary grasp of magic. "Spitting firebulls" is starting to become a common proverb in some parts of the dark empire of the Dawi Zharr. Needless to say, the inherent risks to the bearer would make uncorrupted Dwarfs recoil in horror at the mere thought of the insane rashness.

      Here we see a dreaded Rocketrisen during steeplechase exercise.



      Obviously, the experimental rocketsuits are dangerous in the extreme to the user, and the slightest malfunction or mishandling can lead to severe injury, maiming, madness or death for the bearer. Here we see a Rocketrisen flailing and swearing as he spins skyhigh out of control, a common occurrence. Note the head spike, which transform Rocketrisen flight mishaps into armour-penetrating projectiles capable of felling huge monsters.



      And together with the flayman Elfskin which MadHatter won at a random prize draw in a previous contest.

      The post was edited 4 times, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().

    • The Kuthuvud of Skintaxmountain

      @alltaken : Thanks! Confusing is the word, and the intent. The idea was to make their charge into enemies into an overwhelming experience in every sense of the word. I wonder if painting will make it clearer or unclearer what is going on. :D

      @ROTTEN_FACTORY : Thank you kindly!



      The Chaos Siege Giant of C.W.

      Been to a tournament during the weekend, the most fun yet! Didn't make it to top 10, though, in a tourney of 12 participants. Someone else claimed my traditional last place!

      I got to the tournament in the same car as a couple of other guys. We had a test game on friday. For fun, I told them both to bring some modelling project, green stuff and sculpting tool and I'd fix some quicksculpted parts for them during downtime and evening. The driver, who shall be known as C.W. from Skintaxmountain, did.

      After the pilot game on friday, the converting started. He wanted scalemail between the segmented plate rows on the frontside of his armoured giant. Also, both he and the other guy insisted on an unusual anatomical detail. I thought they were joking, but they were dead serious. Said and done.

      On saturday, the back plate decorations got sculpted. Mimicked Forgeworld's armour trim style on e.g. their Chaos Warhound Titan.

      On sunday, chains got sculpted, yet they had another idea for an unusual anatomical detail, higher up this time. And as we packed our things into the car, C.W. glued a dice and a small pebble onto the empty throat of the Gorgon, and I burnt through all his green stuff making the head in the car while C.W drove us home (first thing sculpted in a car for me).

      Now, before you click the spoiler button, beware that this was sculpted for a Swede in Sweden, in a very rural area. You have been warned.

      I present to you the Kuthuvud of Skintaxmountain, held by its proud owner:

    • Elf Slave of Ancient Times

      A quick little retinue sculpt for the admiral/pirate captain. Having just finished quick-salvaging and uploading a huge load of pictures of others' Chaos Dwarf hobby work (concentrated and prolonged waking-to-sleeping desktop work), I've gone physically exhausted like rarely before, in a way which hard labour hasn't managed to produce. Tired through the day no matter what one do. Ah well, some rest and relaxation and juice should be up again. Still, managed to put in some finishing touches on this slave victim.

      From his neck iron, a lock and a metal slave plate dangles. The unlucky Elf have met a grisly fate almost on par with the Orc slaves. Maimed, partially flayed, branded and cut and cut again, he has some blood drops flowing down his left arm. They've barely touched his face, because Elven ears and eyes are seen as very valuable alchemical and sorcerous ingredients. Perhaps Elven hair is, too? In that case, that proud mane has already been harvested. The Elf is scalped, and his exposed skull is cracked from blunt violence. Yet this is no lowly Human who would cave in to deepest despair in the face of such utter misery. His facial expression is pained, but an iron will and burning desire to avenge his wrongs ("I'll strangle you with your own beard, foul Dwarf!") leaves a determined glare as he bites back a wail, or at least that was the theory behind the sculpt.

      The pose of this miniature made photography a challenge. It was hard to get any good angles at all of the sculpt, and areas such as the eyes kept losing all details on camera. So to compensate, a lot of pictures were taken instead, with contrast turned up in Imgur to aid dodgy focus in areas:





      A WIP matron in the grand admiral's retinue. Ideas are welcome, but frontal shots will not be taken until the sculpt is finished.

      The post was edited 2 times, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().

    • Harbour Skulker of Ancient Times

      Since a slave, a lord and a lady will be in the same kit, better include a middling sort of scum as well. This one was done mostly as a quicker exercise in posing and anatomy. I am sure the pose came out clumsy, but cast it will be regardless. Likewise, the knives came out thicker, broader and shorter than intended. Will try and get longer, sleeker and more curved blades for similar sculpts in the future. It's a tad big. Aside from that, does anything look awry?

      Equipped with a boar's tusk helmet, this lice-ridden bastard sneaks and stabs with glee, slitting purse strings and throats alike. The helmet is certainly a luxurious trophy from a previous victim of higher standing. Small chains wrap around one of his wrists. A warty scourge of the rowdy port and an unsavoury fellow on any vessel, this Hobgoblin still has his uses in boarding actions, particularly if he can sneak upon the enemy captain and deprive his crew of leadership in the midst of critical combat. The intended pose is tiptoeing forward, torso bent back, sneaky-like. However, it seem simple enough to tilt the model on a slottabase to achieve a different impression.

      "Just one more cut..."



      Dress inspired by Robbie McSweeney's depiction of Akkadian warriors:

      The post was edited 2 times, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().

    • Matron of Ancient Times

      Dressed modestly in multi-layered fringed cloth draped diagonally around her pregnant body, this horned matron is no breaker of custom, as her decently chainmail-veiled face profess (bared flesh in public is the lot of concubines, temple harlots and women captured as war booty, and finally priestesses - held in awe - whose mysterious female powers are expressed through an assertive sensuality in their manners and appearance alike). Rings in the ears and around the fingers of the matron add a glitter to her rotund person, while a towering hat underscores her married status. Her prestigious position as a fertile mother is visible in the nine pteruges hanging from the backside of her hat, and indeed a similar triangular end decoration as on the family pteruges is strung on a necklace hanging from the throat of each of her children who has not yet passed into adulthood as per the ancestral rites. Note the childhood hat of her son, and the beard which is uncoiled since it is a privilege of adults only to curl their hair and whiskers.

      The headgear of the matron is large, yet its form is different from male hats, and likewise unlike the masculine (and priestess) counterparts the feminine headgear is not proudly erect, standing straight up on the head, but is instead softer, backbending and receptive in shape. Her hat sports zigzag decor and pearlwork alike, and flanked by lightning bolts striking the ground rise a stylized palm ornament, in flames. This bears connotations of fertility, growth and plenty, but also of destruction, ashes and power.

      The frontside of her hat is starkly adorned by a cracked skull, a constant reminder of both mortality, the work that needs to be done and the children that needs to be bred and raised. The cranial ornament upon the head of this lady is likewise a symbolic reminder for all men of the importance of defending one's tribe and precious womenfolk. It is also a mark of warning to any slave who would think of assaulting her. Behind the skull rise a a metal plate, inscribed with incantations, frequently replaced with different bronze plates bearing script as the seasonal ceremonies require. Above the runic plate sits the flat face of a potent demon of myth, bound to her will and facing the sky in order to ward off fell spirits and criminal hat-snatchers alike. The crenellated wall sitting above the demonic visage is not accidentally placed that way, for it is in fact an invocation in images for any assailant of the city walls to perish, a baleful curse upon both attackers outside the fortifications and revolting slaves within. The stretch of miniature walls and towers is likewise a proclamation of her kin's strength and endurance, as well as an announcement of the harshness needed for order to keep out chaos if civilized life is to survive.

      And last but not least the crowning fortifications act as a reminder for all menfolk that should the towers be toppled and the walls fall like a downstruck hat, then their wives and concubines will become nothing but spoil for the conqueror, and their mothers and daughters will also be ravished, as is the way of mortals since time immemorial.

      "You hit them hard over their heads like this, little Kralbuknezhur."

      "Yes, ma'!"



      The post was edited 1 time, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().





    • Slave Orc Heads of Ancient Times


      Hobgoblin Slavedrivers of Ancient Times



      ________________________________

      Scarred feet trundled across the ashen wastes to the constant rattle of chains. Many of those feet had less then their usual number of toes. On high, the sun glared hot and dry, its blistering gaze only interrupted by billowing volcanic plumes from a distant stretch of young mountains. The land was ruthless, and so were its inhabitants. A whip coiled through the dusty air and lashed, yet again, hard across lumbering green backs that quickly were becoming flayed to the bone. Hardly a whimper escaped from the captives. Skylxys Wartface was not content with the response, so he struck once more, but this time aimed the whip at a single bastard Orc. The iron tip of the long, braided lash bit into the raw, crimson mass which was all that was left of the sod's muscles that covered his exposed scapulae. Bloody droplets flew from the impact and the eternal cloud of flies scattered from the sudden violence.

      This time, the lashing action got its deserved reply, and the hulking wretch stumbled to his knees and yelped in agony, grunting and panting. The hands of the Orc lost grip of his shovel and instead flew out sideways to cover his pained back, yet the shackles which bound the thrall's wrists together arrested the hands pathetically in mid-air. The sight bemused the grizzled Hobgoblin slavdriver, and Skylxus drank in the sight with all the glee that a weaker creature can muster at the utter subjugation of someone greater and stronger than himself.

      “My, my. Me knees be damned if it isn't Qurluk the great himself who grovels in the dust,” snarled Skylxus with a leer that twisted his kife-cut face. He reeled in the whip and nonchalantly juggled with a fat knife in one hand, tossing and spinning it with disregard for his own fingers' health.

      “Noo! Uh! NO!” wailed the slave Orc in protest. The high pitch was unbefitting for such a mighty creature, whose dark and gruff tones usually were the dread of settlers, nomads and beasts alike. Though the wretch's hands and feet between them only had enough digits for one full hand and one full foot, he scrambled to rise, knowing where such special attention from the overseers would land him.

      A savage kick in the small of his back sent the large Orc grabbling to the ground, flying flat on his starved belly. That violence was sweet to Skylxus, and he wanted no one to miss his moment of supremacy.

      “HALT! Hold yer steps you maggots, or I'll gut yer lousy skinbags and strangle you all with yer own intestines!” roared the Hobgoblin and planted his sandalled foot on Qurluk's messy back, pinning the brute more by fear than by weight.

      The slavedriver's few colleagues dealt out strikes, prods, pinches, kicks and lashes and yelled at their slave flock to turn about and face the head whipper. As always, the sight of the measly gang of Hobgoblins with spears and whips lording it over the many more and much stronger Orcs was an offense to the order of things as set down by the gods who had shaped the world. The situation was surreal and unthinkable, had not those devil tribes of Ashen Dwarfs figured out ways to make the most unbending, proud and wild berzerkers in all of the inhabited world yield under their yoke. Of course, to break the spirit of something as strong and independent as an Orc required a degree of crushing brutality and cruel finesse that very nearly broke the body unto death, but the lardy stunted ones had figured out just the right balance, as was evident in the enslaved Orcs' starved, shackled, torn and mutilated bodies...

      The miserable view of the slave Orc throng herded by the gangly Hobgoblins made Skylxus Wartface cackle with hoarse and rasping laughter. The imbecilles! Just look at their wretchedness!

      “As I said, if ye had the sense to listen, this here on the ground is THE great Manstomper heeself,” spat the slavedriver and performed a theatrical mock bow to his audience. “Ladeez and gentle-Orcs, may I present to you the mighty warlord, the fear of Humans and Orcs alike and the thunder of the steppes? The cleaver of two thousand skulls and the ripper of tents. The drinker of blood, oh my! The puller of monster claws and the crusher of families, the one and only Orc king Qurluk!”

      The other Hobgoblins sniggered and grinned between themselves. The watching Orcs stood dumb and lost in their shackles staring at the world from a little corner of their minds which their essence had retreated into when cruel oppressors wrecked their pride, their sanity and sense of self. Some drooled, some had jaws hanging slack from excessive blows, while some few sported no jaws at all after some punishment or capricious whim. Such a pathetic gaggle of broken ones hardly cared to see one of their own, and a leader at that, sprawled on the sand and gravel like a heap of filth. For filth he was, and so were they, and they wished nothing but to be left alone, caring not for others and being still alive only because the gods had made the will for life strong indeed in all mortals. Oh, the degradation on display was sweet like honey to Skylxus' red eyes.

      “But is he truly your king?” asked the slavedriver harshly. The whistling of the wind, the snickering of Hobgoblins and the clink of chain links was the only answer. Skylxus set his whip and knife in his belt, bowed down and picked up a huge tool, holding it with trembling arms over his hat-crowned head.

      “No! He is Shovel the slave, property of the Temple of Kardrunnak in Zuppar and part of canal-digging gang Fifty-Four! and this dungfly has dropped his tool. Bloody useless! Mayhap he has pretensions of royalty to distract himself? Could that be why Shovel forgets himself? How can you be Shovel without yer shovel?”

      Upon raising this question, Skylxyus flicked the heavy tool down onto the head of once-Qurluk. The Orcish skull cracked audibly at the impact, and his head collapsed feebly to the ground.

      “But let's be understanding for once, shall we? The mistake is easy to make. For Shovel do look like Qurluk the great, but this cannot be! Shovel is Shovel, and no more than a tool.”

      The band of slave Orcs stood limply with hanging arms, blinking at the bewildering speech. The Hobgoblin slavedrivers, on the other hand, started to cackle among themselves. They were more clever than some dumb Orcs and caught that drift all right. All of them stepped forth, surrounding the lying slave on the ground, grabbing hold of him and turning him over so that all in attendance could see properly.

      “Since Shovel's face is such a source of trouble, let us relieve the poor fellow,” barked Skylxus Wartface harshly and drew his thick knife with impatience. His companions tightened their grips on Shovel and produced his head for ease of reach. And then, in that savage act of flaying, did the stark utter cruelty on public display finally reach through the apathy of Qurluk's kinsfolk, and a glimmer of primal fear and recognition of their own brutish treatment struck a chord in the jaded hearts of broken slave Orcs. And they cringed and bayed and whimpered, not daring to move a foot unless they, too, would receive a similar treatment.

      Yet the show was not over yet. When the slavedriver had finished carving into the weakly struggling head of Shovel, he grabbed hold of the skin and drew it off with both hands, planting a sandalled foot on the Orc's shoulder to brace himself. Blood glistened on the Hobgoblin as he raised the slack hide of Shovel's face to the skies and kicked the victim on his newly exposed face musculature.

      “Haha! And now he'll eat it!” cackled the slavedriver, and forced once-warlord Qurluk to devour his own visage and so become one of the faceless mass of slaves who laboured under the cruel dominion of the Ashen Dwarfs and their sadistic middlemen. Life was short and unforgiving and you had to enjoy what triumphs you could before someone ended you.

      Then the march went on as if nothing had happened.

      And that night, near the site of overlord Hashdrubael's newly started irrigation canal, Skylxus Wartface slept very well indeed under his ragged blankets by the crackling campfire.



      ________________________________




      “Chop-chop,

      chop-fed!
      Drop-drop,
      drop-dead!
      Lop-lop-lop,
      lop off his head!

      We've cut off the heads of a thousand mountain Ogres,
      and the heads of a thousand-thousand sea Elves!

      We now want the heads of a thousand-thousand-thousand hillmen,
      and then the heads of a thousand-thousand-thousand-thousand steppe Orcs!

      One man has cut off the heads of a thousand-thousand-thousand-thousand-thousand marsh Goblins,
      for no man has ever drank so much wine as this man has of blood poured out!

      Chop-chop,
      chop-fed!
      Drop-drop,
      drop-dead!
      Lop-lop-lop,
      lop off his head!”

      - The Beheading Song, a marching song also popular among Ashen Dwarf children.



      ________________________________


      Also, got an entry in for Artisan's Contest XXII purely by accident. Had been painting Orc heads and Hobgoblins for display pictures, and while being bitten by the painting bug I took the opportunity to finish a couple of promised emissaries, a bull-masked one to Fuggit Khan (because he's had enough hats in his hands to last three lifetimes) and a fire rune fellow to Carcearion. Both were quick-sculpted conversions over a Warhammer plastic Dwarf: