Sunday, 25 February 2018

Kalyustar the Soulchemist

Kalyustar stared into the empty sockets of the skull. Its green-black shine had an almost eerie quality. Kalyustar's thoughts drifted back, to the Eclipse. Back then, his obsession was the elusive sigmarite, the only substance in the Realms he had not been able to add to his laboratory. He had wrested many secrets from sorcerers and priests, in the gloom of the Eclipse, until a wizened sorcerer pointed him towards Shyish and its realmstone. In the Harrowmark, he had come so close to capture a large amount of it, only to see it fall in the ghostly hands of the White Lady. And now, as more dread portents plunged the Realms in confusion, he held it in its vitrified form. Yet, he was no longer sure he could waste it to capture some sigmarite. And then, the voices came back. 'With me, you could capture an even more elusive substance. With me, you could refine and mould it'. Kalyustar the Soulchemist, the voices had called him. But whose soul was to be melted and refashioned in the crucible of his magic?

I wanted to model a new version of Kalyustar, the Wizard I had created for the Ex Profundis' Eclipse competion, ever since, during the Harrowmark Run campaign I had started to turn in-game events into the beginning of a possible fall from grace.

When Malign Portent was announced and with Warboss Kurgan and Wailslake we started to plan for our next campaign, I decided it was time to do it. We were already setting our campaigns in Shiysh, in the Harrowmark region created by Warboss Kurgan, so it only seemed logical to explore how Kalyustar would be affected by the events of the Time of Tribulations. After some chat on the DAoS group, I took on the suggestion by Matthew Benner to use a regular Battle Wizard with scrying sphere, but to swap the sphere for a skull, to hint at Kalyustar's inner struggle over alchemy or necromancy.

I once again found a Liberator head and cut the halo and cheek guards to recreate Kalyustar's mask. Kalyustar's staff was again made exactly in the same way as for the first model: the twin-tailed comet staff top was shaved to leave only the sphere, which was then topped with the Liberator halo and decorated with vials from the Freeguild Crossbowmen/Handgunners. More vials were added to Kalyustar's belt, as a nod to the vials hanging from the barding of his horse in his previous incarnation.

For the skull, I had initially used one from the Khemri Skeleton Warriors, but I realised it looked too big and I was not really happy with the almost caricatural look of the eye sockets (first WIP picture). I then replaced it with a smaller, more realistic skull (second WIP pic). I also dry-fitted the left arm with the open hand hovering above the scrying sphere, as I really liked the idea of him kind of caressing the skull. Unfortunately, the hand hid the face if I wanted to keep it staring at the skull. So I took another left arm from the Wizard kit, removed the staff hand and replaced it with the open hand.

The flowing stole of the left arm was square, so I shaved it and touched it up with green stuff. At the same time, I resculpted the area around the sleeve rim that had been damaged when removing the staff. In this way, both arms are now covered in pointy sleeves. The addition of the drawn back hood from the Wizard kit completed the conversion and ensured that all elements of the original model were also in the new one.
I have obviously replicated the colour scheme of the first model, but went for slightly darker hues for the mask and robe and added some corrosion to the staff top. As I was painting the model, I realised that, if I had painted the skull as if bone, this would have created no contrast between the mask and the skull. Luckly, the fluff in Malign Portent made it clear that Shadeglass is vitrified Shyishian realmstone. It was too good a narrative hook not to pick it up.
Now, Kalyustar the Soulchemist, formerly of the Gilded Hand, will fight through the Time of Tribulations in our very own Skirmish campaign Thy Soul to Keep. Who knows, at the end of it, I might have to convert yet another Kalyustar as a fully fledged Necromancer.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Thy Soul to Keep, Prologue

The Perfect Storm

Pieter van Toorn still laid semi-comatose on a straw bed in the derelict barn of Wörtbad. Unlike the Witch Hunter, Kalyustar had shrugged off his injuries in no time. It was as if the air of the Harrowmark itself was a balm to the wizard. The more he basked in the howling winds, the better he felt. And then, as the superstitious peasants started muttering of dark omens, the voices had come. Strange, half-heard wispers in the gloom. He followed them to places where the energies of Shyish run strong. The peasants of Wörtbad looked ascance at him as he made for the woods alone. There, he started to realise: no ur- and aether-gold, no elusive sigmarite would witstand the passing of time. No matter how the magic of Chamon could change and refashion them, they would eventually decay. Kalyustar was dwelling on such toughts when he heard a strange commotion coming from the barn. He rushed in and found Lucius Scopos, the only among his men he had been able to find in the tangled woods, pushing the Witch Hunter back onto his bed.
"Wizard, you... saved me?"
Kalyustar simply nodded, his white mask hiding his surprise as he felt a new kind of energy swelling from van Toorn.
"This is... unexpected. But it matters little, you are still being judged. And you, marksman, clear the way!". van Toorn rose, steady as rock, and started buckling his zwihander to his belt.
"The God-King sent me a dream. I saw a tide of skulls smoothering the lands. It is a sign, something is stirring and we have to stop it. Which side are you on, Kalyustar of the Gilded Hand?"
"Why, of the blessed forces of High Azyr, Herr van Toorn! Lead the way, I sure must serve in this time of malign portents".

As the trio made their way through the streets of Wörtbad, a light mist rose.

Gaunt figure coalesced out of the mist, the White Lady spurring them forward.

A foppish crew of orruk skypirates emerged from the woods at Follow's End as the mist started to lift and skulls to fall from the sky.

Pieter van Toorn drew his blade and with a prayer to Sigmar advanced towards the revenants. Kalyustar cursed the man's rushness, but knew better not to rouse his suspicions and charged to his side.

One of the orruks picked up a skull and started to yell at his mates. The brutes stared around for a moment and then, as quick as they had come, they retreated into the woods.

As Kalyustar swung his staff at the spirits, he recognised the familiar faces of men lost at the Freebooter's Tower. There they were, beyond the fragility of flesh, and still with all of their fighting spirit. The wizard retreated, as another skull fall from the sky and the voices came back. Could that be the answer you were looking for?

"Get it!" shouted Kalyustar, sending Lucius to the pumpkin field.

The spirits of his former men swarmed over van Toorn and reached for Kalyustar. A blaze of magic dispersed them. Are you sure they won't come back? Won't it be wonderful if you could command them again?

The White Lady drifted around Deathwatch Manor, her chilling screams stunning Lucius, while a skeleton crawled out of the ground to reach for another skull.

Kalyustar moved to intercept the White Lady before she could reach the pumpkin field. A wall of sound hit him, his horse reared and then the White Lady was upon him.

Grab the essence of the animal before is gone! Yes, you can mould it like iron, with your magic. There! Let the animal go, you don't need it. Come to the field, your man is still here. Come! What is he holding?
Kalyustar lifted the object. Greenish-black glass, in the shape of a skull. As he stared at it, he knew the voices were its. There is much we can do, Kalyustar the Soulchemist.