Witchy Woman and Melancholia

Raven hair and ruby lips :: Sparks fly from her finger tips :: Echoed voices in the night :: She’s a restless spirit on an endless flight :: Wooo hooo witchy woman see how :: High she flies :: Woo hooo witchy woman she got :: The moon in her eye ::  – ‘Witchy Woman’, Eagles, MII


ACT 1 (then)


the venerable Arkk Biologis Mechanicvm that had led the first Elder Ones to Crataegus Fragmentum countless moons ago, sailed silently upon the dusk tides of the immaterium once again. The ancient Arkk made no sound as it glided through space. A single, verdant starship of ghosts and ghosts-to-be in a vast ocean of shimmering light. The afterglow of the destruction of a hundred Thorn Moons.

The cards had foreseen it.

Within a fortnight winter had come to the boreal with a force more ferocious than any previous winters before it. Not a single moon had been able to withstand the iron sleet that bore down from above. After weeks of intense warfare under aurora filled night skies – turned red under the cleansing fires of the Imperiumme – the crusaders had slaughtered their way to the innermost sanctuaries of Gheal, 3rd Thorn Moon. Machine Moon. Red Moon – finally, as in some weird foreboding, living up to its name. Here, in the dying sanctuaries and sunken cathedrals of the boreal underworld, the Three-Eyed Crusaders had been able to not only discover but unlock the moon-shaped Viridis clavem and gain access to Daerwynne, 1st Thorn Moon. Library Moon. Green Moon. 

The ferocious Vlka Fenryka corners Thurisaz Thornweaver near one of the shafts leading into the boreal underworld of Gheal, 3rd Thorn Moon.
The last stand of the Crataegus Legion to defend Gheal, 3rd Torn Moon, and the Viridi Clavem from falling into the hands of the enemies
To no avail…Deep inside Gheal, 3rd Thorn Moon, the teleporting Three-Eyed managed to discover and unlock the Viridi Clavem holding information about how to reach Daerwynne, 1st Thorn Moon, leading to the demise of the verdant moons.

Now, the moon-sized library was nothing more than broken fragments of rock devoid of the verdant life that up until its demise had been grown and nurtured for Millenia by the Elder Ones and their Green Mechanicvm allies.

Onboard Melancholia, last Arkk Biologis Mechanicvm of Crataegus Fragmentum, the silence of deep space lay as a thick carpet over the ships dusk-filled chambers and corridors as it disappeared out of sight sailing the fading rays of the Aether, never to be seen in Crataegus Fragmentum again. A silence so thick you could cut it with a hawthorn knife. On board, hidden in its depths, lamenting the loss of countless kindred spirits, brothers-in-arms, and the fall of a green empire, where the last remaining Elder Ones. Their melodic voices, which normally seemed to flow like wind from the deepest hollows of ancient haw trunks, gone silent.


ACT 2 (now)

Witchy Woman,

so-called around these parts because of her raven hair and ruby lips. Oh, and her ability to do magic. Black magic. Witchcraft. Rumors has it that she is a Raveness. Bird lady. All feathered up. One of them Wiccans.

© John Blanche

You rarely see her. But she has been around these parts for some time now. All pale and tall and all. Came in with her magic friends. Well, the big one doesn’t do magic. He just looks after Bird Lady. And her birds. Probably real birds. Black birds.

What color is a Raven around these parts anyway?

The hunched priest always skulks around close to Bird Lady. We call him the Emissary down here. Or Stilt Man. He walks like a bird. All feathered up too. Some folk around these parts even say he is a bird. Bird man. Black feathers too.

What color is a Raven around these parts anyway?

Ol’ Ollie who used to work up at the pipes says he and some mates once saw Bird Lady and Stilt Man talk to a swarm of black birds up at Wither Crag. Came in with the fog. Them mates are gone now and Ol’ Ollie turned blind soon after. Told you so. Black magic.

What colour is a raven around these parts anyway?


The Thorn Moons Crusade is over…

As is so often the case in the real world the world of natural beauty lost to the narrow-minded and anthropocentric world view of humanity. Crataegus Fragmentum and its distant worlds of natural (as in ‘bio-mechanical’) wonders, which I have had the great pleasure to see evolve into the narrative backdrop for a collective gaming experience with friends from around the world, is no more. Where there before was a hundred Thorn Moons of boreal beauty there is now only the solitary Arkk Biologis Mechanicvm Melancholia and the faint afterglow of a world annihilation the scale of which has rarely been seen in the Imperiumme of Man.

On the one hand I am filled with a sense of sadness over the demise of the boreal world I have had such a joy in creating from the Pilgrym game in Nottingham two years ago and onwards. A creation that has led to the rise of the Elder Ones and ideas for world-building elements like the Silva Chorus, the moon-sized library of Daerwynne, lucus mirrors and the labyrinthine underworld of Gheal – which as it turned out during the Crusade held the key, Viridis clavem, to the 1st Thorn Moon hidden deep below in its catacombs and verdant cathedrals.

On the other hand I am filled with immense joy to know that the Thorn Moons went down in flames in the amazing company of old friends from around the world and with a Californian soundtrack blaring through the speakers as the acoustic backdrop of their demise.

This, for me too (see Migsula’s recent post on The Eyes of the Emperor), is a great opportunity to look forward. Something I find very liberating after the intense tour de force of finishing a playable Crataegus Legion Army, my first ever fully painted 40K army.

So, the two brief acts above are to be read as two distinct directions of my work after the Thorn Moons Crusade. Who knows, they may even be related at some point:

First of all, I will explore the last remaining Elder Ones onboard Melancholia. Seeing Kari’s amazing Red Corsairs in the flesh I will base mine on the excellent ‘new’ Primaris Marines too as well as more Forgeworld stuff. Goal is to do some bigger stuff as well. I didn’t have time to do more than six Elder Ones for the Crusade and now seems to be a good time to do a small but playable renegade Space Marine force of Crataegus Legionnaires. At some point, after they are done crying over the loss of the home world, they will probably be out for revenge after all…and who knows what else. Conjuring up a new strategy on board Melancholia, which, by the way, is my reference to John Blanches stunning Battlefleet Gothic drawings and the geodesic domeship Valley Forge in Douglas Trumbulls excellent Silent Running from 1972.

Secondly, and this is where it gets very exciting for me, I want to explore something new: The Witchy Woman and her strange retinue as the first act in that exploration. She is based straight out of an Eagles song and is a homage to their contribution to the Californian soundtrack that keeps on playing inside my head after an amazing gaming experience on the other side of the world. I am still not quite sure who this Bird Lady is, apart from the Wiccan and Native American vibes centred around the Raven motif combined with subtle references to the Thorn Moons. I want to explore that theme and narrative. She could be a radical Inquisitoress, an excentric Rogue Trader…or something completely different.

Early work on testing bits and poses for The Witchy Woman and her retinue.

The only thing that is certain is that I will build in small references to the dry and parched landscape of the beautiful Golden State with its deep Native American history as well as subtle Thorn Moons elements for the fun of it – Wiccan moon jewellery, anthropomorphic (bird) elements, tokens, witchcraft.

The rest will be discovered through the most important part of this hobby: Play and experimentation…


On a pilgrimage into the weathered worlds of Warhammer 40K. Exploring texture, narrative and atmosphere in miniature form.

12 thoughts on “Witchy Woman and Melancholia

  1. It is with great sadness that I learn that the Thorn Moons are no more and that their inhabitants have been decimated. I hope to hear more about how it all came to pass, and which of the noble warriors escaped on Melancholia. But as you mentioned in the post, the outcome was foreseen, and if anything is turn of events is more liberating than binding. It should be a delight to explore the survivors on the Melancholia and in time complement revenge. The Witchy women you are endeavoring to build now sounds great, with a wealth of interesting inspirations. Long live the Thorn Moons!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Eric! I can’t wait to dig into narrative of Melancholia either. But rest assured that until then the Elder Ones on-board are working in the shade on a new (old?) strategy…

      As for Bird Lady and her companions, I am almost done with the first couple of characters that make up the core of that storyline, Witchy Woman herself and her trusted companion Sparrow.


  2. Goosebumps 🖤💀 so thrilled to read this beautiful portrayal of passage from one path to the next. Inspired organically by the journey we paint as individuals and a brotherhood. Iron Sleet. 🎶🙏🏼

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes Kristian, well said! I am curious too. But during the last couple of days that have gone after the decimation of the Moons I have grown more confident that all this was the right thing to happen.

      Slowly opening up the third chapter of what appears to be a Moon Trilogy: Neith, Crataegus and Luna 🙂


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