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 Viridi clavem and gain access to Daerwynne, 1st Thorn Moon. Library Moon. Green Moon.
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)
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.
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, Viridi 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.
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…