+ The Wither Lords +

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;


Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night


(D. Thomas, Terran poet, MII)


The Wither Lords emerge from the Aether to the depths of the Primogenitor!


The charred Astartes was draped in the black of burned worlds and deep darkness of night. He was covered in seals and liturgies, wearing the remains of a fallen empire like a thin layer of scorched skin over his power armour.


At dawn a life time ago, in his old age, he had heard millions of marching feet trotting onwards, relentless, until their footsteps had turned the world around him, his world, pitch-black and moonless. 


Then silence.


Time had moved through the immaterium. Not in a linear way, like a river flowing through the life cycles he had lived before. It moved like a stormy sea constantly crashing onto the steep shores of a foreign coast beating and breaking the waves like splintering diamonds.


He had realised then that time would stop when his binary heart stopped as if he walked off the dark side of the moon into the night. That one day, time itself would collapse onto a single spire where he had been all his life.


Now, he was young. Reborn, yet nearer death. Surrounded by the last of his black Astartes brothers. Or were they his first? He could hear the Aether tear in the fabric of the ashen star ship as it rode its thunderous waves like a vessel lost on an unfathomable ocean. It roared and howled like the raging animal it was, a deep chasm wide and alive.


Even nearer death, he revelled in the resounding crash and moan of the cosmic sea, the aeon-old depths of its black troughs. What beauty there was in this, he thought as the star ship broke through into real space: The darkest music of the Primordial Predator made palpable over the faint whisper of human desire, the frail connection between men and a galaxy in flames.


Before him, the destination of his treacherous journey loomed like a massive giant in the night sky. It blocked out all light except for the fires, explosions and etheric signatures that rolled around its impossible body.


Even from afar he could feel the sentient presence of the Primogenitor luring him in.









Drawing by John Blanche © Games Workshop Limited


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

13 thoughts on “+ The Wither Lords +

  1. When I think of my favourite depictions of space marines, such as the John Blanche piece above, or the Wil Rees illustrations in Rogue Trader, there is something that’s missing in many new illustrations. They have weight to them and a brutality, a sense of contained but barely constrained violence. There’s also a sadness about them. They are not humans writ large. They feel more like things that have lost their humanity.

    There is something about your painting here that brilliantly captures that feeling. I can’t put my finger on why, but there is a strength and melancholy here that is so utterly lacking in the new tacticool version of marines. I absolutely love these minis.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You don’t realize how much that comment means to me! Thank you so much. That is precisely the main goal of this black venture I am exploring now: To dig deep into the core of what Space Marines (also) are, apart from being the ultimate warriors in a galaxy in flames.

      On the one hand, I am trying to capture the DNA of the finest warriors of humanity – who are barely human – in miniatures. Dark, baroque, grim and full of the colors of the world around them that they reflect in their armour. Mirrors of the worlds they inhabit.

      On the other hand, I am also trying to show how they, precisely because of this almost complete detachment from being human, must feel an always present sense of melancholia in various degrees. Because of the loss of their own humanity being more than human – or less?!

      I imagine, that all Space Marines have this faint and still fading memory of being human.

      This is something I have been wanting to get through in both my miniatures (the Crataegus Legionaires) and writing since we started the Pilgrym. The single surviving star ship that carried the remaining Crataegus Astartes to safety after the loss of their Thorn Moons, and all the incredible beauty they had tried to safeguard before the Crusade, is called Melancholia for that very same reason 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like the dark, brooding, kind of sinister look of these marines.
    Quite fitting für the very dark and “gothic” 40K setting.

    For me the “new GW style” is a bit to bright and colour full. Don´t get me wrong, it looks good, but sometimes it feels wrong.

    Would like to see some pics with a light background to see the details more clearly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Stories from you guys are what really “fills” the miniatures with life. I always wonder how you come up wiith them. I just started to paint in this darker style and try to get into the right mindset to produce and contribute to this artform. To me – stuff like this transforms the hobby from a game of tiny miniature soldiers to art. Its not just about the perfect paintjob or technique but about envoking a feeling in the reader. And thats art to me!


  4. Just sublime, excellent stuff. The painting and the writing. When I was younger I didn’t like the John Blanche style. Now having come back to the hobby after a good many years I see it as the epitome of what a Space Marine should be. Dark, brutal and sad. Abandoning their humanity to fight for something they slowly realise is a lie.


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