Sunday, May 14, 2017

Khidzik, Witch-Flesh Harvester of Slannesh

The crunching of branches underfoot and the panting of her breath was all the distraught mage could hear. She continued to hurtle into the dark woods, ignorant to the scratches from the branches and the bruises from the falls. All the doomed mage could think of was running. Running to get a way from... that thing.

She had heard the tales of the Khidzik and her ilk. All the witches in the surrounding cities had. Even the common folk, living their lives toiling the fields and ignorant to the affairs of the aether, knew of the Harvesters of Flesh. Not much was known to the peasants about that cult of Slannesh besides that they would leave flayed corpses and butchered bodies in their wake. Corpses stripped of their skin, often posed in obscene positions to further horrify any who would be unfortunate enough to stumble upon the aftermath. It was the witches, warlocks, wyrds, and other practitioners of dark magiks that truly knew the motive of the Harvesters, for they are their main prey.

Scholars say that in the age of myth, two gods of the aelves bested Slannesh in combat and had imprisoned or even slain the Dark Prince. This is widely believed to be the reason of the decline of the armies of Slannesh, and would explain why its worship is mainly found in scattered warbands, rather than full armies, like the other dark gods. Despite the fracturing that these groups have sustained, they do share the common goal of seeking the return of Slannesh. 

Seemingly each cult has their own belief of how this shall be done. Some choose to imbibe as many mind-altering substances in order to trigger a drug-induced vision, while others seek to exalt swordsmanship to new levels of obsessive excess. But none may be as foul of those of the Harvesters of Flesh. Holding true to their name they have been assaulting the hamlets and towns of the area, seemingly with the sole purpose of harvesting skin, viscera, organs, and other various body parts. It is believed that somewhere hidden deep below the earth there exists an Effigy of Flesh, a new vessel for Slannesh, one that is worthy of their pristine god, a body for him to reclaim his throne. Not any flesh would suffice though, only those that can channel the arcane and deal in the occult have the properties for the fleshcrafting Slannesh sorcerers can use their prey for their Effigy. While a small village might yield one or two people who have an inkling of magik power, a coven of witches is the most fruitful crop for the Harvesters.

This was the very reason why the witch was running for her life through dark woods at this very moment, trying to put as much distance as possible between her and the slaughtering, and subsequent harvesting, of her former companions. She continued to flee, unaware of the root she was about to trip over, that would send her crashing to the ground. 

Pain exploded in her palms and knees as she caught herself. Mercifully she scarcely felt the cold blade of the daemon puncture her back, slicing the nerves to render her mostly paralyzed with a cut so precise only those with the grace of a Slannesh daemon could perform. She did have enough motor function to be able to turn to see her adversary, and faintly smiled despite the situation. She stared in awe at the daemon princess of Slannesh, the only thought going through her head was that it makes sense that one so perfect should take her skin. She would even give it willingly! She gazed at the alabaster wings, outstretched and majestic looking, and noticed the swollen and stretched flesh making way to bloody claws. Hers eyes moved down to look at the jagged blade the Huntress clutched.

"I won't flay you alive," Khidzik cooed in a tinny, dry voice that sounded like a dagger being scraped across porcelain. "Just for fun, that is. Your mystic energies would being to fade upon death, and my beautiful god needs all he can get from the flesh."

She paused to savor her excitement for a moment.

"Though I will enjoy your screams too," the daemon said with a gentle, bloodstained smile.

And scream the witch did.

This was the first model I had finished for this upcoming warband, while also being the first (and only so far) model painted. I started off with her since I wanted to make a figure to enter in The Eclipse contest that the blog Ex Profundis is running. I absolutely love the blog, and highly suggest checking it out if you haven't already. You can find a link to it here.

Anyway, I had started this figure years ago for a monster mash 40k demon army, but eventually lost interest. I had the bare bones of this conversion put together (just one wing attached to the torso which was attached to the legs) but had always wanted to finish it at some point. The contest was a really good way for me to set a deadline and actually follow through with a conversion for once! 

The goal contest was to come up with a witch hunter. It didn't need to be witch hunter in the traditional fantasy sense, more of anyone who would fight the followers of dark gods and other occult foes. I thought trying to figure out a back story for a Slannesh witch hunter would be an interesting challenge, and eventually came up with the short(-ish) back story that was posted above. She and the rest of her cult are harvesting flesh and other organs from those with magical powers. They believe they can build Slannesh a new body, so he can rule over them again and get revenge on the aelves. I imagine they have a partially built and excessively tall statue of Slannesh made of flesh, hidden deep in a dungeon somewhere. :)

This also helped me form the backstory for the warband as a whole, which I was glad about since it also tied in well with the body horror aesthetic I am going for. 

I knew I wanted her to have a claw, since that is typical for Slannesh demons. I wanted it to look less like a crab/lobster claw and more of a mass of mutated muscle, bone, and skin. Like all things with Slannesh, his blessings should also be in excess. I wanted the claw arm to be formidable in combat, but also look overly large and painful, like if the claw and surrounding bone wouldn't stop growing. It's hard to see from the pictures, but the end of her claw is modeled/painted as if the rest was sawn off. I image the mutation never stops (painfully) growing from the flesh and has to be periodically removed. I'm particularly proud, and a little disgusted, of how well the bloody stretch marks on the skin touching the claw turned out. Reminds me of when I was gauging up my ears.

Another part I really like is that her boots are held up by being pierced into her skin, and are also tight enough to cause the piercings to begin to tear. This theme is used several times on the Keeper of Secrets, and were inspired by drawing below. In fact, it's actually the image I had based Khidzik off of. It still remains one of my favorite pieces of Warhammer art to this day. I really wanted to pay homage to it with this figure. The claw looking like a mouth is another thing this picture inspired.

Anyway, here are a couple more close ups of the demon.

I still haven't really thought of a reason they would have the skin removed from their backs, besides I think it looks nifty. Ritualistic self-surgery does sound like something a Slannesh demon would be into. 

Speaking of surgery, the color scheme is comprised of whites, off whites, and light greys contrasted by bloody reds. I wanted the cult to have a medical color scheme since I felt like it tied in well with their flesh and surgery/butchering themes. I also hadn't seen a Slannesh warband with this scheme before. Plus I wanted to challenge myself by painting mostly white models, as opposed to using a lot of black and other dark colors.

Finally, incase you were wondering, here are the bitz I used to make her:
- Inquisitor (52mm) Death Cult Assassin. This is what makes up the most of her, thought I did make her taller by pinning/gluing the legs lower. 
- Azrael, Demon Prince of Slannesh wings (I know this is random, I just happen to have the model on hand and wasn't using it)
- A Kroot shoulder pad. Her arms are also made from Kroot legs, and her daggers are from the same box too
- A Hellstrider shoulder pad
- Talos Pain Engine mask for her mask. I flipped it backwards and horizontal. The blood vial sticking out of the back of her head is from the same kit. The main part of the claw and the little claw arm is also from this kit too.
- Chaos Knights musician's instrument for her skull shoulder pad. The jaw of the claw is from the same bit
- The claw also has the fingers from a zombie's hand (for some reason GW zombies have huge hands), and a zombie weapon for the blade on the claw. The flayed face on her leg also comes form the zombie box.
- I also used some pieces from the Forsaken box to make the claw too
- The sword is from a plastic Dark Elf Executioner. My cat had chewed the end off, so I had to cut it shorter, but I actually like this change. This isn't the first time he's "improved" a model...
- The hand holding the sword is from a Skaven. It's was the first right hand I had found that was the right size.
- the handle for the sword is from a fancy toothpick
- Her back is from a skeleton (obvious, I know). Skull also from the skeleton kit (just being thorough with this list).
- And finally, the ruined building she's on is made from the one that comes in the 3rd edition 40k box set. I bought it the day I graduated from 5th grade (it was the current set at the time), and finally just got around to painting something from that box. haha

Thanks for reading!

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