Hemlocke – Wanted: Dead or Alive?

Hemlocke

So this year’s Guild Ball Community event is looking at the schism in the Union team caused by Rage slipping his leash and the Solthecian Church coming in to take over the running of the team.

Details can be found here: https://steamforged.com/union-in-chains

Eight of the original Guild’s have been paired up and are fighting to gain a member of the Union as a Guild member. The pairings are:

 

  • The Fisherman’s Guild & Butcher’s Guild will be competing for Gutter.
  • The Brewer’s Guild & Mason’s Guild will be competing for Decimate.
  • The Mortician’s Guild & Hunter’s Guild will be competing for Hemlocke.
  • The Alchemist’s Guild & Engineer’s Guild will be competing for Harry the Hat.

Each of the Union members will get an alternative sculpt depending on which Guild they finally settle in.

Hemlocke is being fought over by the Mortician’s and Hunter’s Guilds (Go Morticians!) and her alternative sculpts are:

 

Her back story is:

A fate unknown

Light flooded into the empty chamber, coloured in faint hues of red and green from the faded staining in the glass dome above. Motes of dust fluttered through the air like tiny fireflies, tumbling ever downwards in lazy spirals. A peaceful stillness had taken hold of this place and refused to relinquish it, entirely at odds with the sinister darkness lurking in the catacombs below.
Grace stood in quiet contemplation of the scene, light reflecting from her pristine robes in a blinding glare. Her lip curled. She cared little for this place. A long-abandoned chapel built atop an ancient temple ruined some centuries past, the neglect of this sacred ground was an offence against Solthecius himself.
The Inquisitor’s dilapidated surroundings offered little to placate to her condemnation. The elements had not been kind to a building standing unattended for so many years, her eye picking out places where walls had crumbled and fallen in, and dark metalwork was spotted with orange. Tall windows, once proud and vibrant, had grown dull in their frames; the panes from several others shattered over the floor in pointed shards of multicoloured glass.
This remote shrine would be impure forevermore, sins of the past having rendered it far beyond the limits of mortal sanctification. The order had allowed the lonely site to be quietly forgotten over the years as the trail of attendant worshippers had slowly reduced to a trickle, content that the pious should never know of its existence. It was probable the dusty flagstones had known neither foot nor knee for decades until the arrival of the Inquisition, the carpets once covering them having rotted away long since.
But, Grace was not here to kneel in supplication.
A warren of tunnels hid underfoot, a sprawling dungeon first created for the primitive temple a thousand years ago, made into a labyrinthian maze by the architects of the chapel erected in the time since. They had not been alone in their attentions. Nature too had touched the confusing hive of forgotten cells and foetid cellars just as it had the land above, shuddering tremors and flooding causing irreversible destruction in the depths. Fraught with collapsed ceilings and impassable corridors, even the most recent map was hopelessly obsolete.
It was the perfect prison for as vile a fraternity as the Union.
Despite the length of leash allowed him by the new Bacchus, Rage had quickly proven too wild a dog to be left to his own devices, his rebellious instinct too fractious to be of use. Grand plans for the treacherous cadre spoiled, Pious VI had not sat idle in retaliation. His Inquisitors’ mission of stewardship soon become one of hunter and prey, Grace and Benediction ordered to entomb each member of the Union underground, far from the eyes of man.
Their first quarry had been Rage himself, the vicious thug now imprisoned in a cell as bleak as his blackened heart. His capture in particular had been a dark enough deed to cost of the lives of three initiates, each bloodied by his wicked cleaver until their bodies moved no more. Pursuit of the other wolves in his ruthless pack had been less barbaric, yet none had come easily.
The Saint would have lied if she did not admit to a sense of satisfaction in persecuting such reprehensible scum. She had readily paid penance each night, quickly reaching forgiveness for her behaviour in service of the August Lord. Her conscience remained as pure as her unbroken innocence.
Footsteps cut through the silence and from the corner of her vision, Benediction’s immense frame appeared. Unlike Grace, he wore his armour and faceplate, his robes dirtied from travelling through the depths below. Behind him he dragged a long chain, metal links clinking together as they writhed, the final malefactor struggling in vain against the hard iron.
The witch had arrived.
The woman had been a dishevelled mess even before she had been dragged from her den, clothes a tattered collection of unwashed rags, her hair matted into thick dreadlocks. She reeked as only an individual with an aversion to bathing could, a musky stench of dried sweat and mould.
Grace’s eyes narrowed, a sadistic smile creeping across her features. Hemlocke deserved cleansing in more ways than one. Amongst all of her miserable brethren the witch offended the order most, by defying the very word of Solthecius with her sacrilegious profanity. She belonged in the dark ages past, a slave to the pagan beliefs of man when he had paid fealty to the elements and the stars above.
Sensing the contemptuous stare, the witch turned her head towards Grace, only to wilt and avert her tortured eyes as she shrank away again. The brief glimpse revealed pupils dilated to monstrous proportions, all trace of colour replaced by heavy black orbs. Doubtless, Hemlocke had been sampling her own stock.
A vicious yank of her collar dragged the witch under the light of the grand dome, painting her in dappled hues. She reacted by clawing at the chain and shrieking at her tormentor.
‘No blind man should see as you, giant. You are unnatural, an abomination!’ The sudden outburst was the first collection of legible words the woman had offered since her capture, the rest only gnashing of teeth and forlorn wailing.
Hemlocke’s spite earned her a backhanded slap across the mouth, the impact whipping her delicate neck backwards. When her head swung back again she glared murderously, bloated eyes unblinking.
A thin trail of red trickled over her chin, and the witch defiantly spat a mouthful of bloody phlegm onto the floor, crimson covering a cross carved into the stone.
She grinned, teeth stained pink. ‘The Old Ones care little for your pretend lord, or the misguided fools who follow him. You are as powerless as the lies your kind peddle, and these worthless icons crumbling under my heel.’
Benediction punished her blasphemy again, a huge hand seizing Hemlocke by the throat and roughly hauling her into the air. His head swung around to Grace as the witch’s hands scrabbled at his grip, blank mask somehow conveying his silent question.
Grace took a moment to savour the undiluted panic over Hemlocke’s features. Her face was turning a painful shade of purple, her legs frantically kicking on tiptoes. The witch was clearly running out of breath, her sullen tongue silenced but for a strangled gasp.
The Saint shook her head.
Benediction gave one last cruel squeeze before hurling the Union scum away, her body tumbling through the air until she landed amongst the rotting remnants of a row of pews. The witch struck the wood with a sickening thud, an agonised scream torn from her lungs on impact. Her voice trailed into a rasp as she slipped to the floor like a child’s discarded ragdoll.

Hemlocke lay still amongst the splintered wood, only movement a tremble as she sobbed
pathetically. The line of red across her chin had become a wide river, pooling on the old stone beneath her.
‘I will not pretend you do not deserve death for your sins, witch. You are barely a trial in our holy mission, a trivial distraction at most. Perhaps death would provide the best form of censure for one such as you, rather than imprisonment.’ Hemlocke didn’t react to the words, her eyes still closed.
Grace glanced at her companion. His mask hid any hint of expression, but Grace knew his judgement would match hers regardless. The heathen woman’s fate was sealed in a moment of unspoken communion.
‘Illuminate her.’ With the slightest nod, the Virgin Sister signalled her guardian into action once more. An armoured boot stepped forward from under his robes, catching the light in spite of a thin layer of grime.
Hemlocke lurched up into the air, a marionette with her strings suddenly pulled taught. Her hands scratched at the air, nails clawing like talons clutching invisible rungs. Back straight as a rod, the witch’s head snapped towards Grace, eyes rolled back to become milky orbs. She bared her teeth in a feral grin.
Benediction broke into a run, hands reaching for her, but the witch slipped away as though possessed by a devil, her nimble agility at odds with how erratically her limbs moved. She reached the nearest window in moments, the tall glass pane already shattered inwards. Without breaking her unnatural gait Hemlocke launched herself through the opening, disappearing but for a bloody scrap of cloth.
Benediction roared in frustration, punching an armoured fist into the wall. He looked back towards Grace, tilting his head downwards in self condemnation.
The Saint’s smile returned. It was time to persecute the hunt once more.

Hemlocke’s eyelids slowly parted, her vision blurry and indistinct. Whatever spirits had aided her escape had scattered, leaving her entirely mortal once more, a broken shell stretched over weak and bruised flesh.
As her senses returned she became slowly aware she lay at the bottom of a shallow ditch, muddy water soaking through her clothes, icy cold against her clammy skin. It seemed some time had elapsed since her flight, the avatar of the Father fallen from the blank skies to usher in the dominion of the  Goddess. The landscape was coloured a pale hue, the faint and ethereal light birthing a deep shadow in the recess where she now  languished.
Her ears detected nary a hint of pursuit, but Hemlocke knew the accursed holy men would still be searching for her. She was the last of the Union to have evaded them, and their kind did not rest easily.
They would hunt for her until her last breath, the chase as relentless as their passion for their falsehood god.
She groaned, knowing she was poor game presently.
Her forehead was warm and fevered; from her short breath and a dull ache in her flank she was likely wounded inside, the taste of coppery blood painted over her lips. Two of the fingers on her left hand were broken, pointing in unnatural directions. With her frenetic scramble apparently ceased some hours before, Hemlocke feared that if she tried to move her body would not obey.
She was a shattered figure, collapsed in a bolthole and awaiting death.
Hemlocke closed her eyes once again. If the gods wanted to take her, she would gladly relinquish her life to them. Even in this state, she was their servant, and she dared not betray the ancient oaths of her order. In a faltering mumble, she began to mouth ancient words from the rite of ending.
An image appeared in her mind, her voice faltering as the words inexplicably caught in her throat.
She felt herself frown outwardly as the vision expanded and a fine lunar mist eclipsed all, covering every surface and leaving her numb. Somewhere in the distance faint silhouettes moved, their forms indistinct and wreathed by billowing clouds. Whenever she would strain her eyes to concentrate on one it would become intangible, only to maddeningly reappear some distance away.
Their voices echoed through the murky gloom, words illuminating each spirit momentarily with sparks of colour against the grey background.
‘What do you want for this one’s release?’ Even distorted the first voice was deep enough to be undeniably male, strong and powerful, the speaker glowing bright amber.
‘A gesture, support in coming trials.’ The second voice was a sinister hiss, the slither of a serpent baring its fangs.
‘Very well.’ Hemlocke felt uncertainty creep into the first speakers tone, and saw a shard of cold ice break through his aura, a jagged line of canker, twisted and bitter. He reluctantly spoke again after a pause. ‘We shall enter into agreement with you.’
The second spirit did not reply, instead sweeping around to face her as the mists surrounding them whipped up into a storm. His eyes bored into hers for a moment through the turmoil, and a cold sweat dripped down her spine. The vortex span faster, accompanied by the shrieking of a thousand crows, swirling forward to envelop her within a cloak of charcoal feathers.
His face coalesced inches before her own, the spirit become a horrific visage of a cloaked devil, a skull with sharpened teeth leering from the folds of blackened sackcloth.
‘You are not supposed to be here, witch. Why have you transgressed into this past?’ His dark words were the chill of the grave, morbid and flat, bereft of any trace of warmth.
Hemlocke found herself unable to answer, terror seizing her breath and suffocating her.

Her knees buckled as her essence ebbed away, drawn on strings leading to his skeletal fingers.
The devil’s hold was broken in a howl of agony, a spear of light skewering the enveloping darkness, warmth flooding through the rent to return life to the world once again. On the other side, she could see the first speaker, his golden aura strong and restored. He shielded another figure, a bestial creature which snarled furiously, and clacked her slavering jaws.
‘Come, Hemlocke! Quickly!’ This voice was female, the animalistic snarl familiar somehow.
‘Salvation!’
Hemlocke’s reply was drowned out by the murder of crows, a jagged cacophony which lashed at the golden figure and reopened the rent in his soul, allowing the ice to pour in.
She felt herself slipping away, the vision pulling itself to the edge of her consciousness. She desperately tried to reach her hands outwards, still unable to wrest meaning.
‘Run! Run, Hemlocke! Whilst you can, come to us!’ The urgent voice broke through once more, faint and quickly fading, swallowed by a tide of rolling mists, retreating away into the aether.
Hemlocke’s head recoiled, a great breath forcing itself into her lungs with a violent shudder. Her eyes open, she saw that day had come once more. Somewhere nearby, she could hear footfall in the undergrowth, dried leaves cracking under booted heel.
It was time to flee her hiding place. The gods had seen fit to send her portents once more, and where they beckoned she would follow without question. She scrambled to her feet, forcing herself to ignore a sharp spike of pain in her chest. Her role in the machinations of the Old Ones was far from over, her future undecided, a path untraveled.
And her side yet to be chosen.

Some exciting times ahead. Both sculpts are great – I really like the snake that the mortician version has.

Time to play some games and head on over to the Forums and get Hemlocke in the Mortician’s!

Until next time sports fans!

Advertisements

Solthecius!

c3kt_h1xaaaz1g6

Given the recent teasers of Benediction and Grace as well as ‘Union Captain’ there is a bit of a buzz around the community about Solthecius and the Solthecians so I though I would recap what we know so far:

The Solthecian Cult/Church is one of (probably the) biggest organised religions in the Empire of the Free Cities and is built around the worship of Solthecius (presumably montheistically) and draws a lot of parallels with the historic catholic church.

Solthecius was originally just a sun deity (hence the symbol) but seems to have developed into something more.

The Solthecian Cult is widely regarded as being heavily involved in the creation of Guild Ball as a sport.

Although Skald and it’s people are known to have their own style in all things; from fashion to eating habits, they are extremely resistant to outside influences from the other Sovereign States. The only element that appears to have been able to permeate this cultural ideal is religion. Skald is almost exclusively given to the worship of the Solthecian faith, robust churches standing proud in most villages and towns. In the cities, the walls and roads are lined with spectacular stonework and artistry of saints and blessed angels, spectacular cathedrals dominate the skyline.

Piervo is the holy city of the Solthecian Order, which has offered the Sovereign State a great deal of protection.

The head of state of both Piervo and the Solthecian spiritual faith is known as the Bacchus and is elected by mandate of the god Solthecius; his divine will manifested by the archbishops and cardinals.

The role is unlike any other clerical or royal position throughout the Empire of the Free Cities; the Bacchus is able to influence several Sovereign States where the faith has any sort of foothold and even more so where it is the predominant religion.

During the Century Wars, Bacchus Alexandria IV and his successor, Bacchus Galbratii, were able to successfully negotiate with any Sovereign State that turned her sights to Piervo. They spared its people from the horror of the conflict beyond the walls and saved the city and its ancient religious landmarks from ruin time and time again.

Although to believers this leader is the chosen of Solthecius, in reality, any election of a Bacchus is a process of shrewd manoeuvring, underlying threats, and careful alliance. Thus, the head of state is often possessed of a considered political mind. Many followers would likely be surprised to learn how deep corruption runs within Solthecian faith and how self interested its leaders tend to be.

The Holy City is home to spectacular architecture and beautiful gardens; high domed cathedrals compete against monasteries with spires that point into the skies like crooked fingers. Statues old and new line every boulevard and street. Every hour, bells ring out and the scent of incense is thick in the air. Wherever an individual might stand in Piervo, there is at very least a low hum of penitent followers deep in prayer and every day the city is flooded with pilgrims come to demonstrate their faith.

This is not to say that industry does not exist within the walls, far from it. The Butcher’s Guild’s ruling house is in Piervo and has existed as the sole purveyor of sacred meat to the Bacchus for generations; something which its many Magisters and Chamberlains are keen to remind both visiting officials and those of other guilds. The Mortician’s Guild also holds significant influence amongst the clergy in Piervo; the two bodies frequently working hand in hand in the day to day lives of the population.

The symbolism of the Solthecian faith draws a lot of parallels with the Christian church and images of Angels (such as Angels of Conflagration) and devils are rife. The Church also denounces Mechanica constructs as devils.

The Churches of Solthecius are organised by Sovereign State and have their own military orders, as demonstrated by Michele Cesare de Corella, Knight Paladin of Divine Solthecius, praise be to his name and noble legacy, First High Priest and august Lord of the Valentian Church of the Solthecian Cult who captured Ox in Season 1.

29393-med

Spigot is a reformed character, now sober he is a devout (but secret) follower of Solthecius.

Bonesaw

Bonesaw was once a priest in the Solthecian Cult but has been exiled. He still offers prayers to Solthecius during the funerary rites when working with the Mortician’s Guild. Solthecian priests and monks are known to participate in calisthenics as a way of purifying the body.

gb-s1-ltded-union-mist

Mist also has an as yet unexplained link to the Solthecian Church. There also appears to be a strong but as yet unexplained link between the Union and the Solthecian Church.

Until next time sports fans!

 

The story so far…Engineer’s Guild

gb-teams-engineers

Next up the Cogs.

engineer-s-guild

Season 1 – Engineer’s Guild

The relatively new Sovereign State of Ethraynne (having broken away from Valentia) is known for it’s inventions and scientific innovations and is host to large, influential houses for the Astronomer’s, Alchemist’s and Engineer’s Guild.

The Engineer’s Guild themselves are still relatively new (although not as new as some) and was first formed just before the beginning of the Century Wars, as States began to build siege engines and fortifications. The Guild’s principle purpose was the technical knowledge and regulation of such construction, as well as the understanding of the forces that drive them. In the years since the end of the Wars they have focused their efforts on public developments and whilst elder members of the Guild are content with these accomplishments, the newer members only see this as the beginning. These newer members have focused their efforts on clockwork instruments and devices.

The Engineer’s team is one of the few where most or all of the players actually practice their craft.

Ballista

The team is lead by Ballista, known for his diligence and attention to detail. He made his fortune (and that of the Guild) during the Century Wars by creating weaponry and siege engines. Some examples include giant trebuchets, bolt throwers, steel-clad towers and flame throwers. He tried to introduce the latter to Guild Ball once and had a lot of success until the Engineer’s came up against the Alchemist’s (the Guild who produced the fuel for the weapon) and an ‘accident’ caused the weapon to explode, killing his apprentice – the weapon hasn’t been used since. Ballista is known to be sentimental with a strict code of honour and pride.

Mainspring

The season 1 mascot is Mainspring (or at least one of the Mainsprings as there multiples) an automaton designed and build by Ratchet.

Salvo

Salvo (also known as Salvatore) was born on the streets of Annamura and had always held an interest in the Engineer’s Guild and it was no surprise that both he and his older sister, Quistis, were both apprenticed to the Guild and specifically to Ballista. However, Quistis was the apprentice who died in the tragic flamethrower accident, but her death allowed Salvo to join the team.

Velocity

Salvo, deeply affected by his sisters death, build Velocity in her image as a tribute to her and with Ballista’s skill, influence and knowledge the project was completed and Quistis lives on in Velocity.

Collosus

Not every team boasts a monster like Boar or Ghast and such a disadvantage can severely hamper an team ambitions. Ballista was aware of this and along with the Raed Engineer, Axle, he built Colossus as an alternative. Axle pilots Colossus on the pitch to great effect.

Ratchet

Ratchet is a maverick and revolutionary as well as an exceptional inventor who created the Mainsprings. A native of Indossa, he left to escape the torment of being overshadowed by its backwards thinking. there is tension between him and Ballista who he sees as slow, lumbering and too stuck in the old ways. His first creation was an automaton that was shaped like a man and moved on tracked wheels (presumably Flask). The Mainsprings were a far greater success and the addition of outlawed explosives and a few design changes yielded a powerful new weapon. He did however meet with resistance from older members of the Guild who remembered the horrors of these weapons in the Century Wars, something he cared nothing for.

Season 2 – Engineer’s Guild

Season 2 begins with the Engineer’s playing the Alchemist’s in the Frontiers Cup (a game the Alchemist’s believe the Engineers are going to throw). However, the agreement between the two Guild’s isn’t kept and the Engineer’s win. During the match Velocity is ignited by Mercury which results in her being severely damaged. Salvo almost kills Calculus in revenge (whether for damaging Velocity or Quistis’ original death, or both is unclear). We also get an insight into the Guild’s goal post which is described as “a tall clockwork column which belched smoke into the air as it revolved around a central gear shaft”.

29253-med

The team in Season 2 is captained by Pin Vice, who is as cold and calculating as any machine – exemplified by her killing her apprentice when they are no longer useful to her. She sees Ballista as flawed as he has a sense of empathy and sentimentality. Ballista is ousted as the captain for his betrayal of the Guild by not fulfilling the deal with the Alchemist’s. She plans to redesign the team as an unstoppable extension of her will. Outside of the game she is part of a secret sect whose goal is to reignite the wars between the Sovereign States, securing the influential status of the Guild. Pin Vice’s only interest in the game is to use it to further her own agenda. She is a mysterious individual who spends most of her time in a mechanica tower of her own design known as the Spire of Gears. The tower turns as the day progresses (for reasons unknown). Pin Vice sports many mechanical augmentations, believed to be as a result of her design to overcome her biological limitations.  Pin Vice also sees the turmoil within the Union as a potential avenue to an unexpected ally.

29361-med

The season 2 mascot for the Engineer’s is Mother, a mechanical spider and her brood. Presumably built by Ratchet again although this is unclear.

29373-med

Following Velocity’s destruction against the Alchemist’s Guild, Pin Vice managed to obtain and rebuild her to her own specifications, much to the chagrin of both Salvo and Ballista. velocity is now less of a tribute to Quistis and more a practical and adaptable instrument.

28947-med

Pin Vice also managed to discover the secrets of making semi-sentient mechanica whilst reconstructing Velocity and utilised this knowledge to create Hoist. Something that delighted Pin Vice as she can replace argumentative and emotive humans with responsive and controllable mechanica. Hoist was built as a replicator, able to adapt to the teams needs as the game progresses. Hoist has also caused a lot of controversy amongst all of the religions throughout the Empire of the Free Cities.

28939-med

Compound is introduced a player for both the Alchemist’s and Engineer’s team in Season 2. An Alchemist during the Century Wars he was know to have developed chemical weapons used to break sieges and was known as the Rat Catcher as he lead men, women and children to their deaths. He was caught and disfigured by survivors and presumed dead. He wasn’t, however, and had been kept by the Engineer’s Guild in Svardlett. Pin Vice has rebuilt him, giving him new arms and eyes.

Until next time sports fans!

A splash of paint

1530

Hello sports fans,

I will caveat this post that I finding painting to be my least favourite aspect of the hobby (it’s a chore at times), so you won’t find any outstanding paint jobs here.

So, I was looking for inspiration for my Mortician’s Guild and initially though I would do them in a traditional black gothic theme with hints of pastel to give a splash of a fairly unusual colour. So I started hunting for images to use and thought that something like this would look good for Cosset:

tumblr_nqcna4FuIN1uz52yso1_500

However, it quickly became apparent that (although I’ve been painting for 20 years) I don’t have the skills or patience to pull something like that off. A WIP:

11695923_10155777859095111_5659257555991165968_n

This then lead me into a rethink on the theme. I still wanted to keep them fairly ‘dark’ but also unusual. Two things that sprang to mind were either an ‘Egyptian’ themed mortuary cult with turquoise, blue and gold or an ‘Indian’ theme.  Having done some digging I decided that I would base the team on the Sadhu and Aghori in particular.  The Sadhu are Indian holy men and women and the Aghori are a subsect who  are known to engage in post-mortem rituals. They often dwell in charnel grounds, have been witnessed smearing cremation ashes on their bodies, and have been known to use bones from human corpses for crafting jewellery. Some examples of Sadhu and Aghori:

Picture 1

I’ve so far finished the Starter set and Casket’s almost there, I am fairly happy with the result. I’m just going to tweak Casket’s face slightly to give it more definition and then it’s on to the goal, before I pick up the models for Silence, Dirge and Ghast before Season 2 hits the Morticians.

IMG_1062IMG_1048IMG_1050

IMG_1053 IMG_1060

Until next time.