Monday, 11 December 2017

Unit showcase - Liche Queen on Undead Unicorn

Kyteler the Tired was an old witch, of a line of old witches. But not the evil, cavorting with demons stereotype. Her mother had taken up residence in an abandoned woodsman's hut when Kyteler was just a babe, and raised her in isolation from the world around her.

She knew the forest she grew up in as the Black Heart Forest, and her mother taught her never to go too deep into it lest she become lost. The edges of the forest were safe, though, wrapped as she was in the charms and wards of her mother's craft. No spirit or devil in those parts were any match for her.

A small village was established nearby during her youth, and her mother traded food and skins with the villagers for potions and cures. It was a peaceful village, and a peaceful pact between them. Days were simple and uneventful, bar for one memorable morning. As Kyteler was heading into the village with her tinctures and herbs, she saw the whole village gathered in the central square. Curious, she walked closer, and found them all staring up at a magnificent sight. Sitting tall upon a silver unicorn was an elven maiden, wrapped in pearlescent white silk. She was talking softly to the crowd, explaining that her gods had guided her here, from whence she would advance into the forest and destroy the evil at the centre of its black heart. Kyteler scoffed as she heard the words. The evil there was static, lacking in ambition. She said as such to the elf. There was no need to stir it, to rile it up. Leave it be, and all will be well.

The elf looked down at Kyteler with soft eyes, as if a parent speaking to its child. No evil can be ignored, no wickedness that should go uncleansed. With an air of condescension the elf nudged her mount in a trot towards the forest. Kyteler shrugged. Be it on her own head. The elf never ventured back that day, nor any day. Years passed, and even the most gossipy of the village women stopped telling tales of the silly elf girl and her silly pointy horse.

As she grew older her mother spent most of her days wrapped in the skins by the fire, while Kyteler solely took over the trade with the village. Caring for her mother, working the forest, trading with the villagers, Kyteler became exhausted. When village women came to visit and asked how she was, "tired" was always the answer. Her mother grew ancient, kept alive by the small spells and medicines Kyteler had learned from her. Yet the older she grew, the more care she required. Kyteler herself was growing old, and her bones ached all year round.

One winter Kyteler shuffled back through the snow to her hut, arms laden with fresh bread from the village. As she approached the door, she noticed it was slightly ajar. A small flitter of panic stuttered her heart. Opening the door she looked inside, and saw an empty bed by the fire where her mother should be. Dumping the bread on the table, Kyteler stepped back outside and searched for signs. The fresh snow was light, and footprints could be seen clearly leading from the hut door out into the forest. And directly down the path the elf had taken all those decades ago. Straight towards the black heart. Kyteler knew she should go, follow her mother, bring her back to the safety of the hut. But she was tired. So tired. Always so tired. Back into the hut she went, closing the door behind her. Wrapping herself in a blanket, she carved off a hunk of bread and stared into the flames of the fire. So tired.

None of the villagers ever asked what happened to her mother. They knew she was ancient, and assumed she had passed one night and Kyteler had buried her herself. No need to distress her with asking about it. However, even with the care of her mother off her hands, she was still busy year round, collecting the seasonal herbs and fungus, brewing the special teas for her village. She barely slept at night, kept awake by half remembered dreams of gleaming onyx stone and endless walking.

Some more decades passed in predictable monotony. Kyteler could not even tell how old she herself was. 80? 90? Older? Did it even matter? She was always tired, what was another year? Another winter approached, and fell, and waned. Late in the winter, coming towards spring, another night of snow fell. She was supposed to have gone into the village to give the miller's daughter the right herb mix she needed. The daughter's dalliances with the baker's son would have some harsh consequences if she did not take the herbs regularly, but this night Kyteler was even more tired than usual. She could recall helping to deliver the miller's daughter, the miller screaming in pain as she pushed a new life into the world. And now she was full grown and full of trouble. It was finally too much. Kyteler sighed and fell into her chair, closing her eyes in the fire's warmth. So tired. Always so tired. As she drifted off to sleep, again came the dreams of onyx stone and walking. This time the walking had purpose. It was to the stone. Walk to the stone. Come to the stone. Come to me.

Kyteler started awake at the sound of knocking on her door. She sat up and walked across the room (walk to me) Opening it to the chill air to see who was outside. It was the miller's daughter, a worried look on her face (come to me) Kyteler remembered the night she herself had come home to open the door, a worried look on her own face (walk to the stone) The night her mother was gone (come to the stone) She looked past the girl to the forest (come to me) She knew then where to go, what to do. As tired as she was, she started to walk, pushing past her visitor. The girl yelped in shock, she had never seen Kyteler move with such purpose. Startled, all she could do was watch as Kyteler disappeared into the blackness, deep down the path to the forest's black heart.

Kyteler eventually found the onyx stone at the centre of the forest, a chunk of black obsidian older than the celestians themselves. It spoke to her, and when she lay down to die upon it in her old age, her body having given way, it made her stand back up. She was still dead, yet not, and yet still so very tired. Kyteler ripped a branch of dead wood off a fallen tree, jamming the obsidian stone into the end of it to make a sceptre. Behind her lay the village, her boring life. Her tiredness. Here she could sleep, finally rest, but the stone would not let her. So forward she looked, through the forest, out the other side, lay....what? She did not know. She had never left her tired village or her tired hut. She knew nothing of lands beyond. She walked forward, through, until she came upon a clearing. While still night, still dark in the forest, this clearing glowed. The snow sparkled under the soft emanations of light from a unicorn. The unicorn from decades past. Standing in a clearing, watching her. Judging her. At the feet of the unicorn were some sticks, bleached white by the weather. Sticks,, those were bones. Kyteler knew bones. The elf maiden's bones. How did the elf die, and how did her unicorn live? Kyteler pondered, and then gave up her thoughts. She was so tired. She just needed to find somewhere she could sleep. This clearing looked comfortable, the snow soft and welcoming. As she advanced, the unicorn lowered its head and stamped its feet aggressively. No witch would disturb its master's grave. But Kyteler wanted to rest. Rest with those bones. In the soft snow. Just get some sleep, uninterrupted for once.

With a flash of anger in her eyes Kyteler thrust her sceptre forward and a crackle of black lightening burst forth from it, striking the unicorn's head and burning the flesh instantly from its face. Instantly dead, it dropped sideways into the soft snow with a gentle whump. Kyteler walked forward, and pulled the elf bones from the ground. Tangled in their hooks and angles was the pearlescent white robe worn by the elf, now long since dirtied by the forest floor and the passing of seasons. Kyteler wrapped the cloth around her, knelt to the ground, then rolled on her side. Finally she could sleep. For a while, at least.

The model I am using for this Liche "King" is the Dread Queen by Bears Head Miniatures. I picked it up in one of is early kickstarters along with a bunch of other awesome undead figures. The paint job was fairly simple, a base coat spray of Army Painter Rotting Flesh for the unicorn, and white for the Liche herself. The unicorn then got bone and flesh picked out in bone and red respectively, and an Army Painter strong tone wash all over. The mane and tail were white with a black wash (GW Nuln Oil). The Liche was mostly white, following the same recipe as the unicorn. The obsidian sceptre was done in black with a thin harsh white edge highlight to try and make it look like shiny gloss black.

Base was done with my standard green static grass and some lichen, to match the rest of my army. Plus a grass tuft for flair.

In Kings of War I normally run my Liche King on foot with the Heal spell added. But for this one I think I will take advantage of the height gained from the mount to add Lightning Bolt. Stats line courtesy of the awesome Easy Army Online List Editor.