The Immortal Tribunal are Stormcast Eternals that are forged to face the horrors of the dead, and to bring the light and judgement of Sigmar to the darkest corners of the Nine Realms. They wear porcelain enameled battle plate, resembling marble statuary. The Daybreaker Warhost is the vanguard, led by Lord-Celestant Anomandus Daybreaker. They fight in lands trapped between life and death, where the realms of Ghyran and Shyish bleed into each other, in the region known to the aelfs as the Black Sloth Hell.
There was no light, no moons or stars in the sky. The lanterns didn’t burn, nothing would stay lit in the unnatural damp. The warhost advanced with caution; each footstep taken in unison, their shields forming an unwavering wall of sigmarite. The nights here were dangerous and there was no time to rest. Something was out there, in the darkness. Aurios cursed as a sudden flash of light illuminated the rotten forest, almost blinding him. With a warrior’s instincts he took in his surroundings in an instant – the mangrove roots, the malformed, dead trees… and a silhouette: a tall, thin figure with a crown of antlers. He let out a cry of warning, but the others had seen it too, the shield wall turned, hammers raised.
More blinding light and Aurios realised it was Sigmar’s lightning, reclaiming the souls of dead Eternals. The forest lit up again and again and he saw the dead trees moving, reconfiguring like clawing fingers, reaching for him. He felt impacts on his shield, branches or arrows, it was impossible to say. He pushed forward and struck out, his hammer shattering wood and he heard it scream. Branches like knives clawed at him, wood like iron cut grooves across his armour. More impacts and he saw cruel, black arrows embedded in his chest. He brushed them away.
The sky was alive with lightning as Sigmar reclaimed his fallen warriors. Aurios fought – wide eyed – desperate to catch glimpses of the enemy among the twisted trees. He stumbled forward, feet snared by the ever-present mangrove roots. The shield wall was broken but he didn’t care. His hammer rained blows down wildly, and he greeted each impact with a roar of defiance, shattering wood or bones, he knew not.
In the heat of battle he could almost see her. A face, forever on the edge of his memory. He knew it was a fragment of his previous life, a half-formed recollection and he knew that the harder he fought, the more blood he spilled, the closer he came to remembering.
Something cold and hard slipped between the armour plates on his midriff, broke through the skin and pushed up into his stomach and chest. Aurios was blind in the darkness, he dropped his shield and hammer and grasped for the weapon that pierced him. He felt the rough bark of living wood and he felt it growing inside him, the tip splintering and splitting. He fell, tears in his eyes. He had almost remembered and now it was too late, the lightning would take what was left of her, he was sure of it. He waited for it to come, but it didn’t.
The battle raged on in the distance, the sounds growing fainter. The forest muffled all noise, made it unnatural. He felt himself being dragged slowly through the mire, the living branch still inside him, scraping against the bone. Lightning flashed in the distance. He tried to count the flashes but his thoughts grew dull. He tried to fight, but each movement was met with piercing pain. Dawn began to break and in the crepuscular light he became aware of the silent regard of the figure with the crown of antlers.
A voice like a man drowning: ‘What is this storm you bring us?’ The aelf cocked his head, small fetishes on the antlers rattled. There was no other sound in the forest, no birds to greet the day.
Aurios replied through gritted teeth: ‘Sigmar takes us when we die, we are reborn…’
‘You believe there is a way to escape this place?’ The aelf almost sounded surprised. ‘Then cut your throats. Bite off your tongues and choke. We tried once: there is no way out.’
‘My god will reforge me … Restored, I’ll bring you death!’ A gesture from the aelf and the branch in Aurios’ chest began to grow. He felt the needle tips pushing into his lungs and towards his heart.
‘Tell your god that those that suffer here, suffer alone. Tell your god we will drown you in darkness so deep that his lightning won’t ever find you. Do not return.’
Aurios screamed as his insides were shredded. He looked to the sky, waiting for the lightning to come. He didn’t fear death or the agonies of reforging, but he knew he would be remade without her, without any memory of his life before this. Would he truly be a man then? Or just a weapon?
Twisting black branches, wet with blood, snaked out from the eyes and mouth of his helmet. Then, in a flash of lightning, he was gone.
I pretty much loved the Stormcast Eternals as soon as I saw them, and knew how I was going to paint them. I actually really like painting gold and metals, but I saw the Eternals as living statues, the ‘Eavy Metal paint jobs just look too clean to me. Something about death masks and porcelain – I tried to do something similar with the Prima Carnifexa ages ago. I think the Eternals have potential to be quite interesting – each death takes them further from the person they once were, and in the Black Sloth Hell – my Fantasy setting originally made for some Wood Elves but now re-purposed for Age of Sigmar – strange things happen to memories, and identities bleed away. Like the elves (aelfs) the Eternals are doomed if they stay in the Hell, doomed to forget themselves, to fight and die in an endless cycle. Unlike the aelfs, the lightning allows them to escape for a time, but can they ever truly leave?
As you can probably guess I spent a while on the marble/porcelain texture and did the rest quite quickly! It was a fun experiment and involved lots of careful applications of chemicals, varnishes and paints, waiting to see if there would be some horrendous reaction. But luckily it all went well I think. I’m kinda hoping the Stormcast Eternals don’t get any really cool new units because I am not sure I can face painting more of them.