I’ve finally finished my Eclipse contest entry, which also will serve as the leader of my AoS28 war band. We’ve already seen tons of amazing Eclipse models and the contest is officially over, but if you haven’t quite finished yet, or want to take better photos, there’s still a little time. The gallery of entries and winners won’t be going up to the end of the month so please go ahead and post or send-in your entries!
The Tumbled Hills are a liminal place, tidally locked between Ulgu and Ghur. This uneasy overlap of realms has created an uneven and overlapping patchwork of shifting hills, valleys, clouds of salt-mist and rivers of liquid shadow.
Like many mortal lands, the Tumbled Hills are still scarred by their long Chaotic occupation. Although the return of Sigmar has driven off the Chaos Hordes, the land itself remains corrupted. New Azyrite settlements now spring up, built upon the crumbled remains of ancient temple complexes built into the petrified mountain corpse of a primordial god-beast. These settlements are home to all manner of nefarious cult, many even openly calling for Chaos to return; survival in the age of chaos meant embracing foul magics in order to survive, and many resent the new Stormcast-imposed laws.
One of the more unusual Tumbled Hills cults is the cult of the Mantigryph Dormant. The Priests of the Mantigryph do not preach of his miracles or seek out new followers. The Mantigrph reaches out to potential Acolytes in their dreams, guiding them to the mouth of the Hidden Cave that he slumbers in. These acolytes believe the Manticore to be an avatar of Sigmar himself, a chunk of the celestial god that crashed to the Tumbled Hills, and will finally purge the land of Chaos influence. No amount of prayers or sacrifice have been able to wake the Mantigryph. Nonetheless, the Mantigyph has performed many miracles and bestowed blessings on his most devout followers, remaking them in his image. Now he calls out to them with prophetic dreams; the time of dawn approaches, but can only come when the Mantigryph wakes. And the only thing that will wake the Mantigryph are the hearts of a thousand Chaos Witches.
And so Ushas Dawnbringer, the Mantigryph’s most exalted champion, leads a small band of acolytes into the wider mortal realms on a quest to wake her master. The Mantigryph has blessed Ushas with a number of gifts: uncanny battle-skill, a pair of feather wings, and the magical mount Eophausos the Transmuted. Eophausos, the cult’s previous champion, was one of the Mantigryphs first disciples (some say he was the wandering hermit who first discovered the Hidden Cave), and was rewarded by being reforged in the form of the Mantigryph himself.
Mounted champions are such a classic fantasy archetype, so I wanted to include one in my warband. The idea of a winged and mounted champion comes from the classic Adrian Smith illustration of a Tzeentch champion from The Lost and the Damned. The mount is largely sculpted from scratch, except for the hands, rear legs and feet, and armor plates. I actually started sculpting this mutated human body long ago as part of my Navigator project, and it’s satisfying to finally put it use. I used static grass to make both the mount’s hair and the champion’s thatched mantle.
The overall color scheme is meant to symbolize the coming of dawn. I haven’t used much straight up blue on any of my Navigators (I always tend to go greenish) so it was a good challenge to use it here. The mottled grey and pink skin on the mount was inspired by some elephants I saw in a book of beautiful Persian Miniatures (as in miniature 2D paintings, not little toy soldiers), as was the general idea of patterned cloth (if not the specific pattern). The rest of the war band may end up with even more patterning …