12 days of Winter|The Astral Bears, a fan made lore series part 1, Origin

The Astral Bears are a relatively new Space marine chapter who were established during the early days of the Indomitus Crusade. Known for adopting similar tactics and aspects of their primogenitor Legion, the White Scars, who use hit and run tactics to weaken and exhaust the enemy with fast and precise groups of Skirmish engagements. However, the Astral Bears are known to be more aggressive and arrogant in their methods of engagement by charging into battle to bludgeon the foe with brute force, or by sheer rounds of fire power.

This tactic isn’t completely doomed to failure as the chapter have won many battles for their ferocious combat skirmishes. But it has led to the chapter suffering above average of losses.

Like many Ultima founding successor chapters, the Astral Bears are primarily built on Primaris Marines, creations made by the controversial Arch Magos Belesarius Cawl. The chapter is a Codex compliant force that follow the dictates of Guilliman’s Codex Astartes, although there are some changes that the chapter have made to infuse their culture into their chapters organisation, as well as meeting the requirements of the Codex guideline.

  • Command groups of each company have their own unique tribal marking to signify their role in the chapter, others in the company have tribal markings of the company they serve.
  • Names of the marines are similar to the ones the White Scars use, a cultural heritage that the Astral Bears carry on with pride.
  • Lieutenants have different tribal markings to not confuse their fellow marines and to identify who said individual is.
  • The chapters armoury uses unique cultural style of the White Scars and the home world of Khoros.
  • Primaris squads tend to be smaller than most chapter battleline squads, this is to spread squads out for wider tactics of hit and run engagements.
  • Librarians are called Stormseers, like the White Scars chapter.

The Great Rift

The chapter was founded during the time of the Indomitus Crusade and it’s mission to bring worlds, resources, isolated chapters and those still loyal to the Imperium back to the Emperors light. During this time, the successor chapter of the White Scars, the Dark Hunters, found the world of Khoros, a world that belonged to the chapter many centuries ago as a tithe resource for new recruits. Ruled by the Imperial order of Hive cities in a land of vast deserts and forests, this world had everything for the chapter to recruit warriors of the land and Hives.

The Astral Bears homeworld of Khoros [M.42].

But during the splitting of the Great Rift, Khoros suffered greatly during one of the Imperiums darkest days, as the entities of the warp spilled out across the galaxy to wreck carnage on a scale not seen since the Horus Heresy. The world of Khoros was defended by a company of Dark Hunters [company unknown by Imperial records] who originally came to collect fresh tithes for the chapter.

Brave were those of the sons and daughters of Khoros in the Hive cities as they gave their blood and souls to punish the invaders. But they were foolish to think that they could win and live to fight another day, for the Night Lords are born to hunt and kill without remorse. Led by Captain Elskri, Master of the Serotine Company, the Night Lords attacked Khoros to take the opportunity to collect new recruits, and bloody slaughter hunts they enjoy partaking in.

The Dark Hunters suffered greatly during the war as the Night Lords picked them off a bit at a time, a slow but effective method of dwindling the chapters strength. Because the chapter had come to collect new tithes to fill its company that was already below combat effectiveness, the Night Lords had an easy picking fighting off the Dark Hunters.

First the Hive city of Zhoto fell after four months of constant fighting in the shadow of eternal night caused by sickly dark unnatural clouds. Then two more fell a few months afterwards until nearly all of the Hive cities in the world died out, leaving the natives of the world on their own.

It was until the Crusade fleet finally arrived in system along with a company of Dark Hunters, did the Night Lords stop their invasion and flee from then fleet incoming to Khoros. What was left of the population of the Hive cities was carnival of a slaughter house, all around were skinless corpses of the defenders and the civilians.

As for the Dark Hunters who were stationed at Khoros, their remains were found in Zhoto, when a squad of Dark Hunters searched inside the underhive of the city. What they saw had shocked and disgusted them by the sight of a abomination shrine of flesh and bone. The long dead skinless faces still screaming in eternal pain as one mass of dead corpses, shapes into a throne of a corpse ruler.

All is not lost

All would be lost if not for two discoveries by the chapter and other successor chapters of the White Scars including the now forgiven Mantis Warriors, the Sun Hawks, the Dark Lunars and the Red Sons. They’ve found one of the last surviving Dark Hunter stationed on Khoros, trapped from fallen masonry and severely broken by the war both physically and mentally.

His name was Gobi, a marine who saw all the horror and devastation during the war, he was defending civilians fleeing from the fighting when suddenly part of a tower collapsed on him whilst he saved the last few survivors before they could be crushed. His memory after that went dark until he was finally found in a state of pain and failure. As for those he protected, it would be better to be left in mystery for the truth is grim and unpleasant to record.

As Gobi was checked over by the Apothecary who assessed his physical condition, his mind kept repeating his last memories of the battle before he was caved in. Like a nightmare repeating itself over and over as the horror he witnessed wouldn’t leave his mind, the screams of suffering and agony buzzed in his ear as if it were happening now.

After months of the invasion took its toll on the defenders of Khoros, the Dark Hunters were dwindling in numbers, squads of marines were losing men weeks or even days. With no reinforcements coming to bolster loses, they were on their own to defend Khoros.

Gobi was the last of his squad after months of hard fighting in the streets, conserving ammo and hiding in the shadows from groups of Night Lords until the way was clear. After the last Skirmish, his sergeant and squad brother were killed taking down a champion of Chaos.

As he traveled alone in the dark with the shadows as his cloak, he sees life signs of human survivors running away from something, a shadow with blazing red eyes darting after them.

A mother, child and father were seeking safety as they were stalked by a shadowy beast from the darkness. It’s eyes glowed with red passion for the hunt, claws glowing in blue arcs of lighting, as well as its darkest of blue armour cracking with lighting dancing around it’s surface.

Bolt pistol in hand and a prayer whispered under his breath, Gobi gazed into the darkness of the alleyway as the beast stared back. He knew this thing as a Night Lord, one of the traitor legions that turned their back from the Emperors light many millennia ago. Both he and the beast are sons of the night for they use the darkness to their advantage, although their ideologies are vastly different in the way they use darkness.

For Gobi it’s to conceal his form to surprise his foes in skirmish engagements, to catch the enemy unaware and take them out before returning to the darkness in a hit and run tactic.

For the Night Lords, the darkness is the weapon of fear as they blend into the shadows, moulding them as predators who stalk and hunt their prey. Tactics are simple, scare your enemies enough that they can’t fight back, then torture them slowly as they freeze their gaze at the monsters of the night.

The beast charged for the alleyway as the civilians ran down to seek safety, Gobi knew that they won’t make it alive unless he stopped the beasts hunt. He lets out a bolt round from his bolt pistol which traveled like a comet heading towards the beast. However, he misses his target as the beast dodged the bolt round. Rather than running down the ally the beast uses its jump pack to elevate above to reach safe perch on-top of a ruined city apartment, so it wouldn’t be confined by tight spaces.

It laughs at Gobi with vile amusement as he raises his bolt pistol at the beasts perch, it took Gobi a few seconds to realise why it was amused. Behind him, two more beasts creep out of the darkness with twin lightning claws, they laugh with vile amusement too at the cornering of the lone marine.

One tactical marine against three veterans of the long war is a fools end to engage combat in, but what choice does Gobi have when all of his brothers are dead? There’s no rescue party, no reinforcements, only faith and will can Gobi survive this battle.

He prays to the Emperor to give him strength and the will to smite his foes, then he charges towards the first Night Lord as he raises his bolt pistol head height. He fires but the shot only scratched the Night Lords armour, in turn the Nostraman charges towards Gobi with his dual lighting claws. He tried to shred Gobi but the Dark Hunter dodges the attack side ways, he takes out his chainsword and strikes the Night Lord from the left side. He nearly had the kill but the veteran Nostraman blocked the attack with his claws. Gobi could hear garbled wheezes from the traitors helm grill, as if laughing at Gobi’s amateur attempt.

Before Gobi could make his next move, the second Night Lord enters combat as he strikes his claws into Gobi’s back. Gobi tried to dodge the blow but got caught in the right arm by the lighting claw. A solid chunk of admantium fell to the ground, Gobi realised a second later that his chainsword fell to the floor along with his hand.

He carried on fighting with strength and conviction to fight until his last breath, “For the Khan!” He shouted as he lets loose another bolt round which hits the first Night Lord through the left eye lens. The traitor stumbles as he grips his helm but stumbles again as Gobi shoots again at the traitors face. The traitor falls to the ground with smoke spilling out of his helm, the body was still and spilling blood around the corpse.

The second Night Lord was unfazed by his brothers death as though he cared only for the kill. He slashed his claws towards Gobi and nearly sheers off Gobi’s other arm by a pin thread, he checks his pistol, no ammo left. He doesn’t have any ammo left on him.

“God Emperor, my gene father Jaghati Khan and my dead brothers who now serve the Emperors eternal service, I Gobi, son of the hunt and master of the dark will smite this traitor!!!

Seeing the futile position he was in, Gobi runs towards his foe but as soon as he accepts deaths embrace he suddenly gets pushed down by a force more heavier then he. Masonry fell on him caused by the unnoticed Night Lord who chased the family down the ally, he laughs with a strong accent of a dead long forgotten world.

“Now now little Dark Hunter, there’s no use in trying to pray to the Corpse Emperor. He’s nothing but a dead carcass like the ones we’ve skinned and decorated on your walls” a dry laugh escapes through the vox grill of the beasts helmet. He continues, “My father Curze hated me and my brothers because of who we are and what we have become. He wanted Order from the masses by any means, even subjugation to death, torture and suffering. What you see here is my fathers legacy that we carry on as our custom in war. I could kill you now, slowly and patiently like the rest……”.

The beast points up to the top of the city tops where dozens of corpses hang on nooses, all skinned like a butchery with screaming faces frozen in time.

“But…….I’d rather leave you here so you can witness the work we have created. What you see here will always be a part of you, your legacy, your failure, your future” the monsters laughs as he sees the futile look in Gobi’s eyes. “Before I leave, I think I might alter that face of yours……….”

Before his vision blurs the Dark Hunter could only vaguely hear the sound of claws being unleashed as the beast steps towards the family of pale frightened faces. They scream as the beast desecrated their mortal bodies with blades of lighting.

****

Gobi in his state of severe physical damage could only think about that last battle, he could only just barely turn his head to see the place where he saw the family screaming in his memory. No bodies were left behind just the smear of blood to mark their death.

A Space marine is built not only to sever the Imperium of mankind, to smite the Mutant, the Xenos and the Heretic. To march as an army of super soldiers with the physical power to cause destruction to the enemy wherever they are.

But Gobi failed the greatest test that an Astartes must take, to defend the people of the Imperium and to save mankind from harm. He failed in his duty, a broken warrior who’s glory and victory are nothing but ashes.

The second discovery was back at Zhoto where a Mantis Warrior found an infant child hidden in a secret storage space, its mother blocking the entrance with her cold corpse slumped to the ground. Why the mother was mostly intact and the child left unharmed was a mystery, for the Night Lords would never leave anyone alive even with such innocence as an infant.

These two individuals would be the soul and foundation of the beginning of a new Space marine chapter. Khoros would be rebuilt, repurposed and armed to fight back against the foes of Mankind.

The time for the sons of the Great Bear has just begun.

12 days of Winter is back for 2019!

A yearly tradition I do each year celebrating the hobby each day up till Christmas day, with posts ranging from hobby projects, art, stories and random stuff.

This year I’m going bolder with my plans for the 12 day challenge! I’ve got some big posts that I’m currently working on, which means November will be very quite from me.

So what to expect for the 12 days of Winter? Well, I can’t reveal all of what I’ve planned, but here’s what’s in store.

  • A three part post on the lore of the Astral Bears, including artwork!
  • My top ten books of 2019
  • Fan fiction of the Fly on the Wall podcast, Post Apocalypse story part 1 (unofficial and fan fiction)

There’s a lot more to come, but for now mark your calendars for December 13th!

Because I like treating you guys with sneak peaks, I’ve got this WIP artwork of a certain Chapter Master who will be featured in my Astral Bears lore series.

Until next time,

-Bjorn

Butchers tea party

Now for some freaky **** art work I’ve done in celebration of the Fly on the Wall podcast (hosted by Luke and Woz, not the other political podcast one) with their Post Apocalypse special.

So what made me want to do this artwork? Well it was around the time when the series started to build up, after the first appearance of the Butcher I thought I’d do some art for how I’d imagine the series would look like. I left the sketch awhile ago as I had other stuff to do with College and my hobby projects.

It wasn’t until my fan fiction story was mentioned on the podcast that I thought I’d go back to the sketch and do something to celebrate the podcast.

Here’s my sketch which I used as a template for building up my colour layers on the Procreate app. I took a picture of my sketch and added filters to make it sharp in black and white. Then I used the photo in the app and filled any gaps in the artwork in black line brush, which will help me fill drop colours without crossing areas that aren’t supposed to be filled.

Here’s what the basic first layer looked like with a few details done in airbrush for basic details and lighting.

With the Butcher needing more colours and making Luke and Woz look more dirty with the wasteland make. Blisters, blood, scars, sweat and tears of old age and diseases are the marks of what the wasteland has to offer!

looking much more grim and horror now that the Butcher and the hero’s are fitting into the post apocalyptic theme. I decided at this point to add more shading to the Butcher as he looked too visible and less threatening, having him in shadow would really help make him have the mysterious killer visual. As for Luke and Woz I wanted to add more grime to them to have emphasis on the rough life and physical toil that the apocalypse can have on people.

I’ve included a black and white version of the final artwork for the old horror aesthetic.

The final outcome was the best that I felt I could do to my fullest after days of working on this artwork. It’s a long process of building up layers of detail and colour to illustrate a simple artwork. I could’ve gone crazy and added explosions, mutants, zombies and mad max style vehicles. But I wanted to illustrate a basic artwork of the major players of the first arc of the series.

So there you have it, an artwork that I’ve done to celebrate Luke and Woz’s podcast series! Well done chaps!

I would recommend listening to the Post Apocalypse special which is full of content, including interviews, ethical questions, the ongoing story of the post Apocalyptic story and Woz doing an excerpt of my fan fiction story I wrote on my blog. If your new to this whole thing and wondering who or what is this post apocalyptic nonsense, check out episode six or seven of the Fly on the Wall podcast (not the politics one, it’s the one with the cool graffiti artwork of a fly).

Now then, I wonder if I should do that other sketch where the gang gets spooked by a group of killer flesh eating mutated Clowns………

Until next time,

-Bjorn

Fan art of the Corum trilogy (Knight of the Sword)

For the past three months I’ve been doing some work on a side project, that I’ve been working on in between my usual miniature painting projects. After finishing the Corum book Trilogy by Micheal Moorcock, I was inspired to illustrate the characters, locations, Gods and events that took place in the trilogy.

The Corum book trilogy is by far one of my favourite Eternal Champion book series, a story of pain, war, sacrifice, destiny and the complexity of the God pantheons. Each book not only has its own amazing adventure story, but each one expands on the lore of Corum’s world (or time age, in the Eternal champion series).

So I did some illustrations of what I would imagine the first book, The Knight of the Sword, to look like in my perspective whilst respecting the source material. This book is one of my favourite out of the three for it’s story of Corums journey. From being the last of his race and physically tortured by the rising Mabden race led by Glandyth-a-Kae, to a powerful tragedy to use his new ‘gifts’ to defeat Arioch to restore balance to the five realms.

I wanted to share my fan artwork with you today, mostly from the first half of the Knight if the Sword book, and hopefully it might inspire you to take a look at the Corum trilogy book series. There are other fictional works by Micheal Moorcock that deserve a read too, I can’t list them all here (and I’ve got a lot to catch up on reading the Eternal Champion series) but they are just as good if not better. Enjoy!

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Corum Jhaelen Irsei, Prince in the Scarlet Robe

Glandyth-a-Krae, Earl of the Denledhyssi.

The Horned Bear (Mabden vassal God) The Dog (Mabden Vassal God)The Giant of Laahr

Knight of Moidel Castel Moidel Earl Moidel of Allomglyl, the Margrave returned from the depths of the sea Shool the wizard ???

The Eye of Rhynn and the Hand of Kwll Arioch, Knight of the Swords (Chaos Lord)

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I hope you have enjoyed this art filled post! If you want to see me do more fan art for the second half of the first Corum book, post a comment below and if I get enough feedback I’ll do some more!

Again, I’d highly recommend reading The Eternals Champion series and other Micheal Moorcock literature works.

Until next time,

-Bjorn

note: I do not own the names, locations, story nor creation of Corum and The Eternal Champion series. All works of fiction mentioned here were created by Micheal Moorcock. This post is only for free expression and none profit.

Open your mind

This week I’ve been watching all three series of The Mighty Boosh, still to this day one of my favourite British comedy series. From Bob Fossils lack of zoo knowledge (and anything to do with animal names), old Greg painting Baileys, to the Spirit of Jazz taking over Howard Moon and of course who couldn’t forget the Gary Numan references.

It got me inspired to do some drawings with influences of funk, jazz and the weirder side of the boosh.

The spiral zone of funk and groove, Rudi’s journey

Trevor Pogo, the recycle hoover on a pogo.

let’s hope that there will be a series 4, an album of The Mighty Boosh music and possibly a film in the next decade. Right now in a world where tv is a dull and grey landscape of boredom (BBC “cough), I think the Mighty Boosh could make tv more colourful again. Just to see old Greg again, Rudi, Milky Joe, Tony Harrison and the Hitcher too.

I don’t know the crunch,

-Bjorn

Experimenting with Contrast paint

I haven’t said anything about contrast at all on my blog, that is until now. I was sceptical about this paint since it was first revealed at Warhammer fest, was it really as good as they say it is?

After watching a couple of Warhammer community videos, pro painter opinions and photos of the finished products, I had some hope. A paint that can give both the recess shade and base colour in one coat.

However, I was unsure about the paints as when images came up on painted Primaris Space Marines in various colours, the models looked very patchy in pool dry marks. Kinda defeats the purpose of a one coat paint if it looks like pooled mess.

When I finally got my contrast paint today, I did some experiments to see what kind of results I can get from this new Citadel paint.

I used Nazdreg yellow contrast for all of my experiments, using Grey Seer Basecoat, Model Colour foundation white as a Basecoat and for drybrushing.

Here’s what I’ve learnt.

First my first experiment I used a Tyranid Gargoyle as they have many surfaces to test our contrast, from deep recesses, details and flat areas. I started my painting by using Grey Seer as a basecoat (three coats) then I applied Nazdreg yellow over the model. This resulted in a patchy look just like the Primaris Space marine pictures from Warhammer Fest.

Despite this, I then highlighted the model in Model Colour Foundation White, making it look nearly like a none metallic gold look.

For the left side of the wings, I used Leadbelcher as a basecoat, then I applied Nazdreg yellow over it. This surprisingly looked really cool, like a gold tint that could be useful for future painting work. On the right carapace side I used the contrast paint again over the first layer and the white highlight. Resulting in a darker gold yellow tone whilst retaining the edge highlight Which you can see below. It’s similar to how AoS studio manager, Jes Bickham, painted his Tyranid army (I think it was called Hive Epemedis?) using mustard yellow colours for the carapace.

From this second contrast application an idea formed in my head, why not use Grey Seer as a Basecoat and drybrush Model Colour Foundation white? Here’s what the results were.

You’ll notice that the raised areas are more lighter yellow, whilst some areas are darker that haven’t been drybrushed in white. It works well for scales which has shading, base colour and highlights all in one application of contrast.

With this test of using white pant for contrast I did one more experiment using both Grey Seer and Foundation white on two sides of a Space marine.

The pooling problem was less noticeable on the lighter side than the Grey Seer basecoat. Left side was fine in foundation white whilst the right side was done in Grey Seer.

Contrast paint using Grey Seer basecoat.

Contrast paint using Model Colour Foundation White.

I think using Foundation white for Nazdreg yellow contrast would be really beneficial for painters who find it hard painting Bad Moons and Imperial Fist armies. It’s a one coat solution to a process that would take a long time to paint, but contrast has proven, to me at least, that this is no longer an issue.

That’s all I have for today. This isn’t a review on contrast paint as I think it’ll take some time to form an informative review on contrast paints. There’s still a lot of experimentation to try out, even pro painters are coming up with new stuff every day using contrast paints. I’ve heard that the Alpha Legion contrast method is a favourite in my local GW store that I overheard from the manager.

I hope this post serves as an inspiration or an informative look at how contrast paint works. If you like what you see and want more contrast posts, post a comment below and I’ll continue to experiment even more!

Until next time,

-Bjorn