“What land is this?” Barakros watched as the golden colour of his armour drained away to nothingness. Flecks danced in the dull, blood-tinged light, glittering as they spun away from him.
Long shadows fell before him and he looked to see his own kind. Great warriors of Sigmar, strode silently towards him. It was only as they drew closer he saw the rust and grime of their armour. Bare metal, streaked with grease and splashed with now dry blood. Upon their shields, a lone black star.
“Brother? What land is this?” he asked again.
“State your name” the only forthcoming reply.
“Barakros. Liberator of the-“
“Liberator is fine. You are no longer part of any other host. Quickly now, present your shield”
The stranger took from a worn leather pouch at his waste a brush, like one might use for painting decorations upon the walls of a home, and moved it over Barakros’ shield. A sticky black substance traced the black star upon the face of it, and moments later it was applied to the shoulder of his star-forged armour.
“The symbol will protect your armour. It stops it from being lost to the chill winds of Ulgu where you now stand. You are one of us now. We are the unreturned. We are those whose Sigmars voice could not reach, and whose lightning could not summon back to our home. We are the Ashen Stars, and we have use for a warrior like you…”
That’s the idea that started the Ashen Stars. When I first moved up to Nottingham, I received a “Start Collecting!” box of Stormcast Eternals and if I’m honest, I had very little interest in doing much with them. I think they’re a really fun faction, but they never really caught my imagination. That and I’ve never really enjoyed painting gold – just got a bit of a blind spot for it. Of course, gold isn’t a necessity, but I suppose, the way they were presented, I never really found a soft spot for them.
And I didn’t know too much about the lore either – something I would learn more about later. But I did like that they arrived and left the battlefield as bolts of lightning sent from Azyr. So I thought; what if that went wrong? What if, when a host returns, every now and again, a single warrior remained. And the warrior’s armour started to lose its colour until it was bare metal and began to rust. But they’d always find their way to Ulgu, and would be met by others who had encountered the same fate. They would teach the newcomer the sacred symbol that would protect their armour – a five pointed black star, painted using the ash that flows across the realm’s winds.
Why this is happening? Who knows. Maybe Morathi has done something. Maybe Nagash. Maybe there’s a flaw with the process of creating a Stormcast Eternal? Who knows. But over the last couple of years, using a very quick and easy scheme that lends itself to this sort of thing, I’ve built up a small army of the Ashen Stars, and I thought I’d show them off here. So let’s take a little look:
I wanted the army to have three distinct parts. Heavy Support, a strong Core, and some Fast Attack (to borrow from 40k’s terminology).
The Heavy Support so far brings some nasty ranged power, augmented by the Lord Ordinator I painted for the recent Heresy Vs Heroes project I embarked on (more on that soon). And protected by the raven-like Aetherwings who can strike out at anything that gets too close and harass any nearby threats.
I think my favourite unit here are the dudes with big crossbows (name escapes me right now). I like the old fashioned weapons given a high fantasy twist.
There’s not much to the core yet. Some Liberators and Stormsire’s mob. I love the old sword and board combo, and I don’t care if hammers are better – the swords just look cooler. I went for a dull red glow to contrast against the typical bright blue glow that the faction is known for.
The Knight Azyros leads the Fast Attack portion of the army which so far is made up only of Prosecutors (that’s their name right?) and my favourite Gryph-hounds.
The hounds were a lot of fun to paint. I wanted the animals in this army to have a similar affliction to the Stormcast so I studied Albinism and Melanism to get their colours right. A very enjoyable project.
There’s more to do, though when I get the time, who knows. I need to expand that core to make it a playable army, and I want more in that Fast Attack section. I’ve got the minis, but not the time. One day. And until that day comes, I wish you happy and successful painting! Onwards!