Right, I promised you some actual new content, and today I intend to make good on that promise. And even if careful readers of this blog may already have glimpsed the model I am going to show you today in an earlier post, it’s still a character who deserves a closer look, both because he’s one of the first characters I have ever devised for INQ28 and because he has a rather expansive backstory by this point — I don’t know, maybe there’s just something about this guy that speaks to me? So who are we talking about, you ask. Well, the title says it all: Let’s get to know Esteban Revas, former Regimental Champion of the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons.
Like I said, Esteban is actually one of my first INQ28 conversions, built way back when (in 2012, to be precise), when I was still rather new to the War for the Emperor’s Soul — and my bitzbox was substantially less well-stocked: I used the bitz I had on hand for the conversion, resulting in a model that is mainly composed from Cadian parts and bitz from the WFB Empire army that I never got around to building:
In spite of this, however, I think the model still holds up: I wanted Esteban to look like a proud, even arrogant, officer from a decidedly renaissance-styled guard regiment, and I think it shows: There’s an air of pride and honour about him, despite the somewhat foppish getup.
I only returned to the model once, adding a Blood Angels dagger to serve as a main gauche for Esteban:
I had envisioned the character as a masterful fencer, so it only felt right that he should be able to switch between several styles, including one that uses a longer and shorter blade at the same time. Apart from that, though, the model remained unchanged.
And then it languished in my cupboard of shame for ages. Until earlier this year, when I decided to finally paint the poor fellow, as a part of my new year’s resolution to make some progress on my piles of unpainted INQ28 conversions.
The actual paintjob was heavily inspired by Chris Peach’s wonderful guard regiment (seeing how the overall look is very similar to Esteban’s), and I only slightly tweaked the recipe here and there. And so, finally, Esteban Revas was completed:
I tried to achieve a paintjob that complements the character’s somewhat baroque equipment — hence the glossy black armour and gold trim. As you can see, I made one last minute change to the model and replaced the purity seal on Esteban’s shoulder. The original one just ended up looking too clunky and drawing away attention from the face, as was helpfully pointed out by DexterKong.
Like I said, one interesting thing about this character is that Esteban has a rather expansive backstory: For some reason that I cannot quite explain, I ended up writing up a rather expansive origin story for him that I would like to share with you (as it happens, I can
actually see myself expanding upon this at some point, reworking it into an actual short story. We will see.):
Cpt. Esteban Revas, former Regimental Champion of the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons
Esteban Revas was born the second son to Haaruthian noble and famous war hero Bestrald Salazar Revas (first through the breach at Aisenfeld!). With his brother Ramon inheriting the vast family holdings, it was obvious that Esteban’s career lay with the military. He quickly had to learn, however, that this life pursuit would always be overshadowed by the exploits of a father he had scarcely known and whose only legacy to him, apart from a pair of enormous footsteps to fill, was the service of one Trooper Salvador “Sal” Koltz, a crafty and unexpectedly cunning individual, having sworn his life to serving the Revas family after being saved on the battlefield by Bestrald Revas.
Esteban served diligently in the Haaruthian military, making Captain rank in the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons before his 30th birthday and earning his fair share of recommendations and orders of merit. However, he could never quite shake off the feeling that he wasn’t living up to the Revas family name.
As is the norm with Haaruthian aristocrats, Esteban lived by a code of honour and chivalry that, though romantic, was often thoroughly at odds with the grim realities of the battlefield. So while the upper echelons of the Haaruthian Dragoons would pride themselves on being chivalrous and gentlemanly, the rank and file would quickly find out that honour and sportsmanship held very little value in trenches and on battlefields across the sector. To Esteban’s merit, and maybe through regular contact with his rather down to earth retainer Koltz, he saw the problems of the clashing philosophies of warfare, and while imbued with a certain arrogance and pompousness, wouldn’t tolerate unfairness and wanton wasting of lives by fellow officers. However, this led his superiors to suspect that “Bestrald’s boy” might be too soft for the soldier’s life, and Esteban found himself relegated to more and more pedestrian assignments, which enforced his feeling of failing the family name.
His one escape from this feeling was to seek out an area of expertise that would not fall under the long shadow cast by his late father, so he took up Haaruthian fencing, dedicating himself to becoming a swordsman without compare. His performance in the various contests held both on his homeworld and between different guard regiments earned him the praise of his superiors and the rank of “Regimental Champion”.
It was in this capacity that Revas was called back to Haaruthia along with his regiment when the world was hosting the Festival of the Sword Saint: The aim of this event, held every ten years in honour of the Imperial martyr Sabasto, was to select the best swordsman of the entire sector.
Esteban trained for the festival like he had never trained for anything in his life, seeing this as his one chance at eclipsing his father’s glory and thus finally proving worthy of the family name. And his efforts were even magnified when it became known that Lord Sebastianus Danver Balzepho Vlachen, the sector governor’s own grand-nephew would be attending the festival: The man’s enthusiasm for swordplay was well known, and Esteban hoped that he would maybe even be able to suitably impress him to be offered a position in his personal retinue. That would give him a chance to finally gain advancement and prove his worth.
Esteban was overjoyed when he was among those selected to serve as liaison officers for Lord Vlachen’s retinue, hoping to earn his ear and sympathies even before the actual festival began. Those hopes were rebuked, though, when Esteban’s superior told him that he was not to serve the lord himself, but rather Inquisitor Erasmus Gotthardt, travelling with the retinue. Esteban had heard whispers of the man, of course: Gotthardt had been suspected of being an accomplice in the attack on a fellow Inquisitor, but the Inquisitorial Conclave at Pervatia Secundus had exonerated him. Still, even beyond the Ordos, a shadow of doubt remained. Esteban felt like he had been passed over yet again.
His first meeting with Inquisitor Gotthardt did little to put his mind at rest: Gotthardt seemed like a frail and broken man, still weak from his questioning at the hands of his fellow Inquisitors. Still, Esteban was determined to perform admirably in his service as a guide and liaison to the Inquisitor, even though he was barely able to mask his disappointment.
Over the next days, though, Esteban had little time to lament his misfortune, for as a Regimental Champion, he was himself a participant in the festival, trying to excel for the honour of his regiment. The rest of his time was filled with answering all kinds of questions from Inquisitor Gotthardt, whose frail appearance couldn’t conceal a razor sharp mind.
Esteban’s performance in the contest was flawless: Where his superiors might have been able to stall his advance in the regiment, they were powerless against his brilliance with a pair of fencing irons: Though the festival had attracted noted swordsmen from all over the sector, one enemy after another was defeated by Esteban’s superior swordsmanship. And even Lord Vlachen had begun to notice the young captain winning such honour for both his regiment and his homeworld.
The presence of such a high dignitary was not a coincidence, of course: Haaruthia’s noble houses had long been trying to elevate their world within the sector, and they hoped to be able to interest Lord Vlachen in Haaruthia’s young ruler, archduchess Cyrine di Cristofalo Civatte. If they were able to arrange a marriage, Haaruthia’s ruling family would finally have ties to the Imperial house governing the sector, elevating the world’s importance above that of its rivals. So the Haaruthian aristocrats made sure that Lord Vlachen and the archduchess met each other at as many social functions as possible, and the fact that a Haaruthian had managed to become such a likely candidate to win the contest was an additional boon to the plan.
The final day of the competition came, and the fight between Esteban and his last remaining rival, a master swordsman from the Alcain system, drew a massive crowd. Many nobles from all around the sector were in attendance, as were the archduchess and Lord Vlachen. It was in front of this crowd that Esteban managed to best his opponent, winning the contest and becoming, for all intents and purposes, the best fencer in the whole sector.
Esteban was beyond himself with joy. He had managed to become the pride of both his homeworld and regiment, and he nearly burst with pride as Lord Vlachen himself toasted his victory during the lavish celebrations. In fact, the sector governor’s relative suggested a friendly sparring between Esteban and himself, wanting to “sample the best Haaruthia had to offer”. It seemed like Esteban was at long last given the recognition he had craved for such a long time. Only Inquisitor Gotthardt seemed taciturn and sullen, which Esteban saw as petty jealousy on the old man’s part.
In any case, Esteban was determined to perform at his absolute best during the sparring match with Lord Vlachen: The latter seemed like a man of honour, and Esteban was reasonably certain Lord Vlachen was testing him, trying to ascertain whether Esteban was worthy of his time.
Shortly before the fight, Esteban’s superior requested his presence. Esteban suspected that it was merely to wish him luck, but he was wrong. The superior made it perfectly clear that Esteban was to lose the match. Haaruthia’s future was at stake here, and the petty ambitions of one man could not be allowed to stand in the way of Haaruthia’s manifest destiny. In order for a possible match between Lord Vlachen and the archduchess to remain an option, the lord was not to be slighted by losing a sparring match against a mere soldier.
Esteban’s insides turned to ice. But he was a soldier, so he obeyed.
The fight came, and Esteban quickly found out that losing convincingly could be just as difficult a task as winning: Lord Vlachen may have been a powerful noble, but he was an average fencer at best. But Esteban did as he was told, losing the match to the nobles’ polite applause.
Then, with the battle already decided, Lord Vlachen contemptuously gave Esteban a deep cut on his cheek, using the sharp point of his dueling irons. Turning away from his bleeding opponent and facing the crowd, Lord Vlachen announced that he was disappointed that even Haaruthia’s best fencer was not able to best him, claiming the title of the best swordsman in the whole sector should, by all rights, be his. The Haaruthian nobles were only too happy to oblige.
For the rest of the night, Esteban was left to nurse his wound as well as his wounded pride, while the nobility was quick to congratulate Lord Vlachen on his victory and his newly acquired trophy. Then, as the small hours of the morning drew near, Vlachen and the archduchess rose. In a bid to woo the powerful noble, Haaruthia’s young ruler had invited him to a tour of the palace gardens by night. Vlachen accepted, and requested none other than Esteban to guard the both of them, along with Vlachen’s personal bodyguard. This was to be Esteban’s “consolation prize”. Again, he obeyed.
After strolling through the gardens for a while, Vlachen and the archduchess retired to one of the luxurious parlors to have a conversation in private, ordering Vlachen’s bodyguard and Esteban to stand guard outside. Esteban was feeling ridiculed and uneasy in equal measures, but what was he to do?
After a while, a female scream came from within the parlor, making Esteban draw his weapons and run inside to protect the archduchess. Only for a split second did he wonder why Vlachen’s own bodyguard seemed largely unfazed, even amused, by the situation.
Inside the parlor, Esteban witnessed Lord Vlachen forcing himself upon the young archduchess. Lady Cyrine was trying her best to fight him off, but this only seemed to make him even more aroused. Esteban knew about the nobility’s plan to offer up the archduchess to Vlachen in a bid for more power and influence, yet when he now looked at Cyrine, he saw nothing but a frightened child. So he demanded that Vlachen step away from the archduchess and be arrested for his crimes against House Civatte. But the powerful noble only laughed, leering at Esteban that, after all, he had promised to sample the best Haaruthia had to offer.
When Esteban remained steadfast, Vlachen ordered his bodyguard to take care of the matter, and the man drew his own weapon, engaging Esteban in a fencing duel to the death. Vlachen’s bodyguard was a masterful fencer in his own right, but in the end, he was no match for the regimental champion of the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons: Esteban killed the man and tried again to apprehend Vlachen. The noble was furious by now, proclaiming that he would succeed where his subordinate had failed. After all, he had already beaten Esteban once. Drawing his sword, Vlachen flew at him in a blind rage.
But Vlachen wouldn’t have been able to best Esteban during the contest, had the fight been on equal footing, and he learned so now to his detriment: Only a few flurries of attacks and ripostes, then Esteban sliced Vlachen’s face open with a well-placed attack. Howling with pain, the lord collapsed, surrendering his weapon, while Esteban tried to console the shaken archduchess.
But then, the palace guards arrived, alerted by the commotion. Vlachen ordered them to arrest Esteban, who he said was a dangerous traitor that had killed his trusted servant and friend, and had also attempted to assassinate the archduchess. Only by Vlachen’s intervention had the worst been averted, but his bravery had seen him grievously wounded by the traitor’s hand. Esteban was immediately seized and taken into custody.
After a night of questioning and thorough beatings, Esteban’s superior arrived to present him with a rundown of the situation. The case seemed simple enough: His ambition and pride spurned by losing to Vlachen, Esteban had tried to get his revenge on the noble. He had also tried to hurt or even kill the archduchess, seeing her as the reason his personal ambitions had been shattered. He was sure to be found guilty, and death by firing squad was the obvious outcome.
Esteban professed his innocence, pointing out the archduchess would be able to vouch for the purity of his motives. His superior coldly claimed that the archduchess would do no such thing: Once again, Haaruthia’s fate was at stake. One man’s life was a small price to pay. With that, he left Esteban. Then the interrogations resumed.
After a day and a night, the questioners suddenly let up, and the door to his cell opened, admitting none other than Inquisitor Gotthardt. The Inquisitor claimed that, as a member of the Ordo Hereticus, he was claiming jurisdiction over Esteban’s case on the grounds that there might be a heretical background. Though Esteban’s superior protested, Gotthardt told him in no uncertain terms that his authority in this was absolute and had best not be questioned.
When they were alone, Gotthardt asked Esteban to present his own side of the story. Esteban told him about the events that had transpired, and Gotthardt seemed thoughtful. Then he left.
The next day, Esteban was visited by his brother Ramon. Once again, he professed his innocence, but his brother only told him that he had brought an irrevocable stain to their family’s proud name. He also informed him that, as far as he was concerned, he no longer had a brother. Then he too left.
Esteban was shattered. His whole life had been spent striving to do the honourable thing and thereby doing justice to his family name. But now, he had damned both himself and his family by doing what was right. And nobody was prepared to acknowledge the truth. Esteban was just about ready to face the execution detail, and that is what he told Inquisitor Gotthardt when the old man returned to his cell.
Gotthardt had other plans. He told Esteban that Lord Vlachen had already left the planet, furious and never to return. Haaruthia’s nobles were in an uproar, most of them crying for blood. Esteban’s blood. However, Gotthardt had also talked in private with the archduchess, and Lady Cyrine had corroborated Esteban’s version of events, if only unofficially. In any case, there would be no way to rehabilitate Esteban, for Haaruthia’s ruling class had simply chosen not to acknowledge the truth. He would lose his rank, his title and his name would be struck from the regimental records. And he would die by firing squad. Or he could join Inquisitor Gotthardt, to become a member of his retinue.
Esteban laughed at the idea: Everything he had ever cared for was lost to him now. Why take the coward’s way out just to save his life? If that was his only option to survive, he would rather die. This was his choice, if he had any say in the matter.
Gotthardt agreed that the choice was ultimately his. However, Esteban had learned that there was a distinction between doing what was accepted and doing what was right. He had taken a decision, and that decision now made him eligible for service in Gotthardt’s retinue. The old man told Esteban that he was not offering him a stay of his death warrant. He was offering him a chance to do the Emperor’s work. He also informed him that one Trooper Koltz had tried, repeatedly and in danger of being executed himself, to intervene on Esteban’s behalf. Then he left Esteban once more, to give him time to think.
Shortly afterwards, Inquisitor Erasmus Gotthardt of the Ordo Hereticus and his retainers left Haaruthia for destinations unknown.
To date, there is no mention of a soldier called Esteban Revas in the regimental records of the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons. Lord Ramon Gaius Belsazar of House Revas has repeatedly distanced himself from the actions of his late brother who was, by all accounts, a notorious felon at best and maybe even a dangerous heretic.
The last remaining trace Esteban has left on his homeworld Haaruthia is the boarding list in the memory engrams of a servitor doing service in the hangars of the Asuncion spaceport, noting that Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue numbered exactly two persons more when he left Haaruthia than when he had arrived.
Every story needs a good villain, and you may already have noticed Lord Sebastianus Danver Balzepho Vlachen in the story snippet above. Not only is this powerful noble Esteban’s personal nemesis, but he is also growing into one of the Velsen sector’s chief political players, trying to ultimately succeed his ailing great-uncle as sector lord. Of course I needed a model to represent this man as well, and as it happens, Lord Sebastianus basically build himself:
The conversion was born out of the need to do something cool with that huge Tempestus Scion overcoat. And by lucky chances I discovered that the coat looked very cool in combination with a pair of Dreamforge Games’ Eisenkern Stormtrooper legs, producing exactly the kind of stature and pose I needed for one of the most powerful nobles in the Velsen sector. Beyond that, only some small additional touches were needed: The heavily scarred face still shows the wound Lord Vlachen incurred in his fight against Esteban, and the laurel wreath seemed like a perfect symbol of the man’s grasp for power over the whole sector.
So much for Esteban’s enemies, but what of his friend? I already mentioned that Esteban has become a member of Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue — in fact, the old man secretly considers Esteban Interrogator material, in spite of the former’s youth and arrogance. Anyway, I have been slowly working away on Gotthardt’s retinue. Here are the members I have finished so far:
The retinue has quite a few additional members, however, among them such characters as Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin, noble-turned-psyker Elisha Gorgo or Esteban’s own retainer, Trooper “Sal” Koltz. It will probably take me a while to work through all of these characters, but this year has already seen me paint two of them, so all may not be lost ;)
And finally, one last thing I want to share with you today: My good buddy (and fellow inventor of the Velsen Sector) DexterKong has provided me with an awesome present: A “remembrancer sketch” of Esteban Revas, so to speak:
illustration by DexterKong
I think Dexter has done an excellent job, capturing both Esteban’s nobility and arrogance, with a hint of sadness thrown in the mix for good measure. Thank you, buddy! I really appreciate it!
So yeah, one down, another fourty unpainted characters to go ;) Anyway, I hope you enjoyed today’s meeting with Esteban Revas! As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!