Archive for esteban revas

Inquisitor 28: The Buddy System

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2016 by krautscientist

So, after last week’s crude drawings, let’s get back to actual models, shall we? 😉 Work on Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue continues, and it certainly feels good to finally put some paint on some of these models: The warbands is one of my earliest projects for INQ28, with many of the models dating back a couple of years at this point, so finally painting them, giving them a pat on the head and introducing them to all the nice people out there really feels like I am tying up some loose ends!

So I am going to show you some of the new models I have managed to finish, of course. But I would also like to use this occasion to talk about a certain dynamic about this project – and, in fact, about INQ28 character creation in general – that I find rather fascinating. A warning in advance, though: What follows will be a rather wordy post on the minutiae of my creative process, so if you’re just visiting for the pretty pictures, feel free to scroll down 😉

 

When I created the first characters for Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue, the warband was intended as a bit of a foil to the gang I had created immediately beforehand: The warband of one Inquisitor Antrecht:

Inquisitor Antrecht and retinue early 2016
Antrecht is a radical with Istvaanian leanings, and his retinue certainly reflects that: Since many of his colleagues in the Ordos see him as a dangerous heretic, he can no longer move through the Velsen Sector too openly and has to rely on some rather shady characters to do his work for him (such as a runaway Magos, a bounty hunter, a former Officio Assassinorum operative, a twist sniper and an actual daemonhost). The rest of his retinue is made up of arco-flagellants and combat servitors: tragic creatures and certainly not wholesome characters. But in the desert, a man has to take such water as he is offered.

Now Antrecht’s former-friend-turned-pursuer Erasmus Gotthardt is still far more moderate and puritan in his views, even if he has already had to make a compromise here and there. This allows him to travel the sector more freely and recruit retainers that are somewhat less extreme (if still rather unconventional at times). In short, fewer twisted monsters and more actual people. And once again, I wanted the retinue to reflect this quality, lending it a more adventurous, somewhat picaresque feel. I’ve already mentioned that many of the members of the warband are based on the classic archetypes from the Inquisitor rulebook. But while working on the models, something interesting happened: While I started by merely ticking off boxes (Rogue Trader, check. IG veteran, check. Huge Inquisitor in golden armour Ă  la Inquisitor Tyrus, check), the various models suddenly started to develop a life of their own. That is, I started to think about their motivations, their backstories and what had led them into Gotthardt’s service.

Now developments like this always feel very rewarding, because they make the models grow beyond their origins as mere playing pieces into actual characters, which is a lot of fun. But it went even further here in that some of the characters suddenly brought their buddies on board. Case in point, I had a security agent named Remus Ingram, and suddenly I felt that he certainly needed a cyber-mastiff to accompany him on his patrols through the underhive. Now in this particular case, it took me years to find the right base model for the cyborg-canine, but I ultimately did, and now Remus has his personal mutt, “Balzepho”:

Remus Ingram and Cyber-Mastiff (2)
Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin was a similar case: The model was originally built to resemble Duke von Castellan from the Inquisitor rulebook: a strangely eclectic character in a fantasy uniform. So far so good. But when PDH sent me a powder monkey from one of the WFB Empire kits one day, I realised that the little guy would make for an ideal pet for the flamboyant Rogue Trader with a bit of work. So PeeDee the Monkey was born — and became the actual template for Iskander’s paintjob later on:

Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin and PeeDee the Monkey
Now neither the dog nor the monkey are extremely deep and important characters in the larger narrative, of course. But they serve as a deeper explorations of certain facets of their respective masters, if you will, making the characters a bit more real in the process. Plus they were just a lot of fun to build and paint!

Now one of the new models I promised you really takes this whole buddy concept to the next level. You may remember Cpt. Esteban Revas, one of my oldest INQ28 characters (he also has quite a bit of backstory as well):

Esteban Revas (1)
I originally built Esteban as a variation of the IG veteran archeytpe. I really liked the idea of a guard regiment in (somewhat ridiculous) getup recalling both renaissance clothing as well as the military uniforms of the 18/19th century. The resulting model was built with a much smaller bitzbox than I have today, but I am still enormously fond of Esteban even now: I think the model is really quite characterful. Esteban Revas looks like a rather arrogant peacock, but there’s also a hint at something deeper, a hidden tragedy maybe? Plus there’s always the fact that he must have had some inner quality to become a member of an Inquisitorial retinue.

The longer I thought about the character, the more I felt that his background deserved further exploration: I had invented a regiment for him, the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons, but that was just a name and didn’t really mean anything. But now I started thinking about Haaruthia, about the Dragoons and about Esteban’s backstory, and suddenly I had an idea about another character to accompany the good Captain:

An aristocratic officer like Revas would certainly have some kind of servant to lug around his gear, clean his boots and just serve as a whipping boy, if the need arises, right? So with that idea in the back of my head, I built the first version for Trooper Salvador ‘Sal’ Koltz, formerly of the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons and personal retainer to House Revas:

Trooper Koltz WIP (1)
Koltz was originally created as a bit of a joke character, actually: His almost medieval getup was a hint at the feudalist structures inside the Haaruthian military, with proud nobles being handed officers’ ranks without any need for actual qualification while the commoners could only ever hope for a place in the trenches, more fodder for the meatgrinder of war. At the same time, I gave him a huge amount of gear to lug around, because just because we’re in a warzone doesn’t mean that Cpt. Revas can possibly do without his smoking utensils, right? In a small yet effective stroke of absurdity, I even added a small treasure chest from the Bretonnian Men-at-arms kit to the pile of gear on Koltz’ back. The screaming head from an old Empire kit was chosen to invoke the impression that Koltz is just a regular guy who is way out of his depth: “What has that idiot gotten me into this time?”, he seems to be hollering.

While I was happy enough with the resulting model, the various characters in the warband were still very much in flux, and so Esteban Revas became more and more rounded-out: While he remained a proud and haughty character, his backstory also revealed a deeper nobility, an inner urge to do what’s right and neccessary. And while this made him a better, more believable character, it also meant that Koltz would have to grow along with him, becoming less of a caricature and more of a believable person himself. I exchanged lots of ideas on this matter with DexterKong, and in the end, while the Master and servant dynamic between the two characters remained in place, Koltz also became a straight man to Esteban, serving as an unabashedly lowbrow, yet also surprisingly cunning and loyal foil to his master. I wanted him to be less downtrodden and more confident. This coincided with a small but important change to the model: Dexter suggested replacing the characterful (but somewhat panicky) head with another bit from the Empire range, this time from the Free Company:

Trooper Koltz alternate head (2)
And I think you’ll agree with me that the different head totally changes the feel of the model: Koltz looked way more confident and self-assured now. A grizzled veteran rather than a panicked everyman. The screaming head was cool, no doubt about that, but it simply no longer told the right story.

I was really happy with the model at this point, all things considered. So what did I do next? Well, I put Koltz away and didn’t paint him for several years, that’s what 😉 But after Esteban Revas was completed a while ago, Koltz’ time had finally come, and so I dusted off the model and got to work last weekend.

And while the model may be a fairly straighforward conversion, coming up with the right paintjob turned out to be rather challenging for a number of reasons: For one, it shouldn’t surprise you that I wanted Koltz and Esteban to really work as a pair within the bigger framework of the warband, with Koltz serving as a straight man to his, ultimately decent yet also fairly foppish, superior, and they also embody the class distinctions in the Haaruthian military, with commoners serving as the rank and file, while the nobles (with their very romantic concept of warfare) get handed the command, with little to no regard to their actual suitability for such positions.

I tried to achieve it by painting Koltz’ livery in a way that makes it look like a less grandiose, ruddier version of Esteban’s dress uniform. I also wanted to include some hints to the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons’ heraldry. And while I wanted the model to look a bit more subdued, I also needed to add some small touches and tweaks to make it suitably interesting from a visual standpoint.

So here’s what I ended up with:

Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (7)
Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (2)
Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (9)
Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (10)
While Koltz may no longer technically be a member of the Dragoons, he’s still wearing their colours and heraldry, including a numeral “126” on his left shoulder pad (spliced together from two Cadian decals — maybe I should have looked at the available numbers beforehand and then chosen the regimental number afterwards…), a generic IG winged skull on his right shoulder pad and a small plaque with a stylised “H” (for Haaruthia) dangling from his belt. He also has the same very dark silver armour with a gloss finish as his master.

Here’s a look at all the gear on his back:

Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (11)

Making him look like a bit of a packing mule without seeming comically over-encumbered was a bit of a challenge, but I think the overall effect really works. I still think that small treasure chest is a rather beautiful touch 😉

Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (12)
In order to add some subtle visual flourishes to the model, I have Koltz a five o’ clock shadow on his face and added a slight woodgrain pattern to the casing of his rifle. Both effects may not be spectacular or anything, but I am still fairly pleased with the result!

Trooper Salvador 'Sal' Koltz (8)
Bound by a debt of honour to Lord Bestrald Salazar Revas, Trooper Salvador “Sal” Koltz has vowed lifelong service to House Revas and has become Esteban Revas’ personal retainer, serving under him in the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons and following him into the service of Inquisitor Erasmus Gotthardt afterwards. While he may seem irreverent, indolent and unashamdely lowbrow at first glance, Koltz actions reveal a surprisingly crafty and unfailingly loyal individual whose feeling of obligation towards Cpt. Revas goes far beyond any notions of military discipline.

 

So much for the character himself. Here’s Koltz and Revas together — I hope you’ll agree with me that there really is a certain dynamic between the two models:

Esteban Revas and Trooper Koltz (2)

Koltz may not be a spectacular piece, but I am still enormously pleased with the model. When all is said and done, my chief goal in this hobby is to invent, build and paint characters rather than mere playing pieces, and it just feels like I have come pretty close to achieving that goal with these two guys!

As for the bigger picture, additional buddies like the two cyber-pets and Trooper Koltz have made Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue grow beyond what was originally planned, and that is something that has indeed happened to me on several projects. But while the temptation to add a character here and there might get me sidetracked occasionally, it’s also a great way of further exploring the inner workings and backstory of any given warband/army, so it’s a temptation that I am usually just too happy to indulge! 🙂

One more model before we wind up, and yet another oldie but goldie 😉 Back when I built the first models for Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue, I decided to also include a character based on the “Drill-Abbot” archetype from the Inquisitor rulebook. So I made this guy:

Drill Abbot WIP (3)
Another fairly simple conversion, and one that reproduces several elements of GW’s 54mm model for Preacher Josef, such as the robe, thunder hammer and devotional knicknacks. But while I was happy enough with the conversion itself, it took me ages to find the right angle for this guy: Call me weird, but it’s far easier for me to actually paint a model for INQ28 when I have even the slightest idea of who they are as a character.

Unbelievably enough, it took a couple of years for me to return to this model, but suddenly things just fell into place: I was thinking of the “Quelling of St. Berthold”, an event DexterKong came up with for our shared INQ28 setting, the Velsen sector. I don’t want to give too much away, seeing how Dexter is probably going to reveal some of the story on his blog sooner rather than later, but the general idea is that a daemonic incursion occured at St. Berthold and had to be fought back by a coalition of Imperial forces. For a number of reasons, the event became a turning point in the lives of many of the characters involved. Looking at my little drill abbot here, I asked myself: What if he participated in the operation as a member of the Imperial Guard? And what if the things he saw during that campaign instilled in him an utter piety born out of sheer terror and made him take a cloth and become an Ecclesiarchy cleric?
Not a momentous idea, certainly, but it was enough to rekindle my interest in the model and finally get it painted. So here’s the finished Drill Abbot:

Father Harlan (1)
Father Harlan (2)
Father Harlan (3)
Father Harlan (4)
Father Harlan (5)
Funnily enough, I chose a colour palette very close to the one used by the ‘Eavy Metal team for Preacher Josef — I just liked the look of the paintjob and also thought it might go well with the rest of the warband. But even though much about the model recreates GW’s Preacher Josef, I hope there’s still enough originality about Father Harlan to turn him into a character in his own right.

In fact, one aspect of the model ultimately turned into a part of his character in a rather organic way: When I originally posted the WIP model on the Ammobunker, a fellow forumite joked that the little casket worn at the model’s right hip probably contained some kind of alcoholic beverage. Now I had originally intended that element as a vessel for holy water or some kind of unguent, but I liked the idea, so when PDH suggested adding a drinking cup to the model’s gearbelt, I did just that. Now given Father Harlan’s backstory, maybe his drinking habit might be another consequence of his experiences at St. Berthold?

Father Harlan (6)
Father Endric Harlan is a Drill-Abbot of the Velsian Ecclesiarchy currently serving as personal confessor to Inquisitor Erasmus Gotthardt. A veteran of the Imperial Guard, his experiences during the Quelling of St. Bertholdt led him to pursuing a life of piety, haunted by the utter fear born of of having witnessed firsthand the terrible powers of chaos.

 

Regarding the bigger picture, I am really happy to say that I have managed to finish nearly all the members of Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue — just one more character to go, although that will be quite a challenge. Because the last member of the warband will be Elisha Gorgo:

Elisha Gorgo (3)
We’ll see how that turns out…

In the meantime however, here’s a look at the retinue so far:

Inquisitor Gotthardt and retinue early 2016 (4)

I hope you have enjoyed my – unfortunately rather wordy – look at my creative process. Please don’t hesitate to let me know any feedback you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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Inquisitor 28: Cpt. Esteban Revas of the 126th Haaruthian Dragoons

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2015 by krautscientist

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:

Cpt. Esteban Revas WIP (2)
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:

Cpt. Esteban Revas WIP (4)
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:

Esteban Revas (5)
Esteban Revas (6)
Esteban Revas (7)
Esteban Revas (8)
Esteban Revas (9)
Esteban Revas (10)

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.):

 

Esteban Revas painting (2)
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:

Sebastianus Danver Balzepho Vlachen WIP (5)
Sebastianus Danver Balzepho Vlachen WIP (6)

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:

Inquisitor Gotthardt's retinue (1)
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

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!