The Dragon Keepers were a practice in speed painting, and I think the results sort of, well… they show a bit.
Basically, I had the Island of Blood set sitting in my closet and needed a break from my then-current project: The Flesh-Eaters of Krüll. The complete opposite of my dark, blue and purple daemon-vikings would, naturally, be glittering, gold and red elves.
The Dragon Keeps were members of an elite sect within the Realm of Caledor. The Keepers believed that Elf and Dragon are one, and that the power of the great drakes runs through the veins of every son and daughter of Ulthuan.
Though I can’t say I’m particularly happy with the finished models, I did have a lot of fun forcing myself to get them painted as quickly as possible. If memory serves, it only took me a couple of weeks of painting on-and-off to get ’em done. If I every played tournament games, I’m sure I’d have a good chance of getting a new army painted quickly.
I was also reading The Silmarillion at this point, so there’s a lot of elfish-nods to Tolkien in the force, such as the Mounted Prince, Turin, The Black Blade.
Krüll was a large and beautiful city sitting near the Western entrance to The High Pass. For all of its promise and early glory, it quickly became a much maligned place. After a few decades, not many in the Empire would even admit that Krüll existed, or at least, that it was populated by any sort of civilised man.
In truth, Krüll was once great enough to match many of the Empire’s great cities in war, trade and culture, but it was these strengths would ultimately prove Krüll’s downfall. For all of Krüll’s glory, it was ruled by a base and brutal regime of pleasure lovers that rejected the rule of The Empire.
In gilded, ivory towers, the elite of Krüll wined and dined on the blood and labour of the poor. The dangers of the wastes outside and harshness of life in the poorer sections of the city meant nothing to the city’s lords and ladies. They lived well, safe in their towers, while the majority of the city slowly died in effort to feed them.
Slowly, but surely, the city turned foul and began to fracture. Cults dedicated to dark powers arose in both sides of Krüll. The high-society turned to the worship of a beautiful and devious entity they called Shalth, practicing ritual sacrifice and taking part in massive orgies for the pure pleasure of it. Down below, in the sewers and slums so neglected by the Lords, worship of a hugely-bloated, talking she-rat bearing the name of Ungalla began. The poor turned to magic and sacrifices of their own in an effort to assuage their daily pain.
Darkness rose over Krüll. Peasants and paupers took to brutal murder and theft. The Lords of Krüll continued to ignore their vassals, instead turning inwards to perverted arts. Many a man was turned inside out and splayed across a room simply because some Lady thought it was beautiful to see the walls painted red. The Eyes of the Gods turned towards Krüll.
Two warbands eventually descended upon Krüll. For what purpose, none could say. Perhaps it was to absorb the pools of dark power that had seeped into the walls of the city. Perhaps it was to recruit new warriors. Perhaps it was to destroy and plunder. The purpose hardly mattered in the end. They came, and with them they brought Chaos to Krüll.
The Heirophant was the first to arrive. On a slithering, unearthly steed, he rode up to the inner sanctum of Krüll unopposed by any guard. With him came a band of incredible warriors, seven foot tall at their shortest and clad in darkly glistening armour. Like a knife cutting through butter, The Heirophant (for he went by no-other name and never removed his immaculate armour) installed himself as the ruler of Krüll. The Lords and Ladies worshiped him, and in return, he taught them dark secrets and blasphemies that none should ever know.
After the Perfect One arrived the Putrid. Luvrot the Unbearable appeared in the sewers of Krüll, as if from the muck itself, surrounded by braying, rotting hounds. Luvrot killed and devoured the she-rat Ungalla in front of her poor, diseased worshipers and presented to them, instead, a greater god. Luvrot told of the Great Father of Plague and the twisted love that he bore for every living creature. The newly installed Lord of the Slums taught a hopeless and bleak gospel that caught on like wildfire. The lower class of Krüll accepted their glorious new role, to spread pain, fear and disease, and they did so, dancing through the streets and laughing all the while.
And so it was that Krüll became a city, not of men, but of Chaos. The inner struggles of the city quickly sorted themselves out and a new way of life was accepted. The Dark Gods, Nurgle and Slaanesh, ruled and from the unholy union was born a great army. The Flesh-Twisters rode forth, shambling plague carts beside beautiful stallions, intent on spreading woe and glorious death wherever they could sow it.
So here we go! The Flesh-Twisters of Krüll were one of my biggest army projects ever and my main table-top force for the majority of my gaming years. The project began with the release of the fantastic plastic Nurgle Lord and grew from there! I was so excited to finally be collecting a proper Warhammer Fantasy army (I’d painted Battle for Skull Pass before but never really expanded upon that), in about a week I’d amassed enough models for a 1,500 point force, including Warriors, wolves, The Heirophant himself and even a Hellcannon (in Finecast…)!
I would spend the next three years collecting and painting the terrible warriors from Krüll. The last major expansion I finished for the army was a small “Carnival of Nurgle” detachment that I added sometime in 2015.
The important thing to note about the Flesh-Twisters is the unified colour palette that draws the disparate aesthetics of Nurgle and Slaanesh together. The soft purple and bright blue is repeated on almost every model. On the Slaaneshi warriors, the bronze and splash colours are more pronounced. On the Nurglitch models, I’ve painted a lot of ooze, stitches, rust, etc. I think I overdid it with the cartoony “verdigris”, though. If I had the time and energy to go back and paint over it to make the bronze more, well, bronze, I definitely would.
Maybe some day soon, The Flesh-Twisters will ride again. But for now, I’m sure they’re happy committing their special brand of debauchery in the depths of their evil city.
The Heirophant himself! Masked sycophant, beautiful torturer!