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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Introducing: The Masque of the Red Death

Greetings once more to my fellow Chaos fanatics! How are things in your neck of the Eye of Terror? What do you think of Khorne Daemonkin? I can't wait to play a game or two with this codex. It may not be "perfect", but it looks like fluffy fun indeed. I am currently painting a new Bloodthirster (damn, that thing is huge).

But I also put the finishing touches on some Harlequins (finally- took a long time to paint them). I still am working on the bikes and one vehicle. So--- let us begin:

My biggest challenge was to do a decent Harlequin force that would make a good ally for my Dark Eldar that would look complimentary, but quite different. My Dark Eldar wear black armor with red highlights. Now, how the heck would I be able to match em up?

After a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that I would do their masks red- the red would match the DE well enough. Their jumpsuits would be black (with grey highlights). Then, I picked two opposing colors to red- purple and yellow. Thus, the look was born. Yellow was a pain in the arse to paint, I must say. However, it turned out good enough. I had fun, painting purple and yellow on opposing sides, etc. My only regret was that I absolutely couldn't do the check pattern. My hand simply shakes too much for such fine lines. I tried several times, but gave up.

My Solitaire I did in all purple with a pink mask, befitting of the actor who plays Slaanesh. The Deathjester I did in dark colors, though again the mask was red (kinda making him look like the Red Skull). The Shadowseers I was able to have fun with, paining red, purple, and yellow in different ways.

 I bought 2 Shadowseers because I figured Dark Eldar have no Psykers, so why wouldn't I go for more? I may get a third at some point- we shall see. Of course, I HAD to do a conversion on one Shadowseer- using a Kiss arm instead of a gun.

Now, why would these particular Harlequins ally themselves with my Dark Eldar? To answer that question, here is my Harlequin's story:

The Harlequin players known as the Masque of the Red Death were among the first troupes to appear after the fall. Their original name has been lost to time. They initially performed at the Iyanden Craftworld, but traveled far and wide to other Eldar, including the Dark Eldar.

The performance they are most famous for is the comedy/drama known as The Red Death. They have performed it so many times that they are now known as The Masque of the Red Death. The play has a particular relevance for the Dark Eldar. Indeed, the hero of the piece is in fact a Commoragh prince at the time of the fall. 

The play has several acts/dramas, but the central character throughout is Autë Lar, a wealthy inhabitant of the port city of Commoragh. The play begins with the beginning of The Fall. As Slaanesh is born and the Eldar are dying, fear grips all in Commoragh. Though they think they are protected, they can't be sure that Slaanesh won't get them- the doubt gnaws at the Commoragh Eldar, even though that fear doesn't make them change their depraved ways. Prince Autë Lar has a large palace, well hidden and protected (even by Commoragh standards). He invites his friends to stay with him, providing both safety and entertainment. Indeed, the guests engage in all manner of depravity and degradation as The Fall continues unabated in real space. 

When the gala is at its height, Autë sees a guest wearing a mask that he doesn't recognize- a smiling mask- stunning in its beauty. Autë personally invited all of his guests- how could there be someone here that Autë doesn't know? And no Dark Eldar would wear such a mask. Autë gives chase, pursuing the stranger throughout his fortress. The masked stranger retreats towards Autë Lar's most protected and private chambers. Autë pursues, thinking he has cornered this interloper. 

But the joke is on Autë Lar. The masked stranger reveals his true self to Autë. The stranger is in fact an aspect of Cegorach, the Laughing God; a fragment of the divine being given shape. Autë does not  doubt it at all, for he can feel the power of this entity; even the cynical Autë Lar must bend his knee to this living embodiment of a god. Cegorach explains that the Eldar gods are falling, and if they ALL fall, even the Dark Eldar won't be safe in their lair. Cegorach knows that Autë is calculating and cunning, with the strength and wits to overcome nearly any foe- but he is also mortal, and can easily be unseen to gods and daemons who are busy waging war at this moment. If ANY Eldar are to survive, Cegorach will need seven artifacts scattered throughout both the webway and real space. Only Autë can retrieve them. With no real choice, Autë agrees, and is immediately dispatched on this quest. Dark Eldar audiences laugh at Autë becoming the reluctant hero, knowing full well how foolish the very idea sounds- a heroic Commoragh Eldar? Impossible, absurd, and hysterical. 

Throughout the play, Autë is put in both dangerous and humorous situations, escaping each time just barely. The climax of the play comes as Autë must journey into the warp itself to find the last artifact. Within the warp, Autë (protected by Cegorach's power)witnesses the epic battle between Khaine and Slaanesh. In the midst of this titanic struggle, Autë is like an ant, scurrying around the footfalls of gods. In the end, Autë finds the last artifact, just as Khaine is about to be defeated. It is then that Cegorach appears, and uses his deceptive powers to protect Khaine's essence- allowing the shards to go into the craftworlds. It is at this point that the full cast of players come on stage- each one being a piece of Khaine. This dance is called The Red Death (hence the name of the play and Troupe). The dance starts as a lament, but builds into a hopeful piece, as parts of Khaine escape to fight again someday. As Slaanesh is about to take her rage out on Cegorach, Autë uses the artifacts to help Cegorach make his escape. The artifacts allow Cegorach to hide entirely in the webway, protected from Slaanesh. 

And what of Autë? The play never fully explains the fate of Autë Lar. The play ends with him in the warp helping Cegorach escape. Cegorach flees in a blast of blinding light. When it dims, all players except Autë have left the stage. Autë is kneeling near the artifacts, with the spotlight only on him, dimming until the stage goes dark. 

The character Autë Lar
Does he die? Escape? The ending is ambiguous, leaving it to the audience to ponder his fate. Some say that Slaanesh consumed his soul. Others believe that he made it back to real space, deciding to live on an Exodite world. Yet others think he MAY have gone with Cegorach- the first Harlequin perhaps? Again, the Dark Eldar audiences laugh at this suggestion.

Cegorach given living form in the play
Hope you have enjoyed the pics and my little back story. I will show you the rest of my Harlequin stuff (and my Bloodthirster) as soon as they are done. Until next time...

(Note: Just for fun- of course Masque of the Red Death is a short story by Edgar Allen Poe. I used the story as a springboard for the Harlequin play. Further, Autë and Lar are both Elvish words for prosperity. In Poe's story, Prince Prospero is the chasing down the unknown guest in his castle while the outside world is succumbing to an illness known as the Red Death).


  1. One of your biggest posts yet (in terms of photos shown). Nice stuff Prof!
    By the way, I can't help noticing a line across all the photos. Is the camera acting up?

  2. Sadly, my camera has been doing that lately. However, I can't afford a new one just now, as I am spending oh so much cash on my 40K addiction!