*Warning - this is a rather long post, skip to the bottom for the pics if you aren't at all interested in the wonderful background I conjured up for them!*
I wrote this piece of fluff to give some background to my stinky 3+ chaps.
"INDEX ASTARTES: THE WITHERING
The now-interdicted world labeled Ex-Puris 16.89.076 was once known as Shermalk’s Hope. Of the seven planets within the Foamalar system, Shermalk’s Hope was one of only three capable of sustaining life. It was a lush and fertile agri-planet, and provided foodstuffs to not only the inhabitants of that system, but to the Imperial Guard and the PDF regiments stationed within it. The planet however is now listed as Ex-Communicatus, indeed there has been no recorded activity of any sort within the Foamalar System, at least not since the Outbreak.
The Outbreak turned Shermalk’s Hope from a planet teeming with fertility into world of lifeless seas and lakes, pockets of poisoned fumes emanating from the very ground, and immense toxic storms blowing through once verdant valleys and plains. To describe Ex-Puris 16.89.076 as a typically-termed “Death World” would be kind; for when even the gases in the atmosphere itself seek to consume the unwary (or those senseless enough to not protect themselves), a simple Death would be a welcome end.
Somehow though, humans continue to survive in this dying world. They are few in number but fierce and hardy almost beyond compare. Mutations run rampant amongst the survivors. Natural foodstuffs are a rare and precious commodity, and cannibalism is perhaps the most regular source of nourishment for the nomadic tribes of Shermalk’s Hope. In this harsh new world, the strong survive and lead. The weak are hunted down and consumed, providing sustenance for the rest of the tribe.
A large band of Astartes, formally loyal to the Imperium but at odds with it’s tenets, arrived in the Foamalar system soon after the third year of the Outbreak. It is popular belief that these Astartes comprised no single Chapter, but rather were made up of renegades, formally of many different Marine Chapters. Like a terrible reckoning, these rogue Marines descended upon the remaining Imperial PDF of Shermalk’s Hope. The beleaguered Imperial forces were already whittled down severely in numbers by the ravages of a planet-wide plague, and were easily defeated. Legend tells that when the renegade marines were satisfied that most, if not all resistance had been quashed, they turned their attentions to a calling that they had heard in their dreams: It is said a voice whispered to them all as they writhed in stasis aboard their mighty vessels. The Voice told them that they were to seek out Shermalk’s Hope and deliver it’s plague-ridden populace from the vile malady which had ravaged it. The marines had not yet fallen to Chaos, and so they saw no issue with it the request of the Voice. Indeed it seemed not only a legitimate undertaking, but many of the Marines believed that the Emperor Himself was somehow personally directing them across the stars to carry out His will.
To effectuate their purge of Shermalk’s Hope, canisters of a rare xenos-made neurotoxin were brought to the planet’s orbit and their contents released into the atmosphere. The effects of the toxin were dramatic: Once it entered a plague survivor’s system, the subject was suspended in a state of virtual un-life. Although the toxin caused their bodies and minds to rot and further mutate, the subject could not die. As a result, nearly all the remaining populace of Shermalk’s Hope, dozens of millions, mutated and decayed uncontrollably. At the same time the planet’s flora and fauna likewise shriveled, mutated, or died. However less than 0.4% of both human and the living environment on Shermalk’s Hope survived the toxin untouched, somehow immune to the vile effects of the otherworldly substance.
The renegade marines, now unsure of where they were to head or what task they should attend to, lapsed into an unnatural apathy and lethargy. Once proud warriors of the Emperor’s finest legions, these deadly scions became like statues upon the surface of the planet, uncaring of anything about them, except for the now-constant whispering of the Voice within their minds. And so they listened. Decades went by and the marines still stood, or milled idly about on the planet’s wasted surface. Their armour had long since succumbed to the planet’s eroding atmosphere and terrible storms, cracking and warping and allowing the toxin, as well as what remained of the plague, to enter into their own bodies. In time they, like the populace before them, mutated and sickened. Unlike the human populace of Shermalk’s Hope however, the marines did not end in a state of grotesque un-life. Rather the marines were somehow strengthened by their new forms and were more resistant to the diseases which surrounded and infused them. All this time, the Whispering of the Voice continued. The Voice told them that a being of immense power would soon come to them and lead them away to fulfill a new terrible purpose: To bring the Whisperer’s horrible touch to the rest of the galaxy. The Whispered gave the newly galvanized band of marines a new name: The Withering.
In this blasted environment the Withering grew in numbers. The hardy resilience of the few remaining survivors on Shermalk’s Hope is a trait deem worthy - indeed essential - for any who would consider joining the ranks of the Withering.
Following the commands of the Whisperer, the Withering formed into bands of seven. Their apathetic state lead them to never question the Whisperer, nor to try and think independently, or to contemplate tactics or solutions to any upcoming battles. They stride forward, silent and heads cocked at strange angles, still listening to the omnipresent hiss of the Whisperer, seemingly unaware as their bolters fire at distant targets, and their blades hack through their enemy’s flesh.
The newest recruits are often unused to the Whispers in their mind and so take up heavy weapons to drown out the noise. Ultimately however all Withering succumb to the Whisperer, and soon every new recruit joins their veteran brothers in a state of distracted bliss.
The Withering have no chapter symbol to speak of, instead the mark of their Whisperer is moulded upon their armour pieces in fecal matter and other rotted material. Their armour is painted in dull greys and browns. Small, filthy Imps follow in the wake of the Withering. These horrid homunculi giggle and chortle whilst they attend to their masters, chewing off warts and growths, licking at their festered wounds and making sure weapons, armour and vehicles are in working order, for the Withering would not (or could not) think to do so themselves. Grotesquely, these Imps provide an almost-cheerful contrast to dour and uncaring personalities of these fallen marines.
In the long run it is Witherlimb who directs the forces of the Withering. Witherlimb is the only being able to listen to his master’s Whispering and still retain some control over his mind (what scarcely-sane parts of it remain that is). His orders are unquestioningly obeyed and his enemies devastatingly obliterated at his command. Witherlimb is not subtle like the Voice in his mind, and his lack of sanity has caused him to think in simple terms (lest he feel the pain and mental strain of truly independent thought). At his direction, the Withering brutally wade through battlefields, weapons blasting until their foes are reached, at which time they are torn apart in vicious close quarters combat. There are no carefully-planned ambushes with the Withering, no feinting, probing ripostes or tactical brilliance to speak of. There is simply a mass of troops and armour trolling ever forward, receiving and shrugging off wounds until the enemy is utterly ground underfoot.
Of Witherlimb the Wanderer and his coming after the Foamalar Outbreak
Once a loyal servant of the Emperor, the man that became Witherlimb was never a warrior of the Imperial Guard or a daring Astartes from the Emperor’s shock troops; he was merely a serf, farming on the agri-world Shermalk’s Hope. Like his neighbours, he delivered his portioned crop gratefully to the Imperial Tax Collectors. Like his neighbours, he was a dutiful father and husband following the doctrines of the Imperium, leading a life of structure as any good citizen should. The Emperor had been kind enough to bless him with five children that he loved more than life itself, and he was content with a wife who was both hard-working and kind to his eye. Life had been more than bearable for the man who would become Witherlimb the Wanderer, terrible Herald of Nurgle and Champion of The Withering band of Plague Marines.
When the Outbreak spread through the Foamalar system, the man who would become Witherlimb saw his wife contract the plague and perish to it’s effects. All around the man, what little community he called home showed signs of the plague’s ravishing. His two youngest children soon displayed symptoms of the plague and the man prayed to the God-Emperor to save them from this horrible blight hour after hour, hands clasped at his children’s bedside. But his prayers were unanswered and the children were soon laid to rest with their mother. The man’s faith in humanity, in the so-called Salvation of his God Emperor faltered, and he cried painful, angry tears as his remaining children all became sickened with the plague. The man demanding someone, something listen to his prayers…
And something did hear and answer his anguished pleas. The man had no idea he was a little in touch with the warp. The human government would ascribe him the title “Psyker”. Unbeknownst to the man, his cries for help passed through the mortal realm and reached the ears of a servant of the All Father and Lord of Stenches within the Warp. This entity immediately saw potential in this human and answered his calls. It promised him in Whispers that his children would be spared if he did the entity’s bidding, completing ghastly tasks in exchange for their salvation. Lost in the throes of grief and prepared to do anything to save what little was left of his former life and loves, the man agreed and soon found himself attending to more and more gruesome and foul tasks, each time being granted strength and power to aid him in his missions.
The man’s entire town sank into a myre, it’s inhabitants drowning in filth. Over two thousand Guardsmen came down with a virulent pox and died, pleading to the man to find a cure. Dozens of homesteads were razed, their former inhabitants risen again in un-life. Each time he was granted powers and his connection with the Warp strengthened – each time his humanity flew from him, mentally and physically and he devolved further into madness. He barely noticed as the last change transformed his enormous and bloated form into that of an avatar of the Fly Lord and sent his mind into madness completely. That day he returned to his homestead, confused and unaware as he came upon the quivering forms of his remaining children, who not recognising him screamed and wailed at the monster towering over them. The former man did not recognize these beings and took his great axe and lopped off all three of their heads in one foul strike, only realising his terrible action in a fleeting moment of lucidity and crying out, he dropped to his rotten knees and cradled the severed heads of his offspring to his sallow breast. The madness soon returned though and took over his mind utterly, expelling all grief and any memory of his former existence.
The entity had kept it’s promise and released the children from their suffering. The former man, now terrible Prince of Daemons heard only his Master’s Whisperings and set about doing it’s bidding for decades to come, eventually coming to rest in a cave and there to slumber until the renegade Astartes came to Shermalk’s Hope, there to do the former man’s bidding in the Fly Lord’s name."
Okay, long read over, here's the pics.
Witherlimb the Headtaker, Daemon Prince of Nurgle
These wings were made from plastic packaging from a blister or some such.
Next, if he could be bothered to care, Witherlimb would realise that this chap is his 2nd in command. (Who has no name as yet.)
Terminator bodyguard for the chap above that I hope to get up to a unit of 7 eventually.
Plague Marines that I've painted so far that equal out to a squad and a half, each of 7.... of course.
Lastly some support for my troops in the form of a couple Vindicators that were converted from Rogue Trader Rhinos.