Apologies for the terrible pun in the title - it's not even entirely accurate as there's no Bosch I'm afraid...
So we come to the end of the fourth Old World Army Challenge and I have finally joined the hallowed ranks of OWAC veterans! If you haven't already, do go and check out the other entries - they're all fantastic! Time for one more literary reference I think by way of reflection over the last six months. As Eliot says in his Four Quartets, "What we call the beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from." Well that's definitely where I'm at with this project! I've heard it said many times that an army is never finished and it seems almost a shame if one should find themselves guilty of such a thing. Again to paraphrase Eliot, to finally finish something and put it to rest or reach a final end is to arrive at "the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is... Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance." Other than all the dancing and not dancing, it sounds a bit sterile and lifeless to me so I think the Cult of the New Colossus will live on - but more on that later.
This is the end, my only friend the end! My last painted entry for the Old World Army Challenge IV. I'll save all my gushing and introspection for the wrap up post I have to write for July as well as the whole army shot. The last hours of last month were spent furiously painting banners and I reckon I've sold the last remnants of my soul to the ruinous powers to get these last bits done. Hopefully the low figure count won't be an anti-climax when compared to my earlier entries but I thought it best to lavish a bit of attention on this unholy quartet as the leaders of the Cult. I've certainly tried to up the level of epic in the narrative to make up at any rate!
Long and arduous was the pilgrimage back over the roof of the world yet the Cult tired not. From the blasted pit they had clambered, up in to the heavens, and now they descended once more, down through the dark pine forests that bristled on the beetled brow of the World's Edge Mountains. Glowering over the huddled and sagging gambrel rooves of witch-haunted Nachtdorf, these stony pinnacles gave way to the dreary vista of ancient and festering Sylvania - far removed from the pitiless sands of the wasteland they had dragged themselves from. Man and Beast alike rejoiced at the chill air and damp mists of these heavily wooded slopes, for they were a balm to parched lips and blistered hands and feet. Slowly the weary procession began its painful descent back in to the lands of Men once more.
Wermius clutched his head in an attempt to steady the reeling of his mind. How far could he go in comprehending the works of the Colossus and the beloved Godhead? He a mere man. It felt as though some sphinx of flesh and brass had bashed open his skull and eaten up the brains inside. A sphinx much like the enormous creature, some brutish union of Ogre and Dragon, that reposed nearby in all its impossible majesty. How far did it go Wermius feverishly wondered. The Beastmen had been a revelation and confirmation of the power of the living God he and his brother clergy had pledged themselves to. Yet there seemed no end to the diverse forms of creatures that now flocked to the banner he held dear. His very frame of reference to the real physical world seemed to be spiralling out of his grasp as he encountered each new example of the mutability of flesh. What future had mere men in the plans of the Colossus other than utter destruction and ruin?
Brother Olaus Wermius Augustine surveyed the scene before him, eyes bright with both academic fervour and the reflected light of the pallid moon that waxed and leered horribly above the unearthly scene. However his nose still hadn’t come to terms with the wall of musk and noisome odour that assaulted it and his ears still rang with the cacophony of squawks, yelps and guttural snarls emanating from the braying crowd. Yet still he endeavoured to focus all his concentration on the task at hand. For he was Cataloguer and Compiler of all the wonders and miracles the New Colossus felt fit to bestow upon the world. It was his calling to codify and crystallise the teachings that could be learned from this munificence in to the one, all embracing orthodoxy that would inevitably bring the word to the world. The endless march that was their mission to bring truth to the unbeliever had been called to a halt for the night and his brother clergy, terminators and the rest of the Crusade were setting up pickets or bedding down for a few hours sleep. However, this brief respite was an excellent opportunity for Olaus to observe the behaviour and mien of these most outlandish followers of their God and he must not waste it.
Yet the young cleric couldn’t help but marvel at how far he had come after escaping the shadow of his former teacher. That old fool’s inhibitions and petty worries had threatened to bury Olaus in all the stultifying blanket of dogma and petty moral precepts that the Royal College of Magic cowered behind. How could that old vulture not see that the interminable hours spent in studying the complex symbolism and endless rituals needed for even the most minor spell were such a waste. The memory of the acres of dusty parchment and ancient forbidden magical texts that were fearfully hidden away because of the knowledge they contained still filled him with a burning anger. No - magic was a living, dynamic thing and true power and knowledge could be had only if one were to commune with those who would share it. If one had the courage and force of will to reach out into the black gulfs of essence and entity, to push the confines of mind and spirit beyond all spheres of force, matter, space and time then one would find themselves in the company of those other Gods! How fitting it was that that pathetic shadow of a man had died as he lived... afraid. His death had been at the hands of one of the foetid and rushing, airy presences that the old Wizard had so greatly feared. To the old man's surprise, Olaus had been its summoner.
Loud blared the horns of war and the air was rent with the staccato rhythm of blades clashing. Giudas stood on the small raise above the battlefield and looked on, eyes ablaze and the blood roaring in his ears like thunder. This was it - his moment of vindication, his one shot at glory with the town lying at his feet, ripe for the taking.