Big Damn Painting Competition

That’s right the rumours are true, The Shell Case is doing a painting competition and not any old painting competition a Big Damn Painting Competition, in conjunction with the nice people at The Army Painter and Firestorm Games.

For all the information on how to get your hands on our fantastic prize of one of The Army Painter’s Mega Paint Sets follow this link, The Big Damn Painting Competition. Or click on the tab above.

If you want to know a bit more about the fine paint products from The Army Painter you can catch a review here.

So all that leaves me to say is good luck and have fun.


Godslayer Giveaway

GodslayerTitle copyFollowing on from my Godslayer review, those lovely chaps at Megalith have sent me no less than 3 Godslayer starter boxsets to give away to my fine and lovely readers.

Up for grabs are the Halodynes, Nordgaard and Troglodytes each worth £35 each.


All you have to do is answer the following question:

What is the name of the highest pledge level of the Godslayer Kickstarter?

If you think you know the answer fill in the form below. Three lucky winners will be chosen at random and contacted by email.

One entry per person, no prize alternative offered, my decision is final. 3 winners will be chosen and announced on The Shell Case on Friday 8th February 2013.

Good luck!


Pins of War Chaos Space Marine Give-away

Those fine chaps over at Pins of War are doing a truly awesome Chaos Space Marine painting competition.

First prize is nothing short of a Heldrake and second and third prizes are Warmill terrain kits. For more information on Warmill read my review here. Click on the shiny button above or here for more information on this fantastic competition.


#warmonger of the Year

Last night I had a bit of an idea. And that idea was to do a #warmonger of the year competition. However, whereas normally I make you jump through hoops to win toys or signed copies of books, this time I’m asking you all to nominate your favourite #warmonger.

The person in the Twitter community that has helped you out the most or gone that extra mile. Follow the link below to nominate your favourite #warmonger (and no it can’t be yourself) and they could be in with the chance of winning a complete and signed set of The Crown trilogy written by Shell Case favourite Gav Thorpe.

And if the winner has a blog I’ll design them a little button as well so they can show off to all their visitors how awesome they are.

Nominations must be in by the 15th December and a winner will be announced on Christmas Eve (24th December).

Nominate now.

Shell Case Shorts 9

This month’s Shell Case Shorts is extra special for me as the prize is a signed copy of the utterly awesome Gruntz 15mm written by Robin Fitton, an honoured member or the wargaming community and all round top bloke.

I had the pleasure of reviewing Gruntz v1 a while back and loved it and I’m really excited that it’s coming out in print. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is the following:

Rules are as follows:

Entrants have two writing options.

1, Write a single short story of between 2,000 & 3,000 words set in any established wargaming IP.


2. Write a pair of short stories of 1500 words the second following on from the first set in any established wargaming IP.

Your work is your own but intellectual property rests squarely with the companies in question and is only used under fair use. I reserve the right to publish any submissions in a strictly non-profit capacity. All published writers will be credited accordingly.

Submissions should attempt to evoke the IP the story is based on.

All entries must be received by midnight UK time Sunday 30th September 2012 after which a single winner will be chosen. Submissions received after this will not be considered.

1 submission per person.

Work believed to be plagiarised will be disqualified.

All submissions must be sent as a Word document attached to an email to

[Any spam from entrants will result in disqualification]

Submissions must include the entrants name, a contact email address, Twitter name if applicable and the title of the story.

1 winner will be chosen and notified by email.

The winning entry will be published initially on The Shell Case blog and later in a free to download anthology.

No discussion will be entered into, my decision is final.

The prize may not be exchanged for its cash value or an alternative. However, I reserve the right to substitute the prize if necessary.

Good luck and have fun!

Create a Space Marine Chapter Winner

That’s right another competition winner announced. God I’m good to you lot!

There were some really good entries, each with their own unique take on what it means to be a Space Marine. Unfortunately there can only be one winner and as it goes to Chris Spurgeon, a former Shell Case Shorts winner, for his outstanding background to the Rooks Space Marine chapter. Have a read and I think you’ll agree that Chris has a real talent for background.

Chris will be receiving a Space Marine Captain model painted by Hugo from Ichiban Painting and his background illuminated and printed our all nice and shiny.

Thank you again to everyone who entered, the entries really were of an exceptional standard so I’ll try to run others so make sure you enter.

The Chapter of the Rooks were founded in the wake of the infamous ‘Black Ledger’ incident. This incident began with an Inquisitorial investigation of contraband trading in the Hellespont sector and ended in the Sky Lords Space Marine chapter being unleashed against the forces of two distinct Rogue Trader clans and the disgrace and execution of over two thousand senior administratum, ministorum and munitorium officials as well – most scandalously of all – as  the Chapter Master of the Battle Dogs Astartes chapter for corruption, conspiracy and piracy.

With a full reorganisation of the sector’s defensive arrangements required and the loss of the Battle Dogs to the two century penitent crusade demanded of them it was judged that a new Space Marine chapter should be founded so as to reinforce the security of the sector and serve as a timely reminder of the power of the Emperor’s wrath.

The Rooks are a Chapter descended from the gene line of the Lion, though ever since their founding, the chapter’s name and heraldry – so distinct from that of the other Chapters amongst the Unforgiven – have meant that outsiders have seldom correctly guessed their lineage and have erroneously mistaken them for decedents of Corax or another of the Emperor’s Primarchs. Knowing that the sons of the Lion frequently enjoy an ill reputation amongst other Imperial forces, the Rooks have at time exploited this misapprehension for their own ends.

The first Chapter Master of the Rooks was Simeon Brakespar, formerly Tenth Captain and Master of Recruits of the Angels of Absolution chapter. Simeon was assisted in his task by a sizeable coterie of inner circle veterans, apothecaries, chaplains and librarians drawn from his own chapter, to help ensure the spiritual traditions of the Lion, as of the Astartes as a whole were strongly inculcated in a chapter responsible for the wardenship of a strategically significant home world and a potentially troublesome sector. The exact origin of the chapter’s name is lost to Imperial history. Some believe it to be a reference to the ever watchful birds of ill omen that roost in the eaves of the great citadels of Bastion, others argue it was a reference the citadels themselves and Bastion’s status as a fortress world. Others argue that Brakespar, a keen and gifted player of the popular Imperial game ‘Regicide’, was inspired by his love of the game and his fondness for tactics utilising the rook playing piece.

After establishing his headquarters in the Citadel of the Aquila on Bastion, Simeon threw himself into the twin tasks of building his new chapter and finding a suitable theatre of war where they could be blooded. So it was that the first battle-brothers of the Rooks saw their first action alongside the Guardians of the Covenant aboard the space hulk Scion of Lamentation, purging the nest of genestealers that lurked on board.

This was the first of many actions aboard space hulks by the forces of the Rooks, which gained them a reputation for success and expertise in this particular theatre of war that was impressive for such a relatively young chapter. Their success, culminated in a Mechanicum-sponsored expedition aboard the hulk Herald of Perfidy, which resulted in the recovery of a hoard of Great Crusade vintage arms and armour, including a large number of suits of Tartaros-pattern Terminator armour and even a number of Comtemptor-pattern dreadnought chassis that became the most prized possessions of the Rooks’ first company. The Rooks also notoriously ventured aboard the hulk Voice of Mendacity when it emerged from the Immaterium within the Helespont sector, though a seal placed on the mission records by the Inquisitor Lords of the Ordo Malleus who commissioned the expedition prevents the full details of what took place being known by the Imperium as a whole…

The Rooks however are not deployed solely to clear space hulks. They also served with distinction alongside the Frost Giants, Brazen Angels and Storm Crows at the siege of St Sebastian Hive. The Rooks were instrumental in defeating one of the most aggressive Ork assaults, by employing a number of Terminator squads via teleport to break up the cohesion of the horde, stalling the advance before the guns of the defenders – including the Rooks’ own Ninth Company. Likewise, their intervention in the battle of the Basalt Plateau on Helebore was all that saved the War Drakes Chapter from annihilation at the hands of the Black Legion – though with their typical stubbornness  the War Drakes have ever after refused to admit they needed rescuing.

At present, the majority of the chapter is committed to a campaign against the Orks of the Rubio Expanse alongside the Nighthawk and Sky Lord chapters.

The Rooks home world is the fortress world of Bastion. The Bastion system lies at a convergence of seven major warp navigation routes through the Hellespont sector and as such was heavily fortified from the day of its settlement to ensure Imperial control of the system, and by extension those vital arterial routes through warpspace. Bastion has traditionally been ruled by the descendants of the officer corps of the Corinthian 11th Heavy Infantry, the regiment granted settlement rights on the world after playing a vital role in the original campaign to win the world for the Emperor at the dawn of the Age of the Imperium.

Bastion was chosen as the homeworld of the Rooks as it had remained an oasis of probity and duty despite the widespread corruption, embezzlement and mismanagement that had been exposed in the Black Ledger. Imperial Guard regiments from Bastion had played a part in the purging of corrupt or suborned planetary defence forces and trader militias loyal to the syndicates that has spread their insidious plutocracy throughout the Hellespont sector. In addition, Bastion’s location made it strategically ideal for deploying fast response forces throughout the sector to enforce the Emperor’s will. As an efficient military state, and an Imperial Guard recruiting world of some note, Bastion also had the logistical capacity to expedite the raising and maintenance of a Space Marine chapter.

Despite the founding of the Rooks on Bastion, the governance of the world remains largely unchanged. Though Brakespar could have installed himself as planetary overlord, as the masters of many chapters have over their recruiting world, he declined to do so, citing the maxim of the Primarch Rogal Dorn “I want recruits, not vassals”. Brakespar’s decision ensured that the wheels of Bastion’s government continued to turn without incident or interruption, but also that neither he nor his senior officers would be distracted from the business of prosecuting the Emperor’s wars. Thus Bastion continues to be governed by its ancient senate, ruling from Corinthian Hall in the capital city of Augusta. Although in truth, few issues come before the Senate which do not require them to consider the views of the Chapter Council, expressed through their intermediaries stationed within the Chapters headquarters.

The chapter make their home in the network of ten mighty citadels that ring Bastion’s equator. These citadels were constructed using technology and architectural knowledge since lost to the Imperium and each is was a masterpiece of the siege engineer’s trade, combined sturdy defences with an imposing aesthetic in a manner that the modern Imperium is incapable of reproducing. Each company of the chapter is assigned to one of the citadels. For example, the First Company are based within the Citadel of the Lion, the Second within the Citadel of the Angel and the Devastator squads of the Ninth in the Citadel of the Gorgon. The Citadel of the Wolf, home to the Assault Marines of the Eighth Company is traditionally considered a place of bad luck within chapter folklore and the Eighth Company enjoy a – somewhat unjustified – reputation of being amongst the less intellectually and tactically enlightened of the Chapter’s battle brothers. The Chapter headquarters is housed within the Citadel of the Aquilla, which also houses the tenth company and the great facilities wherein an Astartes of the Rooks is created. In older days, the Citadel of the Aquila, located at the northernmost edge of the capital city of Augusta, was the overall headquarters of the planetary defence forces and mustering point for Bastions tithes of recruits for the Imperial Guard. Thus this ancient fortress continues to be the beating heart of both this world’s defence and its service to the Emperor.

The facilities used by the chapter’s Interrogator Chaplains however are located in the remote polar outpost officially designated QQ7743, but known within the chapter as ‘The Vault’.

The defence forces of Bastion are well-drilled and rigorously maintained and supported by a citizen militia that includes a local ‘Whiteshield’ corps in which service is compulsory for all native youth. As part of their induction, the local Whiteshields are rigorously screened to identify potential aspirants for the Rooks, with promising candidates being subjected to a battery of exacting tests of both mind and body to assess their worthiness. Exemplary candidates must pass the final test – a test of character known as the ‘Bridge of Fools’ before they are judged worthy of entering the service of the Emperor as one of the Rooks. Amongst the many tests potential candidates undergo, all candidates are required to play a game of Regicide against one of the cadre of officers overseeing each induction. Aspirants are not generally expected to win the game (nor indeed to know the rules for though enthusiasm for the game is widespread on Bastion, it is by no means universal) but it provides useful insight into the aspirant’s character, not least how they react to pressure and the unexpected.

The beliefs of the Rooks have been shaped by their homeworld, but also by their close relationship with the Angels of Absolution and the Guardians of the Covenant, two Chapters they fought closely alongside during their formative years following the founding. Over the centuries of their service, the Chapter has developed their own particular take on the issue of the Hunt for the Fallen and the culpability of Astartes serving in the 41st millennium for the sins of their forebears ten millennia previously.

Like their direct ancestor chapter, the Angels of Absolution, the Rooks reject the notion that they are in any way tainted by the treason of the Fallen Angels, but accept the importance of hunting down those Fallen who escaped the destruction of Caliban. However, while the majority of the Unforgiven chapters consider the hunt for the fallen their highest priority and will even break off from major campaigns regardless of the consequences for their Imperial allies, such behaviour is anathema to the Rooks. This clash of attitudes has led to increasing friction between the Rooks and the other Chapters of the Unforgiven, especially with the Angels of Redemption and the Angels of Vengeance, who pursue the hunt for the Fallen with the greatest zeal and aggression. On one occasion the Rooks and the Angels of Redemption almost came to blows over this issue, when the Rooks refused to join the other chapter in a withdrawal from the early stages of the siege of St Sebastian’ s hive. The Angels of Redemption however were forced to relent and departed without further trouble when it became clear that violence would only draw unwelcome attention. While the Rooks decision earned them the enduring enmity and contempt of the Angels of Redemption it earned them the gratitude and friendship of the Storm Crows, Brazen Angels and Frost Giants.

On many occasions, at convocations of the Grand Masters of the Unforgiven chapters, debate has fiercely raged over the attitude of the Rooks and successive Grand Masters of the Chapter have defended their position with passionate oratory, arguing that to abandon the defence of the Imperium to pursue their own agenda is to compound the treachery of the Fallen Angels and to neglect their duty to the Emperor and his Imperium. More militant chapters amongst the Unforgiven have called for sanctions against the Rooks, but these voices are balanced by others furiously resisting the suggestion. Successive Supreme Grand Masters of the Dark Angels chapter itself have maintained a carefully nuanced silence on this issue and strived to maintain balance between the opposing camps, recognising that allowing this conflict to spiral out of control could lead to disaster for the Unforgiven as a whole. The Rooks’ critics argue that their conduct puts the future of all the Unforgiven at risk, but the Rooks counter that allowing themselves to become figures of suspicion and distrust throughout the Imperium is just as much of a risk. Furthermore, the some amongst the Rooks have even argued that it is better to accept the risk of disgrace and destruction than to betray the  mission entrusted to the Space Marines to protect the Emperor’s realm and people.

This is not to say that the Rooks do not actively pursue the Fallen when able, merely that they will not compromise a mission or abandon an ally in need to do so. To compensate for this policy, the Rooks a refrain from deploying their full Second Company to any warzone save in circumstances of dire need, allowing some units to remain as a mobile, fast responding reserve in case any rumours of one of the Fallen emerge. The Second Company are equipped with the Chapter’s fastest ships to enable them to rapidly respond to any clue leading to the whereabouts of their quarry.

The Rooks follow the Codex Astartes, save where the traditions of the Dark Angels and their successors have taken precedence. Significantly, the Rooks utilise the system of squad and company markings set out within the Codex, rather than the system traditionally used by the Unforgiven. This fact has contributed to the frequency with which the Rooks are misidentified as descendants of another geneline. As is traditional amongst the Unforgiven, the First and Second companies are specialist formations. Members of the Second Company serve as elite bike squads and land speeder squadrons, and are distinguished by red helmet markings, and the veteran warriors of the First Company by white. The First Company are notable for making heavy use of the rare Tartaros-pattern tactical dreadnought armour, which the Rooks have bartered from the Adeptus Mechanicus in exchange for supporting a number of expeditions to lost worlds or aboard space hulks in search of lost relics of ancient archeotech. the relative rarity of this pattern of armour and the difficulty maintaining and repairing it means that on occasion there are insufficient suits to equip the entire company and remaining squads are deployed in suits of lovingly preserved and maintained suits of mark IV power armour and equipped in a manner similar to the Sternguard Veteran squad of other chapters.

The Chapter is watched over by an inner circle, formerly known as the Brotherhood of the Lion, but informally referred to as the ‘Silent Order’ due to one of the ritual tests of worthiness all potential members must take. For one year, a would-be-member of the Brotherhood must take a vow of silence to prove their ability to remain silent on matters of key importance. Only members of the inner circle wear the imperial aquila upon the breastplate of their power armour. Ranks and progression within the Brotherhood is symbolised by a system of coloured belts worn with a brother’s robes. Much of the chapter’s iconography and battle-cant is derived from the imagery, history and language of the game of Regicide.

The commander of each company is known as the ‘Castellan’, an ancient term derived for the commander of a castle, and applied to these senior commanders as they each command the citadel in which their company is housed. In the case of the Citadel of the Aquila, which houses the not only the Tenth Company but also the Headquarters of the Chapter and the household of the Grand Master, the Castellan defers to the Grand Master when he is on Bastion. The most senior Veteran Sergeant in each company is known as the Seneschal, reflecting his position as the Castellan’s right hand man.

The Rooks are inheritors of the doctrines of the Lion and the original Dark Angels Legion. However their history has caused them to develop a particular specialism for conducting firefights at close quarters and cramped conditions such as when boarding space hulks and other craft or amidst the dense rubble of heavy cityfighting. The Rooks share their forebears’ stubborn unwillingness to abandon a firing position and frequently employ ‘hammer and anvil’ tactics, involving a heavily armed and armoured static formation working in concert with one or more fast mobile units. As the Rooks prefer to keep their Second Company in reserve, they make greater use of mobile elements drawn from the reserve companies, jump troops, and of gunships drawn from the Chapter’s armoury to provide the mobile elements.

The chapter makes extensive use of dreadnoughts to provide fire support in preference for other armoured vehicles due to their ability to operate more easily in cramped conditions and the relative ease of deploying them by drop pod or gunship. Similarly, the Rooks maintain large batteries of Thunderfire Cannon, Tarantulas and Rapiers to provide themselves with heavy weapon support in situations where Predators and Land Raiders cannot be counted upon and the chapter’s Devastator squads are overstretched.

The Rooks are descendants of the Dark Angels gene line. Despite the reluctance of the High Lords of Terra to sanction the creation of more successors to the Dark Angels this geneline has survived without degrading or mutating since the time of the Emperor. Like many of the Unforgiven the Rooks are scrupulously monitored for any signs of genetic deviancy but thus far the geneseed remains untainted.

The people of Bastion have never shown any evidence of being prone to mutation, in particular Bastion provides a statistically below average level of psychic mutation and as such the Rooks have a smaller number of Librarians than is considered normal for a Space Marine chapter.

“For the honour of the Lion” and “In the Lion’s name” are common warcries amongst the chapter. However the Rooks frequently fight in environments where warcries would represent a potentially fatal risk of giving away their position. Where circumstances allow however, the Rooks fall upon their enemies invoking their Primarch to watch over them and mark their deeds.

Exodus Wars Competition

Those fine chaps at Membraine Studios are running a couple of competitions on their Indiegogo page for Exodus Wars.

Competition details are as follows:

Competition 1
One random new contributor from the next 70 hours will be selected to receive ALL THE PERKS. Yes—all of them! 🙂

And because it’s not fair to only offer this chance to new backers:

Competition 2
One existing backer will be selected now to be upgraded to receive ALL THE PERKS.

The winners will both be announced at 10:30pm AEST (which is GMT +10) three days from now. Best of luck! 🙂

If you think the game should happen – and I for one think it should – then pledge your support on the Indiegogo page.

Shell Case Shorts Winner

The time has come to announce the very first winner of the Shell Case Shorts writing competition. There were 10 entries in total which isn’t a bad start to what will be a regular feature on The Shell Case.

Although the entries were of a very high standard, for me, there was one story that stuck with me even after I read it and that was The Bone Carver by Patrick Burdine, aka @somnicidal.
His Warhmmer 40,000 story wasn’t your typical slaughter-fest but it was well written, well paced and compelling from start to finish, so I’m pleased to say that he will be receiving a signed copy of The Gildar Rift by the lovely Sarah Cawkwell. And a massive thank you to her for agreeing to provide the prize.

Special commendations must go to James Wilson (@JamesMEWilson) for his Dystopian Wars story Traitor, and Michael Barnes (@elblondino) for his Warhammer 40,000 story Escape From Madness. Their stories will be included in the Shell Case Shorts anthology released the beginning of next year.

The next competition will open on February 1st so keep your eyes peeled. But for now, please enjoy the winning entry…

The Bone Carver by Patrick Burdine

A gust of wind shoved the old man like a belligerent drunk. He staggered back and slipped to his knees in the deep crust of snow. Rime caked his beard, the frost turning his graying red hair even lighter. Clusters of hair had frozen together like dreadlocks on both his head and beard. One of his eyes was covered with an old leather patch. His bushy eyebrows had none of the gray strands which wove through his beard and hair and glowed like embers though one was half hidden under the patch. Leaning his weight onto his walking staff he rose and looked up at his destination.

The cave stood out against the white crested mountain like a black lightning strike frozen in time. An avalanche had revealed the cave just a week ago as the old man had predicted. His Vision was almost always true. It was close now. Less than a mile. He turned and looked back down at the village which had been his home for these last months. The wind spun the spiraling black smoke of the cooking fires like a dancer led by a furious partner. He knew that soon the smoke would vanish and snow would bury the entire village as surely as any grave digger.

In his mind’s eye he pictured the village as he had left it. The bodies lay where they had fallen though he had visited every single one of them taking the talismans which filled the wolf-bladder sack hanging from his belt. The blood from the bodies of the villagers had begun crystallizing even before he left. When the weather began to turn and the ice thawed run-off from the Spring break up would sweep away the structures. To anyone who noticed, Fireholme was just another casualty of the Fenrisian winter. This brought to mind a Fenrisian proverb. “An oath written in snow will melt in the Spring.” His own oath didn’t last even that long.

A fierce howl brought him from his reverie. The wolf was tall, even by Fenrisian standards though it was painfully thin. The bones of its ribs stood out like icicles hanging from a bony spine. Like the old man, one of the sockets which should have contained an eye was as black and hollow as the cave behind it. Its fur was matted and there were long jags of scar where the fur refused to grow. It howled again and this time the man heard the discordant notes of fear and desperation. And under it all, hunger.

The smell of the meat in the sack at his belt had summoned the wolf. Or perhaps it had stumbled upon the cave and intended it to be a tomb where it could lay down and die and it resented this intruder. In any case, its hackles were up and its teeth bared.

Despite the threat, or perhaps because of it, the old man felt an immediate kinship with the wolf.

He kept his eye on the wolf but slid his pack off of one of his shoulders. He felt through his pack and pulled out a slab of smoked meat, gifted by Vala Vendotter just last night at his Moving On celebration.

He threw the food on the ground as far from himself as he could. The wolf crept toward the meat and though its tail was low its predatory eyes never left the old man. The wolf gulped the smoked meat down in two quick bites.

The wolf growled at the old man. It seemed to be weighing its hunger for fresher meat against the smell of power surrounding the old man. The old man raised his staff over his head and threw back his head with a howling cry. He pointed back down at the village with his staff and the wolf set off down the hill at a lope. The beast couldn’t understand how it knew, but its mouth began to water and the prospect of the meat that the stranger’s howl had promised. It would gorge and then, perhaps, pay the old man a visit in the night when the man-things were most vulnerable.

The man watched the wolf as it slipped and tumbled in the snow and then righted itself and kept running. He smiled, imagining that the wolf had looked just the same when it was playing as a pup and then turned back toward the cave. The wolf might be back and it might not. One might be able to touch the mind of a beast, but one could never understand it

The old man stopped at the entrance to the cave. He took a deep breath and tasted sulphur on the air. This, then, must be a vent for one of the many volcanoes nestled within the mountain ranges of Fenris. Wind had piled snow up into the cave for several feet but the old man walked into the darkness until he felt solid stone under his feet. He stomped his feet and shook his head and snow fell down like dandruff.

He took the pack off his back and pulled out the two fire logs he had brought with him from the village. He set them at his feet and unwrapped the emberstone from the oiled kraken skin that kept its heat contained. It glowed warm in his palm and would soon be hot enough to sear him. He used the feeble light it gave off to build a small fire pit from the rocks strewn about on the floor. He added two small rows of stones and laid the fire logs on top of them. He stuffed some kindling into the gap under the logs and slid in the emberstone. It began to glow more brightly as it activated and the cave walls flickered as shadows sought what shelter they could from the hungry light.

The old man took off his heavy traveling cloak and laid it on the ground near the fire. Hopefully it would dry be the time he needed to use it as a makeshift bed. He found a largish stone and moved it in front of the fire to use as a seat and found another that he set up as a work area. Satisfied with his arrangements he unstrapped the large pot that he had bound with sinew to the outside of his pack. He took the pot to the front of the cave and scooped it full of snow. He packed it down with his fist and added more on top, which he packed down again. He spared a quick glance for the lone wolf but even its paw prints had been swallowed by the storm.

He returned to the fire and set the pot on one of the rocks of the flame pit and the snow quickly began to return to water. He removed an iron knife from his belt and set it on the makeshift table and sat down. He took the sack off of his belt and squeezed it gently. The trophies inside had frozen together on the walk, sealed, no doubt, by icy chains of blood, and felt like a massive lumpy ball. He hit the bag firmly on the ground and he could tell by how it flattened out that many of the chains had been shattered. The warmth near the fire would thaw the rest.

He reached into the sack and pulled out a handful of fingers like a fisherman reaching into a pail of worms. He set them on the rock table and picked one up to inspect. He felt the calluses and though rigor mortis had tried to make it curl, the arthritis swelling the knuckles had stymied that motion in death as surely as it had in life. The finger likely belonged to one of the three elders of the village and that was certainly a good sign. He pulled out two more fingers. It was best to do three at a time. The second one was also callused though he could still feel the greasy sheen of seal fat. The woman had tried to keep her hands supple despite the hard labor of her life. He reached in to complete the first and most important trinity of grisly offerings.

The final one belonged to a child. The fates were indeed pleased. The seasons of life were each represented.

He took up the knife and began sawing through the joints and separating the knuckles one by one and then tossing them in the pot to boil off the flesh. He continued in clusters of threes sometimes seeing some mark which identified the owner – here was Ulf Seawarder, his third finger halved by a predator fish tangled in his net – here was Girda Vulfwife, flesh scarred by a fire that had claimed her husband. The pot was soon full and his sack empty. He watched the roiling water and as the flesh and fat peeled off the bone and several times the old man carried the pot out of the front of the cave. He sloshed off the floating meat and much of the water and then repacked the pot with snow.

He did this for several hours before the bones were clean. He was exhausted but knew that he couldn’t sleep before he was finished. His time on this world was almost over and he had much work to do. He drained the water from the pot and set it to cool and took out the knuckles. He picked a suitable one and began to use his knife to carve in runes in ancient Fenrisian. Each bone got a single rune. The knife would occasionally slip, drawing blood from the old man and ruining the rune, but that was why he had collected all of the fingers, not just enough for the hundred or so knuckles he needed.

He worked through the night and as the fire began to burn low he noticed that there was enough light coming in from the mouth of the cave to see. He decided to take a quick break and pulled a salted strip of fish from his pack and walked to the entrance of the cave. The snow had stopped falling sometime during the night.

He was surprised to see the one-eyed wolf curled up in front of the cave. The wolf had obviously eaten the snow where the old man had been dumping the refuse from the pot. It raised its head to look at him and then smiled as wolves do, its long pink tongue lolling wildly. The old man took a final bite of the fish and tossed the little bit that was left to the wolf who snatched it out of the air and then laid his head back down.

The old man returned to the charcoal that remained of his fire pit. It was still giving off a bit of warmth as the man completed his work. He inspected each of the runes looking for the tiniest of flaws but was unable to find even one. He filled the sack with the runed knuckle bones and tied it off with the same sinew with which had bound the pot to his pack. He found a crevice big enough for a single person to shelter in within the cave and tucked the runes in the far corner.

He then wrestled one of the stones from the fire pit over into the crevice and used it to shelter the runes. He knew it would be a very long time before the runes were destined to be discovered by an aspirant to the Space Wolves but he didn’t want a curious animal to thwart his hard work and planning.

Finally the old man laid down his staff and the rest of his belongings near the fire pit. Clad in a simple woolen shift he walked out of the cave for a final time. The wolf raised its head questioningly as the old man walked over to it. It raised its lip in a snarl but didn’t growl. The old man placed his hand on the wolf’s head – he felt it only proper to reward its loyalty. He spoke a word of power and the wolf stiffened as eldritch forces flowed through it. “Guard this place. Wait for him to come. No new scars will mar you, though the elder ones will mark you.”

A new light glowed in the wolf’s eye as its sentience shifted and something ancient took hold.

His work done, his vision made manifest and a trap set, Magnus the Red spoke a final word of power to shed the form he had assumed and return to his home in the Warp.

Short Story Competition

Inspired by @jraferguson I have decided to launch the first ever Shell Case Shorts writing competition. Simply enough it is a fan fiction writing competition. All you need to do is write a 2,000 word short story set in your favourite tabletop wargame universe that captures the essence of that universe whilst still delivering an exciting/interesting story.

You’ve got 3 weeks to get something down after which the submissions will be read by me and a single winner chosen. The prize will be a signed copy of The Gildar Rift by Sarah Cawkwell.

It is my hope to run a few of these over the year and then take all the winner’s pieces as well as the honourable mentions and put them into a Shell Case Shorts Anthology available for free download.

Send your entries to

Rules are below and good luck.

The rules are simple:

1 submission per person.

Stories must be 2,000 words (+/- 10%)

All submissions must be fan fiction based on an established wargaming IP e.g. Warhammer, 40k, Warmachine etc.

Work believed to be plagiarised will be disqualified.

All submissions must be sent as a Word document attached to an email.

Submissions must include at the top of the first page; the etrants name, a contact email address and the title of the story (and Twitter name if applicable).

All submissions must be received by noon on the 22nd January. Submissions received after this will not be considered.

1 winner will be chosen and notified by email.

No discussion will be entered into, my decision is final.

The prize may not be exchanged for its cash value, and no alternative will be offered.