Since the beginning, I decided to give a strong fairy vibe to the design of our creations, but that doesn't mean that in Inneath everything is sugar&cookies, at all!
If you read the Grimm's fairy tales you will find some really disturbing and scary stuff, and the whole popular folklore of our grandparents is full of dark stories, think about the lullabies: they are scary to the bone!
When I was a child, my grandma used to sing me a lullaby that literally was about guesswork in deciding which monstrous creature to give the baby to: shall we give the child to the witch, maybe? But she would keep him only for a week. Then what about the black wolf? It would keep the child for a year, that would be awesome for sure!
And what about simply do your job, grandma, put me to sleep and stop to think about giving your grandson to the worst fictional individuals of our society?!
Terrifying, if you think about it.
So I was saying: fairytales can be disturbing as well, and the new character designed for the Elven range is made to incarnate this concept. Before properly explaining this character, that has a central role not only inside the Elven lore, but I'd dare to say in the whole setting of Inneath, let's see it in all its disturbing glory!
You never expected such a character, didn't you?!
This guy is born in my mind when I thought about designing a kind of dark side of Elves: despite their "Lost Boys" look, since the beginning you learned that this kin of Inneath is not properly "friendly", but I wanted to go more in-depth with the darkest side of this range because it's strictly connected to the main plot of the fantasy setting I'm writing, I would say that the whole Elven lore is the cornerstone of the main plot, and you will soon learn that the fairytale I have in mind has not necessarily a happy ending.
This character should represent one of the many spirits worshipped (with terror!) by Elves, a wandering and apparently soulless creature commonly known by the fairy people as "the Green Knight".
To explain the design of this character, I must at first anticipate you some general Elven lore, following the topic started with the Elf Summoner.
Nothing about Elves is normal. They inhabit mystic islands, known only in legends and superstitions as Fairy Islands, where time and space are distorted.
We don't know (well I do, but you don't, and won't) exactly why, but it seems like these islands are at the centre of a huge bubble of pulsating magic, that influence everything that lives inside: imagine Inneath like the lid of a pressure cooker that barely contains all the energy that burns inside and the Fairy Islands as the relief valve that avoids the whole things to explode.
If the valve, for some reasons, ceases to work, in a way (releasing too many energy) or another (keeping all the energy inside) the fragile balancing of Inneath would be destroyed, with harmful consequences for any living beings of the world (or even the world itself!).
In brief words, Elves are the guardians of this fragile ecosystem and the only mortal beings that are aware of it and should know about it!
The other peoples of Inneath, in fact, gradually lost their memory and knowledge of the past since the great calamity that tore Inneath apart, and the descendants of the few that survived the apocalypse live nowadays their lives totally unaware of what really happened and, above all, about what is happening or might happen: the Elves, instead, know everything. And they don't want the truth to be revealed. For this reason they protect so fiercely their lands from the other peoples, and for this reason they decided to hide their existence from the other civilized kins of Inneath, letting them ignore everything about the past, the great calamity, the present and the perils of the future. But why?
This is a question that I can't answer, at the moment!
Inside this mystic bubble, we can say that Elves are living constantly surrounded by magic and this strongly influences their lives: time is distorted, inside the Fairy Islands, and as soon as they remain inside the bubble, they grow old in a way that, at the eyes of us, would seem like a kind of immortality. It's not that they are literally immortals, it's just that inside the Fairy Islands, time almost doesn't pass.
What a cool situation, am I right? Not totally.
Ok, being almost eternally young and being blessed by an incredibly long life could sound interesting, but being constantly exposed to raw magic since birth requires a tribute, that Elves call "the Cycle".
We can say that magic is like the raw energy of the world, is like the essence of Inneath, a natural resource able to subvert our beliefs with its power, but still a natural element. Like all natural resources, even magic has a cycle (like water, for example) and Elves, absorbing so much of it, just have been part of it: everything that gets out, must return. The Elves, since their birth, absorb magic, benefiting from its properties and as magic is released and re-absorbed by the earth, so the Elves must repay their debt. Despite it's normally a long process, the magic absorbed by the Elves slowly turn them into trees, to return to earth, and restart then its cycle.
Normally it is required 400-500 years, before completing the Cycle, but it mostly depends on how much magic the Elf absorbs during his, or her, life: it is known, in fact, that individuals that directly channel magic sources (like summoners of shamans) absorb more magic energy and so their cycle is speeded up!
Once the Cycle is complete, the Elf's body returns to the earth, turning into a tree that will slowly return the magic energy to the earth. The Elf's soul, however, is reborn in another form: tiny spirits that, from that moment on, just inhabit the forest, like memories of the Elves that once were (so here explained what exactly are those Kodama and little spirits that you see all around our range: the souls of former Elves, that completed their Cycle!).
These spirits do not remember their mortal lives, at least not consciously: they are more like unconscious beings that have returned to nature and take care of it, they don't remember even to have been Elves, in their mortal lives, even if it happens that their attitude as spirits may be influenced by their past lives. For example, Elves that lived their lives with resentment and rage, generally become malevolent spirits. On the other hand, Elves that live a particularly happy and fulfilling life become benevolent genies.
So, this is "the Cycle", and finally you have the right cards in your hands to fully understand the creepy guy that we have designed!
The Green Knight
If you paid attention to the lesson, you have understood that the cornerstone of the discussion is the balance of nature, or better, the balance of the magic eco-system.
When the Cycle itself is not enough to maintain the "pressure cooker" balanced, this is where today's guy enters the stage: Instead of waiting that the Cycle does its job, this guy just takes the souls and bodies of mortal beings that absorbed magic and uses them as fuel to restore the magic balance.
You may think that this is not our business, after all, magic is something that concerns only Elves, and in fact this is what happened in the past times, but since the other peoples discovered the deposits of raw magic, in the depth of the earth, magic started to flow on Inneath like never before, violently shaking the eco-system. Nowadays, more and more people are directly involved with magic and, for this reason, rumours of terrifying appearances of a monstrous knight buried in a sinister armour are multiplying all over Inneath.
The Elves use to frighten their children, telling them that if they don't behave well and don't respect the balance of nature, the Green Knight, as it is commonly known in the Fairy Islands, will come to catch their souls.
Wandering without saying a word, with just the sinister tinkling of the bells that adorn its armour, the Green Knight, or the Ferryman of Souls, as it is now named by the peoples outside the Elven domains, haunts the nightmares of the good people of Inneath, restoring the balance in the world with ruthless efficiency.
Everything that gets out, must return.
So, let's finally talk about the sculpt itself. The whole idea behind this character is to create something sinister, disturbing and...brutal. I tried to mix several archetypes: the shinigami (or better, a kind of spirit linked with the underworld theme), the classic green knight and the iconic black knight.
The knight's silhouette is inspired to the Rhino beetle: I love extreme body proportions (you can clearly see it looking at our Dwarves!) and I wanted a disturbing silhouette, with a massive body made of armour plates and short legs. It's definitely not a human character, but somehow it reminds us of a human shape. It looks super strong, with those enormous hands and chest, but those short, bulky legs immediately make us uncomfortable, like bugs!
Indeed, it is probably our most extreme character, at least concerning body proportions!
As the Forest Troll, this character is also a kind of creature born from a weird combination of nature and mystic forces, a spirited emanation of nature itself: despite its reputation is not properly the nicest one, Elves do worship it like one of the many gods that maintain the balance in nature.
The armour that covers the Green Knight has a unique design, as it belongs to a forgotten time: I wanted it to suggest a kind of divine craftsmanship! It is enveloped by vines, to suggest a state of neglect, and underlining its link with nature. Being this character so connected with the underworld theme, I wanted it to be as evident as possible: the classic totems that decorate the Elves' armour are here declined in a more sinister and explicit way, shaped like sneering skulls and what a more macabre weapon than a mace made from the spine of an apparently enormous dinosaur?! For sure, anything in this character is subtle!
I particularly enjoyed thinking about the pose to give to this character. When I think about a terrifying and relentless human-like monster that haunts you without rest (not that I usually have this kind of thoughts...), I can't help but think about one specific being: Silent Hill's Pyramid head!
I then chose a kind of slow, unstoppable walk, with the huge mace dragged on the ground.
So, here it is, the Green Knight, in all its menacing glory: don't mess with magic (or Elves in general!*), if you don't want to be caught by it!
*Taking part to the upcoming Kickstarter campaign and fund it with many doubloons indeed it is said to be the only way to placate the Green Knight wrath.