Written by Sándor Moldán, Creative Lead.
Concept Art Of The Week for Week 3 is the darker side of what we shared last week – this is our hero promotional image for the Kheïtanni, The Fallen Ones – the fallen kin of the Lánaraï and the second of the two races that will be playable for the launch of Dawn Of The Tyrant.
Art Director: Sándor Moldán
Concept artist: Tugsbayar Jamts
View or download full image
For the Kheïtanni, we wanted to capture both the grim darkness of a race who have built their entire existence around vengeance – and the bitter nobility of a people who have lost everything they ever held dear. These two vastly different aspects of their character conflict in the hearts of every Kheïtanni warrior. They are driven by the burning need to see ultimate justice done, but will go to such lengths to see their will done that they will spare nothing to meet their ends, not even their own souls.
While the visual style of the Lánaraï heavily reflects their connection to their Aëdr forebears and reveals much of their yearning to regain what greatness they have lost in the many years after the war, the Kheïtanni have no such connection. Despite having suffered such a great loss, there is nothing about them that reminisces or looks back on what they once were. Their eyes are fixed firmly forward, into the future, towards a time when their vengeance is finally sated and not a single Lánaraï remains alive to stain their honour.
The signature element of the Kheïtanni is of course, their horrifically burned and broken wings – cruelly ruined in their tragic fall. The tremendous heat of atmospheric re-entry and the crushing forces of their being cast down upon the lifeless world of Vónekh VII left almost nothing intact. Now only blackened bones remain in place of once beautiful, white feathers and arched wings.
What remains of their wings is now used as a grisly trophy rack. The severed heads of their most prized kills are displayed proudly, impaled upon their shattered wing bones. Many Kheïtanni warriors create sinister tribal fetishes made from feathers taken from slain foes, as well as other more gruesome body parts. These are used as symbols to mark the prowess of the warrior, each one indicating the number of hated Lánaraï who have fallen to their blades.
The agony of their fall from the stars brought them to the very threshold of death. In fact, many of the Aëdr who opposed Rhïarrh were killed instantly in the fiery cataclysm that ended the war. This near death experience caused many of them to cross over from the material universe to the shadowy and insubstantial alternative reality of the Void. In the aftermath of this event, as they clawed their way back to life, they found that they had gained a sinister new ability.
The paths between the physical and spirit realm – and between the living and the dead – are no longer closed to them. They can traverse these planes at will, doing things no mortal being can do. They appear and attack without warning, they pass through walls and other solid objects like ghosts, send their enemies' blades miss flesh and slice through trails of black smoke instead. But this ability to shift into Void Form comes at a terrible price. Each time a Kheïtanni takes this dark journey, a portion of their soul and life force is forever lost. Their ability gives them great power, enough to compensate for the fact that they will never fly again. But Void Form is used sparingly, even by the most daring of Kheïtanni warriors, for they know that each time they enter the depths of that strange netherworld it might be their last.
While the Kheïtanni make a point of divesting themselves of the visual hallmarks of their past, they are certainly not blind to the military and tactical value of the ancient technology of the Aëdr – at least what little of it still remains. They are extremely cognisant of the danger inherent in allowing the Lánaraï to regain any degree of their former strength – that which was afforded by the vast knowledge of the Aëdr.
Kheïtanni warbands routinely comb the vast northern lands of Khaïrnóth, ever vigilant for the lost remains of the War in Heaven and the Lánaraï search parties that seek these sources of great power. When they do stumble across these artifacts they will take what they can, bringing ancient devices and machines back to life with the vast but unpredictable forces of the Void. But whatever remains that cannot be carried or put to use will be destroyed.
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