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Infant Exposure

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Location  Imperium of Man
Infant Exposure

In the grim darkness of the far future, the spawn of man is cast aside as refuse.

A careful examination of mortal existence will reveal that it is a matter of lowly hunger and lust, of bestial desperation and survival at all cost. Life is far from placed on a lofty moral throne of higher justice and inalienable rights, for it is in truth a red-blooded and savage thing. Life itself is a hunter's arena of rutting and consumption where gutsy truths hold sway, and where might makes right. Instead of talking about the mortal coil as an elevated matter of light and darkness or of good and evil, let us speak of life as a matter of feeding and starvation. A better understanding of the fundamental drives of mortal creatures will be had from phrases like ravenous hunger and eat or be eaten, than any sublime philosophy can ever offer.

Consider the cosmos. Is not all the vast universe a banquet laid out for those with the will, cunning and appetite to bite into it? Yet to what end?

To stave off the inevitable?

Listen carefully, o mortal soul, and you will hear the laughter of thirsting gods. Maybe all of creation is nothing but a cruel joke, where the dying of mortals such as yourself constitute the punchline. A foreshadowing, perhaps, of the great end of all things to come. Many may find this possibility incomprehensible and malignant beyond any scope of joy, yet that, too, is appropriate. After all, dark humour is like food: Some do not get it.

Behold the dangers of childbirth, the aching pulse and the bearing down that must happen. Both mother and child are in peril as the infant enters the world through her portal of flesh, the gateway of life itself. Some do not survive this miracle of lifegiving. The pain, blood and deadly hazard at birth is a herald of what life truly is. And so the fruit of seeds sown in lust will sprout into an uncaring world. The fortunate tender babies will have loving mothers and fathers and families to raise them and nurture them, to care for and protect them. But love is no substitute for nutrients, and so every newborn infant is yet another mouth to feed. It has been thus since time immemorial.

Such strain of children upon family and livelihood was rarely an issue during the Dark Age of Technology, in that golden epoch of material paradise stretching across twain million human worlds and voidholms beyond counting. In those long-lost shining days of yore, children rarely had to die. For man in that time had banished what was ill in life, and subdued the primordial scourges of poverty, sickness and starvation. Truly, Man of Gold had cast out misery and suffering from life, and in his sinful hubris he mounted a brilliant pedestal of mortal ascension and challenged any divinity there might ever be, to topple him if it so possessed power and daring enough to best mortal man in his state of supreme mastery of creation.

And the challenge boasted by mortal man was heard, and it was answered by dark ones of hell. For ancient man was torn down from his splendid pinnacle, and his great works were rent asunder in an unending orgy of bloodletting and catastrophe stacked upon catastrophe. And so the lore of the ancients was shattered and lost, and man descended into animalistic savagery and cannibal desperation. Man had climbed the heavens and his fingers had found no purchase. And in his fall he destroyed all the wonders his hands and mind had wrought. And thus paradise was lost forever in flames and ruination.

The humans that survived this freefall into barbarity reverted to their species' most primitive ways during the Age of Strife. The coming of the Imperium of Man ultimately failed to change this sorry state of affairs, for the brief golden age of bloody conquest and restoration was ended when the Warmaster Horus turned upon the Emperor. And so man yet again slayed his brother and burned down his own creations, and all was fell anew. The Age of Imperium that followed saw the value of human life cemented at an all time low, and thus it is no surprise to find that the darkest of futures will rival any past aeon in wretchedness and inevitable cruelty.

For instance, all across the regressed domains of the Terran Imperator, human cultures on hundreds of thousands of worlds and innumerable voidholms practice exposure of infants. These may be unwanted newborns, or else the parents would have preferred to keep their little offspring, yet inability to feed further additions to the family may dictate that they must surrender the fruit of their loins, else everyone will starve.

Ancient legends and folktales from the Age of Terra all tell of exposure in hard times, with infants left out in the wilds explaining the origin of kings and prophets alike. This bygone oral flora of sagas and stories is much akin to that found in human societies across the vast Imperium, for there, too, the abandonment of tender children is an everyday common practice, and a fact of life like any other. And so babies will be left out in the wilderness, and tiny children will be abandoned in corridors, niches and gutters. The act itself is not considered to be murder, since the exposed child still have a chance of being discovered and saved by some benevolent soul passing by. Yet the widespread custom is infanticide in all but name.

Most humans in the Age of Imperium live in dens of overpopulation, disease and filth. While some turn sterile from chemical pollution, corporal punishment without anaesthetics or callous overseer dictates beyond their control, most of them will be abundantly fecund and grateful for their prolific fertility and virility. After all, the burden of caring for children is a tradeoff against the baleful fate awaiting anyone who in old age would find themself childless and uncared for. Such lonely elders without offspring or clan face some of the most dismal ends imaginable. After all, everywhere man thrives bitterly across the Milky Way galaxy, children are the only safeguard in man's old age, except perhaps for such locations where those too old to labour will be euthanized or chased out into the wastelands to die.

The most common motivation for infant exposure is to fend off starvation, for food will be scarce and precious, and the stomachs that crave it will already be all too many in number. Sometimes, callous couples will expose infants even when they can afford to feed and clothe the new children, in order merely to not burden their selfish lives with more cares. More usually, however, infants born out of wedlock in bastardous stigma may find themselves stealthily abandoned. And so too will be many children of prostitutes and shamed victims of violation.

Parents will often place their unwanted offspring in well-travelled spots such as by crossroads or in corridor junctions. Thus they hope to improve the chances of someone picking up their cast-off baby and adopting them, and they will therefore pray for the Imperator to guide fellow humans to pick up and nurture their abandoned offspring. All parents with some form of decency hope for their exposed infants to face a better future by subjecting them to such a twisted roulette of fate, yet most breeding adults know that thralldom or worse remain the most likely outcomes. For the inclinations of humans who have lived their entire lives in a threatening morass of hardship and deprivation will rarely tend to be sympathetic and benevolent in dealing with fellow members of their teeming species. Some Imperial subjects will be more likely to kick the rejected baby just because they are already in a bad mood after a hard day of work, and they will have no patience left for such wailing to add to their personal miseries.

Where men's wives are more fertile than their fields, infant exposure help to regulate the excesses of human fertility. In some human cultures within the Imperium, unwanted infants will be ritually disposed of in offerings to the Emperor, or else given to Death Cults during solemn rites. Such barbarous practices are frowned upon by the Ecclesiarchy, yet all manner of depraved local customs thrive on every single planet and void installation under Imperial rule in spite of Holy Terran disapproval, for the reach of the Imperium into the depths of local society will often be shallow and limited.

Elsewhere, unwanted infants will be cynically sold to shady organ-harvesters or the respectable Corpse Guild for a pittance, and some such unfortunate tender mortals will even be fed to the corpsegrinders whilst still alive and screaming. Others still will be sold as servitor-meat, cherubim conversion material or be buried alive to repay the soil its gifted fertility, out of heathen practices from the Age of Strife which are still embedded in local folk customs. From ashes to ashes. From womb to womb.

In most locales, infantile orphans will either die from lack of water and nutrition, fall prey to hypothermia, die from dripping toxins or radiation, or be eaten by wild creatures. Others will be picked up by human hands and face either a cannibal end, heretical sacrifice, adoption into a clan, or enslavement to last for generations on end. After all, it cost resources to raise a human from infancy to a productive childhood age when they can begin to earn back the expenditure of keeping them alive, so why should not the bairns and juves grow old and die while still working to pay off the lifedebts they owe to their magnanimous slavemasters? Of course you must toil for the master or mistress who saved you from certain death, to prove your humble gratitude and value as a dutiful Imperial subject. It is even mandated in holy scripture.

The best that swaddled babies left alone by their biological parents can hope for, is to be adopted. Rare kind couples with offspring of their own, or barren couples desperate for children at all, will often be the best caretakers of the abandoned spawn of man. Some exceedingly few gutter babies may even be taken up, for whatever strange reason, into noble clans, merchant houses and other wealthy elite families with status and influence, though their privileged lives may often be marred by peer derision and constant mockery if ever their adoption from the scum-rats of lower castes become common knowledge.

Some exposed children will be adopted by Imperial or local governance organizations to be raised as brainwashed orphans. These souls will be cast in a mould of loyalty unto death for Emperor or Governor, and their adult lives will invariably find them in other institutions. Many times these indoctrinated thralls will be recruited as fanatically devout guard units, on which Imperial and local governance authorities usually can depend with complete trust, no matter how hated the rulers may be by other armed forces and influential factions.

Some such bonded orphan guards, who are raised to be utterly loyal to the present Imperial Governor, may find themselves pursue selfish group interests upon the death of their revered exclusive master, interfering in governance, taking new Governors hostage or assassinating them to put their own candidate on the throne. All this is an accepted part of the power plays that characterize the internal workings of human societies in the Age of Imperium, and many Imperial thinkers postulate that such vicious cycles of violence and treachery serve a virtuously eugenic function by allowing the most ruthless and capable to rise to the top by removing those weak rulers who had lost the mandate of His Divine Majesty. After all, only those blessed by Him on Terra could ever hope to attain power.

Other small children left in wastes and ruins will find themselves adopted by mutants and inbred tribes of scavengers desperate for fresh blood to stop their genetical deterioration. Further reasons for human savages to adopt exposed infants include barren couples wanting to remedy their dismal childlessness, or shamanistic interpretation of strange omens. Yet more often a rational striving to increase the numbers of the clan to better its chances in future petty wars will see such little orphans adopted and raised as full members of those insular communities that took them in. Martial deathmaking always need a plentiful supply of life to feed on.

And so Infants find themselves exposed on a million worlds and voidholms beyond counting, be it for reasons of poverty, parental shame or selfishness. Unwanted newborns on almost every single Imperial world and voidstation may find themselves exposed, whether they are dumped like trash in the gutter or carefully placed on choice spots in utility vessels with trinket amulets and bits of prayer parchment to guide their innocent souls to a better life, or failing that to guide their spirits to the divine embrace of the protecting Emperor.

At least, a great many Imperial sects claim that the souls of babies are untarnished and pure, and so billions of parents find solace in the knowledge that a good afterlife will await their abandoned children. Other sects teach that the depravity of man is absolute from his very inception, and no amount of redemption can pay off his sinful soul debts and inherited vice. To adherents of such a damning creed, the afterlife of their rejected offspring will be one of darkness and suffering to dwarf the woes they could ever have known in their short and bleak lives. For such men, women and children, there truly is no hope beyond the God-Emperor's forgiveness of our worthless souls. It all lies in His hands.

And with that, we gain a glimpse of the sheer horror facing our species in the dark future. For their cheap lives are not only doomed to indebted servitude, hunger pangs and backbreaking toil. Their worthless lives are often forfeit at birth, their crying little bodies left deserted in walkways and agoras, their mothers and fathers unknown. In endless human settlements on worlds and voidholms across the Emperor's sacred domains, millions of infant exposures take place every day, every shift rotation, every lights-on. Witness this inescapable fact of life, and do not deny its existence or the failure that it speaks of. For the Terran Imperator Himself planned to rekindle a golden age of enlightenment and banish such crude customs to the abominable past. And yet, instead we find that the opposite has taken place, for His grand designs for humanity took a nosedive into oblivion, and all that He built stagnated as fivehundred generations of human descendants toiled and died inside an increasingly degenerate star realm.

Lo! How the mighty have fallen. How the wise have turned foolish. Truly, everything is decay and wasting rot under the sun.

And so the Age of Imperium grind on, its crippled machinery lubricated by human blood, sweat and tears. There mankind stands, trapped by his own works, shackled to a sinking ship and tormented by fellow human hands in atavistic agony.

Such is the lot of our species, at the end of its life-course.

Such is the damnation of man.

Such is the fate that awaits us all.

To be a child in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. Small and alone, in an aeon of lost hope. Abandoned, in an era of broken promises and unending carnage. Exposed, in an age of utter suffering and total darkness.

And whatever happens, you will not be missed.
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manati20's avatar
JoelChaimHoltzman's avatar

Great piece man. Love your style. Should pay more attention to your work!

KarakNornClansman's avatar

Thank you most kindly mate! Summer has been overly busy, but I hope to savour all the new artwork from you, and a handful of other choice artists, in coming months.


I happened to glimpse your spearman post on Facebook. A fun look at spearman drawings and paintings through the years. Most inspiring! Like you, I've also been largely drawing the same things I drew as a child: Warriors and dinosaurs and science fiction vehicles and maps in my case. It's basically the exact same interests, much the same drawing topics (although I've tried to go outside the comfort zone with my 40k pieces).


I also noticed that you're some years younger than me, which is inspiring in another way. Perhaps I should try out some painting course and try to hone those amateur skills. I'm always fired up with inspiration and energy when taking a closer look at your, and some other artists' work. Keep up the good work, and keep living the artist dream. You well deserve the success you enjoy now, and more still. :)

JoelChaimHoltzman's avatar

Busy in a good way I hope! You are still, and yet again, too kind.


If 40k is outside your comfort zone you did a great job! It turned out well enough, allthough I must say that the general 40k Lore is well suited to align with dark ages medieval times. You seem to be attracted to the non-space marine direction of warhammer as well so I assume that transition from what you initially paint like warriors isnt big or the transition isnt present at all since it mostly aligns with each other thematically


In terms of painting I am looking forward to see what you will be making! Make sure to ask me some questions if you have them (more active on facebook than on DA) and I will do my best to help you out. I love your vintage black and white style and in case you decide to monitize it I am sure there are markets for it in the RPG world. Good work!


Thanks again for the kind words, I am looking forward to see what the future holds!

KarakNornClansman's avatar

Thank you most kindly! 40k as such is well within my comfort zone, but stuff like scenery, architecture and other backgrounds are outside them. I'm practicing a lot with stuff I've not drawn much of since early childhood years. I've mainly drawn characters and creatures (faces and details are my specialty; especially realism details like armour straps, which I've drawn on warriors since 10 years of age), and a little of vehicles. As such, drawing the interior of a room or the facade of a house or the landscape in the background to a level that isn't way below the characters is still a fresh challenge to me.


It all involves heavy use of reference images. Usually it works, for an amateur level at least. But there is also a rare hidden danger of using reference photos of trenches: They can often be dark in the pictures, but when you try to mimic the shading tones in the photo, the drawing may risk turning out way too dark. I ran into this problem with this particular piece (a trenchpunk Phoenician in Soviet body armour with Mitznefet headgear in space). I managed to improve it a little compared to the first result, but I still had to throw in the towel and call it a day, and move on to the next piece:

Also, I'm trying out poses I'm not used to. Usually it's people doing stuff like falling off a cliff, holding an infant, riding a motorbike, picking off a scorched electricity thief from the lines or suchlike. Great fun learning the ropes.


Spot on! Yeah, I'm also drawn to non-Space Marine parts of 40k, although I do enjoy Marines when they get adorned with baroque stuff and oddball themes. I particularly love the Inquisition and the Adeptus Mechanicus, and enjoys endlessly the Ecclesiarchy, the Administratum, Imperial infighting and civilian life in the dark millennium. It's not any big transition drawing Imperial Guard or priests or suchlike, but it's outside the comfort zone to draw backgrounds. :)


Speaking of which: I can recommend checking out Matthew Farrer's Enforcer omnibus and his Necromunda novel Lamplighter. It is completely true to the spirit of the setting, rich in detailed worldbuilding, and makes for great reading about internal Imperial affairs, without need for Xenos or Chaos (both of which are lovely, but it's well possible to do something interesting about purely human affairs):


https://www.blacklibrary.com/warhammer-40000/novels/enforcer-omnibus-ebook.html


https://www.blacklibrary.com/authors/matthew-farrer/junktion-ebook.html


40k civilian life done right.


I can also recommend Kid Kyoto's articles here:


https://www.dakkadakka.com/wiki/en/Civilian_Life_in_Warhammer_40,000_AD


https://www.dakkadakka.com/wiki/en/Civilian%20vehicles%20in%2040k


Thank you most kindly for the offer of advice! I will be sure to pick up on it later on, count on it (when it happens is another matter; I've got a geological view of time akin to a Dwarf, so it could be a matter of months or years, but I don't forget).


I've actually got one commission request from an RPG designer, and another form a Danish friend of mine who is designing a 28mm skirmish fantasy game. I hope to tackle them in months ahead, or perhaps next year. So there is the starts of something there.


Cheers!

JoelChaimHoltzman's avatar

With reference the importance is that you know how to extract the information from the photo through the fundamentals. a photograph can give you information that you are unable to use for your piece, so being able to translate that info is crucial (I learned the hard way!)


Thanks a lot for the advice here! Not reading as much novels these days but I will keep them in mind!


Happy you have comission requests! I am sure there is a market for your style in the RPG world for sure and I generally speaking hope there is going to be a ''throwback'' to other styles than realistic. Different styles, mean different narrarives!


I also read something about Games Workshop limiting fanart or some weird stuff like that? (in your comment section). I hope you wont have to deal with that. Pretty disgusting they do that!

KarakNornClansman's avatar

Very much so! It's trial and error to learn what you can harvest from reference and translate to art, and what needs to be simplified, remade or even ignored because it will not translate well. As someone who has always tried to frontload details into drawings, I tend to have a good sense how far I can push details with very intricate ornaments, facial wrinkles and so on. Shading/lighting is another matter, but it usually work out without big hiccups (for an amateur).


Next time I'll either do the big stretch of trench walls a lot darker than the figures in the trench, or considerably lighter. Either way, the two must be artificially separated when drawing, whereas the two shared a lot closer grey tones in the references. Live and learn.


I don't get much time for reading entire novels these days, but audiobooks and lectures pick up the slack. Good to listen to while working or doodling or sculpting. :)


Aye, may there be space for all manner of styles!


Correct, Games Workshop's lawyers have pulled a disgusting stunt! They forbid any artists to do commissions or animators to do videos if any money whatsoever is involved, including Patreon. Likely without any legal standing for their grasping claims, but who would dare drag them through years of court battles and ruin one's life in the process?


I've been strangely dazed by the news for over a month now. I'm only slowly recovering my composure and energy. As someone involved in creative Warhammer communities I've seen the destruction this hideous IP policy decision has wrought upon the golden age of 40k fan art and videos from a front row seat.


For instance, one brilliant 40k concept fan artist, hammk, removed his entire Warhammer gallery on Deviantart and Artstation. Likely in protest. It's a great loss. Other artists with Patreon has kindly posted pieces that were Patreon-exclusive for public view. At any rate this will kill off much of the flow of excellent Warhammer fan art.


The IP clampdown hit the widely beloved parody series TTS hard (standing for If the Emperor Had a Text-To-Speech Device), a work of love with a surprising level of quality. The team behind it has put TTS and all subsidiary projects on indefinite hiatus until GW change their IP policy. One spin-off production of TTS is the marvellous RPG show Warhams, a series of bonkers fun true to the spirit of the setting, blooming in quality and overarching storytelling. At least the makers of Warhams will finish their Warhammer and 40k campaigns before moving on to other settings.


But even so, this means that most of the best and the brightest Warhammer fan artists and animators will create content for other IPs or even make their own. The loss is a sad one.


I should not be affected by the IP policy of GW, but we'll see. Patreon can still be run with focus on non-Warhammer works, for instance. And you can still do commissions safely as long as you or the client do not write out in public that it is a commission. Call it a gift, and no lawyer will be wiser.


Kind regards

JoelChaimHoltzman's avatar

Thats pretty sickening. The Warhammer world has sown many seeds of creativity among us since day one, and I attribute the IP as a major influence into my work. I might not like the story as it is as much, but I appreciate them trying new things to keep things fresh. The books I read are numerous, the lore I consumed greater, and the miniatues I painted and customized based on these narratives the most. It took on an entity of its own and I am happy that it did. I was comissioned to paint a few pieces by GW for the RPG and even though the assignments werent exciting as I might have thought I am happy to cross GW of my list ''for old times sake''.


These new rules, to me, give a big finger to all of these positive experience, but are never, at least for me, major enough to nullify them. Its sad that newer generations may be less inclined to be inspired by warhammer as we are or those before us, but its the nature of the beast (literally) and aint much we can do about it. I also do not see how this can benefit the IP in ANY way. Customers arent being drawn away or funneled elsewhere. This is bad press of the purest form if I have seen any.


Back to reference... If you are stuck on something you can message me on FB. I forgot your username there (my apologies!) so remind me you are the Clansman ^^. Happy to help where I can!


Cheers,


Joel

KarakNornClansman's avatar

Sickening indeed! The Warhammer hobby has given me, my brother and our friends so much, and will continue to do so for decades to come. I've been strangely apathetic to Warhammer over the last month, but this will pass. No lawyer can kill off my love for these worlds, try as they might their damnedest.


If you see any Warhammer doodles of mine with "In Memoriam" in them, it's a tribute to those specific artists or community projects that quit doing good Warhammer works because of this grasping IP move. A way to deal with the daze.


Still, big companies like this have departments living their own lives. While the studio with all its authors, artists, game designers and sculptors may privately embrace and even help choice golden fan projects*, its legal team will do its completely separate thing. I will always like GW's creative folks work, and detest their lawyers. This is not the first instance of ugly legal grasping, but it is the most infamous one. The culture and modus operandi of GW lawyers have long been detestable, and they've once before been laughed out of court.


This IP strike is a policy of pure stupidity. Fan art and animations are free advertisment. They kill off free advertisment, create ill will among some of their customers, and drive away makers of free Warhammer advertisment to other IPs. Talk about shooting themselves in the foot.


This short joke video may illustrate the sentiment sown by the IP fiasco: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usJRU4djnrE&ab_channel=VindicareAssassin


The reason for this updated IP stance is the launch of the brand new streaming service Warhammer+. I and many others were excited to learn that GW had hired a whole bunch of the best fan animators for this new venture, and we looked forward to subscribe to it. Then their lawyers stomped all over the blossoming scene of community artists and animators, and we couldn't care less for Warhammer+. That one is on boycott for me until their IP policy change for the better.


Bad press indeed.


Thanks a lot! Will do so in the future. :)


Cheers,


Matte



------

* Case in point: The Last Church TTS voxcast episode received private assistance from Graham McNeill, the GW author of the Last Church short story. His input helped make it one of the best, along with the last priest on Terra's voice acting: https://youtu.be/7XGX64XfSkU

as to the recent events of GW updating their IP Guidelines that absolutely wreck a part of the fan community, do you worry about that? And if they Updated their IP Guidelines again and said [absolutely "No" fan art works without their permission] like what they do to fan videos, what will you gonna do?

KarakNornClansman's avatar

I do not worry about it for my drawings and writings, but I am currently saving all manner of Luetin09, TTS and A Vox in the Void videos as if the end of civilization has come. A curse upon Games Workshop's lawyers!


They don't even have legal standing for what they're doing right now. Much less for forbidding any fan artworks and fiction altogether, which would be silly and basically mean the closing down of all Warhammer forums, subreddits and Facebook groups. GW lawyers are overreaching. Again. I dearly hope someone with resources take them to court over it and sees them laughed out of court. Again.


They are shooting themselves in the foot by destroying free advertisment.


As for what I would do if they attempted something so unfeasible as to forbid fan art? Ignore them. I have never cared for their company line, and never will. They could hunt me with lawyers if they want. I could die a martyr. Perhaps literally, if push came to shove.


I am tired unto death of modern IP mania. If they tried to sue me I may very well let them ruin my life in as public a manner as possible. I am a kind, forgiving and helpful creature by heart, but I also possess family traits of sheer stubbornnes and capacity for anger. People who know me well enough beyond the everyday kindness and absent-mindedness do not doubt I would be willing and able to kill if put in a dire situation. Neither would I lack stubbornnes to wreck my own life over a matter of principles if Games Workshop lawyers provoked me over the WHFB and 40k fan works.


It could possibly end me, and stain Games Workshop with everlasting shame.


I have devoted my life to learning and freewheeling creativity, and to encourage it in others. It is not something I will back down on.

SkyPotatoFire's avatar

Stunning work! That is a glorious and glossy. I wouldn't be surprised if the bird was a demon of tzeentch

KarakNornClansman's avatar

Thanks a lot! Me neither.

EUGENE7VANCE's avatar

the babie iz th missing link tu the creation conspiracy it may even be god himself n they walked out on em..

EUGENE7VANCE's avatar

look like adam n eve i aint gone kapp remindz me of that adam n eve scene from assassinz creed with the advanced tecknology

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