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Challenge 3: Above the Falls


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#1 Basiliscus

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 12:22 AM

Challenge 3 - Search for the Water Crystal
"Above the Falls" - Entry by Basiliscus - Kaliphlin Guild


To someone listening carefully, above the usual sounds of the jungle, could be heard the heavy breathing of three men marching through the dense undergrowth. They follow a well worn path,  but one the jungle has already started to reclaim, and the explorers are halted now and again while they fight a clearing for themselves to continue their intrepid journey.

For these men are going somewhere no human has visited for over a hundred years - the Tower of the Moon. Despite it soaring above the jungle canopy, it is easily overlooked - many who have tried to find it have returned empty handed. That is, if they returned with hands at all. For in this, the deepest and remotest Kaliphlin jungle, many terrors await those who come unprepared.

But these men have no intentions of failure. Their secret weapon is the man who leads the others, Tangled-in-the-Grass. He is an native warrior and scout from the Eagle Tribe who live near the outskirts of the jungle. A wiry man in the prime of his youth, his grey eyes scan the undergrowth for any signs of movement. Suddenly, he halts and crouches low.

"We are getting close, Lord." whispers Tangled-in-the-Grass, the fear in those words evident for the other two.

"How close?" replies one of the others, familiar with this form of address. And so he should be, for he is Bahru Musca, son of one of the most important men in Kaliphlin.

"Not far Lord, about 200 paces to the bottom of the waterfall." Bahru nods, and all three rise and continue, although a subtle tension can be sensed in the party, as they sense the approach of their destiny.

Almost to the pace, the markers come into sight which signify the entrance to the Tower of the Moon. Within sight of these, Tangled-in-the-Grass turns and addresses the others.

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"This is the entrance, Lord. Follow the bridge behind the falls, and you will see the red stairs. Climb them to enter the tower," Tangled-in-the-Grass looked up at the structure, as if to emphasise his point.

"Will you be joining us?" asked Bahru, sounding uncertain.

"No my Lord. I cannot enter that unholy place. You and Tsiri will need to continue alone," Tangled-in-the-Grass replied, and seeing Bahru's eyes narrow at this, added, "I will await for you here Lord, to guide you home." Bahru seemed satisfied with this response, motioned to Tsiri with his sceptre, and started for the bridge.

The big Sudite swordsman began to follow his Lord, and as he passed Tangled-in-the-Grass bared his teeth and snarled. Think of it - an Eagle tribe warrior, with the unsavoury facial tattoos indicating how many enemies he has slain, scared of a building made of stone. Tsiri couldn't understand what could perturb such a stalwart figure.

Bahru got to the bridge and halted, placing one foot tentatively, then the other, satisfied it would hold his weight. Tsiri waited patiently, humouring the fear shown by his Lord. It was not his place to judge, only to serve.

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Once on the bridge, Bahru strode ahead, only glancing up once at the tower above the falls. But as Tsiri followed, a deep sense of foreboding entered his mind, and he was sure there were eyes in the undergrowth monitoring their movements. He paused briefly, and noticing the gap between him and his Lord widening, put these thoughts behind him and quickened his pace to catch up.

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Upon following the passageway through to the other side, Bahru let out a small gasp at the wonder which revealed itself. Inside the cave, a spiral staircase made of the finest red sandstone, ascended up to the ceiling. It was built on an unnatural platform, the base of which matched the bridge outside. But that was not all. Aside from the human wonderments, there were natural features neither of the Sudite men had seen before. Deposits of sediment hung suspended from the roof of the cave, and immediately below more sediment rose up from the floor, as if in a mirror image.

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"Have you seen such wonders Tsiri?" asked Bahru. But Tsiri did not hear the question, standing mouth agape taking in the beauty in that cavern. As if to give the whole place a sense of unreality, the sunlight shining through the waterfalls gave the place an unnatural tinge, which seemed to play with perspective.

There was only one way to go - up - and still amazed by what they are seeing, the two men ascend in silence.

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At the top of the staircase, where it should collide with the cavern roof, it appears to continue up as if no impediment was there. As the explorers rise even further, they get the sense they are back above ground as the echo of the waterfall disappears and the light appears through red and blue stained glass windows. They keep climbing, all the time without saying a word, keeping their eyes on the path ahead, watching out for dangers. Eventually, the staircase opens out into a chamber, and the two men realise this is the top of the tower. The windows are open, and a pleasant breeze passes through, much needed after the oppressive humidity of the jungle floor.

On poles around the chamber are six eagle headdresses, preserved for posterity. Tsiri approaches one and motions to stick out his hand, but stops when Bahru tells him casually, "I wouldn't do that if I were you." He goes on to explain their significance, by relating the origin of the Tower of the Moon. Before it was abandoned, it was said that a wizard lived there practising dark arts. Each year, the wizard demanded a sacrifice from the Eagle Tribe, and dutifully, for they feared the wizard's power, they sent a warrior clothed in the resplendent eagle headdress for which the tribe are famed.

"So you see Tsiri, it would not be good to our friend outside, who guided us here in good faith, if we dishonoured the memory of his ancestors," Bahru said. Tsiri's mouth motioned to make a reply, but then he stopped, his eyes fixed on something over the shoulder of Bahru.

"There it is!" Tsiri shouts, running over to the middle of the room. Before he approaches, he turns to Bahru and sheepishly states, "There is the water crystal, Lord," rectifying the earlier breach of protocol. Bahru dismisses the oversight, recognising Tsiri's excitement. They both stare at the crystal, it's blue radiance sparkling in the afternoon sun pouring through the windows.

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Bahru's hand extends to pick up the reason they came to this terrifying place. But before he does so, Tsiri asks the question which was missed moments earlier, "Lord, what happened to the wizard you spoke of? The one who inhabited this tower."

Bahru stopped, and thought for a moment before replying, "In the bazaars they say his dark magic was too strong for him, and it was his undoing. My father thinks that his magic could not prevent the natural ageing process, and he died naturally," he paused, and shook off a momentary shiver before continuing, "but the Eagle Tribe believe that the life energy taken from each sacrificed warrior allowed the wizard to avoid a natural death. Instead, they told me that one of his experiments went wrong, and he became one of the jungle creatures he so often experimented on."

And as he finished the last word in the sentence, Bahru turned and nonchalantly snatched the crystal from its resting place in the centre of the room. As soon as he touched it, a loud roar was heard from deep within the jungle. The timing was too coincidental to be anything else, but Tsiri looked to be toying over a thought, and asked, "Lord, do you think that..." leaving the rest of that question unfinished.

Bahru shook his head nervously, and replied, "I don't know. But I don't think we should wait to find out." At that, as if to answer his question, a commotion was heard in the jungle below, and a large object seemed to be crashing through the undergrowth, crushing underfoot everything in its path. Bahru and Tsiri both looked out the window, and saw Tangled-in-the-Grass fleeing along the path on which he brought them all. This brought a scowl to the face of Tsiri, but Bahru accepted it as inevitable.

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Just then, the crashing stopped, and both men looked to a see a beast with the face of a gorilla, but with a deformed body like no other they had even seen, standing on its hind legs at the edge of the plunge pool, beating its chest. Its intentions were obvious, it was a warning to those who had stolen what was not rightfully theirs.

"We need to get out of here before it blocks our only line of escape," said Bahru, as if to encourage his body to comply with his thoughts. Tsiri has no hesitations however, and bounded down the staircase two at a time, with Bahru following after a brief delay. It seemed his body had finally obeyed.

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This time, no time was spent examining the wonders of the cavern, and upon exiting the passageway between the falls, Tsiri noted that their exit was clear, and stopped to wait for his Lord. But in the time it took for Bahru to catch up, the beast had realised their plan and stood on all fours blocking the end of the bridge. Tsiri looked at its hideous misshapen body, and the thought of its unnatural countenance standing over his and Bahru's dead bodies brought forth a surge of rage inside him. Sword at the ready, he lunged straight for the beast, intending to sell his life as dearly as possible.

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But the beast had no intention of dying that day either. As Tsiri approached, its massive arms swung for his head, which the swordsman only narrowly managed to avoid. Tsiri now sensed the danger in those evil eyes, and some of his courage deserted him. But before he was left shaking with fear, the beast lunged again, and without thinking Tsiri jumped back and let the blow swing harmlessly through the air. He sensed the opportunity, and while the beast struggled to regain its footing he swung his sword with all his might down on the thick neck muscles, which ripped apart under the force of the impact.

As its life ebbed away, the beast flailed and shook, and Tsiri had to release his sword, still stuck in the beasts neck, to avoid being taken down with it. But eventually the wound was too much, and the beast collapsed on the jungle floor close to the bridge. Seizing his chance, Tsiri beckoned for Bahru to follow him back into the jungle.

"Let us leave this place Lord, now that we have what we came for," said Tsiri, his eyes falling on the water crystal. Bahru nodded sombrely, his obedience to the swordsman's commands showing the thanks that he would never say out loud. But they had only taken a few steps when Tsiri became aware he was without his sword. As he approached the body of the beast, he realised it was still breathing slightly, and he studied it carefully, trying to discern its origin. Standing there over the helpless beast, Tsiri thought he saw something which he would take to the grave. It seemed that the beast, as it grasped its predicament, shed a single tear.

Tsiri knew then that it was like no beast that existed in nature. Only man could comprehend the futility of life.

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I was bit pushed last night, so here are a few additional photos.

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Edited by Basiliscus, 13 May 2012 - 08:42 PM.

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#2 Angeli

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 01:06 AM

lovely moc ;) Water has always been a light motiv for me, when lego is in question ;) Bravo, good luck ;)

#3 soccerkid6

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 01:31 AM

This is gorgeous  :wub:  I like the curved walkway/bridge to the entrance and the tower is beautiful, I haven't seen a staircase like that before either.
It is going to be so hard to choose who to vote for!  :wacko:
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#4 Mike S

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 02:36 AM

This is getting added to my favorites! There are so many unique techniques: the waterfall, staircase, bridge... a very solid entry! :thumbup:

Edited by Mikel Kalores, 13 May 2012 - 02:37 AM.

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#5 Hyler Talliwell

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 02:46 AM

Very nice. The story and build are both great, making it one of my favorite entries.

#6 Basiliscus

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 03:01 AM

Thanks for all the replies guys. Just to let you know, I have finished editing the story now (I only did it this way to get my entry in ASAP).

If you haven't read the story already, feel free to do so now. It should help the pictures make more sense!

I am tired now, so I will comment on other entries once I am recharged! Over the coming days I plan to take more detail photos of this MOC, so I will add them to the thread when I have done this.

Good luck to all who enter!

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#7 Kayne

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 04:12 AM

I saw this build about an hour ago on Flickr and loved it!  Now, with the entire story it is even better!  Great job, and way to help Kaliphlin!!

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#8 Erynlasgalen

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 05:24 AM

Very well written story, I really enjoyed reading it.

The scene in the cave with the transparent waterfall is wonderful, I wasn't expecting the back to be cut away like that on the inside.  

The stairs are brilliant too, I have been trying to figure out a way to make spiral steps like that and this seems like the perfect solution for tight spaces.

With all the great entries coming out of Kaliphlin, I think we are going to be hard to beat this time!

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#9 Cara

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 06:02 AM

Very nice entry  :thumbup: Those stalagtites and stalagmites add perfectly to the feel.
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#10 I Scream Clone

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 06:30 AM

I stumbled upon this on Flickr but didn't realise it was an entry for Challenge 3! Love the interior spiral staircase as well, and the crazy Ape! :thumbup:

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#11 Gabe

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 07:57 AM

Wow, that is amazing Basciliscus, just supurb work.  :thumbup: The waterfall looks great and i especially like the behind shots with the cave and (railed!)spiral staircase! I really like the tower design too - great use of the tyre, it fits perfectly. Best of luck with the voting!  :classic:

Edited by gabe, 13 May 2012 - 07:58 AM.

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#12 Basiliscus

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 08:43 PM

Thanks for the comments guys. I've updated the first post with some additional photos I took today.

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#13 Hersbrucker

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 11:15 PM

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Wow, the Atmosphere is so great in this picture!!

So much beautiful details, great job!!

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#14 Ecclesiastes

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 04:37 PM

Great entry! I really like the waterfall and the tower design. And if that's not enough the inside is even better, with the staircase and the rockwork and the awesome lightning! :classic:

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#15 kabel

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 05:32 PM

beautiful stuff here. The falls are amazing, as is the cave. It's going to be tough to decide who is going to win this round!
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#16 ZCerberus

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 05:57 PM

I like a lot about this.

I like the rock work, the falls, the bridge and that the whole thing is contained in a single MOC rather than being two or three different detached builds.  I also swear I've seen that stained glass window technique before.

I think the ape guy looks very much like an ape, so that is good, but he just didn't seem as impossing as some other guardians.  I know an ape could probably tear a person to bits, but he just doesn't seem as scary in LEGO.

Good work again man! :thumbup:  :thumbup:

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#17 de Gothia

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 08:10 PM

The pic inside the cave with the waterfall behind and the light coming in is just wooow! Great done! Love the waterfall as well on the outside, much realistic! Funny little guardian! Great to see all the ideas people have regarding these fellas! :classic:

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#18 NiceMarmot

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 02:36 PM

This is really great, Basilicus. There's a lot to like here: the landscaping, the bridge, the water, the rockwork, the stalagmites/stalactites, the stairs, and the tower design.  And good, well-written story too; nice writing style.

View Postzcerberus, on 14 May 2012 - 05:57 PM, said:

I think the ape guy looks very much like an ape, so that is good, but he just didn't seem as impossing as some other guardians.  I know an ape could probably tear a person to bits, but he just doesn't seem as scary in LEGO.

I kinda agree; the ape is the weakest part of an otherwise totally awesome the whole MOC. But then again, it's an ape; what more are you going to do?
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#19 Rogue Angel

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 01:29 AM

Excellent work!  The waterfall is top notch, especially the at the top where the river flows over the edge.  The stalactites and stalagmites are also excellent!  You pulled off what I was trying to do in my cavern, but did a far better job of it.  The bridge is cool, as is the staircase.  I like the way you used the new headresses as well.  The story is very well written and intriguing, and I appreciate that the ape is a weaker guardian, but it portrays humanity as well.  

Very well done!

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#20 robuko

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 02:08 AM

I love the interior shot especially, wonderful cave - I can't tell where the SNOT join is at all, very smoothly done.  Your photo of the top of the tower is very nice too, and I really like the waterfall (especially the bottom).  A very nice story too, I felt sorry for the ape, was that a King Kong reference?  Or maybe it's a reflection of humanity?  I thought he was a brilliant guardian for the narrative, if not as spectacular as all those big dragons.  I think the final build is a lot richer than the WIP shots, it's another amazing entry from Kaliphlin!
:classic:

Edited by robuko, 19 May 2012 - 02:09 AM.

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#21 Basiliscus

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 05:14 PM

View PostHersbrucker, on 13 May 2012 - 11:15 PM, said:

[snip]

Wow, the Atmosphere is so great in this picture!!

So much beautiful details, great job!!


Thank you! I wanted to give the inside of the cavern a blue hue, so I backlit it with a fluorescent lamp with my camera on incandescent mode. That's why it looks blue!  :classic:  No Photoshop required for this one.


View PostZCerberus, on 14 May 2012 - 05:57 PM, said:

I like a lot about this.

I like the rock work, the falls, the bridge and that the whole thing is contained in a single MOC rather than being two or three different detached builds.  I also swear I've seen that stained glass window technique before.

I think the ape guy looks very much like an ape, so that is good, but he just didn't seem as impossing as some other guardians.  I know an ape could probably tear a person to bits, but he just doesn't seem as scary in LEGO.

Good work again man! :thumbup:  :thumbup:

Thanks mate. Yeah, the guardian was a bit of an afterthought to be honest, I was running out of time! I wanted to do something other than the usual suspects (dragons, big snakes, etc) for as interesting and well-built as most of them are I wanted to try and stand out a bit. I was also trying to keep in with the themed building, and the idea for jungle ruins was wild animals! Next time I will need to make more of an effort.


View Postrobuko, on 19 May 2012 - 02:08 AM, said:

I love the interior shot especially, wonderful cave - I can't tell where the SNOT join is at all, very smoothly done.  Your photo of the top of the tower is very nice too, and I really like the waterfall (especially the bottom).  A very nice story too, I felt sorry for the ape, was that a King Kong reference?  Or maybe it's a reflection of humanity?  I thought he was a brilliant guardian for the narrative, if not as spectacular as all those big dragons.  I think the final build is a lot richer than the WIP shots, it's another amazing entry from Kaliphlin!
:classic:

Thanks very much for the comment Robuko. Your own entry made my top 5 in the voting.

The SNOT roof in the cave was created by using finger hinges, if you put one facing one way and the other upside-down, then you can create a 1 plate thick reversal of studs. I had to use quite a lot of them to take the weight of the roof.

The ape was supposed to be like the ape-monsters in the works of Robert E. Howard, specifically the Conan tales, which I just finished reading. The idea was that the wizard experimented on wild animals, and he accidentally turned himself into an ape-man and loses some of his previous memories, but as he is close to death, they come back and he realises what kind of life he has lived (i.e. a bad one, hence the tears). It's a bit highbrow I know, but I wanted to add a slightly deeper dimension to the story!  :thumbup:

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