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The Queen's Council

A prelude to Challenge II

 

 

High Queen Ylspeth sits on the throne of her father in Cedrica, the unlikely victor in the war against the forces of Lord Raavage. The combined might of the battered guilds was enough to secure her rule, but now the young and inexperienced monarch must find a way to keep the guilds united in relative peace. She has assembled a council to help her in her duties, to advise in difficult matters, and to guide her through the complexities of politics. Each of the four guilds has two representatives on the council; they are second sons, old uncles, pensioned war heroes, and strong-willed daughters passed over in the inheritance in favor of younger sons, chosen by guild leadership to represent their interests and secure the future prosperity of each realm. Also on the council are a few ministers, of war, of finance, and of state, drawn from ancient political houses of Cedrica itself or else having arrived with Ylspeth when she came to seek the throne.

Today, HIgh Queen Ylspeth and her council have convened to discuss the rumors of discontent that are circling throughout the lands...

 

 

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Ylspeth surveyed the room, meeting the eyes of the members of her council cordially. Some of them she enjoyed tremendously, and some, well, not so tremendously. They all meant well and were devoted to serving the realm. She took a deep breath, uneasy with the topic she knew they must discuss, ever since the reports began coming back that her people were not completely happy with their new ruler. Where to begin? "My lords and ladies," she began, "I called today's council session to discuss the negative reports that we have been hearing. Why are the people upset with the crown?"

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Amar was the first to speak up; she was a decorated soldier from Kaliphlin, the veteran of many battles in the civil wars despite her relative youth, and the third daughter of one of the more powerful lords from the High Council in the south; rather than marry her off to some man against her will, her father had petitioned to have her sent as a representative to Cedrica. Her advice was always action-based and typically fiery. "Your Majesty, if I may be so bold, perhaps it is because they are feeling oppressed by the Desert King's tyranny, who is no subject of yours, I might add, and military action to relieve them of his cruel rod would bestir them to think kindly of you."

Khufu of Sultan's Gate, beside her and the other representative of Kaliphlin, glared at Amar; he was the Desert King's personal appointment to the council, and thus he was always quick to contradict anything said by his guildmate. "His Divine Majesty is not a tyrant, and does not rule under a cruel rod. Perhaps the people of Kaliphlin need to be liberated from the lies of the High Council's treasonous supporters, and an army should be sent to crush their last remaining strongholds!"

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"No one is sending an army anywhere!" interrupted Faluiel, an elf princess from the Enchanted Forest of Avalonia. "After the civil wars, the last thing the people want is another army being raised from their menfolk and sent off to die on some foreign plain. What they long for is something to mend the wounds done already and build the land up again. The elves have been doing as much work as they can to renew the deep magics, but these things will take time to come back to a semblance of the balance they had before Revolword and Raavage upended them."

"My people need food, not magic," growled Thurl, an old dwarf from Mitgardia, the uncle of one of the kings of one of the mountain clans in the north. "The tundra came down farther than ever when the Algus attacked, and our fields have not thawed properly yet for growing; the reserves of many Mitgardian keeps are dangerously low, and there is little hope of filling them from this season's harvest."

Faluiel nodded. "But restoring the deep magics' balance would push the tundra back and restore your croplands, and thus give you more food next year."

"But the North is hungry now!" yelled Thurl. "I hear every day about families leaving their farms, gaunt with hunger, desperate for a crust of bread from their local jarl or thain."

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Eckbert, a grey and balding old general from Avalonia, cleared his throat. "If I may interrupt, my good Dwarf," he said, his old voice still strong and always polite, "the eastern plains of Avalonia have reported a bumper crop of grain this year, more than they have room to store, even. I know many of the lords there, such as my old messmate de Gothia of Sionnach, have been selling it to Varlyrio at a hefty profit, but surely with they would be willing to sell to their northern neighbors, for slightly less, even, due to reduced shipping costs; though the extra coin from the Varlyrian market has been much needed to repair the ruined cities and pay the pensions of soldiers and their widows."

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Cortucius Amancio, one of the Varlyrian councilors, agreed. "That grain has been cutting into the profits of our own farmers on Varlyrio. I know much of the discontent on my island guild is about how Her Majesty has opened up trade, threatening many of the leading families' lucrative monopolies. They would certainly be amenable to those goods being diverted elsewhere. And anything else from the mainland, too."

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Ylspeth nodded to each of her councilors' thoughts, mulling a way to try to meet each of their needs without upsetting the always precarious balance that was the Guilds of Historica. She could not seem to favor one over the others, lest the others be jealous and hurt. Surely there was a way to make everyone happy. While she was still pondering, N'ri, one of her closest advisors, second only to Kars, the commander of her bodyguard and Minister of Defense, stood up. 

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N'ri was one of the warrior monks who had taken her in at their monastery on the far-western island, just a bit to the north of Mwamba, where she had taken refuge after the death of her father. He was wise in many ways, and his approach to matters was always fresh, not clouded with the self-seeking agendas that the rest of the councilors held. "My fellow councilors, this is a difficult moment, and perhaps it will be impossible to make everyone happy;" he paused and looked at the bickering Kaliphlinian representatives before going on, "but I think we can do something. Back in my home, long before I left for a new life at a monastery, the king used to throw public games, free to all comers, whenever discontent and unrest fell upon his people. He also made liberal use of handouts of food, particularly that lifeblood of civilization, bread. His philosophy, it seemed, was to fill the belly and soothe the soul with those two tools. My advice is that we use the funds of the crown to purchase the surplus grain from the Avalonians at a fair price -- perhaps not what they could get at open market, but we would not swindle them -- and then distribute that grain to the hungry in Mitgardia and Kaliphlin, especially our northern brethren. If we need more, perhaps the farmers of Varlyrio could supply a bit extra, too. At the same time, we should encourage, perhaps with a promise of lower taxes for those who agree, the wealthier nobles of the different realms to put on spectacles for the enjoyment of their peoples, in the name of our High Queen. Every lord knows what his people would enjoy most, and so he could provide that, encouraging the common citizens to be grateful for such beneficence from Cedrica."

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Ylspeth thought the advice sounded good, though she was concerned about the price and the state of the treasury. A murmur of displeasure swept the room, though, which surprised her. She walked around a bit trying to hear snippets of conversation as her councilors talked amongst themselves. 

Thurl was upset, grumbling about how the Mitgardians were being given charity, treated like the destitute, while the tights-wearers were only getting richer. Eckbert was certain that the Avalonian lords would in fact be swindled on the grain price, for bearded women, no less, in addition to balking at being expected to pay for lavish entertainments from their own pockets. Amar and Khufu were still arguing about the best way to fix Kaliphlin, though both were certain that their nobles would refuse any handouts from the tree-huggers at a minimum. Cortucius was silent, looking over the whole affair with smug superiority. Finally, Thurl pounded on the table and said, "This is a terrible plan!"

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N'ri held out a hand to pacify the old dwarf. "May your beard grow ever longer, my good Dwarf," he said in a conciliatory tone, "but I think it is important to think of matters beyond just the pride and pockets of the nobles. They are very few, but the common people are many; if there is no bread in the bellies of the peasants, how much longer with the lord sit on his throne? Will not the people revolt? Or whom will he rule if they all die of hunger, being good and obedient subjects? Yes, everyone will need to sacrifice a bit to make it work, but is it not worthwhile to secure the happiness and contentment of the people as a whole? This is about the poor child starving in the street, the veteran whose life is nothing but a hollow shell; what is a pile of gold in a locked room compared to those? Let's bring them bread and circuses, to improve their lives!"

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High Queen Ylspeth nodded in agreement with N'ri. She stood next to Thurl and said to the whole council, "This is what I decree: grain shall be purchased from the Avalonians to be distributed to the hungry in the north and south, as needed. My own treasury will handle that expense. Nobles of the different realms shall also, to the extent that they are able, contribute to the morale of the commoners by hosting some sort of grand entertainment. Those who do shall see a reduction of their tax burdens of ten per cent, and those who do not will see their tax burden rise by five per cent. Each guild shall provide a list of those lords and ladies who have put on a spectacle, enumerating the type and price, in order to qualify for the tax easement. Any further details will be worked out by the Treasury Minister and his aides. Am I understood?"

"Yes, Your Majesty," came the words from each mouth, though not all of the faces showed agreement. Such is the life of a monarch, thought Ylspeth as she swept out of the room. 

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_____________________________________

...........................................................................

Spoiler

Another interior build, this one lit by a desk lamp through the stained glass windows and a warm orange computer screen through the slightly-ajar doors. There are also two light bricks in the fireplace, but I think the batteries need to be changed out on those, as they did not provide much glow at all. Stylistic details are meant to evoke the throneroom I made for Book II Challenge V, like the floor and the windows. C&C welcome. 

 

Edited by Henjin_Quilones

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Yet another superb interior!  I'm not even sure where to begin - the guild banners are so simple, but elegantly done with one color longer than the other, and excellent use of macaroni tiles above the throne!  Impressive double arches above the windows and even more impressive warm lighting behind the exits, lovely blend of color coming through the stained glass windows, and great parts use for the glass jars on the table!  Keep these great halls coming, each one seems to be better than the last!

Oh, great job on the story too, fascinating read!

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Beautifully written and a great mix of text and pictures. Lovely pictures too! They show a great atmosphere. The build itself is gorgeous too of course. Really like the throne and pillars. Overall very excellent sir!

Edited by Puvel

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This is probably now the best interior shot in pure Lego that I've seen on GoH. Just stupendous. I also really liked the writing (while also noticing a few typos :P) and the broad scope on the situation of all the Guilds. The spirit of each one is captured well, in good and bad ways, by the councilors. I also like where I think this is all going, though I'm also eager for the day that Ylspeth turns her eyes (may they never close) to Nocturnus and the east.

Edited by mccoyed

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Fantastic work @Henjin_Quilones! Another lovely interior build from you, so many nice touches: love the wooden beams on the ceiling, the asymmetrical faction banners, the curved tiles on the main banner, the minifigs, and the lighting.

The story was well written too, it was an interesting set up, and by the sounds of it the next challenge will be related to entertaining the peoples of Historica. I just hope soon we will get to more war based challenges, I always think those generate more interest.

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Great stuff here. I love how the floor looks polished and shiny but not in a plasticky way. The lighting really has set that up well. The beams and furniture are great along with the little details. The only thing I think might be better is a little more posing to match the story at times. 

I love the story itself and how difficult it is to balance different groups as a feudal lord. I am currently playing Crusader Kings 2 which has a unique vassal system which is great inspiration for these kinds of meetings and who is responsible or loyal to who.

@Basiliscus War is usually easier to get people motivated. But peaceful builds flesh out the world and give the meaning and backstory to the world. I think we still need to have a more settled period before starting the violence again! Plus some of the scheming challenges are good fun too. 

I like the scope for different entertainments this could provide.

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Hahaha HQ, you've made my day, I swear! :sweet: Another awesome interior from you, you're getting better and better! The addition of the orange glow on one side is the icing on the cake, well thought, well done :thumbup: All of the details are elegant, appropriate and well proportioned while the window side with that light is simply beautiful (are those trans tiles in the glass winow? ) and you've made good use of LJ's brick-with-rail-under-the-arch idea (or, at least, I personally saw it from him first). What I wondered at first sight and haven't found ano answer to yet, is those columns in RB - did you want them to be decorative, wooden ones? If so, it works on the door side, but doesn't convince me on the window one as in that position it looks like they're more load-bearing columns and it's hence strange for them to be wooden, what you say? (But maybe my memories of basic architecture from the school are just too blurry.. :grin:)

But let's talk about the story - I love that too! :wub: well written and with a nice flow despite the many dialogues :thumbup: Finally, I really like where this is going with the bread and circuses thing!!! There will be time for war later.

So I wasn't lying, you've made my day :sweet:

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On 12/15/2018 at 3:20 PM, Kai NRG said:

Yet another superb interior!  I'm not even sure where to begin - the guild banners are so simple, but elegantly done with one color longer than the other, and excellent use of macaroni tiles above the throne!  Impressive double arches above the windows and even more impressive warm lighting behind the exits, lovely blend of color coming through the stained glass windows, and great parts use for the glass jars on the table!  Keep these great halls coming, each one seems to be better than the last!

Oh, great job on the story too, fascinating read!

Thanks, Kai! The guild banners were a late addition, but I think they were a positive. I have the banners for everyone in the pre-made wavy one, but I always wonder, when those are used inside, where the wind is coming from...

Glad you like the lighting on this one. I might veer away from great halls for a bit, and try to make other rooms for a while...

On 12/15/2018 at 4:07 PM, Puvel said:

Beautifully written and a great mix of text and pictures. Lovely pictures too! They show a great atmosphere. The build itself is gorgeous too of course. Really like the throne and pillars. Overall very excellent sir!

Thanks, Puvel! 

On 12/15/2018 at 4:58 PM, Andrew Spader said:

the architecture of the build is really impressive but the thing that really puts it over the top is the lighting. Simply gorgeous and well captured!

Lighting is the difference between great and excellent in terms of presentation, I think, so it is where I have been putting a bit more thought of late. Glad you like it!

On 12/16/2018 at 1:55 AM, mccoyed said:

This is probably now the best interior shot in pure Lego that I've seen on GoH. Just stupendous. I also really liked the writing (while also noticing a few typos :P) and the broad scope on the situation of all the Guilds. The spirit of each one is captured well, in good and bad ways, by the councilors. I also like where I think this is all going, though I'm also eager for the day that Ylspeth turns her eyes (may they never close) to Nocturnus and the east.

Wow, thanks mccoyed! That is high praise indeed. 

If you wouldn't mind indicating where you see the typos, I would be much obliged. I have read through it so many times that I can't see them anymore. 

On 12/16/2018 at 3:50 AM, Basiliscus said:

Fantastic work @Henjin_Quilones! Another lovely interior build from you, so many nice touches: love the wooden beams on the ceiling, the asymmetrical faction banners, the curved tiles on the main banner, the minifigs, and the lighting.

The story was well written too, it was an interesting set up, and by the sounds of it the next challenge will be related to entertaining the peoples of Historica. I just hope soon we will get to more war based challenges, I always think those generate more interest.

Thanks, Bas! You'll just have to wait for the challenge to be officially announced. Though in general, I think we are trying to stay away from major battle challenges this book, since that was the entirety of the last one...

On 12/16/2018 at 5:56 AM, Muakhah said:

Great stuff here. I love how the floor looks polished and shiny but not in a plasticky way. The lighting really has set that up well. The beams and furniture are great along with the little details. The only thing I think might be better is a little more posing to match the story at times. 

I love the story itself and how difficult it is to balance different groups as a feudal lord. I am currently playing Crusader Kings 2 which has a unique vassal system which is great inspiration for these kinds of meetings and who is responsible or loyal to who.

@Basiliscus War is usually easier to get people motivated. But peaceful builds flesh out the world and give the meaning and backstory to the world. I think we still need to have a more settled period before starting the violence again! Plus some of the scheming challenges are good fun too. 

I like the scope for different entertainments this could provide.

Thanks, Muakhah! I have been trying, of late, to capture things that look like the real deal, except in plastic and small scale, so I am glad it works. As for the posing, I don't do that much of it, to be honest; I prefer to take pictures with the figs in one place, and leave it at that - though in this one, the High Queen does move around to at least four different places, and N'ri goes from sitting to standing, so that is something. More than I usually do, at least!

On 12/16/2018 at 7:05 AM, en_zoo said:

Hahaha HQ, you've made my day, I swear! :sweet: Another awesome interior from you, you're getting better and better! The addition of the orange glow on one side is the icing on the cake, well thought, well done :thumbup: All of the details are elegant, appropriate and well proportioned while the window side with that light is simply beautiful (are those trans tiles in the glass winow? ) and you've made good use of LJ's brick-with-rail-under-the-arch idea (or, at least, I personally saw it from him first). What I wondered at first sight and haven't found ano answer to yet, is those columns in RB - did you want them to be decorative, wooden ones? If so, it works on the door side, but doesn't convince me on the window one as in that position it looks like they're more load-bearing columns and it's hence strange for them to be wooden, what you say? (But maybe my memories of basic architecture from the school are just too blurry.. :grin:)

But let's talk about the story - I love that too! :wub: well written and with a nice flow despite the many dialogues :thumbup: Finally, I really like where this is going with the bread and circuses thing!!! There will be time for war later.

So I wasn't lying, you've made my day :sweet:

Glad to make your day, en_zoo! I saw the technique first from LJ, too, but I am not sure if he invented it. The windows are trans plates stuck behind black turntable bases. The columns are indeed wood - it is meant to convey the same feel as the throneroom I made for the end of Book II, so many of the details (like the floor, windows, wooden columns) have been kept. Wood is not necessarily decorative; most castles are actually held up with a lot of wood inside, despite the large amount of stone also involved. Furthermore, for these particular windows, there is a lot of stone behind them - at least three or four studs deep, in fact, so the wood can be either decorative or structural, or both, I guess. 

Edited by Henjin_Quilones

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Wonderful work.  The interior is great, especially the floor love the snot parts.  The hall windows let in enough light to illuminate everything.  I like the wooden part on the ceiling.  All the little details like the tapestries, archways, statues, symbols, etc are all pretty neat.  I really like the story, well written and and very descriptive.  

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6 hours ago, Henjin_Quilones said:

Thanks, Bas! You'll just have to wait for the challenge to be officially announced. Though in general, I think we are trying to stay away from major battle challenges this book, since that was the entirety of the last one...

Yep, I've dismantled all the free builds I built so the desk is clear, just got a couple of other non-GoH models to photograph, so all set to build for the challenge when it's announced.

I appreciate Book II was primarily about civil wars, but there's plenty of new members here who didn't participate in that, so it would be good for some of the challenges to involve war in some capacity. Since Nocturnus is no longer playable, and doesn't seem to have any representation at this council, there's an opportunity for that to be a flashpoint in a future storyline.

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Nice interior detailing and great way to illustrate the dialogue with the closeups of the minifigs :thumbup:
Looking forward to the challenge!

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Another stunning interior :wub_drool: Wonderful use of macaroni tiles in the royal banner on the back wall, and the individual guild banners are quite effective too :thumbup:
The lighting is excellent, and is especially pretty in pictures showing the stained glass windows. I always enjoy seeing SNOT floors with neat patterns, and this particular setup is a great fit for the scene :classic:

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On 12/16/2018 at 10:35 PM, zoth33 said:

Wonderful work.  The interior is great, especially the floor love the snot parts.  The hall windows let in enough light to illuminate everything.  I like the wooden part on the ceiling.  All the little details like the tapestries, archways, statues, symbols, etc are all pretty neat.  I really like the story, well written and and very descriptive.  

Thanks, zoth! The whole floor, except for the raised sections, is SNOT, even the brown wood section under the table. I try to make the light in the scene only what could actually be supplied in the scene, rather than the typical diffuse light so characteristic of LEGO photography - I am caring less and less whether you can see every little detail or not, and more and more about capturing the feel of a place in LEGO. 

On 12/17/2018 at 4:10 AM, Basiliscus said:

Yep, I've dismantled all the free builds I built so the desk is clear, just got a couple of other non-GoH models to photograph, so all set to build for the challenge when it's announced.

I appreciate Book II was primarily about civil wars, but there's plenty of new members here who didn't participate in that, so it would be good for some of the challenges to involve war in some capacity. Since Nocturnus is no longer playable, and doesn't seem to have any representation at this council, there's an opportunity for that to be a flashpoint in a future storyline.

Conflict will come, since conflict always comes. Patience is a virtue, it is said.

On 12/17/2018 at 9:18 AM, W Navarre said:

Gorgeous build, great work with the different councilors attitudes and building the figs!

Thanks! Putting together satisfactory figs is almost as hard as building the whole thing, and partially useless, since you can't even see any of their legs!

On 12/18/2018 at 3:42 PM, Gideon said:

Nice interior detailing and great way to illustrate the dialogue with the closeups of the minifigs :thumbup:
Looking forward to the challenge!

Thanks Gideon, I hoped the closeups would make the dialogue both more interesting and easier to follow. 

On 12/19/2018 at 11:51 AM, TheLordOfBricks said:

This is fantastic, excellent work with the lighting. Great story too!

Thanks!

On 12/31/2018 at 9:02 AM, soccerkid6 said:

Another stunning interior :wub_drool: Wonderful use of macaroni tiles in the royal banner on the back wall, and the individual guild banners are quite effective too :thumbup:
The lighting is excellent, and is especially pretty in pictures showing the stained glass windows. I always enjoy seeing SNOT floors with neat patterns, and this particular setup is a great fit for the scene :classic:

Thanks, SK! I copied the floor from my earlier Throneroom of Cedrica, which I had copied earlier from Z's throneroom, so I can't claim originality, but it works nicely. It is something I'll probably attempt to keep in any further Cedrican palace builds, too. Tapestries and banners are of course essential for any castle, even if these are a bit on the simple side!

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