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To the very end of a treacherous dirt road, west of the Bay of Storms, lay a small fortress called Svalg Keep. The fortress was erected by the Old Men, where the winds were heavy, the temperature was low, and no man had reason to pass by. It was intentionally built away from any city or village, for it only kept functioning as a prison.

As we advanced through the muddy road, small bits of the fortress appeared magnificently between the trees covered in snow. The dim light of the lanterns that kept Svalg keep alive looked blurred and weak from a distance. Its walls, built into the rock, were partially cracked and covered in snow. The more we approached, the more Svalg Keep looked old and forgotten.

Svalg Keep

When we reached the walls, I jumped aside. 

-    Open the gates! Open the gates! – I shouted. – The wagon has been taken!

Svalg Keep - Gates

A grey-haired man with fuzzy whiskers appeared on the wall. He stretched a fiery lantern in front of him so he could better see us.

-    Who’s there? – He asked. His voice was deep and strong. 
-    We’ve been attacked! They are coming this way! Let us in!
 

Svalg Keep - Overview

For a moment, the man hesitated and gnarled. His lantern went away. The cold was harsh, but I could feel the drops of sweat trickling down my chest. Our horse was unquiet, jumping and crying. Please, please, open the gates. I was hoping to hear something coming from within the keep, but one could only hear the whispering wind and the falling leaves. 

-    Hey! – I yelled again. – We need help!

Nothing. I pulled the reins and approached the giant wooden doors of the keep until we were close enough. I punched the door again and again. If they find out that we are disguised...
A crackling sound came from the inside. The door opened. We were received by the same bearded man. He was tall, strong, and although he seemed old, age did not appear to have taken his tenancy. Could be the cold or simply the genetics of the Lion clan, I could not say. He stood firmly as a war general and wielded his long-sword as if it didn’t weight a thing.

-    Get inside. How long before the attackers reach us?

Got him.

Svalg Keep - Inner Gates



-    A quarter of an hour, no more than that. But we must check his wounds – I pointed at Hob, helping him off the horse. 
-    There are tools in the armory. Head there and see through his wounds as I gather our men to prepare for battle. 

The plan was working perfectly. We were let inside the keep and made our way to the armory. We entered a small room, packed with wooden cabinets, clipboards and mainly weapon racks, that made the room seem even smaller than it already was. The stony dark grey walls were cold and the feeling inside was humid, what made the cold even tougher. The room was poorly lit with candles casting shadows on the walls that seemed to twinkle like gold. 
 

Svalg Keep - Back


-    We did it! I whispered cheerfully.
-    Easy, Kid. There is plenty we still need to do. – said Hob calmly and analytical as always. He glanced into the room anticipating the other guard’s arrival – We need something to block them in here. Perhaps that cabinet might...

His words vanished as he caught sight of three guards entering the room, leaded by the grey-haired general.

-    Christoff Hobard. – his deep voice echoed through the room. – We were waiting for you.
__________

Greetings, fellow builders!

This is the first time I'm posting on Eurobricks. Hope you all like it. 
The story follows a series of MOCs about Louis of Valnötsträd, my character. 
You can check all the chapters so far on my Flickr page (www.flickr.com/photos/louisnutwood/).

This building will count as a Free-Build for Mitgardia, in Guilds of Historica.

Let me know what you all think. Hope you like the result.

 

Louis of Valnötsträd

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Very nice keep.  I like the stone work and the texturing on the walls.  The wooden parts on the battlements are a nice touch.  I really like your trees, they have a nice squatty look to them making them unique looking.  I also like your snowscaping, especially the section next to wall at the base of the green leaf tree.  Excellent story too.

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22 hours ago, Eoin Wallace said:

That is one of the best castles I have seen in a while! Keep it up!

Hey, thanks, fellow traveler!
That's a tremendous compliment in a thread with such experienced and skillful castle builders.
I'm happy that you appreciate it.
 

21 hours ago, zoth33 said:

Very nice keep.  I like the stone work and the texturing on the walls.  The wooden parts on the battlements are a nice touch.  I really like your trees, they have a nice squatty look to them making them unique looking.  I also like your snowscaping, especially the section next to wall at the base of the green leaf tree.  Excellent story too.

Thank you, milord Knight. 
I must say the most challenging builds are the ones that the most bring joy. That was a challenging one. And I'm very happy with the result. 

That is the first time I venture with these types of trees and they definitely look more natural than ever. I'm happy you like them too. 
For the snow work, a great lad called en_zoo (https://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?/profile/163340-en_zoo/) was very sympathetic in sharing his vast knowledge and giving me some tips. For that, I thank him for the precious hints. Though it was definitely necessary to invest in a number of rounded slope pieces.

Finally, the story, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it. I plan keep writing it, so stay vigilant for the next post.

For the glory of the guild!

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Awesome!  There are so many great things going on here.  The use of the various browns for roof tiles, the excellent job of laying snow on the trees, walls, and ground, the textured but not overly textured walls... I could go on and on.  The whole build is really magnificent, and the interior pictures are great as well.  Your photography is outstanding, which is something I have to work very hard at.  The story is very compelling and I clicked on your Flickr account and read all of the preludes.  Is there a reason you didn't post those as mitgardian freebuilds?  I think you should.  I'm really enjoying reading the story.  Welcome to GoH!

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Fantastic, even though it's not a very large MOC the layout makes it look big, the snow laden trees look very noice, and the angle of the entrance is awesome, must have been a little tricky! 

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17 hours ago, Grover said:

Awesome!  There are so many great things going on here.  The use of the various browns for roof tiles, the excellent job of laying snow on the trees, walls, and ground, the textured but not overly textured walls... I could go on and on.  The whole build is really magnificent, and the interior pictures are great as well.  Your photography is outstanding, which is something I have to work very hard at.  The story is very compelling and I clicked on your Flickr account and read all of the preludes.

Thank you, dear Knight!
I'm happy your liked the way it turned out. I certainly had a great time building it. 
I tried something new with the trees and I'm definitely continuing with this design. Adding snow to them was a completely different challenge. I also particularly like the brown layering at the roofs.
And thanks for the compliment on the photography! I guess it is just a matter of finding a good background and a well-lit area in your house. I've taken a look at your posts: they look amazing as well!

 

18 hours ago, Grover said:

Is there a reason you didn't post those as mitgardian freebuilds?

Considering I built them a while ago, but didn't use them in GoH, is this something I can do? Are they still eligible for punctuation? 
If there is no problem, I'll definitely use them as Free-Builds or AoMs.

 

18 hours ago, Grover said:

I'm really enjoying reading the story.  Welcome to GoH!

That's awesome! I can see you also like creating nice and complex stories to complement your builds. I'm impressed!
And thanks for the welcoming. Hope to absorb some building knowledge from all you guys. 
 

7 hours ago, W Navarre said:

Fantastic, even though it's not a very large MOC the layout makes it look big, the snow laden trees look very noice, and the angle of the entrance is awesome, must have been a little tricky! 

Thank you, fellow Citizen!
I felt the same way. The full base is max 44 x 33. Really not a big base, but it certainly looks broader. 
As for the entrance, the angle was really not a problem (just having enough tiles, I guess). The tricky part was having both rounded towers (that were kind of fragile) AND THEN make them angle. The whole front part is only supported by four hinge plates. It is in fact more sturdy that is sounds, though it was a great challenge.
I'm happy you liked it!

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You’d have to ask your guild leader (soccerkid6), but I think others have posted freebuilds well after their initial public showing (most notably for the colossal castle contests), so I don’t see why not.  Even if not for points, I think your builds and stories deserve their own threads.

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Yesss you're finally here! I'm glad! :classic: And it's great that you started with the next episode of your story! Your snow has definitely improved a lot and the same goes for the path. A nice castle too, this time. Awesome job man, keep it coming! :thumbup:

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Very nice moc! really enjoy the texturing in the pathway as well as the snowscaping. one thing i am not too sure about is how much snow there is on the trees. 

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12 hours ago, Grover said:

I think your builds and stories deserve their own threads.

I'm happy you feel that way. Thank you, sir Grover. I'll make sure to schedule an appointment with sir IsaacSoccerKid. If there is no impediment, I hope to see you in my next posts. Cheers!
 

11 hours ago, en_zoo said:

Yesss you're finally here! I'm glad! :classic: And it's great that you started with the next episode of your story! Your snow has definitely improved a lot and the same goes for the path. A nice castle too, this time.

Greetings, my good sir! It is good to see you again. You can see that your most welcomed advises are being put to use. Thanks again for sharing such unique and skillful building knowledge. I sure hope to grow as a builder and get as good as you, masters. 

4 hours ago, The Last of Nergoue said:

Very nice moc! really enjoy the texturing in the pathway as well as the snowscaping. one thing i am not too sure about is how much snow there is on the trees. 

Fellow Citizen, thank you for you most kind commentary!
I'm happy you liked it. It means a lot coming from such inspiring builders.
As for the snow on the trees, you feel there should be more or less? In one hand, the ground surroundings are filled with snow (so, more would be understandable), but in the other, the castle walls are not as filled in white as well (so less would also be understandable). And I cannot express enough how difficult it is to maintain these plant pieces in place...
Funny thing is that I completely ran out of white studs, as I put them in good use. Now I can see I'll need another shipment for future builds - I guess you all understand it, right?
Thanks again!

It's incredible how so many people are responding to this post. I was seriously not expecting so much interaction. And I'm thrilled!
Thank you all for the support!

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This is a really great MOC with lots of details! I especially like the rock overhang and partial cover of the black sloped base!!!

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18 hours ago, blackdeathgr said:

This is a really great MOC with lots of details! I especially like the rock overhang and partial cover of the black sloped base!!!

Thank you, good sir!

I was hoping someone would notice and mention it, as it was a real struggle to get it right.
That is actually the first time I did this overlap between the base-frame and the construction, and I think the overall look is pretty cool. That is actually one of the elements that makes the MOC look larger than it actually is. It is certainly a plus challenge, but it makes up in the end.
I'm glad you liked it. If someone has any tips on how to improve it, I'd love to hear.

Cheers!

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Looks nice! The snow is well represented, and trees too.

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On 5/22/2019 at 2:52 AM, Reaper said:

Looks nice! The snow is well represented, and trees too.

Thanks, fellow builder!
I've been working on my snow technique - I heard the landscape in Mitgardia tends to be chilly. 
Though it certainly was a challenge to keep the snow on those leaf-pieces from falling apart, I'm happy with the result. 

I'm glad you liked it!

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This makes me want to redecorate every building I own into a snow version. 

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21 hours ago, corasaur said:

 

This makes me want to redecorate every building I own into a snow version

 

Haha. Thanks! The snow sure adds some fantasy mystical look to it, right? We actually find a lot of it throughout Mitgardia. 

I definitely encourage you to add chunks of snow in your builds. But as a piece of advice, I must say: “there are never enough white rounded slope pieces”.

I’m happy you liked it. Cheers!

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Nice work! A very good balance of detailing within a fairly ”small” scene. The fort is very nice and I’m really liking the muddy road, keep it up! 

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20 minutes ago, adde51 said:

 

Nice work! A very good balance of detailing within a fairly ”small” scene. The fort is very nice and I’m really liking the muddy road, keep it up

 

Hey, thanks, mate!

Working on the grounds is certainly a lot of fun. But you can sure run out of plates and tiles amazingly fast. 

I’m glad you liked it. 

Cheers!

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There's a number of things to admire in this build :wub: I'll start with the dirt path: you did a tremendous job making it look worn and muddy and I especially like the wedge plates around the outer edges where the dirt hasn't been trod down as much :thumbup: The trees frame the castle nicely and look fabulous with the snow covered leaves. And the castle itself...
Wonderful layout with a great balance of texture and architectural detail, plus you managed to fit a full interior in it!
Super nifty weapon racks, a nice chandelier, and ladders to reach all the different levels give a great sense of realism.

Your photo quality is also quite good, I have only one suggestion in that department: while the flat to the build views work quite well with this particular model, it's often better to have an angled shot for the main overview pictures.

For instance, a picture like this:
overview-10.jpg
Gives a better impression of the actual size and layout of the model than one directly from the front or side:
front-low-1.jpg
Anyways I'm super excited to see more builds from you, and what happens to Hob and Louis :dsweet:

 

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On 6/17/2019 at 8:56 AM, soccerkid6 said:

There's a number of things to admire in this build :wub: I'll start with the dirt path: you did a tremendous job making it look worn and muddy and I especially like the wedge plates around the outer edges where the dirt hasn't been trod down as much :thumbup: The trees frame the castle nicely and look fabulous with the snow covered leaves. And the castle itself...
Wonderful layout with a great balance of texture and architectural detail, plus you managed to fit a full interior in it!
Super nifty weapon racks, a nice chandelier, and ladders to reach all the different levels give a great sense of realism.

Thank you, SoccerKid. I truly appreciate your thoughtful feedback and your recognition. It was certainly a challenge to finish this MOC, but it is by far the one I like the most. I'm happy you pointed a number of details, as they make all the difference in a build like this. Specially for the interiors, you are one great inspiration, fitting so much personality in such small space. And please don't mind if I steal some of you furniture designs. Also, about the ladders as a way to reach every level, I noticed you do this in your builds as well. Very clever use of space. 

On 6/17/2019 at 8:56 AM, soccerkid6 said:

Your photo quality is also quite good, I have only one suggestion in that department: while the flat to the build views work quite well with this particular model, it's often better to have an angled shot for the main overview pictures.

As for the pictures, I know what you mean, and totally agree with you. The sense of depth in the angled picture is much better than the front-flat one. For this specific MOC, I tried a bunch of shots, including one that is angled. But, considering the main gate in the build was already angled (plus, I wanted the main picture to get the expression on Louis's minifig-head), I thought it came out better like that. See..

Svalg Keep - Path

Okay, I could have put a little more effort in this one..

Thing is that editing is not my strong suit (and it takes so much time!). Another consideration is that the angled picture takes more table/display/background space, and leads to a more technical (read crappy - is this language allowed?) picture if you don't own the necessary equipment. More so if the MOCs gets larger.

Isaac, do you have any tips in this case? Your backgrounds (that grey one, mainly) are amazing! How big really is your studio?
I downloaded the GIMP, but always find myself using Paint, instead. Hahah.. the nostalgia, I guess.

Well, I'm thrilled you liked it to a point of having it on Brickbuilt. 
Cheers, sir. And thank you for the tips!

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I used to edit my photos more than I do now.  If you get enough light on your subject and get the camera settings right, the pictures usually don't require editing besides cropping.  That is kind of tricky, though, and you usually need a ton of light, both indirect and direct, to eliminate shadows.  For instance, my palisade photos were only cropped.  Not perfect, but they were good enough for posting.

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