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kahir88

CHALLENGE IV: Category A: For the Skulls!

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It was a warm day, even for autumn. Only some small embers in the fireplace reminded about the cold yesterday.  The council almost finished it's meeting, about new trade lines between the guilds. For the queen's order, the servants filled the table with different fruits and beverages. "A necessary break", she called it, but most of the delegates know this tactic, a little show of. Not everyone was happy with the break and the food. Lady Helga's bodyguard was a hardened Mitgardian veteran, he was ordered by the Elders to watch over her. Rumors were spread, not everyone in Mitgardia accepts the queen's decisions. Next to her, Lord Breck Daniesh the Varilyrion representative, he knows a lot of tricks in diplomacy, he is a cunning man. On the opposite side of the table Datret Marblebrick from the Oil merchants of Kaliphlin, and Sir Jovell, selected by de Gothia to spread the will of Avalonia in this council meeting. Of course, Ylsphet and her advisor, N'ri were still present in this meeting. The Nocturnian emissary didn't show up. Maybe he was killed by rival armies, who seeks to gain control in Noctornus.

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- Ladies and Gentlemans. - started Ylsphet, after she wiped her lips from her drink. - I think we should end this little break, and finish this council, as soon as we can. Only your signatures required, and we are all done for today.
- Finally! -cheered Datret, and take a sip from his pipe. - I must send a message back to my wife. To wait for me with dinner.
Giggles filled the hall- Good for you, master dwarf. - said Lord Breck. - If I want to send a message back home, I could deliver it my self, cause no ship will depart sooner.
- Then let not waste more time. N'ri! - Ylsphet raised her hand. Her advisor stepped away from the fireplace. - Get the paper, ink and my royal sigil.
N'ri took everything from the small table and put them down before the queen. She quickly signed the contract, poured some red wax on the paper, and stamped with the Royal Sigil.
Baam! Echoed the hall, Everyone looked to the queen, but she was surprised like the others, and she looked suspicious to her sigil. No one believed she hit that hard on the paper, but suddenly all doubts disappeared.
Baam!...Came from the door, followed muttering from the outside. Baaam! Echoed the hall again. The guards quickly start running to the door, Sir Jovell and Helga's bodyguard also readied their weapons. But before any of them could reach the door, with a huge crack, the door broke open, and two soldiers ran in the hall, using a bench as a ram. They weren't alone the other ran in, with readied crossbows.

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- Drop your weapons! - screamed the guards.
- Drop yours! - screamed back one of the mercenaries with the crossbow.
- Everybody, calm down! - gave Conrad the orders after tossed away the bench. - Lay down your weapons, we aren't here for bloodshed.
- I know it! - Sir Jovell pointed to Conrad with his sword. - Conrad you fool, what's with you this time? I'm sure, you don't do this for your self.
- That's correct, Sir Jovell. - lowered Conrad his weapon. - But still, lower your weapons, we are here, to remove a poisonous thorn, from the Throne. Step aside!
- Who hired you wolf? And for what price? - Lord Breck asked it. - He is only a mercenary, he works only for the money.
- But not this one. - an elderly person entered the room. - He works for the Crown.

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- Loremaster Vernoll? - the members of the council were surprised. - But why? What is the meaning of this treachery? - asked Sir Jovell.
- In time, I will explain everything. For now, I'm assuming you, this is act isn't against the Crown, but to serve it. - answered calmly the Loremaster. - Someone in this room is an impostor!
Everyone looked to each other, try to figure out, who might be, the impostor.
- It looks like, I was the only, who got suspicious, after the queen's return. Indeed, it was a glorious day for the kingdom. Raavage was defeated, and our long lost king's daughter arrived just after it. What a coincidence.
- Are you trying to tell us, she isn't the real queen? - asked Helga.
- No-no... Queen Ylsphet is the real queen. But she brought a parasite from Mwamba. Someone, who poisons her mind, and forces her, into strange decisions. Someone who is close to her... - he stopped, and looked into the eye of his suspect. - You!
Everyone looked at N'ri, but he remained calm. - Be at ease in your own skin for you cannot shed it like a snake.
Try to be like the turtle, at ease in your own shell. - he replied. - Why are you so harsh with me Loremaster Vernoll? Have I done something wrong with you?
- You are the impostor N'ri, or whatever is your name. You aren't a monk either!
- Again, hard words. - replied. - Have you any proof? If not, your age must trick you. Come, I have some refreshing herb tea, in my chambers, will you accompany me?
- My memory is sharp as ever was, this is why I'm the Master of Lore in this castle, not you! - said the words Vernoll, not with anger, but with proud in his voice. - Do you need proof? I will tell you, what did I learn from the residents of Mwamba.
Every eye turned to the old Loremaster:
- I hired the Wolfs, to learn more about this island, its residents. I do not trust anyone from the queen's men, they can be... manipulated easily. The Wolfs arrived not long ago, with everything to busted you! - he licked his lips. - The residents told them about a monk order, living on the islands, but they not heard from them a long time ago. One of the oldest women told them, they were driven away by evil spirits. Conjured by Witch Doctors!
- Witch Doctors? - laughed Datret. - What are they? Healers for hags? - and took another sip from his pipe.
- No, they are some kind of shamans, or priests, who communicate with the spirit world. - answered Conrad. - The western island is full of their huts, totems, and charms. We searched the island, we didn't find any of them, but we felt some watchful presence. - he stopped for a brief moment and looked to the old Loremaster. - But we found neither the monks too... Only deserted ruins.
- But that's impossible! - Cried out Ylsphet. - I came back from them not long ago. What could happen to them, in such a short time? We must send help there!
- I don't think it is necessary, my Queen. - replyed Conrad, but he didn't look in her eyes, he watched someone else. - The place was abandoned years ago. My hound master, Boris is an excellent tracker.  We only found strange dolls. - Conrad saw N'ri's eye twitched a bit. - They bore the same markings, what we found at the witch doctors' huts.
- That's terrible! - wondered Helga. - But how can this be possible? If Ylsphet came back a few years ago, but the monks are missing more years then that.
- There is a solution. - started Vernoll. - The residents of Mwamba told more to us about the witch doctors. They not only can conjure up spirits, but they can control others' body and minds. Someone hired the witch doctors, they captured you, my queen. Planted false memories about the monks. And when the time was at hand, they send you back as a puppet, to rule the kingdom, as they wished.
- That's ridiculous! - laughed N'ri, and walk near to the fireplace. - Have you anything, to prove it Loremaster?
- This. - said Vernoll, and stepped closer to the table, while reached inside his pocket for something. He put a small female doll on the table. - The Wolfs found more of this doll on the island. Voodoo-Dolls, they call it. they were there in every hut, and in the ruins too. But this one. - he pointed to the doll on the table. - This doll is from your room N'ri.

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Everyone turned to N'ri, maybe he can come up with some explanation. But he remained calm. He watched the small embers in the fireplace. - Let's finish this comedy Lord Vernoll. Your attempt, to frighten the crow and me is futile. This, tale of yours and your comedians are no longer funny. You have no proof about the monk disappearance, about the so-called witch doctors and evil spirits of your, and you only can show us a ragdoll, with the queen's hair tied to it, so I can mind control her like the witch doctors on the island? I advise you to leave with your dogs and start praying, for the queen doesn't punish you for this bad joke.
- Wait! - said Jovell, lowered his sword and looked to the doll on the table. A reddish hair indeed was tied to the doll's body. - The Loremaster didn't say anything about whats with the doll's hair. And how the witch doctors use the dolls to bend their victim's will. How do you know it?
- Yeah. - put down his pipe Datret. - What's with this all about N'ri?
  Chaos started. Everyone asked different questions. The guards were no longer sure, where to point their weapons. Even Ylsphet didn't move, she stood there like a statue, something wasn't right about her. N'ri used this turmoil, he quickly reached in his pocket and poured some dust in on the embers. Huge flames burst out from the fireplace, Even the bars were torn out. With a hand-gesture, N'ri pushed the flames in the direction of Vernoll, causing mass destruction.

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  The first victim was an unware guard, the flames consumed him just in a second. The next one could be Lady Helga, but her bodyguard tossed her across the table, sacrificing himself instead.

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As the flames burned out, only piles of ashes remained from those who were in the path of the flames. N'ri uses this advantage, to escape through the window. But Conrad saw his intentions, and ordered his man, to shoot him down. One of his men readied the crossbow and fired a bolt at N'ri, But no one saw this coming from. Ylsphet suddenly moved, into the direction of the fired bolt, to save N'ri from death. The bolt hit her on her left shoulder, buying enough time to N'ri to escape through the window. With a loud crash, he jumped out, and turned into a shadowy smoke, and disappeared in the distance.

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- The queen is injured! Quickly, call for a healer! - yelled Lord Breck.
- The queen is injured! Call for a healer! - the echoes came from the corridors of the castle...

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The crystal orb faded. The small room descended into darkness, but only for a moment. The torches quickly lighted via magic and lighted the room. Five robed figures stood around the orb. Wearing hoods, and skull masks.

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- We are screwed! - said the brown-robed figure.
- Relax, this was only a minor setback. - calmed him the green-robed. - We are not yet discovered. Only our puppet was discovered.
- But she is dead! - the brow figure pointed to the orb. - We all saw it in the orb, at the end!
- She isn't! - a voice filled the small room, it wasn't coming from any of the robed figures, but from the orb. A face appeared in the crystal, the twisted head of N'ri. - She is weak, but she is alive. I can feel it. My memory ended, when I escaped through the window that day.
- Then, if she recovers, can we continue our plans? - asked the red-robed from N'ri.
- I don't think so. - replyed to him, the black-robed. - We are not yet discovered, but they know our present. They won't let her rule the kingdom until our threat is dealt with.
Silence descended into the room, but only for a minute.
- I suggest we continue our plan, as we planned. - broke the silence the black-robed again. - We remain in the shadow, like until now. We will pull the strings but with more caution this time. If we not. - looked to the brow-robed figure. - We are screwed... Now, let's collect our selves. Are the shipments and provisions ready?
- The provisions are ready, as planned. - answered the purple-robed figure.
- We are a bit behind the schedule with the spears, we did not receive the promised wood, from Mitgardia. But the swords, maces, and axes are ready - said the red-robed figure. He looked suspicious to the brown-robed figure.
- Yes... well... some of the merchants are not cooperating with us... - stuttered the brow-robed.
- We can arrange some... deaths, to help our cause. - offered the green-robed figure. - Our contracts will gladly help us.
- Good. - noded the black-robed. - We can still pull this together. And after this, we will restore our former glory in Historica. - he took a brief silence before he continued. - For the Skulls!
- For the Skulls! -repeated the others.

This build supports Queen Ylsphet's reign. Altho I injured her badly :D

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More pictures:

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Edited by kahir88

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Oooh, man! That's dark! 

Many questions popping up, but the main one being: who are those hooded figures, the skulls?! What are their plans? Why do they keep their faces covered?! How are they pulling the strings of the current clans and perpetuating disagreement throughout the kingdom?! 

BUT Is the Queen behind it?! - I bet she is, and it makes me even angrier!

I really like your story line. A lot of tension going on, and I'd really like to know more about what you've come up with.

As for the build, congrats! I like the feasting room and all the built up banners. The wall detailing is very well thought and even the floor has some unique design to it. Great job! 

My favorite part, though, is when the room got filled with fire. The picture is pretty cool too. 

Cheers! Nice entry, mate. 

 

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Great work!  There's so many nice things going on here.  First, I want to congratulate you on capturing the feel of the historic builds (the historic Historica builds? lol).  I think you've made a great mix of showing a new room in the Cedrican castle while keeping your work with the same architectural feel from some of the Book II builds by others that have become canon.  The fire scene is great, and the minifig posing is really outstanding.  In a few shots, I'm not even sure how you got them to stand at some of the angles that you did, but it really looks awesome.  I love the use of the Nexo visors on the red helmets, too.  I didn't find a lot of their parts useful, but I did like those visors and haven't found a way to use them in my builds yet, but your use is great!  The broken window is a very nice touch as well.

The story, however, is really outstanding.  I love how complex it is, with its twists and turns of not knowing what each person's motivations are until they are well into the story, and how you explain some of the queen's behavior while still supporting her.  Leaving the story open with the escape of the evil N'ri, and the witch doctor skull people is awesome.  Getting a different colored hooded figure coordinated for each really looks good, too.  One of the other parts I like is that you make the queen very human.  She isn't some invincible character, she is susceptible to evil magic and even normal weaponry, like crossbow bolts.  Very well done!

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Very nice build.  I like the hall, the walls, the tapestries, the fireplace are all well done.  The main door is good.  I also like the design of the floor.  Nice figs and fun story too.  

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Very good atmosphere with the story and the build, especially the fire, looks great. and congratulations on amazing storytelling! :sweet:

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I like the build with the five guys, unexpected and very cool, I like how they are all posed around the globe, and good touch giving them all the same innocent looking skeleton masks!

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Thanks all, was a really complex work both with the build, and the story.

In my storytelling, I tried to reference with the, suddenly appearing, after Raavage was defeated. I like conspirations, and for me, this looks liked one. Raavage was a Plan"A", he failed somewhere, and the shadowy figures came up with Ylsphet, as Plan"B". Or she was the next phase in their grand plan.

So, they hired the witch doctors, and kidnaped her, brainwashed, and used as a puppet, to spread chaos in the kingdom. She was acting out of her mind. As she was injured, the spell broked on her, but she can be mind controlled again, I should lock her in her chambers, and let some of the leaders of other guilds control the kingdom until the threat is dealt.

As for the robed figures, I didn't think about them as witch doctors, as @Grover mentioned. Altho, they can be anything. I will write down my version, in a Spoiler. For the different colored robes, it's easier to tell who is speaking, but the idea came from 1998 The Avengers Film (no not that). Sean Connery plays the main villain in this spy movie, and he calls for a meeting with all of his supporters, and they wear different colored bear costumes, and only Sean Connery knows who is who. This scene really catches me. :D

 
 
 
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You were warned, last chance to return!

So, in my version of the masked individuals, are descendants of powerful houses in Historica. They gain their fame and fortune during the dark days when war was an everyday event in the kingdom. They are weapon smiths, mercenaries ect. Everything which can be related to war. After the wars ended, their influence reduced. And now, they decided, to bring back chaos, and it's easier to start a war in chaos, then in a well ruled kingdom.

 

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Ah! I had read witch doctors elsewhere in your story and had assumed that these skull faced characters were them, but it makes sense now.  I like your explanation for them, too!

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This is one of the best stories I've read in Guilds of Historica, I know you said it was a lot of work but let me tell you it was well worth it. As someone mentioned above, each character has believable motivations and I genuinely didn't know how this was going to end. With masked powerful figures controlling things...do they sell tin foil hats in Historica??? :grin:

The build itself is a nice scene and I liked the action shots as the story progressed. Really well done.

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Actually, they do! @Basiliscus There is a sixth robed person, who is overwatching the tin foil hat production. Also, he is the only one, whose name is known. He is Kevin.

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Edited by kahir88

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17 hours ago, kahir88 said:

Actually, they do! @Basiliscus There is a sixth robed person, who is overwatching the tin foil hat production. Also, he is the only one, whose name is known. He is Kevin.

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Hahahaha

If only they had internet in Historica, it'd be awash with conspiracy theories like this!

Thanks for posting that reply, it did genuinely make me laugh out loud. I just had to explain tin foil hats to my 4 year old as she was asking what I was laughing at! :laugh:

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Hah! found a lost image! I put it, in the right place in the story. It won't change anything, only ads a scene.

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