Louis of Nutwood

[AoM: House - Phase I] The Valley

Recommended Posts

Previously: Chapter 11. Wash away

Chapter 12. The valley

(Be aware: this is a heavy reading topic with eight pictures, totaling four builds. It is recommended to approach this with a cup of coffee or tea and some time to read through). 

 

South of Svalg Keep, the hills grew wild and the trees closed in around us like a flock of hungry crows. Balduin said the road through the forest was the longest, but also the safest, so we kept our steady gallop through the night. The towns and villages turned smaller as we moved, and less frequent.
he road continued to dwindle, as rain continued to fall, and our horses continued to slip and slide in a road that was nothing other than mud.

“It's unwise to keep moving. A horse with a broken leg might mean our deaths. I say we stop and let the rain pass”. Vekrod, the man with a ponytail observed crunching his shoulders as if it would protect him from the rain.

A deep roar of a thunder sounded between the trees. Hob looked up between the branches, as if asking the gods when the water would cease to fall. His eyes stopped at a hill. It’s rock wall leaning over the valley. Vekrod and Hob stood behind, looking after the horses, while Balduin and I climbed the steep mudded path that guided us to the cliff.
Heavy grey skies flung a thick fog over the trees, pressed against the green valley, lost among the mountains on the horizon. A white crack parted the clouds and cut a thick scar into a somber canvas before reaching the snowy peaks of the northern hills. Night turned into day, only for a heartbeat.

The Valley

Between the tangling trees, the striking lightnings, the overflowing rivers, and the dazing splattered noise, a feeble yellow light flickered alongside a dirt road. Next to it, a small stoned chimney twisted to the sky and coughed a thin line of smoke.

“See that?” Balduin pointed to the house. “Let’s hope there’s room for us”

“Yeah. And something to eat”

From behind yellow and brownish shrubs, popped a stoned chimney that spit a dancing smoke into the grey skies. A modest stoned farmhouse was assembled among the trees. Its rockwork was cracked, but sturdy. Old straw covered the roof, barely keeping the water from getting in – but anything was better than staying outside in the cold rain.
Mud pools splashed as our horses approached the old house. Muffled by the sound of falling rain, a woman’s scream caught my attention.

The Farmhouse

“Kooorka!”

The scream chanted louder as we rode closer to the farmhouse. A girl with a long brown hair tucked in a ponytail stepped outside the barn. Her hands were pressed around her cheeks as she screamed louder and louder at the forest. Soaked from head to toe, the girl had been in the rain for way too long.

“Kooorka!” she shouted once more before her eyes met the group of men standing in front of her, under the rain. Her jaw dropped and she gasped in horror. Behind the girl, a group of chickens jumped and cocked all over the trail, ignoring the pouring rain.

 

The Farmhouse

“Excuse us, milady” Hob stepped down from his horse and approach her.

“You will stay away from my porch, sir, if you don’t want me to open your throat right here, right now” the girl stopped him in a sounding threat.

“We mean no harm, milady. We need only a roof until this rain softens”

“I am no lady, and this is no inn. There’s a tavern by the end of this road” the girl pointed to the east, while the rain poured over our heads.

“Our horses are already too tired, ma’am. We can’t to risk losing any of these poor creatures” Hob scratched his mare’s nose and reached for his saddlebag. “And we can pay, of course” he tossed a golden coin in her direction. It blinked and landed at her foot.   

The girl squatted, cleaned the dirt out of the golden coin, stood up and stared at each of us. Her eyes were as big and round as the juiciest plums, as dark as the most succulent blackberries. She stared and my heart pounded harder than my chest could bare, as if a wild wolf had found me to be his next meal. Her chin pointed to the sky, and despite being short of height, her look was dominant and daring. Rain washed down her face and licked her brown hair over her shoulder, where her clothes pasted on her body and marked her thin silhouette. A puddle of mud formed underneath her, burying her feet out of one’s sight. I tried looking down, away from her, but all my strength and attention were sucked into the girl outside that farmhouse. I straightened myself upon my horse and thought of saying something. Anything. But nothing came out.

“You can take the barn, then. Just leave some room for the hens”, the girl entered her house and shut the door.

The barn was small and tight, barely fitting the hens, let alone a handful of baskets, a dozen chicken and four men. We managed to sit around the animals, lean on the stone walls and over the boxes, and finally all of us were under the roof. Still soaking wet, but at least protected from the raindrops taping on top of our heads.

Old hinges creaked, and the door to the stoned farmhouse opened. The girl approached us, only his time, she held a couple of bread sticks and gave them to Hob.

“My sister baked it. She always bakes too much, though. So... there’s no point in wasting it, right?” she looked away, while Hob took a chunk for him and passed the bread around. “Uh... Have you seen... a chicken on the way here? By the road, or maybe by the bushes?”

Hob and the two men exchanged confusing looks as they tried not to choke on their bread. “a chicken?”

“I... She ran away! And now I can’t find her. But she’s the fattest one, so she can’t be far. Only if a wolf got her, or a fox, she might be in danger! And my father, if he finds out I lost her...” she spoke faster after each word, and moved around nervously, not noticing she was soaking under the rain once again.

“Uh... sorry, ma’am. We’ve seen no chicken” Hob told her with a crooked smile.

“But it might be your lucky day, girl” Balduin, who was sitting next to me, shouted. His voice was as loud as one could expect from someone as big as him, and even the hens around us seemed startled. He stretched his long muscular arm around me, and a smile cracked deep in his fuzzy brown beard. “For you are in the presence of the finest chicken hunter in the north!” and he slapped me in the shoulder. “Will you help this fine lady find her chicken?”

She looked at me with those big brown eyes. I had barely any experience with hunting, and from the way she crossed her arms, she knew that too.

“Fetch me a lamplight. I will not rest until we find your chicken” I said puffing my chest open and gazing into the grey mist on the horizon.

She gnarled and rolled her eyes.

Once again, i felt the freezing rain tapping my shoulders as it filled my boots and made me shiver with cold. The lamplight cast a dim orange glow at the dirt road, but the falling rain kept me from seeing much further. The girl with big eyes walked on the right side of the road and I followed her track on the left side, as she screamed the chicken’s name.

“How does she look like?” I asked.

“She’s big and fat and... it’s a chicken” she answered as if it was obvious, though I suppose it was.

Nearing the road, green and orange bushes filled with berries popped on the ground. Every one of them crusted with red and black fruits, washed in the rain. All, but one.
Is that a whole?
I crouched and saw no fruits or berries, and a passage of creased leaves, where even a dog could pass by, or maybe something bigger. The dirt ground inside the whole was drier. As I approached the lamplight, I saw a three-pointed mark engraved on the mud. Then another, and then another.

“I think I found something!”

The sound of flowing water grew louder as we followed the three-pointed footprints, and passing through the bushes, we stumbled upon a river. It was common that whenever the sky sunk and rain fell in torrents, rivers swelled and overflew. In the blink of an eye, a narrow stream could turn into the roughest river, and take anything that gets in the way. Trees, people, houses... chickens.

A stoned archway formed as a bridge over the flowing river, and on top, a twisted tree stretched its branches as an umbrella. Under its leaves, more bushes popped and danced with the wind that blew harder and stronger. I narrowed my eyes and raised the lamplight in front of me. A creature, not big, but not small jumped out of the foliage and shook the water from its skin. I grabbed the pommel of my sword and ran next to the girl with big eyes.

“Stay low” I whispered. “There’s something over there” I unsheathed by sword from the scabbard and left the lamplight on the ground, praying the fire wouldn’t extinguish. I stranded to the elevated archway and approached the whole left by the creature. I gazed into the darkness. Deep within, I saw the monster. Brown scales covered his round body squatted in the dirt, cocked and ready to attack. The dim light shone on his boned snout and the cold air puffed from its wholes. The monster opened his wings, screamed, and jumped at me, faster than I could realize. The ground slipped from underneath me and the sky turned around my head, as an excruciating pain struck my rear, when I landed on the soft and humid floor. Flying above me, I saw the monster. Its wings spread open, its yellow pointy snout, the red horns around its tiny head. The monster charged and screamed a deafening noise as I was lying on my back, with arms wide open, when it flew to my guts. Its claws stretched were the last thing I saw of the monster, as it landed on my stomach and carved its claws inside my skin.

“Ruuuun”, I shouted to the girl. “Save yourself!”

At least one of us should survive.

The girl ran through the stoned archway, over the river and stopped on top of me.

Chicken Hunt

“Korka!” she screamed.
But it was too late. The monster had jumped on the water to its death, taken away by the current, never to be seen again.

 

Chicken Hunt

There was nothing I could do. The water washed everything on its way with unnatural strength.
Amidst the flowing waters, stood a small island, dividing the stream in two. Standing on top of the bank of stone, rising from the hands of Hel, I saw the undying beast.
Shiny silver scales covered his round body squatted in the dirt, cocked and ready to attack. The open cuts on my stomach ached when my eyes met the monster.
The dim light shone on his boned snout and the cold air puffed from its wholes. Its wings spread open, its yellow pointy snout, the red horns around its tiny head. The monster shook its head sideways and screamed.
The girl cried her name. And I did what I had to do. I jumped on the freezing water and dragged myself to the island where the monster rose. 

Chicken Hunt

I glanced at the creature and realized the snout was no more that a beak, the scales were no more than feathers, and the claws were none other than chicken feet.  
Fighting against the current, I left the water with the chicken in my hands. The girl ran towards me, took the monster in her arms and squeezed as it tried to break free.
Those eyes studied me for a moment that could have endured for eternity, and the girl smiled the most warming and loving smile I had ever wished for.


The rain never ceased. If something, it poured even harder. I was covered in mud and dirt and my back hurt every time I straightened up. But it didn’t matter. I was a hero. A knight in a shiny armor that had brought this girl’s missing chicken back to her and put a smile back upon her face.

Hunter

“This is Korka. Not a monster, only a fat chicken” she pointed at the brown chicken sitting on her lap. “I’m sorry she tried to eat you”.
I blushed and smiled back “I can see she’s eaten many a man, already” I responded observing the perfectly round shape in the chicken’s body.
“Men? Neigh. Just frightened little boys”.

The girl dropped her lamplight on a puddle and splashed mud next to me – not that there wasn’t dirt enough covering me whole – and hold on to her fat chicken. I stood up and for a heartbeat, we stood side by side under that tree and watched the rain fall and disappear on the flowing river underneath us.

“Tis best we get back. We ne’er know what sort of monsters we can find in the darkness of these woods, you know”
Still she mocks me.

When we reached back at the farmhouse, Balduin and Vekrod were tucked in a pile of straw, covered in their cloaks. The hens cocking and flapping their wings beside them didn’t seem to bother, as they looked to be resting in a deep sleep. Only Hob stood awake, observing the entrance of the girl’s property as if it were his own, as if he were a guard questioning every movement that grasped his sight.

 

Chapter 12.3

“You never told me your name” I said once we stepped on her porch and Hob bent his head forward to great us.
“You never asked my name, Chicken Hunter” she answered and smiled. “It’s Dora, if you must ask.
Dora. The name is almost as beautiful as she is. “My name is...” Clap. She shut the wooden door of her farmhouse before I could tell her anything else.

It was nice to meet you, I thought reminiscing her round and big blackberry eyes.

__________

Louis of Nutwood.

Phew!
Four different builds, and a full story to tell. 
If you've stood until the end, THANK YOU. I truly hope you enjoyed this chapter.

Every build has a fully written chapter like this, but until now I chose to cut a lot from it and only post the most important bits.

Let me know what you think of this layout and format. Should I stick to this larger/full chapter/reading intensive/various builds and frames presentation? Or should I have broken it into four (maybe three) topics and posted only the short version?

Comments and critics as absolutely welcome, including writing tips, building observations, typos, clarifications and pointing out some phrases that could be changed. 
Thanks to all!

 

Edited by Louis of Nutwood
Spoiler recommendation

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to read this when I have a little more time!  (And a cup of coffee :laugh: ). As for the MOCs they are really cool, the first one has great FP and pretty effective lightning, also love the way it foreshadows in micro the next build of the cottage.  Well done! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also had to skim the story due to time at the moment, but it looks like it's a great read.  The cliff and lighting is nice, that farmhouse is excellent, and the build with the river & waterfall for the "monster" rescue is wonderful as well.  Great job all-around!  :sweet:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, W Navarre said:

I would like to read this when I have a little more time!  (And a cup of coffee :laugh: ). As for the MOCs they are really cool, the first one has great FP and pretty effective lightning, also love the way it foreshadows in micro the next build of the cottage.  Well done! 

Thank you, sire Navarre! I'm glad you like the builds, and I'm happy you noticed the 'foreshadowing' between the micro and the following build. 
YES, do come back with a cup of hot beverage.
Cheers!

Just now, deraven said:

I also had to skim the story due to time at the moment, but it looks like it's a great read.  The cliff and lighting is nice, that farmhouse is excellent, and the build with the river & waterfall for the "monster" rescue is wonderful as well.  Great job all-around!  :sweet:

My dearest Count Deraven. I'm so glad you liked the builds! I understand skipping through the read, but make sure to come back with a cup of hot beverage. When you do, let me know what you think. As for the cliff, I'm happy with the result being my first attempt on a Forced Perspective shot. I'm particularly pleased with the farmhouse too, and thrilled you mentioned the 'monster'. Cheers, mate! Thank you for the support.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really good MOCs! And great photos that really capture the tale. I espacially like the photo when he looks down on the house! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All four of these builds are great and the storytelling is fantastic! The builds all show off your style which I like a lot. the first one is my favourite with the incredible perspective shot and great building techniques! Awesome mocs and I can't wait for the next chapter of your story!:dhappy:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Zilmrud said:

Really good MOCs! And great photos that really capture the tale. I espacially like the photo when he looks down on the house!

Thak you, Zilmrud! It means a lot coming from the builder of the EPIC city of Zamorah. 
I'm currently (still!) working on the expansion of my characters village, Valnösträd, and yours is a true inspiration.
Glad you liked it, mate. 

1 hour ago, Eoin Wallace said:

All four of these builds are great and the storytelling is fantastic! The builds all show off your style which I like a lot. the first one is my favourite with the incredible perspective shot and great building techniques! Awesome mocs and I can't wait for the next chapter of your story!:dhappy:

Eoin, the Builder. 
What a joy to read through your comment, fellow northern. It warms my guts to know you enjoyed reading through the story and that you find a personal style in my MOCs. I tried something different in the first build, and I'm thrilled the perspective worked. 
I'm already working on the next chapter, so stay tuned.

It's been a while since I don't see your creations, though. Looking forward to your return with an expected building streak. 
Cheers, man! And thanks for the support. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Louis of Nutwood said:

Thak you, Zilmrud! It means a lot coming from the builder of the EPIC city of Zamorah. 
I'm currently (still!) working on the expansion of my characters village, Valnösträd, and yours is a true inspiration.
Glad you liked it, mate. 

Thanks for your kind words. I've been away for awhile now. But I hope I can get on the horse again and keep building on my patch of land =) 

Are you going for the quest of Historical Settlement? This is a great motivation for expanding your settlement =) Most of my builds this summer is to get my settlement to City status. I've done to Town at this point. Only have a town hall left. But that is a big MOC. Maybe I get that done in 2020 :grin:

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I held off on commenting until I could find time to read the story - a fun read, I especially liked your description of the "monster" and then his realization that it was just a fat chicken. :laugh:  It was certainly interesting enough that the length wasn't an issue, so I vote for keeping up the length of the stories in the future too.  And since in this case at least it covers four builds, you could always split it up into four different topics.

As for the builds, great job with the lightning and thunderclouds in the first one!  The tan is a little bright for a thunderstorm scene; maybe if you just darkened it a little digitally you'd be able to better capture the atmosphere.  Neat little cottage with some creative bushes, and I love how foamy the river is!  Last but not least, a great little vig to end with, nice job varying the terrain height so we can really see what's going on at every level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Outstanding work!  The story is illustrated perfectly by the pictures, and, of course, I will never fault anyone for long stories! :laugh:  All of the builds are very nice, with some great ground work, particularly in the rocks, and the house scene is very well done.  My favorite has to be the first build, however, with the lightning and the superb rockwork.  The angle of the shot and the cliffside are incredible.  Really outstanding work!  Keep it up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/14/2020 at 5:38 PM, Louis of Nutwood said:

Thank you, sire Navarre! I'm glad you like the builds, and I'm happy you noticed the 'foreshadowing' between the micro and the following build. 
YES, do come back with a cup of hot beverage.
Cheers!

I read the story now, and it was an interesting tale: a little over dramatic and goofy, but fun! I liked the beginning, only this sentence had various typos or errors:

His eyes stopped at a hill. It’s (Its) rock wall leaning (leaned) over the valley. Vekrod and Hob stood behind, looking after the horses, while Balduin and I climbed the steep mudded (muddy, or muddied) path that guided us to the cliff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, W Navarre said:

I read the story now, and it was an interesting tale: a little over dramatic and goofy, but fun! I liked the beginning, only this sentence had various typos or errors:

His eyes stopped at a hill. It’s (Its) rock wall leaning (leaned) over the valley. Vekrod and Hob stood behind, looking after the horses, while Balduin and I climbed the steep mudded (muddy, or muddied) path that guided us to the cliff.

You could theoretically write it like this, with leaning:

His eyes stopped at a hill, its rock wall leaning over the valley.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Grover said:

the steep mudded (muddy, or muddied) path

"Mudded" is a word, and works fine here.  So just the "it's" that should be "its" and all is well.

But minor grammatical quibbles aside, I did take time to read the whole thing and it's a lot of fun.  I would say the drama runs a little long for the overall gag, but I think that was at least partially what you were going for, and it's enjoyable and the builds and photos work very well throughout.  Keep up the great builds and fun prose!  :classic:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That’s a misquote of me, as I copied another.  I never said mudded was not a word, merely pointing out the original poster could have meant a few different things with ‘leaning’ and was not necessarily incorrect in their usage.

I would like to point out that this story was very well written and completely understood.  I would hate for grammar sharpshooting to discourage people from writing, as these stories are great and I love seeing more of them.  I have seen many native English speakers write far worse and much less intelligibly.  Keep up the good work all!

Edited by Grover

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/16/2020 at 9:19 AM, Zilmrud said:

Are you going for the quest of Historical Settlement? This is a great motivation for expanding your settlement =) Most of my builds this summer is to get my settlement to City status. I've done to Town at this point. Only have a town hall left. But that is a big MOC. Maybe I get that done in 2020

I go back and check the HSS every now and then, just to make sure I'm running in the right direction. Until now, I do have what is necessary to call it a village, but there's true potential to get to a town level. I agree! It's a great way to keep track of what's needed in a settlement to call home. 2020 should be the year I finally finish it. Cheers!

On 1/16/2020 at 3:23 PM, Kai NRG said:

I held off on commenting until I could find time to read the story - a fun read, I especially liked your description of the "monster" and then his realization that it was just a fat chicken. :laugh:  It was certainly interesting enough that the length wasn't an issue, so I vote for keeping up the length of the stories in the future too.  And since in this case at least it covers four builds, you could always split it up into four different topics.

As for the builds, great job with the lightning and thunderclouds in the first one!  The tan is a little bright for a thunderstorm scene; maybe if you just darkened it a little digitally you'd be able to better capture the atmosphere.  Neat little cottage with some creative bushes, and I love how foamy the river is!  Last but not least, a great little vig to end with, nice job varying the terrain height so we can really see what's going on at every level.

Thanks, Kai! Your evaluation really means a lot, so I'm glad this little tale grabbed your attention. Your encouragement to maintain a lengthier story is also a boost to continue writing. Thanks for all the support, mate. And I'm glad you pointed some aspects I really like in each build. Cheers, man!

On 1/16/2020 at 10:15 PM, Grover said:

Outstanding work!  The story is illustrated perfectly by the pictures, and, of course, I will never fault anyone for long stories! :laugh:  All of the builds are very nice, with some great ground work, particularly in the rocks, and the house scene is very well done.  My favorite has to be the first build, however, with the lightning and the superb rockwork.  The angle of the shot and the cliffside are incredible.  Really outstanding work!  Keep it up!

Thank you, sire Grover! Point for the writers team! Your lengthier tales are certainly an inspiration to keep coming up with more robust stories. I'm glad you liked the builds, especially the first one that took me some out-of-the-box planning. Thanks for the support, sir. And congrats on the trophy for the last challenge!

On 1/17/2020 at 4:59 PM, Grover said:

You could theoretically write it like this, with leaning:

His eyes stopped at a hill, its rock wall leaning over the valley.

On 1/17/2020 at 3:28 PM, W Navarre said:

I read the story now, and it was an interesting tale: a little over dramatic and goofy, but fun! I liked the beginning, only this sentence had various typos or errors:

His eyes stopped at a hill. It’s (Its) rock wall leaning (leaned) over the valley. Vekrod and Hob stood behind, looking after the horses, while Balduin and I climbed the steep mudded (muddy, or muddied) path that guided us to the cliff.

YES, that's what I went for. 
But I definitely agree that this sentence could have been written differently for better understanding. "ITS" clearly must replace "It's" and I'd go for "muddied" too. 
Thanks for the eye-opening, Sire Navarre.

On 1/18/2020 at 4:54 AM, deraven said:

"Mudded" is a word, and works fine here.  So just the "it's" that should be "its" and all is well.

But minor grammatical quibbles aside, I did take time to read the whole thing and it's a lot of fun.  I would say the drama runs a little long for the overall gag, but I think that was at least partially what you were going for, and it's enjoyable and the builds and photos work very well throughout.  Keep up the great builds and fun prose!

You are absolutely right, Deraven. I'm thrilled you liked the story and, although a little too dramatic, I'm glad you maintained your interest in reading it through. 

On 1/18/2020 at 11:55 AM, Grover said:

I would like to point out that this story was very well written and completely understood.  I would hate for grammar sharpshooting to discourage people from writing, as these stories are great and I love seeing more of them.  I have seen many native English speakers write far worse and much less intelligibly.  Keep up the good work all!

Not at all discouraging, Grover. In fact, I encourage your honest evaluations and critiques, as they make us all better writers and builders. But it surely warms my heart (and fingers) to know such great writer enjoys reading through my tales. Thanks, really, for all your help, guys. I only hope the stories and creative sharing will gradually improve through our community. 

Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A very fun story, and I commend you on your writing; it's no easy task to put down this long of a story in one's first language, let alone their second (and English at that!).  I love all the supporting builds, which are great continuations of your style, and I think you've done very well with you minifig posing and the way in which you photographed each build to show your story.

Can't wait to see where this goes next! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.