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Everything posted by Henjin_Quilones

  1. Avalonia Welcome to Avalonia! If this this is your first time to the Guilds of Historica, it is suggested that you check out each of the guilds and decide which best fits your tastes as a builder and storyteller. An overview of Avalonia is provided below. If you've chosen Avalonia, please introduce yourself in this thread and post a picture of your sigfig and a short description of your character. The guild color are dark green and sand green, so please include some sort of standard bearing these colors with your sigfig. Your standard can be with molded flags, brickbuilt flags, or whatever you can come up with. Check out the current challenge, or post free builds. Free builds can be any size, and whatever you wish to build. Feel free to check out the list of Avalonian MOCs from Book II here for ideas. Part I: Origins of Historica Our tale begins shrouded in the mists of time. It was with the anointing of the first King of Historica that the long darkness ended. The early days had been filled with terrible wars, clan against clan, race against race; Men of the Lion battled Men of the Falcon, and all Men were beset by armies of Orcs and the undead. Those days came to a close at last after a council of the wisest men and women, of all races, convened in the last Great City of the Old World, Cedrica. The wise sought a way to unite the warring factions under one banner, to usher in an age of stability, prosperity, peace, and happiness for all. They formed four great Guilds, realms in their own right: Avalonia in the West, Kaliphlin in the South, Mitgardia in the North, and Nocturnus in the East, to foster trade. And to rule over it all impartially, to keep everything running smoothly and to settle grievances, the first King was anointed, a Man from an ancient family well-regarded and well-respected by all. The early days of the rule of the Kings were exactly what the wise had hoped: bustling trade routes sprang up between newly built cities, trades and crafts and arts were flourishing, and finally even the poorest had enough to eat. The sound of music, not battle, was heard on every street corner, and songs, not curses, rang out in every hall. When the first King died, his son took his place, and his son after him, and on through a long line of noble rulers. But the good times would not last forever. Dark magics slept under the land, magics that were awakened by the Black Mage Victor Revolword. Elemental monsters wreaked havoc across the land and Revolword, the Elemental Helm on his head, ascended the throne. But his reign would be short. The Black Mage was slain by heroes of the united guilds and the Elemental Helm was destroyed. But the chaos of those dark times had altered the harmony of the lands, and a new dark power arose in the East: the Black Spire, with the dread Lord Raavage at its head. Soon the Darklands of Nocturnus were all but under Raavage’s iron fist, with only pockets of resistance remaining. The other guilds were powerless to assist their friends in Nocturnus, for the Drow arose in Avalonia, along with a crippling plague; the Algus, a new enemy, swept down from the Frozen Beyond to try to conquer Mitgardia; and an ancient ruler arose from the dead, the Desert King, to throw Kaliphlin into utter chaos. It was learned that all these sinister threads could somehow be traced back to the web at the center, spun by the Lord Raavage, as he sought to destroy the guilds and rule them for himself. To complete his dark plans, he needed the Necromancer’s Helm, a relic of dark magic that could give him complete power over the dead. And he had found the map to the Helm. All seemed utterly dark. But in the darkness a new ray of hope shone: a rumor circled that the heir to the throne of Cedrica had been found! Inspired by this new hope, once again the guilds united, and heroes arose to again combat the darkness. Raavage was destroyed by the cunning of brave mages and his own greed, and his army crumbled against the might of the united guilds. Peace had been restored, but at a cost. The lands lay in ruins, ravaged by countless wars. It was time to rebuild. In this tattered but hopeful world, the newly-anointed Queen Ylspeth, daughter of the murdered king, has begun her rule, ending the time of darkness. This is the world of Historica. Heroes, arise, and reclaim the glory of the Guilds! (For a complete telling of the history of Historica, click here. But be warned: it is 203 pages long, so make sure you are sitting in your leather armchair by the fire, with a mug of mulled wine, before you begin.) Part II: About Avalonia The Western Paradise Avalonia is the westernmost realm of mainland Historica. It is often referred to as the 'Sacred Paradise', due to its lush foliage and mystical origins. From the fertile rolling green fields and countryside around its capital, to the great lakes, hidden waterways, and mystical islands of its heartland, and all the way to the enchanted forest at its far western-most point, its beauty is one of a kind. Home to all kinds of life and treasures, it is a land full of myths and legends and the stronghold of the mighty Guild of the West. History of Avalonia: Avalonia has always been a sacred place. From its very beginnings it was home to a powerful race of Druids who settled there. Attracted by its beauty and mystique they lived in harmony with the land for many centuries and used their skills to protect the land, which flourished under their rule. As time moved on, their numbers started to decline and the last few remaining took it upon themselves to create one final enchantment. They gave all their power and their lives in one ultimate spell, a treasure, that if found, would bring peace and protection to the land for all eternity. They hid the treasure in their most sacred shine, and with their final task now complete, they vanished into dust; today many of their shrines and temples can be seen in ruins throughout the land, a relic of those days. Days turned to months, months turned to years, and years turned to centuries. During that time the land became inhabited by all sorts of mysterious life and became a very dangerous place. Unknown beings lurk in the Mystic Isles, and there is both darkness and light under the eaves of the Enchanted Forest. Eventually tribes of Elves came who made their home in the forest. The Elves were drawn to the land's sacred power and vowed to watch over the land until the day came when a suitable ruler could be found. One whose people could bring peace and prosperity back to the land. And so they waited... The Guild of Avalonia: Avalonia's Guild is the youngest of the four great lands, having only been in power for a few years. Whence they came, no one knows. All that's known is that when Avalonia was at its darkest hour, a Guild led by Men rode to its safety. Mounted on huge war horses, they thundered through the land and no enemy or evil could stand in their way. For seven years now, the new Avalonian guild has ruled. In that time they have given protection and stability back to the land, secured peace with the other realms, and trade has flourished. A warrior race, they are never ones to back down from a fight and have no fear in battle. For in battle lies their true calling, in battle they are free, and as the joy of battle takes over them, their minds are focused towards one thing, the slaughter and destruction of their enemies. Riding into battle, the sound of charging horses echoes that of the beating wings of a mighty dragon. Hence they are known throughout the land as 'The Flight Of Dragons'. Part III: The Regions of Avalonia: The East Region: Countryside and Capital  This is where Avalonia's capital city, Albion, is located. It is an area full of lush green fields, mighty stone castles, quaint rural villages, and shimmering lakes. The area has very rich farmland which gains much trade between the other great Guilds. We regularly supply farm produce to the other three corners of the world in exchange for oil and other resources. So you may often see a raised flag from another land when their emissaries come to barter goods. The area is primarily inhabited by the race of Men, but many other peaceful races have also made their homes and lives in this area, so it is not uncommon to see all races and walks of life in the busy Capital and its surrounding villages. The West Region: The Enchanted Forest This whole area is engulfed by an ancient enchanted forest. According to legend, the forest sprung from the grave of a mighty Wizard. When the Wizard died, his followers plunged his staff upright into his grave, which then grew into a giant Oak and the rest of the forest grew up around it. No one has ever found the mythical Oak, but some claim its guarded by the Elves. The Forest can be a dangerous place for those who venture here without a guide, as its known to have a mind of its own and is constantly shifting and changing. It is home to the Elves who live deep in its heart. Not much is known about the Elves, but they are a proud race, and feared by all in battle. They are allied with the Guild but will only fight along side them if the cause is a just one and threatens the land. The forest is also home to many bands of outlaws and other unknown races and beings who have taken shelter in its depths. The Middle Region, Heart Of Avalonia: The Mystic Isles This area is the most sacred of all Avalonia. The Isles were created two thousand years before when the Desert King, Ark'Mora Raa, attempted to destroy all of the Western Marches (the current Mystic Isles and the Enchanted Forest) with a curse due to their rebellion against his rule; but powerful practitioners of the ancient Faerie magics, among them druids, elves, fairies, and goblins, and many more, stopped the curse from completing its course. The magical battle imbued the region with powerful Deep Magics that make it among the most magically potent places in Historica. Here too is where the legendary ancient Druid shrine is supposed to reside, with the mystical treasure hidden within. Many have lost their lives in search for it, and most now believe its simply a myth. The Isles are shrouded in a think mist, supposedly cast by an ancient Druid to keep the evils of the world at bay, or else as a result of the counteracted curse of Ark'Mora. Now it acts as a gloomy curtain, concealing the unknown within. The Isles are surrounded by mazes of twisty waterways, lakes, marshes, and tidal estuaries. It is not known exactly how many islands lie in this area, for many say that you can never find the same island twice. The only reliable way of travel through these waterways are by the 'Water Folk', dark figures who are the only ones who know the safe hidden routes across the Isles. Who knows what creatures and tribes have made their settlements deep in the center of the Isles and remain hidden? The thick mist makes visibility difficult and Will O' The Wisps have been known to frequently lead unfortunate souls to their doom. The main route across to the Enchanted Forest is on the outskirts of the Isles, and allows a relatively easy passage to and from the Capital. What really does lie deep inside the heart of the Isles? That's for you to decide... The Map: Part IV: Membership Avalonia's memberships is open for those who wish to pick up arms and fight to expand our land and extend our Capital with stone castles, villages, farms and anything else they can think of to help the land. Do you fancy yourself as a tradesman and want to set up a business to increase our wealth? Or maybe you wish to cut out a life in the forest with the Elves and help strengthen the alliance we have. Or maybe, just maybe, you're brave enough to master the Mystic Isles, find the shrine and fortify the Islands with your own designs? We welcome all races, but on the agreement that you will be loyal to the land and fight for her when needs arise. The royal colours of our land and our guild are based on the land's lush earthly feel. We combine two shades of green: dark green and sand green. The law states that you will need to represent at least one of these flags and colours within every thing you build for the land. If you choose to be a member, there is much in store for you, but your first task will be to create your sigfig and introduce him or her with a bit of biography (even a sentence or two will do). Then start building! Examples of Avalonian People: (An important note: both flesh-toned sigfigs and yellow-skinned sigfigs are welcomed and accepted here in Avalonia; your personal preference and your collection should dictate what you choose! The examples here are flesh-toned, but you can do whatever you prefer, as great builders fall on both sides of the debate.) Perhaps you think, "There have been no new castle themes since 2013, and therefore I cannot join the Guilds since I don't have any castle people!" Well, that's just not true. Having castle or Lord of the Rings/Hobbit minifigures is great, but there are other options, many of which are currently available. Browse the following pictures if you are having trouble coming up with something for yourself. Standard Avalonian soldier figs: Older figs that still work in Avalonia (for those of you who are old): Farmers: Common people: Elves and woodspeople: Witch and forest creatures: Members of Avalonia: LEADERSHIP: Henjin_Quilones: Henjin Quilones, Jr, Master of the Drudi Order, and Galaria the Exiled Elf, Mistress of Dragons, of Druidham Role: Guild Leader (contact him if you have questions or concerns) ZCerberus: Lord Trian Burress, of Mesodraconem Role: Guild Lieutenant MEMBERS: TitusV: Arthur de Gothia: Lord de Gothia and sons, of Sionnach Grover: Lady Gwenllian, of Prenmôr Faladrin: Lord Faladrin, of Falahuas Brandon Stark: Lord Brandir of Arcadia kahir88: Conrad the Sly, Leader of the Wolf Brigade MiloNelsiano: Auron, of Osgard Niku: Count Julian Arfelan, of Arfelan cablefoxley: Abrecan Foxley, of Hamanne KevinyWu: Prince Kevin the Navigator, Lord of Eryos Ailhbe: Baroness Aihlbe d'Carraig, of Lesser Burren Zilmrud: Parzival the Half-Elf dalle: Dalle d'Updale, of Updale mlongworth: Princess Rhiannon The Last of Nerogue: Darion Wineyard: Lord Wineyard chewbacher: Caelthyr Ascaria Full Plate: Sir Rikkard Darby The_Nev: Neville Equicius LordBeavis: Niall O'Connall Part V: Current Tasks and Challenges Gold Count: Freebuild Period I: 134 Gold Challenge I: 79 Gold Freebuild Period II: Challenge II: Total: 213 Gold Challenges: Book III, Challenge I: A Time to Rebuild ended. Congratulations to Wineyard for his winning entry. Great to see Avalonians building solid entries, and we won the overall gold tally for the challenge. Book III, Challenge II: Bread and Circuses is currently ongoing, until January 31st. Let's get some entries in! Tasks: (Note: these do not need to be completed in order, though of course it does not hurt to do so.) FIRST TASK Avalonians! Our guild is composed of many different realms, and in these troubling times, it is necessary for each realm to muster militia at a moments notice or maintain a standing troop of soldiers. While there is a standard uniform for Avalonia's common soldiers and Army regulars, what do your troops look like, and what crest or device do they bear on their shields or tabards? How would one differentiate them in battle? For the first task, you should provide a picture of your realm's soldiers/defenders/mercenaries, etc. I have displayed a number of different soldiers common to Avalonia in the pictures above. Are your troops garbed the same, or do they display a different coat of arms or unique helm or weapon, or are they a mishmash of warriors? Remember that you should be displaying flags in the guild colors (dark green and sand green) or incorporating these colors into your uniform or standards. SECOND TASK Avalonians! Your Lords and Ladies (Sigfigs) have need to travel the realm. Who accompanies them on these journeys? What is their standard retinue? For the second task, you should provide a picture of your Lord/Lady and their entourage. They can be mounted or on foot, but it should be how you'd expect to see your sigfig about in the realm. Remember that you should be displaying flags in the guild colors (dark green and sand green) or incorporating these colors into your uniform or standards. Entries for this task should be posted in this thread. THIRD TASK Name and describe your realm/territory/region. What would one encounter as they traveled across your realm. Are there great forests or rolling plains? Is there a great lake or river of note? Who are the residents and what are they like? Do you have a tribe of hostile goblins living on your lands? Some Avalonians have already provided a very vivid picture of their realms through their builds. Any entry for this task should be posted as a separate topic and a link should be posted on this thread. This topic should include description in the form of words and pictures. The pictures may be in the form of builds, photos of real life locations or art. FOURTH TASK - Open to all Historicans Historica is home to many towns, villages, hamlets, and even a few Cities. The Royal Cartographer's Guild of Albion and the Avalonia's foreign affairs minister wish to officially recognize the many settlements of Historica. As a prerequisite to official recognition and inclusion in the "Royal Registry of Historica's Locations of Note" and "Avalonian Sites and Monuments: a comprehensive guide" each settlement must prove that they contain the minimum facilities to provide for their residents. To establish your settlement, you must post MOCs from specific categories common to all settlements. These MOCs CAN be already completed, but they MUST not already be referenced to a different location. To find out all of the details, check out this page: http://www.eurobrick...c=92705&hl=task FIFTH TASK Avalonians! All Lords and Ladies need a stronghold or fortress from which to rule their realm. Do you have a castle, a keep, a fortified farmstead? Where is your base of operations? For the fifth task, you should provide a picture of your stronghold. This should be your main fortress, not a small outkeep or tower. Remember that you should be displaying flags in the guild colors (dark green and sand green) or incorporating these colors into your uniform or standards. Entries for this task should be posted in their own topic and a link should be posted in this thread. SIXTH TASK - Open to all Historicans Merchants ply their wares throughout Historica, bringing Avalonian wines to Nocturnus and Kaliphlin spices to Mitgardia. But some brewers are renowned for their finest stouts or lagers, certain Kalihplin oil magnates that are known to provide reliable cheap lamp oil, there are prized meats that can only be purchased from specific breeders. These are the goods that are known throughout Historica by name. What are these goods, and who provides them? For the sixth task, you need to establish a brand of trade. This "brand" could be the maker/sewer/brewer/carver/grower of goods, it could be a specific region (this should be very specific to a location or small region, not "Nocturnus Cake" or even "Mystic Isles Pizza") or it could be more of a large trade conglomerate that provides a multitude of goods, or has stores throughout Historica. Some of these "brands" are already established in previous MOCs or posts, and some have not yet been established. To find out all of the details, check out this page: http://www.eurobrick...howtopic=113968
  2. Henjin_Quilones

    Book III - Avalonia: Guild sign-up and Discussion

    An official welcome to Avalonia, @LordBevis! Your fig looks good, and hopefully we'll see more of his story soon! (Looks like you have a rather significant build there already, so I'm guessing we'll get a chance to see it in the near future...) I'll get you added to the first post as an official member shortly.
  3. Henjin_Quilones

    Book III - Avalonia: Guild sign-up and Discussion

    In general, most builders have their own stories that they focus on most of the time, but many choose to build things that aren't related to their stories for challenges. Sometimes for freebuilds, too, actually. There is no requirement that you only build things happening directly to your character. Sometimes challenge builds overlap with builders' main stories, but not always, and it is certainly not necessary. There is no "right way" to tell stories in the Guilds, nor is there a "wrong way" (except when a story directly contradicts an established point of lore or infringes on the stories of others, or crosses out of the medieval-fantasy realm of Historica into something else, like science fiction or the modern world). Vague scenes, with generic events lacking any backstory, are oftentimes what we see for challenge entries, in fact. You can build stuff in whatever order you want; there is no requirement that you do X first, then Y, then Z, and so on (except for posting a sigfig and brief bio for Guild membership). So start building what interests you, and then keep going!
  4. Henjin_Quilones

    Book III - Avalonia: Guild sign-up and Discussion

    We would be greatly pleased to have you, even if your building skills are greener than the verdant Avalonian plains! To upload an avatar, click your member profile in the top right corner of the site, and then click on the picture icon on your account page. That should bring up a window that lets you upload a picture (100x100 pixels) to serve as your account avatar. Uploading pictures in general is best (or at least easiest) done, in my opinion, through Flickr. At the bottom right of a picture on Flickr there are several icons, one of which allows you to share the picture; it looks like an arrow. That opens a window that allows you to choose different formats for sharing. BBCode is the one you want, and you want to use the size that is closest to 600x800 (or 800x600) to have pictures large enough to be seen but not so large as to crash the server. Copy and paste the BBCode into your Eurobricks post, and like magic a picture will appear when you post it. Most people crop off the end part of the code, to make it look prettier, but it works either way. If that doesn't make sense, ask more questions! Here is a good place, or even better is usually the GoH New Member's Guide, so that everyone feels more free to answer. Welcome!
  5. Henjin_Quilones

    Book III - Avalonia: Guild sign-up and Discussion

    Go right ahead! You can create characters from any guild, any time you want, as long as you are not claiming them to be part of someone else's family (without consulting them first, that is). A generic son of an anonymous nobleman from a general region of Avalonia is perfectly acceptable! Make up a whole horde of them, if you like! The more Avalonians out there, the better!
  6. Lady Galaria, Mistress of Dragons, and Daeara the Earth Dragon A freebuild for Avalonia Lady Galaria, Mistress of Dragons, is the wife of Henjin Quilones and co-ruler, with her husband, of the Isle of Druidham in the Mystic Isles of Avalonia. She was exiled from the High Elvish kingdom of Hesperia by her father, King Fingolë the Golden, for joining with her fellow guildsmembers in defeating Raavage, rather than sitting back and doing nothing like her father wished. In her exile, she journeyed aboard the Nagra Luca, a swift Elvish ship, far to the west and south, to the city Bandari and the land of Mwamba. There, amongst the equatorial High Elves of that land, she learned much about elemental dragons and how to best raise and train them. In a gesture of unequaled generosity, King Mfalme allowed Galaria and a few of her companions to form soul-bonds with young Mwamban dragons, who then, after a few years of training under Kufunzi, returned all together to Avalonia, where they settled on the Isle of Druidham. Now Galaria and Daeara, her soul-bonded dragon, lead the other dragonriders of Druidham, teaching a new generation of dragonriders how to manage their companions, and protecting Avalonia from elemental threats. They fly here and there, meeting the people of the land and bringing messages, and sometimes passengers, from one corner of the land to the other. _____________________________________ .......................................................................... I had originally built this months ago for the Summer Joust, but never posted it since I wanted to build an all-LEGO scene in which to place Daeara, rather than the stand-alone display base here. I never got around to that all-LEGO scene, however, and decided instead to just post it now as-is. Ah well. Daeara is the same size (frame-wise) as Hewa and Moto, despite being female like Kijani and Maji, due to growing to full stature in earth-magic-rich Avalonia rather than Mwamba. C&C welcome.
  7. Henjin_Quilones

    Book III - Varlyrio: Guild sign-up and Discussion

    Tolkien is, I believe, from my rather extensive readings of the peripheral works of his (and his son's) corpus, the originator of the plurals "Elves" and "Dwarves"; "elfs" and "dwarfs" (and "elfin" rather than "Elven" or "Elvish") was the proper terminology of his day, and he fought his editors to change it to imply a distinction from the earlier beings, while still using the words and some of the related concepts. Hence the Disney film is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Aelf, the Anglo-Saxon root that gives us our modern elf originally denotes the exact same thing as fairy, and would have been construed by many in Tolkien's day as referring to a diminutive being who frequented the woods, much like we think of today with fairies and pixies (Tinker Bell, e.g.); but Tolkien was drawing out deeper Faerie, a world of deep magic that only touched our own in the liminal spaces (river banks, edges of meadows, dawn/dusk, for example) and was inhabited by races and beings decidedly NOT human, nor even typically friendly, even when fair and beautiful in appearance; a world inherently attractive but unsuitable for mortal humans to even visit, let alone stay, without direst consequences. Tolkien hated fairy stories that emphasized cute, small, harmless beings of trivial magic, and wished to lend a sense of gravitas to a world that he considered vitally important to poetry and literature in general. There is a lovely volume of his works entitled Tales from the Perilous Realm, which is a collection of short stories and poems of his that relate to Faerie, the Perilous Realm. Elves, in Middle Earth, are certainly not gods or any such thing; instead the Valar and Maiar fill that role; among the former number Morgoth, Manwe, Varda, Mandos, Ulme, many others (a sort of Olympian 12), and among the latter are Sauron, Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, and the Balrogs. Elves instead are meant to represent the better side of humanity, while the Men of his story represent the worse. Sorry. Nerd-vomited there...
  8. Henjin_Quilones

    Book III - Avalonia: Guild sign-up and Discussion

    I used the unicorn for the Queen because it is the symbol for the Guilds, and she is the queen of the whole thing. The royal house of Cedrica has dark red as its primary heraldic color, but the Queen has added white and black (see the banner in the back of the hall behind the throne here). I want to say there is dark green in there somewhere as well (since the minifig shield with the unicorn has dark green on it), but I don't want the Queen to be seen as biased towards Avalonia, either, so I have left that out, except on the shields.
  9. Henjin_Quilones

    Lady Galaria, Mistress of Dragons, and Daeara the Earth Dragon

    Thanks, this is definitely my favorite of the dragons I have made so far. All of the dragons are still built, but I'm not sure about a picture with all of them - I'm not sure I have the photography space to do a good job of it. I have the intention of someday building a scene with the four Mwamban dragons, but it still hasn't happened. Thansk, Rogue! I hope to develop the idea of the Mystic Isles further, too, fleshing it out more and displaying its uniqueness among the locales of Historica, rather than just some trees on islands. Thanks, en_zoo! I'm sticking to just the classical four, since that makes the most sense to me. I'd love to see you try your hand at dragon-building (or creature-building, in general) and strongly encourage you to do so! I'd be happy to give advice if you get stuck along the way. Thanks! Fantastical realism is what I strive for. Making it classy is just icing on the cake! It would work as a land-based creature, too, a sort of giant cat-lizard. I just like it with wings a bit more! Thanks! She's my favorite, too! I can crank these things out in a day or two, probably 4-6 hours of building on each. The wings are pretty stock at this point, and the frame and limbs are mostly the same, so the differences come down to what slope pieces I have to fill out the bodies in a given color scheme. And the heads. The heads are the hardest part for me, getting them to look even remotely natural.
  10. Henjin_Quilones

    Prelude: The Long Discussion

    The Long Discussion A prelude for Challenge II of Book III Word of High Queen Ylspeth's decree has spread far and wide across the four realms. A mixture of excitement, relief, and unease accompanies the decree, depending on the one hearing the message. In Avalonia, the Mistress of Dragons, Lady Galaria of Druidham, has brought together some of her fellow nobles to discuss the news and plan a way forward. Lady Gwenllian of Prenmôr and Lord Arthur are with her today, brought to Druidham by a short ride on dragonback, ready to be brought back home by another short ride with little interruption to daily life. They are walking in the loggia off of one of Druidham's many courtyards in the late morning, conversing. "I am not sure that we can do anything particularly extravagant in Prenmôr, of course," Lady Gwenllian was saying. "We are only just getting the settlement built up a bit more as it is, so coin is tight. And I'm afraid we are still some years away from being profitable with our farming, it being tedious labor just to break new fields, plant, and harvest, let alone shipping it across half of a continent!" "Of course, no one expects you to be selling your grain," Galaria assured her. "We here in Druidham will also not be selling any grain, since we have very little farmland working as of yet. Like Prenmôr, Druidham is a new settlement, too." Lady Gwenllian bit her lip in thought. "But we should still have a sort of mass entertainment, you think?" "Yes," Arthur and Galaria said at the same time. "It need not be extravagant," continued Galaria alone. "What is important is that you show the common people of your land that the High Queen is not so high above them that she does not care about them; that High Queen Ylspeth indeed wants them to be happy and fulfilled. Surely you have musicians and storytellers, yes?" Lord Arthur said, "Everywhere has musicians and storytellers, Lady Galaria, even Nocturnus. I'd reckon even the Drow have musicians and storytellers, though I've never been to one of their underground cities to find out." Lady Gwenllian smiled. "Nor I, Arthur, but yes, we have such professions, and we have cooks to throw a feast; would that be enough?" "Yes, as long as there are stories and songs that praise High Queen Ylspeth and the Unicorn of the royal house of Cedrica. Have your bards come up with something new, have your cooks try something exciting, and pull out all the stops that you can possibly afford to pull out. Here in Druidham, Henjin has already had our musicians begin composing a whole score for a new epic saga, which the poets have been tasked with composing. The events of Raavage's downfall have already been turned into countless ballads and tales, and those should be played and performed, too. Injini and the other gnomes will be putting on a light show with all sorts of explosive powders; the dragonriders will be doing aerial stunts, perhaps with some sort of skills competition; my husband's druids will be doing something with the deep magics to awe and delight; even the children are putting some plays together. This is not Kaliphlin, where we might watch some sort of gladiatorial combat or ostrich race; we have our own ways of having a festival, every city, town, and village of Avalonia knows how to celebrate in its own way. This is the time to do so!" * * * At the same time, the serving folk of Druidham were busying about as usual, doing their daily tasks around the island keep. "Have you heard?" asked Dervin, the steward of the household, as Hylena, the lady's attendant, approached carrying a tray of bowls from the brief luncheon the lady had had with her guests. "Heard what, Dervin?" asked Hylena. "You know I hear everything, same as you. To what are you referring?" "We're having a party, a big one, in the next month or so!" said Dervin triumphantly. "Old news, you know. Old news. Besides, who will be responsible for throwing the party except us, as usual? Nothing changes for a servant; parties are just another occasion for work, except on a bigger scale." "You're no fun," scowled the steward. "We get to have fun, even if there is work before and after the fun. I, for one, am excited. I hear that there will be dragon races around the island, and magic shows. All I have to do is make sure that everyone is fed and housed, and that there is money for it all, which I do all the time anyways, so this is a real treat for me. You should lighten up, Hylena. My son will be over the moon at the news." "I'm sure he will be," the lady's attendant said. "In the meanwhile, I need to bring these bowls to the kitchen to be washed. The party can wait for another day." __________________________________ .....................................................................
  11. Henjin_Quilones

    Prelude: The Long Discussion

    I don't buy nearly as many sets as I would like to, and I don't typically buy big ones like that, but I do look at pictures and read reviews! Thanks! Thanks, Muakhah! Every statue is different, to keep it interesting. Servants of course have a different view on life and events than their masters do, so I think we need to see a bit of both. Thanks, I saw the bowls in somebody's diner scene once and fell in love with the idea. Thanks, Ecc! Thanks, Gideon! Glad you like the lighting. As regards your advice, I did try to straighten the picture, but my primitive photo editor doesn't have that much nuance, and any minor correction to one side skewed the other too much, so I called it a wash. I do try to keep my camera level, but it is not always perfect, even on the tripod...I'll try in the future to make sure that it is a bit better. And I hear and appreciate what you say about the bit of bowl and hand that peeks in, but even in hindsight I'm not sure I would change it. I generally don't fiddle with the build if I can avoid it during shoots, but maybe I should have here. Thanks! Only what you see is built. The floor tiling ends in a jagged edge and the tree is built up on some pieces to get it up into the scene, but it stops at the edge of the roof, where some LEGO cables keep it vertical. It was built solely for the intention of looking good in pictures, not for display! Glad to know people like preludes! Photography is the area I have worked the hardest to improve, since that is really what separates the boys from the men, so to speak, in the online AFOL community. I'm not sure what the chained ninja conveys, but I was looking for light grey/bley pieces to make statues unique, and that one came together. Perhaps I'll have a backstory for it eventually... Thanks! The tree was a last-minute addition, inspired by Ralf Langer's stuff, especially this tree. Thanks, en_zoo! Feel free to stop by and wander the halls of Druidham, whenever you want! There are plenty of courtyards and terraces to stroll about, too. The tree is a flex tube core, with travis bricks slid onto it at different angles to serve as attachment points; 1x1 rounds are used to attach most of the plates and tiles to the travis bricks, and then the whole thing is set at even more of an angle by hinge plates out of the shot, and further secured with some cables out of shot on top to keep it from toppling. It's a pretty secure arrangement, actually; my 1.5 year-old smacked the leaves a bunch and it didn't fall apart, surprisingly. Thanks! Glad you like the pictures! Happy to transport you! Hopefully future lighting experiments will be as successful! Thanks, SK! There are a couple of trunk gaps that bother me, but I fixed most of them. Scenic realism is my goal, here, certainly, trying to make the place appear like somewhere that the viewer could actually go. The Wood Triptych from the Summer Joust profoundly inspired me in that direction. Shadow is as much a part of photography as light, and one that is neglected in LEGO, I think, at least for its artistic value, as we typically try to eliminate shadows to show all of the little details.
  12. Henjin_Quilones

    Prelude: The Queen's Council

    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. Conflict will come, since conflict always comes. Patience is a virtue, it is said. 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! Thanks Gideon, I hoped the closeups would make the dialogue both more interesting and easier to follow. Thanks! 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!
  13. Henjin_Quilones

    Prelude: The Queen's Council

    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... 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?" 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!" "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." 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." 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." 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. 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." 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!" 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!" 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. _____________________________________ ...........................................................................
  14. Henjin_Quilones

    The Sunken Tavern

    This is quite nice, and the concept is excellent as well. I agree with Grover that it is too clean for an old building on the water, especially with gulls (and their poop) everywhere. But storms and weather in general would stain the wood and batter it a bit, making it look aged. Or barnacles, perhaps, clinging to the sides? The all-brown color is a bit monotonous - perhaps a bit of brighter color here or there (besides white and black), or even some different browns, could have been good. Also, as I said in a different build of yours, I don't like the loose 1x1 round water technique, as I think it looks both unrealistic and messy, but I know that others undoubtedly disagree. Plus it is easier on the budget, I'd reckon. All that said, this is a nicely thought out build, with nice interiors, interesting spaces (like the patio), and some nice detailing. I hope to see more of Tradesmeet and its surrounding locale, as well as Varlyrio in general, soon!
  15. Nice Gnome building, RA! They sure do live in comfort. There is a reason Henjin and Galaria brought some Gnomes back with them from Bandari when they returned to Avalonia...hot water is a nice thing to have, along with radiant floor heating! I love the Gnomish writing and style you have put into that part of it, too, with the oddly scientific and yet somewhat imprecise wording. Glad to see this race being given some love.
  16. Henjin_Quilones

    Fort Defiance (Varlyrio 1D)

    The build is a bit on the plain side, as others have said, but it is still nice. Given that it was recently captured, that could account for the oddity of the corner gate; perhaps that was not the gate, but a hole made in the wall during the assault. The size of the fort is unclear, as it seems like it is bounded about with the base, since the chests and supplies are against the edge like against a wall, but then it seems quite small and inadequate to be the base for much of anything. I like the cobblestones, and the pot on the fire is a nice detail, too. I like your story, even with the attack on the Queen, and I look forward to seeing more of it!
  17. Henjin_Quilones

    Gnomish Warehouse of Kashgar [VAR - Freebuild]

    Those colors work so well together! I admit I was confused by the stairway, but then I saw how it connected to the customs post and my confusion vanished. I like the tower on the roof, and the boxes everywhere look great. I'm also glad someone else is using the Robin glasses for gnomes, as I think it is perfect! The 1x4 tiles in the corners look a bit crooked, but that is pretty minor. I am glad to see how the city is growing!
  18. Henjin_Quilones

    Helenia Warhorses

    The lack of pictures in the thread makes it hard to give good critique and feedback, but I do like the CMF stands in the roof, and the droid arms with bars make for a good enclosure. The structure itself is nice, too, from what I can see of it, mixing columns and arches well. The posing of the figs and horses is also well done. Presentation could be cleaned up a bit more, cropping or otherwise editing out the background where it shows through the paper, but it looks like another good build from you!
  19. Henjin_Quilones

    De Fiori Forge

    This is truly splendid, Garm! I love the lighting, especially the forge, but the diffuse light filtering down from the ceiling does a great job of looking like skylights or something of the sort. The dangling chains are perfect for giving it a sense of character, and the bellows is a thing of beauty. When I finally build my own blacksmith forge for Druidham, I'll be looking back at this one to see different things to copy, and the bellows is one of those things. The SNOT floor with occasional crack is nice, as is the texture of the stone in the forge itself - just enough to give it some wear and tear without going overboard. The tool racks are great, too. The only thing I think needs to be fixed is the lack of any sort of wedge or rack for the barrels - wouldn't they be at risk of rolling every time you poured yourself a pint to cool off? I guess I also wonder why the dark bley stone arch in the back has a gap in it, but perhaps it is not a fully structural element. I am glad to have inspired the lighting efforts on this! Hopefully more builders will start to emulate the effort and give us beautiful shots like this one!
  20. Henjin_Quilones

    AoM: Stables Phase 1: Clifftop Riders

    The forced perspective shot with the figures blurred and the background in focus is the best of the bunch, and looks great! I'm not as sold by the picture looking up at them, perhaps because there is not enough height exposed to really sell the effect. It still looks good, though. I would suggest varying up the technique on the rocks, though, as right now it is rather plain. That said, this is a nice build, and I hope to see more of the story soon!
  21. Henjin_Quilones

    Kashgar Customs [VAR - Freebuild]

    I really like the use of the half-planet dome, though I do wonder if you needed to adjust the columns a bit to make it fit better - as someone else said, they seem to be leaning a little. I like the plates with bar as a detail around the edge, though I don't think it works under the arch, since it is straight and the arch is, well, arched. The colors are great, though, and I like the contrast between the brick texture and the rest.
  22. Henjin_Quilones

    De Fiori Armory

    Great all-LEGO scene here, Garm! I love the detailing in the back, and the way it lends itself to a believable interior as a result. There is clutter where you would expect there to be clutter. My favorite bit is that grind wheel; you've got me puzzling over how it is being held together. My only complaint is that the background is blurred in all of the pictures, when I would like to see it clearly at least a little bit; the foreground is very nice, but not so nice that all I want to see is it...
  23. Henjin_Quilones

    Laesonar's Saga Ep. 9 - Much Needed Water

    I love the water technique here, as it perfectly captures the look of surging water. Great job with that! The small trees are also nice, especially in the muted dark orange color. In fact, all of your colors look good together here. I think continuing the SNOT base on the left would have been good, though it does not look bad as it is, and perhaps some extra work on the dried stream bed to differentiate it from the rest of the ground a bit more would have been good, but as it is, I do like it. I also love the idea of having benders in Historica, so I hope you keep that going. I do a lot with elemental divisions with my dragons, and each has a special ability to manipulate their particular element, so it would be cool to see that happening elsewhere. Good work!
  24. Henjin_Quilones

    [Freebuild - Mitgardia] Abandoned Kirk

    This is a nice little kirk, to be sure! I wish that you photography allowed you to show it off a bit better, mostly as regards the camera angle; as it is, we can barely see the tree in the back, and the ruined portion of the roof is almost completely hidden. I would suggest two things: one, begin a build with particular camera angles in mind, allowing you to focus your energies on detailing the parts that will be seen, rather than the parts that will be completely hidden (for example, if you are like me, the back walls of this are also textured and in grey, even though they could be completely absent or made of pink and orange bricks for all we see them). Two, play around a bit once it is built to try to get all the best parts in the main image. A bigger base would be good, as it allows us to see it more in context, and an irregular base could work well here. Also, for the wall textures, I agree with en_zoo about the 1x1 round bricks in the walls - it can work, but usually on a bigger scale; I think 1x1 round plates would be better, as well as setting the plates and tiles in the walls back a half-plate by mounting them on headlight bricks. They stick out too far right now, in my opinion. That said, I am glad to see Amos walking about and seeing the sights, and I hope he'll have more adventures soon!
  25. Henjin_Quilones

    AoM: Inn Build 2: Yule Celebrations

    The snow on the roof and ground looks very nice! You will equal SK in your snowscapes yet (maybe, unless he sabotages you to make sure you never equal his snow). The house looks great, especially the headlight bricks used sideways in the wall to give some nice clean (and closed) studs for texture. I am not sold on the grey shutters, as they don't fit the rest color-wise very well, and I wish there were an easy way to hide or fill the little gap in the trim up at the top of the eaves, but beyond that the house is excellent. The tree needs a bit of work, though. I wonder, if, instead of white leaf pieces, you had used 1x2x2/3 curved slopes with no studs on the dark green leaves, since that would match the texture of the snow on the roof and ground better, as well as allowing you to put the snow on the edges of the branches where it would more likely collect. (Also, as a side note, it is a fir tree, not a fur tree - though pronounced the same.) I really like the gathering of people, too.