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  1. My plan for this challenge was a full-fledged elven merchant's guildhouse. Then life happened, and I realised I would never be able to finish it in time - even with the extended deadline. But I really wanted to participate; so here is an unassuming entry, just for the enjoyment of building and fleshing out Historica. PS. Of course, I couldn't help but write a short story. A story that would take place a few years before my main storyline in Embervale, but featuring the same main characters. Elmire's Couture House Meborin, Avalonia. The great merchant city of the High Elves. A place of awe and wonder, where only the finest was good enough. In the upper part of the city, Elmire’s couture house was the kind of confidential place where a few high-end, unique articles were offered to the admiration of selected guests. Trivial things such as prices were never, ever spoken. If gold ended up changing ownership, it was patronage of the Arts. A sign of recognition of Elmire’s talent – nothing to do with menial trade. When Lord Dresghar, Ambassador of the Dark Elves in Meborin, solicited an appointment, Elmire got a bad feeling. Yet the Ambassador himself was as fine as a Dark Elf could be: he had a charming smile, beautiful blue eyes and the refined manners expectable from a diplomat. Alas, he was also afflicted with a niece who had none of these things but needed a new ball gown. “What have you done to me? I can’t breathe anymore!” Alrune cried out, struggling to free herself from the garment that was crushing her ribs. “Get me out of here!” “You just need to stop panicking, honey, everything’s all right,” Dresghar placidly replied. “Really, that’s all you can come up with? I’ll stop panicking once I’ll be able to breathe again!” Ties. There were ties beneath Alrune’s fingers. If only she could loosen them up…She felt searing pain in her forefinger – but insisted. Hopefully those nasty strings would give up before her nails. “That dress of yours is an exquisite masterpiece, dear.” She heard Dresghar’s voice say in an insufferable worldly tone. “Youthful yet elegant, with just a hint of glamour. That’s how a proper elf maiden should look like.” What? To hell with elegance and glamour – she wanted to breathe! And now, from the corner of her tearful eye, she saw the dressmaker smile blissfully at her uncle. None of them seemed to intend to move even a little finger to save her. All right. Too bad for the dress – it did look good, she had to admit, but it was trying to kill her. Under the increasingly horrified gaze of the dressmaker, she created tiny, glowing darts of magical force from her bleeding fingertips. And then, unceremoniously, she sliced the back of the garment. -- Epilogue Smelling salts were needed to revive Elmire after the incident, and it took Dresghar an elaborate floral arrangement and two boxes of candied violets to obtain forgiveness for the affront to her creation. Alrune kept the dress. Even adjusted to a more sensible fit, it was still as mesmerizing as Elmire had imagined it. Two more pictures...
  2. My entry, as a team with @Sympatik Brick, for the collaborative category of Brickscalibur. Check his build here! And, also, a new episode in my main storyline the Chronicles of Embervale... THE BUILD My very first vehicle, and very first attempt at creating other Dark Elves than my main characters Alrune and Dresghar. I'm now very tempted to make a full-fleshed faction, Warhammer-miniatures-style, but I digresss. Here is a high-end but cumbersome carriage of the Dark Elves, traveling through the rugged mountains around Embervale and getting to know the local population... More details of the decor, minifigs and carriage in the spoiler section below. THE STORY Previously in the Chronicles of Embervale: a flashback brought us back when Embervale was ruled by a certain Governor Voronthir. Alrune had never set foot there, and Evrart was a sergeant for a neighbouring baron of the human Realms. As said baron was visiting Embervale to solve a minor conflict with the Governor, all of a sudden, the bell of the village made its ring heard… As the bell started to ring in Embervale, the quiet village became a hive of activity. Such a backwater corner of the Elven Empire hardly ever got visits from officials – even the local governor set foot outside of the castle only if he was really forced to do so. Imperial elves mingled as little as possible with the human populace of their most remote borders. But the bell was announcing imperials and rumours and contradictory information were spreading like wildfire. Who? Why? Good news, or bad omens for the villagers? The visiting baron was not the last to want to know more. Upon interrogation, the town crier explained him he had rung the bell because the miller’s son said there were imperial troops approaching. The boy had been warned by an adventurer. Who had heard it from one of the foresters. Who said a little bird had told him. At which point the baron’s sergeant had the greatest difficulty to prevent his liege from punching someone in the face. As the rest of the day passed on without any imperial elf showing up, most of the visitors from the Adventurers’ Guild left the village for places with more action and less damp squids. The baron, meanwhile, decided to stay. Partly because he had no intention to give up on talking to the Governor despite the hermetically closed gates of the castle, and partly because the local beer was excellent. And as he and his men were about to order their third round, a small black bird came to land on their table... “What the…? A crow?” One of the soldiers exclaimed with a large yet imprecise hand gesture intended to expel the intruder. “I’m not a crow,” the bird stated, scowling at the man. “Not everything that’s black and flies is a crow, you ignorant grunt. I’m an alpine chough!” An awkward silence was the only answer – during which the baron glanced at his beer with much suspicion. Yellow bill and red feet, you see,” the bird went on, unimpressed. “That’s an easy way to distinguish an alpine chough from a crow, which is all black. Anyways. If you get me a portion of this excellent roasted ham they serve here, I’ll tell you all you want to know about the elves who are approaching. Who were approaching – actually.” Perhaps it was the beer, perhaps it was curiosity, the fact remains that the baron ordered a portion of ham for this unusual informant. And, between two pecks at its lunch, the little bird told them about travellers it had seen in the mountains above Embervale. A big carriage and a handful of riders. They were what humans called dark elves, most probably, because they were clad in black and there were pointy bits on the (black) coach. The chough had spent some time perched on the carriage, and one of the elves had given it half of an excellent goat cheese. Then it had left them to tend to some important bird business, and the next time it had seen them, they were as good as dead. “What happened?” The baron snapped when the bird chose this precise moment to take the time to preen its feathers. "They were ambushed!” The chough answered with such a sudden wing gesture that the closest soldier spilled his beer. “Scary creatures! Cats and wargs! Claws and fangs – and weapons! They took the carriage!” "Any elf left alive?” The sergeant enquired. “Maybe. At least, I haven’t found the body of the nice one who gave me cheese.” “I would have expected the survivors to show up in Embervale cryin’ to their governor like little kids to their mama!” The baron sneered. “You dare to explain why you tell us rather than some pointy-eared rascal?” “You’re not even able to differentiate a chough from a crow! Don’t expect me to care for the differences between you primates,” the bird replied in the same tone. This time, the sergeant was not quick enough to prevent his liege from throwing a punch. But don’t you worry for the little chough! It dodged, and spent the rest of the evening enjoying roasted ham - while watching one of those classic tavern brawls that is bound to happen in any self-respecting fantasy story when someone loses their temper in a bar.
  3. Saying that I was thrilled by this year's "Magical Minifigures" category of the Brickscalibur contest would be an understatement. So instead of five minifigs, as initially planned, I ended up with ten! From left to right... - From Avalonia: Farbauti, wild druid, and his faithful warg - From Mitgardia: Falmond Hoog, artificer, and his masterwork the Crystal Golem - From Avalonia: my sigfig herself, in a battle-ready outfit. Alrune d'Embervale, battlemage and necromander, animating a recruit - From Varlyrio: Bérangère de Belloy, enchantress, and her mighty familiar - From Kaliphlin: Sedri Raedh, demonologist, invoking a lesser demon - Last but not least, from Nocturnus: Amlach, wizardry researcher, and an experimental abomination
  4. The nights are getting longer, the air is getting colder, and it's even starting to snow here in France : time for fire in the fireplace, and time for an Advent Calendar! From tomorrow onwards, I'll update this topic with a small build or minifig per day.This year's theme will be winter nights in Embervale, with comments from my main GOH characters Alrune (elven mage and governor of Embervale), her uncle Dresghar and Evrart (the captain of the guards). Scene 1. Night Watch Scene 2. Embervale by Night Scene 3. At the Edge of the Woods Scene 4. Night Forest Scene 5. Stargazing Scene 6. Grandfather Frost and the Maiden of Light
  5. THE BUILD The Adventurers' Guild and the workshop of Guillemin, the luthier of Embervale. As soon as that "double arrow" modified tile (3396) showed up, I knew I was going to use it for a timber-framed house inspired by the place I come from - Alsace. It took me a while to figure out the design (and choose the colour)...but here it is! The border is designed to be very easily removable to allow further expansion of the village. All custom printed parts are from Briquestore. More photos of the interior in the spoiler section below. THE STORY In the last episode we left Alrune unconscious, stunned by a banshee’s wailing, her spirit drifting away in the ethereal plane. Will she be alright? Will her devoted uncle find a way of healing her? What’s for dinner? Let’s just let those fundamental matters rest for now, dear reader, and let’s have a look about a year earlier. Let’s go back to a nice fall afternoon, in the mountains at the border between the Elven Empire and the Human Realms. Let’s focus on a castle surrounded by a picturesque wine village and deep, dark forests streaked with turbulent streams. This place is called Embervale – a phonetic and misleading transcription of Ombreval, its name in the local dialect – but you probably already figured that out. Embervale has a long and chaotic history. Over the past centuries, it had been besieged, captured, recaptured, occupied, and annexed by Elves or Humans, by one faction or another. At the time of our story, though, it had been under control of the Empire for a couple of decades. The Elves had expanded the castle, improved the battlements, appointed a governor, and then seemingly forgotten about it. Yet the dreadful reputation of the Empire and the strength of the fort were enough to ensure peace, and the place was enjoying quiet, prosperous days. Due to its location, the village attracted travellers of all stripes. Merchants, frequently, and many wanderers from the Human Realms coming to seek adventure in the mysterious mountains of the Elven Empire. And on this day, on this beautiful fall day when our story is about to begin, Asceline the Head of the Adventurers’ Guild was gleefully attributing quests, selling gear and having drinks served to a colourful bunch of guests. Her business was thriving. The story began with a handful of riders stopping by the Adventurers’ Guild of Embervale. Four men, wearing the dark red and silver colours of the closest Human barony. ne of them, as Asceline realised when he loudly demanded drinks for his retinue, was the Baron himself. “I sent three letters to Governor Voronthir, and he never replied,” he barked at Asceline – as if she could do anything. “Mind you, he never gave me back that mushroom knife I lent him last winter!” Adventurers were starting to pay attention, always on the lookout for quest opportunities. “I’m afraid he won’t be able to answer you anytime soon, sir,” Asceline said. “Everyone is sick in the castle, and they have closed the gates to all visitors until it gets better.” “What kind of disease?” The Baron’s sergeant enquired. Some of the adventurers were now taking notes. “The kind that, er – gives rash,” she replied. Neither the soldiers nor the adventurers looked impressed. “Very itchy? Extremely painful? Highly contagious?” Still no reaction. "Did people enter the castle and never came back?” one of the soldiers asked, and beamed when he received enthusiastic approbation from nearby adventurers. “Not really. Some did. It’s not the kind of serious epidemics that decimate populations, you see. Just a fleeting and very unpleasant inconvenience.” Disappointment loomed over her audience. There was nothing heroic in facing a mild infection to retrieve a mushroom knife, and no reward had even been mentioned. A few adventurers moved away. But the Baron was made of sterner stuff – and had subordinates to take care of the dirty work. “Evrart, you’ll be going,” he ordered his sergeant. Who was, literally, saved by the bell as the bell tower of Embervale chose this precise moment to start ringing the solemn pattern that announced the arrival of an Imperial visitor. THE CAST Front, from left to right: - Asceline, the Head of the Adventurers' Guild - Guillemin, her husband, luthier - Agnès, their housekeeper - Pernelle, Angès' granddaughter - Mahaut, the village elder - Urbain, the apothecary - Roland, Guillemin's cousin - Two visitors from below the mountains - Adventurers (bard, ranger, fighters, mages) Behind, on horseback: - The Baron d'Autours - Evrart, his sergeant - Two soldiers
  6. After a few years of making custom minifigs, I have come to realise that minidolls are by far superior. The are way more realistic and expressive, and on top of that their elegant figures are a perfect match for the setting of my storyline. So here is an improved version of my main characters, from left to right: - Grog, Goblin Guard of Embervale - Evrart, Captain of the Guards of Embervale, - Alrune, Necromancer and Governor of Embervale, - Dresghar, Cultural Attaché of Embervale, with Rex the Tarasque Cub. Much better, right?
  7. This is my entry for Category 10 C of the Final Anniversary Contest: the castle of Embervale...or rather, one of its counterparts somewhere in a different plane of existence. THE BUILD Inspired by the excellent game Monument Valley, and by the no less excellent art of David Umemoto. THE STORY Warning : it's long. Very long. Way longer than the previous episodes. So long I'm thinking of putting it in a spoiler section. Previously, on the Chronicles of Embervale: Thyrulnë the Fair, court mage and mother of Alrune d’Embervale, sent a banshee to her daughter to deliver a macabre present. Scuffled ensued and Alrune ended up stunned by the banshee’s wailing. Days later, she is still unconscious. Chronicles of Embervale Ep.06 - Confusion Featuring… Alrune The Lady of Embervale, necromancer Other beings Alrune was confused. She could think, she could move, but she could not feel. She was wearing her lace nightgown, but she could not feel the usual itching of the collar. She was breathing, but she could not feel air in her nose. She could not even feel her own weight as she moved forward. Forward, but where? High spires, sleek arches, brightly-hued vines on grey stone walls – it looked like her castle. But something was off. She did not recognise this archway, precisely. She extended her hand to reach a nearby pillar, and touched it. It did not work the usual way. She could not pass her hand through it, but she did not feel the cold and roughness of the stone under her fingers either. Maybe it was a dream. She closed her eyes – which did not impair her vision – and tried to concentrate on the energy flow in her body…or rather, in her currently non-corporeal envelope. First observation: there actually was an energy flow. Second observation: she could manipulate it. Deduction: magic worked, it was not a dream. Yet it proved unusually tiresome to create a comforting little flame dancing in her palm. She realised there was no other usable energy than her own, as she could not draw anything from the world around her. Turn left. All right. First, she needed to keep her mind occupied. Occupied with some useful train of thought, that is – otherwise, it would soon trick her into panicking. Go up the stairs and turn right. She decided to task her mind with finding out where she was. Not from a geographical point of view, of course, but from a cosmological one. She reckoned she was in some kind of spirit state, in a plane of existence where she could manipulate her own energy, but that did not allowed magic in the same way the material plane did. Which left several plausible options as for which plane of existence this was. She was most probably merely disembodied and haunting her good old castle without being able to interact with it. She could have travelled a little farther, among hungry ghosts and restless spirits. There was also a slight chance she had ascended to a plane of enlightenment from where puzzled superior beings observed the deeds of humanity. Turn right again. And, of course, she could not rule out the possibility of being in a plane about which modern scholars had not even theorised yet – or that she had not heard of. Cross the bridge. She could also…wait, what bridge? There was no bridge in her castle of Embervale. It occurred to her she was following an irresistible urge to go on moving forwards, but she had no clue where she was heading for. Nor why. She forced herself to stop. There is something behind you! She quivered and looked back. There was nothing. Of course there is something! Still behind you – only, the other behind now. Before she could think about it, she was moving again. Faster. Now it is following you. And other things are flanking you. Flee! Great. Now she was scared, had invasive thoughts, and was chased by hungry beings. She forced herself to stop once again and did her best to maintain inner peace. She could see her chasers now, pallid humanoids with empty eyes and crooked mouths. She cast a shield, a translucent, opaline sphere glimmering around her. No! That silly shield is going to attract them like a beacon! You need to move forward – this is the only solution. The creatures around her hissed. Indistinct, larger figures were gathering behind them. She struggled with herself to disregard them, and to evaluate her situation as coldly as possible. Grey stone, grey arches, everywhere. And mist. A dense, opaque mist that was flooding the whole scenery and blocking the view. Forward! See the light over there? It means safety. There was indeed light, a clear, bright light that pierced the fog, and she was drawn to it like a moth to lamplight. Unfortunately, her chasers seemed to be attracted the same way. They were now a whole pack, surrounding her, and irremediably moving in the direction of the light. Go with the flow! Don’t worry, the light will take care of everything… She struggled to evade the crowd. Creatures screeched and yelped when the shield touched them, but there were so many moving in unison that she could not oppose them, no more than driftwood could oppose the rising tide in the material plane. The shield was standing firm, but her self-control was failing. The creatures terrified her. The inexorable movement terrified her. The light fascinated her. Come to the light. She focused her attention on the light. It was appealing, yet cold and harsh – not unlike the inner voice she was desperately trying to silence… Trust the light. It was so familiar... The light, the voice… Magic, it was magic! Cold-blooded magic. Or, more precisely: necromancy. From the other side. No! She was being invoked like the helpless errant spirit she currently was. But this shall not happen – she refused to end up possessing a corpse, subjected to the will of the invoker. She cleared her mind as best as she could and turned inwards. No! She gathered all her remaining energy. Lowered the shield. Took aim at the light. NO! And let everything go. … The world turned to a silent, endless, empty white.
  8. THE BUILD THE STORY Previously, on the Chronicles of Embervale: Alrune met an old friend who passed her an order from her mother. Tasked to retrieve the embalmed heart of an ancient hero, she eventually got qualms of conscience and refused to comply. Chronicles of Embervale Ep.05 - A Wail in the Night Featuring… Alrune The Lady of Embervale, mage Evrart The captain of her guards Grog A goblin guard Seisiri An unwelcome visitor “Sir, Sir! Open the door! Serious matter, I swear!” the squeaky voice of a goblin shrieked. Evrart curled up under his blanket and desperately tried to ignore him. It was the third time this week his insufferable subordinates had come to wake him up in the middle of the night for so-called serious matters. The last time, it was about a nightmare. Not some kind of demonic horse, as he had initially understood, but just a bad dream. And they had waited until he had gathered and equipped a whole squad to eventually spill the beans. The screaming was going on. The goblin even started to bang on the door – and Evrart could have sworn he heard him sob. He came to realise the pesky little bugger would not stop. He begrudgingly left his bed and opened the door, only to find Grog, the smallest, weakest, nicest of the goblin guards, panicking in the corridor. “There’s a ghost with a corpse in the elves’ crypt, sir!” the goblin whined as soon as the door moved. “Sounds regular. Leave me alone!” “But sir, it’s a ghost of the Boss’ mother!” “What the…When did her mother pass away?” “No no no, sir! Not what I said! Not a ghost of her mother, a ghost of her mother!” Evrart sighed and rubbed his eyes. All right. He had no clue what Grog was talking about, but still: it was his duty to deal with intruders. He ordered the goblin to gather a squad. Thinking it a little more, he sent him wake up Lady Alrune and her uncle first. Whatever the Lady's mother had to do with this, it seemed to be a family affair. Then, once equipped, he reluctantly headed for the elvish crypt. He positively hated the funerary complex that previous owners had found tasteful to set up under Embervale Castle, a labyrinth of bleak passageways connecting an absurd number of crypts and vaults. Many of those had interesting architectural features mirroring the fancy ornaments of the castle above, but he found those displays of pride distressing in the cold and darkness of the underground. The elvish crypt was one of the most elaborate parts of the catacombs – and, indeed, there was presently a ghost inside. A bluish-skinned lady with fine yet shrivelled features, whose face displayed a smirk when Evrart entered the room. “Someone, at last! No offence, but hospitality leaves a great deal to be desired in this castle!” “Hospitality is for guests, not for ghosts,” he grumbled while scanning the room. There was something white on the catafalque behind the spirit. “Ghosts?” she laughed – a clear, but eerie laugh that sent a shiver down his spine. “I’m not a ghost, my fair sir, I’m a banshee. I have a present for Lady Alrune d’Embervale, from her loving mother.” She waved a hand at the catafalque and floated aside as Evrart cautiously approached it. A corpse. The thing on the catafalque looked very much like a corpse wrapped in a white shroud – just as the goblin said. As he stared as it, the already icy temperature in the crypt seemed to drop a little more and the Lady of Embervale entered the room. “Your Highness,” the banshee stated in her honeyed voice, and bowed. “Your mother wants you to know that you have greatly disappointed her.” “I always do so, Seisiri," Alrune replied. "Could you be more specific?” “Her Grace had entrusted you with a simple, basic mission. And you failed, if you may be so kind as to excuse such a severe word. But as a matter of fact, you could not even retrieve some helpless heart from a mundane mausoleum.” "This is between her and me. I’m certainly not answerable to an underling, and I’m not going to discuss the matter with you.” The smile of the banshee got wider, and she hovered towards Alrune until their faces were only inches away. The Lady quivered, but did not move and held the spirit’s stare. “Someone else has disappointed Her Grace, ma’am,” Seisiri sneered. “Your Halfling friend, the one she had tasked to ensure you would follow the orders. Her Grace kindly sends you her body: she will make a pretty little undead servant! Her Grace also says you need to be reminded you’re a necromancer, ma’am – it’s not good for you to be surrounded by so many beating hearts.” Alrune turned pale, and she cast a dismayed glance at her captain. He silently folded the shroud aside to reveal the face. And his heart missed a beat when he recognised the corpse: she was, indeed, the friendly, cheerful halfling who had given a book and a letter to the Lady at the summer fair. He nodded sourly. Glowing darts of magic whizzed from Alrune’s fingers towards the banshee, who dodged and burst out laughing. As the elf aimed a second spell, more powerful but hardly better prepared, the laughter of her opponent morphed into a creaky, high-pitched howling. Evrart felt his mind crack like a crashed mirror as the wailing increased. He saw Alrune collapse. He struggled briefly but faltered, and passed out just as three black daggers darting from the darkest corner of the room took the banshee down. be continued ADDITIONAL PHOTOS
  9. My entry to the "Old but Gold" category of the final contest of the Guilds' Anniversary: an updated version of one of my very first GoH builds. Two years and a half have past since I posted the original, and time has flown by. I feel like my style and taste has evolved, both as a builder and a storyteller. Recreating a build designed for the Mitgardian wilderness in the more organised, refined surroundings of an elvish castle in Avalonia, and trying to translate its characteristics features, has been a lot of fun! ________ “Have you noticed, honey," Dresghar asked his niece as his eagle pinned the lure to the ground, "how the airspace above Embervale seems to be a very popular flight route among homing pigeons, lately? Well, my bird and I are only one training session away from finding out what’s it’s all about...” ________ Original version: ________ More photos of the new version: ________ And, of course, the recreation would not be complete a bit of information about the birds...
  10. My entry to the "Farmstead Figures" category of this year's edition of Brickscalibur - and a handful of hard-working citizens for Avalonia! --- Hademar Half-Dwarf had lost two fingers and half a leg to war. Yet he deemed himself fortunate, for when peace had come the Baron had granted him several acres of fertile land and a few heads of cattle. This enabled him to marry his long-time sweetheart. They were blessed with five healthy and hard-working daughters. And for years their little farm kept thriving nicely. Until one day an old friend of his, a former brother in arms, showed up at the gates with a frightened young girl. An orphan, he said. A poor little thing he had rescued from brigands. They talked about the old times, they talked about their fallen fellows and about the ones who lived, and his comrade soon talked Hademar into welcoming the girl in his household. And while he welcomed her with warm words and open arms, Hademar felt deep in his heart that this meant trouble for his farm and his family. From left to right: Hersent, Heloïse, Hildegard with baby Hemma, Heilwig, Hademar Half-Dwarf, his old comrade Renart, the orphan girl, and Hermine with her horse Hero.
  11. Fleshing out Embervale Castle...and taking part in this year's Summer Joust, in the "Subterranean" category. --- Guard Captain's log, arcane date-time 140630B SUM 1322 Intruders broke into the basement. Two killed, two captured. One vanished. No own casualty. Minor material damage. Prisoners interrogated: they’re from the Adventurers' Guild, tasked to retrieve some magic gizmo (see attached drawing). Contracting party unknown. They had a map marking the hidden room in Lord Dresghar's cheese cellar. I'm off to the city to have a word with the representative of said Adventurers' Guild. Side note: the trap in the goblins’ crypt was triggered. No need to feed the plant-thing below before next week. --- Level 0: from the scullery, access to the well and to the storage room below (with a handy goods elevator - carrying barrels while using a ladder is quite a delicate task). Level -1: just a regular storage room, with food and jumble. Level -2: the goblin guards' crypt. The idol's pedestal is held together only due to the friction of its side plates. Messing with it - e.g. removing the idol - triggers a trapdoor that leads direcly to the lower level. Concealed behind a sturdy, regular stone wall without any secret door, this level also includes a treasure room shielded by a shadowguard... Level -3: let me introduce you to Eriaxis Monstrosa, a subterranean carnivorous plant from the Kolgari realm, that definitely appreciates the snacks the trapdoor above keeps sending it! Level -4: the cheese cellar and the well. And a secret door hidden in the wall, that leads to a (rather disappointing) secret room...
  12. A "military" build to flesh out Embervale in the Historical Settlements and one day get it included in the "Avalonian Sites and Monuments: a comprehensive guide"...and also my entry for Brickscalibur's "Interior Architect" category. Here are the command room and the armoury of the castle of Embervale! (Global photos in the hidden section) The story - Chronicles of Embervale Episode : To arms! Featuring… Alrune - The Elf Maiden, Lady of Embervale, mage Dresghar - The Chronicler, her faithful uncle, erudite Evrart - The (recently promoted) captain of her guards Gram - A guard Rex - The guards’ pet tarasque Goblin guards, skeletons "So, how are you doing?" Dresghar cheerfully asked the captain. Brooding next to the window of the command room, his arms crossed and his eyes gazing into space, Evrart let out a slight sigh but did not answer. Shortly following their expedition to the druidic mausoleum, out of the blue, Lady Alrune had come up with the unfortunate idea to appoint him as the captain of her guards. Her goblin guards. Only recently had the pesky little thugs dropped the idea of eating him, he wondered how she could think they would obey him anytime soon. "Are you alright?" Dresghar repeated. Evrart sighed again and gestured toward the courtyard on the other side of the window, where a few goblins were enthusiastically poking each other with blunt spears. "I’m trying to get them through basic training, sir. Teamwork. Hierarchy. Elementary hygiene. Stuff like that." "And it doesn’t go as intended?" "Oh well, they happen to follow my orders from time to time. And they know which side of a spear is supposed to be pointed at the enemy. I guess that’s a start." One of the goblins tripped over his own weapon, fell in a puddle, and made all the others giggle foolishly. "Let’s just hope the lady doesn’t have short-term military ambitions, sir." Evrart turned his attention away from the goblins – his goblins – and observed Dresghar snooping around the command room. It was a large study located in one of the most ancient parts of the castle, reflecting the architectural style of the humans who had built the early stronghold rather than the ornate design of the elves who had later besieged it, won it, and rebuilt it. The successive elven governors of the castle had kept the room as intact as possible, going so far as to hire human workers to renovate the elaborate parquet floor and furniture. Lady Alrune’s father, who had used the place as his headquarters during all his campaigns, was allegedly the first to add his coat of arms and colours on the walls and decorate with personal items and weapons. "Do you know how to read and write?" Dresghar suddenly and unexpectedly enquired. "More or less, sir," Evrart replied after a short hesitation. "The baron I used to serve taught me how to sign my name and read simple messages." "Well, I guess that’s a start,” the elf sneered. "Now that you’re an officer of Embervale, you’ll need to participate to administrative tasks as well as military ones." Evrart rolled his eyes. "Very funny, sir." "Oh, I’m not joking," Dresghar replied with a mischievous smile. "There. Here are the books where my niece was recording her military expenditures. She’s very bad at accounting, even you can’t do worse. Give it a try!" And, still smirking, he left the room and abandoned Evrart with a pile of books and the unpleasant feeling of being snookered. First, irksome goblins, and now administrative chores. Why did he come to Embervale already? Oh, right, he had no place to live when the baron got rid of him, and he deemed the lady here as a respectable person. --- He spent the rest of a day – an eternity – struggling to decipher the tiny, tight handwriting of the said lady. He was almost concluding she had encrypted her writings, when an ear-piercing shriek shrilled. He froze, all senses in alarm. And soon, he heard the distinct sounds of a scuffle right from the next room. The armoury. He rushed out, only to find three panicked goblins trying to fend off a much larger group of skeletons. Good old stupid skeletons, wielding decaying weapons, fighting bluntly without a hint of cooperation. Not that it really put them at disadvantage against the goblins, who were hardly better at tactical thinking. Frightened eyes were peeking out from the door that led to the guards’ dormitory: the rest of the goblins, not even helping their comrades in need. And, much to Evrart’s surprise, Alrune was in the room too. Unarmed, her hair undone, wearing a white nightgown, she was trying to comfort the guards’ pet tarasque cub. He briefly wondered why she was playing damsel in distress instead of fighting, but chose to focus on more immediate issues. "Get out, you wimps!" he shouted at the hidden goblins. "Take weapons and fight!" He heard them squabbling and moaning, but only one of them hesitantly ventured out of their lair. And stopped halfway when he noticed he was alone. Exasperated, Evrart crushed a few skeletons out of his way and reached the strongest among the fighting goblins. "Gram, make those cowards come out! If any of them dares to resist, feel free to tear off their ears – or whatever else comes to your mind!" The goblin flashed him a vicious smile and headed to the door. A few squeaks and screeches later, the whole company was in the guards’ room and frantically grabbing the nearest weapons. "Leave those freaking spears alone! Take clubs and maces!" the captain yelled. "Clubs and maces, you freaking fools!" Gram repeated while dropping her own spear. And, much sooner than Evrart had expected, all the intruders were shattered. --- The goblins cheered and drank all night long, boasting at their military prowess. The next morning, their captain was in a foul mood and had a severe headache when he met Alrune for their daily brief. "I regret to say that, but I have yet to find where the skeletons came from," he reported bitterly. "Really? They simply come from the basement. I animated them in the catacombs under the castle." He recoiled, staring at her in disbelief. A silence fell. And last. "I’m what your people call a dark elf, and I’m a mage," Alrune finally stated, her voice deeper than usual. “How could you not expect me to know enough necromancy to animate a few skeletons?" "If you say so! But why the heck would you do that to attack the armoury? I mean, your own armoury?" "It was a live exercise for the goblins and you! Or rather, an undead exercise," she added with a slight chuckle he found appalling. A rather puzzled Alrune watched him leave the room swearing under his breath. She had given him a trusted position, helped him train his men – err, goblins, and yet the guy was still as grouchy as ever. Oh well, humans. Strange people, really.
  13. It's this time of the year again - the time to light the fireplace, grab a glass of mulled wine and count the days before Christmas! From tomorrow onwards, I'll update this topic with a small build or a minifig per day. This year's theme will be broadly heroic fantasy, with comments from my main GOH characters Alrune (elven mage and lady of Embervale), her uncle Dresghar and Evrart (the only human soldier among their guards, the other ones being goblins). Now let's get started!
  14. My entry for the "Monarchic Minifigures" category of the Brickscalibur contest! I could not miss the opportunity of having fun with minifigs while fleshing out my main character Alrune's family history. The minifigs (from left to right) - Dresghar, court minstrel - Thyrulnë the Fair, his sister, sorceress - Prince Aerenion, second son of the Queen - Shellethnir, Queen of the Dark Elves - Crown Prince Aerenthir, first son of the Queen - Alrune, his daughter - Wilwë the Elder, battlemage and advisor to the Queen Their story Once upon a time, in this very land we live in, there was a Queen. Queen Shellethnir, as she was called, had been widowed at a young age – losing her King to a sudden apoplexy stroke only two years after their wedding. Shortly before her widowhood, the Queen had given birth to two sons. Twins, but as different as siblings could be. Aerenthir was born first, and first he was in everything. A bright and fair child, the pride and joy of the Queen’s court. Aerenion was born second, unexpected even by his own mother. A shy and silent child, hidden in the shadow of his brother. While their mother ruled the kingdom with an iron fist in a glove of the same metal, the two princes grew up under the thumb of a most renowned tutor, Wilwë the Elder. A battlemage, a veteran of most – if not all – the wars the kingdom had known before. And also, incidentally, my father. But that’s not what matters. What matters is that Aerenthir became a brilliant tactician and a ruthless conqueror, the perfect crown prince his mother had hoped for. And that he soon married the fairest maiden of the court: my sister Thyrulnë, proud offspring from a long lineage of sorcerers and a mighty sorceress herself. Meanwhile, Aerenion stood behind the scene, finding serenity in study and solitude. The court rejoiced when Thyrulnë gave birth to a little girl, for the child would be as bright and fair as her parents. But when the kid grew up, it became obvious that she was as shy, as silent, and as solitary as her uncle Aerenion. Murmurs and rumours spread across the court. Aerenthir chose to flee. He threw himself headlong into military campaigns, marching even on neighbouring countries he used to see as allies. Thyrulnë chose to fight. She threw herself headlong into arcane studies, morphing her bitterness into dreadful weapons against the courtiers she used to see as friends. The harm had been done, and the halcyon days were over. The crown prince never came back from war. Neither did my father. And while my sister held on, the Queen as for her sank into despair. Soon after the funerals of her favourite son and her most trusted friend, she abdicated. And disappeared. That’s how Aerenion the Unexpected was crowned King. That’s also how I ended up taking care of a little girl, my niece Alrune, and how our story began...
  15. I thought I'd never been able to finish that build in time for the challenge...It's my biggest MOC so far, and hands down my most complex one. I don't even know how many trials and errors it took before those wings actually looked like wings! is my entry to the GOH Anniversary 2nd count down challenge, in the "Ancient Wonders" category. --------------------------- The build: A druidic mausoleum, deep in the Enchanted Forest of Avalonia... --------------------------- The story: Chronicles of Embervale Episode 2 - the Moonbird Mausoleum Read the previous episode Featuring… Alrune The Elf Maiden, Lady of Embervale, mage Dresghar The Chronicler, her uncle, erudite Evrart A soldier Ancient heroes, long forgotten "Uncle, would you please pay attention?" Alrune cried out, desperately trying to drag him away from the lute he was tuning. "I’m reading you a message from mom!" "What does my august sibling want?" he asked, out of pure courtesy. "She wants a heart." How great, this time he did react: he was raising an eyebrow. "A heart? Well, I knew she didn’t have one, but I thought she was unaware of it," he sneered. "And not just any heart. She wants the heart of some girl named Lloergan. It seems to be important for her - she even says please. Twice! As if I had nothing better to do than…" "Lloergan, you said?” Dresghar interrupted. "That’s interesting. What else does she say?" "Nothing. She has just included an antique map, with a red..." He snatched the map from her before she could finish her sentence. She rolled her eyes – with him, there was no such thing as a middle ground. Seconds ago he did not give a damn, and all of a sudden he was like a kid on Midwinter morning. "Druidic. From the First Era, I’d say. Most probably authentic," he mumbled, inspecting the map. "So what?" "So it’s likely to show the actual location of Lloergan’s mausoleum, sweetheart." "Holy pretzel, Uncle! Am I supposed to understand what you’re babbling about? Who’s that girl?" He cast her a bemused look. "What, you’ve never heard about her?" She let out a sigh as a few notes suffused, and he began to sing an hour-long epic drama – the story of Lloergan. It was a rather classic legend, featuring an impossible romance, feuding families, and many curses. But in the end, it all boiled town to a shapeshifter, a druid of ancient times, who gave her life protecting her people from an – of course – evil sorcerer. After her tragic fall, struck by a wicked spell, nothing intact remained of her but her heart. The druids of her circle embalmed it and placed it inside a mausoleum built in her honour, somewhere deep in the ancient forest, in a place long forgotten. "And that’s the heart your mother is coveting," Dresghar concluded. "Given the remote location of the mausoleum, there is a chance it has been preserved from tomb raiders and other inquisitive adventurers. Especially when youngsters like you have so little knowledge of ancient lore!" "Whatever. I’ll send Evrart. He’ll retrieve that heart and mom will leave me alone." "You’ll go with him, sweetheart, this mission may require finesse! Besides, it will do you a world of good to go gallivanting around the forest. You spend way too much time inside with your books and your cats." --- The Ancient Forest was tinged with gold and speckled with rust, yet still full of life and sounds: the joyous trills of lively birds, the gentle babble of puckish pixies, the rustling of leaves in the fresh breeze. Before long, morning mists would enshroud the lakes. Valleys would echo with the roar of mighty stags. And nature would slowly fall asleep, in a flamboyance of light and colours. Valiant heart and noble spirit, the Elf Maiden had set forth for the mausoleum of the legendary Lloergan with a single guard. They had ridden for days, following broad paved roads, then proceeding on narrow paths winding through the forest, and finally making their way through the undergrowth. And soon, in a beautiful glade bathed in sunshine, they reached their destination. [Excerpt from Dresghar’s later telling of the journey in the Chronicles] --- The druids had built Lloergan’s mausoleum in the shape of her favourite animal form, a moonbird. Its wings spread around a terrace, finely sculpted, the large figure was still pristine centuries later. At its heart, framed by opalescent stones, were a massive silvery urn and three delicate statuettes: Lloergan herself, and her two closest companions. "I was expecting something more impressive," Alrune mumbled – in blatant bad faith, Evrart judged, given that she was staring at the mausoleum with her eyes wide open. "And I was expecting a ruin, my lady," he retorted. "Could the heart still be in the urn? This seems way too easy." "We’ll know it soon. Let’s go and check!" The heart, skilfully embalmed, was still in the urn. And there was not a single trap protecting the mausoleum. No warden. No protection spell Alrune could detect. The situation was quickly getting on Evrart’s nerves. His conscience already bothered him about desecrating the grave of a hero and, somehow, seeing said grave be so cooperative with plunderers made their mission feel even wronger to him. "That’s ridiculous!" he grumbled at the end of the day. "How can a centuries old, so-called forgotten place be so…immaculate? Apart from a few leaves on the ground, it’s impeccable. No wild grass, no creeper, not even a proper crack in the stone! And the heart is still there, just like the stones and the statuettes!" Alrune shrugged. "We’re in the ancient forest. Maybe some hermit comes from time to time to clean up? Anyways, no-one remembers that place and no-one ever passes by. There’s no-one to damage the mausoleum and loot its riches." "Well, that is, except from us. Aren’t we precisely here to loot the most precious relic from this place?" A frown crossed the elf’s face, and she did not answer. As she spent the rest of the day sulking, giving her guard one-word orders and replies, he began to suspect his remark had hit a nerve. --- In the middle of the night, while he was sleeping fitfully, he was suddenly startled awake by a harrowing cry shortly followed by a low rumbling. Still drowsy, he drew his sword and rushed towards a faint halo gleaming in the direction of the mausoleum. As a second thundering noise resounded, he spotted Alrune firing some kind of shockwave at two spectral beings hovering and wailing around her. "What happened?" he shouted, rushing at her side before realising his bland steel weapon would have no effect on their opponents. "I don’t know! I was in the mausoleum, and they attacked me!" One of the ghosts brushed past him, cold and distressing, and he felt his strength failing him. The constant howling of the creatures kept ringing in his ears, clouding his judgement, slowing his moves. He stumbled, struggling to keep his balance. He suddenly sensed a sharp discharge of energy, and his sword became colder in his hand. It occurred to him that the blade was now enshrouded in a shadowy, ethereal mist: the elf had cast something on it. He heard her yelling something indistinct, seconds before the rumbling of one of her magic attacks rolled again. One of the ghosts vanished in a last shriek. Evrart pulled himself together and attacked the other one. He had been a man-at-arms since he was strong enough to wield a weapon, and his combat reflexes came back quickly. Already weakened by Alrune’s spells and vulnerable to the now magic sword, the second spectre soon disappeared like the first one. "Why the heck were you alone in the mausoleum in the middle of the night?" Evrart asked more harshly than he actually intended, while glancing around to ensure that no threat remained. "I was putting the heart back in the urn. I can’t…do that anymore. Obey orders I don’t understand. Do fishy things on the whim on my mother. I’m fed up with her caprices and dubious plans!" Evrart remained silent for a moment. The lady’s words sounded somewhat bratty and unclear to him, and he had no idea what kind of things she had done before he got to know her. Anyways. Whatever her reasons, her decision of putting the heart back seemed fair to him. "If you were setting things right, then why did the ghosts attack you?" he finally asked. "They were Lloergan’s two companions, weren’t they?" "I think so. But they were probably not protecting the mausoleum anymore. Most spirits fade after un-death, losing conscience and memory. They might not remember who they were, nor where they were. Then nothing heroic remained in them, only the cold and despair at being trapped in between worlds." --- When they left the place at dawn, Evrart turned back one last time before entering the woods behind the elf. And there, in the morning mist floating over the mausoleum, he distinguished the faint figure of a beautiful lady all clad in white, watching them leave with a smile on her pale face.
  16. My CDC2 minifigs are nearly ready and my ancient wonder build is starting to resemble to what I have in mind. So here is a sneaky episode to link the Chronicles of Embervale prologue and the CDC! Like the prologue, it's also available on my blog. ---------------------------- The builds Embervale Summer Fair - Elgwi's Curiosities Embervale Summer Fair - Ivo the Baker ---------------------------- The story - Chronicles of Embervale Episode 1 : the Summer Fair “Can I have a pony?” “No, Grog, it’s not lunchtime yet,” Evrart replied absently. “Not a pony for eating, sir! A pony for riding. Like the Boss’ white horse but smaller and less freaky? Please?” Alrune turned her head to glance at the goblin with tender amusement, and Evrart had to hastily pull her aside to avoid a collision with a pot-bellied dwarf carrying a barrel. She awkwardly thanked him while struggling to regain her balance – and her dignity. The natural grace of elf maidens, what a hoax! It was the third day of the summer fair in Embervale, and a colourful and boisterous mob had stormed the otherwise quiet village. Trying to work her way through the erratic crowd, Alrune was feeling like a cockleshell trying to navigate through a sea of freighters. She was contemplating the idea of casting a shockwave spell to clear a way when, much to her relief, they soon reached calmer waters and their destination. Nestled in a cosy nook behind the inn, it was a huge stall kept by a tiny halfling. The stall was full of strange minerals, colourful vials and odd trinkets, everything thoughtfully displayed and impeccably polished. It certainly was the most dapper spellcraft shop Evrart had ever seen – even the stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling looked fresh as a fiddle. “Hi there, your Ladyship!” the halfling cheerfully shouted when they reached the stall. “Geez, what a gloomy face you make!” “Good morning Elgwi. The crowd is horrific today,” Alrune replied with a sigh. “You may hate it, but it’s good for business, your Grace! Anyways, I have everything you requested. Just wait a moment, I’ll be right back.” The halfling vanished into the depths of the stall, and she soon reappeared with a bag and a heavy-looking grimoire. Alrune’s face brightened. "There you are,” she whispered, lovingly leafing through the pages of the book. “Hundreds of illustrations drawn in the author’s hand, reviewed and annotated by Archimage Willibert himself,” Elgwi said with a little self-satisfied smile. The two girls went on cooing over the book for a while, and a small but full purse changed ownership. A few moments later, as Evrart was holding the bag and ready to escort Alrune back to the castle, Elgwi handed her a thick envelope. The elf frowned at the mere sight of the blood red wax seal that closed it. “I almost forgot,” the halfling said. “That’s a message from your mother.” “Seriously. She has dozens of servile minions, and everyone at the court considers her wish as their command. Yet she uses you as a messenger.” “She did not give any explanation, your Highness. She just said it’s private and personal, and she’d rip my eyes out to feed them to her crow if I don’t convince you to read it – and do what’s written.” Elgwi had spoken lightheartedly, but Evrart realised that Alrune was taking the threat very seriously. “Fine, I’ll read it,” she hissed. On their way back to the castle, no one dared to shove her. She was so obviously seething that everyone moved out of her way. To be continued...
  17. This is what happens when a storyline I've had in mind for ages for a webcomic collides with my heartfelt reunion with my LEGO bricks and this year's Summer Joust "Creating an atmosphere" category... ---------------------------- The build : A castle, somewhere in the Enchanted Forest of Avalonia... ---------------------------- The story : Chronicles of Embervale - Prologue* *Also online on my brand new blog Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, lived an elf maiden. She was fair and wise, with eyes bright as jade and hair dark as shadow. Alas! The Elf Maiden’s heart was shrouded in sadness, for she lived alone in a secluded tower. “Wait, what? I’m not sad, and I’m definitely not alone. I have three cats, a company of goblins, and…and you!” “Right.” With the hint of a smile, he wrote: Her days were only lit up by the gentle presence of her caring uncle. Alrune sighed and turned to the window. “You know, Uncle, when I asked you to write our chronicles, I was thinking of something less lyric. Just a straightforward record of what happens in Embervale, actually.” “Well, sweetheart, nothing ever happens in Embervale. I mean, we do have the occasional invasion of dire rats. Worgs in the forests. Dragon attacks. And way too many surprise visits from your mother. But nothing really interesting!” Alrune smiled, absently watching the sunrays flickering in the rustling leaves in the courtyard below. She had willingly left the imperial court to carry on her research in peace and tranquillity, and her uncle Dresghar had been ordered to go with her. Much to his dismay. She knew he missed the court’s thrilling and refined lifestyle. She also knew the poet in him enjoyed the beauty of the mountains around Embervale, the quaint charm of the castle, and the simplicity of village life. Soon, for sure, he’d love this place as much as she did. --- “There are people requesting a hearing, Boss!” the goblin guard hollered from the entrance of the hall. “From the village!” The goblin gestured for the visitors to enter. A pack of peasants hesitantly moved forward, impressed by the grandeur of the hall and its dignified architecture. Though small and provincial, Embervale Castle radiated a solemn atmosphere even the unseemly attitude of the guard could not tarnish. “Good morning. What would you like to talk about?” Alrune asked after an awkward moment of silence. “There’s a monster in the forest, my lady! We lost two lambs and several hens.” “Sheep and chicken? Are you sure this is not a mere worg? Or even just a big fox?” Wringing their hands, clearing their throats, the villagers did not reply immediately. And then they all began to talk at the same time. “It screams at night, my lady. Bloodcurdling cries. Worgs are decent creatures, they do not screech like that!” “My brother Ivo, he saw a beast, my lady! Green, as big as a horse! With horns and a shell like a tortoise!” “It breathes fire!” Moments later, if the words of the villagers were to be believed, it appeared that Embervale was threatened by a six-legged armoured monster with the head of an eagle and the tail of a dragon, taller than a house and faster than a hare, able to breath fire and spit venom. “I see. Probably something mightier than a fox, then. Horns and a carapace – a tarasque, perhaps?” Alrune speculated. “Go back home and stay safe behind the village walls, we’ll deal with it.” “So, sweetie, how exactly are we going to deal with that dubious monster?” Dresghar asked as soon as the villagers left. Alrune avoided his gaze and remained silent, more concerned than she let on. --- “Someone else, Boss!” the guard yelled again. “The guy who works for the neighbour!” The goblin let the man in, a weary soldier with a stern face who gracelessly bowed to the Elf Maiden. He was no stranger in Embervale, as he had already delivered numerous messages from his quarrelsome master. “Good morning, Evrart. What’s the matter this time?” Alrune asked before he even uttered a word. “Does a tree from my forests cast an outrageous shadow on your baron’s crops again?” “Most likely, my lady. The old baron is…was a stickler for proper ground maintenance. But this is not my reason for coming.” He paused, obviously searching for words. “He happened to die a few days ago. The old baron.” “Good to know! … Huh, sorry – I mean, sorry for your loss.” Despite his lack of manners, the human did have the grace to go on as if the Elf Maiden had not foolishly cut him off. He was speaking in a low tone, his voice bitter as if his own words hurt him deeply. “The young baron said he needed new blood. Dismissed us all who served his father. So I end up on my own, and I was wondering if you were hiring.” A silence fell, somewhat altered by the squealing of Dresghar’s quill on the parchment as he decorated an initial. “Well, actually, I have a problem with a tarasque…” “A tarasque, my lady?” “Or maybe a very weird fox. Whatever it is, it instils fear in the village. Investigate, find out what’s happening, and I’ll try to find you a place here.” --- A few days passed, and the human came back. By his side were the two guards of Embervale the Elf Maiden had sent to escort him, as well as a small, armoured creature with tiny horns. “And who’s that cutie?” Dresghar cooed, putting the Chronicles aside to kneel and pat the creature on the head. “It’s a tarasque cub, sir. We found the remains of its mother in the marshlands,” Evrart replied. “It’s rather friendly, actually. It bites only when it’s scared.” “It followed us home, Boss, can we keep it?” one of the goblins asked, coyly glancing at Alrune. “Please, Boss?” the other one added with what he intended as a charming smile. The Elf Maiden was gentle in heart – the kind of person who genuinely cared for stray kittens and fledglings fallen from the nest. Hence, at the end of the day, Embervale had welcomed two new denizens: a lovely little critter, and some ordinary human.