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  1. Ahesh at the Battle of the Wither Woods As the rain poured outside, young Aarash ran to his father, Ahesh, and asked, “How did you become the Emir of our town?" Ahesh leaned back, looking into the fire for a moment and then gestured to his son and said, “Hop up here. It all started when Eastgate was under siege many years ago…" …Petera had been held up in Eastgate by his own brother, Dugal. As Eastgate was far enough away from Batuhan, this fighting rarely involved our village. We were too small to be of any importance. But we were drug into the conflict when a battle was to be fought at Trigan’s Mill, close to our farm. Dugal had command over these lands at the time and sent messengers to every village and town recruiting fighters. Your grandfather has already passed and I was in charge of our farm. The messenger made it clear that choosing not to fight was not in my best interest. I was given a week to report to camp. I found an old, but sturdy shield, what mail could be found as well as my helmet and sword, packed up, said good by to my mother and left. Ahesh I arrived at camp with several of our neighbors and found a busy sight. Many mercenaries and lords were already there. People from distant lands looking for excitement, payment or who were loyal to Dugal and his cause. That night, my neighbor, Bagher, said to me, “Given the experience and equipment of these mercenaries, I feel we shall come out as ground meat when the battle begins.” I nodded silently, feeling the same way and then said, “Stick with me, Bagher,” as I clasped his shoulder, “and we’ll watch each others’ backs.” The next morning was warm with a clear blue sky. As we lined up for battle, a gentle breeze blew across our faces. It would have been quite pleasant if it were not for the task ahead. I looked at Bagher, lined up next to me, as we mentally prepared for what was to come. Lining up for Battle Bagher, the rest of our neighbors and I were positioned as part of the left flank near the river. Our company was lead by Jakon “the Invincible” who brought experienced soldiers: veterans of the Battle of Khordeem, and mercenaries calling themselves the Black Lions. Mark - a yeti - and the Blue guard were also near by. Darrin Longshot and his archers took a position on a small rock formation near the river. Darrin Longshot and his archers above the Red River While waiting that morning for the battle to start, minutes felt like hours. No one spoke as time drug on. When it was clear the battle would begin soon, Jakon stepped out in front and spoke, “We have gathered here to fight for a Historica free from tyranny. Failure today is not an option. Keep formation and do not allow the enemy to break ranks. For Dugal and Historica!” Jakon Inspires the Troops While his speech was inspiring, I still had my doubts. I figured we were only there to absorb first onslaught in the attack. But as the battle began, Jakon and his Black Lions lead the way. They marched toward the enemy with poise and purpose. We brought up the rear and I prepared myself for my first battle. The enemy’s line melted before Jakon and his warriors aided by the archer support from above. I got in a few blows and managed to miss the few that were directed my way. Bagher and I stayed close as we fought forward. Being in the back gave me time to learn to battle on-my-feet, so to speak. Jakon continued to fight at the front and advance our position, proving his “Immortal” nickname. The Yeti, Mark, with his magic ice blade was also making headway as I continued to hold my own, defending myself and my comrades from any enemy that got through the mercenaries in front of me. Ahesh’s Introduction to Battle The fighting around us began to settle - we were winning! But just as I thought the battle was over, a great noise came from behind us. Petera had opened a magical portal and out streamed the Blackguard of Eastgate, a company of Snake Dwarves and a monstrous lizard: a luck dragon. Petera’s Materialized Reinforcements As I turned around, I learned what battle is really like. Without the experienced mercenaries between myself and the enemy, I found myself truly fighting for my life. Petera’s troops were on top of us in an instant. A snake drawf’s spear found Bagher and he collapsed at my side as I saw my other neighbors and friend cut down. I struggled to shield myself from blow after blow after blow. Ahesh Fighting for His Life I finally received some reprieve when a large explosion went off several yards in front of me killing many of the Snake Dwarves and wounding some of the Blackguard. The luck dragon reared itself and then was upon me. In the Dragon’s Sights The first swipe of its claw grazed my chainmail, slicing through it and dragging me to the ground, but leaving me unhurt. I swung my sword at its head, which recoiled and then came back to bite with is enormous mouth and daggerlike fangs. Dragon’s Bite Just as my life was to be over, the beast’s head was pulled away by the chain around its neck. Jakon had seized control of the beast and pulled it away. The dragon obeyed its new master as I saw him lead it away as the battle had finally come to an end… End of the Battle "… and that was Battle of the Wither Woods, at least for my part. After the battle, I returned home with Bagher’s body and a modest payment for my service. I was gifted the land of my fallen neighbors and tasked with taking care of their families." By this point the rain had settled down and little Aarash was anxious to play outside. “Managing a village that has suffered heavy loses in battle,” Ahesh said, “is much less exciting than fighting dragons, but much more important. I’ll tell you more of the story another day."
  2. The Stad

    [Freebuild] Embarking

    Previously: A New Post at Gammeltårn Party Supplies Perils Old and New Unsought but Welcome Out through the Market The quay was crowded with sailors and merchants who hurried between the boats, barges, and ships at dock. Smaller craft suited to the plying the island's rivers had nestled into the berths along the outer wall of the structure, while the seaworthy vessels were docked in the dredged-out depths of the inner harbor. The air was filled with shouting and laughter in countless tongues, and wares in all manner of boxes and caskets were piled all about. The Lord of Førstlys and his second son, Kjell, accompanied by Ulrik Dunwald and trailed by a small retinue of guards, forged their way through the bustling throngs. At the end of the quay they passed through the sturdy bastion that served as customs house, watch tower, and lighthouse, and out once more into the autumn sunlight. Beside the pier lay a ship unlike any they had ever seen. Brilliantly white and glistening with gold, it was larger than even the great Kaliphlian dromons that had sought shelter in the harbor during the Elemental Crisis, all those years ago. Before Kjell could find words to remark on the sight before them his father had hurried onward to the elf. The mysterious visitor, who had promised passage across the impassible seas that guarded the southern coast of the Burial Isle, strode forward to greet the approaching men. "My friends," he said, offering an outstretched hand, "the hour is upon us. Let us make haste, that we trade not kind winds for long farewells." Kjell's father took the elf's hand and spoke solemnly. "I fear that I shall never show you the true depths of my gratitude. Though perhaps fortune will yet favor me, and you shall grace our halls again ere the end of my rule. At that time I shall certainly try." The elf smiled and bowed his head, then turned and swept down the gangplank. The Lord of Førstlys turned to Kjell and placed an arm upon his shoulder. "My son, may the gods guard your footsteps and their wisdom guide your hand. Bring your cousin home." "As you will father," Kjell replied. He bowed, turned, and, followed closely by Ulrik, boarded the ship. The crew of elves moved deftly to cast off and set sail, and soon the quay was shrinking across the widening water. As Kjell lost sight of his father amid the teeming shadows and forms of an increasingly distant Førstlys, a wave of fear and resentment washed over him. He hated the formality and decorum that kept him from embracing his father in the face of uncertain fate, and he hoped with all his heart that that had not been the final farewell that they would share.
  3. jtooker

    A Well Mishap

    A young boy visits the well but spills all the water he has pulled up. I created this little MOC for LOLUG’s March meeting challenge, which required a MOC relating to water. I plan to relocate this well onto a larger scene I am creating. C&C welcome! Website | Flickr | YouTube
  4. Introduction : Sigrid's journal "We were called to a meeting with the other village leaders yesterday. Jarl Elisif wanted us all to know about the victory at the Enchanted Forest. Of course, the word had already spread, and everyone was already talking about how Jarl Thimolir's bear cavalry saved the day. After months of tensions, even the most ardent sceptics now seem to veer to the side of the Queen. And that's great news. Instead of worrying about a possible war, we can now hope for peace. Instead of focusing on arming and training our people, I can now step back and also plan for the long term. It's time to rebuild Horgaard." In order to assist my sigfig's efforts to rebuild her village, I'm going to build a mead hall. And given that this is the first time I'll build such a MOC, I expect a lot of thinking, a lot of trial and error, and a lot of time. During the months by the housewarming hallwarming party, here is the thread where I'll track the progress of the construction and all the thinking behind. History Chapter 1. What could it look like? Chapter 2. Of roofs and doors Chapter 3. Woodworking Chapter 4. Construction delays Current state
  5. This is my entry for this year's Summer Joust, in the "Every Set Could be a Castle Set" category. It's a castle-ification of Friends set 41391 Heart Lake City Hair Salon - and a freebulid for Mitgardia as well as an Age of Mitgardia House II entry here in GoH! _______________________________ As a Dwarven barber, Per Wilkinsson had always considered that facial hair was a matter of utmost importance. A silky, impeccably plaited moustache showed off high social status in a tasteful, distinguished way. A disheveled, bushy beard indicated more than just a lack of elegance. He had been apprentice to the best barbers in Omurtag, had obtained the repected title of Master, and had learned all the arcane secrets of his art. He was at the very peak of his career when his wife unexpectedly inherited a significant mining concession in some remote, backwater corner of the Heavenly Mountains. And she decided they would move there. A simple life and the jolly atmosphere of a familial mine, away from the vicissitudes of the bustling city - that's what she suddenly wanted for their children. Undaunted, Per decided he would open his own barber shop there, civilize the local savages and bring them the light and benefits of proper beard grooming. _______________________________ As usual, a few more information of plants and animals is included in the hidden section below! And, also, a comparison with the source set.
  6. jtooker

    Stables near Batuhan

    There are many small farms around Batuhan, in the northwest of Kaliphlin. At one, a farmer and his son put the livestock into the stables for the night.
  7. LordDan

    Kaliphlin Gatehouse

    Dan enters into a fortress in Northern Kaliphlin, garrisoned by a legion of Mummies (Desert King supporters?, I'm not sure if he is still around) You may be able to tell what parts I got recently from Pick a Brick . Thanks for looking, feedback is always welcome.
  8. The University of Petraea is pleased to announce the opening of its new Doctorate of Historica program! (The University would like to thank Erudhalion Sansael / Gabe for capturing this announcement in a picture) What is the University of Petraea's Doctorate of Historica program? The Doctorate of Historica program is a peer-reviewed, multi-disciplinary degree program designed to encourage you to advance your building skills across a number of different areas. By the time you have finished the program, you will be certified in most major historical building techniques and subject areas. The program consists of multiple Disciplines, each of which has several Subjects. Over the course of the program, you will build MOCs that cover these techniques and subjects. Disciplines: Technique-Related Disciplines Architecture Landscape Design Hydrology Other Techniques [*]Content-Related Disciplines History Military Science Trade and Law Agriculture and Zoology Anthropology Geography Subjects for each Discipline: Architecture roofing -- Demonstrate mastery of three roofing techniques, not including using standard LEGO slope bricks. Each technique is a separate certification. See examples here and here. wall techniques -- Demonstrate mastery of three advanced wall techniques. Standard, studs-up walls of bricks are not included. Each technique is a separate certification. Examples include (but are not limited to): 1x1 round plate walls (a la Derfel Cadarn) SNOTted tile stonework half-timbered Tudor style wooden walls [*]round walls and towers [*]roof rakes (the inclined end of the roof between the eaves and the ridge; see explanation and a great example from Derfel Cadarn) [*]advanced windows and window frames [*]advanced SNOT -- See question below for an explanation [*]Landscape Design trees (demonstrate mastery of at least three different tree building techniques; examples here and here) flowers and dense foliage landscaping studs up rocks and cliffs two of: sand dunes snow and ice extreme environments (lava, caves, acidic pools, etc) sideways rocks (studs horizontal) [*]Hydrology four of: still water (lakes, ponds, ocean without waves, etc) waves flowing water waterfalls underwater [*]General Building (Other Techniques) minifig posing interior design forced perspective microscale one of: lighted builds (e.g., light bricks, LEDs) movement-enabled (Power Functions, or manually operated via gears or other mechanisms) mosaics, stained glass, or complex SNOTted floor designs brick films [*]History A special discipline, wherein you must build three MOCs depicting significant events in Kaliphlin's history (you make up the events, or use whatever existing history there is). You must also supply a story of suitable length and quality describing the historical event pictured. At least two of the history builds must consist of at least three different pictures, either different scenes altogether, or the same scene at different moments in time, with changes to the scene such as figure movement. [*]Military Science battle scene siege fortifications military camp [*]Trade and Law marketplace manufacturing one of: caravan / shipping by land shipping by sea / water [*]two of: arresting criminals and/or jail courtroom governing body (king, council, etc) [*]Agriculture and Zoology three of: crop farming raising livestock fishing harvest time logging [*]brick-built animals -- Brick-built animals, birds, or fish, realistically rendered using advanced or innovative techniques. Number of animals should be commensurate with their scale -- three or more if they're approximately minifig sized. [*]Anthropology two of: city scene village life countryside scene tribal scene [*]life in Kaliphlin [*]two of: life in Avalonia life in Mitgardia life in Nocturnus life in Valyrio [*]Geography four of: mountains or cliffs oceanside or river scene forests swamp desert grasslands [*]Culture pick 2 of the following: Theater Music Art Current minimum subject count to graduate: 51 total, 24 technique-related, 27 content-related Cool. How do I get started? If you're a member of a Guild of Historica, just start building! If you're not, you'll need to join a guild first. See instructions in the first post of any of the guild threads. How do I post my MOCs? Post each MOC in its own thread. It would help if you prefixed the topic title with "UoP DoH"; also tag it with "Petraea University" and "Doctorate of Historica". In your post, be sure to indicate which subjects you would like this MOC to qualify for (up to a maximum of four). Then post a comment in this thread, with a link to your new topic. How does the Peer Review work? After you post an MOC, if four currently active Kaliphlin guildmembers approve of it, by posting comments stating "+1" or "I approve", then you're certified in that MOC's subjects. However, if three Kaliphlin guildmembers vote against certification, they can veto the approvals, even if four or more guildmembers approve. If someone posts a veto, they must also post a comment indicating why, and what you can do to improve the build so that it passes. I just built a great MOC (before DoH started) that covers some of the subjects; can I get credit for it? On joining the program, you may get four "advanced placement" credits for recently built MOCs. The MOCs must have been posted to Eurobricks on or after June 15th 2013. Just post a comment in this thread stating that you're joining the program, and you'd like credit for a previous build. Put in a link to the build (which must have been posted in GoH), and state which subjects you'd like credit for. It must go through the same peer review. Peer reviewers should post their comments in the MOC's topic, not this one. Can I use MOCs that I'm also building for another challenge or contest? Yes, you can. This program is all about improving your building skills, and if you do some great work for a challenge or contest or whatever, and want to get credit for it, that's fine. But make sure that it's really a good example of the subjects and techniques. Do I have to post the MOCs in the Guilds of Historica forum? Your MOCs must be posted in the Guilds of Historica forum or LEGO Historic Themes forum. It is OK if they have been posted somewhere else first. To ensure that most reviewers see your MOC, we recommend you post it in the Guilds of Historica forum. Can I just quickly build a bunch of mediocre MOCs and get my titles? You could, if you could convince the peer-reviewers to certify your builds. But you'd only be fooling yourself. And your mediocre builds would be up here for everyone to see. Is that worth a lousy title? This program is not about the titles, it's all about improving your techniques and styles, and getting you experience in building across a wide range of subjects. So I'm reviewing someone's build, and it's pretty good, but not stellar. Do I approve it? Tough call, right? Well, the goal of the program is that everyone who completes it will have demonstrated basic mastery of the techniques and subjects. That doesn't mean they have to be world-class in those techniques, but the quality should be high enough that you can say, "Yes, they know what they're doing when it comes to that technique." The key phrase is "basic mastery" -- you have to demonstrate mastery, not just crank out a small, mediocre MOC that checks the boxes, but on the other hand, that mastery is "basic", not amazing, or world-class, or even innovative. OK, basic mastery works for technique-related subjects, but how should I judge content-related subjects? When building for the content-related subjects, students should ensure that the build fully explores the subject. Since these subjects are not testing mastery of a building technique, students need to demonstrate instead that they can create a build that represents a well-thought-out and fully realized scene concerning the subject. Reviewers should expect that the build does not just present a small, standard representation of the subject. Let's take the example of the crop-farming subject. Is it enough to show a farmer tending to a single plant? Perhaps, if the plant and scene were really exceptional, but most likely not. How about a row of crops, with a farmer and a scarecrow? That's getting better, and if very well done, it could be approved. How about several rows of different types of crops, with several farmers doing different tasks (one weeding, one harvesting, one planting), a scarecrow, a farm cart and horse, a barn, and some good landscaping. Assuming the build quality is good, that is definitely a well-thought out build that well represents the subject, and would be easily approved. How long is the program? The program is currently open-ended. Work at your own pace. This is not a race, and you're not competing against anyone. It's about you advancing your building techniques and styles. I'm in a different guild; can I participate? Definitely! University of Petraea has a very diverse student body, from all over Historica. As long as you can pay tuition, you're welcome here. Speaking of tuition, what if I can't pay? No problem! See our financial aid office. You might want to bring a wagon to carry back all to forms you'll have to fill out. You may also pay in chickens, fresh salmon, and dark chocolate. How do we track who has been certified for which subjects and disciplines? You are responsible for tracking your own progress through the program. You should do this in the DoH Registrar's thread. Make one and only one post in this thread where you'll track your own progress. When you complete an MOC, edit your post and add the MOC. Once the MOC has been certified for its subjects, edit the post again, and update that MOC's entry to reflect the certifications. So your one post in that thread will have a list of your MOCs, and for each MOC, a list of the certifications achieved. You might want to keep a count of total certifications at the top or bottom of your post, along with any interim degrees you've achieved so far. What happens when I complete the entire program? You get the praise and admiration of your fellows! Plus, you receive the title of Professor of Historica, are qualified to lecture at the university, and can use the faculty lounge and golf course. Do I receive any titles after completing some of the program but not all of it? Various titles are granted or in common use for students in the program, although students generally don't use the lower-ranking titles (Apprentice, Novice) except in a derogatory fashion. Once you are certified in a subject, you're considered an Apprentice in that subject's discipline. If you meet all the requirements for a discipline, you are a Tradesman or Bachelor in that discipline. Once you acquire three Tradesman or Bachelor degrees, you attain the title of Master. Once you acquire two Masters (or six Tradesmans or Bachelors), you attain the title of Doctor. After three builds you're considered a Novice, regardless of whether you've completed any disciplines. After seven builds, you're considered an Adept, regardless of whether you've completed any disciplines. I have a great idea for a build; can I substitute this idea for a subject? Yes it is possible, although not common. You may apply for a substitution by sending a PM to the Assistant Dean for the DoH Program (NiceMarmot) or the University President (SkaForHire). Note that allowed substitutions are rare, and are mostly granted only for extreme shortage of bricks. What qualifies for the "Advanced SNOT" building subject? SNOT is Studs Not On Top, but you probably knew that. Advanced SNOT is a bit of a "I'll know it when I see it" subject. The reviewers should be flexible about techniques, but still hold students to a high standard. Recommended techniques and styles include having studs pointing in at least three different directions, using multiple types of SNOT bricks, and having studs at angles other than 90 and 180 degrees to horizontal. Using a few headlight bricks, Travis/Dalek bricks, or 1x1 bricks with stud on the side to put a few tiles or slopes at 90 degrees is not going to cut it. There are many good discussions of SNOT available on the InterScrolls; the University can recommend Didier Enjary's classic Advanced Building Techniques Guide. How do the roofing, wall, and tree subjects work exactly? Regarding the roofing and wall subjects: The text "Each technique is a separate certification" means that each technique can be separately judged -- a judge could approve one technique and deny another, even in the same build. They are each different subjects as it were, and count towards the maximum of four subjects per build. However, the trees subject is just one subject, as is the brick-built animals subject, and they only count as one subject each towards the maximum, even though you (may) have to build multiple trees / animals. In fact, it is acceptable to spread these subjects over multiple builds, acquiring partial credit with each build -- there is no need to have all the different types of trees in one build. Just make sure you ask in your final build for final certification, and reference the previous builds. If you do spread them over multiple builds, they only count towards the maximum per build in the final build. How big do my builds have to be? For most subjects, there is no minimum or maximum size. See subject definitions above, as some do specify a size. However, your builds should be large enough to clearly demonstrate your mastery of the technique or subject. In some cases this could be done with a very small build, but in most cases a larger build will be required. The University finds that most students have success with builds of 16x16 or larger. Remember the goal of the program is not to crank through the subjects with the minimum effort possible, but instead to push yourself and advance your own building styles and techniques. You should be pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. I built a huge MOC; can I get more certification in more than four subjects for it? Very large and diverse builds may request more than the standard maximum of four subjects. Each request will be reviewed individually by the Assistant Dean for the DoH Program (NiceMarmot) and/or the University President (SkaForHire), with input from the peer reviewers. Even if the build itself is huge, the area representing each subject must still be a decent size. In general, don't bother asking for an exception for builds that are smaller than two 32x32 baseplates. I spilled shadows all over my term paper, blurred it quite a bit, and wrote it on top of a picture of my bedroom; is that OK? The University is known throughout the world for its very high standards, both for its professors and its students. We expect the highest quality work from our students, and therefore will not accept work that is out-of-focus, dark, has distracting backgrounds, or is otherwise of low quality and care. Lousy photography is not subject at this university! Students are advised to take their time, get some good lighting, and at a minimum, put a sheet, towel, or posterboard/foamcore behind their builds. There is plenty of good advice on taking photos of builds on Eurobricks. Can I use an LDD build? The university prides itself on being on the leading edge of education technology! So LDD builds are acceptable for DoH credit. However, judging of LDD builds will be at a higher level, as you are not constrained by your brick collection. So the judges should have higher expectations and criteria for LDD builds. I don't like some decision made by the reviewers / the University / etc; can I appeal? We are working on developing a Board of Appeals for the program. More information to follow. Contact NiceMarmot or SkaForHire directly in the meantime. Or just revise your MOC and suck it up ;-) I posted a build, and requested certification in four subjects, but have been denied one of the subjects; can I ask for a certification in a new subject for the same build? You may retract a requested subject, even after it has been denied, and request certification in a different subject in the same build. For instance, if you requested certification in advanced SNOT for a build, along with three other subjects, but get feedback that your SNOT is not so advanced after all, you can retract it and request a different subject for the same build, e.g. roofing. You may do this twice per build. Can I build anything I want? Yes, but builds which bring the good name of Petraea University and its inestimable staff into disrepute are not permitted. Is hazing allowed? Absolutely. However, make sure you leave no permanent marks or damage. Will I be taught by Prof Frankenstein or Prof Leibniz? You should be so lucky! Faculty assignments are posted outside the Registrar's office. I'm a werewolf from Nocturnus; can I eat my fellow students during the full moon? Absolutely no consumption of fellow students, staff, or faculty allowed. Punishable by banishment to the Null Void. And believe us, we have professors who can definitely send you there! Is University of Petraea going to win the big game against Qarkyr Tech this year? Definitely! The Sand-Worms are going to stomp all over those lousy Miners! Go Worms!
  9. jtooker

    Shield Shop of Batuhan

    Shield Shop The shield shop in Batuhan crafts and sells the best shields west of Petraea. Besides crafting shields for the Batuhan Guard, shields are made to order or repaired when needed.
  10. The Undoing of Shriza the Spider Legends tell of many monsters in the depths of the Wither Woods and it is unwise to stray off the path. But when such horrors grow bold enough, or desperate enough, to leave their shadows and venture among civilized dwellings they may not be ignored. Such events led Aarash and the Batuhanian Guard deep into the forest to kill the terror which had plagued the farmsteads to the north. It was only a matter of time when it wouldn’t be a goat or calf that was taken, but a child. Rumors described an eight-legged menace, a shadow that hunted silently in the dark hours of the night. Aarash clung to those rumors as he traversed the ever-darkening woods. Soon webs, the size of a man, could be seen amongst the trees. Torn and ragged they looked, but menacing. As the ground declined beneath their steps the forest became quiet. Only feet treading through the undergrowth made any sound. That is when snap was heard; not of twig, but of a branch up ahead. Shriza Approaches “Shriza, the Spider!” one soldier cried, pointing directly ahead. They had found themselves at the end a slight ravine, with a monster of a spider ahead. “Hold!” Aarash cried out as Shriza approached, and then “Attack!". Attack! Archers Thankfully, Aarash’s archers were flanking on the right and they had many spears at their disposal. But it would not be enough. Her hide was tough and she was nimble. Our blows were either deflected or missed entirely. Just when the situation was looking grim, A group of centaurs rode in from the west. Centaurs Their arrows shot true and pierced the vulnerable parts of the spider menace. Once on the ground, the stabbing spears finished the job. Aarash turned to thank the centaurs, but they had already fled back into the forest. Despite the darkness of the forest, the return journey was merry knowing their people could sleep soundly tonight. My entry into the Medieval Monster Menace category of the 2020 Colossal Castle Contest (CCC XVIII).
  11. jtooker

    A Lumbering Process

    A Lumbering Process Loggers, Sawmiller and Shieldsmiths In this MOC, a trio of scenes showcases the process of transforming trees into shields in medieval times. These workers are from the town of Batuhan, in northern Kaliphlin. Loggers The first vignette shows loggers at work. Two are using their axes to chop down a linden tree. Linden wood (or basswood) is light and easy to work with making it a great for shieldsmithing. A third man guides a horse pull along a felled tree. Sawmiller Logged trees make their way to the sawmill shown in the second scene. The water wheel powers the saw blades reducing the amount of manual effort needed to create lumber from logs. A sawmiller pushed the tree through the machine. At the other end, lumber falls into a cart (not shown) to be taken to the lumberyard or carpenters. Shieldsmiths Shieldsmiths take the linden lumber planks and cut them to the right shape and then plane them. The carpenter (center) uses a cabinet scraper to further smooth the wood surface. The blacksmith (right) hammers out an iron band to reinforce the shield. A painter (left) applies heraldry to a fully constructed shield.
  12. As I marched north of Qarkyr, Rhalyf wrote after the ordeal was over, the wind obstructed my path. The beginnings of a sand storm hit with no warning. Before I could find shelter, the road was obstructed from me. Within a matter of minutes, I was off my path and into the Parched Lands, Rhalyf continued. Just as unexpectedly as it started, the storm subsided, leaving me bewildered but well. I made my way north, intending on finding the road without delay, but the hills and the sand guided me ever so westward. I was obliged to this direction. I soon saw I was not ambling aimlessly, but rather a stone dais lay before me. I knew avoiding this henge in the desert would be in vain, so I approached it, prepared as one can, for what might be. “Lay down your staff!” a voice said from the stone platform as I ascended. I sized up the sorcerer I saw before me. So, this was the reason for my divergent course. I kept quiet, waiting my time. “I will not ask again, Rhalyf,” the wizard said. Still, I watched. Unconcerned he knew me, though I not him. Without additional warning, he cast a binding spell. I met the spell and withstood it, but still he persisted. “Cease your assault!” I commanded. My words went unheeded. As I gathered my strength to throw off this spell, the very stone beneath us tremored and glowed, the same evil as this sorcerer’s spell. “Enough!” I cried as I pressed back. I heard a crack and saw the dark figure fall. At the same time, the sand storm returned enveloping the stone henge, soon blocking everything from sight. When the storm subsided again, I was alone in the desert again. No trace of the stone platform or the sorcerer. This is my “Wizards Duel” entry into the Colossal Castle Contest 2020 (CCC XVIII) as well as LOLUG’s December competition. The challenge prompt did not provide a setting, leaving it wide open. The first concrete idea I had was a magical henge. Lighting seemed like the best way to convey a sense of magic to the environment and I went with trans-neon green. I am happy with the way the pillars came out, but was hoping the lighting in the floor would have been brighter and more uniform. The round edge of the stone platform uses the standard 1x3 brick and 1x1 round brick technique. The center/floor is made up of various slope pieces, tiles and plates, many not connected, but just laying there. For the sand, I borrowed Blake Foster’s technique from his amazing M:Tron Magnet Factory. Comments and criticism welcome. I'm submitting this for Petraea University's General Building (Other Techniques) -> Lighted Builds Website | Flickr | YouTube
  13. LordDan

    A Home Away From Home

    Deep in the midst of Nocturnus ,on the border of the towering Rakath Mountains and the deep swamps lies an quite unexpected sight, a cozy hospitable Avalonian house! It turns out this is where Dan has been living in solitude these last few years... Notes: Hey guys! This is my first build in quite a long time (like 3, almost 4 years). Its good to be building again and I'm glad GoH is still going on. Comments and criticism of the build are appreciated
  14. jtooker

    Aarash the Ardent

    Aarash the Ardent Aarash is the Emir of Batuhan and its surrounding area in the north of Kaliphlin. Aarash’s father, Ahesh, was a veteran of the Battle of the Wither Woods. During the battle, Ahesh was saved when the Luck Dragon appeared and prevented him from being run through by an enemy’s sword. After the battle was over, Ahesh used his soldier’s payment to invest in his land, spending much of it locally, rather than to the constant stream of merchants that traveled from Eastgate. Over the years, Batuhan grew prosperous. Ahesh married Maleeha and had a son, Aarash. Ahesh became the Emir of Batuhan and used its position on the trade route to expand and develop the settlement. Over those same years, the influence and protection of Eastgate diminished. Batuhan was left to defend itself and the trade route itself. Ahesh took on this challenge and created the Guard of Batuhan. A dragon was chosen to adorned the shields in honor of the dragon that changed Ahesh’s fortune. Aarash grew into a young man and a capable captain. Aarash superseded Ahesh after a skirmish in the Wither Woods left him mortally wounded. His first act as Emir was to establish a quarry in the Sakhib Foothills and began building a fortified wall north of the city, between it and the Wither Woods. Batuhan continues to grow in population and strength under the rule of Aarash. This success has not gone unnoticed by the Desert King, but for the moment their interests align and Aarash has governed unimpeded.
  15. Feb. 2021 edit : still growing! New plants and animals from Avalonia. Feel free to add your ideas or suggestions. And, of course, feel free to use those plants in your builds! ________________________ Natural History of Historica A collaborative herbal book Volume I - Herbs Marsh-mallow (Althaea Officinalis) Marsh-mallow is native to the humid western coasts of Avalonia. Mostly known for the candies that are made from its root, it also has interesting medicinal properties for the treatment of cough and throat ulcers. Parts : leaves, stem, flower Angelica (Angelica Archangelica) Angelica is a common sight in northern Historica. Since its appearance is quite similar to poisonous species, however, it is rarely foraged in the wild. Cultivated, it is widely used in the traditional Mitgardian cuisine - especially candied as a decoration for cakes. Its medicinal uses include, but are not limited to, the treatment of all kind of digestive troubles. It is also said to be an efficient magical protection against curses. Parts : leaves, stem, umbels Hypericum (Hypericum Perforatum) Hypericum is generally considered as a noxious weed that challenges gardeners from all over Historica with its invasive growth and resilience to weeding. However, its is welcome in most herbal gardens since its oily extract is very useful to heal wounds and burns. Opinions seem to differ as to its magical properties. Many people believe Hypericum to protect from evil spirits, while gardeners seem to find the plant more annoying than any spirit it could protect from. Parts : leaves, stem, flower Mandrake (Mandragora Officinarum) An aura of mystery and magic surrounds the Mandrake. Native to Varlyrio, Kaliphlin and southern Avalonia, it's not easy to cultivate in Mitgardia. The result is worth the effort though, as this plant can be used to prepare one the most efficient sedatives known to the Guilds. It's also hallucinogenic and hypnotic, and is thus highly sought after by charlatans and fake shamans. Parts : leaves, stem, flower Avalonian Crown Lily (Lilium Avaloniflora) - by @Grover The Avalonian Crown Lily is native to the coastal areas of Avalonia, particularly in the Mystic Isles. Its occurrence is uncommon in most areas, but it is cultivated and traded around Historica, so is a common ornamental potted plant. It gets its name from the large white bowl shaped flowers ending in spikes like a crown and is noted for the pollen covered pistils, usually golden yellow, that protrude from the flowers.  Parts : stem, calyx, corolla, pistil White nettle (Lamium Album) White nettle is a very common plant that can be found in grasslands and forests all over Avalonia and Mitgardia. All parts of the plant are edible (and have a surprising mushroom flavour), and the leaves can also help with melancholy. A so-called Aureum variant, which features bright lime leaves, can be found in the southwestern foothills of the Mitgardian Heavenly Mountains. A rumor says its unusual coloring indicates the presence of gold underground. The inhabitants of the little village of Horgaard know it's simply an horticultural experiment, escaped from the garden of a local herbalist… Volume II - Bushes - Under construction - Volume III - Trees - Under construction - Volume IV - Animals NEW Common Field Wombat (Wombatus Agerus) - by @kahir88 A medium-sized rodent eats plants and smaller insects. Avalonian farmers have long struggled to drive them away from their lands. Males are particularly aggressive when their territory needs to be protected against other males. Many Avalonians take advantage of this and make to fight each other for amusement. Common Seagull (Larus Historicus) - by @Grover The common seagull is native to all the coasts of Historica and is a common sight there. These gulls flock in large number, particularly around sources of food, and are somewhat of a nuisance in coastal urban areas, making a mess wherever they are found. These birds are noted for their white color with grey and black wing markings. Omurtag Zwergpinscher The Omurtag Zwergpinscher, colloquially known as the Dwarven Devil Dog among Human communities, is a breed of domestic dog developed by the Mitgardian Dwarves of the Heavenly Mountains. Renowned for their vigilance and tenaciousness, Omurtag Zwergpinschers make excellent guard dogs and ratters.
  16. Don't miss Part One. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Conrad stood up, walked to the chained man, and slapped his face. The crack would be louder, but the sack on the head absorbed the sound. -"Hmpf.." -grimaced Conrad and sit back to his seat. Again, silence filled the room. The noise of the mice was long gone, maybe their honeymoon was ended, and went back, deeper in the wall. Scarlet watched the mercenary. He looked sad and care-worn. The last few minutes of their shared past left a deep scar in his soul. He just looked out from his head. She felt pity for him, and she was the reason. There must be a way to cheer him up! -"And do you remember..." - she stopped to adjust her dress. -"How we second met?" A small smile appeared on Conrad's face. -"Aye" - he replied. -"You didn't change a bit, like... those years didn't have been passed. -"And how did you found me in Illaryian? I thought I was able to leave everyone and everything behind." -"I didn't go there, to looking for you. I was hoping to recruit some new members to my army, then I heard the familiar phrase, which haunted me for weeks... Do you want to know how I got these scars" -"I remember another thing, which caused more trauma to you" - giggled Scarlet. -"Sorry, but what were you expect, when you walk behind a woman, who is busy with her future client. And interrupt my introduction with: 'Still don't know, but I can carve you another" Unpleasant feeling swept through Conrad's body and stopped at his groin. After many battles, this one kick hurt him the most. Between his legs, and in his manhood. -"I still wonder, how were you able to alert Lok and Zan, to aid you." - giggled Scarlet. -"I was wonder about that too, but the more curious part, how the hell was you so fast in those high-heeled shoes. Zan gives you a good chase if he wasn't able to follow you in the narrow alleys, we would never found your secret hideout." -"Darlin, you weren't the first, who tried to surprise me from behind.That was a night of miracles." - The woman kept her smile. -"But the sewer under Illaryian is a maze! How were you able to follow me down there?" -"Zan's keen nose was able to smell out your perfume in that stench." - Conrad stopped here, to see the woman's reaction. -"But your ripped skirt also helped. We found many shreds of cloth on the way. After a while, we only followed the strange voices." Scarlet remembered as her boss cut many of the bars of the sewer, so his henchmen and girls can move freely under the city. In her hurry, she forgot the sharp edges of the bars, and after a few corners, her skirt just fell off. -"Oh, and ..." - continue Conrad" -"What the hell was Z'avo?" -"No one really knew him." - she replies. -"Someone said this happens, when you flush a snail in the sewer." -"He looked furious." -"No way! And you figured it out on your own?" - mocked him the woman. -"Well, he didn't welcome us, instead he sent his henchmen, to deal with us... Thanks to you." -"For me?" - Scarlet's tone was a bit furious. -"It wasn't me, who arrived uninvited!" -"True, but you showed the way." - smiled the mercenary. The woman's face was red, as her corset. She knew Conrad was right. And this made him attractive. -"Yes, but without my help, you wouldn't hade a chance." - she turned to Conrad and changed her redness into a smile. -"Indeed. Z'avo's life of crime ended on that day, by your hand." - smiled the mercenary. Scarlet saved that day. -"This was the second reason I offered you, to our little brotherhood." -"The second?" - she smiled too. -"What was the first reason? -"You own me something. Either way, you pay it back or give me, what I paid for." -"Here?" - she smiled, as she grabbed her skirt, and pulled a little up, so her ankle become visible. -"Now?" - her tone become much softer. -"What about him?" - she pointed with her head to the captive. -"I think he wouldn't mind it..." ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- And for the fun part:
  17. kahir88

    The Wolves of Avalonia

    Now, I have finished all of my little wolves backstories, it is time, to collect all of them in one topic, so you guys don't have to spend hours to find all of them. The order of the links now in chronological order, not as I posted them. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Conrad the Sly. Leader of the Wolf Brigade, and Lord Protector of a small Avalonian country: Deep Garden. His story: A mercenary's story: Part I A mercenary's story: Part II A mercenary's story: Part III A mercenary's story: Part IV A mercenary's story: Part V A mercenary's story: Part VI. Epilogue ------------ Lok the Wild One. Former bandit and highwayman. After Conrad beat him in a duel, he and his crew joined the mercenaries. His story: Taming the Wild One ------------ Zan the Black Arrow. A killer and poacher. Conrad gave him a choice: the gallows, or to serve in his army. His story: I'm not afraid of wolves... ------------ Scarlet. Call her a harlot, or a whore, but know this. She is the only one, who was able to trick Conrad. Her story: The pup and the whore Part I. The pup and the whore Part II. ------------ Boris the Houndmaster. An old and famous bounty hunter. A reliable ally of the Wolf Brigade. His story: The Lone Wolf
  18. Hey everyone! This is the first in a series of builds I am going to be doing that are inspired by Challenge V but were a little late so I’m doing them anyways. I hope you like it! Recently, Eoin had been tasked by Jarl Olav, to find a fleet of Valyrian warships that were supposed to be sent to help during the wars with the Algus in Mitgardia. They were told by the Valyrians that the fleet was sent, but it had never landed, so now it was his job to find out what happened. Eoin had decided that it would be best to search the shoreline in case they had been blown off course and lost. If that didn't work he knew he would have to get on a boat and search the islands and ocean just off the coast, but that would take ages so he was trying to avoid it by scouring every beach along the coast. He had finally found it, after months of searching! Or at least one of the ships, but it looked like it had been looted by bandits and there was no sign of any of the other ships or soldiers... As he approached the bandits drew their weapons and threatened him: "Don't you come any closer!" "What do you know of the Valyrian fleets?" replied Eoin hopefully. The two looked at each other, and shrugged before readying their weapons and attacking! Eoin easily dispatched the two poorly trained bandits, then started to search for clues. After looking through the boxes, he found all the sort of valuables that would be expected in a warship including the bandits own weapons. It seemed after reading the bandit's journals that they had found the ship ruined on the beach, but were waiting untill the spring thaw to visit the more southern markets in Avalonia. However, still nothing about the soldiers. As he was turning to leave, Eoin stopped as something had caught his eye. There were tracks leading away into the mountains to the north. They were old, but there was a lot and the seemed to be going in the same direction. Eoin had heared legends of the mountains, known as the Frostpeak Mountains and they were mostly used to keep small children from exploreing them since no one had actully returned alive. This was not a good sign...
  19. Grover

    Castle Palisade

    The Tales of Lady Gwenllian 10. Castle Palisade Concurrent with the temporary palisade around the town, a small palisade was built on the castle grounds. Temporary defenses for the castle grounds differed from the town because of the shallow bedrock that the castle would be built upon. This bedrock, and the location at the top of the rock outcropping precluded a surrounding ditch. The logs for the wooden palisade were placed directly on the shallow bedrock, and the wooden wall was shored up with rock and dirt at the base. The logs were staggered and reinforced with wooden rails for strength. Care was taken with these logs so they could eventually be reused for the castle timbers, since wood was in short supply due to limited logging rights in the Enchanted Forest (minimizing impact on the forest and pleasing their elven trading partners). To further reduce demand on timber, only the temporary housing for Lady Gwenllian's household was enclosed by the palisade, no guard towers were built, and only one large gate was constructed. Like the gates on the temporary town wall palisade, the gate was rudimentary, with two swinging doors, but unlike the town wall, this gate had a defended platform above for an extra layer of security. A wooden framed rock staircase provided access from one side, and the logs were raised along this side to provide cover to soldiers climbing the stairs. Outside of the palisade, Lady Gwenllian had begun training Gisela how to use a weapon. While some of the guards looked on from the wall and Mohatu stood close at hand, the women sparred with wooden swords and some spare shields Lady Gwenllian had grabbed from her armory. Gisela's father Staffen had sent word that their family had located the assassin who had made the attempt on Gisela's brother Bernaldo's life, and that retribution to the Varlyrian family responsible was at hand. Gisela of course, wanted to be part of the retribution for her brother, so she had obtained leave from Lady Gwenllian to temporarily return to Varlyrio. Lady Gwenllian had agreed on the condition that she take Mohatu and a small contingent of her own Avalonian guard for her protection. She was not keen on losing her new ambassador. She had further suggested that Gisela learn to defend herself, despite her ever-present and formidable bodyguard Mohatu watching over her. Never a shrinking violet, Gisela had readily agreed, although now in the heat of the summer sun, fighting the skilled and powerful Lady Gwenllian, she wondered if she had bitten off a little too much. Lady Gwenllian did not hold back and hit Gisela with the force of a kicking horse, numbing her arm with several hits to the shield. Gisela grit her teeth to push down the pain, ignoring her sweat soaked clothing and numerous bruises, focusing her anger at her family's dishonor on becoming skilled with a sword.
  20. This is my entry to the Eurobricks Flower Show! It's also a freebuild for Mitgardia here in the Guilds of Historica. __________________________ As an aspiring herbalist, Sigrid used to find most of her ingredients in the forest that surrounded the village. But while gaining experience, she felt the need to grow her own garden. She needed to keep the most useful plants within easy reach - and also wanted to make experiments with flora that would not grow natively in the Mitgardian mountains. In a few years, she had managed to gather many medicinal plants from Mitgardia, and to acclimate a few ones from Avalonia. And her garden kept growing : there were still so many plants to learn about! __________________________ As with my previous builds, the spoiler section contains details about the featured flora. __________________________ Since many commenters seemed to enjoy the well, there is now a tutorial here in my flickr! Credits : the birch tree uses Katie Walker's leaves weaving technique.
  21. The guilds once more defeated evil, even without help from the Rego. But what happened really then? To learn the secret, we must travel back in time. [flashback music] It was late afternoon in Illaryian. A flock of birds just lifted off from the roofs. Something scared them, someone was crying like an animal in anger. - THAT IMECIL! - the shout came from an ornate building. It was the Rego's office, something really upset him. - I asked him for a simple request. And he screwed it... I will blow up! - cursed the Rego. His headache started to return. The enchanted potion prevented him to talk about the queen's plan, and also caused a mild headache even the thought about it. It must be a side effect. He stormed in the hall, and he made his way to his office. - Gather some of the finest warriors and send them to the continent immediately! When the queen spoke about her plan, Amancio immediately sends a letter, to his nephew, to collect some man, and go to the exact location, where the other guilds send their troops. But after he arrived back to the island, he learned, about his nephew's incompetence. He collected some warriors, but without proper leadership, they disbanded, no money, no troops, a complete disaster. - But Sire... - disagreed the advisor with his superior, as he followed him to the Rego's personal office. - The other families will not only want to know why are we sending troops to the continent. Without any reason, they won't help us if we lucky only. Or else they will rebel against us. The guard saluted, then he opened the office's door, to let them in. The three of them entered the room, the candles were already lighted. The small room was filled with the smell of old, moldy cheese. The servant who lited the candles should at least open a window. Amancio put his hat down on the table, next to an opened bottle of Amber Cider. The carbonation of the drink was long gone, next to it, the letter from the queen. He rubbed his forehead, what a terrible headache... He would gladly share all the information, what he heard in the meeting, but the enchanted water tied his tongue and mind to speak, even thinking about the hidden enemy, and the queen's plan to deal with them. And the advisor's reasoning didn't ease the pain. - Advisor... - he started but the headache interrupted his effort, to tell the truth. - As your Rego, you must trust my decision. - paused for the moment to collect his thoughts. - This is our only chance, to show the rest of the guilds, we are trustworthy. Thanks to Basil's treachery, who offered his loyalty to Raavage. - I know Sire. But not every family agrees with your decision, to open to the other guilds and queen on the continent. - tried reasoning the advisor with Amancio. - I would advise you, to solve this problem, in a different approach. - Like? - the lack of patience was missing in Amancio's tone. He sat down to his decorated desk and put the plate of cheese away. - Li-li-like... - stutter the advisor, as hi tried to collect his thoughts... - Like send money, or supplies to aid the others. - he had to stop, cause the Rego's face turned even darker. - Or send other troops, like...mercenaries! - Fine! - said Amancio, and reached out to the tools to write. - Which mercenary band should we send? - Maybe not from Varlyrio. We could send a letter to hire mercenaries from the continent. I advise the Avalonian Wolf Brigade. - Great, we thrust our honor in a sellsword hand. There goes Valyrios honor...- Grumbled the Rego, but he already started the letter, he was tired to argue anymore. The room was filled with silence and the smell of moldy cheese. Only the pen's scratching on the paper could be heard, as Amancio wrote his letter to Conrad - Wait... Sire! - interrupted his letter the advisor. - let's send one of your nephews, as the leader. Great... another nuisance. Sending one of his toff nephews in a, mostly suicide mission... The Rego changed the subject and continued the writing, but instead of Conrad, he addressed to his nephew. He only needs to represent the guild in this mission. As he finished, he closed the letter and sealed. What a relief. - Advisor! - his servant stepped closer, ready to obey his next task. - Here is this letter. Make sure, this will reach my nephew in no time. This task is important, so do not waste time. Find him tonight! - the last word made the advisor pale. - P-p-personally? But Sire... I-i...- No excuses! - said Rego as he gives the letter to his advisor, and approached the exit. The guard stood aside, and the Rego left the room. - But I don't know where to start... - stood there the amazed advisor. He tried to find a way to solve his problem. He didn't had time to visit every tavern, pub, and brothel in the city. Or on the island? Think-think-think. Then a solution came. -Sire. - the guard stepped next to the advisor. - I know where will be the Rego's nephew tonight. My shift will end soon, and I can meet him there, and give him the letter. - and pointed on the piece of paper in the advisor's shaky hand. - What a good idea! Here take it. - and he handed the letter to the guard. But before he released it: - Personally! - As you wish! - said the guard, and took the letter from the advisor, and watched as he left the room, hastily as Rego. - As you wish... - repeated the guard, and closed the office's door. He waked to the Rego's desk and took the candle. Then he burned the letter. - Hail de Fioris - whispered, while he dropped the burning letter and watched till the flames burned out, then he swiped the ash under the desk. After his dirty deeds were done, he left the office.
  22. It has been three days since we were run off the road into the Wither Woods. I can see why our Rego was apprehensive on getting involved on the continent. What should have been a simple trip to the Avalonian capital has turned into a slaughter in the dark inside these woods. Death lurks in these trees. My contingent of solders has all but vanished and I know it is not cowardice or desertion. I fear if I fall asleep, I may never wake, but I have not slept since we were attacked on that first night; I can fight it back no longer. We’ve situated camp on this crag over a stream; we will be safe on two sides, at least. Hirbod has the first watch. May his eyes, and ears, not fail us tonight. -Sicuro Off-Course in the Wither Woods After weeks of no word from Sicuro or the contingent of men he led to Avalonia, rumor made its way to the Rego of Varlyrio. This whisper was enough to convince his minster of War and himself that isolation from the continent was prudent. Varlyrio would not send troops to the Battle of Historica. ------------------- This is my entry into the Guilds of Historica Book III Challenge V: Category A (which takes place in Book II). This lost diary entry explains what happened to the contingent of troops sent by the Rego of Varlyrio. Their disappearance solidifies his view that Varlyrio should stay out of the distant war. A bonus image of the MOC can be seen below. It features full lighting and and an aerial view. Aerial View I’m also submitting this MOC for review in the University of Petraeas Doctorate of Historica Program under the following two categories: Landscape Design → trees #1 Geography → forests The coniferous trees follow Katie Walker’s design while the odd-angled branched ones are based on Legopard’s Design. I found both by following this Brickbuilt Tutorial. Website | Flickr | YouTube
  23. This is the collaboration between @LittleJohn, @Aurore, @Basiliscus and myself. Our respective Flickr albums are below, so each of our entries can be teased apart for judging purposes, since this is one story with a combined (and one split) set of entries. @Aurore: @Basiliscus: @Grover: @LittleJohn: ********** Varlyrio history recap An assassination attempt was made on the life of Bernaldo Conzaga. Since the employer of the assassin was unknown, the head of the Conzaga family, Staffen, sent most of his children away to different corners of Historica, each with their own bodyguard, to keep them safe from further possible assassination attempts. Mychel went to western Varlyrio; Gisela went to Prenmôr, Avalonia; Poppa went to Kaliphlin; the rest of the family remained in Varlyrio. Gisela accepted a position as the ambassador of the town of Prenmôr. Little is known of the whereabouts of Poppa and Mychel. Following the assassination attempt, Staffen realized that he needed to move up in the hierarchy of the Varylrian political establishment if he wanted his family to survive, so he conspired with the de Fiori and di Carlo families to try to remove the current Rego from power. Unbeknownst to the conspirators, the de Fiori family met with Rego Amancio, threatening him. Finally, Varlyrio had failed to answer the call of the Queen for elite troops to battle a threat to all Historica. The reason for this is unknown. ---------- The Downfall of the Rego Rego Suprano Amancio walked down the staircase of his home with his trusted consulente. He surveyed his home with all the trappings of wealth and power, showcasing the spoils of his family's shipping trade: marble and gold everywhere, Kolgari slaves, exotic plants from the far reaches of Historica, and expensive statues. He was concerned that all he had built was in jeopardy due to a growing sentiment in the populace that he was not effective in representing the interest of Varlyrio with the Queen of Historica (most notably in the recent failure of Varlyrio to send troops to the summons of the Queen). The stupidity of his nephew Malco and a failed assassination attempt compounded these problems and weighed on his mind. "The assassin failed to kill that wretch Bernaldo," he began. "Remind me to drown the one who hired the killer." His counselor nodded. The Rego's face was tight with anger. "It's not enough that a drunken son of a minor family managed to bed my nephew's wife while he slept in the next room, but the incompetent killer failed his task and now the Conzaga boy brags about his conquest to anyone who will listen. Even worse, someone in this house has loose lips and the Conzagas have discovered that our family is responsible for the attempt on Bernaldo's life. This lends veracity to the rumors spreading like wildfire around the country and makes us seem incompetent and foolish, especially after the success of the Queen against the Enlightened without Varlyrian troops." If the Rego was concerned that such a minor family knew of his machinations, he did not show it. "I would send another assassin, but it would only feed the conspiracy theory about our family." The consulente thought a moment as they ended their walk near the fountain in the center of the room. "I would advise that we do not acknowledge the rumors that are circulating," he said. "We may be able to start some rumors of our own about members of the Conzaga family. It has been reported that Staffen's daughter Gisela recently relocated to a poor fledgling community in Avalonia. It could be that she is fleeing some horrible crime or perhaps her family has some highly contagious disease. That would prove disastrous for their wine business and turn attention away from our family." The Rego nodded his assent. "Make it happen," he said. "I will be in my study." With that, he turned on his heel, his dark red cape spinning behind him, and he stormed past the Kolgari slaves on his way out of the room. ---------- Following the attempt on his brother's life, Mychel Conzaga had been sent away to western Varylrio with his bodyguard, Meiyo, and three members of the private Conzaga militia. As the family's lead vintner, Mychel was determined not to let his time away from the vines be unproductive, and so he dedicated himself to learning about the local horticulture on his way through the western lands of Varlyrio. Through his travels to the mountains, he was very happy, but west of the mountains the lands were arid and poor for growing much of anything. Meiyo watched as disappointment set in for Mychel as he looked at the barren landscape and he came to the realization that there would be little for him to learn. He pulled his hat lower to keep the sun off his face and eventually quit scanning the horizon for new vegetation. A few weeks later, Mychel's small caravan began to encounter a little more terrain than the flat, barren landscape he had been traveling through. To be sure, it was still a desert wasteland, but at least now there were a few rocks and ravines that broke up the flat nothing of before. As they pushed onward toward a huge dry riverbed, they walked through shallow gullies with steep washouts. Around a corner, Mychel immediately halted the caravan, causing Meiyo to start with surprise. Her hand went to her sword on her back and loosened it in its sheath. She was worried that she had missed an enemy, but then realized that Mychel had only stopped the caravan to examine an unusually colored bright blue bush and lavender leafed trees. Maybe in a different life she would have relaxed and let Mychel have his fun with a new plant, but not now. Her senses were on high alert after the assassination attempt on Bernaldo, and she scanned the area with her eagle eyes. She didn't see anything, but something wasn't quite right. They had been traveling for weeks with hardly a living plant in sight, and now, in the bottom of this washout, they had come across strange plants flourishing in the same inhospitable environment? No, there had to be someone taking care of these plants. She looked around, now worried to be at the bottom of a gully with the high ground all around her, still keeping her hand on her sword. "Look at these!" Mychel exclaimed as he grabbed a handful of the strange blue plant. "Amazing! And in this desert! If we could learn how this plant grows, we might be able to save our vines during severe drought." Mychel, lost in thought, didn't hear the slithering motion as a large purple naga slid up behind him. Meiyo, however, was not taken by surprise, drawing her sword and jumping between the naga and Mychel. Immediately, she noticed an armored large cat-man carrying a crossbow appear from a camouflaged position on top of the nearest hill. The rest of Mychel's caravan took up a defensive posture, protecting him. Mychel looked up in surprise and turned to face the naga. "I see you have found my garden," the naga said calmly. Meiyo eyed the naga closely: her four arms held a shovel, gardening shears and a bucket. Meiyo gauged that she could lop at least one of those arms off in the first attack to try and level the playing field somewhat, but was unsure of how to deal with the rest of her arms and her tail if it came to that. "We are sorry to have intruded on your personal garden," Mychel said, never one for being afraid. "It is very lovely. Tell me, how do you manage to keep these plants watered here? They are exquisite." He stepped forward, putting his hand on Meiyo's armored shoulder. Meiyo kept her sword in hand but allowed him to step to her side to see the naga better. The naga smiled. "I see you appreciate horticulture," she said. She slithered to the nearby tree and set down her gardening implements, then waved off her guard at the top of the hill, who retreated down to join her, holding his crossbow in a non-threatening manner. Meiyo still held her sword, but now in a non-threatening posture. Making sure to keep in a position where she could throw herself between Mychel and the naga, she moved with them as they walked. The naga gestured to a crude stone building cut in a rock, and another dark skinned somewhat elven looking figure clad in dark blue appeared. Meiyo stiffened, but this figure appeared to be unarmed and more timid than the naga. "This my friend Aiya who helps me tend the flowers," the naga explained. "We are from the Kolgari tribes, deep below the earth." Meiyo was a little surprised. She had never met a Kolgari before and had only heard rumors. Now she had met a naga and a Kolgari in the same day! Mychel, the naga, and Aiya talked excitedly for an hour about plants, boring the Conzaga militia and exhausting Meiyo, who was determined not to let her guard down. Satisfied that Mychel was not here on some mission to exterminate the Kolgari, and that he was indeed a skilled botanist, the naga and Aiya invited Mychel and his entourage to visit the Kolgari civilization and exchange cultivation ideas. Mychel, of course, was thrilled. The Conzaga militia were less so, and Meiyo was very dubious, thinking this would be a prime time for a kidnapping. However, she was sworn to protect Mychel and follow his lead, so they were going to have to go below the surface. She comforted herself with the notion of a resupply, since they were running low on food and particularly water, both of which the Kolgari offered. She conferred briefly with Gineto, the leader of the Conzaga militia that served as Mychel's guards, and asked him and his men to carefully mark and remember the way down into the Kolgari settlement in the case that they needed to make a hasty escape back to the surface. She similarly admonished the wagon driver to keep the horse ready for a quick trip out if needed. She then returned to Mychel and they bid their farewell to the naga, following Aiya around a number of corners and then into a cave cunningly hidden by some dead bushes and rocks. They were able to bring their horse only a short distance into the shallow cave before the passage became too narrow. The wagoneer unsaddled Mychel's horse, then led them to a small pool of water formed naturally in the wall of the cave, where the thirsty animal happily drank. Seeing that the wagoneer would stay with the horse, Aiya then led the group through the small fissure in the rear of the cave. Meiyo was on her guard, but she had to admit, it felt nice to get out of the sun and heat. The cool, damp air of the cave continued to feel cooler and more humid as they progressed down. Mychel commented on how nice the air felt on his sunburn. Aiya led them downward by lamplight for what seemed like most of the day, deep into the darkness, from one tunnel to another, until finally they reached a point where she extinguished the lamp. Meiyo's feathers stood on end, and then her eyes adjusted. What she saw before her was truly stunning. A vast, underground cavern opened before the tunnel lit with the soft glow of various plants. Mychel was beside himself, amazed at the glowing lichens and fungi. A whole underground city was here, more incredible than anyone could have imagined. This had to be the fabled sunken city of legend. Aiya led them down into the city. Tall white and gold structures could be seen in the center of the city, but it was surrounded by fields that appeared to be farms and orchards. There were plants of colors rarely seen on the surface: strange blues and purples, pinks and magentas. Mychel found the whole place fascinating. They met various of the subterranean elves on their walk into the fields of fungi, flowers, trees, and other strange plants none of them had ever seen before. After walking what seemed like a mile, Aiya stopped at a small house made from some sort of white rock. "This is my family's house. We are farmers," she said. After showing the entourage into her rather small house, she introduced Mychel to her family and led the group onto the back patio where they looked out over the fields of strange plants that trailed off into the black darkness beyond. "You are welcome to stay with us for the night," Aiya said, much to Meiyo's disappointment. Mychel, of course, was thrilled. "This is great!" Mychel said to Meiyo. "We can learn from the Kolgari the ways of underground growing and use this to great effect on our vineyards!" Mieyo pulled him aside. "We should be wary that we are not being set up for an ambush," she said bluntly. "Look around. Do you think they'd attack us now? They could have attacked us at any point in those dark tunnels and we would have been slaughtered. Now they're going to invite us into their home to attack? It doesn't make any sense, and besides, the Rego doesn't have any people down here!" Meiyo had to admit that his logic made sense. She shrugged. At least she wasn't going to get sunburnt down here. She talked to Gineto and the other guards. "We will sleep in shifts so one of us is always on guard. These elves seem all right, but there is much we do not know. Stay alert." Aiya came over to the group. "I can show you your rooms in our guest house out back. It might be a little tight for all of you, but hopefully you can manage." She led them to the guest house that her parents were preparing dinner. There were no shutters on the windows and everything was open air, presumably because there was no weather underground and the temperature was nearly constant. The temperature was a little chilly, but the climate was nice otherwise. After settling in, they were invited to dine with Aiya's family. The evening was pleasant, and the meal was surprisingly good for whatever the plants were. Meiyo had some sort of sweetish blue paste and had to admit it was quite tasty. Mychel, of course, could have no end to all the plant excitement, and seemed to get on quite well with Aiya. That night, Mychel came to Meiyo before they went to sleep. "Meiyo, this is where I need to be. I can learn how to make our vines better in drought, bring in some exotic flavors, understand how they can cultivate without sunlight... and this is the place. I expect to stay here for a couple of weeks at least." Meiyo was not particularly happy about this, but Staffen's instructions were to take the boy west and keep him safe from harm, not to take him to a specific destination. She was sure he had not intended to send the boy to the Sunken City, but that couldn't be helped right now. She agreed, and Mychel headed to bed. The next few days were interesting, learning of the surroundings and inhabitants. The Kolgari were fairly reserved, probably having never seen outsiders before, but were hospitable and pleasant. After a while, Meiyo had to admit that the Kolgari were not a threat, and although she never relaxed her guard, the time began to pass faster. The horse, which had been brought down through a different passage after Mychel had decided to stay, didn't care much for the underground environment, but it was otherwise pleasant. About two weeks into their stay underground, Mychel was out with Aiya tending to some weird light blue glowing plants when Meiyo felt her pocket getting warm. She looked down and pulled out the small stone that Staffen had given her as a means of magical communication. It was glowing. She showed Mychel the stone. "Your father sent a message." Mychel nodded, and Meiyo activated the stone. A shimmering blue version of Staffen's face appeared and it began to speak. "Mychel, I have found the person responsible for the assassination attempt on your brother's life. It was the Amancio family. Return home at once." Short and to the point. Typical Staffen. Mychel frowned. "This is not good," he said. "The Amancios are the most powerful family in Varlyrio. What can we do if they tried to kill Bernaldo?" Aiya looked at Mychel. "The Amancios have a terrible reputation here. They are known for having built their empire on the trade of Kolgari slaves. They keep Kolgari slaves as servants even still." "That's horrible. I am not surprised, but it is still horrible." He paused a moment in thought. "Who is the ruler here?" he asked. "His Majesty King Vizien," Aiya replied. "Why?" "I need to request an audience with the King," Mychel said with a sly look on his face. Aiya looked taken aback. "I don't know if that's possible," she started, "but we can go to the palace and see." "Let's go!" Mychel said enthusiastically. Meiyo looked surprised. Mychel explained. "If I can talk to the King and get support from the Kolgari, we might be able to build a force capable of overtaking the Amancios." Meiyo was surprised at the audacity of the plan, but had to admit that it had merit: no one on the surface would ever expect an attack from Kolgari troops. "It could work," she agreed. "If your father can get a coalition of troops from various families together with the Kolgari, the Amancios might be vulnerable." Mychel smiled. Aiya led them to the palace at the heart of the city, where they had to convince the guards to let them have an audience with the King. After some persuasion, the guards granted their request and stripped Meiyo and Mychel of all weapons. Meiyo was unhappy with leaving her weapons behind, but took solace in the fact that she still had a dagger hidden in her boot that every search seemed to miss. A royal herald ushered them into the palace to the throne room, while two guards followed behind. Mychel stood agape at the amazing throne room. Huge trees wound their roots downward around the throne, which was connected by a bridge to the main floor. Light came into the round room through windows that were an organically interwoven mixture of stone and plant life. Meiyo had never before seen such beauty. Mychel and Meiyo bowed before the King, who listened to Mychel's story of the assassination attempt and his pitch to depose the rule of the Amancios once and for all. The king thought silently for a moment, then spoke. "The Amancios are a cruel and ruthless family. They have enslaved the Kolgari and built their empire on the backs of our people. Alone our people do not have the logistics on the surface to face the ruling family, as they could unite all of the families against us. It is to our shame that we have not been able to help our people for decades. If what you say is true, however, and families plot to overthrow the Rego, then we will stand with you and help to free our people by ridding Varlyrio of the Amancios once and for all. I shall send a magical message to Staffen Conzaga telling him of our intent to provide troops in support of the overthrow of the Amancios and the freeing of our people." Meiyo felt a shiver run down her spine. This would be dangerous. She was going to have her work cut out protecting him. They left the throne room, headed back to Aiya's house. Mychel thanked Aiya and her family, promising to return once they had rid the surface of the reign of the Amancios. ---------- The following weeks were a blur. Mychel and his entourage sent magical word to Staffen, then quickly packed and left for home. The trip back was with purpose and made at speed. Upon arriving home, Mychel found the household swarming with activity. His sister Gisela, now some sort of local ambassador in Avalonia, had returned with some Avalonian troops and mercenaries, and Staffen had arranged with the de Fiori and di Carlo families to coordinate an assault on the Amancio troops. The Rego's failures in dealing with the Queen had brought about the cooperation of three families to depose him, while his enslavement of the Kolgari had ensured their participation. The Conzagas had a personal score to settle for the attempt on Bernaldo's life, and so had been chosen to lead the assault. His uncle Nestur was planning the attack, and Bernaldo was running about boasting of how many Amancios he was going to kill. Mychel listened to Nestur explain the trap: the coalition of forces would attack the Amancio troops while they were in the open away from the manor house. At the same time, a smaller group led by Mychel and Gisela would attack the manor house directly while it was less heavily defended. Mychel and Meiyo left to prepare for the assault. ---------- Nestur had stopped in a small copse waiting for his scouts to return. In the distance he heard hoof beats, and approaching was one of his scouts, a boy younger than Bernaldo, riding hard towards him. "Lord, we are only half a league away from the river, and I managed to approach without them noticing," the scout motioning behind him. Nestur nodded. That was good. The Rego's troops would not be expecting an attack so deep in the heart of Varlyrio. The scout continued, "It looks like most of the militia are there Lord, just as you said. Mainly pikemen and halberdiers." Again Nestur nodded. This was going better than he thought. He waved the scout back into the column and signaled for the men to start marching again. Meanwhile, near the river, the Rego's men started the day lazily. They were deep in Varlyrio and had no known enemies, and therefore had posted no sentries. Foraging parties headed out to catch game to break their nightly fast, and guards milled about aimlessly. Suddenly, approaching the river came a marching column of unidentified soldiers. Surprised, the foraging parties ran back across the bridge and raised the alarm. As the Conzaga militia marched into view, it still wasn't clear what their intentions were. Although startled from their early morning reverie, the Rego's soldiers assembled at the bridge. As their own halberdiers brought up the rear, the pikemen made an iron shield in their front. At the head stood the commander, an old veteran named Arturo that Nestur had known from the Ravaage wars. Beside him, ornately dressed, was the local tax official who took a coin from every traveler using this crossing. As Nestur's men formed up on the opposite bank, the official shouted out, "State your business in the name of the Rego!" At that, Arturo whispered in the official's ear, presumably recognising Nestur astride his horse. "I am Nestur of the house Conzaga, a loyal servant of Varlyrio," he said, producing a sneer from the official. "I come seeking justice for my nephew!" and Nestur pointed to Bernaldo. Really this was unnecessary. Atop a beautiful white stallion, clad in the best golden armour that money could buy, Bernaldo resembled something from a camp fire tale. There was no mistaking who Nestur meant, but for added effect Bernaldo waved his lance mockingly. "Your nephew seems perfectly capable of enacting his own justice," the official retorted, drawing a few laughs from the Rego's troops. Nestur turned to look, and Bernaldo's face was flush red. He hoped he would not do anything rash. He saw the boy dig his spurs in, lower his lance and charge across the bridge! The fool! Nestur thought. No sane man would charge into pikemen while mounted. Nestur's plan had been to whittle down the pikemen with the Conzaga crossbowmen, and use the Avalonian infantry, kindly brought back by Gisela courtesy of Lady Gwenllian, to do most of the close quarters fighting. It wouldn't do if Bernaldo was killed in the very battle where the Conzagas were enacting revenge for his attempted murder! Without any other choice, Nestur ordered a full out attack. The Conzaga crossbowmen shot accurately into the densely packed ranks of pikemen, and the halberdiers and Avalonians crossed the bridge to save Bernaldo. Nestur followed behind, keeping a commanding view of the carnage. As Bernaldo crossed the bridge, lance couched, he struck the militia commander in the neck, the force of the blow knocking his helmet off. Arturo had no chance, and was dead before he struck the ground. Nestur saw Bernaldo shimmy his horse deftly past two raised pikes and chased down the routing militia. With their commander killed so suddenly, many had thrown down their weapons and run for their lives. In the end it was more of a massacre than a battle, with the Rego's demoralised soldiers offering little resistance. The elite pikemen gave a good account of themselves, but isolated and leaderless, they quickly offered surrender rather than die pointlessly. In the end, the dejected prisoners were rounded up and accepted their fate. Bernaldo returned from rounding up the enemy stragglers, a huge grin on his face. "Did you see that uncle! They'll fear us now!", Bernaldo exclaimed, pleased with his performance. "Yes nephew, you did well.", Nestur said calmly. Inside he was angry that Bernaldo's recklessness almost got himself killed, but in the end, the result spoke for itself. The tax official had lost his tongue, and Bernaldo brandished his sword at him, mocking his defeat. Nestur pulled him away to look at the dead. These were ordinary men, who had little agency in the power plays of their masters. Meanwhile, the Conzaga troops raided the enemy stores - there would be a feast tonight. The Conzagas had won this battle, but as Nestur surveyed the battlefield from the balcony of one the houses, he hoped that the second phase of the plan would go as smoothly. ---------- Mychel, Meiyo, Gisela, and her bodyguard Mohatu had all prepared the night before and barely slept. They had waited in a neighboring warehouse until first light, then led their troops to fiercely assault the Amancio manor. The defenders put up quite a fight, but only a skeleton crew had been left to guard the manor house. Within an hour, the Conzaga, de Fiori, and di Carlo families supported by Kolgari troops had taken the manor. Inside, the Rego was protected only by his last two bodyguards. His manor house was half burnt, with broken marble and gold everywhere. The normally impeccable Rego had lost his cape and his hair was tousled from the fighting. Mychel, Gisela, and their bodyguards confronted the Rego. He was surrounded, out of options. "Surrender!" Mychel cried. Seeing his predicament, the Rego pulled a magical green gem out of his pocket. Years ago, he had a wizard enchant it as a last resort for a situation like this. He crushed it in his hand. "You have not seen the last of me!" he shouted as the room began to shake. A huge earth elemental appeared from the floor, throwing pieces of dirt and tile everywhere. It grabbed the Rego and disappeared with him through the floor, carrying him away underground for his escape. The wily Rego had saved one ace up his sleeve! Seeing their master flee, his bodyguards dropped their swords and surrendered. The coalition had won the day, and they bound the surrendered troops and led them off the property. The Kolgari troops freed their enslaved kin, welcoming them back. Of course, the Varlyrian families sacked the house for valuables. Mychel and Gisela were left standing in the ruined foyer of the mansion in front of the broken fountain as looting and chaos reigned around them. "We are entering a new era, brother," Gisela commented, looking about at the once grand seat of power of Varlyrio. "Indeed, Ambassador," Mychel smiled. "The rule of the Amancio family has come to an end!"
  24. Last weekend, my husband challenged me to create something that would make me happy, and that I would actually finish by sunday evening. I decided to go on with Age of Mitgardia, and here is the result! __________________ Spring had come in Mitgardia. The snow had already melt in the southern foothills of the Heavenly Mountains, and the deep forests around Horgaard were slowly waking up after the harsh winter. Sigrid usually woke up early at this time of year, and enjoyed going on a ride around the village. She listened to the birds, observed the vegetation, and sometimes stopped just to pick something interesting. This morning, she had noticed the bright breen, tender tips that were blossoming on the fir trees. Perfect to make cough syrup....or some flavoured beer. __________________ As usual, more info on the featured flora and fauna below. My herbalist sigfig could soon create a "Natural History of Mitgardia" encyclopedia...
  25. Book 3 Challenge 4 A A build for the queen. Fair warning: This is a long, picture heavy thread. By the request of @Exetrius, I have made the nominal picture size smaller for those of you who don't have automatically resizing browsers, so I hope this helps. Click on each of the pictures to see it full sized. This is particularly useful with the panoramic shots. Late one night, Queen Ylspeth stood on the balcony of the tallest tower of her keep, looking out over Cedrica. The reports she had received were troubling. The rumors that had been circulating for months appeared to have some merit, and even worse, they were connected. Historica was going to be torn apart and would descend again into chaos unless she acted, but who could she trust? She had pored over the lists of guild representatives and thought back to those that helped her win a united victory over Lord Raavage and the Black Spire. She had written messages, carefully selecting the most trustworthy representatives she knew from each guild (with the exception of Varlyrio, where she had invited Rego Amancio by default, not having much diplomatic relations with any of the leaders there), requesting their presence for a secret meeting in her private council chambers in a fortnight. Now she waited, hoping she had placed her trust in the right people. ---------- A fortnight later, the guild representatives had arrived, conveyed secretly through Cedrica and into the castle by covered carriages, covert paths and back doors. They met in the queen's private council chambers, a secluded room beneath the keep reserved for the most sensitive of conversations. The queen stood near the table as the representatives took their seats, and a solitary figure in a black hooded cloak sat next to her. Queen Ylspeth surveyed the representatives: Rego Amancio for Varlyrio, King DeGothia from Avalonia, Sir Glorfindel of Mitgardia, Lord Gideon of Kaliphlin (the first to arrive), and finally Lord Vladivus of Nocturnus. "What is the meaning of this summons, and why have we been smuggled in here like common thieves?" demanded Rego Amancio, banging his fist on the table. The other representatives looked at one another and the Rego, perhaps a little surprised at his boldness with the queen. Queen Ylspeth took the question in stride, not betraying her thoughts on her face. "You would be wise to remember your place, my good Rego," she began. "I am not one of your family's adversaries. I am your queen, and I do not summon my subjects lightly or without reason." She took a few strides, letting her gilded chainmail jingle and show under her robes, positioning herself between the Rego and the door, subtly letting him know that she was not afraid of his threats. He visibly calmed, gaining a bit of respect for a queen he realized he might have underestimated. The queen balled her hands into fists and leaned on the table, looking at each of the guild representatives in turn. "Thank you all for coming here tonight at my summons. As you are aware, I value the freedom of the guilds and allow each guild a great deal of latitude when it comes to their own affairs. Particularly during this time of rebuilding after all of the civil wars, I found it most important to allow the guilds to police themselves. There is much left to do in each of our guilds, but I would not have called you together in such secrecy without great need." Queen Ylspeth stood up straight, removing her hands from the table. "We have in our realms a shadowed enemy who works even now against each of us, trying to turn us against one another." She paused to let this sink in. "We have all heard the recent rumors about demons, secret alliances, spies, lizard people disguising themselves in human skin, enormous animals tainted by magic, our ancient enemies of the drow and even Revolword himself returning. I was skeptical of these rumors until reports began piling up. Before calling everyone here tonight, I had to find the truth of these rumors, and have had to spend considerable time and resources gathering evidence. I have learned that these rumors have some basis in fact at their core, and we must band together or Historica will be torn apart and we shall perish. The utmost secrecy was required because this enemy is like a spider with its web everywhere, and I could only count on my most trusted allies." "What is this enemy you speak of, your majesty?" asked King DeGothia. "There is a band of renegade elves working to take over Historica and enslave its inhabitants," she replied. Queen Ylspeth held up her hand to stymie the murmur of disbelief spreading through her audience. "I understand it seems far-fetched. I had a hard time believing it myself, but these are no ordinary elves. Magic has wrenched apart their souls and has consumed and emaciated their bodies. They know no pleasure except in accumulating more power. Gathering this information has taken longer than I would have liked and claimed the lives of several good patriots, but here is the history as I understand it." "Almost a thousand years ago, a small group of young elves broke away from their clan in the Isles of Avalonia. These adolescents had known nothing but prosperity, and their parents had afforded them everything they could wish for. They had grown weary of their lives of luxury and sought something more, something exciting. Their leader, the wily Dion, had studied the arcane arts, and led her friends deep into the Enchanted Forest. Not before stealing many of the most advanced and dangerous spell tomes from the elven library where she studied, however." "At first, the young elves laughed and played. Dion used her summoning spells to produce food and drink, and conjured servants to attend them. Her original intent was not clear; it may have been that she only wanted freedom from authority, but we will never know. What we do know is that Dion began to summon more and more dangerous creatures, and some of the young elves became afraid. They returned home to their shame, which is how we know any of this story at all. The elven elders became concerned that Dion was not just having fun, but rather up to something sinister. They sent a small envoy to meet with her and surreptitiously inspect the keep in which she had set up residence." "When they arrived, they found that she had summoned demons and had been experimenting with powerful evil sorcery. They reported back to the elders who decided to put an end to this work. They sent a group of powerful mages and soldiers to stop the evil magic and arrest Dion and her followers. When they arrived, they found Dion had forseen their approach and a disastrous magical battle ensued. The old keep that Dion and her followers had been using was destroyed. No trace of Dion or her followers could be found, and, after cleaning up the remaining summoned demons, the elven force returned to the elders, declaring them dead." "Exactly what happened in the intervening centuries is unknown, but Dion and her followers had survived. However they had survived the blast, they had regrouped and rebuilt in the catacombs under the ruins of the elven keep where the battle took place. It appears that they have been plotting, patiently and slowly working to enslave all Historica under their control." "Your Majesty, may I ask how you have come by this information?" Lord Vladivus asked quietly. The queen nodded. "Unusually large creatures, called dire animals, were found in Avalonia. These were investigated by a local wizard and traced to their source, a ruins deep in the Enchanted Forest. The wizard, from a concealed position, observed unusual looking elves dumping magical waste into the local streams. This magical pollution led to the creation of the dire animals who drank from the contaminated water supply." "So you've been selling us food that has been tainted with contaminants?!" the Rego asked King deGothia, who glared back at him. "Unless you've been eating giant fowl or enormous ears of corn, no," the Queen cut in. "There will be time to discuss the effects and what is to be done later." The Rego settled down again and the queen continued. "The wizard realized he was in a dangerous situation and wisely returned to the local lord, who hired a skilled operative to discover more information." Queen Ylspeth turned to the short individual clad in black standing to her side. "Our infiltrator Silas scouted the ruins, inside and out. I will let him explain." The spy stepped forward to address the assembled lords, bowing slightly to the queen as he went. "I am here to witness to you what I observed while scouting the ruins." Sir Glorfindel held a hand to briefly stay the man and ask a question. "Are these the ruins of the original tower that the elves inhabited hundreds of years ago?" Queen Ylspeth nodded. "We believe so, yes." "Please, continue," Sir Glorfindel admonished the spy. "Wait," Queen Ylspeth commanded. She turned to Lord Gideon. "Did you bring the potion I asked for?" Lord Gideon rose and produced a bright yellow-green potion in a glass flask. "Yes, your majesty. I have brought the truth potion you have requested." He handed it to her. The queen turned and handed the potion to Silas. He took it from her and looked rather upset. "This was not part of the agreement, your majesty!" he said quietly. The queen looked at him sternly, and addressed him openly for the whole room to hear. "I do not like such magical coercement, but the situation requires that this story be told in full and without question of its authenticity. No one in this room is to ask you of any of your prior activities or secrets while under the influence of this potion. Is that clear?" she asked the room. The lords gave their assent. Seeing he had little choice, the spy sighed and drank the potion. A moment later, he looked at the queen, who nodded. Silas began: "I scouted the ruins around the outside at first. I approached the ruins early in the morning and carefully picked my way around, wary of traps. Moss and vines covered the ruins, and had I not seen occasional comings and goings of these elves, I would have thought the place abandoned." "However, the few elves I had seen had emerged from the chasm near the back of the structure. After observing from a hidden position, I found that there was a concealed entrance behind some ivy leading to the catacombs beneath the ruins. This chasm has a small stream that runs at the base, concealing footprints and movement of people in and out. I waited until all was clear, then snuck in. There is a magical trap near the doorway, and it requires a command word that I overheard the elves repeating. Beyond the doorway, the catacombs are immense under the structure, containing many winding corridors and many rooms. Some have been caved in from above or ravaged by fire, but the farther in you go, the less the rooms are damaged." "There are a number of magical workshops and libraries where they are conducting experiments on animals, humans, dwarves, elves, and a host of other creatures I didn't recognize. I don't understand much in the way of magical writings, but the mundane writing next to the magical texts spoke of experiments meant to bring about a race of super warriors, longevity, and construction of magical items. I helped myself to a few gems and precious stones for my troubles." He clenched his fist and grimaced at the effects of the truth potion. The queen raised her eyebrows and smirked, but otherwise remained silent. Silas continued. "Most of the way through the ruins is a vast cavernous room with an opening in the ceiling to let in light. A pool sits in the center of the floor and beyond it a raised dais. The room just beyond this dais is the main workshop. It contained all manner of magical experiments, a small library of tomes, and on a large desk a collection of journals, each labeled with one of the guilds: Mitgardia, Avalonia, Varlyrio, Nocturnus, and Kaliphlin. Each one contains detailed notes on progress of their schemes meant to undermine the authority of the crown: uprisings in Mitgardia, support for Lord Raavage and the Black Spire years ago in Nocturnus, the disappearance of Artorious Rex of Avalonia, unusual undead activity in Kaliphlin, the appearance of demons from a nether realm in Varlyrio... the web of deceit and plans was complex and vast. I was shocked, and I have seen quite a bit of treachery in my line of work." He quickly shut his mouth, about to say more, but choosing silence over blurting out more truths he did not want to speak. "Most disturbing was that in all, there were notes on a magical superweapon designed to wipe out entire castles at once. This was mentioned in all of the guilds' journals, tied in to the elemental powers that Revolword had tapped into. Despite the elemental helm being lost to another dimension, the elemental forces remain, and this group of elves was constructing a new device to harness these powers into a weapon. The details of the weapon seem to have been written in a magical language in another tome, but the mundane writing described that each use requires a soul, and that each of the guilds houses an elemental power necessary to construct it. It also seems that the weapon is nearly finished, if not already so." "The last pages of the journal implied that an army was being raised by these elves to attack all of the guilds, with the aid of the super weapon, while each of us was fighting amongst ourselves due to the rumors, lies, and hostilities that these elves had been sowing for years. " "The more I read, the more dangerous I realized the situation was, and I had to return with this intelligence. I retraced my steps back out, but was held up about halfway back: an interdimensional portal opened and a large group of evil creatures came through. I ducked into a room and pulled the door to. Through the small crack at the edge of the door, I watched as a whole host of skeletons and demons paraded by. They were followed by strange, emaciated elves. Their leader is an elf with black hair who has magically modified herself, or maybe mutated, having given herself antennae. They seem to have some sensory power, as they looked at me when she passed. I remained frozen and she passed by without incident, but it was unnerving to say the least. I estimated around a dozen of the elves, maybe 20 undead skeletons, and another dozen or so demon creatures of various types, including some with the capacity for flight. After that, I high tailed it out of there, and reported my findings." When Silas finished, the guild representatives gave one another worried looks. King deGothia was the first to speak. "This news comes as a surprise to us all I think," he glanced around the table to affirming looks, "but it also comes at a bad time when we are all rebuilding. How are we to raise an army to fight this foe?" Sir Glorfindel agreed. "Mitgardia is dealing with its own rebellion internally right now. We cannot commit large numbers of troops to a battle against this enemy." "Raising an army from Nocturnus will prove almost impossible," Lord Vladivus chimed in. "The destruction there is worse than the other guilds, and loyalties are still fractured." "Kaliphlin is still dealing with the Desert King and the undead apparently raised by these elves," Lord Gideon added. "Varlyrio is starting to see these demons," Rego Amancio stated. "Has anyone reached out to these elves and tried to bargain with them? They may be interested in reaching a deal." The queen shook her head. "We have not discussed anything with the elves. Indeed, they do not even know that we are aware of their existence. I thought that it was wise to retain the element of surprise, and besides, a small group of individuals raising an army against the state, sowing the seeds of rebellion, and developing a super weapon capable of destroying an entire castle... that is quite clearly treason, is it not? Those are not the actions of a group interested in bargaining." "What do you propose we do, your majesty?" asked Lord Vladivus in his calm, quiet manner. "It is clear that the Guilds of Historica are not at full capacity and to face a foe of this magnitude on an open battlefield would likely end in defeat," the queen began. "The only way that I can see for us to prevail is to strike with the element of surprise. We will need a small force of diverse talents to enter the ruins and eliminate these elves and their minions before they are able to gate an entire army into our world, or worse, use their superweapon." "The force would need to be stealthy," Lord Vladivus began. "And have formidable warriors to combat demons," Sir Glorfindel added. "These elves are magic users. We will require some mages as well," Lord Gideon spoke up. The lords at the table continued their discussion of the force amongst themselves for a few minutes. Then the queen spoke. "I ask that each of you return home, choose five of your best, plus one commander, and send them in a fortnight to the Golden Goblet tavern in Belynia, Avalonia, on the eastern edge of the Enchanted Forest. Silas will meet them there and lead them to the ruins." The lords discussed the proposal briefly and assented. The queen then spoke again. "Before we leave, there is the utmost need of secrecy. You cannot tell even your champions why they are going into battle. I have here a bottle of water that has been enspelled to prevent anyone who drinks from it of speaking of the subject that is uttered before it is complete. I propose a toast," she said, pouring water into everyone's goblet. After everyone had their goblets filled, she lifted her glass. The lords did the same, even Rego Amancio. "May we not speak of the conversations that we have had here tonight with anyone else until after the task is completed." She drank from her goblet, as did all the lords and Silas. "Thanks to you all, and may Historica prevail!" the queen entoned. The lords, now finished with dinner, took their leave, and the queen and Silas stood for a moment in silence. Then the large panel with the sigil of Historica on the far wall opened, and out came a dark skinned, blue-haired elf from the under regions of Varlyrio. "My queen," the elf curtsied. "The Kolgari are in support of the crown, your majesty. I appreciate your allowing me to remain hidden in front of the Rego." Queen Ylspeth shook her head. "It is against my better judgment to keep secrets from my subjects, but if some of the rumors of the Rego's ambitions are true, then we should be wary. With any luck, the Rego will send troops and then we shall have two contingents from Varlyrio." "We shall send our champions, your majesty," the elf replied. The queen then poured her water from the same bottle and made another toast. "May we not speak of the subjects spoken of tonight until the task is complete." The Kolgari drank with the queen. ---------- Two weeks later, the troops began filtering into the Golden Goblet. Silas gathered them in the private banquet room to keep them out of sight. The Avalonians, Kaliphlinians, and Nocturnians had already arrived, but only quiet conversations and a few drinks were had. As the hour grew late, everyone began to wonder where the Varlyrians and Mitgardians were. But then, several hooded, cloaked figures entered the room. Throwing back their cloaks and hoods, they revealed themselves to be Kolgari elves, from beneath the surface of Varlyrio. "I see our Varlyrian friends the Kolgari have sent us support," Silas said. Murmuring broke out amongst the other troops. Many had heard of the Kolgari but few had ever seen them. They were stunning to behold in their golden armor. The Kolgari commander held a fist to his chest and bowed. "The Kolgari are at the service of the crown," he said. A moment of silence followed, then the Avalonian commander stepped forward and extended his hand. The Kolgari commander took it, and a cheer went up. The troops then began to greet one another and were soon talking like old friends. A round of drinks later, however, it became clear that the Kolgari would be the last to arrive. Mitgardia and the above ground inhabitants of Varlyrio had not sent troops. With this realization, Silas rounded up the troops, paid the bar tab, and led them off into the darkness of the night. The darkness grew even deeper as they entered the enchanted forest. ---------- Two days journey in, the pace became slower as they drew closer. The troops were on high alert and traveled quietly as they stole their way around brambles and loose rocks. Finally, on the evening of the third day, they arrived at the ruins, crawling slowly in the underbrush on the nearby hill to gain a vantage. Silas pointed out the location of the secret door. They waited until nightfall, and saw no activity. Quietly, Silas led the group down into the chasm, said the magic password, and led the group into the catacombs. The group went room to room, seeing little activity, but seeing exactly what Silas had told the guild leaders about: laboratories and animal experiments. Silas continued down the hallway, motioning the others to follow, stopping just before the large room with the pool that Silas had described to the guild representatives. The group peered through the doorway and saw a long, high ceilinged room with light filtering in from a hole above, shining down onto what might have been an ancient elven room of worship. Some of the decorations had fallen and the raised dais on the far side of the pool was broken, but much of the original stonework remained. The light reflected off the water of the pool onto the walls, which were overgrown with ivy and moss in one corner. Unlike the ruined rooms and hallways of the catacombs they had seen, this large room had a strange, unearthly quality to it, and might have been a beautiful place to visit in better times. Silas paused at this room to listen and observe. The other three entrances to this room, one on the dais itself, and the other two on opposite walls, were dark and evidenced no movement. Only the quiet splash of water from the fountain located along one edge of the pool could be heard. "Let us make our way along the wall to the door on the northern side," Silas whispered. He led the troops along the wall to the left, picking his way carefully uneven and broken stone floor. As he peered around the doorway, a demoness stepped out from the darkness into the light. "What have we here?" the demoness asked in a loud voice. Silas sprang forward to attack and silence her as quickly as possible, but she moved with supernatural speed and knocked him to the ground. The troops quickly spread out to surround her, and as they did so, more demons appeared behind them from the hallway they had just exited. They moved to back to the other doorways, but elves and demons poured forth from these as well. The troops kept backing up until they found themselves standing in the pool, surrounded. A tall, emaciated elf dressed in black trimmed in light green, with black hair and strange antennae protruding from her head, stepped forward onto the dais, flanked by two hooded acolytes. She carried a wooden staff from the top of which glowed a magical all-seeing eye that darted this way and that at the troops. "Welcome to our home, feeble guild members," the black-clad elf said. "I am Dion, the leader of the Enlightened." She paused, then smiled a crooked smile and laughed as she looked at them. "Did you think that you would surprise me? My all-seeing eye detected you leagues away from here." She basked in the disappointment written on the troops' faces as they realized they had walked into a trap. "We are not unkind, even to those that would assault us in our home. If you lay down your arms now, we will show you mercy and you may live out your days as our servants. If, however, you choose to fight, you will be killed without mercy, and those of you who survive will have your souls removed to power our elemental weapon." As she spoke, human troops filed in, followed by skeletons, trolls, and orcs, some riding wargs. Worse still, ghosts appeared, and even three powerful trolls. The guild troops looked to one another, knowing that they were doomed; they were outnumbered and overmatched. The leader of the Avalonian troops stood up tall and rallied the courage of all the allied guild troops. "Are you going to fight or try to bore us to death with talk?" he asked in a loud voice before dropping his visor with a loud *clank* and raising his sword. The guild troops cheered, raising their weapons and preparing for battle. Dion frowned and raised her staff. A loud cry went up from the evil forces, and they charged. Battle had been joined. The mindless skeleton forces marched in first, doing little damage against the seasoned veterans, but distracting them while the evil elves rained down magical fire, ice, and lightning on the allied troops. Not to be outdone, the allied mages fired back with magic of their own, though most of their efforts were absorbed by the ground troops that the elves were using as fodder. With several allied troops now down, the next wave of the evil army hit, this time real troops supported by orcs and wargs. Flying demons dive bombed the allied troops all the while. More allied troops fell, and fewer of the evil army this time. The ranks of the allied guilds shrunk and the group in the pool became smaller. The next wave hit, this time consisting of the demons, the ghosts and the powerful trolls. The troops from Nocturnus, mostly intact to this point due to their undead nature, took heavy damage now from these magical attackers. The Enlightened began to draw nearer. The last few allied guild troops tightened their circle once more and were surrounded by the evil army. "Goodbye, worthless guilds," Dion said, before raising her staff and firing a lightning bolt at the group, striking down the Kaliphlini mage. The evil army began to advance for the final onslaught as the allied troops braced to receive the charge. As the monstrous army advanced and all seemed lost, a horn sounded, loud and low, echoing off the stone hallways. The demons and elves facing the dais turned around just in time to see a ferocious sight coming from the tunnel: a charge of bear cavalry. The Mitgardians had arrived. The legendary dwarven bear cavalry of Mitgardia plowed into the lines of the evil army. Their charge had not been resisted in over four hundred years, and today was no exception. The massive bears with berserker dwarves flowed over the demons and elves like hot lava on a meadow, tearing apart their ranks as they came. "Sorry we're late!" yelled one of the dwarves as they followed their screaming leader, Jarl Thimolir on the back of his massive polar bear into the fray. The allied guild troops, rallied by the late support, cheered and pressed hard against the enemy line. "First one to her head has a free keg!" yelled Jarl Thimolir as the bears plowed around the pool and up onto the dais. Dion, seeing that her lines were broken and thrown into chaos, desperately threw fire at an advancing bear only to have her head cleaved from her shoulders by the axe of another. The lines of both sides were now mixed, and chaos reigned. The allied troops, bolstered by the insane charge of the dwarven bear cavalry, began to cut down the evil army one by one. Multiple magic users ganged up on the trolls as the dwarves pounded them with their hammers. The ghosts were cut with magical blades of the Kolgari and dissipated into nothing. As the evil army began to be outnumbered, the troops began to flee, and were chased down by the bears. Finally, the last of the demons and Enlightened were vanquished, and the remaining allied guild troops gathered together, congratulating one another and cheering on the Mitgardian bear cavalry. "Not so easy to get a bunch of armed dwarves riding bears through elven lands in Avalonia when you can't explain what you're doing there," Jarl Thimolir said as the battle died down. "Glad you made it," said the Kolgari leader, grasping his hand in a shake. "How did you find us?" "After we reached the tavern and everyone was gone, our bears picked up your scent and we tracked you here. We came down, heard the commotion, and followed it to the battle, despite getting a little scorched by a magical fire trap on the way in." "If you'd been any later, you might not have had anyone to save," the Kolgari said with a smile. "Your timing couldn't have been better!" "I'll drink to that!" the Jarl said, producing a skin of ale and sharing it with the elf. The allies cleaned up the battlefield, laying their dead to rest in the forest around the ruins (including the spy, Silas), and standing guard as carts were brought in from a neighboring Avalonian community to haul off the magical and mundane books to be examined back in Cedrica. The animals and other humanoid creatures held captive were freed, and the extra-world portals demolished and sealed. The ground the demons died on was consecrated so they could not be raised again, and the other remains burned to avoid their return as undead. ---------- Queen Ylspeth met with the troops and the guild representatives at the Golden Goblet and congratulated them on a great victory, now able to tell them the entire story, which she did in detail. They mourned their dead and raised their glasses in salute to the fallen. The queen then made an announcement. "We shall erect a monument of the battle and for the fallen at the site of the ruins, memorializing a day when all of the guilds of Historica came together to defeat a dangerous foe. We shall not soon forget your deeds, or our strength together." "There is still work to be done. The main threat is dispersed, but it is unknown if there are survivors of the Enlightened, parts of their summoned armies may yet exist, and their spies still run freely in each of our guilds. I am assembling a group of scholars from each of the guilds to study the writings found in the ruins and we will try to discern as much detail of the plans of the Enlightened as we can. Keep guard! The battle has been won, but the war is not yet over."