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Found 53 results

  1. Louis of Nutwood

    Rise of the Baiamontes (Full Story)

    Beware! This is a heavy reading topic. A cup of hot beverage is advised. This story was written for Book III: Challenge V, Category B (Baiamonte Family, in Varlyrio). For each individual (concise) part, go to: Part I, Part II, Part III Happy reading. Rise of the Baiamontes By @Louis of Nutwood, @Gideon and @Henjin_Quilones A yellow orb of fire rose from under the blue mantel that divided water and sky to warm the face of land, wake the common folk, and put the isle in the middle of the sea to stand and meet the new season. From its study, The Rego snorted in satisfaction to hear the clatter of iron against wood as his guards, woken before the break of light, practicing the art of swordsmanship, as they did religiously every morning. This day, though, marked an anticipated time for both the Rego and the military force that supported and protected his kin, for on the first day of summer, when the sun was at its peak, the younglings, apprentices of the Varlyrian army, would be reckoned as men of the realm, called forth to swear their vows and win the honor of wearing the gold and white armor that made them protectors of the Isle. After 28 years in the military, Gen. Juan Rojas Baiamonte had attended the Ritual of Recognition on its every occasion since his youth. And for the past 16, upon being promoted as General after his late father Miguel Villaroya Baimonte, he was the one person that placed the golden blade of the Ancestors upon the shoulders the youngling soldiers, erasing their past and turning them into men devoted to a life of servitude in the army. In 28 years, Gen. Juan R. Baiamonte had faced the most difficult voyages, the most threatening battles, the most fearsome enemies. He had been to the Battle of the Seas, the Envoy to the Swollen Caves, even to the War of Famine, up in the continent, where soldiers have claimed to see winged beasts spitting fire from the sky. But none of these battles made Juan as uneasy as he was this day, for in the crowd of younglings that waited in a sea of anxiety to proclaim their loyalty, one boy with wavy brown hair and innocent eyes stood to him the most. As happened to Juan, it happened to Miguel, his father, and his grandfather before him, and after generations leading the Special Forces of the Army of the Isle, the Baiamonte family took the pages of history as the most cunning strategists and fearless warriors. At the age of 8, every child was to be separated from its family, stripped from all its possessions, deprived from all its comforts, and sent to live in a monastery amongst nature and other children. From youth, they would learn how to wield a sword and hold a spear, to raise a shield and perry a blow, to use hand-to-hand combat and to use nature on their favor, to trust and protect their brothers and to never give their backs to an enemy, to move, feel and think as a unit and to become a deadly weapon individually, just as much as in a group. To fear nothing but fear itself. Strength. Consistency. Trust. After years under observation and constant training, the younglings that showed capable of partaking military action, were gradually moved to battalions and frontlines to care, and learn from operative soldiers that fought for the realm and defended its sovereignty. This day, Gen. Juan Rojas Baiamonte would welcome the little younglings to their new life. This day, Juan, the little boy that was taken from his family and grew to become the most respected general in Varlyrio would welcome his only son to a new life filled with honor and responsibility. Juan could not be prouder, and he could not be more eager to once again, meet his only son Rufus. Banners flapped as the bright sun was at its peak. Lined in a trail were the younglings – some had not a strand of hair on their newborn faces – with puffed chests and clenched jaws. On their flanks, battalions of soldiers stood motionless with their spears stuck on the ground, rugged as a chain of trees. The Rego stood form his carved chair and raised his hands facing the young soldiers. General Juan Rojas Baiamonte was at his right and fell to one knee as the crown did the same. “All your past... is dust. Your family, your heritage, your mistakes, your achievements. Dust. All your future... is sand. Words in the wind. A blank page in the unknown. Sand. All there is... is now. This day, here. And this day... you are reborn! Raise, and face me in the eye. Look into my soul and pray. Who are you?” The line of younglings raised from their knees and punched their chests with fisted hands. “Ahooo! Ahooo! Ahooo!” General Juan Rojas Baiamonte left the Rego’s side and took the lead, unsheathing a golden blade from his scabbard and pointing it to the sky. Juan once again repeated the vows that bound him and every man to the Varlyrian Army together and brought his son closer than ever. … A great caravel of five masts had just docked over the harbor, following a hundred merchant ships from Avalonia, a thousand barges from Kaliphlin and countless fishing boats from Mitgardia. Over the past few years, the port area had become impassable, filled with people from all over Avalonia coming and going, trying to make a living. A welcoming place for thieves and robbers, as well as for those who envisioned a new start in a distant world. Recognizing the opportunity to develop political relations with the other guilds through trade and commerce, The Rego invested in the expansion of Varlyrian ports and established major trading routes with the continent. The recent alliance brought interest and curiosity to the Isle, as more and more people started to travel across the sea. The travel from the continent took several days and the investment in such endeavors were of great cost, so the regent Queen Ylspeth demanded the taxes on Varlyrian ports to be lowered, greatly impacting the Rego’s revenue. The Isle’s council settled, acknowledging the benefits of a larger circulation of foreign fleets, but consumed by greed, projects of exploitation were implemented to support commerce and dazzle the newcomers. Up in the Ridge Mountains, an interconnected chain of caves and tunnels opened and kept by the Island Dwarves gave way to an extraordinary route of rare gems, runes, and stones that overwhelmed the travelers with their beauty and stunned them with stories of their magical capabilities – some could heal, some could entice a loving person, and one other that was greatly searched for, they said was able to revive an old man’s vigor. Amongst all the riches in the Isle, these gems brought the wealthier lords known throughout the seas to spend their gold in the foreign lands. Exploitation in the mines had grown exponentially, from authorized groups as well as from prospectors from far beyond, and before long, the frozen Dwarven cities that were once calm and deserted, became packed with unwanted foreigners. It was called The Age of Exploration, and with it came robbery, depravation, smuggling and general chaos to the familiar streets carved on stone in the face of the mountains. Never have the Dwarves worked as much, pushed as hard and lived inside the rock for so long. Under the Rego’s order (pressured by countless lords and kings), new mines were opened daily, swept of all its riches and treasures, and left for the wolves to claim nests. The Varlyrian Guard was sent to rule the harbor and the supplies descending the mountains, and battalions took turns by the entrance of every human city in the Isle. But the army’s efforts of control were effective just to a point, until smugglers found a new way to do business and exploit both the Dwarves and the mountain. It was getting out of hand. General Juan knew it as much as the Rego. … It was common during summer for the days to be hot and dry, and as the sun started weakening, a damp breeze would swamp the streets, foretelling an expected summer rain to wash away the stickiness on people’s skins. That night, as water fell from dark skies, the Rego woke to the sound of horns being blown by the harbor, as an endless queue of ships and galleys had formed. At his chamber door, the Councilor stood soaking wet in his silken robes. “Your Highness, our ports operating way beyond capacity. The ships refuse to leave their ways as, apparently, their requests for precious gems and stones have not been fulfilled. There is a riot at the harbor and - “ “Unfulfilled? Well, can’t they leave with what they have?”, replied the Rego, grabbing a golden goblet and filling it with Kaliphlian wine. “Your Magnificence, their orders have been paid in advance. We collected their payment, but lack the product, and more ships are docking”, said the Councilor rubbing his hands together, each time more curved on his own belly. “Our supplies have been cut, your Greatness” The Rego peaked out his window and saw the flickering orange of the flames lighting the foot of the mountain, where the first Dwarven City was erected, and dwelt the Dwarven King. “Fetch me a horse, Councilor, and inform General Baiamonte I need his men ready” … The damp summer wind and the refreshing rain were long past, as in the foot of the mountain blew the of the glaciers that ran over stoned corridors before howling loose on the mountain’s scars. General Juan Rojas Baiamonte rode his brown stallion covered in crimson and gold, his scabbard kicking on the horse’s back. Behind him, other twenty men covered in boiled leather and plate, amongst which, rode Rufus, his son, weaving the white and golden banner of the guild. By the foot of the mountain, at the entrance of the first Dwarven City of Derem’tor, stood a gathering of shrunken men with thick beards that covered most of their faces, handling oddly large axes and hammers. “To what I owe the pleasure of meeting you in our town, Rego?! I was told you were not so fond of a little chill” said a bald Dwarf behind a red fuzzy beard covering his cheeks and chest. “You made quite the fuzz down at the docks, Rhloder. You know the docks? It is where those big turtles float over the water and bring the coin that buys the equipment and protection you are so affectionate about, but seem to have forgotten”, replied the Rego. “You are the one who seems to have forgotten, Rego, that unlike your garments and fancy pants, some things in this world have an end. Patience, for one. And your precious stones, Rego. I needed not have come to this. All we asked was for you to regulate the trade of gems, raise tax in the savagery you call your ports and keep those brutes off our mountain. But since you chose to ignore all my pleas, and since you do not listen to reason, I hereby declare that all the mining operations from this point on, are ceased”. “Ceased? On what grounds do you think – “ “You have been warned! Many a time. You cannot expect us to pick, drill and dig forever. There is a limit to where we can go, a limit to where our tools will reach. But we are past beyond that. To a point that we are losing lives and families to the mountain. The tunnels, they are treacherous and deceiving, collapsing each time we advance and take what is not ours. We cannot go further. Not like this. This is where we live. In here, carved under rock and stone are our homes. But the more we dig, more we are threatened. The mountain is turning against us, Rego” “This is nonsense, Dwarf. Mines collapse! Deal with it and move someplace else, but you must not, by your own will, terminate an established agree – “ “Agreement?” the dwarf smiled sympathetically, his hands over his belt. “You don’t understand, Rego. The mountain is alive. It has manifested. We can move, aye, but the mountain will stand against. Let it heal, Rego. Let it rest. Let us reestablish our connection to the Gods and nature, so we can all live another day. Or else, push through, and madness and death is all you will see” The Rego moved his horse across the snow, reaching closer to the line of dwarves. “Is this a threat, Dwarf?” “It is. But it is not coming from me”, Rhloder turned and looked up to the mountain before disappearing in the snow. … On the morning of the next day, General Juan Rojas Baiamonte left his barracks leading a group of twenty soldiers and thirty prospectors to the Ridge Mountains. The group found no resistance to enter the Dwarven City of Derem’tor, or when reaching the Mines of Rhangvar, a complex of interconnected tunnels with its wooden oaken doors, distributed on the face of the mountain like shut and blocked frames. Galloping towards the summit, the wooden doors to the mines became larger and longer, suggesting that the riches were broader on the mountaintops. But, in front of every door, from the bottom to the top of the mountain, dwarfs lay on the ground and over the white mantel of snow. Some wounded, some unconscious, some too tired and sick to even lift a pick or axe. Yet, they stood to prevent anyone from entering the mines. The last entrance, on the higher part of the mountain was marked by a stone sculpture of a dwarf holding a sword pointing to the ground, covered in a dabble of white flakes. Rhangvar – the dwarf god of prosperity. The stairs, carved in the face of the mountain led to a set of wooden doors engraved with iron spikes, so tall that reached the skies and disappeared on a frigid grey fog. On the foot of the stoned dwarf were the markings: Mines of Rhangvar. General Juan R. Baiamonte jumped aside of his horse and walked towards the set of stairs. He was met by a runt and stocky man, his nose thick and red from the cold, a brown beard covering his chest. “I would think again if I were you, brother”, said the short man, presenting himself. “I come in the name of the court and Your majesty, the Rego, with the order to reestablish all mining operations this instant and put an end to this folly of a strike. Shall you refuse, I am aloud to use force, seize you and your supporters for disobedience, revoke your right to housing and share of land in the Isle. Resist and I will put you to the sword. I am ready to substitute you and your kin with a more qualified manpower, if need be, in order to reestablish trade and commerce with our partners, and–“ The short man listened attentively, not giving a blink, and not showing a sign of resistance. “Well, go on...” “... Our partners, and don’t try to impede me, dwarf. I will use force against you and any pygmy that lay hand on my man”, snapped Gen. Baiamonte. “I see no need to do so, sir General. But I do sense you misinterpret the situation, sir. This is no strike. We wish to work, aye. We want no stress with the crown, no. Sire, we were kicked out of the mountain, you see. It is no safe to enter, no safe at all. Under no circumstance we are aloud to enter this mountain while that thing remains torturing our very heads. No, sir”, the dwarf explained as if sharing an ale with the general. “You mock me, dwarf?” “Mock, sire? You do not... I lost many a man to this mountain. This is no mocking subject” “Then get your gear, gather your men and start picking”, the General tossed a picking axe to the dwarf’s feet, that poured snow when landed. “I... I cannot, sire. I fear for me life. You all should. The creature inside does not joke. You can point your blade at me, take me head if you like. But if I enter these doors, I’m as good as dead” “Creature, you say?” “See for yourself, but I advise you not to wake the spirits of the mountain. Hear its roar, and you will shit your pants to death. It is not a pretty sight to die in loaded trousers, specially trousers as fine as yours, sire” “Leave my sight, dwarf”, said Juan, as the stocky man started his descent. At the base of the tall wooden doors, Gen. Juan and his men lifted the beams blocking the mine’s entrance. Thirty miners trembled in the cold of the Ridge Mountains, anticipating the intensity of a day’s labor, and questioning if the rumors of the mountain that lived would prove to be true. Rufus Baiamonte closed the envoy, as the last guard to lead the group into the mountain. Before entering, Juan put a hand in his son’s shoulder. “I need you to return to the Rego and report our triumph. His supply of gems will be reestablished. Alert the merchants and return with wagons. This folly ends today” “Father, -“ “I will not hear. Bring me those wagons and we will talk on the morrow. You are dismissed”, said the general bending his head. “Just be careful, sire”, whispered Rufus, but the General was too far away, heading to the tall wooden doors. ... The journey back to the bay took the whole morning and a large part of the afternoon. Rufus gathered a chain of forty wagons and needed over a dozen men to carry them through the frigid frost on the mountain’s backbones. After a day, the march reached the first Dwarven City, but Rufus fell out of place when he saw the city was deserted, and no man or dwarf lingered in the gates to welcome their arrival. Footprints deformed the snow uphill, showing the direction of a possible getaway. But then, he sensed the smell. A rotten and warm smell that pierced the throat and thickened the spit. Something burning. Rufus abandoned the empty carts and with a kick in his horse, bolted like and arrow through the trail of mines. The narrow paths, once vivid with merchants and miners was now dark and lifeless, as if a curse had swiped all souls from the face of the mountain. Closer to the summit, the stench of smoke turned harder and ticker. The horse’s gallop lifted brown snow into the air, his breath frosting on his nose. Up in the mountain, Rufus glimpsed the stoned sculpture of Rhangvar, the Dwarf God. Behind it, a wall of black smoke circled the mountaintop and embraced the set of stairs that led into the Mines of Rhangvar. The skies darkened and the ground shook. Fear lingered in the air, almost sensible to the touch. Rufus approached the entrance of the mine and finally, between deserted trails and pines covered in snow, he found his comrades. Some unconscious, others wounded, they lay on the snow, panting, and gasping for breath after being pushed out of what could have been their coffin. At least they are safe now, though Rufus. The boy meandered through bodies and trembling men, overwhelmed by the commotion. Between familiar and unfamiliar faces, Rufus saw the fear in his brothers’ eyes. All the years of training, all the quests in the forest, all those nights unslept with spear in hand, not even that was enough to keep them from shaking. Whatever they saw inside the mountain, Rufus did not want to share. But amongst all men, the boy searched for only one familiar face: his father’s, but that one was nowhere to be found. Up in the distance, fading in the freezing mist, the silhouette of a dozen men was drawn against the orange glow of the setting sun. Their bodies thick in width, but plain in height, were the last reminiscent of those who once populated these frigid settlements, now disappearing in the fog, as if leaving a prey to die, running away from judging eyes. “What happened here?”, asked Rufus, reaching a soldier that struggled to remain on his feet. “The mountain... the creature... We were massacred. We tried to run away, but these tunnels are so mischievous, they... I though it was my time. I saw my final moment in those flaming eyes...”, the soldier babbled and sunk his head on his hands, sobbing. The smell of smoke, burned meat, coal and ashes remained in the air, scraping Rufus’s throat, and painting the white mantel of snow with a soft veil of black dust. While the soldiers regained their feet, and assembled to leave this damned mountain, Rufus noticed that many of the miners and soldiers were still missing. “Where are the others, brother?”, asked Rufus to a red-haired officer whose clothes were torn and tainted with blood. “Some did not make it, comrade. The cave just... fell apart. When that thing... woke... Hell, I just ran. Some were fool enough to stay behind and buy us time to flee. But they couldn’t stand a chance” “What was it, brother?” “It was big, black. Like a giant snake, its eyes were flaming orbs. And its teeth... Hell, it was true, boy. It was just... all true”. The soldier looked away from Rufus and let out a long and lasting breath that covered his face in a freezing cloud. “The general... your father... he is a hero, you know. If it wasn’t for him...” Rufus did not want – or need – to hear any further. Despite his efforts to enter the mine, the doors were locked shut from the inside. The guards were too wounded, fragile, simply uncapable to even get near the mines, what could have been their final moments. Rufus glanced at the mountaintop, where midget silhouettes sketched the horizon, but there only remained the thin orange line of the final hours of the day. In silence, Rufus promised the gods he would have his revenge. … A flaming arrow crossed the night sky and landed on a pile of straw and sticks, lighting the dark path to heaven, where the souls of the fallen heroes would spend the rest of their days. The Rego closed the ceremony in respect to the deaths in the mines of Rhangvar naming Rufus his first lieutenant, and awarding him the star of honor, for the 28 years his father serviced the realm. A golden star the size of a cantaloupe with a striped fabric of crimson and white, to represent the blood and devotion of the ones who gave their lives to save their brothers. The following morning was grey and windy. The Rego remained on his chambers, while Rufus stood at his door for most of the day, expecting an opening for an audience. When he finally opened his door and called for the soldier, the Rego served two full glasses of red wine and sit by the balcony, where he could observe the canals and the Bay of Merchants, one of the finest districts in Varlyrio. “Your father was a brave man”, said the Rego. “One of the best”, Rufus bowed his head in a sign of respect. “Your Highness, I come to tend for different matters. I have reason to believe the Dwarves are plotting against your crown. I have reason to believe they are behind the events on the Mines of Rhangvar, where the lives of our men were taken” “This is a bold assumption, Lieutenant. Why should I-” “I saw it with my own eyes. Rhloder, the King of Dwarves is the responsible for my father’s death. His men flee the mines the moment I-“ “I will not accept it”, The Rego answered sharply. “Your Holiness, we did as you commanded and took the mines, but we were cowardly trapped and attacked under their-“ “Lieutenant, do you see these vessels trapped in the ports of our Island?”, Rufus did not answer. “I have promised to all of them an unimaginable amount of gold and jewels and stones and gems, capable of turning simple men into sons of gods. I relied on you, my most reliable men, to reestablish these supplies. Now tell me: where are my precious gems?” “Your Excellence, we were cravenly attacked!” “I asked for the completion of a simple task, and instead, you turned this into a bloody mess”, the Rego got up, filled another cup of wine, went to his desk, and searched for a parchment. “You have proven me that you chimps are uncapable of doing anything beyond waiving your swords and spears and looking strong. You are asking me to run against the only capable creatures of doing what we need, which is to explore our mines and regain our wealth”, the leader of the Isle opened the parchment and showed the signature at the bottom of the fabric. “The Dwarven King has just signed a treaty. Our stones will be restored in no time. More taxes, yes, but I do not expect you to understand any of my business” Rufus balanced the cup of wine in his hand, from which he did not take a sip, measuring his next words. The image of the dwarves fleeing from the flaming mines that trapped his father and took his life remained vividly in his mind. His promise faltered in his mouth with the known taste of blood. “At least let me fetch my father’s remains...”, the words felt unnatural in his throat, “... your Magnificence”. “To let you go back to the mountains and run the risk of you slicing the throat of my most recent commercial partner?”, The Rego snorted a suppressed laugh. “Don’t think me a fool, boy”, he looked outside once again, admiring the grey fog dancing over the canals. “Yet, the reports say the city has been abandoned, I see. And I am an understanding leader. You have your right to have your family, boy. And I respect that”, he swallowed the remaining half of his cup in large gulps. “Don’t make me regret this. Out.” The boy left the room glistering with golden ornaments without bowing to his superior. … The cold wind of the mountains felt less uncomfortable in Rufus’s back, he noticed. After days of expedition up and down the mountain, he could have been more accustomed, or it could be his blood was warmer with rage. The smell of smoke softened during the past week and there had been no more reports of attacks or suspicious activities in the mountains. How convenient. Slowly and carefully, miners returned to their duties, as the ships in the harbor departed one by one. Rufus trotted passed the Mines of Rhangvar. It was no use trying to enter – the doors were sealed and not even twenty men would suffice to force his way in. He would have to enter a different way. Rufus continued his journey across the mountain, up to the second Dwarven City, then the third. Mehlid’ravn was fortified with wooden watchtowers and stoned walls, barricaded with carefully sharpened logs, only a dwarf would be capable of carving. The houses, a mix of wood and stone, engraved with dwarven insignias and family sigils. Rufus reached the walls and was measured by two guards pointing crossbows to his chest. “Lieutenant Rufus Baiamonte, to speak with Rhloder, the King of Dwarfs” The doors opened with the clinging of chains. He expects me. In the main hall, the fire cracked in heath that ran all the way in the extension of the hall to an elevated wooden bridge with a centered oaken throne was covered in furs of fox, saber, and ox. A short man with a red beard covering his chest stared, as Rufus walked across the yellow-lit hall. “I should have your head, Dwarf” “You are grieving, so I will take no offense this time. You wished to see me. Now, spit” “Where is my father?” “Your father is a brave man. He remains inside the ruins of Rhangvar, sleeping with the beast” “Because you left him there, and all his men” “Believe what you will, but this is no true. The ones who left, they left because of him. There are living because the General sacrificed. But had he and your commander listened to our pleas, no one would have perished. I saw him stand against the beast. Leather wings spread, her fiery breath spitting... Yet he stood, sword in hand as his men and mine ran for their lives. We left that living hell and sealed the door behind us. I was the last one to leave, and no one else would have left. We took care of the most, treated their wounds as well as we could” “So, you are a hero, then? You care for the weak and give them supper, then flee to hide behind your walls... Ha... I do not believe you, Dwarf”, replied Rufus. “Your father is the true hero, boy. But I knew the moment he stood behind, that his stubborn men, with their tacky, inflexible, and revenging little minds would not be easily satisfied with the truth and would need to point fingers and search for a villain. When you fail to realize how the true villain is right under your noses, controlling each one of you”, he sighed. “Of course, we had to leave. But this act of bravery and stupidity showed that we have had enough death over those foolish riches. So, yes, I took the chance to make the Rego accept our terms, and now we can live in peace with the mountain and nature. Rufus stared blankly at the crackling fire reflecting on the round-shaped shields that covered the internal walls of the hall. “We should have never entered these damned mines”, said the boy, finally. “I... his body...” “Aye”, said Rhloder. “There is another way. We can take you there if that is what you wish”. Rufus spent the night. He ate pork and chicken, drank more mugs of ale than he could count, shared stories with the dwarves and sang their sad songs before passing out on the table. The next morning, Rhloder, Rufus and an expedition of two other dwarfs entered the broken tunnels of Derem’tor, in the search for the remains of General Juan Rojas Baiamonte. Gigantic halls that echoed infinitely gave way to tiny burrows in which Rufus found difficulty to course through. The walls looked fragile, leaning over the passageways, hanging still by the will of the gods, in the brink of collapsing over their fragile selves. They walked through cracks, hang from natural cliffs and in one passage, they even had to use ropes to traverse over a frozen lake inside the caves. Until they reached a point after a long corridor marked by two columns of ice, where the dwarfs stopped. “This is as far as we can go, boy”, said Rhloder, his voice echoing in damp walls, as he and the Dwarfs remained in the shadows of the cave. Rufus lurched through fallen rocks, reflecting pools and columns of stone. The farther he went, the warmer it got inside the cave, and it showed he was getting closer to where he was supposed to go. He cornered a long hall and found himself inside a hall fully lit by a deep crack in the ceiling of the cave, from which sunbeams passed and warmed the room’s interior in frigid grey and white stone. Rufus stepped on a chain of rocks, elevated from the ground. The rocks started as small pebbles, that turned larger and larger, poking out of the ground like stakes. The rocks twisted and turned, like roots trying to find their way through the earth. But those rocks were smooth and white as snow itself. Teeth and claws, solid as bones. He suddenly realized, he was not walking over a chain of stones, but over a skeleton of a fallen beast. Dead. He pondered how weak, yet still fearsome that gigantic creature was, even motionless and lifeless. Rufus realized the fear they all must have felt while gazing through the wholes that once held his eyes. Rufus felt a sudden relieve, thinking that the miners could return to their lives of picking, and thought of his father, General Juan Rojas Baiamonte, with proud. Bathing under the sunrays that flashed on the cave, Rufus noticed another set of bones, leaned against the tail of the fallen beast. On its side, a shiny steel sword that gleamed with the sun. On its handle was engraved the combination of three words: Strength. Consistency. Trust. The sayings of the Baiamonte family. Rufus reached for the fragile frozen and consumed hand of the skeleton lying in front of him and squeezed it tight against him chest, for a moment that would last the eternity in his mind. Rufus found his way out of the cave. Behind him, the tangling of the bag of bones reminded him that his mission had been successful, but far from complete. On the freezing wind, he saw the stream of water on the horizon, the main cities, the palace where the Rego passed his days, the monastery on the woods, where a proper burial should take place. But Rufus looked the other way, to the dry and yellow, to the deserted wastelands on the far west, where bandits, renegades, berserkers, and outcasts made their livings. Exactly where Rufus needed to go next. … Plok, plok, plok sang the bag of bones hanging on Rufus’s waist. Tuk, tuk, tuk, hummed the leathered sack on his back, starting to weigh and smell under the sun. His throat was dry, and sand ran over his face, scratching his skin and making his hair thick and parched. Invisible waves distorted the yellow horizon as the sun hit the sand and heat consumed the air. Scorpions and snakes were the living, who mocked the dried carcasses along the dirt road to the west. The wastelands. Land of the pariahs and social castaways, where men were thrown to be evaded and forgotten. In the deserts, holes, and caves, they found their ways trading favors, protection, and stolen goods. As social groups were formed, the wastelands deviated from the Rego’s established control, and while anarchy prevailed, so did the law of the strongest. During his youth in the convent, Rufus and his brothers learned about the different creatures that wandered across the Island and the best ways to fight them. Giants, for example, were extremely dependent on fire and light, being close to blind during the night. Take that, fight in the dark, and you would have the greatest advantage. Goblins, in the other hand, were creatures of the night, greedy and keen, always prone to negotiate terms and products. To have a shiny gem and convince them of its rareness was to have them on your side. But Rufus was not searching for giants or goblins. He searched for a witch. Old tales said that witches appeared in nights of full moon to perform rituals and sacrifices, in which they learned the words of the gods – chants and songs that, combined with different ingredients, had nefarious effects to entice, persuade, dissolve and control. His brothers told the tale of the three sisters. Three old ladies that roam between the realms of the living the dead were known to hide in the deep canyons of the wastelands, catching souls and condemned spirits that meandered between heaven and hell. If there was a way to speak to the dead, the three sisters would know how. Rufus counted days and nights, and not coincidentally, when the sun died on a red dried sea, the moon gleamed big and round, casting shadows over sandy tunnels. Leaning on a rock toppled over a wall of sand, Rufus waited, analyzing the holes punctured on the craggy facade. When the silver light of the moon penetrated the caves, a blue, unnatural glow illuminated the sand from within, and out of the caves, came three pale figures as thin as dried branches in the desert, in tattered rags, drifting over the sand. The boy followed the mystical figures until they stopped over the putrid carcass of a cow, consumed by the crows and vultures. They hovered in circles and chanted horrifying sounds of hissing and screaming, while the carcass gleamed in that bizarre blue light as if being evaporated in thin air. Rufus left his cover and approached the three sisters. One hand over the leathered sack hanging on his back, the other opened in his front as to calm the ghosts in front of him. Rufus carefully opened the leathered sack and took the head of a mountain wolf. Dried blood thickened his fur and maggots had found their way into his rotting meat. Rufus left the head on the ground and walked away, as the sisters circled their gift. His eyes glittered in blue, and soon, it all disappeared. The sisters turned to Rufus and floated in his direction. “A sound human, this is”, whispered the witch and a cold breeze swiped. “Would be a valuable sacrifice”, agreed the second. “Yes, the gods would gift us with splendor”, endorsed the third. “But, an act of goodwill must not come without a request... say, human, why the benevolence? What do you seek?” Rufus stared at each of them. “I seek guidance. I seek knowledge. I seek revenge”, he said kneeling on the ground and stretching the bag of bones in front of him. “Hmmm. The boy knows what he seeks and knows who to speak with” “Say, human, why should we give you what you seek instead of taking you whole back to our world” The boy bowed his head. “Grant me your guidance, sisters, and I shall forever live to fulfill your debt. Grant me your knowledge, sisters, and I shall forever live to serve your purpose. Grant me revenge, sisters, and I shall forever live to provide to you and your gods. Now and forever, my soul is yours to command, for I am your servant, follower of your rules, preacher of your will” A deafening scream echoed throughout the canyons and Rufus felt his breath fail him and his body stiffen, as if he had been tossed under a gelid waterfall that washed him from within. As the dark night turned darker still, his chest burst in pain, his heart struggling to push out of his throat, and he woke under the frying sun, laying on the sand, surrounded by a green pool of a thick and viscous liquid. Displayed on the sand were a set of white bones he found inside the tunnels of the cold mountains. “I’m sorry, father, for not being next to you when you time had come. Sorry for not being fast enough, brave enough. Sorry for being afraid. And I am sorry if I could not give you a proper burial. The day will come when I will reach you in that cave once again and hand you over to the gods. But first, I will have my revenge” Rufus tossed each part in the green water, and thought of his father, lying untouched inside the cave. The bones sank in the moss and a splash of green water lifted. The water began to bubble, and a white steam floated in the air. The skies turned from a vivid blue to a lifeless grey as the clouds closed in like a black curtain. A dark horn pierced out of the water and found its way to the sky. Behind it, a chain of scales, sharp as a Mitgardian axe erupted from the green vapor. Two arms black as leather and shiny as a blade stretched and covered the light, and a white set of teeth smiled back at Rufus, while a sounding roar tapped his ears. This black creature was released from the cold mountains of the north, and now floated untamed in warm Varlyrian skies. … Through cobblestone streets and flowing canals, through summer balconies with hanging flowers and greedy merchants, trough fish-smelling villas and wary stray cats, Rufus strolled on the city center, towards the Canal Square, where the court, the Rego, the council and every merchant in Varlyrio gathered to tend their businesses. This day, the fourth after the first full moon of the summer, the ruler, the councilor, and his followers gathered on the main square for a jaunt alongside the royal guard, to wave to the common folk, to flaunt their unending riches and unquestionable power. Seven days passed since his last audience with the Rego, when Rufus left to his mission on the Ridge Mountains, to recover his father’s remains, and since then, Rufus did not interact with his superiors. Leaving his post unattended and not communicating with your pairs was a punishable act – a fine, maybe a few days of suspension and cleaning latrines for a couple of days – but Rufus was surprised to see his face drawn all over the walls of Varlyrio under a sign that said “wanted for treason”. News ran fast on the canals of Varlyrio. But it did not matter. Rufus had expected to be pursued – collusion with obscure groups on the wastelands, plot with enemies of the crown in the mountains, use and traffic of illegal substances – one needed only choose which. Now that he thought, he was not surprised at all. Yet, he strutted. His chin pointing to the sky, and a crooked smile carved out on his face. Rufus reached the square and glanced at his brothers, all suited in full armor, surrounding a group of weak and outdated old men. The Rego on the center, waved to one side and the other, and when his eyes met Rufus’s, he stopped. “Bold of you to appear, boy. Now lay down your sword and surrender to me. You are convicted of treason against the realm for conspiring against the council, plotting against your king, and ravishing against the people” “Treason?” Rufus walked closer to the encirclement around the Rego. “I will not deny”, he extended his wrists to the guards. “But what you have been doing for the past decade, is far worse that whatever I have done in the past few days. For what I have done, I did for the people. And what you did, you did out of greed and thirst for power”, Rufus opened his arms and raised his fingers after each word. “Abuse. Diversion. Theft. Exploitation. Perjury. Assassination”. Rufus stopped. “Your days are over, your Magnificence”, and bent on one knee. A black shadow covered the square as if the sun had been a blown off flame in a dark room. A roar echoed through the canals and panic took the cobblestone streets. An obscure creature opened its leathery wings and lurched over the houses surrounding the main square. Its deafening roar was enough to break the encirclement of guards and leave the Rego exposed. The creature opened its mouth filled with infinite chains of teeth, as the ruler squeezed himself against the terracotta walls and beneath him, a yellow pool formed and ran to the flowing waters of the Varlyrian canals. The Rego’s councilor was shrunken on the ground, and noticing his ruler stripped from all his power, saw no alternative beside to acknowledge his new superior. “All hail the new king, the Mad Rufus Baiamonte!” Rufus laughed and his eyes gleamed gold as the sun, as he saw his future sitting on a new throne, under the chant of “Mad Rufus! Mad Rufus! Mad Rufus!”. THE END. ________ Phew! If you've reached this far, I truly hope you enjoyed the story an the builds. It was a very fun story to put together, especially alongside such amazing builders such as @Gideon and @Henjin_Quilones. Please, leave a comment and let us know what you think. Cheers! ________ Louis of Nutwood.
  2. Part I by @W Navarre Part II by @KevinyWu Part III by @ZlatanXVIGustaf La Cospirazione: Part IV Alesio arrived late to the De Fiori castle in Tergiversa. He was weak, weary, and haggard, and as soon as he entered he felt in his heart that something was wrong. “Capri!” he cried loudly, and the echoes of his shout reverberated off all the walls, down the long halls, and throughout the castle. But there was no answer. Alesio dashed forward, slamming through all the doors of all the rooms, wildly calling Capri, and Cadgie, and the servants! Not a soul was there! The servants had all gone out deeply frightened, some of them searching with the royal guard for Capri and others burying Alesio’s brother. It took the wounded man only a few hours to learn all this, and in spite of his wounded side, with gritted teeth and burning eyes he leapt on his horse and rode madly back to Illaryian. Later that day the doors of the Palazzo of Illaryian burst wide open with a resounding clang. “Where is Capri!” roared Alesio with all of his might. “Luca di Carlo, son of an olive merchant, I demand your presence!” Alesio flung a heavy gauntlet onto the ground, and the tiled floor cracked. It was Cadgie De Fiori’s gauntlet. Footsteps then sounded in the corridor, and Luca appeared all out of breath, running up to Alesio and grasping his hand. “What is it man? Why, you are pale! Accidenti! Alesio, you frighten me!” Luca cried, startled. “Capri has been kidnapped,” Alesio flung out the words. “My brother is dead!” Luca gasped and gnashed his teeth. “Impossibile!” Luca dropped Alesio’s hand and spinning round paced the length of the room. Alesio sunk back against the wall. “The only clue left was this, sir,” he said, holding out a small slip of paper. Luca leapt up and grasped it eagerly. “Signore, Ercilia has given me the word. Capri is to be taken, and the Captain of the Guard sla–” The paper was torn, but Luca grasped at the ray of hope it offered. “Ercilia De Cioto!” he cried eagerly, marching to the edge of the hall and crying, “Man!” As a footman approached Luca looked briefly at Alesio, and then he spoke rapidly. “To the stables! Fit out the horses, order the Royal Guard to arms! We march for the De Cioto palace!” “The palace of the Amancios, signore?” the footman gasped. “The Amancios,” he warned, trembling, “still are very powerful, although the Rego is dead, and Ercilia is a popular and influential friend of the people.” “Go, man! Il demone take the Ciotos and their influence,” he cried excitedly, “if they dare go about murdering the Fioris in secret, besides the very throne! Come Alesio! Peste, man, you do not even mention your own wound,” Luca sprang to Alesio’s side to offer his hand. Alesio pushed himself off the wall and bowed, refusing the hand but saying, “It is a trifle, sir. Do you think there is hope, Luca?” he added with a slight tremor. Luca di Carlo’s eyes glinted. “They will pay,” he averred. “And we will find Capricia! Even if every Cioto has to be interrogated and each of their mansions ransacked! To horse!” And without another word they sped out of the room. .-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-. Very early the next morning, just after dawn, the doors of Amancio Palace were crashed through with a deafening noise. Luca leapt off his horse and shouted with a powerful voice, “Smash every piece of furniture, search every wall, and do not let a man escape! Find the girl!” “Capri De Fiori!” cried Alesio. “Where is she?” He sprinted up the stairs as the soldiers marched through the archways and doors, crushing and searching everything, everywhere, and seizing the weapons from the startled guards. Meanwhile Arama De Cioto, a thin girl with a long flowing black cape around her neck, snatched a narrow rapier from the wall and leapt down the stairs at the head of a group of retainers. Alesio met her midway and dashed aside one of her men. “De Cioto!” he snapped, adjusting the sword in his hand. “Do not cross swords with me, girl: tell me, where is Capri, my daughter?!” “Signore De Fiori!” she cried astonished in response. “I see there is blood on your mail,” she breathed sharply, dashing up with her sword and trapping Alesio against a corner of the balustrade. She raised her hand and her retainers passed them both quickly. Descending the stairs they threw themselves upon the Royal Guard with fury and loud cries and shouting broke out. Luca watched nervously, pacing up and down and shouting commands to his men. Then he saw Alesio with Arama De Cioto on the parapet of the staircase and with a start he rushed towards them. As there were soldiers on the ground floor, blocking off the stairs, Luca jumped up and grasped the top of the balustrades. As he pulled himself up he saw Alesio fling the slim girl back and heard him say, “What do you have against us Fiori, you Ciotos? Hand me back my girl and we will leave you in all the peace your mind can achieve!” The girl shook her head and laughed. “Capri is dead, signore!” Before Luca could leap down and grab Alesio’s hand he sprang forward and struck Arama a fierce blow at her side. Her thin rapier shattered in two and she shrank back as the sword cut through her leather coat and blood seeped through it, turning it from blue to red. “How dare you,” breathed Alesio with fury. Luca put his hand on De Fiori’s shoulder. But just then a shout rang out. “Capri! Capri è vivo!” cried the soldiers of the Royal Guard. “Out, now out of here!” Luca exclaimed, grasping Alesio’s cape and dragging him towards the lower stairs. Luca let him go, looking back as he sprang down the stairs. The sound of shouting and approaching men could be heard from the floor above. Alesio waited no longer and muttered, “You will pay dearly, De Ciotos.” Arama clinched her firsts and watched them leave as her men rushed past her. Then she leapt vivaciously up the stairs holding her side tightly. Just as she reached the window the troops had forced their way out, with Capri De Fiori, and were hurrying to their gondolas and horses. “Goodbye, Luca,” she murmured with laughing eyes and a quick smile. “Ci vediamo domani!” .-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-. The palazzo grounds of Illaryian once more: “It is quite difficult, girl,” Luca said with a sigh. “You can’t imagine it. If only you were Rego.” “I don’t want to be Rego, capretto.” “Well what happened. Don’t leave out a single detail.” “Very well, signore. The assassin failed to kill Alesio.” “I noticed,” Luca remarked dryly. “And my guard took Capri as your men dueled the Captain of the Guard. The paper slipped out of my hand. Touché, you know that, signore, it was your suggestion. When Alesio came to the De Fiori castle in Tergiversa he found it empty, and he came here. You managed it all nicely from there. Il fastidio, my side hurts. Well, what would he have said had he known that Luca Di Carlo had hired the assassin who slipped my name to him, and the men who killed Cadgie? And them all?” She laughed merrily. “They are certainly unsuspecting.” “Accidenti! It is over at least,” Luca rejoined, flinging a gold coin into a pool in the courtyard. “Over?” laughed the girl. She blinked her eyes. “I doubt that! It will be over when you find a knife in your back,” she added. “That is so, Arama di Athena De Cioto,” Luca wryly frowned, with a cheerful look at the girl by his side. “Thank you for pointing it out, De Cioto. That is just so.” .-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.
  3. Part 2 of the story about the Baiamonte family. My entry to Book III, Challenge V, Category B together with @Louis of Nutwood and @Henjin_Quilones. Rufus stepped on a chain of rocks, elevated from the ground. The rocks started as small pebbles, that turned larger and larger, poking out of the ground like stakes. The rocks twisted and turned, like roots trying to find their way through the earth. But those rocks were smooth and white as snow itself. Teeth and claws, solid as bones. He suddenly realized, he was not walking over a chain of stones, but over the skeleton of a fallen beast. Dead. Rufus Baiamonte Bathing under the sunrays that flashed on the cave, Rufus noticed another set of bones, leaned against the tail of the fallen beast. On its side, a shiny steel sword that gleamed with the sun. On its handle was engraved the combination of three words: Strength. Consistency. Trust. The sayings of the Baiamonte family. Rufus reached for the fragile frozen and consumed hand of the skeleton lying in front of him and squeezed it tight against him chest, for a moment that would last the eternity in his mind. General Juan Rojas Baiamonte Rufus found his way out of the cave. Behind him, the tangling of the bag of bones reminded him that his mission had been successful, but far from complete. The whole build
  4. Entry to Book III, Challenge V: Category A - The Varlyrian Troops. Howling in the mountain. The chilling cold pierced through my leather jerkin as if there was nothing but my bare hands to cover me. Rigid with the frost, my cloak flapped nervously behind my back and pulled me south, alerting me – no, begging me to turn back and run. But after a handful of days travel, I reached too far into the mountains to return, and was too committed to find the truth, even if it meant never to reveal it. It had been months, since these strange events have been occurring outside our once calm and monotonous village. It did not happen once or twice, but numerous, countless times, every so often – and I remember the day it started. It was late in the night when I woke to the sound of Bartosz, our grey-skinned hound, barking frantically at the kitchen window – it was unusual for him, as for the past 7 winters, he’d slept curled and tucked in his own fur under the wooden structure of my bed until sunrise. That night, tough, he’d made a fuss. Wheat grains covered the timbered floor, the oak-chair my pa built was split around the cottage and he’d scratched the whole wooden door from waist height to bottom so vigorously that the fur around his paws was tainted burgundy with his raw blood. For the first time in years, he glanced at me, ears pointed to the ceiling, his white teeth as large as my fingers glowing in the moonlight and liquid dribbling from his mouth to the floor, the muscles in his shoulders swollen, spasming at me, and he growled. A sound born from the core of a threatened, fearful beast. It made me tremble, for I was not staring into my dog’s eyes, but into the soul of a monster dragged only by its primal senses. I realized it was not only Bartosz who was acting strange, but in the distance, I heard the howl of another dog, and then another. It was rather a chant, as possibly all the dogs on the village were now howling to the moon, as if calling their animal companions to a feast, or worse: issuing an alarm – a pack behavior to become alert of what’s to come. It happened again and again, and it drove us insane. Not only the howling, but the growing cold that rushed through the village every time harder and harder. You see, we live in a village – the last human village before reaching the mountains - that’s not that far from the sea, filled with arable land, soft ground, perfect for planting fruits and vegetables – it rains when the sun is hotter, and the climate is rather friendly apart from occasional winter winds that come from the mountains. But it got so cold, so unexpectedly... Nothing grows from under thick layers of frost, week after week. So, it drove us... insane. Particularly Frignevr, the blacksmith – that poor bastard. He was as short-tempered as he was big, and you would mistake him for a giant if he wouldn’t assure us his mother and father were as human as they could be. That one night, I felt the chill stretching through the holes between the planks that held my house together, Bartosz woke and ran, and the howling started. Amidst the whistling chants, a desperate roar, not from any dog or beast, but from what could only be a giant man, echoed on the stoned streets of our frost covered village. That horrific gutted scream smashed our doors, hammered our ears, and settled within our dreams, and just as it started, the unnerving, desperate cry ceased, giving way to a perpetual dead silence that endured ‘til morning. From between the ice-covered mountains, the first light of the day painted over the white mantel a red trail to a land uncharted, for this was marked only by the spilled droplets of blood of one of our own. That day, attending for the realms request, an expedition of ten men was sent to investigate. That night, not only the hounds and wolves howled a constant, tenuous melody, but a raw smell, a stale, moldy whiff, a stench of putrid decay took the streets, and uninvitedly entered our homes. The smell was eventually dissipated into the mountains, from where the expedition never returned, and the trail faded over the layers of unwanted and unexpected snow. Under pressure, the realm gathered another fifty men – swordsmen, archers, bannermen, carrying the white and gold markings on their shields – for a second expedition, along with hounds and eagles trained to detect hidden trails and follow camouflaged scents. Sixty men short, the army supposed to protect our sons and wives started to look faint and incomplete, specially when four days past their departure, the group that left to the sound of our prayers, vanished and buried our hopes under the falling snow. At night I did not sleep, but jumped aside when the dogs started barking, the nauseating odor invaded my house, and a deafening roar that combined a thousand lions sounded across the cobblestone paths, and made my chest tremble with a shiver running through my spine. I wanted to move but couldn’t – and I prayed for the souls of those poor men that would never return to our lives. I woke to the unnerving sound of a fist pounding at my front door, and as sudden as the cold took our village, and our blacksmith and our army, I knew my time had come. “Ready your shield and sword. Beg your family farewells. We part on the morrow”, signed the High-King, the Rego, over his waxed seal. Carpenters, fishermen, merchants, old and young, experienced or – most likely – not, with sword in hand. The few remaining that populated our village reunited where the first light of day shone: between the mountains where a trail of blood leaded the way to our uncertain destiny. We camped by night if we were lucky enough to find a rathole or a cave, or under the starts and the moon, and the rocks and the cold, and marched by day, following whatever was left of the expedition before us – pikes, helmets, messages left on walls and trees, pieces of cloth, footprints... Until there was nothing left to follow, but a dim and distant rotten and burnt smell that refused to cease. Every morning, our group turned smaller and weaker, as the members of our crew perished to the fierce conditions and reckless paths we were thrown into. By night, we heard the scuttling screams and roars coming from above us and echoing through the scars carved over centuries on the rocks. Looking ahead to the unknown, the vagueness to put reason to the sounds, the smell, the unhuman thirst to kill and its psychological defiance, drove one by one to an abyss of despair. That night, we took shelter on a cave, and shared its roof with a family of skeletons that made this gap on the mountain their home for centuries. Despite the blowing wind and the drenching humidity, we were able to light a fire and roast the last of our game. While sucking the lean meat from the fragile bones of an overcooked squirrel, I glanced towards the bottom of the cave where the carcasses of our hosts lay, and looking into their empty sockets, I saw my destiny. On the wall, black markings made of coal caught my attention. The drawings depicted a group of men being followed by a larger silhouette with pointy ears. It could be a wolf if it were not for its height. A demon, perhaps, or a vision from people long forgotten. On the first light, I left the cave and my companions behind, for during the night, they have all joined our hosts in an eternal sleep. As I approached the summit, that putrid smell turned sour, stronger than ever, as if a thousand bodies were left in the open to disintegrate over time. The snow turned thicker, and the paths became steeper as I pushed myself against the blowing wind, depriving me from seeing ahead. My hand lifted and covered my eyes, and from between my purple fingers, I saw a narrow path that pushed the snow aside and left its markings on the ground – a fresh trail, I realized. I followed the trail as it took me to the summit of the mountain. Two pillars emerged from the ground like snow-white banners, showing the world the peak was claimed – not by men – but by nature itself. Molded into the rock, was the inner part of a dome protecting its center from the what looked like a shire devoted to – if not built by – the gods themselves. In its center lay huddle made of what appeared to be a tangled amount of... what is that? I approached it and identified the maze being made from bones stripped from flesh, broken, smashed, and crushed into a bed that smelled of mold and rotten flesh. Big and small, long, and thin. I saw the fabric scratched along the way, and the splinters of weapons left throughout the mountain. These were the remains of the expeditions, the leftovers of our friends, the pieces of our royal guard. I lifted my cloak to retain the nauseating smell, while struggling not to vomit as I moved closer to the basket. Inside were the remains of animals and men, piled at each other through time. Cornering a rock, I followed the trail of bones, and then I heard. The visceral sound of a meal being eaten, meat being pulled from the bone, blood dripping, and a constant snort of desperation. Over a large pile of bones, a dark creature full of fur leaned and feasted. Its dangled black hair dripped with blood, and the stench was more than I could bare. It looks like... a wolf. And I remembered the drawings on the interior of the cave. Three, maybe four times my size, thick and muscular, its arms stretched wide could reach me in a heartbeat. I tried to sneak away, but the mere sound of my pounding heart must have alerted the beast. It turned and stared with fearsome yellow eyes, and as I pointed my spear to its chest, one swing of its long and hairy arm was enough to blind my sight and numb my senses. Laying on the snow, my sight turned darker and I heard the bark of my best friend Bartosz. …The councilor knocked at the Rego’s chamber door. “Your Highness, we are being called to position in the war of the continent. They ask for men and weapons. Our presence is demanded at once”. The Rego took the parchment and tossed it in the hearth. “How can I take part, when all my men were sent to the mountains and failed to return?” ________ Louis of Nutwood. Hope you like it. Would love to hear thoughts and comments.
  5. Takeover - The Mines of Rhangvar Entry to Book III: Challenge V, Category B (Baiamonte, Part I). This is a collaboration with builders @Gideon and @Henjin_Quilones for the story of the Baiamonte Family, in Varlyrio. Part II: Finding the Lost General, by Gideon. Part III: A New Ruler, a Mad Ruler, by Henjin. The last entrance, on the higher part of the mountain was marked by a stone sculpture of a dwarf holding a sword pointing to the ground, covered in a dabble of white flakes. Rhangvar – the dwarf god of prosperity. The stairs, carved in the face of the mountain led to a set of wooden doors engraved with iron spikes, so tall that reached the skies and disappeared on a frigid grey fog. On the foot of the stoned dwarf were the markings: Mines of Rhangvar. At the base of the tall wooden doors, Gen. Juan and his men lifted the beams blocking the mine’s entrance. Thirty miners trembled in the cold of the Ridge Mountains, anticipating the intensity of a day’s labor, and questioning if the rumors of the mountain that lived would prove to be true. Rufus Baiamonte closed the envoy, as the last guard to lead the group into the mountain. Before entering, Juan put a hand in his son’s shoulder. “Return to the Rego and report our triumph. The mining operations will be reestablished, and we will soon have new riches. Alert the merchants and return with wagons. This folly ends today. You are dismissed”, said the general bending his head. “Just be careful, sire”, whispered Rufus in the hissing wind. And that was the last time Lieutenant Rufus Baiamonte saw his father. ____ This is a short extraction of a full novel written for the Baiamonte Family, in Varlyrio. Make sure to check the thread: Rise of the Baiamonte for the full story. Hope you like it. Louis of Nutwood
  6. 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
  7. Historica United This is a modified version of the entry that I (Henjin_Quilones) contributed to Book II, Challenge V, Category C, combined with the highlights of my fellow Avalonian, @TitusV's, entry to the same challenge category. He approached me, after being approached by other Guildsmembers, about combining our entries into a single cohesive narrative, as a way of trying to help speed up the judging process; what you see here is the result. Part I: In the Halls of Hesperia The story of the beginning of the end has been told elsewhere, in the tales of the build-bards of old, of intrigue, murder, magical items, quests, and alliances. Thus this is not the beginning of the end, but the beginning of the end of the end, if you follow. And the beginning of the end of the end begins in one of the furthest corners of Historica, in the far west of Avalonia, in one of the last remaining pockets of High Elves in the known world, the Kingdom of Hesperia. High Elves seldom get involved with the affairs of men, yet in times of the greatest peril they will sometimes venture forth with their glittering array of armor and gilded weapons. This could be one of those times, with the threat of Raavage and his magically-unleashed threats of doom for all the living, and yet it is not so simple for the King of Hesperia, Fingolë the Golden. In his halls in his summer palace, at Istolia, he met with his trusted advisers, his two eldest children, Falaria and Fingalad. Suddenly, ignoring his guards, his youngest daughter, Galaria, and several others burst in. "Father," cried Galaria. "You must listen to me!" "And why should he listen to a child as rude as you?" retorted Falaria, speaking in place of her father, who sat on the throne glowering at his impetuous, almost wood-elf daughter. "Surely you have heard the message that Celdrian has brought?" said Galaria, gesturing to the blue-clad Eagle-Rider beside her. "Of course I have," spoke the king. "But neither he nor you were invited to this meeting, were you? And is that a human in my presence?" "Yes, Father, it is. This is Henjin Quilones, a knight of the Druidi Order, whom I found while on patrol in the forest. You also saw the fireball flying through the sky, did you not? That was his arrival, and the sign that the fulfillment of the prophecy is at hand. The true king of all Historica returns!" "Bah!" exclaimed the king. "A druid he may be, or perhaps not. I have no use for humans, nor dwarves, nor even lowly wood-elves. Begone from my presence! And think well before coming before me again uninvited, Galaria, my daughter." "May we have permission to search the library of the palace here, Father?" Galaria asked before leaving. "Search all you want, just do not disturb my councils again!" shouted Fingolë. __________________ "A charming fellow, your father," said Henjin when they were safely in the library. "Indeed," agreed Galaria. "I would like to say that he takes some getting used to, but even after four hundred years I am still not used to his arrogance and pride. He is obsessed with the proper place of the High Elves, and as the years go by he thinks less and less about what is good and true and beautiful in the universe, still less about the fate of Historica." "Are you sure this is the proper section of the library, Galaria?" asked Henjin. "These stacks are palatial; I have never seen such books and scrolls in my life." "Well, whatever else can be said of my father, he takes it very seriously to have a record of every book, parchment, decree, spell, recipe, or anything else ever written in the four lands, and beyond, in his libraries. There are plenty of maps here, but which is the correct one?" "We need something referring to a helm, the Necromancer's Helm," chimed in Celdrian, the messenger, who had joined them in their search. "I thought there was just a battle over helms a few years back," said Yavenna, Galaria's most-trusted elf-scout. "That was the Elemental Helm; this new one is the Necromancer's Helm," corrected Galaria. "Very different, though both helms." A shout came from the balcony level and the others saw Henjin waving a tattered scrap of parchment over the railing. "I have found it! This scrap tells of the location of the Necromancer's Helm!" "Quickly, then, let us compare it to the maps and mark the place where the Helm may be found," said Galaria. "Then what?" asked Yavenna. "What do we do when we know where the Helm is?" The group fell silent. They had not thought that far ahead. Henjin joined them below and they stood around the table in the library, pondering. "We need some way of neutralizing the magic of the Helm, I think; something to control the arcane flows that radiate out from a magical artefact like that." Celdrian looked up at the druid in surprise. "Did you say 'arcane flows'?" This time it was Henjin's turn to look surprised. "Yes, I did. Why?" Celdrian smiled. "I know just the people who specialize in the regulation of arcane matters, on a very practical and technical level. Make a copy of the map and everything we know about the Helm, and I will bring it to Zotharith and Onicimus; they will know what to do." "We also need to have the armies of the various guilds ready to fight, in a unified front against our different, and yet united, enemies," said Galaria. "I will bring letters to leading men in the guilds, telling them where to bring their troops and when, while I am on my way to deliver the map to Zotharith," said Celdrian. "Aeriglaaac flies faster than the wind, so we can have it done in no time." "When you are done, return here and collect us," added Galaria. "We still need to make sure the True King can retake his throne." Part II: Heroes Assemble And so Celdrian mounted on Aeriglaaac the Great Eagle and visited the four guilds, bringing messages to leaders far and wide. As he flew eastward over the forests and plains of Avalonia, he stopped in Eolas first, to deliver the message to the Maestro: As soon as the Maestro received the news, he sent out riders to summon his banners to the fight, and, knowing the state of the enemy they might be fighting, called even upon the various mages he had in his realm. Celdrian, after leaving Eolas, soon met with deGothia in the halls of Sionnach: After stopping at a few more Avalonian villas to rally the lords against the Drow, he then flew north across the mountains of Mitgardia and visited Fin of Terydian on the edges of the tundra: Sir Glorfindel was next, near the gates of Nordheim: Having assured that the northerners would muster against the Algus, the mighty eagle flew on the back of the North Wind, faster than the currents of aether, and was soon in the lands of the south, in the Guild of Kaliphlin, where he stopped in Barqa to meet the half-elf Lord Gideon: Katoren was next, with the Lord Aymeri greeting him by the gate: Finally he flew further east to Nocturnus, and visited Lord Vladivus at Shadowmere: A stop in the lowlands near the Reach allowed him to visit Gal-Turok, Leader of the Goblin Clans: The goblin leader had his border patrols increased, and built new walls and towers to forestall any Spire incursions onto his lands. Finally, after many miles, though only a few hours aloft, Celdrian and Aeriglaaac circled down over Zotharith. Part III: Zotharith Council Meeting In Zotharith, a council meeting was underway, with Exetrius standing in for his father, Onicimus, who was busy tinkering with his gadgets far beneath the city. That such an inexperienced and low-ranking member of the Order should be leading a meeting rankled some in attendance, but all held their tongues out of respect for their leader's wishes. Exetrius called them to order. "If we could find the Helm before Raavage, my father thinks that we have both the manpower and the technical knowledge to disable the Helm and its magics," the white-haired mage said. "But what of Raavage?" said one of the others in attendance, General Zeruko Urima. "My armies are well-trained and well-equipped, but I am not sure they are ready to face the dreadful power that is Lord Raavage." "Even Raavage cannot defeat an entire army of warrior-mages, General," replied Exetrius. "We will bring a combination of your warriors and some of our best mages, so that we shall not fail. We will also be provided with several of the arcane-regulation devices that link up to the core that my father has been building, which should, if the calculations are correct, neutralize the artefact entirely. If only we knew where it was!" At that moment, Celdrian knocked at the door and entered. "I think I can help you there, young Exetrius," said the elf-messenger. "My friends have pored over the extensive libraries of Hesperia and discovered the location of the Helm you seek. They have included instructions in that letter, and marked the place here on the map in red." "Thank you, Celdrian, and may the wind be ever under Aeriglaaac's wings." "May your mana never run short," said the elf as he bowed out. "We start tonight!" cried Exetrius after the elf had left. "We cannot afford to waste even one day in this quest, since Raavage has already had several days' head start. Let us go!" Part IV: The Great Battle of Historica While the Zotharians were travelling to the location deep beneath the Rakath Mountains that held the Necromancer's Helm, the armies of Historica were on the march, too. Many of the Lords of the Realms came to the Grand Griffon Tavern on the outskirts of Cedrica to make the final preparations for the upcoming battles. They would be fought on many fronts, for the enemy was diverse: the Avalonians were up against the Drow, the Mitgardians against the Algus, the Nocturnians of the Resistance were fighting against the Spire's dominion, and Kaliphlin, still divided by conflict, was fighting itself, torn asunder again by the Spire's influence. The recently resurrected and restored Trian Burress led the meetings. Some of the leaders, those who had not yet met the True King of Historica, were discussing his identity; Burress interrupted them with a story of the old king, saying, "Many years ago I was with Artorious Rex, Avalonia's disappeared leader, walking through Cedrica here, when we saw, in the street, a beggar who looked a little too familiar. When we looked closer, we realized that it was the king himself, dressed in rags, begging on the street." "Needless to say, I was shocked at the sight, but Artorious merely laughed. 'The king likes to be among his people, to feel what they feel and see what they see; today he might be a beggar, next week a stableboy, the next a barkeeper'. It moved me to see a king who cared so deeply for his people." "Later, when we were back in Albion, I asked Artorious more about the king and his habits; I learned much that day, but alas, the time on the earth was short for our beloved king, for it was not long before Revolword, that accursed drow-lover, killed him and started all of this chaos. One thing I learned, and will lay before you now, before the battle, to give you hope for our cause, was that the king had sent off his children to explore the lands outside of Historica. He had done so for two reasons, Artorious said: first, to keep them away from palace intrigue that might be deadly; and second, to force them to learn more about the world and different ways of experiencing life and rule, just as he did when he sat as a beggar in the streets. One of those children has returned to us now, in our time of need, to guide the Guilds once more." The other lords, hearing Burress's tale, were much cheered, and fell to the task of making the plans for victory over their enemies. And so, guided by the enheartened lords from every Guild, the Historican armies came forth from every race and people. The enemies of the Guilds also marched forth, drawn by the reports of spies that the Guilds were gathering. Then the battles were fought between the armies of the four guilds and their deepest enemies, enemies united behind the banner of the Black Spire. The Battle of the Moruth Highlands At first, the Nocturnians took a defensive stance, not knowing what the Spire would throw against their walls. But it soon turned out that the Spire troops were mortal too, when Raavage was not there to lead them. Hence, the Resistance got bolder. And so Gal-Turok, himself at the forefront, led his goblin armies in the mighty charge in the Battle of the Moruth Highlands, joined by the armies of Anfauglir, Lord Vladivus, Anzar the Dragon Master, and Lord Jorrith, among many others. The press of black horses against the charging Uruks of the Hand of Corruption carried the day, despite the chanting of witches giving the Uruks strength. The charge was glorious and valiant, and the army of the Resistance won the battle, scattering the remaining Uruks in every direction, to be picked off one by one. The Battle of the Shifting Oasis Lord Gideon of Barqa led the Kaliplinites into war, along with his secret weapon, the Barqan fire. It was the Barqan fire indeed that won the day, burning through the armor and flesh of the High Council troops who had joined with the Spire. Not all had, and many within Kaliphlin chose not to fight at all, as the scars of the civil war were still too fresh; but those patriots who desired peace and the return of the True King to Cedrica bared their blades and fought against those who wished for dissension. In the shifting sand dunes outside of the famed Shifting Oasis, the two armies met, and the High Council soldiers, and the occasional orc, were routed. Led by soldiers of the Desert King, Barqa, Katoren, and Khadira, the armies loyal to the cause of the True King rode off victorious. The Battle of Crystal Tarn In Mitgardia, the Algus were stopped once and for all at the Battle of Crystal Tarn, when the Mitgardian men, led by Sir Glorfindel, Lord Fin, Sir Gunman, and Davok Shieldbasher, among other great northern heroes, and an army of dwarves met the onrush of the mysterious ice-people. Despite the blasts of cold and ice launched by the sorceresses of the Algus, the Mitgardians stood strong with their dragon-forged steel and destroyed their enemies. The Battle of Green Leaf Pass In Avalonia, the Flight of Dragons flew again, charging across the field of battle. Thus the Drow armies were annihilated at the Battle of Green Leaf Pass, with not a twisted dark elf of that army left alive. The Flight of Dragons, led by Lords de Gothia and Alric Drondil, together with the Maestro and Brandon Stark, some elves, forest men, and one strange half-elf, coursed up the pass and broke through the Drow lines, and Laesonar did the rest with a few well-placed leaps and swings of his katanas. The back of the Drow army was broken, and it would be years before they could muster another army and pose a threat to anyone. All of the free peoples of Historica were participants in the Great Battle for Historica, fought on many different fields but all joined together in one spirit. Part V: The Chamber of the Necromancer Meanwhile, beneath the Rakath Mountains, Lord Raavage finally reached the crypt that held the Necromancer's helm. The only problem was that instead of one helm, there were eight. "Which one is the Helm I seek?" Raavage muttered. "Which one is it?" He reached out to first one, then another. Each felt distinctly magical, but he could not tell which was which. Behind him he heard a noise, which caused him to turn around to see who had made it past his guards. It was those infernal Zotharians, the mages who refused to join him despite his many threats. No matter. They would be dealt with once he had the Helm. "Raavage!" the white-haired one in the front shouted at him across the chamber. "Step away from the Helms and we will not hurt you." "Ha!" snorted Raavage. "Hurt me? You? A half-grown, 39th-ranked mage? Did Zotharith have no one better to send? Did Daddy not want to come himself, so he sends his little runt in his place?" "I am not alone, Raavage, as you can see. I have behind me some much more powerful mages than I, and what is more, I have the knowledge of which Helm you seek, which, from the looks of it, you lack." Raavage growled. "How can you be so sure, Little Mage? Did Daddy tell you?" "No, an Avalonian druid and elf princess did, after studying the lore available in their library. It is really quite amazing what you can learn if you read, I hear. Not that you would ever bother with such mundane matters yourself, I am sure, being a big, tough beast like you are." "Grrrrr! Which helm is it, Zotharian?" "The helm you seek will call out to you, if you listen. But be warned, Raavage, the lore says that if you choose the wrong Helm, it will destroy you utterly." "Are all of these fake, then?" growled Raavage. "Except the one real one?" "No, they are Helms of different powers, but they are not powers for the likes of you and me to tamper with." Raavage turned his back on Exetrius and felt along the alcoves with his magical intuition, seeking the call that the Zotharian had said he would feel. He was not sure why he felt that the mage was trustworthy, at least in this matter, since he seldom trusted anyone for anything, but he did. At last, feeling over the second-to-last helm, he felt a small tug. Nothing much, nothing he would have noticed if he were not on high alert, but it was there. He lifted down the helm and began to laugh. "The power is mine! After I don the Helm, I shall slay all of you and raise you back up, and you shall be my undead slaves!" He put on the helm, still laughing. But his laughter soon turned to a scream, as the powers of the helm he had donned began to age him and rip apart the fiber of his being. His fur turned grey, and then white, and then all his flesh wasted away until he had nothing but a skeleton remaining. The body of Lord Raavage fell to the ground, lifeless, his soul sucked from him by the Helm he had chosen. Even the bones vanished, leaving nothing but the Helm and the armor of the once-mighty lord. Exetrius and two of his companions came forward, carrying arcane devices. "It worked, just like you said it would," one said. "All we had to do was use the device you are holding to alter the flow from that helm just enough to make him choose it," Exetrius said. "It was rather simple after all." "What does the other device do?" said the other. "That will close up this cavern and lock it into another dimension, inaccessible to Historicans again. Let's get out of here and activate the device. Raavage is defeated." Part VI: The Throneroom of Cedrica "Are you sure the King is in here?" asked Henjin as they stood outside the door. It had been recently repaired, it seemed, and the mortar was barely set around the new hinges. There had been no king in these halls for years, and some work had been necessary to get things back in order. It had been done in a hurry after the various battles had been completed. All of the armies were now coming back to Cedrica, but Henjin had come early, brought by Celdrian, to make sure that the King was ready for coronation in front of the armies of all Historica. "Yes," said Celdrian. "The King is in here, as everyone has told us." "Very well, let us enter." To Henjin's surprise, however, it was not a King who sat upon the golden throne, but a Queen. A young, very beautiful queen. "Welcome, my friends," the Queen said in a gentle, mellifluous voice. She stood up and came forward to greet them, and they bowed before her. Henjin proffered his sword to her, and she accepted it kindly. "Your sword, Knight Henjin Quilones, of the Druidi Order, I accept and return to you. Bear it well, for me, Ylspeth, your queen, and may you always fight for the cause of truth, justice, and right." "I shall, my queen, Your Highness." "You have done me great favor by bearing tidings to my people, allowing our armies to overcome on the field of battle, and our mages to overcome in the realm of the arcane," continued the Queen. "I shall bestow upon you whatsoever you wish to show my gratitude." "I wish nothing, my Liege, save to be counted among those loyal to you," said Henjin. "That, and I would like to know how you came to be on the throne, alive, when all the rest of your family is dead." Queen Ylspeth looked troubled for a moment as grief passed over her face, but then she composed herself and laughed, and it sounded like clear water flowing over rocks, like the the honeyed song of birds. "I shall tell you, then, Druid Henjin, but not here. I am parched, and the wine here in the palace has been awful without the proper government in place. Do you know the Grand Griffon Tavern? The proprietor, Master Gabbold, is an old friend of mine, and he keeps all the best in his cellars. Let us go thither and talk over some drinks." "Do you mind if I bring a few friends?" asked Henjin. "Not at all! The more the merrier!" Part VII: At the Grand Griffon Tavern "When Henjin said a few friends, I assumed he meant a few friends," said Queen Ylspeth to Princess Galaria as they were pressed by the bodies of many sweaty warriors fresh from battle. "Well, he has made connection with many folk from the different parts of the kingdom, so getting to know them all will be helpful for you," said Galaria. "In fact, Your Highness, in this room are many of the most important figures in your kingdom, all eager to hear your tale." A voice somewhere in the room shouted, "Three cheers for Queen Ylspeth!" A loud cheer erupted from many voices. Then the room grew silent. "Thank you all for joining us here. Master Gabbold will be happy to serve you whatever beverage you like, and the tab is on me, so do not stint yourself. Aymeri, I see you drinking tea, but you can get something stronger if you like. Lord Vlad, O-positive? Good. Many of you are wondering just how I came to be here. My father, the late king, was killed by Raavage soon after Revolword was deposed; the rescue party came too late. I, either by good fortune or bad, was away from Cedrica at the time; indeed, I was away from Historica at the time. I was aboard one of my father's ships, sailing from distant land to distant land, exploring the different islands, meeting new peoples. I hope that all of you have a chance to do so someday, as the world is so much larger than you think. It was my father who sent me, perhaps realizing the danger the kingdom was about to face, on my sixteenth birthday off to sea. One day, on an island far, far from here, away off west, I came across news of my father's murder. My mother, too, was cruelly butchered at the hands of Raavage. I wondered, fearing the worst, about the fate of my brother who had been sailing around like me, and the worst was confirmed at another stop. Knowing that I was not prepared to rule, and that to come back then, like my brother had tried to do, would be suicide, I stayed at a western island, training with an order of warrior monks. They taught me their wisdom, gave me access to their library, and trained me in their manner of combat. When I was judged to be proficient, nay, a master of both wisdom and war, I came back. I wish I had been able to return sooner, but it seems I was just in time to inspire the last forces of good to make a stand, and to do so with success. My eternal thanks to you, my brave warriors, for all you have done. I am forever in your debt." When the queen had finished, those in attendance gave another loud cheer and called for another round. Lord Gideon, who had arrived late after grooming his horse, got his drink. And as the talk went on, Laesonar, who had never moved far from the queen, finally managed to strike up a conversation with her. "So, Queen Ylspeth, are you seeing anyone?" "Not currently, no," she replied. "But surely you will need heirs to the throne, right?" the half-elf persisted, putting out the vibe. "I suppose so, yes, but I have not yet met the right man." "You can check that off the to-do list, since you have met me, now," he said with a cheeky grin and a wink. "I am sure I shall have hordes of suitors lining up. Perhaps I shall have to host a tournament to meet the eligible men of the realm, to have the best possible information about making an alliance that is for the best of all of Historica. But first, we must remember the fallen and bury the dead." Queen Ylspeth raised her glass and called out to the assembly, "To all those who fell in the battles for Historica, may the memories of them never die!" Another cheer arose at that, and more beer was quaffed. "For Steen," a Mitgardian voice called out. "For Steen," came the cry from the others. And the names of the dead were remembered by all, called out by their lords and friends. Master Gabbold was unable to serve any drinks to customers for months after the gathering, and most of the attendees had difficulty waking up in the morning. But Historica was free. Part VIII: Steen Larsson's Funeral When the armies of Historica returned to their homes to rebuild their lives anew, some returned whole and strong, others badly wounded and marked for life, others returned under a shroud, and still others returned not at all. In a scene the like of which was repeated all too often around the Guilds, Steen Larsson, the famed Mitagardian lord, was led out for burial after a ceremony at his local stave church. His fellow Lords accompanied him to his final resting place, his face covered by a traditional death mask of the north. The war was over, the Guilds of Historica were united once more, but still much work remained. The Queen had returned. Now she had to rule. The end. ________________________________________________________ ................................................................................................................ So there you have it, a combined version of the builds of TitusV and myself. We were the top two vote-getters in the voting thread, so one of our stories was likely to become canon, but perhaps this combined version can serve instead. We combined our entries in order to facilitate speeding things up and allow life in the Guilds to go on sooner, perhaps. That is up to the Guild Leaders to decide, though, I suppose. C&C is welcome, of course, though most of you probably already gave what you were going to give the first time around. It was not a perfect marriage between the two stories, but I think we did a pretty good job of blending the two together (except for the whole yellow/fleshie difference, of course). The pictures are labeled as to who did what, if you could not tell otherwise. And if you read the whole thing, thanks! And good job.
  8. Challenge V: Princes of Garvey - Results! It is the end of an era – one which began with the discovery of a few islands and rapidly transformed many of the old regimes into colonizing powers. It has seen the birth of new rivalries and the rekindling of old, and the world of the Brick Seas has forever been changed… As the waves of the new seas grow more contested every day, the smaller nations look on greedily to get a piece of the pie. The valiant (or belligerent) Duke of Prio - depending on who you ask - has become a figurehead for a new movement, a movement of resistance. Now the King of Garvey, Leopaldis IV has begun to stir the pot. He has entered into the Mardier Civil War by declaring a state of war, snatching Mardierian ships, and signing a treaty with Eslandola against that unruly power. Openly taking the side of the Duke of Prio and Eslandola in that conflict, he has now begun to strike at Mardier’s settlements in the Far Islands. A declaration of war from the Mardierians was quick to follow. With Carno between the two nations on the mainland, however, this war, for the most part, will be fought in the far of Prio Seas. There is an old adage in Garvey, “He who rules the waves for his king, the same shall be made prince of the people” - and now the word has come to the far islands that Leopaldis will grant a new Prince title to the person, of whatever nation, who brings him the greatest victories in the Far Seas. Eslandola, too, has declared that it will grant special trading benefits to whoever will own its fight against Mardier, and a particular bonus to the one privateer who surpasses all the rest. But the Mardierians will not be deterred. King Alphonse XIII has finally taken the throne, and has the villainous rebels (more politely known as the “United Provinces’ forces”) on the run. It looks like without further intervention from the other countries, the Mardier Civil War may come to a quick close with Mardier on top. After that, only Terraversa lies between the King and absolute rule. Alphonse has declared that any privateer who defeats a Garvey or Eslandolan force in battle shall be given special trading rights with Mardier, and the greatest privateer of all at the end of the war will be named ambassador to his or her faction with special privileges. (Mardierian High Command - MOCed by our very own, illustrious, Bregir) (Prizes for Overall Individual Winners: Anyone who enters at least once for Eslandola and Garvey's side will get the prize of a 20% greater gain in the MRCA whenever visiting an ESL port for the next three months after the results of the challenge are posted or a 15% greater gain on any landbased properties placed in either Garvey or Eslandolan settlements built in the same time period (but the bonus would stay in place for those properties for all the foreseeable future), and the one overall winner for this side [determined by their average of entries from all categories] will receive the honorary title of Prince of Garvey, and will get a 40% greater gain when trading in any GAR or ESL ports during the next four months or a 30% bonus on all landbased properties in ESL or GAR settlements built during the same period (again, the bonuses would not go away afterwards - just any new builds would not be eligible for the bonus). Everyone who enters at least once for Mardier, on the other hand, will get a 25% greater gain whenever visiting MAR ports for the next three months after the results for the challenge are published or a 20% greater gain on any landbased properties placed in Mardierian settlements which are built in the same time period (but the bonus would likewise stay in place after that), and the overall winner for this side will receive the honorary title of Mardierian Ambassador, and a 50% trading bonus in MAR ports for four months/MRCAs or a 40% bonus on all landbased properties MAR settlements built during the same period (same bonus provisions as before). But we digress...) But what is at stake for the nations, you ask? The future of Mardier, Garvey, and Eslandola all hang in the balance! Will Mardier crush its opponents and regain its old position as the greatest empire of the world, or will Eslandola and Garvey be dictating its terms? Find out and tell us! (OOC: Another digression, I'm afraid! Overall Faction Winners: MAR, if the winning side, would win: The war... Isla de Many Names, an extra settlement on said island a royal fort license to be placed in any of its territories a monthly stipend of 300DBs to be paid by Eslandola as rent for the land on which Fuerte Unido is situated (the settlement, however, would continue to belong to ESL) ESL, if the winning side, would win: The war... Isla de Many Names, microbuild licenses (5 small, 3 medium, 2 large - free choice of category) to be placed in an extra settlement (if possible use one of the existing MAR locations) on the island, a royal fort license (to be placed anywhere on the island, three microbuilds required, showing different parts of the fort, or one large microbuild, license doesn't count against the fort limit of the corresponding settlement) In the case of no decisive win, one way or the other, the island would be peacefully (well, not really... but the war would be ended) split in half between MAR and ESL. first ranking faction among COR/OL/SR: microbuild licenses (5 small, 3 medium, 2 large - free choice of category) to be placed anywhere, which are the results of the efforts of those trying to escape the Mardierian war to settle in other nations' territory, a royal fort license (to be placed anywhere, three microbuilds required, showing different parts of the fort, or one large microbuild, license doesn't count against the fort limit of the corresponding settlement), 3000 FIPs second place: microbuild licenses (3 small, 2 medium, 1 large - free choice of category) to be placed anywhere, with the same reasoning as above, two large fort licenses (not upgradable, to be placed anywhere, one microbuild required per license, license don't count against the fort limit of the corresponding settlements), 2000 FIPs third place: microbuild licenses (2 small, 1 medium - free choice of category) to be placed anywhere, one large fort license (not upgradable, to be placed anywhere, microbuild required, license doesn't count against the fort limit of the corresponding settlement) 1000 FIPs End of prize info). This is the last challenge in Era I, The Discovery, and any member may build for either side – and it doesn’t necessarily have to be the side you think is best or right! There is not even any need to build for the same side in each category, and each member may build a maximum of one entry per side for each category – that is, you can have a total of 10 entries, max. Besides the usual category winners (one from each side [MAR or ESL + GAR], best build on the winning side being the winner and the best on the other the runner up of the category), there will be one overall winner for each team (the number of categories entered coming into play here), who will win the top individual prizes mentioned above. As per the usual, other factions will still compete against one another for the faction prizes as well (whichever side you build for, it will still help your own faction here - and note that, as there is already very much at stake for ESL, they won't be contending for this particular prize, see the faction prize info above), and the overall winning side (ESL and GAR or MAR and its allies) will end up being the winning side of the war. [Credit to the GoH leaders for many of the ideas above!] Category A: The Assassin's Creep Setting: The streets of Kings Port. Love and death are in the air. Panic has come over the island due to rumors that Alphonse has silenced the opposition back on the mainland. With their own leader in pseudo-rebellion, the Terraversans worry that Alphonse’s Death Guard will make their way to the island to reclaim it once and for all. Now is the time to make alliances and break previous partnerships. The best way to form an alliance is through marriage; the best way to break one is through bloodshed. Depict a romantic outing or a tragic end of life scene (or maybe both?) which affects the relationship between Terraversa and Mardier or some other nation. The MOC may be no larger than 16 x 16, and minifigure posing will be taken into account when judging. Due Date: February 28th, anywhere in the world Category Prize – 1st place - A battalion of Terraversan mercenaries, free of charge and upkeep - and 41149 Moana's Island Adventure Runner-up - A company of Terraversan troops, free of charge and upkeep - Results - Category B: ‘Till my dying breath… Setting: Skaford Heights. Mardier’s secret colony has been discovered by Eslandolan forces, and now there is a plan for a joint all-out assault! Builders need to pick a side and depict the Garvey and Eslandolan assault on the island. Your character does not have to be physically involved in the attack, but your sig fig has funded this expedition to defend or attack Skaford Heights (your sig-fig does not necessarily have to be involved with or funding the same side as the one you are building for). The MOC must depict a beach landing, a defense mounted by the Mardierians, and the death of a hero, and may be up to 48x48 studs. At least one picture must be a close up of the Hero’s death scene (artistic license for posing allowed, of course – see Death of General Wolfe for an example of artistic license.) Due Date: March 31st, anywhere in the world Category Prize – 1st place - 500 PIPs and a free medium fort (activated by a micro-build) to be placed anywhere - and 31063 Beachside Vacation Runner-up - 300 PIPs and a free small fortress (activated, likewise, by a micro-build) - Results - Category C: On Stranger Tentacles Setting: The Sea of Prio. Did you hear that Garvey has harnessed the power of the Kracken? Or perhaps you have heard about how King Alphonse rides on a giant Narwhal, destroying ships at his leisure? Terrible things lay in the depths of the Far Seas, and you will be depicting one of them. There are no size limits, but there must be a terrible sea creature, and it must be destroying a vessel or terrorizing a camp on shore from the side you are not supporting in the war. The monster must be natively aquatic (no jungle beasts, please). Due Date: March 31st, anywhere in the world Category Prize – 1st place - Cooperate with with the gamemasters in moving the Kraken in the upcoming quest! - and 70623 Destiny's Shadow Runner-up - Learn ahead of time the location of the Kraken (either to chase it or to run away!) for the first two MRCAs - Results - Category D: Yum Yum, Bumbel Tuna Setting: The far seas. The Mardierian fleet in the far seas has made their latest fortune in the fishing industry. Tuna has become the latest craze among the elite of the mainland. Mardier’s sailors have developed trade secrets and hidden away the best fishing spots to create a near monopoly on this most sought after fish, as the Eastern Bumbel Tuna Trading Company reaps massive profits! The Garvian privateers seek to hit Mardier where it hurts, their wallet. Builders depict either Garvian privateers intercepting a Mardier fishing vessel or show Mardier troops outwitting the Garvian privateers. This MOC may be up to 48x48 studs. The MOC must include TWO vessels, fish (brick built are fine!), and waves. Due Date: April 15th, anywhere in the world Category Prize – 1st place - A life-time supply of Bumbel Tuna!!! Reap a 300% profit next time you go on a Bounty Run (you'll have to let the automaters know after the KPA is published to triple the amount, or make sure they have already done so) - and 41150 Moana's Ocean Voyage Runner-up - Reap a 200% profit on your next bounty run - Results - Category E: The Treasure Trove Setting: The New World It is said that Mardier has been building up a massive fleet and army, which have been amassing at their ports to crush the rebels and Eslandola once and for all. There is only one wee little problem – Mardier is, essentially, broke. But rumor has it that somewhere in the newly discovered islands there is a fabled kingdom of gold, where the natives of the place have far more of the shiny metal than they know what to do with – and rumor has it, too, that the East Bumbel Tuna Company has found a map leading to this kingdom, and that they mean to use all means, fair and foul, to get this gold to support the Mardierian war endeavor and finish off the rebels once and for all! Such a sum of money could be the making or breaking of the struggling empire, but the news seems to have escaped and it is more than only the Mardierian who search for that lost treasure now! Show either one of your characters hearing about, discovering and/or carrying off this treasure, and dealing with the natives (and it doesn’t necessarily have to be for Eslandola! – as long as Mardier doesn’t get it, that is good enough for them!), or tell us how Mardier and the East Bumbel Tuna Company managed to thwart the treasure hunters and securely carry off this store of doubloons! But it is said that Mardier is not a nation with a track record of getting along very well with the native peoples… This is a story category, and you are allowed a maximum of three builds to portray this, the sizes being no greater than one 16x16, one 32x32, and one unlimited build respectively. There are no restrictions as to how you find the treasure or where this kingdom is located except that it is on one of the newly discovered islands of the Prio seas or the new Haven Seas region. Are the natives there friendly, or are they fiercely protective of their gold? Do pirates make off with the doubloons, do they fall into the hands of the rebels or Eslandolans, or is Mardier able to carry out their villainous masterplan? You decide! Due Date: May 15th, anywhere in the world Category Prize – 1st place - A new island (of the Prio seas, though your build could be in the new Haven seas) of your choice for your faction and 600 DBs - and 31065 Park Street Townhouse Runner-up - 500 DBs - Results - And now get to building those MOCs! The fate of the Brick Seas rests in your hands!
  9. Historica United A story illustrated by builds, for Category C of Challenge V of Book II. Like most of the Category C entries, this is a picture- and story-heavy post, so it may take some time to get through. I hope it will be worth your while. Part I: In the Halls of Hesperia The story of the beginning of the end has been told elsewhere, in the tales of the build-bards of old, of intrigue, murder, magical items, quests, and alliances. Thus this is not the beginning of the end, but the beginning of the end of the end, if you follow. And the beginning of the end of the end begins in one of the furthest corners of Historica, in the far west of Avalonia, in one of the last remaining pockets of High Elves in the known world, the Kingdom of Hesperia. High Elves seldom get involved with the affairs of men, yet in times of the greatest peril they will venture forth with their glittering array of armor and gilded weapons. This is one of those times, with the threat of Raavage and his magically-unleashed threats of doom for all the living, and yet it is not so simple for the King of Hesperia, Fingolë the Golden. In his halls in his summer palace, at Istolia, he met with his trusted advisers, his two eldest children, Falaria and Fingalad. Suddenly, ignoring his guards, his youngest daughter, Galaria, and several others burst in. "Father," cried Galaria. "You must listen to me!" "And why should he listen to a child as rude as you?" retorted Falaria, speaking in place of her father, who sat on the throne glowering at his impetuous, almost wood-elf daughter. "Surely you have heard the message that Celdrian has brought?" said Galaria, gesturing to the blue-clad Eagle-Rider beside her. "Of course I have," spoke the king. "But neither he nor you were invited to this meeting, were you? And is that a human in my presence?" "Yes, Father, it is. This is Henjin Quilones, a knight of the Druidi Order, whom I found while on patrol in the forest. You also saw the fireball flying through the sky, did you not? That was his arrival, and the sign that the fulfillment of the prophecy is at hand. The true king of all Historica returns!" "Bah!" exclaimed the king. "A druid he may be, or perhaps not. I have no use for humans, nor dwarves, nor even lowly wood-elves. Begone from my presence! And think well before coming before me again uninvited, Galaria, my daughter." "May we have permission to search the library of the palace here, Father?" Galaria asked before leaving. "Search all you want, just do not disturb my councils again!" shouted Fingolë. __________________ "A charming fellow, your father," said Henjin when they were safely in the library. "Indeed," agreed Galaria. "I would like to say that he takes some getting used to, but even after four hundred years I am still not used to his arrogance and pride. He is obsessed with the proper place of the High Elves, and as the years go by he thinks less and less about what is good and true and beautiful in the universe, still less about the fate of Historica." "Are you sure this is the proper section of the library, Galaria?" asked Henjin. "These stacks are palatial; I have never seen such books and scrolls in my life." "Well, whatever else can be said of my father, he takes it very seriously to have a record of every book, parchment, decree, spell, recipe, or anything else ever written in the four lands, and beyond, in his libraries. There are plenty of maps here, but which is the correct one?" "We need something referring to a helm, the Necromancer's Helm," chimed in Celdrian, the messenger, who had joined them in their search. "I thought there was just a battle over helms a few years back," said Yavenna, Galaria's most-trusted elf-scout. "That was the Elemental Helm, this is the Necromancer's Helm," corrected Galaria. "Very different, though both helms." A shout came from the balcony level and the others saw Henjin waving a tattered scrap of parchment over the railing. "I have found it! This scrap tells of the location of the Necromancer's Helm!" "Quickly, then, let us compare it to the maps and mark the place where the Helm may be found," said Galaria. "Then what?" asked Yavenna. "What do we do when we know where the Helm is?" The group fell silent. They had not thought that far ahead. Henjin joined them below and they stood around the table in the library, pondering. "We need some way of neutralizing the magic of the Helm, I think; something to control the arcane flows that radiate out from a magical artefact like that." Celdrian looked up at the druid in surprise. "Did you say 'arcane flows'?" This time it was Henjin's turn to look surprised. "Yes, I did. Why?" Celdrian smiled. "I know just the people who specialize in the regulation of arcane matters, on a very practical and technical level. Make a copy of the map and everything we know about the Helm, and I will bring it to Zotharith and Onicimus; they will know what to do." "We also need to have the armies of the various guilds ready to fight, in a unified front against our different, and yet united, enemies," said Galaria. "I will bring letters to leading men in the guilds, telling them where to bring their troops and when, while I am on my way to deliver the map to Zotharith," said Celdrian. "Aeriglaaac flies faster than the wind, so we can have it done in no time." "When you are done, return here and collect us," added Galaria. "We still need to make sure the True King can retake his throne." Part II: Heroes Assemble And so Celdrian mounted on Aeriglaaac the Great Eagle and visited the four guilds, bringing messages to leaders far and wide. As he flew eastward over the forests and plains of Avalonia, he stopped in Eolas first, to deliver the message to the Maestro: Soon he met deGothia in the halls of Sionnach: Then he flew north across the mountains of Mitgardia and visited Fin of Terydian on the edges of the tundra: Sir Glorfindel was next, near the gates of Nordheim: Then the mighty eagle flew on the back of the North Wind, faster than the currents of aether, and was soon in the lands of the south, in the Guild of Kaliphlin, where he stopped in Barqa to meet the half-elf Lord Gideon: Katoren was next, with the Lord Aymeri greeting him by the gate: Finally he flew further east to Nocturnus, and visited Lord Vladivus at Shadowmere: A stop in the lowlands near the Reach allowed him to visit Gal-Turok, Leader of the Goblin Clans: After many miles, though only a few hours aloft, Celdrian and Aeriglaaac circled down over Zotharith. Part III: Zotharith Council Meeting In Zotharith, a council meeting was underway, with Exetrius standing in for his father, Onicimus, who was busy tinkering with his gadgets far beneath the city. That such an inexperienced and low-ranking member of the Order should be leading a meeting rankled some in attendance, but all held their tongues out of respect for their leader's wishes. Exetrius called them to order. "If we could find the Helm, my father thinks that we have both the manpower and the technical knowledge to disable the Helm and its magics," the white-haired mage said. "But what of Raavage?" said one of the others in attendance, General Zeruko Urima. "My armies are well-trained and well-equipped, but I am not sure they are ready to face the dreadful power that is Lord Raavage." "Even Raavage cannot defeat an entire army of warrior-mages, General," replied Exetrius. "We will bring a combination of your warriors and some of our best mages, so that we shall not fail. We will also be provided with several of the arcane-regulation devices that link up to the core that my father has been building, which should, if the calculations are correct, neutralize the artefact entirely. If only we knew where it was!" At that moment, Celdrian knocked at the door and entered. "I think I can help you there, young Exetrius," said the elf-messenger. "My friends have pored over the extensive libraries of Hesperia and discovered the location of the Helm you seek. They have included instructions in that letter, and marked the place here on the map in red." "Thank you, Celdrian, and may the wind be ever under Aeriglaaac's wings." "May your mana never run short," said the elf as he bowed out. "We start tonight!" cried Exetrius after the elf had left. "We cannot afford to waste even one day in this quest, since Raavage has already had several days' head start. Let us go!" Part IV: The Great Battle of Historica While the Zotharians were travelling to the location deep beneath the Rakath Mountains that held the Necromancer's Helm, the armies of Historica were on the march, too. From every guild, from every race and people, the armies came forth. The enemies of the guilds also marched forth, drawn by the reports of spies that the guilds were gathering. And so the battles were fought between the armies of the four guilds and their deepest enemies, enemies united behind the banner of the Black Spire. The Battle of the Moruth Highlands In Nocturnus, Gal-Turok led his goblin armies in the charge in the Battle of the Moruth Highlands, joined by the armies of Anfauglir, Lord Vladivus, Anzar the Dragon Master, and Lord Jorrith, among others. The press of black horses against the charging Uruks of the Hand of Corruption carried the day, despite the chanting of witches giving the Uruks strength. The charge was glorious and valiant, and the army of the Resistance won the battle, scattering the remaining Uruks in every direction, to be picked off one by one. The Battle of the Shifting Oasis In Kaliphlin, it was the Barqan fire that won the day, burning through the armor and flesh of the High Council troops who had joined with the Spire. Not all had, and many within Kaliphlin chose not to fight at all, as the scars of the civil war were still too fresh; but those patriots who desired peace and the return of the True King to Cedrica bared their blades and fought with those who wished for dissension. In the shifting sand dunes outside of the famed Shifting Oasis, the two armies met, and the High Council soldiers, and the occasional orc, were routed. Led by soldiers of the Desert King, Barqa, Katoren, and Khadira, the armies loyal to the cause of the True King rode off victorious. The Battle of Crystal Tarn In Mitgardia, the Algus were stopped once and for all at the Battle of Crystal Tarn, when the Mitgardian men, led by Sir Glorfindel, Lord Fin, Sir Gunman, and Davok Shieldbasher, among other great northern heroes, and an army of dwarves met the onrush of the mysterious ice-people. Despite the blasts of cold and ice launched by the sorceresses of the Algus, the Mitgardians stood strong with their dragon-forged steel and destroyed their enemies. The Battle of Green Leaf Pass In Avalonia, the Drow armies were annihilated at the Battle of Green Leaf Pass, with not a twisted dark elf left alive. The Flight of Dragons, led by Lords de Gothia and Alric Drondil, together with the Maestro and Brandon Stark, some elves, forest men, and one strange half-elf, charged up the pass and broke through the Drow lines, and Laesonar did the rest with a few well-placed leaps and swings of his katanas. The back of the Drow army was broken, and it would be years before they could muster another army and pose a threat to anyone. All of the free peoples of Historica were participants in the Great Battle for Historica, fought on many different fields but all joined together in one spirit. Part V: The Chamber of the Necromancer Meanwhile, beneath the Rakath Mountains, Lord Raavage finally reached the crypt that held the Necromancers helm. The only problem was that instead of one helm, there were eight. "Which one is the Helm I seek?" Raavage muttered. "Which one is it?" He reached out to first one, then another. Each felt distinctly magical, but he could not tell which was which. Behind him he heard a noise, which caused him to turn around to see who had made it past his guards. It was those infernal Zotharians, the mages who refused to join him despite his many threats. No matter. They would be dealt with once he had the Helm. "Raavage!" the white-haired one in the front shouted at him across the chamber. "Step away from the Helms and we will not hurt you." "Ha!" snorted Raavage. "Hurt me? You? A half-grown, 39th-ranked mage? Did Zotharith have no one better to send? Did Daddy not want to come himself, so he sends his little runt in his place?" "I am not alone, Raavage, as you can see. I have behind me some much more powerful mages than I, and what is more, I have the knowledge of which Helm you seek, which, from the looks of it, you lack." Raavage growled. "How can you be so sure, Little Mage? Did Daddy tell you?" "No, an Avalonian druid and elf princess did, after studying the lore available in their library. It is really quite amazing what you can learn if you read, I hear. Not that you would ever bother with such mundane matters yourself, I am sure, being a big, tough beast like you are." "Grr! Which helm is it, Zotharian?" "The helm you seek will call out to you, if you listen. But be warned, Raavage, the lore says that if you choose the wrong Helm, it will destroy you utterly." "Are all of these fake, then?" growled Raavage. "Except the one real one?" "No, they are Helms of different powers, but they are not powers for the likes of you and me to tamper with." Raavage turned his back on Exetrius and felt along the alcoves with his magical intuition, seeking the call that the Zotharian had said he would feel. He was not sure why he felt that the mage was trustworthy, at least in this matter, since he seldom trusted anyone for anything, but he did. At last, feeling over the second-to-last helm, he felt a small tug. Nothing much, nothing he would have noticed if he were not on high alert, but it was there. He lifted down the helm and began to laugh. "The power is mine! After I don the Helm, I shall slay all of you and raise you back up, and you shall be my undead slaves!" He put on the helm, still laughing. But his laughter soon turned to a scream, as the powers of the helm he had donned began to age him and rip apart the fiber of his being. His fur turned grey, and then white, and then all his flesh wasted away until he had nothing but a skeleton remaining. The body of Lord Raavage fell to the ground, lifeless, his soul sucked from him by the Helm he had chosen. Even the bones vanished, leaving nothing but the Helm and the armor of the once-mighty lord. Exetrius and two of his companions came forward, carrying arcane devices. "It worked, just like you said it would," one said. "All we had to do was use the device you are holding to alter the flow from that helm just enough to make him choose it," Exetrius said. "It was rather simple after all." "What does the other device do?" said the other. "That will close up this cavern and lock it into another dimension, inaccessible to Historicans again. Let's get out of here and activate the device. Raavage is defeated." Part VI: The Throneroom of Cedrica "Are you sure the King is in here?" asked Henjin as they stood outside the door. It had been recently repaired, it seemed, and the mortar was barely set around the new hinges. There had been no king in these halls for years, and some work had been necessary to get things back in order. "Yes," said Celdrian. "The King is in here, as everyone has told us." "Very well, let us enter." To Henjin's surprise, however, it was not a King who sat upon the golden throne, but a Queen. A young, very beautiful queen. "Welcome, my friends," the Queen said in a gentle, mellifluous voice. She stood up and came forward to greet them, and they bowed before her. Henjin proffered his sword to her, and she accepted it kindly. "Your sword, Knight Henjin Quilones, of the Druidi Order, I accept and return to you. Bear it well, for me, Ylspeth, your queen, and may you always fight for the cause of truth, justice, and right." "I shall, my queen, Your Highness." "You have done me great favor by bearing tidings to my people, allowing our armies to overcome on the field of battle, and our mages to overcome in the realm of the arcane," continued the Queen. "I shall bestow upon you whatsoever you wish to show my gratitude." "I wish nothing, my Liege, save to be counted among those loyal to you," said Henjin. "That, and I would like to know how you came to be on the throne, alive, when all the rest of your family is dead." Queen Ylspeth laughed, and it sounded like clear water flowing over rocks, like the the honeyed song of birds. "I shall tell you, then, Druid Henjin, but not here. I am parched, and the wine here has been awful without the proper government in place. Do you know the Grand Griffon Tavern? The proprietor, Master Gabbold, is an old friend of mine, and he keeps all the best in his cellars. Let us go thither and talk over some drinks." "Do you mind if I bring a few friends?" asked Henjin. "Not at all! The more the merrier!" Part VII: At the Grand Griffon Tavern "When Henjin said a few friends, I assumed he meant a few friends," said Queen Ylspeth to Princess Galaria as they were pressed by the bodies of many sweaty warriors fresh from battle. "Well, he has made connection with many folk from the different parts of the kingdom, so getting to know them all will be helpful for you," said Galaria. "In fact, Your Highness, in this room are many of the most important figures in your kingdom, all eager to hear your tale." A voice somewhere in the room shouted, "Three cheers for Queen Ylspeth!" A loud cheer erupted from many voices. Then the room grew silent. "Thank you all for joining us here. Master Gabbold will be happy to serve you whatever beverage you like, and the tab is on me, so do not stint yourself. Aymeri, I see you drinking tea, you can get something stronger if you like. Lord Vlad, O-positive? Good. Many of you are wondering just how I came to be here. My father, the late king, was killed by Raavage soon after Revolword was deposed; the rescue party came too late. I, either by good fortune or bad, was away from Cedrica at the time; indeed, I was away from Historica at the time. I was aboard one of my father's ships, sailing from distant land to distant land, exploring the different islands, meeting new peoples. I hope that all of you have a chance to do so someday, as the world is so much larger than you think. It was my father who sent me, perhaps realizing the danger the kingdom was about to face, on my sixteenth birthday off to sea. One day, on an island far, far from here, away off west, I came across news of my father's murder. I wondered about the fate of my brother, fearing the worst, and the worst was confirmed at another stop. My mother, too, was cruelly butchered at the hands of Raavage. Knowing that I was not prepared to rule, and that to come back then would be suicide, I stayed at a western island, training with an order of warrior monks. They taught me their wisdom, gave me access to their library, and trained me in their manner of combat. When I was judged to be proficient, nay, a master of both wisdom and war, I came back. It seems I was just in time to inspire the last forces of good to make a stand, and to do so with success. My eternal thanks to you, my brave warriors, for all you have done. I am forever in your debt." When the queen had finished, those in attendance gave another loud cheer and called for another round. Lord Gideon, who had arrived late after grooming his horse, got his drink. And as the talk went on, Laesonar, who had never moved far from the queen, finally managed to strike up a conversation with her. "So, Queen Ylspeth, are you seeing anyone?" "Not currently, no," she replied. "But surely you will need heirs to the throne, right?" the half-elf persisted, putting out the vibe. "I suppose so, yes, but I have not yet met the right man." "You have met me, now," he said with a cheeky grin and a wink. "I am sure I shall have hordes of suitors lining up. Perhaps I shall hold a joust of some kind, or a contest, to winnow down the candidates?" The end. ________________________________ ................................................................ Wow, so if you read the whole thing, good for you, and thank you! I hope you appreciated it and enjoyed it. More pictures can be found on my Flickr page, especially of the battles. C&C is of course welcome. I tried my best, with the parts I had, to make as many sigfigs as I could, but I know that I missed many, many figs of some really excellent builders. Please take no offense at any omissions, as I assure you that no one was left out on purpose. I for one am glad this contest is over now, and I can go back to regular, leisurely building. And spending time with my family! If this wins, by the way, Queen Ylspeth can be made easily with either Rey's face (from Star Wars: TFA, for fleshies) or Wyldstyle's face (from The LEGO Movie, for yellows) with Barbara Gordon's hair from The LEGO Batman Movie. I tried to pick elements that are currently available from relatively cheap sets (the hair is found in a CMF, for example,and Rey's speeder was only $20US) that will continue to be available (with more SW and another TLM in the works) for a while, while still being distinctive.
  10. Category E results: Winning Side: 1st Place: Mardier (Score: 20,38) 2nd Place: Eslandola (Score: 20,11) Faction Winners: 1st Place: Oleon (Score: 17,70) 2nd Place: Corrington (Score: 17,05) 3rd Place: Sea Rats (Score: 14,85) Individual Winners: 1st Place: Ayrlego (MAR) (again!! ) - Prize, A new island (of the Prio seas) of your choice for your faction and 600 DBs - and 31065 Park Street Townhouse Runner-up: Faladrin & Captain Braunsfeld (ESL) - Prize, 500 DBs (/2 = 250DBs each) And lastly, the Cat. E write-up No write-up needed! The Overall results will be published very shortly, so stay tuned! (Well, maybe tomorrow morning - don't stay up all night in suspense, please! ) Once again, a very impressive showing, guys, thanks to you all, and congrats to the winners!
  11. Captain Braunsfeld

    [CH V Cat E] Easy Come, Easy Go

    [to be read aloud and rapidly - like a sports commentator] And here we are again for tonights final round of GoT - that famous "Game of Treasure", our treasure hunt. Well, and there they go on the left, the brave islanders, digging for the treasure, handing over the gold bars... They are working away quickly - but wait, what is that? A Marderian soldier is stealing the gold! They are forcing the natives to work for them! My goodness, there is no end to Marderian evilness. Passing the ingot to the next Marderian player, moving midfield. Steady. And the gold is gone! This came quite unexpectedly for Mardier - pirate Henry was taking a shot here. Excellent move for the pirates. The pirates now in the lead! But no - Mardier is back and more evil than ever. The pirates have lost the gold and it all goes to Mardier again. We all know the Marderian motto: "No need to be nice on the way up 'cos we're not going down" This is exciting, it is the second half in this final game and Mardier has got the gold. Which means Mardier is not broke and will continue in the GoT league in the upcoming season. Well they will surely give Eslandola, Oleon and Corrington a hard time... But again "no" - Mardier is hit from behind by another pirate. And Mardier is going down after a wonderful "thud". I heard a whisper "for Brickwall" - I suspect this guy is one of Brickwall Jones' nephews. And here we are - the pirates are back in the game. Excellent thudding there from Captain Redbeard. The higher they come, the hardier they fall in Mardier. What is this? There must be some disagreement within the pirate team? One of them is pretty tied up at the moment. Has he been double crossed by one of his red-bearded mates? No, Eslandola is back and they are striking with a vengeance! They are sweeping the ground from pirates and they have taken the gold! The Eslandolean flag is waving all over the place. And the crowd is cheering! What a great match, tonight. Certainly no disappointment for the international spectators. And on the right I can see Colonel Brickinson. Brickinson is leading his team to victory. Nobody expected the Eslandolean army. They have been using their chief weapon: surprise. Surprise and cleverness. And I wonder where they got the information that brought them here to this secret place just in time for the final moments of the game. The ingots are piling up for Eslandola. So the score is Mardier: 0, Eslandola: 542! Aaaaaaaaand the game is over! A big win for Brickinson's team tonight - and they are celebrating! The champagne is flowing as the gold is being shipped to Pontelli. What a night for Eslandola. That is it for Mardier. They are broke and won't be able to afford the license for the next season. I can see the debt collectors gathering at the side of the field and the first vultures have started to circle in ...
  12. Breaking News - Mardier's Bumbel Tuna Fleet is No More!!! ...May 617, Eslandola... The newest developments of the war, as told by the daily Pontelli newspaper: News has been slow in coming in from the Tuna Straits... and just this morning we have discovered why! - Mardier's whole famous (or infamous???) Bumbel Tuna fleet has been smashed by the Garvian fleet, and now rests snugly, no doubt, upon the bottom of the sea! Not only was Captain Rijsk's large fleet of disguised warships fishing smacks well-nigh obliterated (and what wasn't sunk was sailed away with), but the rest of the company's fleet was pummeled as well, only a few especially cunning fishermen and a few rowboats escaping a similar fate! Garvey has pulled off a feat only rivaled in recent times by the Sea Rats' last expedition, and the allies look expectantly forward to Mardier's final defeat! It's pockets are certainly hurting - that's for sure - and the only thing which might save them now would be that city of gold, rumours of which have been wafted around more and more... Is Mardier ready to give in? Can it recover from this tremendous blow? Is the lost city of Gold merely a myth, or are the Mardierian's about to strike the leprechaun's fabled pot? ... Category D results: Winning Side: 1st Place: Eslandola (Score: 20,00) 2nd Place: Mardier (Score: 17,75) Faction Winners: 1st Place: Oleon (Score: 16,79) 2nd Place: Sea Rats (Score: 16,08) 3rd Place: Corrington (Score: 0) Individual Winners: 1st Place: Garmadon (ESL) - Prize, 41150 Moana's Ocean Voyage Highest scoring non-leadership member (ESL) - Legostone - Prize, A life-time supply of Bumbel Tuna!!! Reap a 300% profit next time you go on a Bounty Run (you'll have to let the automaters know after the KPA is published to triple the amount, or make sure they have already done so)! Runner-up: KolonialBeamter (MAR) - Prize, Reap a 200% profit on your next bounty run! Highest scoring non-leadership member (MAR) - Bodi - Prize, Reap a 200% profit on your next bounty run (same as Runner-up) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Once again, congrats to the winners (including myself, weeeee! ), and thanks to all those entrants who are still holding on in there for the whole of this huge challenge! Looking forward to hopefully putting together the final results soon!
  13. Kolonialbeamter

    [OL - CH5D] Fish from Above

    Hi there, fellow BoBS'ers, I'd like to present my Challenge V - Category D entry: Fish from Above In their efforts to weaken the Eastern Bumbel Tuna Trading Company, the Garvian High Command had declared the waters around the Isla de Medio hunting grounds for their privateer fleet. As a result, especially the Tuna Strait quickly turned into a more and more dangerous place for the Marderian fishermen to go about their business. Fortunately for them though, the waters of the Tuna Strait were not only filled with fish, but also covered in thick layers of fog most of the time, thus still presenting a tempting area of operation for fishermen who were courageous enough to set sail. As it so happens, the crew of the Tuna Spirit was made up of especially brave men, and the thought of staying ashore in fear of Garvian privateers wouldn't cross their minds. And even when they became aware of an enemy raider closing in on their position, they didn't think of running away. Instead, they used their fishing gear, ropes, nets, and painted sail cloth to disguise their tiny boat as a menacing ship of the line. Sure, it wasn't a perfect disguise, but in the spirit of the best defense being a good offense they decided to engage. And so one of the most... unusual... naval engagements of the entire war took place. Unaware of any large ships in the era, the crew of the Garvian raider was caught by a complete shock when the fog revealed a mighty two-decker ship of the line right before their eyes. In utter fear they tried to break off and get away, but it was too late as the large predator was obviously in firing range. And then, it rained down fish on the already terrorized Garvians... shortly after, the privateers had all jumped ship, and thus this day the Tuna Spirit hauled in their greatest catch ever. About: Well, this was a lot of fun to build, although I had to do the final details using a laptop Anyway, as usual all can be build... the vessels are based on cb4's full hull technique, and a special thanks to all who gave me some WIP input Thanks for watching, C&C welcome! Vive le Roi!
  14. The Kraaken spotted again!!! King's Port Advertiser, Special Add-on New Terra’s most reliable source for news, shipping and otherwise. May 617. VOL 2, Special Add-on What is this we hear? As we, the staff of the renowned KPA, settled into our new office on the Isla de la Many Names, we could faintly perceive in the distance the Eslandolans' puny settlement. Of course, that was hardly of interest, but what was greatly so were the highly wonderful screams and yells of terror emanating from it, and the figures in green as they fled, waving their limbs about in utter confusion! The sea itself has turned on the invader, and its monsters seem somewhat partial to the color green! Despite the recent loss in some battles against these pesky neighbors of ours, the Mardierians are beginning to pluck up courage on the island, and all may come out well even yet! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rumor has it, however, that the Eslandolans are not to be cowed even by such evident signs of their upcoming defeat. And, unfortunately, it has been brought to our attention that the ancient kraaken is not exactly the best at detecting different colors, and a few Mardierian ships have gone missing without the slightest warning... Nevertheless, here at the KPA we are certain that this is a clear omen against all those who dare pit themselves against the might of Mardier! Category C results: Winning Side: 1st Place: Mardier 2nd Place: Eslandola Faction Winners: 1st Place: Oleon 2nd Place: Sea Rats 3rd Place: Corrington Individual Winners: 1st Place: Tie Kolonialbeamter & MKJoshA (MAR) - Prize (Learn ahead of time the location of the Kraken (either to chase it or to run away!) for the first two MRCAs, and possibly cooperate somewhat with the gamemasters as well) Highest scoring non-leadership member (MAR) - Franco Clarke - Prize, Cooperate with with the gamemasters in moving the Kraken in the upcoming quest! Runner-up: Kai NRG (ESL) - Prize, Learn ahead of time the location of the Kraken (either to chase it or to run away!) for the first two MRCAs - and, as highest scoring build in the category, 70623 Destiny's Shadow --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanks once again to all of you who entered, and congrats to the winners! Anyone else looking forward to a kraaken quest?? ...I thought not... RUN AWAY!!!!! Another great showing, folks! Looking forward to being able to publish the last two category results and final scores!
  15. Hi there, fellow fortune seekers and adventurers, this is my entry for Challenge V - Category E. The Conquest of Paradise The Marquis de la Roya is an able man. Considered reckless by his foes and peers alike, he sees himself as a loyal servant to the new Marderian King Alphonse XIII. And as a loyal servant, he knew it was up to all Marderians to support the empire's war efforts against the invading Eslandian forces as best they could. But the Marquis is not only skilled in the arts of battlefield warfare - his true qualities lie in gathering and evaluating information. Cause that's what wars are won with primarily. And recently, he came across a very interesting bit of information. What only very few people in the Brick Seas know is that the mysterious voyages of the Oleander priest Father Tholeau lasted much longer than official records claim. And during these voyages to the far end of the world, Tholeau didn't only find the Fountain of Youth. In fact, he had also found something else in the vast jungles of the New Terra - something so important and potentially dangerous that it could shake the political status quo of all the known world like a furious earthquake. He had found the legendary city of Legorado - a city constructed of pure gold, constituting such astonishing wealth that whatever power managed to claim it would be considered rich beyond the wildest dream ever dreamed up by anybody. Terrorized by the implications of this very thought, Tholeau tried to kept his findings a secret. But the map he drew to find his way back home somehow winded up in an Oleander monastery where they were almost forgotten. And it was this bit of information that reached the Marquis de la Roya's ear... Part I - Atrocities The Marquis and his henchman - who only went by the name of el Zamuro - didn't loose any time. In total secrecy and given order by King Alphonse XIII himself to 'do whatever is necessary', they took command of a company of the King's Palace Guard, and boarded a ship - direction East. Their first destination was the Oleander monastery rumored to hold the secret map. When they arrived, the head priest requested to know what this unexpected visit was all about. This was his last request on this earth - 'whatever is necessary' in Marderian is best translated with 'shot first - don't even bother asking questions later!' The map was found shortly after in the catacombs underneath the chapel. The path was set. Part II - Pathfinding After an uneventful journey to the far side of New Terra, the Marquis and his company set up camp at the beaches of this yet unsettled island which revealed itself in front of their eyes. After a night's rest and some planning and scouting, the expedition party moved out and made their way through the jungle. The green hell was merciless - humidity and heat took their toll, as well as all sorts of venomous crawling things - man after man collapsed in these harsh conditions under the weight of their heavy equipment. After marching for several days without finding anything, concerns were spreading - some in the King's Guard whispered the Marquis would be their downfall. But luckily enough for de la Roya, soon after the expedition came across a promising beacon - an altar in the middle of the jungle. And the best thing was that gold seemed to be abundant! Part III - The Great Golden Pyramid of Legorado Incited by their discovery of the gold filled altar, de la Roya and his men picked up the pace and marched on. Driven by an insatiable thirst for the shiny metal they hasted through the jungle - nothing could stand in their way. All the long journey's destitution was forgotten, suffering became meaningless, and especially de la Roya's eyes were filled with an almost inhuman desire. And then they saw it. A bright reflection of pure golden sunlight in the middle of a vast clearing. Like bugs they were drawn towards it, still incapable of believing their eyes in the face of such radiating beauty. As the expedition closed in on the bright light, a priest flanked by two warriors approached them, seemingly friendly and curious as to the origin of the strange looking men. But instead of trying to enter into a conversation and trying to explore an obviously fascinating culture, de la Roya and his company only had eyes for the gold... 'Whatever is necessary' - the Marderian way... After the heinous murder of the sun priest and his warriors, de la Roya and his men climbed the pyramid. When they reached the top they first were shocked that the temple didn't contain any treasure. But when el Zamuro smashed his sword into the walls of the temple out of pure frustration, he realized... the entire temple structure was constructed of massive gold! What happened next is better not described - it sure was a great day for de la Roya and Mardier, but a horrible day for mankind as a whole. 'Whatever is necessary' About: Well, where to start... the jungle build was pretty straight forward, nothing really special about it. The chapel was a bit more tricky, the rug took some time to get right, but the hardest thing here was to stack the two coins on the small altar - something that 'in the brick' would take no time at all Now, the pyramid, yes in theory it could be built, but I sure don't know if the required bricks exist in such numbers - on Bricklink certainly not. Among other parts the pyramid consists of: 9792 chrome gold 1x2 tiles, 8675 pearl gold 1x1 plates, 718 pearl gold 1x2 jumper plates, 557 pearl gold 1x2 tiles, 658 pearl gold 2x2 tiles, 955 pearl gold 2x2 jumper plates, 5495 pearl gold 1x4 tiles, 2125 pearl gold 2x2x2 slopes What about suggesting this as a Lego Ideas set? Thanks for watching, C&C welcome! Vive le Roi!
  16. An Excerpt from Recorin Orbi | Volume 467 | Cometi Cycle 7634 | Oredurin (World Chronicler) Arcturin I "The tunnel was long. Longer than the funeral and mourning period of a Wredurin put together of darkness. This is to be expected of a disused exit from our ancient city, but having left our would for the upper in prior events via other routes, I did not expect this way to extend as it did. A band of 9 left the city, comprised of the Oredurin, the Ferdurin, an assistant Durin, and 6 soldiers who were willing to adventure. The cycle of 7634 draws to a close as we seek the Resistance of Nocturnus, to chronicle them and aid in what ways we can against Raavage, a monster of unknown origin. I'm sure if the body is intact, the Aerdurin will expect me to bring it back. The place we emerged was one of little activity, with nary a creature in sight. The march began immediately, and for the first 4 days, we saw no one, except for a large insect and a rider, high in the sky. (For more on this insect, please consult Recorin Flori V. 1698) An Excerpt from Recorin Flori | Volume 1698 | Cometi Cycle 7634 | Ferdurin (Flora+Fauna Chronicler) Casoreon III "This volume is dedicated to the observation of all available info regarding the as of yet unnamed, but ride-able large, quadwinged insect seen shortly after the exit from the tunnels on the way to the Resistance of the Upper's Nocturnus. This insect can apparently support a rider and a decent amount of baggage, as evidenced by the apparent cargo of the specimen observed in flight. More data when sighted again." An excerpt from Recorin Orbi | Volume 468 | Cometi Cycle 7634 | Oredurin Arcturin I "The road to the resistance camp, deep in the southern swamps, is a long one, but the journey was uneventful for the purposes of this recorin. The innumerable creatures, sentient and not, are being recorded by Casoreon and the assistant Durin as fast as they can, while retaining our standard. They have even the help of one of the soldiers, who has taken an interest in the various trees of the upper." "After several weeks we arrived at our destination and made ourselves known to the leaders of the resistance. The one called The Lord of Dragons seemed very intrigued by the methods and details of the recorins made so far, and desired copies of any to be had upon certain dragon species. After a waiting period of several days in which the leaders debated this new race, unbeknownst for so long, our band of Inani was assigned to a raid upon an outpost of the Spire, Raavage's forces, named for the obsidian spike which holds Nocturnus, and all of the Upper if he achieves victory, in an iron grip. The raid was carried out swiftly, with cries of "For Nocturnus! THE RESISTANCE!" And "For Historica!" Ringing through the halls as the soldiers from every guild destroyed every spire adherent found within. I remained in the distance, with the other commanders of different forces. The raid was led by a captain of Shadowmere, but, for the first time in thousands of Cycles, an Inani fought in the upper." "This series of events repeated itself as the Armies of free Historica marched towards the spire. The outposts grew to large castles, containing hundreds of spire soldiers, and more spire troops met us in the open field. After our second assault, the Inani were formally accepted into the ranks of the Free Peoples of Nocturnus." "After weeks of constant fighting, only the Spire itself remained. Today the entire army was called into one assembly, and as heralds spread throughout the crowd they prepared to read from a scroll written by the leaders of free Nocturnus. Suddenly, Lord Vladvius of Shadowmere himself, a warrior and leader like no other, appeared on a raised platform, a hollow cone before him amplified his voice, as he spoke these words, which are recorded unaltered, 'Nocturnians! Avalonians! Mitgardians! Kaliphinites! We are all historicans! And today we will march against the last unholy peak of Raavage, The Spire itself! We face death and destruction today, but we do this to secure the future of Historica! FOR THE NEWFOUND KING!' At that he stepped away from the cone and an Orc let out a guttural war cry which will live in the minds of all present forever. The cry was echoed by the whole army, as it surged towards the Spire." An Excerpt from Recorin Flori | Volume 1955 | Cometi Cycle 7634 | Ferdurin Casoreon III "Raavage is a creature like no other. He wears heavy armor and a helm which threatens all of the Upper, yet under that helm he somehow has room for 6 horns, which must be flexible in order to avoid breaking. It is also possible that they break off and regenerate. His features are wolv-ish, but he lacks claw of any significance. Swords (2) seem to be his weapon for this battle, as he mows down many ranks, then vanishes to some high tower, according to an eagle. (See Recorin Flori V. 1820)" An Excerpt from Recorin Orbi | Volume 468 | Cometi Cycle 7634 | Oredurin Arcturin I "On the peak of the tower, known as Raavage's crown, the Lord of the Spire and his loyal adherent Lord Osiris Vorn, faced down some of the greatest warriors Historica has ever seen. Vladvius of Shadowmere, Anfauglir a defector of the spire, Finn a great axe-warrior of Mitgardia, Henjin of House Quilones, an Avalonian lord, Aymeri one of Kaliphin's High-lords, and one Oredurin who's battle skills were unproven. They faced off, neither side making the first move, until Raavage lept into the air..." C&C welcome, and I hope everyone who appeared in the story liked their representation. Some decorations are missing from the warriors in the stand off due to the time involved in making new decorations for the Mecabricks library (I added the Lord Vlad ones specifically for this), but I hope to eventually make it so everyone who builds digitally has easy access to a figure of all the main characters in Historica. 3D Viewers: Emergence Outpost Raid Raavage's Crown
  17. The professionals of Corrington's armed forces are closely watching the first old world conflict to be fought in the new world. On Celestia, newly appointed Governor, Major Dirk Allcock, is prepared to do his part to ensure Corrington benefits from the lessons learned by both sides in the conflict. While other Corlander officers will be tasked with gathering the Eslandolan point of view, Dirk is uniquely placed to gain lessons from Mardier. He has recently learned of the arrival in theatre of Mardierian officer with whom he studied with at the University of Bellson, one Captain Giovanni Lorenzini. Lorenzini, on completion of his studies in Corrington returned to Mardier, where he joined the Royalist Forces in the civil war. Now he has arrived on the Isle de Medio to reinforce the garrison against the Eslandolan and Garvian invaders. Wasting no time, Dirk has immediately written to his old friend, asking that he may send a man to observe the conflict from the Mardierian side. The observer he has chosen to send is a former Royal Army officer, Captain Adam Todd. Captain Todd resigned his commission to pursue a trading career in Arlinsport, but so far has not been lucky. Dirk has offered him a generous commission to go to the Isle de Medio with gifts for Captain Lorenzini, and a letter requesting observer status. Captain Todd, although not military anymore, is under strict orders to observe only, and not interfere. Major Allcock has also made very clear he is not being sent in any official capacity, rather he is being dispatched on a private expedition. On arriving, Captain Todd discovers that Captain Lorenzini has been dispatched to one of the Royal Fortresses on the Island that has come under siege by the combined Eslandolan and Garvian forces. A dedicated man, he has managed to smuggle himself inside the fortress, where he is given a warm welcome by Lorenzini, who happy allows him to attach to his company of infantry. After a few days inside the fort, the besiegers start bombarding the fort with mortars. These artillery pieces are able to lob rounds over the walls deep inside the fortress. Using incendiary and explosive shot, they are a present a nuisance to Mardierian high command, who are unable to target them with counter-battery fire due to the clever positioning of the battery behind sand dunes on a spit of land in the nearby bay. Captain Lorenzini shares his knowledge of the battery with Captain Todd. The Mardierians believe the mortar fire is unusually accurate due to the fact it is operated by a Garvian contingent. Most of the besieging army is made up of Eslandolan mercenaries, whose quality and professionalism is mixed, but generally quite poor. The Garvians, on the other hand, are professional artillerymen from the regular army. To take advantage of the terrain, the battery itself is quite exposed, and relies on a half regiment of Eslandolan mercenaries for protection. Lorenzini explains however, that Mardierian fisherman have reported that incredibly, the majority of the guard force sails back to the comforts of the main camp every night, leaving only the Garvian artillery men and a small group of Eslandolan regulars. Furthermore, the mercenaries have been observed returning later every day. Captain Todd, finding himself drawn to the Mardierian officer, and even sympathising with their cause, helps plan a daring amphibious raid on the battery, with the goal of spiking the guns to prevent their further use. Mardierian high command will only risk one half company of troops, to be led by Captain Lorenzini. Despite his orders to the contrary, Captain Todd insists on accompanying the raid. The fishermen's information proved correct, in the early dawn, the Mardierians successfully surprise the battery as it begins to prepare for the day’s bombardment. The Eslandolan guard force is reduced to a mere handful of regulars and a single officer. Charging up the beach, the yellow coats achieve complete surprise. The Garvian battery is led by a Major of artillery, Major Jan Nieuwenaar. A good, well trained officer, it was his plan to position the battery in such a cunning position, and his calculations that allow the the battery to so accurately target the fort. He attempts to rally his men, but is mortally struck very early in the battle by a musket ball to the chest. As he falls, he is caught in the arms of his sergeant. The Mardierians overwhelm the battery. The guns are spiked and the prisoners rounded up into boats and transported back to the fort before the main Eslandolan guard force returns. Although Mardierian command seems confident. Captain Todd is not so sure. Although the quality and morale of the Mardierians seems far better, he is reminded of a quote from the famous scholar of antiquity, Marcus Tullius Bricero, “The sinews of war are infinite money”. The Greenbacks are certainly not short of gold, and seem unusually focused on spending it in this war. The Mardierians, on the other hand, are still in the grips of a civil war, with limited resources to devote to what essentially for them is a side show. He will report as much to Dirk, along with his tactical observations. No need to bother the Major with full details of his participation in the planning and execution of the raid though….. Details Wow, alot of conditions for this one, so let's check them off, This entry is Pro-Mardierian Character funded the assault/defence - Yes! Beaching landing - Yes! (although in reverse) Mardierian defence - Yes! (even though they are conducting the landing, technically they are defending the fort Death of a hero and close up shot - Yep. Eslandolan torsos from @Captain Braunsfeld Enjoy and C&C welcome!
  18. Side: Eslandola Scene: A gnarled tree in the suburbs of Kingsport. Enter Captain Argentum and Lady Cora, daughter of a top Terraversan General. Narrator: Captain Argentum, of anti-Oleon fame, had occasion some time since to stop at the city of Kingsport. Personal affairs - trust me, you don't want to know more than that. While in Terraversa, the Captain chanced to meet Lady Cora. As far as intentions were concerned, he made up his mind right off. But the actual proposal was another matter. Captain Argentum is nothing if not original, and he wracked his brain for weeks before he decided exactly how he would pop that all important question. Captain Argentum: So - I have a question for you, but first I wanted to say really quickly - see, saying yes is so boring. Everyone says the same thing (I mean, unless they say no: but you aren't supposed to say no; I haven't got a plan B). But saying yes is... wait. Let me start again. I'll just say it fast: yes is a boring answer so I'll take silence for consent. Deal? Lady Cora: blankly But... what's the question? Narrator: In a truly impressive feat of swordsmanship, Captain Argentum drew his foil with one hand, threw a ring into the air with the other, and caught the ring on the tip of the foil dexterously. In doing so, however, he passed dangerously near to Lady Cora's nose, causing Lady Cora to promptly faint away. That however - if he had but known it - was the least of bold Captain Argentum's troubles. Because, unfortunately, Mardier isn't interested in an alliance between a Kingsport General and an Eslandian Captain. Fortunately, Eslandola is well aware that Mardier isn't interested in alliances between Kingsport and Nova Terreli. Unfortunately, Mardier knows that Eslandola is well aware that Mardier isn't interested in alliances between Kingsport and Nova Terreli. Fortunately, Eslandola's spies have informed them that Mardier knows that Eslandola is well aware that Mardier isn't interested in alliances between Kingsport and Nova Terreli. Unfortunately, Mardier's top secret agents are really up to things. They know full well that Eslandola's spies have informed them that Mardier knows that Eslandola is well aware that Mardier isn't interested in alliances between Kingsport and Nova Terreli. But fortunately, we're on top. Of course, with so many bullets flying around, there's no saying that our oblivious bride and her overly-innovative groom will make it out alive anyways... but let's hope for the best. The whole build: A few more pictures! This was a pretty fun build, by far the tallest tree of this sort that I've built yet! The lime green was kind of out on a limb but I think it worked fairly well; plays into the lighthearted comic feel I was going for with the story. Fun stuff anyhow!
  19. They say a picture is worth a thousand words... and I hope it is in this case, because I really don't have time for a thousand words... Yet another enthusiastic Captain "Brickwall" has met his demise... It's probably unnecessary to say that this was just a quick build to help the team out... pretty fun anyhow, thanks for looking! Edit: For Eslandola, in case that wasn't obvious...
  20. Greetings, fellow BoBS'ers, I'd like to present my entry for Challenge V - Category B. Keeping the Keep El Peñón is a strategic Marderian stronghold overlooking the Bay of Good Hope. Although not a large fortress, El Peñón is nonetheless a vital part of Mardier's defenses around the town of Terra Fin Tin. Carved deep into the rocky cliffs, El Peñón is virtually impenetrable - a fact that's also known to the Eslandolian High Command - and giving them major headaches. The joint Eslandolian and Garvian assault plan provides for the surprise capture of Terra Fin Tin in order to open up a second front north of the fortress city of La Puebloto. And in order to achieve that, El Peñón had to be sacked quickly before any Marderian reinforcements would render capturing the fort impossible, ultimately putting the whole second front plan in jeopardy should Mardier's forces around Terra Fin Tin be alarmed before the actual assault was to begin. To solve this problem, one of the Eslandian elite units, the Black Bats - a veteran battalion experienced in spearhead missions, and infamous for their recklessness - was tasked with the surprise attack on El Peñón. Initially, the mission progressed as planned - the approach was not spotted by neither Marderian patrol vessels nor lookout posts along the coastline. And another pleasant surprise: when the boats landed, it became clear that the fort was undermanned. Now nothing stood in the way of a quick success. Or at least so it seemed... What they hadn't expected was the courage and relentlessness of the fort's commander. Before the perimeter guard was overrun, coronel Lorenzo Alderete stepped outside the gate in a desperate attempt to buy time, telling his men to barricade the entrance behind him. He then proceeded to furiously charge the attackers. The coronel managed to repel man after man, giving the garrison valuable time to regroup and send for reinforcements. The artillery lookout then spotted the approaching Eslandian fleet and the fort's batteries started engaging - thus completely ruining the attackers' element of surprise. Shortly before coronel Alderete was mortally wounded, he yelled out his final order to the garrison - to drop a load of explosives onto himself and the attackers. El Peñón was not to be captured! For Mardier! Some additional pics: About: Well, this started out with the simple need to come up with something for this category at all... and unfortunately, a massive builder's block. Eventually, the block loosened, and thanks to the support of @Bodi and @Captain Genaro, I even managed to put in some action. What else... well, as usual all parts except the uniforms exist... gravity is 'off'... can't think of anything else now Thanks for watching, C&C welcome! Vive le Roi!
  21. The Armored Bears of Hesperia A Build for Challenge V, Category B, on behalf of the Alliance. In the land of Hesperia, an elven kingdom in the far west of Avalonia, nestled in the depths of the Enchanted Forest, there are many beasts of great size, from giant eagles to mighty dragons. Among the fearsome creatures one might encounter under the shade of the magical trees, typically in the upper regions of the highlands, are enormous brown bears. Fiercely territorial and aggressive when provoked, nevertheless the elves have managed to recruit their aid in times of need to serve as mighty beasts of war. Blacksmiths work long hours to create custom armor to protect the mighty frames of the great bears from enemy projectiles while not seriously impacting the mobility of the noble creatures. Here, at Rogobel's blacksmith shop just outside the walls of Istolia, a major Hesperian settlement, Rogobel and his assistants are working around the clock to turn out armor for the bears. Urgaalikku, a proud Ursine chieftain, is receiving his armor. To keep the bears from leaving as the heavy metal is pounded and riveted around them, the bears are fed a steady supply of fruit and vegetables. "Rogobel!" shouted Haladrian. "We are going to need more fruit here pretty soon! Chief Urgaalikku is hungry today." "You've been working at the forge all day, Rogobel," said Tirian, his lead assistant. "Let me take a turn at the anvil." "Grab your own from the corner, Tirian," grunted Rogobel, "and make yourself useful rather than standing around like a maiden in a daisy field." "Feladrim, I'm glad you are here," said Drogo. "Did you grab the case of rivets from the shelf like I asked? I have to add the next row of plates above this one or Rogobel will be on my case." "Um, no, I grabbed the forward-mounted crossbow, like I thought you asked." ________________________________________________________________________ ................................................................................................................................................ Thanks for looking! C&C welcome. This thing was rather difficult to photograph, but I think it turned out alright in the end.
  22. The Hand of Corruption Catapult Wheel A build for the Spire in Book II, Challenge V, Category B At a Hand of Corruption camp near the edge of the Moruth Swamplands, where the Spire forces were congregating for an attack on the Resistance capital of Abyssian, work was underway on a new type of siege weapon, a multiple-shot catapult wheel, capable of firing six shots per minute with an experienced crew manning her. The uruks of the Hand were just now putting the finishing touches on the masterpiece of destructive engineering. The blacksmiths get no rest, beating out nails and pieces of the frame with skillful blows of their hammers. Guards keep anyone unwanted away. The machine itself: ________________________________________________________________ ................................................................................................................................ Wow, barely got this together... of course I did not start until after supper on the 19th, though my main focus was on my Alliance build. C&C welcome. I did not realize until editing that a pile of wheels had fallen into the swamp, but oh well. The Spire needed some love.
  23. King's Port Advertiser, Special Edition New Terra’s most reliable source for news, shipping and otherwise. March 617. VOL 2, Special Edition Breaking news! Terraversa officially throws off the Mardierian yoke, and declares total independence! The whole island convulsed with joy! The Viceroy of Terraversa, Oldis Miro, has finally quit his vacillation between the two possible courses before him! The van guard of King Alphonso XIII's Death Guard had landed on the island and begun their deadly work, instilling fear, horror, or anger in the hearts of all true Terraversans. But now the Viceroy and his officers have officially signed a declaration of independence from the King and kingdom of Mardier, and Oldis Miro himself, at the head of the Terraversan troops, is said to have run the Death Guard into the sea! The bells of King's Port ring for joy, and the citizens are in its streets, cheering and applauding as their governor returns from his excursion. Peace has also been signed with the Eslandolan and Garveyan forces, and the Viceroy has promised men to support in the war effort against the common foe. ...But some in Terraversa still shake their heads, predicting a terrible revenge to come from Mardier at the end of the war. Only time will tell! Or, put otherwise, Category A results: Winning Side: 1st Place: Eslandola 2nd Place: Mardier Faction Winners: 1st Place: Corrington 2nd Place: Sea Rats 3rd Place: Oleon Individual Winners: 1st Place: Ayrlego (ESL) - Prize, 1 battalion of Terraversan mercenaries, free of charge and upkeep (may be raised now or at any future period), and 41149 Moana's Island Adventure (to be shipped at the end of the challenge - unless you win another category, of course... - and thanks to Silent Wolf for pointing that out!) Runner-up: Gideon (MAR) - Prize, 1 company of Terraversan troops, free of charge and upkeep, raise-able at any time from right now on. And you can see what every entrant wins in the spoiler below: Congrats to the winners, and thanks to all who entered! Keep up the great entries with Category B and C!
  24. Somewhere in Mitgardia. A noble man and his bodyguard approaching a quarry. The place is filled with the noisees of pickaxes and hammers. As they entered the construction site, the noble man asked the first dwarf, next to a campfire. - Good day master dwarf. I'm Lord Aran Durwell. I'm here, to inspect, the ordered golem, against the Spire. Can I speak with the overseer? The dwarf turned around. Took out his pipe, from his mouth, and greeted the noble man. - Good day Lord Durwell! Of course, let me introduce my humble self: I'am Turfir Dimguard, I'am the overseer here.- the dwarf bowed down. - So.. Can we start, the stroll? http://IMG_8203 by Miklós Neszt, on Flickr The noble man noded. Turfir took a a sip from his pipe, turned around, and started walking around the construction site. - Any question lord Durwell? -asked the dwarf. - I don't know anything. about this profession. I don't really know, what a golem is. What's even the difference between a regular and a siege golem? - The golem is animated matter. Usually something, that can be shaped. It will be awakened by magical words, and it will serve its master. The difference is simple, siege golems are larger, got smaller legs, so it can keep its balance. This golems right arm is a huge mallet. It can be used both smashing buildings, or smashing infantry. - And it's other hand? - Aran pointed to the unfinished side of the golem. - We will shape that arm, to be a hand. So it can hold another weapon, or grab with it. Like boulders to throw it, or soldiers to crush them. - I understand. I see, there are not only dwarf workers here. Can the human workers keep up, with your fellow dwarf workers? -They are a great help for us. They tear down the stone roughly, so the others can shape it to its final form. We get fresh supplies every day, from the nerby town. - And that dwarf over there? -Aran pointed on the ledge, behind the unfinished golem. - What's he doing?, I don't see any pickaxe or hammer in his hands. - Oh, he is Orif Earthcaller. He is preparaing the binding on the Blood of the Mountain. Take a look on that gem! Marvelous, never saw bigger, but this isn't my first golem shaping. If the earthcallers give us, to build a weapon, our cause must be righteous! - I dont want to be paranoid, but if we have a powerful crystal, should we more guards here, to protect it? - Don't worry mylord, Mitgardia sent his best soldiers, to protect the Blood of the Mountain, and us. Besides, we can defend our self too. - And why a golem? I mean, I don't want to disparage your, and your employees work... - Ah.. no problem mylord. You need different siege weapons, for different tasks. Ladders for climbing, catapults, ballistas for throwing. This siege golem is for all tasks. Plus, we heard, that the Spire has giant suporters. - Good to hear it. -Durwells sightet in relief. -And, what can you tell me, when it will be finished? - I think, it will be finished, lesser then a week. - Fabulous! Then i take my leave. Don't want to steal more time from you. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ EDIT: Finally got home early, and had a chance to take pictures from the finished golem. Enjoy:
  25. For Eslandola It was just an average, ordinary day in this little Marderian seaside settlement. The water lapped against the dock, citizens strolled hither and thither, sailors went about their business - which business, evidently, was nothing more than poking their nose into everyone else's business - housewives bustled around importantly, children laughed and ran - in short, the day was perfectly normal and unexciting. And then IT came. It came slowly, sneakily... barely making ripples in the water. It's tentacles slithered up the stone pier so softly no one even knew it was there. Suddenly a dead silence fell over the bustling docks. You could have heard a pin drop as the monster slithered over the mossy stones... still silently... still slowly... but still relentlessly. For a moment, time seemed to stand still. For a moment, no one moved. For a moment, no one could believe that this was more than a hideous dream. The next moment... terror! This town, at least, will not be sending aid to the war effort. Well, this was a bit out of my comfort zone... Not unhappy with the result however. Tried out a new wall technique on that tallest house! And of course the Kraaken was quite a first... but not too bad, all things considered! Thanks for looking!