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  1. On a balcony of Khadira's Temple Palace Complex, Muakhah and an older warrior priest D'uran D'uran await a very important visitor. While the cool evening breeze wafts the oil lamps' flames the two discuss recent events. "Bread and Circuses..." sighed Muakhah, " Bread and Circuses...That's what she comes up with. That's the best she can do? As if we do not know that feeding our people is our first responsibility? And these celebrations... Which of our Queen's mighty achievements are we celebrating?" "She is young, and has strange council from simple folk. I am sure she is unwilling to make misteps so early in her reign." Replied D'uran. "And celebration is not a bad thing." "I know, I know. And would be easier to celebrate the Queen's achievements if she had any. I recall it were the Mages of the Zotharith that ended the threat of Ravaage. And the four guilds fought his armies and allies to a standstill while the Queen snuck into Cedrica." "Tis true. Though we know little of the perils she faced to do so." "Indeed. But I like it not how she has turned completely from Nocturnus towards Varlyrio. And seems to favor that isle of malcontents greatly. I fear that Queen Ylspeth cares for Avalonia and Varlyrio at the expense of the guilds that suffered more in recent times." "As I said, she is young, and seems desirous of peace. With guidance her majesty could become a wise ruler." "Aye, but with whose guidance? There are always those that seek royal influence for personal gain." "Excuse me brothers," interjected an armed and armored Warrior Priest who was to be Muakhah's bodyguard for the evening. "But our guests await." "Ah!" Muakhah replied brightly. "Let us go to them then. The Dragon Queen has never been a patient lady!" "Is there anything I should know?" asked D'uran as they entered a tiled chamber decorated with scenes depicting the ongoing struggle twixt good and evil. "Oh, not really. The Dragon Queen is impatient, quick tempered and suffers no fool, but she is fundamentally sensible and decent. Though she tries to hide it." "Is she really a suitable ally in the great struggle against evil? I hear her methods are somewhat...extreme." "Oh yes. She has a ruthless streak. But considering the recent events in Nocturnus, is that so unusual? But if her power can be temperedby mercy and wisdom, then she will become a strong enemy of evil. As is said, I believe she is basically decent." "And if you are wrong?" Asked D'uran, raising an eyebrow? "I merely ask, just in case." "Then I will have learned much about how to do better in the future. For it would indeed be my own failure. I have managed to arrange the situation so that the Dragon Queen relies upon Khadira for much. Hopefully that will influence her better nature." Meanwhile, a masked assassin has climbed up to another balcony. Listening through the small windows the assassin hears his prey. Hours of stealthy movement and hours more of careful preparation have led him here. Soon the time for stealth will be over. The assassin frowns upon hearing multiple voices. This will make the task more difficult. However this trained killer's prefered method is to burst from concealment and deal a fatal blow before anyone can react. Then a speedy retreat through the carefully prepared route will leave nothing behind but confusion, panic, and death. "You should not be too concerned, D'uran." Contined Muakhah. "The fact that the Dragon Queen is here shows that her paranoia is ebbing. We will discuss how to strengthen the bonds between Khadira and the Lava Fort, and how to spread her area of control in Nocturnus under the guiding light of Mazadar." "Did she really call it the Lava Fort?" queried D'uran sceptically. "You should have heard the other names she tried." sighed Muakhah. Suddenly his face brightened. "Brothers in the Light, I am honored to introduce the Dragon Queen, Lady of the Lava Fort, Mu the Marvelle." "Hail Muakhah, how go things for Khadira?" The Dragon Queen spoke in pleasant tones. D'uran D'uran and the bodyguard felt confused. How could this pleasant and attractive lady be feared as a murderous tyrant, and a dragon to boot? Then they saw her bodyguards and a thrill of fear raced down their spines. "Khadira thrives, for we walk in the light. How fares your domain my Lady? I see you have a new breed of minions." "Oh yes, these are a cruder model. I believe the blood mixture is different. Or so Chen, my Sorceror, tells me. I brought them because they are a bit more intimidating than my other blood born minions. Don't you think so?" "Yes yes, quite intimidating. Are they safe in public? The festivities may be rather busy." "Don't worry, I've trained them well. They are like puppies as long as noone threatens their mummy." The Dragon Queen spoke affectionately as the snarling monstrosities flexed their wings. Their large draconic jaws gaped threateningly. "Uh...yes. Well then. You know I am dubious of Chen's motives, for all that he claims to have studied under Doctor Rod. I believe he has sinister motives for you. Having said that, I am most glad you could join us for the coming celebrations. The people of Khadira would love to see our ally from across the border and I feel this will..." Muakhah was cut off as the assassin lunged through the bead curtain to his left. His bodyguard rushed forward with shield and sword raised but before he could do anything there was a blur of movement, two roars not unlike tigers or lions, a sudden scream and a wrenching, tearing, wet sound. The assassin never knew what killed him. So swiftly did Mu's draconic gaurds tear him apart with their claws and fangs. Shaken the group reassembled closer to the murals of Mazadar and the Great Enemy. "Is that how the citizens of Khadira show their respect for their ally?" Snarled the Dragon Queen. "After all we have been through?" "I don't believe you were the target. I thought the assassin was striking for me." Muakhah spoke quickly but in a calming soothing manner. This couldn't be allowed to derail the plans for the future. "If your beasts had left him alive we might know his intentions, and origins..." "Oh I'm sorry!" Snapped Mu angrily. "In that case my beasts just saved your life! You're welcome!" Muakhah looked across at the bloody and gaping jaws and smiled nervously. "Of course, of course. My thanks to your protectors. However the fact remains that someone tried to kill one or both of us. We must learn exactly who so we may take precautions and strike back." Muakhah's eyes read the Dragon Queen's expression carefully. "I assume, that you would want to take action against such an affront to your person?" "Oh Muakhah, you always know what to say to make a girl happy. Who do you think sent him?" "Well, he was wearing battered old Ulandian armor...but that is easy to come by these days. It could be Ulandus sympathizers or High Council members attempting to sabotage further union under the Desert King. It is well known I am one of his most vocal supporters... He could be from a Nocturnian faction opposed to our alliance." "It is known that Khadira helps my forces. But I believe the factions I am facing are not organised enough to attempt this kind of brazen murder." Mused the Dragon Queen. "It could be this new Wolfpack I am hearing rumors of. They are said to be quite ambitious in their goals. Or even...could Queen Ylspeth want me dead?" "That reminds me." Said Mu, placing a hand atop Muakhah's outstretched one. "I sense the Cult of the Great Wyrm is present here in Khadira." "Sorry what now?" Asked Muakhah confused. "They are a cult worshipping B'deesh. They supported Ravaage in the wars but their main aim was always to free B'deesh, the Great Wyrm, a sort of Demonic Dragon God that seeks to consume all. Oh don't worry, they are far from that goal. But I thought you might want to know I sense they have a presence here in Khadira." "Interesting. I'll have to set Hassan to searching them out. Shall we adjourn to dinner and the details of our plans? And then, tomorrow, the festivities begin!" "I would like that." Smiled the Dragon Queen. "By the way...did you choose a golden dragon to be a symbol of your religion just to flatter me?" "Oh that? Merely happy coincidence."
  2. The four Guilds struggle to coordinate relief efforts and aid the lands that are still in need at the behest of the High Queen. However, the High Queen seems to have ignored the guild that is most in need. Nocturnus, the land that suffered the most from Ravaage, and whose mages ultimately defeated him, has been ignored by Queen Ylspeth. Nocturnus does not exist in her councils and seems absent from her thoughts. Not so in Khadira. The strong links between Khadira and the self-styled Dragon Queen remain. The Warrior Priests of Mazadar also seek to aid the Nocturnians whose plight is ignored by those in power. The Desert King's alliance with the Nocturnian Resistance that struggled so hard against evil will be honored. While Avalonia grows rich upon the sales of its grain. While Varlyrio recieves gifts and bribes from the new Queen. While Mitgardia complains of famine yet sends convoys of food south. While Kaliphlin Lords remain divided and squabble among themselves. All the while, Khadira sends aid to Nocturnus, and those who truly need the light, lest they be plagued once more by darkness and evil. Food is packed, ready to be transported across the border to Nocturnus. As well as food Khadira will send gold to invest in suitable enterprises that cn help to restore Nocturnus. Bread, Fish, Carrots, and Gold are prepared in a courtyard, while chickens await their turn to be crated up. Above the supplies flap bunting with the colors of Mazadar, Kaliphlin, and the Desert King. As the windows of the building on the left overlook one of the windows of the building on the right the owner erected a modesty screen. A scribe tallies the quantities and types of foodstuffs to be send to Nocturnus. The Warrior Priest of Mazadar will be responsible for guarding and investing the gold in ways that help rebuild Nocturnus and enable its citizens to turn to the light. He will also entreat others to do good, so that, like the spreading ripples caused by a single pebble, good deeds shall too spread across the world. Khadira hopes that its efforts to aid the Nocturnians will shame the Queen into taking action. After all, were it not for the sacrifices made by the Nocturnians...she would not be Queen.
  3. Inside the simple Temple of Mazadar a Warrior Priest addresses a group of potential converts to the cause. "Mazadar is pure goodness, the creator of all things right and true." Exclaimed the Priest of Mazadar. "Yet Mazadar is not alone in the Cosmos of Creation. At every turn Mazadar is opposed by the evil spirit of chaos and destruction. Seeking to cast down all that is good and replace it with evil, this destructive force seeks to confound Mazadar and goodness at every turn! Existing only to cause suffering and pain. Mazadar and the evil spirit have opposed each other since the dawn of creation and even now wage their battle over the souls of mortals. How can Mazadar ever hope to triumph against the equal and opposite evil spirit?" "Only by enlisting the figure upon the pedastal can Mazadar hope to win the Cosmic struggle and bring about a paradise in all realms and all lives. And that figure, is YOU. Only you can choose good over evil! Only you can make the difficult choices to do right in this life. Only you can help to build a paradise in all realms. Only you can tip the scales of good and evil. Your choices, your actions will make the difference in the Cosmic struggle. Mazadar needs you to choose good. Will you answer the call?" Meanwhile in the temple garden Muakhah fields the questions of two younger Khadirans. "When I get to paradise, will I see my grandma? ...and my cat?" Asked the short quiet girl. "Would it be paradise without them Mirah?" replied Muakhah. "So I will see them again?" The little girl persisted. "When we die Mirah, Mazadar judges our deeds, our intentions, our very soul. We either enter paradise or for want of a better word, hell. But fear not little one. Hell is temporary. There are no sins that could warrant eternal punishment! Every sinner will spend time in hell to account for their sins and recognise the consequences of their actions. It may take them a long time but eventually they will enter paradise, having atoned and understood their wrongs." "Does this mean that I might see someone evil in paradise? Like a Drow?" Asked the taller boy. "Why yes. You may even meet Revolword or Ravaage himself." "I don't want to meet Ravaage in paradise." Said the boy firmly. "Of course," said Muakhah gently. "But understand that the Ravaage you meet in paradise would not be the Ravaage who walked this earth. He would have paid the price for his crimes in hell, but not only that he would have come to understand and repent for them. The Ravaage you meet in paradise will be Ravaage as he could have been. Had he made the choice to do good and walk in the light." "Is this why we have to help the Nocturnans...even though they are evil?" The boy continued. "Look at the plant over by the gardener. See how it is not lush and green like this one to my left." The boy and girl nodded. "Is that plant evil?" "No!" laughed the children in unison. "This plant to my left is lush and green because this corner of the garden has good light, soil and warmth. The plant over there lacks these things and so its growth is more difficult. If both plants are to bloom then one of them needs help. Which one do you think?" "The one over there." said the girl. "And so it is with the Nocturnans. They are not evil. They simply come from a harsh land where it is not easy to do good. Where everything is a struggle. But with help they can walk in the light." "But some are evil?" The boy continued. "Some choose evil. But others do not. And do not forget that Kaliphlinites, Avalonians and Mitgardians may also choose evil. It is often the easier path. Doing the right thing is often the more difficult choice. Were it easy then there would be no evil." Additional Photos! I finished this build a little while ago and held off posting pictures because of the Sandstorm of freebuilds. As there seemed to be a lot of immersive shots I retweaked the posing a little to get immersive shots myself but it doesn't really work well as it wasn't designed for it. I know the story is pretty waffly but hopefully this is the beginning of an organisation that may grow to rival the knights of Aslan (fingers crossed) I feel that there is a curse going around the forum. When I set it up for photos it seemed that I had avoided light shining through cracks. But when the photos are on the comp there they are... Seems to be a common problm these days. I'm hoping that this is enough to count as a Temple for Khadira and also a freebuild for the great Guild of Kaliphlin! And yes...I'm still mixing all colors of minifigs...