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  1. Of Dragons and Druids Chapter 3: The Kitchen of Druidham Gahlen knew that he should be going back to the cellars to help Stenkarlek delve them, but he did not want to go back just yet. The dwarf did not particularly like him, considering the boy more of a nuisance than a help, even with a dragon to help moving the rock. And that was all they did, Gahlen and Koeden. Bring one load of loose rock up to the surface after another, until Stenkarlek decided that they had done enough for the day. Gahlen grumbled at his father silently, since it was he who had volunteered the boy's services to the dwarves. But that had been months ago, and the dwarves were still digging. They were nice storerooms and cellars, expertly hewn, painstakingly precise in their corners and utterly smooth in their floors. But the job was tedious, and the seven-year-old wanted to go run around outside and bother some of the other children of the island. And so Gahlen was stopping by the kitchens, hoping to draw Jalme away from his chores. Jalme was the son of the steward, Dervin, who ran the day-to-day affairs of Druidham, assisting Gahlen's father Henjin. The two boys were almost the same age, though Jalme was eight and a bit taller. As he approached the kitchen doors, Gahlen's mouth began to water; succulent smells were wafting on the air currents of the hallway to his nose, reminding him that it was nearly time to eat. Koeden nudged him the back, indicating that he too would like a snack. Hadn't he fed the dragon today already? Young dragons were always hungry, though, and were always growing, too. Perhaps he could sneak a snack from Gregi, the butcher, for Koeden and something from Grishna, the orcwife, for himself. Gregi was busy chopping the heads off of chickens when he opened the door. A faint smile flickered in the corner of the bald man's mouth when his eyes saw the boy and beast framed in the dim doorway. At least Gahlen thought it was a smile; the butcher's beard was so thick that it was hard to tell. Another head popped into the bucket at Gregi's feet, and he slowly slid the whole bucket of heads towards the door. Marni, scaling fish at the same table, clucked in disapproval, but said nothing. The old matron had a soft spot for the roguish youth and his dragon, and the boy exploited it whenever he could. If only he could sneak in and see Sorna; she always had a pie or cookie ready for him, but he would have to avoid the eyes of Jalme's aunt, Julippa, who ran the kitchen and had no use for rascals in her way. Unfortunately, Sorna was talking to Kupika about berry pies as the elf brought over a sack of gooseberries for a pie. Several pies were already cooling on the table; probably currant pies, judging by Sorna's pile of currant sacks by the table. Unfortunately, Julippa was sharing a table with Grishna as the two prepared a stew and some salads. That meant no snack from the orcwife today. Grishna was the best, always doting over the young dragonrider whenever she saw him, giving him big hugs and lots of treats. Her husband Urglan, was a dragonrider, too, the only orc to become one so far. Jalme was looking decidedly unhappy as he turned a spit with a large islebird over the fire. He was definitely hot, and always grouchy. But there was no way that he would be able to get away from the work without getting into serious trouble with everyone in the kitchen. Bummer! Gahlen lingered in the doorway for a moment longer, before deciding to go outside and try to find one of his sisters to bother. Or maybe his mother, if Galaria might be around somewhere and not busy. But he was done with carrying rocks today. He grabbed the bucket of chicken heads and a bit of cured sausage that Gregi had tossed to him, too, and went back the way he came, out into the lower courtyard of Druidham, into the bright sunshine in the midst of the Mystic Isles. ____________________________________ ........................................................................ More pics: C&C welcome. I'm not as happy with the lighting in this one as I would have hoped. There are too many different pieces to it: a lamp under the roasting pit, a flashlight behind the bread oven, light bricks and another flashlight lighting glow crystals in the wall, and another lamp shining through a bank of windows (out of shot) to imitate daylight coming in. It was ambitious, and perhaps I'll give it another go before tearing it apart; the results here are "good enough" but not great.
  2. Of Dragons and Druids, Ch. 2: The Library of Druidham A freebuild for Avalonia Also a build showing part of the army of Druidham, fulfilling Task 1 for Avalonia "I know it is here somewhere," muttered Henjin Quilones as he reached towards the shelf from the narrow wrought-iron ladder. "We have The Book of the Invisible Sun, and it should be somewhere over here." "Try a bit to the right, Henjin," offered Gree helpfully. "Keep it down, Daddy," shushed Emmalie from where she stood near Thorra's chair. "Fangort is telling a story of the Enchanted Forest." "What happened next?" asked Thorra, listening intently to the Grent's story. "How did you escape?" "Well, you would not believe it, but a family of Werecoons came out of the hollow log and began to attack the lumberjacks!" said Fangort excitedly. "And then we came to live here, all of us." "Oooh! How exciting!" clapped Emmalie in delight. Meanwhile, Reyska was talking to Korra, the Kolgari elf who had joined the Druids when she and her twin sister had arrived at Druidham. Keryyna was now a dragonrider, but Korra was explaining to Reyska how the two of them planned to return to the Sunken City someday. "There are very few ways into the Sunken City, all of them guarded closely by the Kolgari. But it is worth the visit, let me tell you. You think the flora around here is vibrant? It is nothing compared to the hidden realm of the Kolgari." "So why did you leave?" asked Reyska. "It sounds lovely!" "Well, it's complicated, but to start..." Kaigar was talking to M'chungaji, the traveling human from Mwamba who had joined them on their journey, by the window. Afternoon light was shining brightly upon the texts upon the table in front of them. "Henjin thinks the lost shrine of the Druids has to be somewhere in this part of the Isles, but Galaria and the other riders say that they have seen no sign of it from the air," Kaigar was saying. "I think we need to go on foot." "Druids are probably better suited to finding the shrine than dragonriders, even if they are all elves," said M'chungaji. He was mistrustful of most elves, having had a bad experience in his youth on the streets of Bandari with a proud elf lord. "Then I suppose we had better arrange for some journeys to be made," responded Kaigar, pushing back his chair. "Let's get going." ________________________________ ................................................................ More pics: I know this is a bit unconventional for a Task 1 entry, but I first took pictures of some figs on a stand and then decided that it was not exciting enough. So I built the "army" of the Druids in a more natural setting. Part 2 of Task 1 will be to show the dragonriders in a room of their own, probably sans-dragons for space reasons. The original picture is here: From left to right we have Reyska, Thorra, Emmalie Quilones, M'chungaji, Henjin Quilones, Kaigar, Gree, Fangort, and Korra. They are the Druids of Druidham, Guardians of the Druidi Temple of Avalonia. C&C welcome. @Kai NRG, I tried to cover up the back, but in a few places light still shone through. Oh well! Maybe next time I'll get it perfect.
  3. Henjin_Quilones

    Of Dragons and Druids: Ch. 1

    Of Dragons and Druids: Ch. 1 In the Hall of Druidham Henjin Quilones sighed as he looked across the hall at his children. How much they have grown already, he thought wistfully. He could hardly believe that Gahlen was nearing his seventh birthday. Where had the time gone? Surely it was just last year that he and Galaria had been exiled from Hesperia by her father, the king, not even married yet and certainly no children on the way? Surely he had only returned from Bandari a few months back with a small toddler of three and a baby girl, only just turned one? Henjin shook his head wistfully. Emmalie was no baby any more; the five-year-old was the least Elf-like of his children, taking more after her Druid father than her Elf mother, and she followed him wherever he went. She was the only one of the children to study the in the Druidi Order, as Gahlen and the youngest, Lycaria, with her bright blue hair, were dedicated to the dragonriders of their mother and had already entered into a soul-bond with baby dragons. He loved his children deeply, and watching their play brightened his day. The day was already bright, though. The sun streamed through the windows of the hall, reflecting off of the newly varnished table and the brightly polished tiles of the floor. It was new, the hall. It had only been completed a few months back, and already it had been used for important things. The leaders of Avalonia had met here to discuss the opening of Varlyrio to trade, gracing his table with their presence. That was just a few mornings ago, and already Henjin had heard rumblings of fleets being launched to seek the goods and markets of the far western Guild. Henjin would be sending no fleets, however, since he did not have a fleet, only a few small fishing boats that brought in their catch from the straights and channels between the Mystic Isles around Druidham. "We really must finish the guest-house next, Henjin," Galaria was saying, bringing his thoughts back to the present moment. How much had he missed of what she said? "We have beds open here in the main keep, of course, but many who might visit us have higher standards than a simple bed in a shared dormitory or a small, simply furnished chamber. It's not like we can offer them a place in one of the dragon's weyrs, where the riders sleep." Henjin nodded. "This is true, Galaria," he said, stroking his beard. He had let it grow out since returning to Avalonia. "My only concern is that it will take manpower away from delving the storerooms and cellars. And by manpower I really mean Dwarf-power, since aside from Arkuhr none of us humans are much use working with stone, and while you may be soul-bonded to an Earth dragon, Daeara is more attuned to the living things on and in the earth than to the rocks of the earth itself." It was Galaria's turn to nod in agreement. "True, it would take some Dwarf-power from the cellars, and harvest time is nigh upon us, so perhaps we should delay that; but we could at least shift the Gnomes over to building the bridge to the outcropping where we plan to build the guest-house. It will not be cold here for a month or more, I don't think, so getting the geothermal pumps going can wait a little bit. And besides, Injini has nearly completed it anyways. He said our rock formations here are not so different from the ones beneath Bandari, so he did not have to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, to get our system going like the one under the Hatchery or the Dragon Halls there." "Very well," Henjin agreed. "We should get to work on the bridge, using the dragons to lift the slabs of stone in place according to the plan of Injini and Mvumbuzi. My Druids, especially Arkuhr, can assist with the stone shaping, at least the rough hewing, and perhaps we can convince Stenkarlek to shift his brother and wife over to the final shaping of the stones, while he and his father finish up the cellars." Just then Lycaria gave a loud shout of pain and Gahlen came running over to his parents. "I didn't do it, Dad," he said breathlessly. "What did you not do?" asked Henjin suspiciously. Galaria went over to Lycaria to comfort her and see if she was hurt. Emmalie was holding her hands over her sister, muttering some Druidic words of healing. "I didn't push her head into the table when she was chasing after me after I stole her hairclip," said the boy sheepishly. "Mm-hmm," grunted Henjin. "I need you to apologize to your sister for pushing her and stealing her clip. And you need to apologize to me for lying. And finally, I need you to go with Koeden to help Stenkarlek dig out the storerooms. He could use a small Earth dragon and even smaller boy down in the tunnels with him to help dig. And bring him this message that I am going to give you." He turned to the writing desk by the windows and began to write on a scrap of parchment. "Yes, father," said Gahlen with downcast eyes. "I am sorry for lying." "I forgive you," said Henjin, finishing up the message and handing it to his son. "Now go! Get your dragon and find Stenkarlek." ______________________________________ ............................................................................ The first chapter of my Book III story! Not unlike @de Gothia, I have chosen to make the time between the end of Book II and the start of Book III for my story be the span of several years (about 8 in my case). Hence there are now kids involved. My inspiration for the story, at least for the dragon part of things, comes especially from Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series, one of my all-time favorite reads. I will be tying things in from my previous Chronicles of Hesperia, plus the builds I did for the Safe Haven challenge. And there will be dragons. Lots of dragons. My characters will probably end up in Varlyrio's Sunken City at some point, too. The build itself is the same as the one I used for the Prelude: An Avalonian Council, but the lighting is different this time, with the sole light source now being through the windows. I really like the way that made it look, even better than before. Plus, I adjusted the white balance to look more warm. C&C welcome!