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Part 10: Rogue Challenge: Dealings in the Dark
Challenge entry for the noble faction of Rainos in the Lands of Mythron. Check it out! (Group link on right side of page) Also, if you scroll just below where it says “ACTION SEQUENCE” over and over in caps, there are a few pictures of my sig-fig being epic, and you get to skip all of the boring story stuff.
About this creation


Look, a cave!
What is going on in this chapter of the adventures of Steven the Multiple-Personality’d Rainosian Legionnaire? Cue the rogue challenge description from the Lands of Mythron:

Shock! Horror! Someone was caught stealing from a secret mine in Guaire and, after “gentle” questioning, confessed that a huge crime network in Mythron has been lightening our coffers ever since the truce with our neighbor. Even worse, it seems that these thieves have found a subterranean passage to smuggle their ill-gotten goods under the channel and into Mythron. Now that the outlaws have finished their rogue challenge, our time has come.
The High King of Rainos has called a council of the clans to deal with this affront, but no honorable Rainosian will stand around talking when there is blood to be spilt. All agree, however, that this tunnel must be captured before any further action is taken. This will be a dangerous task. Not only will outlaws attempt to use this passage, other dangers await. Fearsome beasts and strange, savage tribes lurk in the darkness, and it is easy to become lost or trapped in the labyrinthine caves… but that’s nothing to a brave warrior of Rainos, right? Build a scene showing your character joining a war-band to invade the tunnel or charge straight in and engage in combat with whatever you find. Remember, this is for Rainos!”


Now that you understand (if you are familiar with current events in the Lands of Mythron, that is), on with the story.

Quick note- Please bear with any long stretches of text between the images below. The storyline refused to follow the pictures provided, making for gaps with no corresponding pictures, and Gilbert Despathens likes to look at his own typing anyway. As always, ratings, praise, constructive criticism, and other comments are welcome. If you are the first person to give this MOC a like, please give it a comment with a like AND the smiley rating under the main picture to make sure it goes through. Thank you.

~ ~ ~ Cast of Today’s MOC ~ ~ ~
Rainosians:
Sergeant Steven- Crossbowman and unofficial leader of the Bull Clan war-band in the caves. Carries a sword and shield as well as his official weapon.
Sergeant William P. Farrer- Steven’s senior NCO, a one-eyed former helmsman for the Bull Clan’s navy.
Igor- Smooth-faced rookie and Steven’s second-cousin.
Sven- Fourth Rainosian picked up in Guaire.
Orcs/Goblins:
Axe-and-Shield Guy- Leader of the goblin miners.
Polearm-and-Beard Guy- Muscle for the group.
Felmont- Heavily-armored troll-wrangler (Spoiler alert!)
Other Guy- Weapons and Devices Master for the band.
Survivors:
Norel- Druid and leader of his tribe.
Argo- Archer.
Elon- Macewoman.
Gib- Wields a stone staff.
Other:
Gud- Relative of Dug, at least by species. (See The Tapping of Ironknuckles in the LOM or my Bull Knight Files.)



“Which way next, Igor?”
Steven peered ahead into the gloom of the tunnel. Branches and dead-ends, turn-arounds and the all-concealing darkness… nothing in this nightmarish landscape pleased the eye or calmed the mind.
“Take a right, Steven. No, wait a minute…”
“Which way are you holding – Shh! There’s a light ahead.”



The four soldiers approach the glow with caution, uncertain whether the owner of the light is friendly or decidedly not so.
“Well? What can you see?”
“Two groups, it looks like. They’re talking.”



Perhaps twenty feet below, at the bottom of a sizeable shaft with many branches, three dwarves and four orcs – or goblins, as Steven’s second self knew to be the proper term for the shorter, mine-dwelling variety of the green-hued race – stood uneasily on their respective sides.
“Where’s your sneaking archer? We don’t talk if we can’t see him!” an orc – goblin – with a two-headed axe demanded. He was answered by a dwarf in druidical garb.
“And we don’t talk without our insurance. Do you propose a compromise?”



No compromise was proposed, because at that point a scruffy dwarf noticed Steven’s torchlight beaming down from the fissure above.
“Hey! Look up there!”
“Quick! Get them!”



“What do we do?”
“Really, Igor? What do we do when outnumbered two-to-one in strange territory?”
“Er… Stand our ground?”
“We run. And quickly.”



“Left here!”



“This way!”





With a drawn-out series of grunts and thuds, a neck-high… uh, tripwire… brought the war-band to a painful halt. Lying in the darkness, the Rainosians reigned in their breath and listened for their pursuers. Harsh orc yells echoed through the caves, gradually diminishing as the hunters missed their turn and lost their quarry. Slowly, almost boiling over with relief, Steven’s band began to find its feet. Then…



Wyrd and hostile light flooded the corridor, and the dwarves ambushed the aliens as they struggled in the blinding glare. Steven drew his sword, and –



Thumps and clangs sounded as the natives beat on their newfound enemies, finding that shields and armor are enough to make up for the home-field advantage. Occasional bursts of weaponized magelight erupted from the shadowy dwarven druid, until one word broke through the concentration of the combatants.
“HOLD!”



A great amount of frenzied thought generally takes place when normally-rational people hear such a word spoken in a tone of authority in the middle of a battle. Much of it depends on the familiarity of the voice. If it comes from the throat of an ally, then there is probably a good reason for it. Unfortunately, obedience can be the difference between life and death. On the other hand, if the word is uttered by an enemy, then it is probable that the stranger has a purpose that, logically, is contrary to one’s own. Unfortunately, it is also possible when the meaning of the word is taken to mind that the purpose is mutually beneficial one, such as an attempt to prevent friendly stabbing.



Since the Rainosians knew and trusted Steven, who had uttered the sound; and the dwarves were cautious to a… man… the combat halted and the weir-glow cast a soft glow on the scene. Farrer lit the torch.
Steven had positioned the tip of his sword an inch above the throat of the diminutive druid, but his advantage was canceled by the presence of a dwarf archer, whose drawn bow made the crossbowman think frantically of his good and bad deeds in life and how they balanced out. The bowman in turn was threatened by Igor’s heavy battleaxe, which wavered in the air as its master struggled to keep it aloft. Nobody was pointing a sharp object at either Farrer or Igor, but Sven was in danger of being double-teamed in a corner.
“We seem to be at an impasse,” Sven commented.
“There’s always the Meidan solution,” offered the druid from the floor.
“What’s that?”
“We forget the whole thing and have dinner*.”
~ ~ ~



As novel as the historical reference was, no one seemed inclined to dispute it; least of all the four men whose lives had passed before their eyes in the previous few minutes. Within an hour the two parties found themselves in a much deeper and warmer part of the maze, shutting an ancient door behind them. The druid, Norel, invited his guests to lay their weapons down. Both minds of Steven, like most of the warriors in the room, were not quite ready to part with their protection.
“What is this? First you attack us with everything you have, and then you invite us home? I don’t see the reason in this,” he objected.



“Reason? The truest reasons of all,” Norel replied. “My friends fought to save themselves, fearing your violence; then I negotiated to save us all, fearing annihilation.”
“Save yourselves? From what?”



The scruffiest of the dwarves, reclining on a leather mattress, laughed mirthlessly. Steven (or his cleverer mental stowaway) put half and half together.
“We aren’t the first Rainosians to come this way, are we? That mace is of Guairish make, with a cut-off haft, and the exposed end is still fresh. There’s a fifth bedroll stashed in the corner, but there are four of you. You were attacked by my countrymen, and…”
“We lost one, he lost himself. You see that we have – had – no reason to spare giants.”



“Giants? That reminds me – how come a dwarf is using a bow? Hardly the weapon of choice for your people,” Sven asked.
“What did you call me, Rainosian?” the archer retorted, rising to his feet with a fighting gleam in his eye.
“Cool, Argo! And you, you shouldn’t think that merely because we’re trapped in this rat-trap and your kind happen to have abnormal height that we are… dwarves.”
“So you’re…”
Elves,” the longest-haired cave-dweller supplied not without a note of affronted dignity.
“El- Never mind. How do you mean, trapped?” Farrer asked.



“It’s a long story. I think it would go better over a meal.”



“Oh yeah, someone did mention dinner,” Igor remembered helpfully.



“Right… We have fresh Zila lizard slices. It hasn’t even coagulated yet,” Argo the Archer offered.



“Er… I think we brought our own food, actually.”
“Real food? From the surface?”



”This would go better with some ketchup.”
“Don’t talk about it, Sven; just try to swallow.”
“At least
they’re enjoying themselves. You’d think they’ve never seen bread in their life, the way they dig in.”
“Hey, Gib, that baguette is big enough for five. Share some with us, would you?”



When all had eaten as much as they could (for some because all available food was gone; for others because all edible food was gone), Norel apologized for his people.
“Forgive us,” he said, “it’s been so long since we have tasted the fruit of the sun and the sky.”
“Yeah, what are elves doing so deep underground, anyhow?” Farrer asked.
“And why are you so sh- Oof!” Igor added, with Steven’s elbow helping.
“We’re lost,” the one called Gib said, speaking for the first time. All eyes turned to him.
“We have been for a long time,” the disheveled elf continued. His haunted eyes took on a deeper look, and focused on the wall as he began to recount a story from memory. “For who-knows-how-many years. I was young when we first ventured into this pit; there were more of us then. Six-and-fifty, or so Norel says, all noble and clean.
“They were trying to escape the trouble in Mythron. Bad times, the excuses were. One month the dwarves and grers were seen as a nuisance to be purged; the next it was the elves or the orcs. They said that the ports were closed to us, and that this secret way was the best passage to heathen Rainos, where the hand of the tyrant was not quite so firm.
“Seven-and-ten died in the first days, either to the monstrous insects that swarmed the entrance or to the evil spirit of the passage itself, which separated them from the group or made them fall to their dooms. Eight died later on, as the torches began to go out and thirst and Zila thinned the ranks. Four-and-ten died in the last stage of the journey, crossing the drain to the Deep Halls, from exhaustion and the clumsiness it brings.
“Two died as the Halls were made habitable, fallen to sickness. One was born much time later, and the same one died within hours. She was the last new elf to come into the darkness. Eight died in the years that followed, some to Zila and some to despair.”
Gib’s voice changed as newer information was recalled, increasing in pitch and breaking.
“One died in the year past, run through by a curious orc. One died in the year past, run down by an armored giant. One died in the year past, stabbed in the back by an orc while avenging her husband upon an armored giant. Four died in the days not yet come, but they were green of skin and black of blood, and when their entrails-“
A calming hand from each of Gib’s companions stopped the grisly monologue, and nothing save the sound of distant dripping was heard.
“But there is a way out,” Farrer said urgently. “Two of them, if my grandfather’s map is correct. One leads to Rainos, the other to our destination in Mythron. If you can align this map with your knowledge of the terrain, you can lead all of us out of here.”
“By the gods, here are the Halls as clear as… day! I can see the Drain… that is the way must have come, and there is the way we entered. Ah,” Norel sighed. “The entrances are close together, and both are covered by orc territory, and they will be on guard now that you fellows are running about. Gaining passage will be difficult.”
~ ~ ~



“Six. What do you have?”
“Two. We really need to get smaller dice, Farrer.”



“And you really should have learned not to build fires in open areas when there are enemies about, barbarian,” hissed a voice from the shadows. The green-hatted sergeant yawned.
“Enemies, my foot. Our fire drew you in like moths, and now we are ready to deal. By the way, you really should learn to count your ‘enemies’; there are four of us present.”



“Do not neglect to notice the crossbows, gentlemen,” Farrer continued, “the only truly powerful weapons in this refuse-hole.”
“What do you want from us, human?” the leader of the goblins rasped as his men tried to back away from the lethal points of the quarrels.
“We’re making a deal,” Igor answered. “Whatever you have for one of our crossbows. We figured out why you haven’t driven those dwarves out of here long ago- they have long-range weapons that can hit you any time you light a fire to hunt them. You only have access to rock, ore, and whatever disgusting Zila lizards you kill here, so there’s no way for you to build a similar device. Our crossbows shoot farther than their pathetic little toy, and with the strength to pierce the strongest steel armor. With one of these, you can rule the deep.”
“And what do you want in return?”
“These cost two hundred pounds of silver apiece in Rainos, but considering the situation we will take one hundred ninety and your permission for all Rainosians to come and go as we please for a time period of three months.”



“You exaggerated your price, human. We have here one hundred pounds of silver, conveniently loaded in a trolley for easy transportation. We also offer open borders to all Rainosians for the time period of twenty-eight days, as measured by the effect of the moon on the tides of the cave pools. That is our best offer.”
“Double the time and you have a deal.”
“Done. And your end?”
“The weapon’s parts are in that alcove above us. It should be no problem for craftsmen like those of your race to reassemble. It has been a pleasure doing business with you.”



“This bunker has been our home for many years, but I cannot say I will be sad to see the last of it. More importantly, you refuse to take us to Rainos?”
“We have orders to make our way to Mythron with all haste. Besides, we have friends there- a Rainosian king in Falmore and his men. He has forests aplenty, and will be glad to take you in.”
“Alas, the way is longer to Mythron than to Rainos, but we will lead you all the same.”



Laden with Zila meat, silver, and other useful parts of the Zila, the new company of eight traveled westwards and upwards to the corridor referred to as “The Drain”.



“Why do you call this place ‘The Drain’?”
“It drains the place and keeps us breathing. There’s an ocean above us, and at high tide it comes cascading down alongside of us. We aren’t flooded because this pit goes all the way down.”
“All the way to where?”
“Out the bottom of the world, we think. Anything that falls down there… is lost.”



“Hey! Watch your step, or someone’s going to be sorry!”
“Argo, shh! This man has an arrow in him.”



“The goblins betrayed us! Kill the light!”



“Hey, uh, Steven? If we put the torch out, what’s that?”



Another crossbow bolt shattered against the ceiling.
“They have us from both ends- one with your crossbow, and the other with a fire that shows our silhouettes to the archer.”
“No point losing our sight while they keep theirs. Take cover; I’m lighting a torch.”



Steven’s hitchhiking second mind quickly found a hole in the goblins’ strategy.
“Tend to Sven. If he’s dead, give me his crossbow and give his helmet, armor, and shield to one of the elves. They don’t have any at all. Now, didn’t you say there were only four goblins?”
“Uh… four orcs, but that’s not all they have.”



A stone-rattling roar burst out from the direction of the flames.
“A troll. Great. Argo and Norel, return fire and see if you can keep that crossbowman down. It doesn’t matter if you can’t see him as long as he knows he’s a target. Ah, thank you, Farrer.”



“The crossbow isn’t all Sven had on him, Steve. He also had the trigger mechanism for the one we sold the orcs.”
“So we betrayed them. That doesn’t change much; hold down the fort while I go visit that troll.”



As he traced his way back through the tunnels by the light of the orcs’ bonfire, Steven wondered who had cut these tunnels, and why. If only he could read the name on Farrer’s map-
It says, “Ae Mappe of the King’s Way.”
Oh, great. Now I can read, too. How will I surprise me next?
ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE ACTION SEQUENCE
It had been hot where the elves had lived in the Halls – that was probably why they didn’t wear much more than Zila-skin trousers, Steven deduced – but the first chamber beyond the Drain was blisteringly so. Clad in black armor and led by a goblin stood a great, horned mountain troll. In one hand it held a flaming flail, and in the other a more conventional battle-axe to make sure whatever job it took was done properly. Considering its bulk, sharp teeth, and sheer power, it probably didn’t need any weapons at all.









Steven charged his adversary.









He leapt.









THWOCK.


.
.
.



.
.
.







“Seriously? I just executed the biggest, ugliest troll in all the Deeps and you get out your sword? Put the chopper down and come with me.”
END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE END ACTION SEQUENCE
~ ~ ~



“Hey, someone’s standing in the light! Shoot!”
“DON’T SHOOT!”
“Darn. I missed.”



A cart rolled up to the unpleasantly startled goblins.
“Felmont? What happened?”
“Don’t point that thing at me!”



“Thank you. Now put your hands up, and your buddy here can tell you what he saw on the other side of the Drain.”



A bitter meeting soon took place in the hall that had formerly been used as the far end of the trap. The elves wanted to slaughter the orcs, but the Rainosians wouldn’t hear of it.
“One of our men broke our pact with you, and you killed him for it. Here is the part he took, although I can see you improvised. You will keep that, and we will take the silver. A warning, however: We are the second of many Rainosians to come this way. Half our nation’s warriors are coming through these tunnels with orders to kill any outlaws they find, and you have no way of resisting them without your troll. I’d make myself scarce if I were you, and I wouldn’t come into Mythron, either. I’m holding back Norel’s elves now for the sake of mending our bargain, but there will be nothing to stop them if they see you again. Also, if you think of ambushing us on our way out, think of your troll first. It has not been pleasant meeting you, and I hope to prevent any repetition of this encounter. Nevertheless, good luck… you’ll need it.”
With that cheery warning, Steven followed his band up and out of the Deep Halls, and eventually out of the entire tunnel system into Mythron… but there are no MOCs for that part of the story. Until later, The End.
~ ~ ~
Walls, Forth!
Oddly enough, fixed structures refuse to march on command. Anyway, I’m here to talk about this – these – MOCs and give you some more pictures. After all of that rockwork, I am now sick of the technique and will be using some plain, white surroundings in the immediate future. I recalled a technique I used for a since-deleted BioMOC page’s storyline for the chamber where the elves and orcs met for negotiations, and then progressed downhill until I hardly used any of the random rock-forms at all in the chamber where the goblins were lurking with the crossbow.
The action sequence had some epic action. Aside from the poor cropping, I’m thrilled with it, especially Steven’s landing pose. Combined with the way his heater (triangular shield, for those of you who are not versed in the secrets of medieval weaponry) and sword strap to his back and come out in times of battle, Steven reminds me of a much more famous hero who wears green, can’t shave, and looks considerably more like an elf than any of my minifigures….
The troll battle was set up for black light, and looks magnificent when so illuminated, but my camera phone refuses to see the world the way I do. I’m including a picture anyway.
I also used heavy, crude walls on the outsides of many of these scenes to prevent light from shining in from behind, as some pictures show.
Many scenes were shot in a closet with a flashlight and a Mars Mission trans-orange cockpit for complete control of lighting.
Most of the floors use 1x6x5 wall elements arranged in SNOT fashion for a smooth surface.
I was very careless on the troll-battle shooting, and sometimes the pictures show the workshop beyond my white backgrounds as well as the trays of bricks I used to elevate the diorama for reasons I can’t recall. Forgive me.
I went for an ancient rather than medieval look for the masonry because a civilization older and madder than Mythron built them.
The elves do not look particularly elfish, but they’ve been living in caves for twenty years or so and I recently swapped my boxer minifigure’s gloves for normal hands and wanted to use the torso somewhere. It ended up on the druid, and the other four had less-ornate pieces from Tarzan and a pair of mer-folk.
I think I’m done talking, because it is 1:13 A.M. where I live and I haven’t started uploading pictures yet. This page has about four thousand words and sixty-eight pictures, according to Microsoft Word. Isn’t that exciting?



































…and I end with a preview of the next MOC, which has very simple terrain and a gentle battle with an enchanted giant.

*The actual result of the First Battle of Meids, in which the local kings Albus the Wide-Eyed and William the Obsessor arranged a battle to determine the lordship of the future city-state only to find that none of their thanes or men-at-arms could be bothered to attend. The two chieftains and their bodyguards stood sheepishly watching each other from opposite sides of the field until sunset, when they gave up their quarrel and retired to Albus’ castle to discuss the flaws in the feudal system. Of course, this is an irrelevant detail that you probably didn’t care to know.



Comments

 I like it 
  July 23, 2013
Actually... I thought pretty much all of the pictures were cool.
 I like it 
  July 20, 2013
Excellent. Very Nice caves, and I loved the archways in the halls. The story was long, but worth the read.
 I like it 
  July 20, 2013
Such cool builds! Unfortunately I I'm doubtful the time to read all of that, and I'm doubtful others will unless they have 30 minutes of free time :/ Great work nonetheless!
 I like it 
  July 19, 2013
Holy moly, this was a quite the endeavor! Nice twist with the subterranean elves and the conflict below i was expecting the story to be over after you ate! Loved the flip shot too :). Sounds like i may be seeing more barbarians over in Mythron, i shall keep an eye out :P
  July 19, 2013
Good! But a suggestion, try shortening the length! It took me like 30 seconds just to scroll down the page:O -Brick Boy
 
By Gilbert Despathens
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LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop Part 10: Rogue Challenge: Dealings in the DarkCastle


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