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LOM UC: Inside the Black Knight Tavern
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There are plenty of strong entries to this month's challenge and Brick might dock some of my points because I took the chance to fit in some writing practice and flesh out my story (although I sincerely hope he doesn't), but this is my modest entry to the Tensions Rising challenge and the start of Steven's last trip to Mythron.
About this creation
The Cast

-King Bartok of Rainos, the man in the shiny armor

Cedric the Bull's New Model Army:
-Sir Steven, the scruffy protagonist
-Cedric the Bull, flamboyantly-dressed warlord
-William Farrer, Steven's closest friend
-Igor, Steven's younger cousin

The Dragons' Delegation:
-Hector Darkbeard, Archdruid of Hadran
-Sir Jim, a half-elf dragon from the south
-Dame Lenore, another half-elf dragon from the south
-Generic dragons in red-and-black

Other Rainosians of Note:
-Alonso III, long-haired king of the Ibers
-William the Scarred, orc warlord, and his troops
-A Boar knight
-Two Stealth Clan stooges, one with a knighthood
-A rugged messenger

Part 1 of 2: The Accolade

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Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.

"Rise, Dame Lenore the Dragon, knight of Rainos."

The king dealt a tired punch and the drinkers doggedly bashed their hands together for the last dubbing of the day, and the dazed Dragon Knight staggered back to his comrades, rubbing the growing lump on his head. Steven sidestepped away from his post as a new knight of the realm as soon as he was sure that the ceremony was over and made his way back to his tankard.
He didn't have anything in particular on his mind as he sipped the light southern mead; he merely wanted to relax after standing at attention for half an hour in close proximity to a roaring fire.

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Perhaps alerted to his presence by the increased aroma of woodsmoke (or perhaps merely seeking an end to her neighbor's discussion), the soldier across the table turned to the newly-made Bull Knight.
"You were one of the first people knighted today, weren't you?" she asked. Although part of Steven was looking only for a nap, he was by no means incapable of making conversation, especially when the other person had the nicest face at the table.
"Yes," he answered. "Sir Steven, son of George, son of Steven."
It was the best reply he could come up with. Despite his months of travel all over the Lands of Mythron, he had not yet mastered the art of speaking to women. Back home, he was related to everyone; furthermore, he had lacked the courage to say a word to the first girl he met and had been prevented from making any other friends by a series of disasters, calamities and battles. He knew Elon fairly well by now, but she didn't count - Elon and Argo were so obsessed with each other that he wouldn't have seen them as normal people even if they had been human. Taking his soporific state into account, Steven thought he was doing great at present.

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"So, how did you get to be a knight? Beyond the obvious answer with the king dubbing you, that is."
Steven smiled and opened his mouth without bothering to think.
"It's not that hard. Just kill more people on the other side than they kill on yours. Murder wins every time."
Both halves of Steven stopped in their tracks and replayed what his rebel mouth had said. He could see the conversationalist becoming less comfortable. Apparently she was not yet as hardened as most of the Black Knight's clientele.
Steven forged blindly ahead, hoping to explain.
"It took five for me. A sailor of the Mythronian navy, two Outlaws during the truce, a cave troll and a spirit in a suit of armor. Those were the ones who I killed with my own hands... who knows how many other poor saps died because of my orders..."

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He was spared from further awkwardness by the beginnings of an argument. Talk of spring campaigns had led to discussion of winter raids, and at that point a knight of the MacFiercests accused William the Scarred of leading attacks on his fellow Rainosians. The warlord parried with an insult, and the soldier across from Steven rose to stand with her mistress.
"You accuse me of taking what is left unguarded, but I say that if not for the notorious laxity of the MacFiercest knights, your pathetic little valley would not be unguarded in the first place!" William roared. Cedric the Bull and some Iber delegates nodded to show their approval.

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"I can see why you agree, Lord Cedric; if you had your way, the whole of Northern Rainos would fly your flag," commented a Dragon wizard.

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"Fair words from a man whose clan fills half of Rainos!" the leader of Steven's clan retorted. A Stealth Clan lackey chose that moment to enter the debate.
"Pardon the animal pun, but that statement is a load of b-"

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She never finished because an inebriated Boar mis-forecasted the conclusion of her quip and made good use of his tankard. All would have ended with a hearty group laugh had the surprised assassin not counterattacked with a double-ended flail, downing the offender with a physical rebuke. Steven's friend, Farrer, tried to stop her from striking again, but his intervention raised protests among the merry Dragons, who were fruited in turn by an indignant Iber.

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With two general parties delineated, the tavern brawl began in earnest. When Farrer took a sword slash to the knee, Steven, second personality taking dominance, stepped into his place. The flails came back into play, but the knight could tell that his adversary had some difficulty coordinating her attacks with so many weapons in hand. He dodged one swing and blocked a swipe before the inevitable opportunity presented itself: If he lowered his guard momentarily, he could cut his enemy's throat before she could bring her tools to bear.

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Before he could raise his sword, a vision shook loose in the depths of his mind. Steven found himself back in his first battle, aboard the province of Carthal's proud Eagle. As the sounds of death reached his ears, he noticed the ballista at his side turn to face him and caught sight of a young sailor's mad grimace of bloodlust. As Steven's fingers jerked his trigger, he found himself vaulting down the stairs of a tavern in Falmor after the body of a dwarf. His sword took a second life with a brief snicker-snack and he recalled his own words. "Murder wins every time."

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Back in the Black Knight, the five-time killer stopped his sword and felt the smooth side of a flail's ball collide with his shoulder, which gave in with a painful snap. That was the price of mercy, Steven reflected. Mailed arms grabbed him and the ninja, pushing them apart. Elsewhere in the public house, red-coated soldiers brought an end to the brawl, and a commanding figure in green and silver appeared on the balcony. As the clan lords scowled at the king's rant (which would have been quite moving had the Rainosians not been too busy concealing their shame to listen), Steven noticed the lady he had spoken with a minute before eyeing his limp left arm - perhaps she could tell why the sword in his other hand was not red with blood.

Part 2 of 2: The Quest

A few days after the ceremony, even the legendary hospitality of the Black Knight servers was wearing thin. The food, drink and stay was free for soldiers and warriors of all kinds, but that didn't mean that they could live there. That was how Sir Steven and his crew came to be eating their last breakfast in Iremore when the letter arrived.

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"Letter for one James the Dragon?" rasped a messenger, stamping snow off his shoes. Glistening powder showered off and turned to droplets in the heat of the fire, hissing as they struck hearthstones. The words, much louder, trotted across the table, up the walls and through the rafters, then echoed back to their sender having found no sign of one James the Dragon.
"Out for a hunt," Bill commented between bites of oatmeal.
"This is for him. Let him know, would ya? I'm gonna rest the feet a while where it's warm."

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The envelope looped lazily through the air to fall in front of Steven. He speculated on the condition of its paper, smudged and dirty with spots of salt from its long journey over a wintry sea, and turned his eyes to its handwriting. The pen-marks contorted into gentle, open twists, suggesting a woman's hand and spelling out an address in Falmor. Casting his mind relaxedly into the past, the knight revisited his visits to the province - his journey down from the King's Way opening to the giant's well, the march south to Iber land, the excursion to a haunted fortress and the eastward trek to the fall of Tomeu; then his first arrival and hasty departure, a perilous scuttle through forests and up creeks to the very city of Falmor, where only a brief detour to a nearby town had stayed his and Farrer's voyage to Rainos... what had that cross-roads been called?
Suddenly active, Steven compared the name in his recollections to the address on the letter and he pulled more memories of what he had once thought to be his last battle. There had been dragons there, too, of the southern kind that mixed with elves and wore green with their black, and one of them had been a special favorite of the innkeeper's daughter. Taking this in, he settled down to wait for the absent dragon.

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At noon when the hunting party returned, Steven quickly rose to his feet.
"Jim, read this!" he said, extending his arm with the intriguing message.

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Sir James, who had become loosely reacquainted with Steven during their stay at the Black Knight, opened the letter. He was young for human or for a half-elf, and it was clear that he did not know what to make of the script. After a minute, he yelled in surprise.
"This is from that girl in Falmor! I mentioned writing, but she never sent a letter until now. This is a call for help - she's going to be married to a local soldier this spring to settle her family's debt and she's asking me to help her - but how can I get to Mythron in time to stop it?" the dragon exclaimed aloud.

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"This is an outrage!" an orc declared. "Selling your family into slavery is one thing, but forcing a marriage is barbaric in the extreme. My sir, if you but nod, my sword is yours in this cause."

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A Boar, a hot-blooded Dracu, took up the call next.
"I'll see justice done here, if I have to pass the very gates of Falmor Town to do it!"

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Steven's cousin, Igor, awoke from his doze on the rug at the Boar's proclamation.
"What? Is something going on? Let me in on it!"

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Even the bearer of the message recovered sufficiently from his journey to swear to another trip to Mythron to right this wrong.

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As Sir Jim found a team of ready volunteers, Steven mulled the matter over. On one hand, it meant a trip into enemy territory with a fair chance of violence. On the other hand, it gave him a solid excuse to avoid any orders from Cedric's New Model Army, so it might be the most peaceful solution after all.

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"Sir Jim, you have swords aplenty for your quest, and I offer a ship to carry them. The Krak will sail for Falmore at noon tomorrow!" Steven volunteered. With any luck, this mission of honor would be more fortunate than any of his campaigns of war.

Fourth Wall
This build has been sitting in my mind since November, when I was finished with my UCA build and I wanted another way to stretch my collection. Over the months I have had a few false starts and many changes of plan as well as about a hundred and fifty dollars of new Lego, and the final result is something I can be proud of. Nevertheless, there's a lot of strong competition in this month's challenge, so I can only hope that I will win a place (and no, Halhi, the LOM admins are not allowed to judge their own entries).

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Oh, the glories of cheese... You might have to look at it funny, but the hearthstones are arranged to look like a dragon. Wings, tail, legs, head, fire - see it?

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The above picture may be my favorite shot of this MOC.

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The lighting set-up deserves a round of applause. Not for me - for the handkerchief, a survivor of the ages that has resurfaced as a useful tool even in the Kleenex epoch.

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In case you were wondering about that strange patch of floor, I had a central post there until I realized that it obstructed certain camera angles.



Comments

 I like it 
  March 29, 2014
Gilbert, is it all right if I use your green plant technique as a wall decor on my next creation?
  March 24, 2014
Oooh, just noticed the dragon mosaic. I guess Halhi got that from you too! I think he likes your tavern a lot. :P
  March 23, 2014
Just thinking - it may have been a good idea to put bley tiles instead of brown underneath the last row of diagonal 2x2s, just so the transition from stone floor to wood isn't as odd-looking.
 I made it 
  March 15, 2014
Quoting Halhi 141 Sorry for yet another comment, but since I'm using this for inspiration for my AC entry, just noticed this: why is there no overall picture of the scene? Sure, there's the picture with the lighting setup, but other than that... Oh, and thanks for the very detailed critique on my latest, that's given me a lot to think about. I'll have to repay you likewise someday...
I wondered why I didn't take a picture like that when I went back through my pictures, but I think it was a matter of inability to take an overall picture. It was harder than it sounds.
  March 15, 2014
Sorry for yet another comment, but since I'm using this for inspiration for my AC entry, just noticed this: why is there no overall picture of the scene? Sure, there's the picture with the lighting setup, but other than that... Oh, and thanks for the very detailed critique on my latest, that's given me a lot to think about. I'll have to repay you likewise someday...
 I like it 
  February 26, 2014
Great work, I really like the pattern of a dragon in the SNOTted cheese.
 I like it 
  February 19, 2014
amazing attention to detail.
  February 8, 2014
I agree with Kai - how can this get only 35 likes, whereas your Raid build got over 100? It boggles the mind...
 I made it 
  February 6, 2014
Quoting Kai Bernstein No! It can't stop here! This has to become your second most popular moc. I'll promote it everywhere. :P
Thanks.
 I like it 
  February 6, 2014
Wow, this is absolutely stunning. You are an unrecognized genius. Well done!
  February 6, 2014
No! It can't stop here! This has to become your second most popular moc. I'll promote it everywhere. :P
 I like it 
  February 3, 2014
Such a great MOC! You used a whole bunch of neat techniques here! One of my favorites from you!
 I like it 
  February 2, 2014
Finished it! Very well writen!
 I made it 
  February 2, 2014
Quoting Halhi 141 Yet another look...I don't know how many times I've viewed this MOC already, I just love it so much. The colors' atmosphere is really inspiring. Oh, and those cheese mosaics are harder than they look - just making a simple oval rug and an M took me quite a while, mainly due to the amount of friction when putting the last pieces together and the fiddliness putting the rest together. That dragon is awesome by the way.
Thanks. I think that two cheese pieces must be slightly more than one square stud when they're put together - the trigonometry doesn't work out. I thought they would slot together nicely for the rug, but no... since I put some so that the slant was closer to vertical, they pop up if you aren't careful.
  February 1, 2014
Yet another look...I don't know how many times I've viewed this MOC already, I just love it so much. The colors' atmosphere is really inspiring. Oh, and those cheese mosaics are harder than they look - just making a simple oval rug and an M took me quite a while, mainly due to the amount of friction when putting the last pieces together and the fiddliness putting the rest together. That dragon is awesome by the way.
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Amazing details everywhere. Especially the floor and walls. Love it all. And the story's good, too. I agree with Halhi. Some people don't really focus on their stories too much. I'm a totally different case, though. :P I joined LOM because of a chance to write. And it's been super fun, too.
 I made it 
  February 1, 2014
Quoting Thomas of Tortuga Really nice job on this- if it passes 100, it'll be completely deserved. Embedding from Flickr really helps the photos pop, and the lighting and focus are flawless in every picture. The detail on the overhead rooms are wonderful, especially the green and black banners. The story is quite good, and very interesting to read. This was a real pleasure to look at, Gilbert- great job.
Thanks, Thomas.
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Really nice job on this- if it passes 100, it'll be completely deserved. Embedding from Flickr really helps the photos pop, and the lighting and focus are flawless in every picture. The detail on the overhead rooms are wonderful, especially the green and black banners. The story is quite good, and very interesting to read. This was a real pleasure to look at, Gilbert- great job.
  February 1, 2014
I must say, you are a legendary master of medieval interiors.
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Beautiful work, Gilbert. The architecture, the techniques, and the story are all excellent. So realistic, and the amount of detail here is incredible.
 I made it 
  February 1, 2014
Quoting Ryan Kayton I see the Dragon. Brilliant use of bricks, mini figures and story. This is the first story MOC to include the Dracu!
Thanks, I needed some reason to give that guy red eyes.
 I made it 
  February 1, 2014
Quoting Halhi 141 Oh, and now that I've gotten that over with, this is probably my favorite LOM MOC ever! The level of detail (cheese! Cheese! Cheese!) is just fantastic, the colors are great, and the 2x2 tile floor with the gaps looks amazing. The story is fantastic too, nice to see someone that's valuing the story in addition to the build, rather than as that little unimportant last minute few words that nobody really cares about anyway (*cough*Freeling*cough*). Amazing work!
Whoa - I was not expecting that. Thank you, Halhi.
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Fantastic work! Great details everywhere!
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Wow. Just wow.
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Gotta go scoop my brain after looking at this, cause my mind was blown away.
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Fantastic MOC. So many wonderful details. I like the 3 piece mugs you made, very cool.
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
So many superb structural details! From the floor to the walls, this MOC is expertly made!
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Wow! Just looking at this, I really get the warm sense of a tavern. The build is great, I love it, and the only thing I'm wondering is why you didn't attach the roots in those white panels with the dark-green and black roots and the 1x1 brown plate...
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Awesome! Both the build and the Story and great! I like all the small details and the tankards was a cool design.
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Nice build Gilbert, however, in the future please wait till the challenge is officially announced.
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Amazing job Gilbert, every part of this build is extremely well done.
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Great job! Incredible texturing! I like all the details packed into this build. Good luck!
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Yup. That is incredible.
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
While however gorgeous this is, it's really quite stnp1d to say that "anyone can build it in advance" That's called making unnecessary excuses, Gilbert. Because if everyone built something in advance like this, we'd just stop having challenges and give out random awards every month for the best builds. People won't wait for the challenges to come out any more, they'll just have incredible builds started, (like this one) finish it off and enter it into the challenge. Like David FNJ said in the main group, "almost any castle-themed build could be related to the category by a simple story". And there isn't a way to say I'm afraid of losing because I didn't enter. All the cheating and unfairness aside, incredible build. Techniques everywhere, and everything looks realistic. My eldest sister thought it was a real room!
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
I see the Dragon. Brilliant use of bricks, mini figures and story. This is the first story MOC to include the Dracu!
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
very clean build! i really like the fireplace area
  February 1, 2014
Oh, and now that I've gotten that over with, this is probably my favorite LOM MOC ever! The level of detail (cheese! Cheese! Cheese!) is just fantastic, the colors are great, and the 2x2 tile floor with the gaps looks amazing. The story is fantastic too, nice to see someone that's valuing the story in addition to the build, rather than as that little unimportant last minute few words that nobody really cares about anyway (*cough*Freeling*cough*). Amazing work!
 I made it 
  February 1, 2014
Quoting Professor B. Incredible build! I wasn't able to read all of it (have to hit the sack soon), but it sounds so cool! I'm excited to finish it!
I'm glad you're liking it so far. Let me know how my storytelling is.
 I like it 
  February 1, 2014
Incredible build! I wasn't able to read all of it (have to hit the sack soon), but it sounds so cool! I'm excited to finish it!
 I made it 
  January 31, 2014
Quoting Halhi 141 I already know that the judges don't judge their own entries... Anyway, great build, but I don't see how it's fair to the other competitors that you started this in advance. IMO it's like in any other contest, where building in advance is considered unfair and usually not allowed...
It's fair because everyone has an equal chance to do it. Some people like to build in short periods of time, and I like to stretch some of mine out.
 I like it 
  January 31, 2014
I already know that the judges don't judge their own entries... Anyway, great build, but I don't see how it's fair to the other competitors that you started this in advance. IMO it's like in any other contest, where building in advance is considered unfair and usually not allowed...
 I made it 
  January 31, 2014
Quoting Stephen Boe Dude, the detail in this build is just amazing! There's so much to look at, and I'm especially eyeing those cheese slope patterns on the angled walls. That's inspiration right thar. Also, that orc with the stylish hair, hottie.
Thanks, the orc is one of my repeat minifigures. That hairpiece can make any minifigure look feminine, whether it's a troll sorceress with a giant, bulging eye or George Marshall's sig-fig.
 I made it 
  January 31, 2014
Quoting Graham Gidman, Kai Bernstain and Toa Infernum
That was fast - this build has been online for all of sixty seconds and it has three comments. Maybe I can pass a hundred on this one, too? Thanks, everyone.
 I like it 
  January 31, 2014
Dude, the detail in this build is just amazing! There's so much to look at, and I'm especially eyeing those cheese slope patterns on the angled walls. That's inspiration right thar. Also, that orc with the stylish hair, hottie.
 I like it 
  January 31, 2014
Wow, this is amazing!
 I like it 
  January 31, 2014
Phenomenal, Gilbert. Just fantastic. All your builds are, but you've really outdone yourself this time.
 I like it 
  January 31, 2014
Wow! Great job Gilbert! Great work on the chees rug! I think this'll be a winner! :D
 
By Gilbert Despathens
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