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Part 7: Universal Challenge: The Tapping of Ironknuckles
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First of all, this is a sibling-build with the Object of Legend’s “The Caravan’s Betrayal” (http://www.mocpages.com/moc.php/364230). Second of all, join Rainos in the Lands of Mythron (http://www.mocpages.com/group.php/22392)!
About this creation
~ ~ ~ The Cast of Today’s MOC ~ ~ ~

Outlaws and Caravan Members:
The Honorable John Ironknuckles- A two-fisted, one-eyed dwarf and master of the caravan.
Sozo- A grer with a grey face and wild hair. (The Object of Legend’s sig-fig.)
Derfel- An orc and Sozo’s companion, depicted here with a brown cloak.
Brad- A human with a troll helmet and a grey fur-and-mail shirt with red sleeves. Also one of Sozo’s companions.
-Other Disreputable Members of the Caravan-

“Barbarians” of Rainos:
Arcturus of Byin- Cloaked, half-elven captain of his band from the Dragon Clan.
Steven- Unshaven, two-eyed Bull Clan soldier. (My sig-fig)
William Farrer- Unshaven, one-eyed Bull Clan soldier and last surviving companion of Steven.
-Other Semi-Reputable Dragon Clansmen-

Mythronian Armed Forces:
Fertence the Wizzard-Grey-robed magical officer in the Carthalian army who seems to pop up rather often.
-A Number of Downright Scurvy Professional Soldiers of Carthal and Falmor-

Civilians:
Gilbert Despathens- Wandering storyteller, if you can spot him.
Jack Throettrsonsonson- Dwarf innkeeper with a black beard, husband of Alice.
Elenore Throettrsonsonson- Human with a mole, wife of Jack.
Ella Jacksdaughter- Freckly teen.
-A single Orc villager near the caravan-



You’ll never believe what happened today. Or maybe you would, depending on who’s reading, but I can hardly manage it, and I was there. It started with a knock at the door, an hour before the crack of dawn…
Ella Jacksdaughter knew of one beginning, but for Private Steven of Rainos, this chapter in his adventures began the evening before, when he and Bill Farrer met with Arcturus of Byin, a captain of the Dragon Clan. He offered them passage back to Rainos
To the surprise of the two sailors of the Bull Clan, when they turned out with their green-clad comrades the next day, the company’s captain opened dialogue with a pair of watchmen of Falmor Town, discussing a dwarf’s wagon train that was suspected to be transporting fugitives from the law across Mythron. The words, “price per head,” stood out above all others.
Now, back to the previous beginning…



KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK.



KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK.



KNOCK, KN-
“All right, I’m coming. Can’t anyone read in these parts? Well, I know they can’t, but that sign that says ‘Closed’ is there for a reason, all the same….”
“Open up! John Ironknuckles sent us.”



“John who?”



“I think you’d best open it, Jack.”
“What? Oh, very well, Elenore…”



“Thank you very much for your cooperation with the law, sir! If you would simply place your hands on your head- if they can reach, ha ha- we’ll arrest you at once on the charges of aiding and… er… something… ”
”Aiding and abetting enemies of the crown, sarge.”



“Yes, that’s it. Obeying enemies of the crown, namely a smuggler and brigand known as John Ironknuckles. Will you please put your hands on your head, or will I have to have someone bonk you?”
“What! I assure you, sir, that no one in this house is guilty of any such thing. Nora, do you know these men?”
“I…”
Steven watched the drama with mild interest. Clearly, the innkeeper’s wife knew something about the situation, though the crossbowman would have been very much surprised if she knew the Dragon Clan sergeant. Gradually, the woman let the story out to her husband and the temporary representatives of the law- something about a little bit of extra income, storing goods in the cellar, and so on. While the dwarf’s face fell with his collapsing life, the jovial sergeant became even more cheerful.
“That’s it, then,” he declared at the end of the story. “Marital issues. The good, er, man here is innocent, and no one would be so low as to arrest a lady, so the case is resolved. We don’t arrest anybody, and you give my men control of your inn for the rest of the day in return.”



Seeing the couple’s confusion, the NCO added, “As a defensive position. There’s an operation to arrest Ironknuckles when he comes through today, and I need snipers upstairs in the northeast corner, if you don’t mind.”



The acquitted smuggleress - Steven wasn’t sure if that was a word, and gave it the benefit of the doubt – insisted on leading the crossbowmen herself, for reasons that became apparent.



“Ella, are you decent?”
A dreadful groan came from the other side of the wall. Steven wondered if there was a werewolf lodging within, but it was followed by a human (if irritable) voice.
“The sun’s not up yet, mother! What sort of decent person has business being decent at-“



“Oh… hello.”
“Hel-lo,” answered one of the dragon soldiers, and laughed in a gentle manner that somehow made everyone a little more at ease.
“Ella, take some clothes and dress in my room. These gentlemen need your room as a stronghold of some sort,” the mother snapped, but with bite than she would have without the emerald crossbowman. Steven noted that fact, and the instant horror of the daughter that resulted from the latter sentence- knowing adolescents, her personal quarters were probably a mess.
Hold on, how do I know that? I’ve never had a room to myself in my life, Steven wondered.



Unnervingly, the suspicion proved to be dead-on. Old bits of food, personal belongings, pages covered with writing, and a few drawings of fierce-looking-but-clean men either dressed in armor or depicted without shirts littered the carpet, counters, and four-posted bed. As the alien new part of Steven’s conscious laughed cynically at the details, the part that Steven thought of as “Steven” realized with a start that he might be poster-material at this point. Scruffy stubble, military uniform, and a bath within the past week - yes, it all checked out.




Defeating Farrer in a coin flip for the second watch, the private returned to the first floor, where the sergeant and his men were enjoying a generous breakfast.
“How’s the view?” the squad’s leader asked. “Can you cover the main road from there?”
“We can certainly hit anything we want to with the ballista,” Steven replied, “and the smaller bows will reach well enough.”
“Good.” The dragon soldier finished his drink. “I will leave the shooters under the command of your Sergeant Farrer and go meet Arcturus. Remember, Ironknuckles has used this as a safehouse – he might try to return to it.”
Steven answered with a brief laugh.
“Given the size of his reception committee, I doubt if he’ll make it that far.”
The sergeant and his axe-men departed, leaving a noble tip to cover the expenses of all the Rainosians.



The day wore on with no sign of the anticipated caravan. At noon, Farrer and the other man upstairs switched positions with Steven and another soldier, who appeared to have some form of OCD.



“Is it polite to tidy one’s host’s bedroom?” Steven inquired suspiciously.
“I can’t help it. One more minute sitting in here with rotten apple cores and goodness knows what else…”
Steven wasn’t listening. He had seen movement in the distance.



“Get the others! Ironknuckles is coming!” he shouted suddenly. (His partner swore as rotten apple cores and goodness knows what else flew into the air.)



A summary of the battle to come:
The caravan pulled in and sold its wares for two hours while beasts and travelers alike had a chance to rest. As the goods were being packed up again, the three troops assigned to deal with the caravan raced to the scene, driven by the promise of profit per decapita. Someone quickly asked Ironknuckles for a roster, and, knowing he was trapped, the wagonmaster ordered his guards into battle. Tensions burst, and the conflict became a four-sided affair rife with friendly-slashing.





From their window, Steven and the barbarian crossbowmen watched the free-for-all. Falmorians fought over bounties with the rival Carthalians from the south, and both took every opportunity to scrap with the Rainosian raiders-turned-mercenaries.
“Look at those backstabbers! You’d think there was no truce at all, the way these Mythronians carry on.”
“Yeah, but we’re giving it right back to them! Do you see the sarge charging those red blokes?”
“Hey, some outlaws are getting away! Open fire!”



















So intent was the soldiery on ambushing the other soldiery, no one bothered to check Ironknuckles’ flag-wagon, the Angry Badger. That will be important at a later time.



Only one of the Rainosians remained on the first floor of the house, citing a broken bowstring. As darkness fell, he drank more than was good for him, and Ella Jacksdaughter watched her parents converse in the corner.



KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK.
Stop that noise. Let the grer through.



BOOM!



“Grers and orcs in my inn? I think not!”



“On second thought….”



“There are outlaws downstairs!”
“We saw them, miss.”
Steven and the other snipers had started to load their bows as soon as the knocking came out of the darkness, but there had been no time to fire. A strange feeling of exuberant excitement had come over him as soon as the door gave way, and the “Steven” part of him had all but vanished.
“Weapons,” he continued. “What do we have?”
“These crossbows. Everything else is on the first floor, with the bandits,” one of the dragon clansmen answered.
“Then we take whatever shots these will give us, and fight our way through to something fit for a melee. What’s-your-name – sorry – miss, see if you can find anything dangerous on this floor.”
“There’s-“
“Don’t tell me, go. The rest of you, after me. Bring the ballista’s stand for a bludgeon.”




Several feet below, the outlaws were exploring the immediate area in the same manner as the barbarians that morning. One dwarf, backed by an orc with a war bow, started up the stairs.



THUD.
As the would-be explorer gurgled his last breath, most of his comrades swore and organized themselves.
“What are you dogs waiting for? I didn’t spring half of you from the scum’s prison-wagon to have you stand around like trees! Get up there and kill whoever you find!” their fierce-fisted leader roared.



“Well, that made them mad,” Steven muttered. Again, he marveled at the strange energy that had filled him today. In his two previous battles, he had shot one man by accident, murdered a knight’s horse, and fainted at the sight of a wizard who couldn’t even grow a proper beard. Now he gave orders and casually sent a quarrel through someone’s throat.



“I found my grandfather’s sword. Will this work?”
Steven took the dull, grey weapon, tested its balance, and looked at the short, thick slashing blade with its rounded point. It felt right.
“Perfect,” he – or whatever was currently inhabiting him – murmered.



The private’s allies could not suppress a round of surprised noises when their self-appointed leader vaulted the handrail, but quickly gathered their senses and rushed into the fray.



Locked in close-quarters – use the stairs – push!



Something laughed as Steven’s sword-arm shoved his adversary over. The bull soldier dived after his enemy and slit his throat. The rest of the battle was muted, but any movements that came too close pulled at Steven’s attention.




A freak crossbow shot severed Ironknuckles’ head, and the entranced Steven lunged into the gap. There was a grer ahead of him – strong, but not as strong as –
Reality chose a poor moment to return to the warrior. There was no way Steven could overpower a Grer –
WHAM!



The haft of the wild-haired outlaw’s axe collided with Steven’s chest, sending the Rainosian backwards through the air and into a crossbowman on the stairs. The battle was lost – two of the men in green uniforms had fallen earlier, and with Steven and whoever it was he had landed on temporarily incapacitated, only Farrer could…
Steven’s adrenalin-shot mind ordered his eyes to take another head count, and then blacked out.



Not long afterward, most of the Rainosian snipers were back on their feet. One had been shot as soon as the door had opened and now left through the same portal suspended between two of his clansmen, but another – the one who had objected to apple cores – lived on with nothing more than a flesh wound and more attention than he needed. The sergeant and Arcturus of Byin conversed quietly at the foot of the stairs. From what Steven could gather, they were talking about loot.




Beyond the pile of outlaw corpses and the displeased pair of innkeepers, Farrer held two survivors at arrowpoint. Others had escaped for the moment, but the number of bounty-mad soldiers on their trail suggested that their freedom would not last through the night. This pair would most likely be re-sold to the Mythronians with their dead fellows.
Steven yawned. From what he had heard, all the fighting had gone well – only one Rainosian warrior would travel home on a shield, although the emerald army had sapped the treasuries of Falmor and Carthal by the price of two pinewood boxes during the earlier free-for-all, by their best estimate.
What was the point? It didn’t make sense to Steven. As far as he knew, no highwaymen, bandits, or smugglers in Mythron had ever harmed a Rainosian, and now his country was siding with its sworn enemy to stamp out crime in the latter nation.
Don’t ask questions. Politics are for the generals. You signed up for this get-together to earn passage back home, remember?
The conflicting thoughts once more chilled Steven. Whereas before he had asked himself who was in his head with him, now Steven wasn’t sure which one was actually him.



…and by that time, Mom and Dad were pretty upset about the deceased and the mess they were making. The captain – Jim told me that his name is Arcturus of Byin, and he’s half-elven like most of his men – noticed this, and, after apologizing for being such a poor guest, he gave Dad a blue diamond the size of a quail egg he had found in one of the wagons this afternoon and said that he hoped it would make up for his manners.
That’s not the important part, though – while he was resting, Jim told me about the village he came from and where his house was. Then he told me that he could read a little bit and that if I wanted to write, he would write back. He was blushing when he said that – can you imagine? I haven’t decided whether I will actually send a letter yet… that can wait until tomorrow.
I’ve written all I can for tonight. I’ll pick up any details I missed in the morning, when hopefully no soldiers will come knocking on my bedroom door before the cock’s crow. I think I’ve had enough excitement to last me for a while now. Goodnight.

Note to self- haven’t seen old sword since gave to scruffy bull guy. look for it in morning.


Builder’s Note-
That was a lot of talk for a little MOC. I now have Steven’s universal challenge entry up complete with more of his mental issues, and I encourage you to take a look at the link to the Object of Legend’s part at the top of the page. His wagons are absolutely stunning.
Onto the builds…
I completely rebuilt Ironknuckles’ wagon three or four times in the past month, looking for the right look… which I never found. There were two early versions with giant, chomping mouths (with some pictures below that include intestines), but I freaked out when I saw what the OoL had built and scrapped them in a last-minute bid for an attractive build. Eventually I settled on something that resembles a ship with its curves on the fore and aft, salvaging the oversized Jetrax wheels and the Troll Warship’s sails from the first attempt. I know it still looks terrible, but deadlines are fine from a distance; up close they can live up to their name. Fortunately, this one had some mechanical details to entertain me: A multi-gear, thirty-horsepower engine named Dug.
Basically, the troll walks toward the turkey leg fastened to a post in front of him, and in turn causes the drum he is standing on to rotate. Because the circumference of the drum in the middle is less than that of the wheels it drives, the Badger’s speed is greater than that of a walking troll. The tilting handle that Dug holds on to is the gear-shift mechanism; by leaning it and therefore the troll forward, Dug has to run faster to keep his balance against the spinning axle. By leaning it backward, Dug can be forced into a sitting position, at which point he is rewarded with the turkey leg and the wagon stops. Now, before you look at the pictures, I realize that for this mechanism to actually drive the wagon forward, Dug would have to be trained to run backward, as the drum is directly attached to the axle. The explanation for this is simple: I messed up. I’m not going to fix the gears and re-shoot the MOC at this point in time, so use your imagination.























Completely skipping my disgraceful excuse for a wagon stop, I will now review the inn build. When I started typing the story, I wish I had chosen a location that wasn’t so cliché for a fantasy setting, like an actual house. Unfortunately, the little desk in the upper-right-hand corner looked like an inn-ish detail, so there.
This is the first time I have completely floored a MOC with brown planks, and it doesn’t look bad. Since it is set in Mythron, it looks somewhat more pristine and civilized than it would if I had set it in Rainos or a place like Bodus, but, as a civilian building set in the country, I did not think it merited a stone construction. Overall, it’s neither the best nor bad at all. It works for the situation at hand.



Do you like the lamp? It isn’t very medieval, but it looks great. You can also see its source of illumination at the top of the picture.



My beautiful façade



The bedroom, with a new stool design



“Young lady, if this room isn’t clean by dinnertime you aren’t going anywhere tonight!”

Finally, I have two easy challenges for anyone who is interested:
- Find four knives hidden in the above picture
- Work out how I made the stool (better picture at top of MOC)

Thanks for viewing! Feel free to rate and comment.



Comments

 I like it 
  May 24, 2014
What Kai said. The bedroom and wagon both look great. Also, I found Gilbert - he's in the wooden structure with the tan roof in the outdoors scene.
 I like it 
  February 6, 2014
Fantastic build and story, but the main picture doesn't do it justice.
 I like it 
  July 10, 2013
some nice shots. I really like the details on the inside of the building.
 I like it 
  July 9, 2013
Really quite awesome story, and the builds are even better. :D
 I like it 
  July 8, 2013
Excellent! I had another idea for the stool, but his makes more sense. Excellent storyline though. One of the characters that I truly enjoy following. I do think iron knuckles should have put up more of a fight. I mean, he dies in one sentence :P
 I like it 
  July 8, 2013
Intriguing story! I was able to follow along with no difficulty! :D I think that some might not read it because there is a lot of text per/between pictures. But it is definitely easy to follow. I like the inn, though it is a bit small, but that's understandable considering the last-minute entry. Great builds!
 I made it 
  July 8, 2013
Quoting Mister Lego ~ Great build and story! There are so many great details. I really like the facade area. Nice work!
Ha ha ha, I love a facetious comment.
 I made it 
  July 8, 2013
Quoting Shawn Gibson Wonderful entry! The Inn is great, the details are fantastic the story is terrific. Plus had a cameo from another mocer! So many great elements :) You used the knives in the "drapes" on the bed and four flat 1x1's insert into the round 2 x 2.
Darn. I was hoping it would take more than a few hours for those questions to be answered. Good work and thanks for the praise.
 I like it 
  July 7, 2013
Great build and story! There are so many great details. I really like the facade area. Nice work!
 I like it 
  July 7, 2013
Wonderful entry! The Inn is great, the details are fantastic the story is terrific. Plus had a cameo from another mocer! So many great elements :) You used the knives in the "drapes" on the bed and four flat 1x1's insert into the round 2 x 2.
 
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LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop Part 7: Universal Challenge: The Tapping of IronknucklesCastle


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