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Guilhelm Refuge . A banished race finds refuge from their powerful enemies in a hidden mountain range. . I could see the fog disappear at my touch, slinking away from my form like a shadow from light. I took another cautious step forward, hearing small pebbles crunch beneath my boots. Looking down, my legs seemed to vanish below the knee, lost in a mist as thick as quicksand. Every noise rebounded off unseen stone, and I could not be sure if I was in the smallest of caves or the greatest of valleys. Echoes surrounded me, and in the ominous, hidden environment I know found myself in, they seemed akin to the wails of spirits. It's been quite a long time in coming (far too long), but my largest creation is at last here for all to see: Guilhelm Refuge. The idea first came to me as I lay in bed one night (rather cliche, though the truth). I have always loved landscapes, and I have always loved castles. Many times I'd seen the two genres combined to create stunning MOCs. Why not try my hand at it? The scale of this creation, at first, did not hit me. Though not really "big" by MOCpages standards (a.k.a Kelso standards), it was by far an enormous undertaking for a builder as new to the game of large creations as me. I started out with a very simple layout: one 32 by 32 stud baseplate lined up next to another 16 by 32, making a final footprint of 32 by 48. Then I started building. I started from the ground up, first laying in the iced-over pond (more a large puddle... looks like I need to hit Bricklink) and designing the interior of the ground floor. That's when I came across my first major issue. Building a set with both an exterior and interior in mind was much, much harder than I had anticipated. Every single rock had to be placed with meticulous care, and since I lacked bricks with one side studs (poking out farther than on headlight bricks), I needed to use bricks with a stud on opposite sides. This meant having to add a SNOTed rock on the outside for every decoration on the inside. Rather tricky. But I soon got the hang of it, and went on to confront the problem that had been giving me grief since the inception of the project: piece count. As I've mentioned, this was without doubt the largest build I had ever attempted, and the glaring fact was thus: I just didn't have the pieces for it. Rather than admit defeat and consign myself to Bricklink, I first gathered every single piece I could scrounge from my collection, and then turned to an outside source: my cousins (one of whose MOCpage can be found here). Let me say it now: they are lifesavers. A LOT of pieces and a bit of collaboration (they designed the cave's arch) later, the rockwork was finished. The roof was a challenge. While I would have loved to do something like this, I once again found myself without the necessary bricks. And I'd gone this far without Bricklink, so why give in now? (Note: the roof was the last portion of the build to be constructed, though I am including the photographs here, so as not to break up the flow of the post). I decided to go with a simple, almost ramshackle technique, which I hope both looks good and conveys the rough-and-tumble look of the refuge's construction that I was going for. The tree was an idea first originated in this MOC. I expanded on it here, and added hands for the extra gnarled look. Lots of wood paneling and tile flooring had to be borrowed to complete the interior, but I think it was worth it. Another aspect of the build that proved troublesome was having to make the rockwork appear natural while sloping upwards from two directions. This stretched the limits of not only my gray slope pieces, but my patience. I worked and reworked the design until I was pleased with the appearance of both sides. Figures are always one of my favorite parts of a MOC to design; they always add so much life to the creation. I'm pretty pleased with how these came out. Gotta love those new Hobbit torsos. A bit of experimentation with shadows and a light brick. This has been a huge project right from the start, so I want to first off say a big thanks to everyone here on the 'pages who has inspired me and passed on advice. Also, an enormous thank-you to my cousins (again, find one of them here!). I couldn't have done it without you. I learned a lot throughout the course of this build, most notably three things: 1. You always need more pieces than you think 2. You always have less pieces than you think 3. And finally, to quote Winston Churchill, "Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense." As much as I would like to tell you more information about the story that goes with the build, I'm afraid I can't. I hope to eventually turn it into a book someday, and you just can't take chances with information on the Internet nowadays. My apologies. Well, I'm almost certain I've forgotten something I meant to say, but this post has been put off long enough due to MOCpages issues at my own home, lack of good photos, etc. I may return and edit things later, if I feel so inclined. Well, thanks for sticking around this long, and if you read everything, you have now seen a rare glimpse into the mind of a deranged Lego builder. Hope you enjoyed your stay ;) Soli Deo Gloria, A M

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