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It showcases the best talent and creativity available on MTS and in the community.
The fountains had all frozen over in the night, so the only places to find water now were either the wells that a few households maintained, for which they were sure to charge her an outrageous amount now, or else taking the dangerous trek into the snowbound woods to the stream two miles away, and hoping she didn't run into a pack of ice wolves along the way. The snow was still coming down hard enough that Jyanna didn't trust the woods, and asked her mother for a few coins to pay to draw from the well. Her mother sighed, but looking at the heavy white flakes swirling down from the ether, drew out her coin-purse and gave Jyanna a few small copper coins. "Be sure you don't spill a drop," she chided, before Jyanna disappeared into the snow, "and remember to collect the orders from the keep before you return... goodness knows we could use the coin."
Jyanna ran past the iced-over fountain towards Stormwall's main gate, ignoring the clash of steel and thudding of axe blades sinking into their wooden targets from the nearby guards training in the yard, and stopped next to a small half-timbered house just up against the fortified red stone walls. An old spinster lived here, and while she was always short with anyone who came knocking at her door who wasn't buying wool, she was the one Jyanna thought would probably let her draw water for the least coin. Sure enough, when the door opened, she held up her bucket and a single copper, and the old spinster snatched the coin away and waved her towards the well. Jyanna thanked the closed door, then went to the well and drew up a bucket of water, steaming and smelling slightly of rotten eggs from the hot springs that ran under the city.
The snow was still falling heavily, but it wasn't yet that cold, so Jyanna thought she had time to collect orders from the other houses and businesses in the city... often an unexpected storm would cause people to suddenly realize all the things they were short of and suddenly needing, and that could mean larger orders to bring home with her. She always tried to start with the tavern, since its rowdy drunken patrons had a habit of 'accidentally' smashing ale horns and plates over one another's heads later into the evenings... they could always be counted on for at least a few commissions, and the landlady would often give Jyanna a sweet roll from the oven when she came by.
Running under the archway of a wealthy tailor's shop, Jyanna approached the door of the local tavern. Smoke curled out of its chimneys and she could hear a few patrons on the upper floor singing a horribly off-key drinking song, but this early in the day there was no sound as yet of a brawl or even voices raised in anger. Opening the door, she was greeted with a blast of warm air mixed with smoke and the smell of strong drink... pretty much what she expected from a tavern, really. Weaving her way through the patrons to the front counter, Jyanna was happy when the landlady almost instantly spotted her and smiled, waving her up to the bar. She shoed away a knight who was clearly already in his cups, and cheerfully told Jyanna "We'll need at least another two dozen goblets, and a couple platters big enough for a suckling pig- the prelate will be passing through next week, and that means at least 20 retainers traveling with him... they always clear us out! Hang on a moment before you go though, the cook made up a basket of sweet rolls that didn't get near enough spice, and he was just going to feed them to the pig- I'm sure he won't miss them if you take them home to your mother!"
Jyanna smiled and took the basket, promising to bring it back when she came by next, and headed back to the door, ducking under a few farmers from a nearby steading who had come into town before the storm hit. She tugged her furs around her more tightly and opened the door to step back out into the cold. The snow was coming down even harder now, and steam was no longer rising from her water-bucket, so she headed home to make sure it didn't freeze- one thing she knew would earn a sharp lesson from her mother was bringing water that couldn't be used. Opening the small creaky door, she placed the water and the rolls in the kitchen and warmed herself a bit by the cooking fire before heading back out to see what more orders she could find.
Jyanna next ran through the merchants' square towards the thaumaturgist's shop hoping that there might be some experiment that called for new glassware or pottery, but despite the blue-green smoke and purple sparks she could see emitting from the chimney, no one came to answer the door, so she was forced to move on, her curiosity unsated. (Everyone warned her about the dangers of magic, but Jyanna was of an age where the warnings of adults were just as likely to pique her interest as to scare her away.)
Heading towards the keep, she stopped briefly at the alchemist's house, stepping inside to the warm, earthy smelling shop that took up most of the ground floor. The alchemist heard the tinkle of the shop bell and poked his head of sparse gray hair down the stairwell, hoping for a customer. Seeing Jyanna, he cursed and the head vanished, shouting down that he didn't need anything right now, and he was in the middle of a very delicate experiment. Jyanna knew better than to linger when his head was so thoroughly in his work, though on better days he would sometimes show here the different tricks that the flowers and roots he grew were capable of. Her favorite had been a small blue flower from the mountains that seemed capable of helping almost any injuries heal far more quickly than she'd have believed possible, but there were to be no alchemical lessons today.
Stepping back out into the blowing snow, she headed over towards the keep once again. The court mage had rigged up small glowing lights at the entrance that seemed unaffected by the snow, and cast a strange orange glow on the swirling flakes. The red-armored city guards narrowed their eyes at her as she approached, but didn't stop her this time like they had in the past... she supposed they must have gotten used to her coming and going all over town.
The fountain in the courtyard was usually splashing pleasantly amid the sound of songbirds twittering away in the trees, but on this cold day it too had frozen over, and the birds had all either flown south or were hidden away in a warm nest up under the eaves of one of the buildings, waiting out the winter. Jyanna looked up at the sculpture that made up the centerpiece of the fountain, and felt a twinge of inexplicable pity for the stone girl, left out alone in the cold. She continued to the main door of the keep, and stepped through into the main hall.
The four fireplaces blazing against the walls kept the keep much warmer than most people could ever hope for during the long Stormwall winters, and Jyanna could smell the rich cooking that the lord enjoyed still lingering on the perfumed air. The room was also much brighter than she was accustomed to, as in addition to the fireplaces many elaborate golden candelabras lined the walls or stood in alcoves, filling the vast room with a golden glow. The Stormwall elite seemed not to notice her entrance, focused as they were on some heated debate with the court mage, and she slipped over to the stairs that led down to the kitchen before any of them could see her and have the guards throw her out.
The kitchens were below-ground, which kept the heat of the ovens in, and as she descended, she savored the smells of rich baking that drifted up on the air. In the kitchen itself, she was surprised to see only the old lady who looked after the castle's wine cellars... she supposed the other kitchen staff must all have been out on errands or returned to their meager quarters once the meal had been laid for the court upstairs. Hoping that she might still be able to get an order, Jyanna approached the aged servant, and asked after the keep's needs.
"I don't need anything today girl, but the head chef left a note somewhere for you... the prelate will be staying, and he's sure to have more needs than usual. Why don't you have a look over on the desk and see if he left it... I trust you know your letters?" Jyanna nodded, and backed out of the kitchen towards the chef's desk. Covered as it was in recipes and old manuscripts, she didn't know how she could be expected to find anything, and she found herself looking through them just out of curiosity. One letter described the importance of keeping the prelate's stableboy away from the tavern once the retinue arrived, while another seemed to be a list of fantastical ingredients from far-off lands and mythical beasts the mage had placed an order for and was still waiting on. Jyanna couldn't make sense of many of them, but eventually found herself looking through books on the shelves as well, engrossed in all the details of running a city the size of Stormwall.
Running a finger along the titles on the shelf, Jyanna pulled at one particular ledger that seemed like it might be interesting, and to her surprise the book tilted forward and a solid thunk
echoed from behind the shelf. Jyanna nearly jumped out of her skin, and quickly replaced the book, but was surprised to see that when she did, the whole shelf seemed to shift. She pushed timidly at the solid wood of the shelf itself, and the whole bookcase swung around, catching her by surprise and spinning her into a dark, rough-hewn hallway behind it.
Afraid that the servants in the keep might be mad at her for disturbing things if she went back, Jyanna hid there in the dark for a moment, before realizing that there was a slight flickering light further down the tunnel Curiosity getting the better of her once again, she followed it, nearly tumbling down an unexpected staircase, wondering where other passages led to, until she rounded a corner and found herself in an open torch-lit cave, nearly as large as the great hall of the keep above her. Steam filled the room, and on the floor in front of her was a large pool of what she could already tell was very hot water. Realizing that this must be the same hot spring that kept the wells in Stormwall from freezing, Jyanna wondered how this cave had been discovered... was this spring the reason why Stormwall had been built? And how would she get back up to the city without being caught by the city guards?
What other adventures lie in store for the inhabitants of Stormwall during the long winter storms that lie ahead? What magic spells shape the destiny of this walled city? You'll have to let me know!
This is the biggest lot I've ever done by some definitions, though not by others. It's actually not even all that close to the most expensive build I've posted, though with the total lot value exceeding $1.2M, it's still definitely up there. What sets this lot apart is the fact that it EXCEEDS the wall limit. Through some clever use of Numenor's unleveled walls and Mootilda's Convertiwall program at the advice of Little Nemo, I actually have wildly exceeded the usual wall limit, without requiring you to use any CC in your game in order to have everything work properly! The one downside to this is that you won't be able to make any architectural changes or additions to the lot without going through a long and convoluted process (though demolition works normally) to do so.
The apartments themselves range from $1,449 a week on the low end for one of the smaller cabins, up to a massive $17,417 for the keep itself (which also includes the ramparts that run around the entire city, just for flavor). Several of the apartments include nearby areas outside that are part of their 'property' in spirit if not in the technical sense, so you may want to make a few adjustments to things like the well and garden near the main gate, or the knight's training yard below the archway and the castle courtyard next to the keep, before you actually start moving your medieval Sims into this lot.
The hot springs beneath the merchant's square are connected to the keep, the alchemist's shop, and the thaumaturgist's shop, but not actually a part of any of those units. This is achieved similarly to the private elevators I've built into other lots recently, with AL floor edging that defines a unit but does nothing to keep Sims from walking over it, and secret bookshelves to ensure that no neighbors with dysfunctional AI accidentally wander in through the basement!
The tavern is the largest community space on the lot, and it's set up so that Sims can actually make use of it in a variety of ways. There are performance options, seating areas, and a UNI stove in the basement kitchen at which a cafeteria worker should spawn and start cooking, so your Sims can actually head to the local tavern for a hot meal if they so choose. Bartenders don't spawn automatically, but since the bar in the tavern is the only one on the lot, if you hire a bartender, they'll work at it during their shift, or you can have one of your playables take on that responsibility.
The lot as uploaded has never been occupied and is zoned as an apartment, the screenshots were taken on a residential clone (makes it easier to make Sims behave themselves for photos!) so don't fret over the sight of Sims running about in the snow or a mailbox by the front gate!
Once again, my thanks to Numenor and Mootilda for their mods without which Stormwall could never have been built, and to Little Nemo for putting me on the trail of how to make this work!
As with all my builds, there is no CC required to enjoy this lot, you should be able to put it right into your game and enjoy it, so long as you've got all the necessary expansion packs. It's still a massive lot though, so unless you've got a fast processor and a good graphics card, you may find trouble there... sorry!
Enjoy, and stay warm!
Lot Price (furnished):
$1,449 - $17,417