A return to Ironwood Hills in Second Life

Ironwood Hills; Inara Pey, March 2016, on FlickrIronwood Hills – click any image for full size

Ironwood Hills, designed by Cyrus Knight (josman2088) and Jestyr Knight (Zeke Jestyr), is perhaps not the neighbourhood we’d ideally like to pick to live. When I last visited, the town appeared to be deserted, caught within a forever twilight of swirling mist and rains, thrall to the soulful wailing of forgotten sirens.

Now occupying a new location, the story of Ironwood Hills continues – and the darkness shrouding it has not lifted; and as with the last build, this is a design which makes superb use of space, creating the feeling that the region is much larger than the supplied 65,536 square metres.

Ironwood Hills; Inara Pey, March 2016, on FlickrIronwood Hills

It is also a place where anyone who visited the last instalment of the town will, on arrival, feel an immediate sense of déjà vu. This may be a different location and the sirens may no longer be audible, but it is clearly part of the same town. Rain still falls from the heavy sky, lightning flickers, and the down town streets still offer the last vestiges of working electric lights amidst the decay. Here, however, water flooded the streets and alleys, perhaps the result of the same disaster that inundated the fairgrounds of the older Ironwood Hills build.

The flood presents the visitor with a problem. How to explore the streets without having to wade through the water and perhaps risk injury? Fortunately, the answer is supplied by a rowing boat sitting by the arrival point, allowing us to make our way around the ruined streets, past guttering street lights and the wrecks of cars and trucks; the broken windows of stores in places staring back at us like empty eye sockets.

Ironwood Hills; Inara Pey, March 2016, on FlickrIronwood Hills

With careful navigation, it is possible to reach a route up to drier land, a route which will carry you past a church. But this  may not be a the place for spiritual restoration as one might expect. Carved stone figures, faces hidden under the hoods of their robes stand menacing guard at the church gates, while alongside the entrance a sign offers Ready or Not, Jesus Is Coming more in threat than in promise of salvation.

Beyond the church, the road continues upwards, climbing to a plateau sitting just above the roof tops of the down town area. Here, behind a protective wooden palisade, sits a cliff side residential area.  Beyond the houses nestled here, the rooftops of the taller down town buildings show more signs of habitation: a makeshift hospital here, a bar and still there, little huts, the gaps of alleyways separating them bridge by wooden planks while ladders connect roofs at different heights.

Ironwood Hills; Inara Pey, March 2016, on FlickrIronwood Hills

But where are the survivors now? To find that out, you must make your way between the houses and follow the road and it winds further up into the hills, the way getting darker, the warnings more grim as you progress. I’m not going to say any more here, because to do so would spoil the element of discovery.

Suffice it to say that there is as much to seen below ground here as there is above, and that the coiled snake of tunnels that leads you beneath the hills perhaps stands as a metaphor for the twisting descent into darkness taken by those who once survived here.

Ironwood Hills; Inara Pey, March 2016, on FlickrIronwood Hills

All told, this is another superb design by Cyrus  and Jestyr, one that adds a further chapter to the dark legend of Ironwood Hills. If you like your explorations of Second Life to have something of an edge to them, this is definitely a place to visit; and if you have enjoyed the town in its earlier incarnation, then this latest chapter is certain to be one you will not want to miss.

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