I’ve previously written about (fae forest) in these pages in April 2019 (see Re-visiting Elvenshire in Second Life) and March 2017 (see A Mystical Fae Forest in Second Life). We enjoyed both visits due to the fairy-tale like look and feel to the designs, so I was looking forward to seeing what the relocation had led Zuma to create.
In keeping Zuma’s previous designs I’ve written about, this (fae forest) maintains the fantasy element with its touch of whimsy, but it also has something of a darker tone as well. This latter aspect is somewhat apparent on arrival: the default windlight casts a hazy blanket across the region, causing distant trees to look a little ghost-like, an effect enhanced by the stardust that in places drifts on the wind.
Sitting as a humped island rising from the sea, the region has a distinct north-west to south-east orientation. Towards its centre there rises a vertically-walled table of rock, its broad plateau, complete with taller pillars and curtains of rock that in places rise above it, resembles a great, natural fortress; its castle-like look further enhanced by the ring of water that surrounds it like a natural moat.
The land spreading to the west and east around this great plateau undulates gently and carries with it a feeling of being windswept and exposed. It is largely home to scrub grass, some of if providing grazing for sheep, while a few trees sit further around its eastward arc, the horizon of which is broken by the blocky form of a stone-built chapel. The grassland also sweeps around to the west and south, where it washes against the dark shadow of woodland – but more of that anon.
The great plateau is accessed through a set of stone-cut steps that face the landing point across the grasslands. Like the plateau, the steps are on a massive scale – each of them practically needs a staircase of its own to climb it. They provide the single point of entry to the table-top of rock from the lands below, as if again suggesting this is a place of natural fortification.
However, the top of the plateau is not in any way given over to ideas of war or defence. Instead, it offers the clearest reflection of previous iterations of (fae forest). Richly wooded, it offers a lot to discover in what is a glorious garden sitting beneath boughs draped in lights and between which shafts of sunlight fall around a central giant gazebo. Nevertheless, the echoes of castles persist: on the south side of the gazebo more huge steps cut their way up through another great up-thrust of rock that rises like a giant natural motte to the lower plateau’s bailey, albeit one lacking defensive walls around its top.
Beyond the plateau’s bulk the landscape takes a different turn. Great columns of rock cover the south-eastern side of the region, looking for all the world like some giant’s hammer has been used to randomly pound each of them into the ground. Just to west the of these great stone blocks stands the dark woodland mentioned above, a place where rain falls and mist creeps between shadowy tree trunks.
Here the region takes on something of a darker tone, not only because of the mist and rain and dark hue to the trees, but because of what lies amidst the tall trees. A ramshackle cabin raised on stout wooden legs and looking for all the world like it should be sitting within some dank, dark corner of a bayou crouches on one side of the path. Beneath it, and somewhat ominously, baby dolls have been strung up, while facing it from the other side of the path is a strange oversized display cabinet in which hang more dolls, these ones perhaps best described as Chucky’s distance cousins, watched over by a distinctly nervous-looking cat (one of Cica Ghost’s creations).
The wood with its strange tableaux can come as an odd turn for the region to take, standing as it does in opposition to the more fairy-tale heights of the plateau above and behind it. However, it also adds to the overall atmosphere of the setting, adding to its uniqueness.
This uniqueness is further increased by the oddities scattered across the region: an aero engine here, offshore ring of standing stones there, sculptures rising in unexpected places, high and low, and more – there’s even a troll hiding within the arms of denuded trees.
Atmospheric, slightly haunting, but definitely photogenic, this version of (fae forest) perhaps offers a slightly different face to the world than previous builds, but it remains evocative and utterly worthwhile in visiting.
- (fae forest) (Forest Haven, rated Moderate)