When Shawn Shakespeare first sent me the landmark to Coven of Crows, I initially thought that perhaps it would led me to a region offering something of a Games of Thrones theme. Well, I was entirely wrong – and all the better for being so. Not that I have anything against the books or the TV series; just that having recently waded back through the first three volumes A Song of Ice and Fire, I am a little full with the likes of Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, Cersei and Tyrion Lannister et al.
A Full region carrying the private island land capacity bonus, and designed by Sena Heartsong, Coven of Crows is, to quote the About Land description “a place between worlds, ruled by crows and magical souls”, to which I would add, “and a place with secrets awaiting discovery”, for such is the case on all counts.
Set in a south-north orientation, the region comprises two main rugged islands linked via the single span of an elegant stone bridge, a handful of smaller isles scattered to either side of them. The more southerly and smaller of this main islands rises on near-vertical cliffs to form the landing point. This sits within a large conservatory offering comfortable seating, information, and wide open doors standing in invitation, from which an arrow-straight path runs due north, passing over a stream that issues forth from the island’s peak and thence over that graceful bridge to reach the larger island.
Here, atop cliffs every inch as sheer as those of the southern island, the great flags of the path rise by way of broad flights of steps to where a great palace of steel and and glass rises, beckoning visitors towards it as its domed roof rises above the tree tops.
Intended as a place of music and dance, this circular house of glass of not the only destination upon this larger isle, however, for the path to it branches severally. One arm runs to the west to join with the island’s edge where water falls to the sea below and views might be taken of the islands that sit on the calm waters below. From here, the path joins with a second, as as it passes on around the island’s edge – and of which, more anon.
A further arm of the path points east, joining with an unpaved way that switch backs down to the waters edge and a small dock, one of many scattered among the islands. These docks form places where a boat might be rezzed (touch the dock and allow time for said boat to be delivered if one is not already available), such that travellers might make their way by water between the various isles.
To the west, two of the islands are linked one to the other by way of a floating bridge, to the east, the two islands can each only be reached the use of the boats. All have points of interest to be found, be they ruins, or round pavilion with cosy bed, or long-dead tree. To the north lies the last of the islands, a high-topped nub of rock, a balloon-supported bridge linking it to the largest island in the group. A long finger of steps crooks its way down one side of this isle, the ruins to top and bottom offering points of photographic interest.
But to return to the large island and the path that runs to the west and north around its high-placed lip. This is the same path as gives access to the high, balloon-held bridge, beyond which it ends in steps that present the way down to a broad shoulder of rock, where another switch back of rocky path winds to the waters below – and the candle-lit entrance to mine-like tunnel entrance might be found. Enter this, and you will find a long passage, a throat hewn of rock that might swallow you into its depths by way of path and stair.
To enter it is to step into the region’s secret; for as the tunnel descends, so does it arrive at a huge cavern. High-ceilinged from which multiple chandeliers hang, and the broad entrance to a building hewn into the rock draws the eyes. Its columned façade forms the backdrop to what is at first glance a stage, and the great cavern a further place for dance. But a door in the façade gives access to a room beyond, wherein just a hint of the tales from Game of Thrones and thoughts of Aria Stark’s journey might reside.
Facing the entrance to this great chamber is a second tunnel, sitting on the far side of wood and door. Here the path runs beside water over which candles float, and the carved statue of a goddess rises. Thus with this small cavern and the chamber it faces, the mysteries of the island become clearer. But they are not the last of the secrets awaiting discovery, for the path leads onward to where another chamber sits, one perhaps with the largest surprise of all; a place that might be accessed through a second tunnel, one within its entrance somewhat hidden from the the view of the world at large.
Watched over by the crows of its name, their caws and cries filling the air, this is a region rich in detail without being overly burdensome on the viewer; a place where many photographic opportunities await, as do places to sit and cuddle or simply pass the time. Recommended.
- Coven of Crows (Luminal Worlds, rated Moderate)