Welcome Respite: Living the Elven Life

by Alphaville Herald on 21/07/05 at 4:07 pm

by Seldon Metropolitan (photographry by Lexa Lawson)

Standing at the top of the Serenity overlook platform, you can see nearly all of ElvenGlen. Unlike the city sims, which seem to bustle and teem with energy even when unoccupied, there is an eternal calm over the elven land, carefully engineered by its protectors to capture the peace and reverence for life that form the core values of elven society. From my vantage point on the round wooden platform, the sunlight drapes over the thatched rooftops of the market square, flits through the branches of the trees in the magical gardens, and shines brightly off the imposing heights of the royal palace.

Cultivated over the last six months by its dedicated leaders, Wayfinder and Forcythia Wishbringer, Elf Clan has grown to over 280 members since the Herald last visited with them. The simplistic lifestyle and intricate culture of the elven community offers a welcome counterpoint to the club and Tringo way of life that is so prevalent in Second Life society. In order to ensure that their visitors fully experience the botanical marvels that they’ve cultivated, ElvenGlen is entirely a no-fly sim. The walking pace is an excellent way to experience the ambiance they’ve developed. In addition, to maintain the aesthetics of their world, modern looking weapons, gadgets, and vehicles are prohibited inside the sim.

When I first meet with Wayfinder and Forcythia, their striking regal presence makes an immediate impression. The primary architect of the major structures of ElvenGlen, Wayfinder is adorned in swirling green robes, holding a glittering staff that radiates with his power, and accompanied by his tiny dragon familiar. His tone as he speaks about the projects they are working on is one of fierce excitement, and from his speech I can feel the passion that goes into every aspect of the administration of Elf Clan. Forcythia is the water to Wayfinder’s fire, a smooth but steady talker, calling my attention to the flowers and trees she carefully cultivates in her private greenhouse. Together, they have an inexhaustible joy for all things natural and beautiful, which they bring to all aspects of the administration of their clan.

The first place we visit on my tour is the open commons area that serves as the telehub for arriving in ElvenGlen. Here sits the teleport directory that allows quick access to the most remote parts of the sim, as well as a variety of helpful information for those unfamiliar with the elves and their customs. The valley’s few shops line the green here, with a mixture of elven weapons, clothing, home furnishings, and souvenirs for visitors who want to remember their time here. No modern-looking items are allowed, and they don’t allow much space, as they don’t want the focus of their land to be shopping.

Also featured in the open area is the drumming circle, a white pavilion filled with a variety of percussion instruments. These were custom made for Elf Clan by Robbie Dingo, and with some scripting magic, all the drums play in a cohesive rhythm and can change patterns with a touch. The effect with several people playing is quite amazing. The drums all have short sound radii, so walking around the circle while several people play makes the sound change drastically, bringing certain rhythms to the front depending on where you stand. With just four of us playing, the music is infectious; I can imagine that a full drumming circle would be exponentially so.

The Elven Magical Gardens

We encounter the second major feature on our tour a bit further up the central green. The Elven Magical Gardens are an expansive network of raised beds connected by narrow wooden bridges. There are plenty of places to relax amongst the trees and flowers, and the flora is enhanced by a variety of sculptures, fountains, and other artistic works. It’s a serene place, at the very center of the sim both literally and metaphorically. As I walk through the gardens, I get a real sense of comfort and care from the surroundings. Despite my passion for concrete and steel, I can understand the calm and relief that those who care for this garden derive from it.

Continuing our tour, we reach the other side of the garden. I am shown the Orcish embassy, a squat building lampooning the rivalry between the orcs and the elves, and led past the pool where Forcythia’s pet whale, Prince, lives, endlessly leaping out of the water to the delight of onlookers. We wander through Forcythia’s greenhouse, which showcases her newest additions to the flora already present in the valley. Finally, we end up sitting at the fire ring, a circle of cushions around a fire pit in the goblet of a hill on the edge of the sim. Used for intimate gatherings and poetry readings from the notecard-dispensing poetry globes, the privacy of the hilltop gives the area a feeling of protection.

North of the fire circle, we stand at the edge of the hillside looking over a flat plain. A fantastic castle is seen off in the distance. I have come on a unique day, it seems, as the new sim of Elf Haven has just been placed adjacent to ElvenGlen. It isn’t open to the public yet, but the increased space and room for expansion has everyone in the clan excited. With as many members as they have now, there isn’t much room for personal space on the existing sim. They intend to move some of the existing builds to the new land, and a few projects that have been on the backburner because of space restrictions should come to fruition in the near future.

We continue onward, with a few quick stops to see other attractions, and finally wind up at the towering gates of the palace. The soaring heights of the towers reach up into the clouds; Wayfinder apparently did the major construction on the castle in only two days, in his own words, “taking a few years off his life.” Standing over 206 meters tall, the grand doors of the main room open into the throne room, a room with a floor area of over 4,096 square meters, and marked by the glass thrones flanking a giant purple dragon statue. There are several dozen seats arranged before the regal thrones. Apparently, they frequently have standing room only for their meetings. At Wayfinder’s invitation, I take a seat in the throne, and while I don’t feel comfortable, I can understand the allure.

ElvenGlen Castle’s Observation Dome

Heading up to the second floor, home to the Elf Clan museum, we peruse the impressive collection of swords and other weapons made by players. They give me a glimpse at the forthcoming historical slide show, a collection of 160 photos detailing the growth of the clan. Then it’s off to the Grand Ballroom, where the more formal festive events are held. Our final destination in the castle is the Observation Dome, the massive translucent sphere adorning the apex of the towering castle. Far below, the rest of the sim looks like a tapestry pattern, layed out in separate panels of inter-connecting whorls. Small dots of people move through the whorls, and from this vantage point, I feel like Zeus or Odin, spying on the mortals below.

Our time running short, we get a quick tour of the games platform, home to the archery fields and the Battlemace arena, and then its time to say goodbye. Overall, ElvenGlen is a beautiful place, full of life and community. For those looking to add a little harmony to their Second Life, the solid, active, Elf Clan offers a base of supportive players who are all ready to look out for one another. I can see myself seeking refuge in the welcoming glades from time to time, and I am eager to see how they will utilize their brand new, wide-open sim.

This is the first in a planned series of travelogues about a few of the unique communities that thrive within Second Life. Herald reporter Seldon Metropolitan would be glad to hear from groups with a unique voice or vision. Feel free to contact him via IM in-world.

5 Responses to “Welcome Respite: Living the Elven Life”

  1. Tony Walsh

    Jul 22nd, 2005

    Thanks for the report, Seldon. I’d love to see some coordinates included with these photos so readers can pop right inworld to see the sights for themselves.

  2. Urizenus

    Jul 22nd, 2005

    Elvenglen is a private sim so you can look it up that way. My sim used to be adjacent to them so I went there quite a bit when they were working on it. Nice place. Very chill.

  3. seldon metropolitan

    Jul 24th, 2005

    I actually considered putting coordinates, but the Wishbringers have built a lot of secret areas to discover into their world, and coordinates would spoil the fun ;) Several of the areas pictured here are in hard to reach places.

  4. Wayfinder Wishbringer

    Jul 24th, 2005

    Elf Haven and ElvenGlen are both island sims, accessible through the main MAP (MAP / REGION / [sim name] / TELEPORT).

    We welcome all guess warmly. Please feel free to come visit our Elven / High Fantasy sims. :)

    – Wayfinder & Forcythia Wishbringer
    Eldars, Elf Clan

  5. Tony Walsh

    Jul 25th, 2005

    Thanks for the info, folks.

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