I was drawn to Raven Lake Fathoms, created by Eriwen, as a result of reading the opening line of its Destination Guide entry, “Surrounded by vast mountain ranges, in complete isolation, is this lake of mystery for you to explore….” – and I wasn’t disappointed I went to take a look.
Located on Dumb N Dumber, Raven Lake Fathoms is a Homestead region that offers a lot for the intrepid explorer, and might even said to be something of a metaphor for Second Life. Topside is a placid lake, in the centre of which lies a house atop a rocky outcrop which pokes above the waters. Mountains surround the lake, and while the surface is occasionally broken by the fins of a fish or the passage of a ray, and ravens wheel overhead or perch on the shore, not a lot seems to be going on…. But take a look under the rippling surface of the lake, and there is a whole world to explore.
It is easy to come into Second Life and immediately feel lost. It’s a vast place, yet all to often, the surface appearance is that nothing is going on. Where are the people, where are the things to do? How do we find them? And it’s sad, because SL is actually constantly alive and vibrant; there are stores to visit, music venues in operation 24/7, clubs for dancing, games to be played, as well as all sorts of social interactions going on, just under the placid surface, waiting to be discovered. How to solve putting newcomers more directly in contact with the things they will find – or even may find – appealing has been the crux of much debate throughout SL’s long history.
Like Second Life, Raven Lake Fathoms is also hard to quantify descriptively. Above the surface of the water, it is tranquil; a place for possible reflection or to be captured by the photographer’s virtual lens. But the tranquility has a slight edge to it, particularly as the day fades … there is a slightly haunting edge to the beauty of the scenery, perhaps heightened by the presence of the ravens, which leave lines from Poe’s The Raven echoing in the back of one’s mind.
Then there is the world beneath the surface, populated by fish and jellyfish and rays and other watery life, with fumaroles puffing, suspended islands of colour offering refuge in the depths, and more splashes of colour from vivid plant life dotted on the lake floor, together with a dew surprises.
Metaphors aside, however, Raven Lake Fathoms is a wonderful place to explore and for the mind to invent tales. You can wander the lake shore and observe the ravens, or gaze across the lake to the lonely house atop its knoll and wonder if Poe himself might not be there, a bust of Pallas above his chamber door. In you wanderings you may come across a beached steampunk submarine, perhaps stranded from the pages of a Vernian novella. The lake shore is also where Eriwen has her home, so if you happen to come across it as you explore, be sure to respect her privacy.
You can visit the house via rowing boat. Simply touch the sign near the landing-point to have one rez. It’s not just any rowing boat, either, but rather a grand one, although it did give me a few issues with camera positioning when seated. Within the house, Poe’s presence does seem a lot closer; the ghostly clearing of a throat, the books mysteriously floating above the floor, the strange sounds and the haunting repeat of a lullaby…
Underwater is an entirely different world – one where divers and merfolk are most welcome; in fact, I’d suggest that dressing / appearing in a suitable avatar form would be de rigueur. There is a lot to see here, and places to relax with a friend or from which to pass the time in quiet thought.
Be aware that there are predators here; this can only be a saltwater lake, as the sharks are cycling not far below the surface and the giant squid is a sight to behold. Leave them alone, however, and they’ll leave you to enjoy the sights and sounds of this watery world.
Raven Lake Fathoms is a wonderful use of a Homestead regions as both a home and a place for travellers to visit. If you’ve not been there before, I urge you to pay a visit. You might even find me out on the water, sitting in a rowing boat; or possibly under the waves. If the latter, don’t be surprised if I’m also sporting a tail…
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