This is my second of a series of monthly articles about sims in Second Life that could be inspiring for writers. My goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings.
Note: A special word of gratitude goes to London Junkers for the concept, design and creation of the logo for this column. Thank you!
Note: One of the characteristics of Second Life is the fact that it's constantly and rapidly changing. Sims come and go; others look quite different, as time goes by. Do take that into consideration when using the links provided.
Gehena Vampire Clan
The literary world is rife with vampire stories. I must admit I am not a fan of the genre. Yet, I have been a regular visitor of several vampire sims simply because they provide a rich environment to find new ideas for my writing.
So, this month, I have decided to take you on a visit to the Gehena Vampire Clan sim located in the virtual world Second Life®.
Instead of the usual “Beware”, I’m happy to say “Enjoy”. This is not your typical vampire sim with people sending a nerve-wracking string of bite requests. Oh, no. This is a quiet place where you can sit for hours without being disturbed or distracted. Visitors do drop by, but everyone is extremely respectful of everyone else’s work and peace of mind.
As a matter of fact, I have talked to Builder7777 Vhargon, the sim owner, and to Loulou Teichmann, the manager, and both were vehement in stating that the key aspect of the Gehena Vampire Clan sim is friendship and respect.
The first impression I have upon arrival is of sheer tranquility. Two horses graze at an open area where a water pump and a cart packed with hay linger on. An old dinghy cradles rain water and a cloth flutters in the wind.
Across the small field, a boat sails away and I am intrigued by the fog that surrounds it. Could it be that someone is trying to escape, or perhaps run away from something?
There is a dark church building on the opposite side of the river. I decide to walk there. Don’t let the bright lamp, the inviting wooden bench and the chirping bird bath fool you. The cemetery lies dormant, but definitely not lifeless.
Curiously enough, I spot another ship sailing away. I try to engage in conversation with the turmit, a sort of bird, thinking that perhaps I can get some information to write a fable, but it seemed quite aloof, minding its youngest, and I decide to move on.
As I walk around, I stumble upon a vampire’s tomb, empty. This sends chills up my spine. I look left and right, trying to make sure he’s not around, and it’s only later that I realize I forgot to look up. The branches in the trees did appear to be a mighty interesting place to perch on and investigate unsuspecting visitors.
The two black bird cages on the floor are empty, a third thrown on its side, and I cannot help but think that… Well, vampires do need to be nourished. Would birds suffice? I decide to pull the collar of my coat up just in case.
At the top of the hill, there’s a house, one of four. I climb the rocky steps all the way up. What Loulou Teichmann told me makes perfect sense now. She tried to create a Tuscany village. So, with a strong Mediterranean feel to it, I am greeted by a sack of fresh apples and cabbages. There’s no one home and I go inside. I was told by Builder7777 Vhargon that all areas are open to the public, so do feel free to explore around. This house most likely belongs to a fisherman, I imagine. There’s a pile of fish on the floor, forgotten. I wonder where he went.
The second house lies half way up to the dark tower. An eerie feeling takes over me. Two chimneys pipe out a storm of smoke and a few bats circle above the pathway leading to the tower, up on the hill. I decide that while I build up my courage to go there, I’ll explore around the second cottage.
It’s a friendly place. The table is set in the garden, a rich table with wine and bread and fruit. The fire is burning merrily next to a rug and some pillows. An empty greenhouse, its doors wide open, looks like the perfect place to start a winter garden. As I walk to the front door, I spot a fireplace and an oven. Whatever is being cooked smells good. I go inside and wonder who lives here. There’s a table with food on it and someone is writing a diary, or perhaps even a story. On the wall, a collection of tiles makes my mind travel to the South of Europe, where they are such an important part of culture.
After admiring the framed tiles for quite a while, I know it’s time. I take a deep breath and walk up the ramp to the dark tower. The bats seem to greet me, in circles, flapping their wings hurriedly. Is it really a welcome or a warning? I knock at the first door I come across. This is where the vampire lives, I am sure. No reply. With a strong sense of relief, I move onwards to the second door. No answer either. I step in slowly. It’s the living-room quarters, the black top hat on the coat hanger, a small bottle of laudanum on the desk, right next to the teapot. By the window, I notice more birdcages, empty… There’s a staircase up to the bedroom, but as I see a bat flying inside the room I decide not to stay too long. That was definitely a warning. There is one more door, a bedroom as well. Four books sit on a round side table with an envelope on top. The envelope has a four leaf clover on its back. I wonder what that means? Perhaps good luck, one can hope.
As I walk down the ramp, getting ready to visit the third house and being impatiently watched by a black crow, I can’t help but notice the amazing view of the whole village. The vampire has its herd under control. Or does he?
To get to the third cottage, I must cross a field with a chicken coop, a few horses grazing, and a small farmer’s cottage… abandoned.
Could there be someone in the third house though? I hurry my pace, eager to meet its owner. At the entrance, I see a wonderful birdhouse, alive and chirping. I knock at the wooden gate. There’s no one. I tiptoe inside. Well, well, well. There’s a writer in this village. The desk is covered by writing material; the bookshelf is filled with medical and herbalist books. Then, perhaps he’s a doctor. What catches my eye and intrigues me the most is the fact that the frames on the wall have no pictures. Could it be he took them with him when leaving in a hurry? Or perhaps he took them down, ripped them, in pain, for having lost those portrayed? Perhaps… perhaps there was some sort of quarrel between the vampire and the doctor. Maybe they loved the same woman?
Outside, a big fireplace and two wooden stools suggest the owner of this house was in the habit of entertaining guests, one or more, if we consider the table set for five. Who were these five people? Did they gather here for a fun dinner? Or did they have some ulterior motive or plan?
Before I arrive at the fourth house, I drop by the old watermill. It’s still working, although it looks crumbly and neglected. I am drawn by mysterious Gregorian chants coming from inside. As I turn left inside the mill, what I see completely takes me by surprise. There’s a coffin right by the window. I approach it carefully. After all, I haven’t seen the vampire anywhere yet. One thing puzzles me. Wouldn’t it be more natural for the coffin to be at his tower rather than hidden here in the old mill? I wonder if the town folks stole it from him, so he couldn’t shelter himself during the day. I wonder if that’s not what they were plotting around that table. And the chants? What are the chants for? Interesting.
I approach the fourth cottage. There’s a birdhouse here as well. The way the villagers love birds seems to contrast with the dark bird cages by the vampire’s cemetery. Perhaps they freed the birds the vampire held captive. Perhaps the birds were people’s souls, trapped. So many questions, so many stories, but, Lizzie, move on! Inside, a rocking chair overlooks the the patio. There are pictures in the frames on the wall and an old radio promises a comforting thread of classical music.
The sun is setting and a bright full moon is rising on the other side of the village. So, encouraged by the extra amount of light, I decide to go back to the vampire’s tomb and notice there’s a pathway I hadn’t seen between the fence and the massive wall of rocks. Although I feel a bit more confident that the vampire is not around, I am still slightly wary of coming face to face with him. I tread lightly and as silently as possible until I see another cemetery. I think I see a few ghosts there, but I really don’t stay long enough to make sure!
The misty water by the shoreline and the threatening bird screams, I believe crows, push me forward across a small stream of water. And I arrive at the asylum. But the screams are louder and a black panther growls warningly.
I take a few steps forward. It looks like the asylum was transformed into an area for dark get-togethers. A pool covered by a wire grid, seizes the middle of the room. I take a few more steps, cautiously. I mean no harm. Suddenly, the panther purrs softly. Inside the pool… oh my, inside the pool, swimming and pleading, is a beautiful white mermaid. I wave and try to talk to her. She doesn’t reply. She’s trapped, in a place, in a body, in a muted world, with her faithful black guardian, who is divided between warning people off and begging for their help. Who was it? Who did this to you? The panther purrs. The birds echo a story I am trying to find.
I don’t want to leave her behind, but I must. And the crows seem to point the way “Yes, right there, that’s where they used to meet, a beautiful lady and a fair gentleman, who one day turned to the dark side.” And there are cats guarding the place, where an abandoned pram plays a broken lullaby.
This could be a story of vampires, of plots and dark spells, of animals and mermaids, of people being as fragile and as strong as only people can be.
This is a sim that enchants us with the promise of a story in each corner, a sim filled with rich details, a simcreated with care. There is so much more to see and draw ideas from. Turn your sound on and enjoy.
A few final notes, as you may know, Virtual Writers Inc. created the 500 Word Snatch Challenge, i.e. to write 500 words a day throughout the whole year. Why not drop by this amazing sim and make writing a story inspired by it one of those 500 words? If you decide to take my challenge, leave your story in the comments. We’d love to read it.
As I get ready to leave this now familiar sim, I notice a deer on top of the cliff; is it really a deer? I try to focus. I wonder what it’s doing up there… Could it be that…? Or maybe… Well, and this is where I leave you, because… there’s a story waiting to happen at Gehena Vampire Clan.
Disclaimer: Virtual Writers Inc. and I are in no way affiliated with any shop located in the sims featured in this column nor do we intend to promote them.