Muddled Times
Issue:Issue 27, June 2004
Section:Game Information

Topiary, And All That

The Northeast corner of the Land is a deeply unappreciated area by many people. Or in travel agent speak, an "undiscovered gem" for the novice player. We already talked about the keep, in an earlier article, but there is much more around the keep to "keep" you amused than a few crows and a musty old griffin!

Let's start at the peninsula, just across the bank of the river. Leading away east is a luscious wood. This is pretty fertile land, lush growth, fed by a stream in the wood as well as that river to the southwest.

This is a naturalists' paradise, as witnessed by the hide set up by the pond. And there's a lot to see. Fox's are common around here, as well as bird life, particularly coots and similar.

Obviously this area, being on the outskirts of the keep, was used to supply the lord in his castle. Carry on east, and you reach the cowshed, on the edge of a couple of fields. Treasure hunters can often find old farm implements around here that could be worth a point or two.

Carry on east and you hit the main thoroughfare of this area, Dally Lane. Helpfully signposted, you can't get lost here. Head north on this route, and you'll come to the keep. Keep on north, and you'll enter the splendour of a vast formal garden, one to make Capability Brown weep tears of jealousy, despite its current slightly neglected state.

The ruined terrace for example leads north to a haha. This is no joke, but a sunken fence, or a ditch with a retaining wall used to divide lands without defacing a landscape. It serves to keep animals from reaching the keep, but more of that in a moment.

Keep on heading north, and you move onto the lawn, the flower garden, the fountain, without which no formal garden is complete, an avenue of lime trees, and to the first of the exquisite buildings at this end of the Land. The Chinese House, built in the shape of a pagoda, but on a much smaller scale than the real thing, as adventurers will know if they have explored far enough beyond the river bank or under the well, at the correct times.

Whilst normally locked, it is worth trying the door here, souvenirs abound, although of a strictly non-Chinese ancestry, as befits this type of area.

Let's head on west, and to one of those most strange of architectural features, the Folly. This one was built as a ruin, rather than becoming ruined, presumably to give some sense of age at the time these gardens were new. Or perhaps just because the designer felt like it. It does however afford a good view over the lake, and the music temple beyond.

Drop down to the southwest and admire two things. To the southwest, the deer park. Now we know why that haha was built, stags would not be popular in the main house, unless it was a trophy on the wall or a haunch on the carving table. Or preferably both. This area still holds a small population of wild deer, so be careful when wandering.

And to the north of the lake, a magnificent classical temple, complete with Latin inscription. We can only assume that the builder was referring to the prospect of making wizard when carving his inscription from the gospel of St. Matthew. "Multi sunt vocati, pauci vero electi". "Many are called, but few are chosen."

OK, back to the Chinese house, head east, and you reach the pantheon, a building dedicated to all gods. Presumably the gods of Tibetan monks and those that look after falconers too, for if you are quick off the mark you will often find objects relating to these two rather different disciplines.

Since gardens are meant to be explored and enjoyed, we can skip over the full joys of the walled garden, summerhouse, the arbour, and various tree lined avenues, but do keep your eyes peeled for more bird related sites, such as the aviary, the dovecote, and similar. Often they will be occupied by our feathered friends, unless you are here when the vandals of a mobile bash have decimated the fauna.

As you wander you may even be lucky enough to find the odd delicacy dug up. Truffles grow naturally here, and are dug up regularly by the local truffle hunters. Unfortunately the local truffle hunters have tusks, bristles, small piggy eyes, and a curly tail. So don't let them see you picking up their lunch.

Next to the aviary and the orangey, you will notice the entrance to a maze. It is well known that at the centre of this maze lies a beehive, and the lucky person to reach it may sample the local honey freely. Just beware two things. The bees themselves, who don't usually appreciate honey thieves, and the other danger of the maze. Namely, getting lost. Remember this is an old, established, slightly neglected maze, made of tall yew hedges. You won't be able to see or climb over them.

There is even a map of the maze available, or at least an abstract from it, for the full maze is known usually only to two types of people, apart from the original designers. Those being Player Killers, and of course, their prey, in the shape of high magic users!

Should you successfully negotiate all this, the exit back to the main land is pretty much directly south, via the flint built spinning and dyeing shed, from the yard of which you can look south west, over the monastery and olive groves leading back to Il Castellare.

Mail the author

... click here to return to the category list.
... or click here to go to the front page of this issue.