At first glance, The Arrival is a pure fictional eye candy: a picturesque castle perched on elegent rock archways and surrounded by turquoise ocean waters, tropical foliage, and distant mountains. It's the perfect fantasy escape and would make a great destination for a seriously relaxing vacation. But below the surface, there are a few design elements that connect this design to the narrative umbrella that ties together all of my steampunk quilts.
This castle was not built by nor is inhabited by humans. This is the seat of power for one of the elven factions. Unlike humans who use steam as their primary power source, elven society is based on magic. I wanted to convey magic without being super obvious about it. That's where the floating crystal lanterns and towers come into play.
There are small, floating crystals around the castle. These crystals are lanterns and provide light to the city. The larger floating crystal towers are both navigational beacons and defensive constructs. They can focus arcane energy into beams of light that can either provide guidance to ships (like a lighthouse) or damage invading enemies (with "lasers"). The "magic" is implied because both the lanterns and towers are free-floating.
There is also a large, gold statue of a dragon in front of the castle. Dragons are very real in this world, and the elves — being more in-tune with nature than the humans — have a living connection to these creatures. I wanted to provide viewers with a soft introduction to the majestic creatures, since I very much plan to include dragons in my quilts in the future. (Bonus: There are also two dragons flying far in the distance.)
Lastly, this quilt's title is all about the airship. Unlike humans, elves have no need to fly in steam-powered mechanical craft. This airship is from the human realm. It carries an emissary who hopes to establish friendly diplomatic relations with the elves, in the interest of learning about their connection to — and mastery of — magic.