One area of Sorrow's Furnace has been tickling the back of my mind for a while. In particular, the area around and under the Stone Basilica (Figure 1)
Figure 1. The Stone Basilica, with map location.
In another thread, I had mentioned there were some Druidic influences in the area. After some closer examination, I found I had overstated that fact. However, I did discover some interesting tidbits.
First, what led me to the initial druid conenction. The resurrection shrines in the area underneath the Stone Basilica (Figure 2). These shrines are the exact same as the ones found in the majority of the Maguuma jungle.
Figure 2. Resurrection shrines around the Stone Basilica.
Note the plants on and around the shrines. These type of green, purple-tipped plants are common in the Maguuma jungle, and can be found in every area between Sage Lands and Ettin's Back. Not only are the plants found in plentiful numbers around the Stone Basilica, but there are flora-related connections to other places too (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Purple-tipped plants and giant vines
The picture on the right is from Sorrow's Furnace. The picture on the left is from the Catacombs. The big green vines are the same, and there's even a purple-tipped plant on the vine in the Catacombs. These vines appear all around the Stone Basilica, and in the majority of the Catacombs, outside of the built-up regions.
The similar plant life isn't the only connection to the Catacombs, either (Figure 4). I didn't notice this one until after I had left and was sorting through the pictures I had taken, but I think it's significant. Because I hadn't thought of it right away, I didn't get pictures from the same angle (I just took the Catacombs picture because I liked the view)
Figure 4. Architectural similarities between Sorrow's Furnace and the Catacombs
To sum up, similarities were discovered between two very different parts of Tyria in one place. We know that the Catacombs go beyond what we can explore in pre-searing Ascalon, and we know that Sorrow's Furnace connects to Echovald Forest.
I'm willing to declare the plant conenction coincidental, but I feel the architectural similarity between the Stone Basilica stairs and the Catacombs stairs warrants further exploration.
The presence of Maguuma-style resurrection shrines might not be directly accountable to druids as I first believed, but I think there is a connection. Druidic structures we see in the Maguuma jungle (such as the temple Dark Oak is in) have the canopy-style roof, as these resurrection shrines do. If the Maguuma shrines weren't built by druids (which they might not have been, as there are other shrines in the jungle with glowing runes on their bases), then who did build them, and why did they travel from Sorrow's Furnace to Maguuma, or the other way around?
Lastly, given the difference in styles between the resurrection shrines and stairs (such a mismatch in architecture is rarely found), I feel it is safe to say that the structures were not built by the same group of people. Whether that means dwarves built the Catacombs stairs, or the two regions shared a previous resident, is a matter for further investigation.
On another note, does anyone recognize the arch and pillar style used on the Stone Basilica? I can't help but feel I've seen that style before, but I can't think of where. My first thoughts were Echovald and the Catacombs, but I couldn't find a match in either place.