Three Twisted Knots

Not all those who wander are lost.

A Tangential Tale from the Fairelands

A Retrospective Look

I thought I was free. But isn’t that always the way?

Truth is, I’d been searching for days to find a forest worth hiding in; in these modern and varied Fairelands, that’s sometimes not the easiest brief. So many towns with only snatches of forest in them.

I discovered Living Echoes

When I discovered Living Echoes, I believed I had found a place where I could stay for a long time, or at least until the hunters caught up with me.

Why were you being hunted, you ask?

It’s a fair question.

Why, indeed?

It may be that there are some people who just hunt wood spirits. Dryads, of course, are mystical and magical creatures who can bestow wishes (or curses) if they’ve a mind to.

Perhaps I stole something. That’s what they’d tell you if you asked them, the hunters.

I could be the lost of love of some forest elfin king, where I rather wanted to be lost.

Does it matter?

I don’t really think it matters. I was being pursued, against my will, by folk who did not wish me well.

Discovering Living Echoes

Discovering Living Echoes was like coming home. Home to the triumph of the green, home to the memories of the forest, home to the remembrance of all that is good and missed in the world, and I wanted to stay forever.

What more beautiful place could there be?

There was so much life in the land here, so much beauty spilling over into the very air, I wanted to sink into it and find every little bit of it, and just be blissfully, dryadically, me.

We dryads are crafty, you know.

I could always, if I truly wanted, melt into a tree, but that’s a time commitment, and you must find just exactly the right tree. You don’t melt into a tree for just one night. You choose to stay with a tree, over the long haul. You find a yearling sapling, and you nurture it and speak to it, and declare your love… come to think of it, when poets define that dryad/tree relationship as like marriage, we laugh at them. Little mortal marriages, they last five minutes or fifty years. You melt into a bristlecone pine, that’s your fate for thousands of years. It’s not for a hopeful traveller like myself.

But let’s face it: it’s just nicer to live in a forest.

The things mortal beings do with wood….

Trees already are birdhouses. Why kill them so you can encourage birds to live in houses that more resemble mortal dwellings? I will never understand. Sometimes, when I see something like this, it makes me sad, but if I allowed that feeling to surface every time I saw such things, well. I’d never stop weeping, because mortal beings do this a lot.

It was shortly after this sad reflection that I heard the sounds of hunters’ horses resounding from the meadow. I ran fast into the nearest copse of trees, where I knew it would be harder for them to find me.

Almost…

At that moment, I heard the pink flower tree call to me. He offered me safety and contentedness. How many dryads, I wondered, had been convinced to choose a tree under stress or duress? I could hear the hoofbeats. When I reached out, I could feel sweet sap warm to my touch. Oh, it would be all right. Here was a beautiful tree, in a beautiful place. I could learn to love him in time. I knew I could. And it is so easy, you know, for a dryad to become one with a tree. Not so easy to separate oneself: if you leave, he dies, if he dies, you die: it’s a struggle, but if the alternative is death, well. I caressed his bard with my fingertips.

I smiled.

Oh, but then, oh! Then! Then, I smiled, and knew I would be free for a while longer. Because, just as I closed my eyes to take that step and give myself to this beautiful pink flowered tree…

I felt a shift in the air.

I felt moisture on my lips.

I smelled ozone and magic.

That was a joyful drawing-away, because that was the moment the mists began to rise around the Fairelands, and I knew these hapless hunters would be sent back to their own Realms.

As for me, yes, I’ll go back to the realm of my mother-forest, for now. But I will live to travel another day, to see more worlds and wonders, and I will not fade into the mists as the Fairelands do. Somewhere, whether I’m visible to you or not, I’ll be searching for another place like Living Echoes. And maybe I’ll stay there for a long, long while.

Notes, Credits, & SLURLs

  • Living Echoes is one of twenty regions that make up the 2022 Relay for Life of Second Life’s Fantasy Faire, to benefit the American Cancer Society. Aarkenfen is designed by by Kadaj Yoshikawa and Janire Coba and sponsored by Harshlands & Belle EpoqueFantasy Faire opened on the 22nd of April at 12pm SLT (that’s US Pacific Time!). Visit before the 11th of May, when all the Fairelands will fade back into the mists, never to be seen again as they are this year. While official programming for this year’s Faire is now over, the mists do not rise until tomorrow, 11 May, so until that day, you can still wander through the Fairelands, find something beautiful to wear, or photograph, or remember, and embark upon or finish the Fairelands Quest.
  • Seda’s Skin: Petrichor & Trap: Neriverus, Light (April Patreon gift for Petrichor fans).
  • Seda’s Hair: Petrichor & Trap: Zinnia Hair
  • Seda’s Eyes: Petrichor, WebMind Eyes
  • Top & Skirt: AtaMe, Iris Armor & Skirt
  • Other items not featured at Fantasy Faire or created by Fantasy Faire merchants: Body: Maitreya; Head: Lelutka: EvoX Gaia.
A Long Road

it took me thirty-seven years to meet the love of my life. Thirty-seven years that included two bad marriages, a shedload of choices that would be regrets if I kept a tally of things to regret (I used to), one child, one miscarriage (that I know of), reams of making excuses for whichever bad relationship partner I was with that often began with phrases like, ‘He’s not a bad person, really’, a sense of failure, helplessness, and worthlessness, which sadly sometimes manifested itself as ire, anger, and disrespect for people who would have loved me if I’d let them, and the fatalistic surety that my life was hollow and I was worthy of nothing better. I felt unequal to the world.

And then one year (2003), I got almost tricked into going to a party I didn’t think I wanted to go to, hosted by a member of my band with whom I’d had a disagreement (but whom I still loved very much), and I was standing there in this living room with which I was so familiar, surrounded by people who were part of my community, and feeling like a fraud for even being in the room, not to mention hating the clothes I was wearing and the body in side them.

Now, when one of my best friends in all the world enters the room, it always makes me feel better. But this night, this dearest of all dear friends came in with his wife—and his three houseguests, Joe Raftery and his two daughters, Anna and Emily. And something happened. This gentle, beautiful awkward man saw me and found me beautiful. And what’s more, over the next few days, he convinced me that we could have a relationship and maybe even a life together. Just one little hitch: Joe was Irish, and he lived in London. His daughters lived near him with their mum. He had no desire to visit the USA overmuch; they’d made this trip to support a fellow musician in her first guest of honour slot at a little convention that happens near Atlanta, Georgia every January.

We lasted six months apart after he and his daughters returned to London. I travelled to London for a long visit over two months that summer, and when I came back to Georgia, it was only to pack my stuff and move. We were married the following year.

Magic

Joe was magic. I guess if you have been or are in love like that, you will know what I mean. And what’s more than that, he was able to help me understand that I was magic, too. If I said I would like to accomplish something, Joe would start planning how it could happen. That was a far cry from the responses I was used to, the kind of responses that are only good for making one person feel powerful and the other person feel weak. I’ll give you just one example. I’d spent many years studying English in American universities, but I had never achieved a degree in it, despite the fact I was and am a thorough and thoughtful reader, a good analyser, and an excellent writer. American universities, if you’re not familiar with them, require students to go through a ‘core curriculum’ that includes most of what you would like to forget about high school, including, for me, college algebra and lab sciences. I never passed a university level math course, not with all the help in the world. I let Joe know that despite what I saw as my past academic failures, it was a dream of mine to have an advanced degree in creative writing. And he (in my memory it seems that he did this without blinking an eye) suggested that I just go to this university that had a great programme, bring in my application, and explain my academic past.

And do you know what? it worked. And I made it on to that course, and I worked my arse off part-time for two years and made good friends and found fantastic mentors and graduated with a Masters in Creative Writing. With a Distinction. All because Joe said, ‘I think we can make that happen’.

You’re very lucky, really

My relationship with Joe helped me feel confident enough to do things like apply for great jobs and get them, stand up to people who belittled me, and what’s more, he was the sort of person who’d do that for anyone. I had never had a relationship with anyone who understood how I felt about everything from feminism and politics to music to why it was OK to just sit on the couch and hold hands all night if that’s what you wanted to do. In 2012, my life felt like it was on track. Sure, it had taken me 46 years to get to this point, but that was OK, because Joe and I were OK, more than OK, and we had plans to be the couple in the old folks’ home still so much in love that people would tell us to get a room!

In 2012, I got my Master’s.

In 2012, I got a promotion at my job to do the thing I’d wanted to do since I got there.

In 2012, Joe, for the first time in his life, started feeling sick: it seemed to happen cyclicly, about once a month. After a lot of frustrating near-diagnoses and annoying false flags, our wonderful GP, the like of whom I’ve never seen since in the NHS or elsewhere, made a very pointed calla and got Joe admitted to the local hospital for tests, so they could watch his condition.

When the news came, it was scary, because the word Cancer is always scary. But it was going to be OK. It was all going to be OK. You see, said the doctor, you’re very lucky really: you have Hodgkins’ Lymphoma, and 90% of patients with Hodgkins recover fully after treatment.

And as scary as that word, cancer, is, what we heard was, ‘You are going to survive this’. And why shouldn’t he? Joe was just 55 years old, in very good physical health, and he had all the other things that pointed to a seamless trip through chemotherapy and a successful outcome.

90% of people who get Hodgkins’ Lymphoma recover fully after treatment.

What you don’t think about, when you’re there holding your husband’s pale and slightly unsteady (from shock) hand, is that in order for there to be a 90% success rate, there must be that other 10%.

I think because I needed an escape of a different kind, in 2012, about a month after Joe’s initial diagnosis, I started roleplaying on Second Life. It helped pass the time when I wasn’t at work and I couldn’t sleep. I guess even though everything was going to be OK, I still worried. And I found a really nice roleplaying community, made some very close friends, and started a little roleplaying blog, because it gave me somewhere to write.

In 2014, I discovered Fantasy Faire, and I practically lived at the Faire while it was on, as you do when you’re new to something wonderful. I IMed people and bugged them to find out how I could get involved.

The next year, 2015, I became an official Fantasy Faire blogger, and I became acquainted with the idea that there was a Litfest, and said, ooh, could I help with that? Joe sat in on several meetings via Skype (it seems forever ago that we used Skype!) and watched over my shoulder, even though he was quite ill a lot of the time that year, as I learned to take better and better SL photographs and wove stories around the Faire.

And Catalina Staheli took my official Why I Relay photo, and if you’ve been following this blog for a long time (all 2 of you!), you probably remember it, but here it is again.

2015.RFL.Gwen Enchanted
Why I Relay

Less than a year after Cat took that photograph of the earlier incarnation of The Amazing Catwoman, I was at widow at 49 years of age. The convention where Joe and I had planned to spend my 50th birthday felt like a wake. That whole year passed by in a blur, and now it is 2022, and I have been working with Fantasy Faire and Relay for Life for eight years, and for six years, six years, three months, and six days, I have been a widow.

It’s not OK for world leaders to purchase yachts that cost more than this Faire raises in a year, when there is not a cure for cancer.

It’s not OK for people in the country of my birth to have to consider the words medical bankruptcy when they contemplate what their lives will be like after someone in their family has been diagnosed with cancer.

It is not OK.

I am not unhappy. I have a full life, a beloved partner who loves me in the same way Joe loves me (yes, I used the present tense, because I do not believe that even if Joe’s atoms are scattered far and wide into the cosmos (and some of them into me), those parts of the things into which his stardust settles would, could ever stop loving me), and my beloved partner knows that I still love Joe and that he is not Joe, and he loves Joe too.

Because love, to quote a song I wrote before Joe died, is a well that does not run dry.

Love (love love)
Love is a well (love love)
Love is a well that does not run dry

But, and this is an important but, it is not OK that we do not yet have a cure for cancer.

And that, my beautiful darlings, is why I relay.

Still too young to be a widow

Notes, Credits, & SLURLs

  • Fairelands Junction is one of twenty regions that make up the 2022 Relay for Life of Second Life’s Fantasy Faire, to benefit the American Cancer Society. Mythspire Ridge is designed by Saiyge Lotus and sponsored by The NeoVictoria ProjectFantasy Faire opened on the 22nd of April at 12pm SLT (that’s US Pacific Time!). Visit before the 8th of May, when all the Fairelands will fade back into the mists, never to be seen again as they are this year.
  • Gwyneth’s Skin: ND/MD, Uli, in Snow
  • Gwyneth’s Earrings: Mini A Chuu & MishMash Fusion, Telynor Bee Wings Earrings
  • Gwyneth’s Gown: AtaMe, Xaron
  • Gwyneth’s Wings: Lunaria, Dragonfly Wings
  • Gwyneth’s Crown: Mosquito’s Way, Hirwen Circlet Tiara
  • Other items not featured at Fantasy Faire: Hair: Stealthic, Realness; Head: Lelutka: EvoX Gaia; Body: Maitreya; Eyes: Euphoric, Mia; Lipstick: Shiny Stuffs, Secret’s in the Gloss
Some things are getting more difficult

From The Amazing Catwoman:

I noticed recently that it was getting harder and harder to send messages from Faerie. I talked to Wulfrich about it, and he thinks this is because Gwyneth is becoming more and more a creature of Faerie and less and less a creature of the world from which she came. Her losing her humanity affects the whole Realm of Awenia, so it’s now harder to send messages from there. I started using the alchemical glyphs I’ve been using from Awenia here, but then realised I’m not needing them as much at the Faire.

This year’s Faire has been different for me.

I’m not working!

For once, I am not working the Faire! That means I’ve been able to walk around and just enjoy myself. I know, I know; it’s not like I smile a lot in photos, but it feels good, after something like ten years, not to be working security this year.

I mean, not that they didn’t ask me. They did. I just said I wanted to take a break.

I find that in every Faire there are places I come back to again and again, and after my third visit to Necturn Moon, I figured I should probably take some pictures or something.

A marvel

The thing is, Necturn Moon is a marvel. Not all of the Realms we see in the Faire are so complete. But Necturn Moon is a little microcosm, and not far from the market stalls, you can find the most amazing array of waterfalls and glowing orb bushes and trees. Orbs are everywhere here; I’m glad I didn’t have to do this risk assessment, b because I’m sure someone had to do it, and I don’t envy them. I hated that job last year; it’s one reason why I chose to take the year off. And of course there’s nothing outwardly sinister about the statistically unlikely number of orbs here; it’s just, you know… orbs. I don’t trust orbs. Especially ones that glow.

This might lead you to some questions

Now, you might be wondering several things at this point.

  1. Why am I, The Amazing Catwoman, distrustful of orbs?
    • Yeah; not gonna tell you. You probably don’t even know me.
  2. If I do so mightily distrust orbs, why am I standing on one?
    • I wish I knew.
  3. Why do I think Necturn Moon is a marvel, if there are orbs, which I distrust, everywhere?
    • Good question. There is definitely something freaky going on up in here.
  4. OK, so, I don’t want to point out the obvious, but I also seem to be underneath a great big honking moon, which, by definition, is a glowing orb. What’s up with that?
    • See previous answer.
I am seriously just standing on top of an orb, smiling stupidly up at another orb.

So this is when things start to get a little hazy.

First of all, I am seriously just standing on top of an orb, smiling stupidly up at another orb. And then I realise that I’ve had orbs around my head (well, I mean, kinda more 2D type circles, but it’s a related thing) since I portaged into this Realm.

Rational Thought Me would be hightailing my svart alfar arse right on out of there.

But no.

There are over sixty photos that look a lot like this on my mobile phone.

I have absolutely no idea why I stuck around Creepy Orb Realm (stick a “blimey” on the end of that and you know you’re watching Mary Poppins!) for as long as I did, and truth be told, I have only hazy memories of the whole thing. Like, why did I need 63 pictures of orbs in Necturn Moon? Why?

I started thinking about that. Go on and make the jokes: I’ll wait.

It’s like some weird horror film!

You know that part in the horror film where the ingenue’s best friend (who will shortly be known as the ingenue’s dearly departed best friend) says something like, ‘Hey, let’s look in the cellar’! or, ‘If we split up, we can cover more ground’! And everybody in the cinema, or on the couch, cries out in unison, ‘Don’t do <incredibly stupid thing>’?

My line here was clearly, ‘Let’s get really close to one of these huge creepy orb plants and take selfies‘! Because that was a super bright idea. You know what those leaves remind me of? They remind me of Audrey 2. If you don’t know who that is, trust me: that’s a bad place to take a selfie.

Who’s got a death wish?

Because Who’s got a death wish? This girl! This girl has a death wish!

The fuck is up with this photograph anyway? I do not wink.

Sixty. Three. Photographs.

I kid you not. Sixty-three.

Go on: say, ‘We didn’t know you could count that high, TAC’. I fucking dare you.

Some of those sixty-three photographs are even kinda good.

Like this one, for example!

Like this one for example. First off, it’s almost orbless, which makes it kinda superior to everything else right off the bat. But you see that in the distance? That’s the magic island on the next Realm over, Living Echoes. Sweet. I didn’t know my iPhone could do that. Too bad there aren’t any Apple Stores in Faerie, amirite? They could have taught me some of this stuff!

Moon Over Necturn Moon

I should probably burn all of these. Then again, they’re all digital, so… yeah, maybe not. I like this one, though. Still an orb. Like, if I were only going to keep one, I’d keep this one, because there’s a ring around the moon above Necturn Moon. And that makes me think of this song by Elephant Revival. You’re welcome. (YouTube link below)

Author Disclaimer:

I really love Necturn Moon, and I don’t find it creepy at all. It’s been one of my favourite regions in a Faire year where I haven’t had anywhere near the amount of time I’d like to have had, a place I find myself coming back to again and again. I suspect TAC will probably be back again before the Faire’s over, even if she would never admit it.

Notes, Credits, & SLURLs

  • Necturn Moon is one of twenty regions that make up the 2022 Relay for Life of Second Life’s Fantasy Faire, to benefit the American Cancer Society. Mythspire Ridge is designed by Julala Demina and Lil Cinnamon and sponsored by JinxFantasy Faire opened on the 22nd of April at 12pm SLT (that’s US Pacific Time!). Visit before the 8th of May, when all the Fairelands will fade back into the mists, never to be seen again as they are this year.

What’s TAC Wearing?

  • The Stunning Skin: Petrichor & Trap, Nariverus, in colourway Silene. For the past several years, Petrichor & Trap have done collaborative skins for Fantasy Faire, and each one is better than the one before it. I love them so much, and Gwyneth is just too prissy to show enough skin to show them off, so TAC usually gets the honour of wearing at least one of these in at least one of her Faire posts. This one is my favourite so far: I love the leafy accents all over, and the materials are just chefkiss gorgeous.
  • The Complementary Outfit:
  • The Rebellious Nails: Eventyra, Lunar Fire

Items not featured at Fantasy Faire:

  • The Attitudinal Hair: Mina, Avril (At Uber)
  • The Questionably Creepy Lipstick: Misteria, Acherona Lipsticks (At Baroqued)
  • The Strangely Orb-Adjacent Halo: LuluB!, SpiritBlossom
  • Other Stuff: Body: Maitreya; Head, Lelutka EvoX Ceylon

*Special Thanks to Mystical Edenflower, the girl genius behind MishMash Fusion, who helped me source this outfit and just kept repeating the word AtaMe over and over and over again in IMs until I realised she was indeed the fashion goddess of my universe and this was in fact the correct outfit for this post!

A tale of light and shadow

If Mythspire Ridge seems dazzling from afar
Then you have not looked close enough. Go back,
And take the stairways down to where the sea
Meets soil: there, you will hear a different tale.

The belly of the ridge

The belly of the ridge, beneath the arch,
Beneath the statue bases, where the trees
Grow shorter but the crystals shine as bright,
Here find the roots of Mythspire Ridge revealed.

Listen with your bones

Do you know how to listen with your bones?
Have you learned all the languages of trees?
Another language is yet spoken here
Where sea-salt takes its tea to veiled mushrooms.

Don’t miss it

So now, sit comfortably. Don’t close your eyes—
You’ll miss the bioluminescent moss
Or lose the yellow duckweed twinkling,
Or skip the chance to wish on the moon lotus.

So many tales to tell

And sure, I could regale you with the tale
Of how the gnome toes got their name (it’s grim!),
Or warn you that the shimmerleaf trees lie,
But I am not your mother; not a chance.

What are we here for?

And we are here to learn: what else is there?
The universe is made of stories, loves.
It is unfair to disregard the dark
Because you seek the light. Of that, I’m sure.

The shadow in the light

Consider here the shadows of the veils:
When light is slant, they blanket that great Hall
And make the most alluring patterns there.
Because of them, you notice now the light.

I love a veil

Forgive me: did you think because I’m cute
And dressed in pink this day would be a lark?
We’re called “The Good Folk” not because we’re good:
Insult a “Kindly One” and you’ll learn why.

A Mushroom with a view

And now you want to go back up those steps
So you can see a mushroom with a view?
I hardly think it’s worth it, but of course
I’ll do this favour for you, just this once.

The Golden Stag

See here the Golden Stag assert his rule.
He’s King of Sunrise now, but just like Hugh,
That unfortunate troll, he’s made of stone.
Nevertheless, those antlers could do harm.

You’ll owe me…

Another favour? Now you’ll owe me, child.
But yes, I’ll take you up so you can see
That vista all the poets talk about.
A wish for your wish granted; that seems fair.

I leave you with the amaranthine ken
That every night, you’ll see the dark again.

Notes, Credits, & SLURLs

  • Mythspire Ridge is one of twenty regions that make up the 2022 Relay for Life of Second Life’s Fantasy Faire, to benefit the American Cancer Society. Mythspire Ridge is designed by Elicio Ember and sponsored by Ceridwen’s CauldronFantasy Faire opened on the 22nd of April at 12pm SLT (that’s US Pacific Time!). Visit before the 8th of May, when all the Fairelands will fade back into the mists, never to be seen again as they are this year.
  • Gwyneth’s Gown: Belle Epoque, Living Echoes
  • Gwyneth’s Wings: SP (Spider Productions), Ascendant Wings, Fairy v 1
  • Gwyneth’s Jewels (Crown, earrings, and necklace): Petrichor, Markesh Jewelry
  • Gwyneth’s Ear-tips: Venge, Lelutka EvoX Ear Blushing
  • Gwyneth’s Skin: ND/MD, FLO, in Snow
  • Other items not featured at Fantasy Faire: Hair: Stealthic, Realness; Nails: Evyntera, Unicorn Tears; Head: Lelutka: EvoX Gaia; Body: Maitreya; Eyeshadow: Cazimi, Fitoori; Lipstick: Shiny Stuffs, Secret’s in the Gloss

Because folks have asked: yes, the sponsor SLURLs point to the sponsors’ main stores; that’s how it’s listed in the Fairelands entries. The region SLURLs point to the region landing points. All individual links to merchants other than the sponsor links point to their actual stores at this year’s Faire.



It’s a place full of paths.

From Friðros:

It isn’t worth it to follow the Shining Throng around everywhere. At best, it’s tiresome, fun old dad jokes told in tandem by Queen Gwyneth, Nathaniel, Security Chief Wulfrich and First Officer Brán notwithstanding. And those are the high points.

At worst, I worry I’m becoming more like her. I noticed my eyes glowing yesterday.

I mean, they’re not glowing now, but I swear they were yesterday.

I mean, they’re not glowing now, but I swear they were yesterday.

After being in the Queen’s Service for just over a year, I feel that I know a few things about Deep Faerie. That’s what my parents call the kind of pocket Faeryverse Gwyneth has created for her own purposes—and I’m pretty sure even she doesn’t know what they are.

Anyway, the Fae like to think they’re unpredictable. But the truth is, everything that happens in a small world, like Awenia, tends to stay … small. And that means there are only so many paths you can take. From this, I can derive that in fact the Queen and her various hangers-on are in fact going through all the same steps, over and over. Like a dance no-one is even sure they’re doing.

I think it’s why I looked so forward to coming to Faire this year. Last year, when it was all new for me, I was just excited to be part of Queen Gwyneth’s orbit. This year, I’m branching out a bit, I guess. Or trying to. And unlike Awenia, the Faire is big. Today, I discovered a Faire Realm called Living Echoes.

Pulled In

It was easy to feel pulled in, not just by the beauty of the place, but by the feel of it, the ambiance. I felt like I could stay there forever.

And then I noticed the glowing ghosts of beings; I’m surprised it took me so long, because they were everywhere.

Each complete

As I drew closer, each figure became more complete, more fully realised, although in the end they were still unformed, not—oh.

Then, I realised the significance of the name. All these beings were echoes. I wondered briefly what I might look like to them. But they mostly stayed where they were, or they moved in seemingly programmed patterns— like a dance.

No; the irony of what I just suggested about Her Majesty and the Shining Throng does not escape me when compared to the echoes of beings in this Realm.

Forget all that: It’s beautiful here

And then I decided to forget all that, because it’s so beautiful in this Realm I don’t have to ask questions about it. I decided I’d just soak it in, and not wonder about any greater meanings or deep philosophy: I can leave that to philosophers.

My grandfather used to love bridges. He would brave the trolls every time, just to cross a bridge, and he loved to stand, like this figure, in the middle and look out over the water, or the chasm, or whatever the bridge spanned. He said he could stand and look out over the world forever, from a bridge, said it was like being in magical twilight, that he could feel the pulse of the universe there.

And then there were animals and statues, as well.

Gwyneth told me once, during one of those conversations where she was bonding with me, that when she was younger she was obsessed with unicorns. I remember telling her that all little girls are obsessed with unicorns. Then she told me about her friend Tack, whose name isn’t really Tack, and how it was really Tack who was obsessed with unicorns. She started pretending to be obsessed with unicorns too, to make fun of Tack—and the one day she found she loved them as much as Tack did.‘Everyone’, she said, ‘is obsessed with something. I’m sure I was obsessed with something before I picked that obsession with unicorns’.

Now, I can’t stop wondering: if everyone is obsessed with something, then what’s my obsession? Maybe it changes from day to day.

As obsessions go…I guess unicorns aren’t so bad

As obsessions go… I guess unicorns aren’t so bad. I don’t think I should pick the same obsession as the Faerie Queen, though. My eyes might start glowing again.

Bridges?

I could pick bridges, I suppose: it’s in my family history. My grandfather had whole albums of all the bridges he’d visited.

On second thought, that sounds like a lot of work. Hard pass.

Or what about stone circles?

Or what about stone circles? Awenia has a lot of those. They change a lot, though. I half expect there to be a circle in the book forest one day with books instead of stones.

Then I stopped in my tracks.

And then, I noticed something that made me stop stock-still. I stopped thinking about obsessions altogether. Because there was a portal in the middle of that stone circle. And, for lack of a better term, I became obsessed with the idea of walking through it.

In the end, I couldn’t resist.

When I walked through the portal arch, I ended up high above the rest of the Realm.

I found myself in the midst of many dancing echoes.

And there I was, in the middle of a group of dancing “echoes”. I felt like we were all having a good time. I tried to match their steps, even though I am not the world’s greatest dancer.

Oops—Yeah I am not the greatest dancer

Nobody is ever going to write poems about my grace at dancing…

Anyway, this was fun! We were all having such a good time.

OK, then it got kinda creepy.

Suddenly I didn’t want to be part of the echo dance line any more.

And as much as I hate to admit it, the only thing I could think of was making my way back to Her Majesty and the rest of the Throng as quickly as possible.

Luckily, I have simple ways to find myself back with Her Majesty.

One of the perqs of being in Service to the Realm of Awenia is that I can always find my way back to Queen Gwyneth with no trouble. The down-side to this is that it’s transitive magic: she can also find her way to me with no trouble as well.

The next time I visit Living Echoes, I’ll avoid the dancing glow brigade and just enjoy the forest. But I kind of want to bring Her Majesty here, just to see what she’d make of it.

Notes, Credits, & SLURLs

  • Living Echoes is one of twenty regions that make up the 2022 Relay for Life of Second Life’s Fantasy Faire, to benefit the American Cancer Society. Aarkenfen is designed by by Kadaj Yoshikawa and Janire Coba and sponsored by Harshlands & Belle EpoqueFantasy Faire opened on the 22nd of April at 12pm SLT (that’s US Pacific Time!). Visit before the 8th of May, when all the Fairelands will fade back into the mists, never to be seen again as they are this year.
  • Friðros’ Dress: 1313 Mockingbird Lane: Maia Dress
  • Friðros’ Necklace: Mini A Chuu, Luna Moonlight Butterfly Necklace
  • Friðros’ Shoes: Lassitude & Ennui, Dryad Boots
  • Friðros’ Skin: ND/MD, Sia in Satin Tone
  • Other stuff, not featured at Fantasy Faire: Earrings: Swallow, E02; Hair: Magika, Celeste; Body: Maitreya; Head: Lelutka, EvoX Ceylon; Eyeshadow: Dotty’s Secret, Cleo; Lipstick: Shiny Stuffs, CosmoGirl

There’s something about a Realm shaped like a large merman head….

Really, I suppose it’s just the Realm Centrepiece, if you want to get pedantic about it, but I have never seen such a thing, and frankly the tentacles are a bit jarring. I suppose if you were close enough, you might not notice, but Bran flew right out to get a good distance shot for us, since we like to remember these things.

I was going on and on about the disembodied head and where the rest of the (alleged) merman might be (yes; I am self aware enough to know that I do go on about things from time to time), when Friðros, bless her plain-spoken Icelandic heart, asked, ‘Is there some reason you’re in a crappy mood today, Your M, or are you just trying to piss everyone off’?

‘I hadn’t noticed’, I replied, and you can bet that indeed I had noticed, thank you very much. ‘Do you have something you’d like to share with the group’?

Bran took two steps sideways.

Friðros might be plain-spoken, but she can recognise when she’s made a blunder and is about to be in Mortal Peril. She pointed and said, ‘Look! a gazebo’!

Look! A Gazebo!

Nathaniel burst out laughing.

I burst out laughing.

Wulfrich burst out laughing.

Bran raised an eyebrow.

Friðros looked confused.

‘Well, there’s nothing to be done now’, Wulfrich said. ‘You’ll have to tell her the joke’.

‘I do like jokes’, said Friðros. Personally, I think she was just happy she’d dodged the bullet.

‘It comes from a magazine’, Nathaniel said. ‘Gwyneth would say it’s an old magazine, but I have no such anchor in her particular time or time-stream, I should say. Something about a roleplaying game, I believe’.

‘Yes’, I replied. But you all know I cannot resist a gazebo, so I had to make my way over there in order to tell the joke.

‘Come Closer’!

Everyone dutifully gathered round. It is good to be Queen.

‘So’, I began. ‘There’s a group of kids—and by kids I mean they were mostly under I guess eighty—and they’re playing Dungeons and Dragons. Has everyone heard of that’?

Scattered nods, enough that I didn’t feel I had to explicate tabletop roleplaying games to the small subset of the Shining Throng in attendance that day.

‘Rumour has it’, Wulfrich added, ‘there was a fellow playing a Paladin, by the name of Eric. We don’t know if Eric was the player’s name, or the Paladin’s name, but since the story is likely apocryphal, it doesn’t really matter’.

I stared at Wulfrich. Wulfrich blew me a kiss. Cheeky.

So the GM says….

‘So’, I continued, they’re all playing this game of D&D, and the GameMaster says, ‘You come upon a meadow in which there is a gazebo’.

‘And at this point’, Nathaniel said, ‘the Paladin’,

‘Eric’, Bran supplied helpfully.

‘Yes. Eric. At this point, Eric pulls out his Holy Avenger sword’….

‘Why did the GM give him one of those’? Wulfrich asked.

‘Boys’, I said. ‘Nathaniel is speaking’.

‘Right. Eric pulls out his Holy Avenger sword and says, “I detect evil on it!” and then looks to the GM for confirmation’.

So this is how we’re doing this. OK, fine. ‘GM just shakes his head and says, “You don’t detect any evil. It’s a gazebo‘, I said.

‘”Well, how about magic,” Eric continues. Is it emanating any magic’? Nathaniel mimed poor Eric pointing his Holy Avenger at the gazebo.

‘Nope, the GM replies’, I said. ‘It’s a gazebo, Eric’.

‘”I know, I know!” says Eric’. Nathaniel now mimed Eric pulling something out of his trouser pocket. ‘”OK”, he says, “I’m rolling initiative!”‘

‘”You have initiative,” says the GM, not even bothering to look at the die. “What do you want to do?”‘ I just shook my head.

Obvious, but still funny

‘Now at this point’, said Nathaniel, ‘It is patently obvious that Eric The Paladin has no fucking idea what a gazebo is, and the rest of the party are all holding in laughter’.

‘I’m pretty sure they try firing arrows at it’, Wulfrich added.

‘Oh, they definitely do’, Nathaniel agreed. ‘In some versions of the story, the Paladin actually hacks the gazebo to splinters and then asks for experience points’.

Even Friðros is snorting with laughter now. ‘OK, is this like the oldest gaming joke in the universe’?

Impossible to say, really.

‘Impossible to say, really’, I replied. ‘No matter where we are in the universe, or the multiverse, or the meta verse or whatever the kids are calling it these days, it’s always possible that someone thought of a joke long before this one’.

‘It’s more fun when the GM decides the gazebo eats the Paladin’, Wulfrich chimed in.

‘How can a gazebo eat a Paladin’? Sometimes, Friðros is the biggest literalist of them all, and that’s saying something, given present company.

‘With its long, pointy wooden teeth’! said Bran, and he pulled his lips back grotesquely.

‘At this rate, we’ll be on to vorpal bunnies in no time’, Nathaniel said. ‘When really we could just enjoy the scenery’.

By this point, I was cheered up enough to move on.

The fact is, there was a lot of beautiful stuff to see in Aarkenfen, and I don’t just mean gazebos. Everywhere we turned, there was another lovely statue, another little water feature.

Atop The King’s Head

And, if you were tenacious enough to climb to the top of the mer-king’s head (and not make jokes about how every pub in London that isn’t called The Queen’s Head is called The King’s Head), you got an amazing view of neighbouring Open, with a glimpse of Mythspire Ridge int he distance.

Another water feature!

Not to mention this lovely mer-damsel.

‘Does this mean the mer-king has water in his brain’? Friðros laughed at her own joke. Luckily, the rest of us did, too.

Notes, Credits, and SLURLs

  • Aarkenfen is one of twenty regions that make up the 2022 Relay for Life of Second Life’s Fantasy Faire, to benefit the American Cancer Society. Aarkenfen is designed by Alrunia Ahn and Luna Barak and sponsored by Dandelion Daydreams FactoryFantasy Faire opened on the 22nd of April at 12pm SLT (that’s US Pacific Time!). Visit before the 8th of May, when all the Fairylands will fade back into the mists, never to be seen again as they are this year.
  • Gwyneth’s Crown: Kotolier, Circlet Justus
  • Gwyneth’s Gown: Poet’s Heart, Frederika
  • Gwyneth’s Wings: rainnn, Hope Butterfly Cloak
  • Gwyneth’s Skin: Milk Blood, Alina in T1
  • Other stuff, not featured at Fantasy Faire: Body: Maitreya; Head: Lelutka EvoX Gaia; Hair: Magika, Monarch.
Another year, another Faire, and there is Magic in the Air

For the first time, my darlings, I considered staying home this year. I mean, many Realms are still struggling with the pandemic, and in at least one dark timeline, Boris Johnson is Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. That’s enough to scare a Fae Queen into holing up in her delightful tiny Realm and just putting more things into the Book Forest and feeling pleased with herself because there are so many pretty things there and there’s always a lovely breeze coming off the water.

But let’s get real for a minute: Miss Faire? That is not happening. Nope. Firstly, it’s the best shopping of the year, and not even The Author’s little drama with moving country (again!) is going to get in the way of that for me.

I have arrived with a small entourage: just Bran and Wulfrich (he insisted!), and of course Friðros is with us as well, but aside from them, Clutie, Nathaniel (he grumbles constantly but he loves it really!), and maybe about forty of the Shining Throng, I’m all by myself.

Of course, the first thing I did was find the Analog Dog salon, where the legendary Queue Marlowe herself did my hair! There’s nothing like being taken care of by a true Mistress of the craft. She also had these beautiful masks and headpieces in her shop, and you know I couldn’t resist those either! Not so far away was the fabulous Belle Époque boutique, where I was able to find just the perfect gown

As you must know by now, each year there are new Realms represented in the Fairylands. Once I’d got my hair done and my gown sorted, I stepped out for my first tourist foray in the town of Brocéliande (named for the nearby famous forest), and it did not disappoint.

Echoes of the nearby forest are everywhere

Echoes of the nearby forest are everywhere, and it seems this is one of those Realms where there’s always a clear sky. It’s easy to imagine that one is anywhere, when you walk through the store arches and into the higher town.

Nature really is Queen here

Further out from the town, some elements suggest that from time to time, the forest takes back what she believes to be rightfully hers and that, despite what folk would prefer to believe, Nature Herself really is Queen here.

Nature and Me: We’re like this!

I think that’s why I asked Bran to photograph me here. He is so excited about his new collection of lenses, and it’s a good thing he has that daemonbag, because his camera kit must weigh as much as he does by now! I’m sure he prefers our occasional jaunts to Nu Jyorck over the Faire—until he gets here, that is; then he’s just as entranced as everyone else!

Thriving Local Culture

Now, of course all the Realms that come together to make up the Great Faire each year are different: No one Realm is ever repeated. We are transported to barren wastelands, abandoned fortresses, musical caverns, and then there are those Realms that clearly have a thriving local culture somewhere; it just might not always be happening right here and right now. In Brocéliande, I’m sure the latter is my favourite, but it’ll probably change tomorrow when I visit another Realm!

Here’s a bit of the upper town for your viewing pleasure!

I know, I know, I’ve gone on so much about the scenery in the outskirts of town, you’re probably wondering if I ever made my way to the rows and rows of shops that must be inside both the upper and lower towns.

Just kidding: there is shopping here, and no-one wants to miss that, certainly not this Fae Queen!

A good start to what will surely be A Faire To Remember (see what I did there?)!

And so, after months of presiding over Winter in Awenia, I spent my first Faire day in beautiful Brocéliande, and now I cannot even imagine not being here this year, this Faire, every Faire, any Faire. If you RealmWalkers and wanderers are looking for a little joy this spring, there is only one best place to find it, and that’s at the Great Faire.

Notes, Credits, & SLURLs

  • Brocéliande is one of twenty regions that make up the 2022 Relay for Life of Second Life’s Fantasy Faire, to benefit the American Cancer Society. Brocéliande is designed by DaveOSaurus and sponsored by Unity Maxim. Fantasy Faire opened on the 22nd of April at 12pm SLT (that’s US Pacific Time!). Visit before the 8th of May, when all the Fairylands will fade back into the mists, never to be seen again as they are this year.
  • Gwyneth’s Hair: Analog Dog (natch!), Diana.
  • Gwyneth’s Crown & Mask, also Analog Dog (see shop link above!), Soma Queen Crown & Soma Queen Mask
  • Gwyneth’s Gown: Belle Époque, Living Echoes in Sky (named after the Realm sponsored by Belle Époque & Harshlands, which will be featured in another post!)
  • Gwyneth’s Magical Orb: Jinx, Necturn Moon Hand Orb (named after the Realm sponsored by Jinx, Necturn Moon, which will be featured in another post!)
  • Other items not featured at Fantasy Faire: Skin, DeeTaleZ, Salma in Celtic; Eyes, Arte, Husky Blue Eyes; Body, Maitreya; Head, Lelutka, Gaia.
Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

So, The Author has asked me to speak to you all, because she feels guilty about not having posted to this blog since September of last year, and not being a very regular contributor before that, and really not being fully committed to our stories since last year at this time, this time being Fantasy Faire.

She wishes for me to inform you that work got really busy, and then she was busy vying for a new position, which she got, and then she was busy moving to Scotland.

That’s right: The Author has abandoned London for Glasgow, but she doesn’t think she’ll be done with the whole move until sometime in the summer, since she has to sell her London flat in order to afford a nice house in Glasgow. Presently she is in a temporary flat, which is very nice and only a short distance away from her work, and she would also like you to know that Glasgow is very nice and has a really relaxed vibe…. Blah, blah, blah, woman! These people do not care about your life. Mostly they care about my life. That’s why I’m the primary narrator up in here.

Anyway, Fantasy Faire 2022 is well into its second day, and you’ll be hearing from me shortly.

From Friðros:

She brought me to a strange, almost empty landscape in the middle of the night. There was an Oberon standing guard, a single mill on a river, and a massive horn.

A massive horn

‘What are we doing here’? I asked.

‘I’m going to do some making’, replied Gwyneth, ‘and I thought you might find it interesting’.

Interesting?

‘OK, sure’, I replied. It’s not every day that Her Majesty takes you to a desolate wilderness and invites you to watch her make stuff. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but it was better than my continuing and seemingly endless task of decorating the castle terrace exactly as the Queen might like it. ‘I remember when you got this Horn. Has it changed from its original purpose’?

‘Its original purpose was to celebrate the movement of time towards a resolution in the Fairelands Realm of Scrimshaw Warrens’, she replied. ‘That quest to return the water dragon to their original state within the Realm’. She looked at me and gave one of those it-might-be-a-smirk style smiles. ‘The quest probably had been going on for thousands of years before we glimpsed the Warrens as a Fairelands Realm, and in a sense it’s still going on now’.

‘So the Horn is in two Realms at once’?

She nodded. ‘You got farther than most folk would when I talk about it’. That’s pretty high praise coming from her. ‘It exists on multiple levels, and it’s been soaking up this quest magic for so long, I’m going to use it to help with this making’.

‘And because it’s existing simultaneously in different planes, any magical effects we gain from it’—

‘Will in fact increase the magic held in the Horn at Scrimshaw Warrens, not deplete it’, she finished. ‘Very good. You’re sharp, Friðros; I’m glad you’re on my team’.

I smiled and hid the squee that was building up inside me.

Then, she turned and blew gently into the Horn. I recalled the sound from hearing it in the Warrens months ago, and although there weren’t so many walls for it to bounce off of, it sounded just as loud here.

Everything went dark.

Except for her.

Except for her. She was bathed in moonlight that suddenly formed around her, and as she spread her wings wide, I could sense something building.

‘Best hop off the steps, Friðros’, she said. I didn’t argue.

A burst of activity

It seemed then that a lot of things took place at once. Or maybe I should say a lot of places took thing at once. Or form. Or something. Wherever she turned, wherever she pointed, wherever she looked, something different happened: a canal cut through. A mountain rose in the distance.

Barely time to react

I barely had time to react and jump backwards when a shallow pool appeared before my feet; within moments, it became a canal so deep I could not see the bottom (and we see pretty well in the dark, you know).

Dawn

We are told from childhood that fae time is different from mortal time, but we don’t perceive it in our own realms; that’s for those who cross realms and end up someplace not native to themselves. Perhaps that’s why dawn seemed to come so quickly, and as I turned and looked at the still-empty of many things but now fully realised Land, I felt what it must be like to be a mortal re-entering their own world to discover that seven years have passed. It was dizzying and scary and heartbreaking, all at once.

‘What is she exactly’? I wondered under my breath.

That’s enough for one night!

‘Right’! All this time and she still talks like an English person. You always know she’s done when she starts saying, ‘Right’.

I lifted a brow, looked at her in the growing golden light.

‘That’s enough for one night, I think’, she said. ‘I’m not exhausted, but now there’s planning to be done! Let’s make a proper Fae Town for Awenia, and we’ll keep some things to ourselves in the Faerie Wilds above; what do you say’?

So casually. Let’s make a town. Let’s make a forest. Let’s cut a canal through this darkness. I glimpsed a gondola out of the corner of my eye. It’s like she can’t stop making when she starts making.

What is she exactly?

A monster. She is a monster.

Notes & Credits:

Enchantment’s Toss A Coin event ends today, y’all. You have just a few hours to visit before it’s all gone; after that you’ll have to search out these beautiful clothes from the creators’ Main Stores (which is totally not a bad thing to do!).

Friðros:

  • Clothes: Old Treasures, Child of Destiny (Featured at Enchantment!)
  • Hair: Monso, Sunmi
  • Shoes: Empire, Euphoma
  • Skin: DeeTaleZ Aria for Lelutka EvoX
  • Head: Lelutka, EvoX Ceylon
  • Body: Maitreya

Gwyneth:

  • Gown: Poet’s Heart, Helmiina (dress, coat, shoulders) (Featured at Enchantment!)
  • Eyes: Arte, Enchant Eyes (Featured at Enchantment!)
  • Wings: Evolved Creatures, Fae Wings 8.2
  • Hair: Magika, Midnight
  • Crown: Static, Rakish Crown (Currently featured at Ritual)
  • Skin: Lumae, Lelutka Eden, T1
  • Head: Lelutka, EvoX Avalon
  • Body: Maitreya

The Horn Of Making:

Rivendale, Scrimshaw Warrens Horn. OOAK, featured at the 2021 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire and viewable soon in Fae Awenia.

We ask this of everyone

We ask, when they come to us, full of fear or hope or promise or anger,

Would you everything to be beautiful?

The hopeful and promising ones, sometimes even the angry ones, they say, “No, no; never.” The fearful ones, they wait to see what the others say, and then they echo, sometimes without sound, “No, no; of course not.”

Is that so? I ask.

“Is that so?” I ask. And I turn away from them in their ragged dresses and tattered shirts, their costumes fresh from choosing, their young faces so ignorant of what life has now handed them.

“I did, you know.”

“I did, you know,” I say as I turn back toward them, just in time to see their little opinions of me change. What sort of amoral harlot must I be, they wonder. Sometimes I smile. Mostly I don’t.

“I did, and you will, too.”

“I did, and you will, too.”

Sometimes then there is a chorus of denials; sometimes not.

The speech that comes after never changes.

“Surely you have noticed, even in your brief lives, that very little of worth and almost no good comes to those who are not fair to look upon. And whether or not you believe it now, I think you will come round to my way of thinking sooner than you think.”

Tedious murmurs

There are usually tedious murmurs then, usually along the lines of what kind of evil sorceress I must be, what happens at the end of the day when I relax: do I then become hideously ugly (that answer, by the way, is ‘no’.), whether I have killed people (that one’s a ‘yes’.), and how on earth they’re expected to work with me, knowing that I made myself, first and foremost, physically beautiful. Every choosing, the same prattle. Mostly, it makes me smile.

“You’ll need to change your minds, you know.”

“I’ll be asking you to change your minds, you know.” By this point, there is silence: they are all too busy examining my every pore to see if they can imagine what I might have looked like before, when I was as young as they are now.

They’re not all hideous, of course—but none of them is perfect, not yet.

It’s the end of their first meeting with me, and for some it may be their last.

Dismissed.

“You’re all dismissed. Tomorrow you’ll be summoned to the teaching room of my second. I don’t want to look at any of you again until you can show me absolute physical perfection. It’s your first assignment. Don’t let it be your last.”

Notes & Credits

  • Many items here are featured at this round of Enchantment, which is open until the 4th of September. The theme is O Valley Of Plenty, an homage to monster hunters and fantasy creatures of lore.
  • At Enchantment:
  • Gown: Silvan Moon Designs, Blood And Wine, in Prussian.
  • Necklace & Earrings: Bliensen & MaiTai, Alpha
  • Eyes: Arte, Enchant Eyes
  • Other Stuff:
  • Skin: Lumae, Lelutka Eden, T1
  • Hair: Exile, Jessika
  • Circlet: Andore, Diadem, Juliet Rare
  • Backdrop: Varonis, Dayport Backdrop Scene
  • Body: Maitreya
  • Head: Lelutka, EvoX Avalon

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