Three Twisted Knots

Not all those who wander are lost.

Come the day

We used to say
That come the day
We’d all be making songs
Or finding better words
These ideas never lasted long

The way is up

The way is up
Along the road
The air is growing thin
Too many friends who tried
Were blown off this mountain with the wind

Meet on the ledge

Meet on the ledge
We’re gonna meet on the ledge
When my time is up I’m gonna see all my friends
Meet on the ledge
We’re gonna meet on the ledge
If you really mean it, it all comes round again

Yet now I see

Yet now I see
I’m all alone
But that’s the only way to be
You’ll have your chance again
Then you can do the work for me

I’m gonna see all my friends

Meet on the ledge
We’re gonna meet on the ledge
When my time is up I’m gonna see all my friends
Meet on the ledge
We’re gonna meet on the ledge
If you really mean it, it all comes round again

It all comes round again

Meet on the ledge
We’re gonna meet on the ledge
When my time is up I’m gonna see all my friends
Meet on the ledge
We’re gonna meet on the ledge
If you really mean it, it all comes round again

Notes & Credits:

These photographs were taken in the 2021 Fantasy Faire region of Valhalla, designed by Alia Baroque and sponsored by Fallen Gods. Sadly, you can no longer visit Valhalla; the Fairelands faded back into the mists on Wednesday, 12 May, Each year, new Fairelands emerge, but this Valhalla will never exist in this form again. Alia Baroque is a veteran Faire Worldbuilder, and he has brought to life many iconic places from history and myth over the years, but (at least until he blows it away next year), Valhalla is my favourite so far. It spoke to me on multiple levels, and all of them were beautiful.

“Meet on the Ledge” is a song from British folk rock band Fairport Convention. I’ll include a YouTube link at the end of this post.

Get to the business, Author! What’s Gwyneth Wearing?

Items featured at Fantasy Faire and Enchantment:

  • The Stunning and Super Frilly Gown: Kotolier, Fraurein (Featured at Fantasy Faire, but this dress should appear in the Kotolier Main Store soon!)
  • The Equally Stunning and Suspiciously Perfectly Matching Shoes: Kotolier (at Enchantment)

Everything Else:

  • The I-woke-up-like-this Mane Of Golden Hair: Stealthic, Metropolis
  • The Never Too Many Roses Flower Wreath: Elise, Silvia
  • Body: Maitreya
  • Head: Lelutka, EvoX Avalon
  • Skin: Lumae, Amesha in T2 (at the Lumae Main Store)

There will be a few more retrospective Fantasy Faire posts coming to Three Twisted Knots in the coming days. As always, I took so many more photos at the Faire than I could possibly write stories for, and so some stories come late, and some come as a retrospective, and some get tucked away in a drawer somewhere for later…. and you know what happens to those; you have to imagine there’s this well of unwritten Faire Tales somewhere on my computer that will one day, like my Second Life inventory, consume me utterly—but that day is not today.

You caught me

I was wandering again. Aside from the Big Events, this year, I travelled the Great Faire mostly in one disguise or another. It was fun, and somewhat easier, as I was not in a mind to deal with other beings overmuch, and frankly, there are plenty of other Fae Queens at the Faire: my celebrity is mercurial, just like me (and just like them!)

There was no better place to wander this year’s Faire than Wandering Woods. And although as Wandering places go, it was rather orderly, what makes a place is not always its stunning architecture, or its defining features; no, what makes a place is the light.

The beauty of blue

Yes, the light. Wandering Woods, faded now into the mists, might as well have been an ode to the colour blue. Now, I know many Faery Queens fancy purple, and many others like metallic golds and silvers; still others prefer the darker blacks and reds. Me, my favourite colour is and has always been blue, even back when I lived out a seemingly ordinary human childhood in the London of a world I can no longer see. Despite my astrological affiliation with Air (Aquarius is an air sign; I have never understood that, but then I have little use for 5th century astrology, and I won’t bore you with cosmology here, but let’s just say it doesn’t carry a lot of weight in my spiritual world). Wow, Gwyneth, that was a long parenthetical. Why don’t you start again? Despite my astrological affiliation with Air (No! No cosmology! Don’t do it, girl!), I love water and would surround myself with it if I could. Tangentally (she’s doing it again!), I have exactly zero interest in being a mermaid. That makes me think that I am somehow Different, but then again, it isn’t as if my life has had the sort of trajectory anybody expected when I began it only about 30 years ago (by my reckoning).

But where was I? Ah, yes; I was in Wandering Woods. Now, Friðrós wrote about Wandering Woods, early-on in the Faire; in fact it was the first Faire Realm she visited, and she was all wide-eyed and excited about it when we spoke on FaceTime the next day. But what she was describing seemed to me in many ways to be your typical Elfin Realm from Dayes O Yore. I know it shows my privilege that I might even be able to consider that Elfin Realms might be “typical”, but bear with me. Friðrós, you see, is from Iceland. The Huldufólk don’t get off their island very often, as a rule, and so Faery there looks very much like Iceland itself, meaning it is full of beautiful mosses and mountains, but not so many Tolkeinesque (find a better word) buildings and (I’m only guessing here) maybe more artic foxes and fewer examples of Stately Statuary. She did go on about the height of the trees, if I recall.

Stately Statuary

Of course there is some Stately Statuary, but more interesting to me was the sky above it, the ground cover beneath it, and how the buildings themselves seemed to bridge the gap between earth and sky with their almost Gothic roofs and spires. The Realm boasted tall flowers, truly blue grass, and of course some of the best shopping to be had at this year’s Faire. Elves are very good at shopping, which should surprise no-one.

Juxtaposition

I know I say this every year, so repeat along with me: what makes the Fairelands so magical is the juxtaposition of so many Realms so close together for the short time we can visit them. You can see the two Realms of Isles of Tarrin and Somniatoris Arx behind me in this photograph, filtered through the beautiful blue light of Wandering Woods. I think there are no more beautiful vistas in all the metaverse than those we see from one Realm to the next in the Fairelands.

Friðrós has of course told you about the many spirals in the Realm, but she missed out what was surely my favourite place: a shrine to the Forest Goddess that you’d miss if you didn’t look closely.

Forest Goddess Shrine

There’s a feeling of serenity throughout Wandering Woods, but I felt it here the most. In fact, there was even a place for people to come and sit, read, meditate, or write.

Magical Furniture

When a docent engaged it, a set of magical furniture appeared. She explained to me that one of the many Fairelands writing groups met here for the duration of the Faire. I was curious. I knew there was a literary festival that ran at the same time as the Faire, but even after all these years, I hadn’t known there were writing groups that met here! I think I will visit some of this next year.

Wandering Woods was one of those places I went back to again and again during this Faire season.

I’ll miss it.

Notes & Credits:

Wandering Woods, one of 21 regions in the 2021 Relay for Life of Second Life’s annual Fantasy Faire, was designed by Kilik Lekvoda and sponsored by Titans. I am sorry to say you can no longer visit Wandering Woods. The Fairelands disappeared into the mists on the 12th of May, and next year’s Fairelands will have different regions to explore.

I should also leave a special note of thanks to Kilik Lekvoda for inviting the Milk Wood Daily Dash and half hour Snatch groups to meet in Wandering Woods. Kilik, you gave us a beautiful place to write, and I’m so thankful. If you don’t know about Milk Wood, it’s a writing region owned by Harriet Gausman and funded through the donations of folks who attend the many writing groups, seminars and other events that take place there. The Daily Dash happens every week day at 6am and 6pm SLT, and the Snatch happens at 8am.

What’s Gwyneth Wearing?

  • The Beautiful Faery dress is featured at Enchantment. It’s Dreaming Thicket’s Fairy Ring Dress.
  • The Stunning Skin is featured at Enchantment. It’s Lumae’s Amesha in fantasy tone Gossamer.
  • The Pretty Wings are from MishMash Fusion. If Mystie hasn’t put these out in the MishMash Fusion Main Store, IM her until she does!
  • The shoes are from Mosquito’s Way. They’re the Raisie leg wraps.
  • The Butterfly Hair is from Phoenix, and it’s called Leslie.
  • Gwyneth is styled on a Maitreya Lara mesh body and a Lelutka EvoX Avalon mesh head.

From Davi:

I … woke up like this. I’ve learned not to ask how these things happen. I’ve learned not to speculate about the reasons behind them, the physics, the wherefores and whatevers. But often, no matter what predicament I find myself in, there is a definite why.

The Candle Path

In this case, and at this time, it seemed there was a place the Faire wanted me to see. I can hear you asking, Davi, really. The Faire wanted you to see a place? Are you truly beyond all scientific help now? and to you I say Bah. I believe the Faire has a mind, a spirit, and a personality all its own, and the Faire decided, Davi should take to the water and explore the Candle Path today. And so, here we are.

The Author wants me to tell you a story. A few years ago, the Highest Faire Authority asked the very talented Riven to make some candles. These would be special candles, that people could buy in remembrance of a loved one. They would stay in their place in the Faire until the Faire ended, then be sent back to the person who’d bought the candle so they could have it with them. The Author has … well, several of these candles. They’ve remained for sale at Faires since then.

But back to me. Yes, I see what I did there.

This year, we have a path boundaries by those candles. Some of them, the ones reserved in memory of a loved one or a group, are floating and or lit, and others remain in the water. Aren’t they beautiful?

The Bard Queen’s Islen

Just over the border from the Cerulean Bombora in the venerated and ever-changing Fairelands Junction, you can see even more candles. These memories are important, every one of them.

We are all on this path

As I rose completely out of the water and felt my strong fin holding me up, I thought about how much simpler it might be, being now a water creature, to move from here to there on this water path, of course it brought my mind to travelling.

These Fairelands will have receded far into the mists by the time you read this, but do not forget the road, the path. The path of remembrance, the path of change, the path of transformation, these are all revealed by the presence of the senses. The addition of light, of taste and feeling, of sound. This is how we find the path. And every little candle represents a few more coins we give to help illuminate so many paths.

We are all on this path, whether we are suffering now, loving someone who has suffered or is suffering, or just remembering all the beautiful souls we have encountered along the way.

illumination

Illumination, noun
1. (mass noun) Lighting, or light
2. The art of illuminating a manuscript
3. Clarification
3.1 Spiritual or intellectual enlightenment

Lexico

It doesn’t just mean “light”.

And so, although depending on The Author’s whim it may be another year before I sing to you again, friends, I offer you a wish.

I wish for you Illumination.

Notes & Credits:

The Cerulean Bombora was one of 21 regions in the 2021 Relay for Life of Second Life’s annual Fantasy Faire. It was designed by Bee Dumpling, Solas Enchantment, and Saiyge Lotus and sponsored by Multifarious Conceptions.

Items featured at this year’s Fantasy Faire:

  • Davi’s stunning skin: Petrichor & Trap, Kalari Vors Skin, Voravi. It should be available at Petrichor’s Main Store soon!
  • Davi’s circlet: Reliquary, Ryme Circlet (This came with the Raven Bell Hair)
  • Davi’s crystal hair: Raven Bell, Percival Hair, Crystal. It should be available at Raven Bell’s Main Store soon!

Other Items:

  • Davi’s stunning Mer-Tail is from The Cove.It’s the Tidal Tail, and both the animations and the colours are superb. Pick one up at The Cove Main Store.
  • Head: Lelutka Evo Skyler
  • Body: Belleza, Jake

From Davi:

I keep changing. I’m always changing. I have been a Romani traveller, I have been a forest elf, I have been so many things over the last decade, and yet that feeling of home, that sense of a place that grounds and anchors a being, has never been mine. I am long removed from the travelling life, yet I am still a traveller. Now, I move down different paths. Sometimes even time seems like just another road. But there are few places that combine both breath-stealing beauty and carefully crafted distance the way that Somniatoris Arx does.

The feeling of being small

To begin with, Somniatoris Arx is immense. Even the window repairs need scaffolding, it seems. I have in my time visited cathedrals. I have even visited cathedral cities. But Somniatoris Arx is both a cathedral and a city, and there is no middle ground, no park, no bounding river, and very little green.

That does not change the fact that it is breathtaking.

Still, it is breathtaking.

Probably because of the gothic architecture, I got a real sense of being inside history somehow whilst in Somniatoris Arx, but it was not my history.

Not my history

Never seen a fellow quite like this, for example, and the figures in the stained glass were equally impenetrable. But we do not always know where things come from, in the Fairelands; we have them for such a short time, and we only know what histories they bring to us as they are.

Of course, there are scholars who’ve written their PhDs around aspects of this or that Faireland; the number of researchers scurrying around Somniatoris Arx was enough to make me chuckle. I imagine them, snapping photos, taking notes, surveying things. They’ll write proposed histories of this Realm, based on the evidence they are able to collect during the barest amount of time. And they’re bound to miss things. For example, I was sure I saw the silhouette of a man in one of the spire windows, but when I looked again, he was gone. He—well, I assume it was a he, because he appeared to be wearing a bowler hat—seemed almost as out of place as I felt. Maybe I’ll pick up some dandy clothes and come back to this Realm before the Faire ends, although we’re all too close to that ending for me now.

Juxtaposition

During the Great Faire, because the Fairelands are so many and so packed together, we experience the strangest juxtapositions. I know Her Majesty already mentioned this, from the other side of that gate, but part of me really thought she should have been in this stonebound building and I should have been next door, with the green grass and the tufty flowers and the colourful banners. It might have reminded me of my Romani, you know. I could have set up shop and told a few fortunes, read some palms, sold a little this and that.

I was compelled to stay a while

But something, whether it was Mr Tall, Dark and Hooded over there, or maybe just the quality of the light, compelled me to stay, for a little while at least.

And as predicted (because so many Fairelands are this way), the shopping was, to borrow a phrase from Her Majesty’s new intern, “epic”. I bought some fancy stuff for later on in the Faire; I’m sure I’ll get a chance to wear it, because there’s a party every night, and all of them might as well be fancy dress.

Another view from above.

I couldn’t help climbing as many of the spires as it was possible to climb, and if I’m honest, I felt far more natural in the lofty heights than in the thronged streets below. One thing I never did really get a glimpse of was whatever is behind those brass pipes that connect the stained glass feature behind the buttressed hall where the remains of a so-called fallen angel lie. I didn’t photograph the angel, for a couple of reasons: first, it seemed a bit creepy; second, there were hundreds of tourists everywhere, and although the docents tried to keep them out, I swear to you there were children climbing on the remains; and finally, some part of me decided it would be disrespectful and possibly evoke the sacrilege response, and you know if anybody’s going to get fitted up for not maintaining proper decorum, they’ll pick the swarthy fellow in homespun and not the screeching urchins in the frilly collars.

Or possibly I’m just jaded.

Not a day for rebellion

Either way, it just didn’t seem like a good day for rebellion, so I let it be.

That’s an awfully wordy way to say, yeah, so I went to Somniatoris Arx and didn’t even get a photo of the Fabled Angel.

One last chat with Tall Dark and Creepy

The superb skyline notwithstanding, I took only a few more minutes to ponder the significance of Tall, Dark & Creepy, and then I did in fact cross the border into the Isles of Tarrin. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I very much needed to see about a horse.

But here’s one last look at the stunning spires of Somniatoris Arx for you.

Somniatoris Arx

That’s how I’ll remember her: not because of the fabled angel, or the shopping, or even the stained glass oddities. I’ll remember how, from one of the tallest spires in the lower city, I almost loved Somniatoris Arx, even though I knew that no matter what fine clothing I found, or what friends I made, I’d forever be an alien if I chose to stay.

From The Author:

Please note that I, The Author, adore Somniatoris Arx. When it came time to write a blog story from there, I chose the blog narrator who would feel least at home in the Realm, because I thought he’d come up with some interesting insights instead of just fawning over the stained glass as Gwyneth might have, complaining about the staircases, as TAC surely would have, or just gaping and going, wow, it’s so big, as Fridros surely would have.

Notes & Credits:

Somniatoris Arx is one of twenty-one regions that make up the Relay for Life of Second Life’s 2021 Fantasy Faire Fairelands. Good news: The Faire has been extended until 12 May, so you can click on the link above to head to the landing point at Somniatoris Arx until that day. Somniatoris Arx is sponsored by ContraptioN and designed by Walter F Wainwright and Victor Eton.

Items in photos that are featured at this year’s Faire:

Other Stuff:

  • Davi’s hair: Wasabi, Raven Hair
  • Body: Belleza Jake
  • Head: Lelutka Evo Connor

Amid the magic crystals

We planned to attend the Faire’s glamorous masqued ball, but truth be told, large gatherings are making me a bit anxious these days. Of course, there are many satellite parties, so the Fairchilde was our choice for later in the evening. It only made sense that I spent my day before the ball in the lovely airborne Isles of Tarrin.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that there are other Realms out there at least as magical as our Awenia, and so when I’m given the opportunity to visit beautiful places, I make it my business to learn as much about them as possible. Here, the islands seem to be kept aloft by some kind of mystical energy emanating from these large crystals embedded into their bases, as you can see. Very little of Tarrin is accessible from ground, or I suppose, sea level; you can see the single dock behind me. They say it’s best to see the place from the air.

Winding Streets

The streets themselves resemble nothing so much as the winding alleyways and twisting streets of places I remember visiting with my human parents as a child. One summer we spent what was to me a glorious week in Tenby; my mother had been ill and wanted a place where you could see the ocean from the window, so the view from the cottage we let for the week was spectacular. The route to the sea was down a series of garden paths; you had to be careful where you stepped because there were cobblestones and they are not kind to little feet in water shoes. My Welsh grannie came along for part of that trip, I remember. She took me out to St. Catherine’s Island at low tide and told me that mer-people lived there once, “but now you’ll find only selkies; they just ruin the whole damned neighbourhood wherever they go.” I was maybe ten or eleven, and I don’t think I’d ever heard my grandmother curse before.

Gosh, I do ramble when I’m on a rambling street. That’s what the streets here remind me of.

Sometimes, what’s beyond is intriguing, too…

The Isles are framed, almost, by a series of small stepping-stone islands which form the walking path to the town itself. I couldn’t help but notice that the neighbouring Realm of Somniatoris Arx was beautifully framed from one of them.

A frame within a frame

It would be easy, I suppose, to imagine that the two Realms almost frame one another. The spires of Somniatoris Arx might boast the best views of the Isles of Tarrin, at least for these few magical weeks of the Great Faire.

The Spires of Somniatoris Arx

I decided that Somniatoris Arx must be on my destinations list for this Faire, and in fact I was almost — almost — disappointed that I’d waited to show my face at Faire until the second week. Nobody would really see me until the Ball itself.

The reason for the masque

And that, my darlings, is the reason I was already masqued. It wasn’t in my plan to be recognised, bothered, spoken to, or at all interrupted that day. I daresay they see enough masqued Fae around here at the moment to know that maybe I did not wish to be disturbed.

From the air

The best way, they say, to see the Isles is from the deck of an airship, and so that’s what I did: I hired one for a tour around the town. It was the nicest way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

If you have time, and you are anywhere near the Fairelands, do take a few hours to walk the winding streets of Isles of Tarrin. Once the Fairelands recede into the Mists, you may never be able to walk them again.

Notes & Credits:

Isles of Tarrin is one of twenty one regions in this year’s Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire. It is sponsored by Teegle and was designed by Teagar, Ketsui Naidoo, and Monstaar. You can visit it until the 12th of May, 2021, when the Fairelands will fade once again as they do every year.

What’s Gwyneth Wearing?

Items featured at this year’s Fantasy Faire:

  • The Gown: Senzafine, Eolande gown in RFL colour way Dawn (Get it in Wandering Woods!)
  • The Crown: The Annex, Princess Crown in RFL purple & Silver (Get it in Wandering Woods!)

SLURLs point to specific stores in the Fairelands!

Everything else:

  • Body: Maitreya
  • Head: Lelutka EvoX Avalon
  • Skin: Lumae, Amesha in T2
  • Hair: Monso, Ana
  • Jewellery: Kunglers, Adna Earrings & Necklace
  • Gloves: Kunst, Sophia Gloves
  • Under-Masque: The Nerdy Birdy, Spring Mask
  • Over-Masque: Astralia, Golden Angel Common Mask

A world of paper

First Voice:

To wear this world of paper, you must first
Imagine how the texture fits your form.
It wrinkles there, and here’s a dash of red,
and over there the shadow of a path.

The shadow of a path

Second Voice:

It’s not enough to be a paper doll;
No, you must learn to breathe in two, not three
Dimensions: forget depth, and think in shade
And light, but mostly light: when shadow’s lost

But mostly light

First Voice:

It’s easy to forget there’s only ink
And paper between you and all the noise
That ceases to exist here in this place.
But take a little something of it home:

Take a little something

Second Voice:

Whether a dragon’s tooth of just a thought
And hold it in your hand to keep you whole

Hold it in your hand

Third Voice:

The snowfall left a pillow on the ground
In Ling Xiao Long, a dragon stirred and woke
And whirled into an inky effigy
Surrounded by serenity he seems

Surrounded by serenity

First Voice:

At first an out of place brushstroke, but then
I see his curves reflected in the flowers

Second Voice:

And all the pillows fade to unimportance

Everything that held us is a lie.

Third Voice:

And everything that held us is a lie.

Notes & Credits:

The photos for this post were shot in the virtual region of Ling Xiao Long. Ling Xiao Long is one of twenty-one regions that make up this year’s Relay For Life of Second Life’s Annual Fantasy Faire. Ling Xiao Long is the designated “LitFest” region, where authors and poets and writers of all sorts come to talk about their trades and to write together. Tours of the Faire regions also depart from the marketplace at Ling Xiao Long.


Ling Xiao Long is sponsored by PaperFriends and designed by Fiona Fei. You can visit Ling Xiao Long in Second Life, but only until the 9th of May, when the Fairelands recede back into the mists until new magical lands rise to become the next Fairelands regions.

What’s Gwyneth Wearing?

O my darlings, Enchantment is just around the corner, bringing to us A Midsummer Night’s Dream, my favourite Shakespeare play, because I am a Summer Queen and I love a Summer Theatre. Many of the beautiful things Gwyneth is wearing will be featured at Enchantment, including:

  • The Stunning Rose Gown: Fugue, Midsummer Dream Gown in Rose, Distilled.
  • The Blossom Mask: Bliensen & MaiTai, Peaseblossom Mask
  • The Silver Tattoo: Nefekalum, Thisbe

Everything else:

  • Body: Maitreya
  • Head: Lelutka EvoX Avalon
  • Skin: Lumae, Amesha in T2
  • Jewellery: Kunglers, Adna Earrings and Necklace
  • Hair: Tableau Vivant, Chloras Add-On

Don’t worry! There are more Fairelands Stories to come; the faire isn’t over yet— but these things from Enchantment lent themselves beautifully to the story, and Enchantment opens just a little more than a week from now, on the 15th of May!

From Friðrós:

What a strait laced old tight-arse he is! But I managed to get him lost in A’Dracunas: it’s not hard to do— the signs even tell you how! I lit off across the border into a place called The Dark Awakening, which was not very dark at all, picked up some new clothes, and tried on a pain of wings for fun!

Nothing more fun!

How could anything be more fun than getting rid of your babysitter on the eve of the Queen’s arrival at the Faire?

I even had time to get some extensions put into my hair

Aren’t these hair extensions great? Miss All Sunday Lemon from Wasabi did them for me personally when she found out who I worked for! The dress, which I’m sure Brán would say isn’t really a dress at all, came from Izzy over at 1313 Mockingbird Lane! Her clothes are so amazingly beautiful.
It’s so much fun to dance in new clothes and feel hair and wings flowing along behind you. It was hard to stop once I’d started.

So much twirling!
Whoosh!

I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun all in one go!

Airship time!

Here I am flying up to my airship, the Fairechilde! Ok, it isn’t really my airship and mostly I am not meant to go there at all because it’s full of grown up parties, but I did anyway, so there!

I wonder…

I wonder how much trouble I’m going to get in for this. I don’t think she’ll send me back home, at least not yet. Maybe I won’t get the permanent position, though. Hmm.

Can’t beat the clothes!

I do really like these clothes, though! I think I’ll go back to the 1313 store and try on some more…. I wonder how many outfits I can buy before Brán catches me? I guess I’ll find out!

Notes & Credits:

These photos were taken in The Dark Awakening, which is the 2021 Relay For Life region at Fantasy Faire. The Dark Awakening is sponsored by Trinity Clothing and designed by Sharni Azalee, Kilik Lekvoda, and May Piggins.

Items you can find at this year’s Faire:

  • Hair: Wasabi, Kyo Hair — get it in Valhalla
  • Dress 1313 Mockingbird Lane, Jasnah — get it in Ostara
  • Tattoo: Nefekalum, Diamondback. Get it in Somniatoris Arx
  • Wings: Egosumaii, Fae Wings. Get them in Valhalla
  • Sparklies: Cole’s Corner, Fairy Gold Dust

The rest of Friðrós’ look:

  • Body: Maitreya
  • Head: Lelutla EvoX Ceylon
  • Skin: DeeTaleZ, Ana
  • Ear jewellery: Andore, Stars & Gems
  • Shoes: Chic Chica, Fairy Pointes

Carl Sandburg wrote those words. Sandburg as a poet wasn’t studied overmuch when I was at uni doing my literature Master’s, but I had read some of his things in an independent study. He was on the short list of poets I wanted to cover in my PhD work, partly because, when I looked in to his life, most American sources really glossed over the secondary work he did as a member of the Social Democratic Party and a frequent contributor to socialist newspapers. I smile when I think about that. Because Sandburg was also celebrated as “the voice of America”. It would be easy to dismiss him, if you only ever saw his most famous poem, which you probably know even if you don’t know it was written by Carl Sandburg.

Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Carl Sandburg

You might think, oh, there’s another American imagist poet. And you might also think, well, here is a poet who was very popular within his own lifetime, and dismiss him for that. Literature is just as fickle as the tabloid press sometimes. Look deeper. It’s almost always more interesting in medias res. Sandburg certainly was, and is.

Fog, though, in Faerie, is so much more than just an investigative cat.

In Faerie, there is often fog. But what you may find inside it varies from Sandburg’s silent-but-watchful cat to things you’d wish you didn’t live to remember.

When I replaced our old portal with this newer one from Harshlands, Clutie said the portal light reminded her of a swirling fog. We tested it a few times and, sure enough, when you travel through to our new portal, you seem to be surrounded by fog. Or mist. Tangentally, “mist” is a funny word. It’s considered less prosaic than “fog” and often used when a writer wants to add a little bit of magic or mystery into a scene. It’s also, technically, more associated with low-forming clouds on mountains, whereas “fog” gets used when we are talking about what rolls in from the sea or clears in the morning. Scientifically, we differentiate the two things by how far you can see through them. “Fog” reduces visibility to less than one kilometre. “Mist” allows visibility for 1-2 kilometres. Which means, really, that what you find in Faerie is more “fog” than “mist”, because when it comes, it seems to swallow the Realm whole. And of course, in German, “Mist” means “animal excrement”. So I suppose if I could wish something for our tourists here in Fae Awenia, I’d wish for them to meet not with Fae mist, but with Fae fog.

Not idle

Lest you think I’ve just been rambling around the Realm, idly going on about Carl Sandburg and and the admittedly fascinating distinctions between “fog”, “mist”, and “Mist”, I have been corresponding regularly with Friðrós, and Bran has already sent several little items he knew I’d love, so that I can be properly attired in this year’s Fairelands Finest when I arrive at the Faire after our Awenia Beltane fires.

This dress is a lot of fun!

Bran found this dress, for example. It comes from the wickedly fabulous Devious Mind, and the rainbow colours are so lovely to welcome in the summer. We’re preparing the altar for the inevitable and invisible change from Spring Guardian to Summer Guardian; it’ll happen sometime tonight, just when no-one is paying attention. These wings came from the faire too, made by Idrial Ghost of FAS, as did the skin painting. I won’t even tell you how many favours we had to call in to borrow Skye Nefekalum for 90 minutes to oversee this lovely skin painting. I mean, it helps when you’re moving from one pocket dimension to another, I guess, and it’s not like Awenia’s a big enough Realm to have much traffic, at least when it’s Faire season: I mean, who would visit us for Beltane when they could be at the Faire?

I may be rambling. This is the first year in many I’ve not been there for the opening of the Faire gates, and I admit it feels like a loss. However, with Bran and Friðrós keeping me in touch with what’s happening, I feel almost connected, and it did mean I was able to do the altar summoning this year.

Take a last look…

Take a last look at Spring in our Sacred Grove, for soon it will be Summer. The very capable sculptor Kadaj Yoshikawa sent over an advance copy of his Pillars of the Faire statue, and beautiful it is indeed. I hear tell there’s a new elf statue from him as well, and I’m sure it’ll find its way into one of our spaces before the Faire is done. Yellow is already giving way to green here, and as we dance, so the seasons change. Never doubt that it is we who Turn the Wheel.

As the light grows

As the light grows, we add berries, cups full and bowls full and all manner of sweet summer tastes to our summer central altar, and the whole job is overseen by one of the many demifae who makes it her business to oversee all the altars in the Sacred Grove. There are three; did you know? This one is our grove altar. It’s where we gather and give reverence. Behind me is our feast altar, and really you might say, but that’s just a big table with a feast laid out upon it—and what else is a beautifully laid table, I wonder, than an altar? Further back, and not so visible from here is the divination altar, in a quiet, sheltered place underneath that big oak tree. And I’m blessed to have a Realm so full of life, love, and fellowship as we move into the glorious peak time of the sun and my summer self waxes into her golden power. It will feel good to enter the Faire on Saturday as a fully Summer Queen.

Now, remember I was telling you about Carl Sandburg up there? The whole poem that quote is taken from is called Tentative (First Model) Definitions of Poetry, and it has only ten lines. I think it’s somehow necessary that every poet write at least one poem about poetry itself, even though there are so many reasons not to. It’s why everybody learns to play Horse With No Name on the guitar, too. Some kind of rite of passage.

Speaking of rites, and of passages, it seems The Author wants a word with you, so please excuse how the language will now change from that of Your Beloved Fae Queen to a very ordinary middle-aged lady who lives in yet another London I did not come from.

From The Author:

At Fantasy Faire, we make a lot of noise, have a lot of fun, and raise a lot of money for the American Cancer Society. In the virtual world of Second Life, we hold the largest online charity event in the world, and this year it includes 21 regions and spans two weeks and change*. From my human perspective, I’ve been involved with the annual Fantasy Faire as more than a tourist for seven years. This is my seventh year.

After seven years, Fantasy Faire is still magical to me. If you look back in the “category” section of this blog, you’ll find posts from 2015 to the present day, all telling stories or singing poems about these worlds created by the stunning imaginations and skills of our Fantasy Faire World Builders. Every year, the vastness of the Regions delights and captivates me, and every year, there’s at least one thing that blows me away and makes me cry.

This year, that thing happened when I walked through the Balderdash store with my friend. Because Saiyge Lotus designs Fairelands Junction each year, which isn’t a shopping region, you will find her store, usually looking humble on the outside, in one of the many shopping regions.

Yeah, I’m going to stop now and tell you a story. It’s not a long story, but it is connected to the story of Why I Relay, which you can read in other blog posts from years past. Most of you know that my beloved husband Joe passed away from cancer in January of 2016. Now, that was hard, and heart wrenching, and I wasn’t ready for a world without him in it. Joe was an atheist, a staunch atheist who would occasionally refer to the Christian God as “the invisible man in the sky”, or “your imaginary friend”. He was ruthlessly scientific and left-brained, an engineer by trade, and yet he loved romantic comedies and sentimental songs. Go figure. He did not believe in an afterlife. Rather, he believed that his atoms and consciousness, in whatever form they continued, would go out into the cosmos and spend their eternities filtering down to earth. To paraphrase (and possibly blaspheme), “We are stardust, and to stardust shall we return”. When the family left the hospital room where he’d died during the night, I brushed my hand across his forehead and whispered to him that I would see him again in the stars.

And that’s why I cried when I saw this. Thank you, Saiyge.

We will meet again within the stars.

The smallest things in the universe (that we have observed so far, anyway) are quarks and electrons, the building blocks of the atom. And in terms of size, the electron is smaller. And if Joe’s right, he’s out there with those things, whirring around in the cosmos and doing what stardust does.

Although my first life job means that I can’t attend the Milk Wood Writing Dash very often, I do try to go during Faire, and that beautiful little memorial kept spinning through my head. The prompt was “smallest”, which made it obvious what I was going to write about.

In case you don’t know, the Milk Wood Daily Dash is a 15-minute timed writing prompt exercise, followed by sharing (if you’re comfortable). Very often, I try to write a complete sonnet in those fifteen minutes. Most of the time, I succeed, believe it or not. So here’s what came out of that Dash, and I’ve only changed one word in editing.

If I told you that up among the stars
Those pieces of you flew and made their homes
Among electrons building stars and more
I’d never search the sky. Because the stars

Are busy being built, and you, my light
And light creator, are too focused now
To bother with a thing you know for sure.
But all is well, I’m happy when you send

A meteorite to let me know you can,
And, chaos as I am against your method,
You know I’ll wish on it, and then one day,
In thirty or forty light years or so,

We’ll hear that wish together, me and you,
Though we already know wishes come true.

So thank you again, Saiyge, you beautiful being, for putting into a little mesh object the sum total of mine and Joe’s dance across the cosmos. If stars sing, they’d write a song about this one thought.

*Corrects an earlier error: the faire this year spans two weeks and four days, not three weeks as I originally said: this Fae Queen is not very good at maths, and that was a computational error on my part!

Notes & Credits:

These photos were all taken in The Author’s home Realm of Awenia, where Fae Queen Gwyneth is about to become the Summer Queen once again, where The Amazing Catwoman sometimes works as second in command in the Realm Guard, where Nathaniel and Gwyneth are about to redecorate a cottage after leaving their old castle behind, where we sometimes have visits from beautiful people, and where Romany Davi will shortly be proposing a new idea about bringing more tourists to Awenia. Awenia takes its name from the druidic symbol of the Awen, which is the symbol and the sigil for divine inspiration.

Items Featured from Fantasy Faire:

Gwyneth’s Dress, Pearl Strings, and Necklace: Devious Mind, Asteria, Rainbow for Fantasy Faire 2021 (Get it here!)
Gwyneth’s Wings: FAS, Faery Wings (Get them here!)
Gwyneth’s Skin Painting: Nefekalum, Willow, Violet Edition (Get it here!)
Memorial Sign: Balderdash, We Will Meet Again (Get it here!)
New Statue (though it’s not as visible as it should be): Harshlands, The Pillars Of The Faire (Get it here!)

Items Featured from Chronicles & Legends:

New Awenia Portal: Harshlands, Unseelie Portal (Chronicles & Legends is open for two more days, until 2 May!)

The Rest of Gwyneth’s Look:

Head: Lelutka, EvoX Avalon
Skin: Lumae, Lelutka Amesha, in T2 (Available at the Lumae Main Store!)
Hair: Monso, Yasiren Hair
Headpiece & Veil: Rozoregalia, Viscum Tiara and Viscum Veil

Everything else is just what’s usually visible in Awenia Faerie—there’s far too much to list here, but if you have questions about specific items, IM Gwen Enchanted (that’s me) in world, and I’ll happily let you where everything else comes from.

Madness

I won’t lie to you: J’doube is madness. After eight years of working Faire Security (because, let’s face it, the so-called “Pawlice” are really for punters to have a laugh about, and someone has to do the heavy lifting), I have never seen a Realm like J’doube. So when they sent a few of us seasoned enforcers in to sweep the region before a couple of satellite parties, we were expressly told that whilst the surrounding shopping boardwalk seemed to be relatively safe, no-one was sure about the areas off the built-up path.

Personally, I found it surprising initially that the Realm’s application for Faire admission had been approved at all. If we measure Realms on the McGuire* Scale (and who doesn’t?), J’doube looks like a never-ending struggle between Logic and Nonsense. What’s more logical than chess? My father was a Chess Master, the highest ranked player in Lewisham for some time, and he would say, ‘there’s nothing more logical than chess, but chess players are a different matter’. I, The Amazing Catwoman, learned to play chess from my father, and I was a pretty good chess player, for a ten year old. In fact, I’m still a pretty good chess player. For a ten year old. This may be because my dad left my mum to move in with his equally chess-obsessed girlfriend, Marisol, in Tenerife. After which he became equally surfing obsessed, which I guess makes sense, at least given his favourite personal thought about chess as noted above.

There’s nothing more logical than chess, but chess players are a different matter.

The Amazing Catwoman’s Dad, sometime in 2009
J’doube at ground, or water, level

Besides, there’s no more disputatious word in chess than ‘J’doube’. Hang on to your knights: I’m going to svartsplain this to you. In a chess tournament, and even in some casual games if it’s agreed upon, you have something called the touch-move rule. That means that if a player touches a piece, she must move it. Unless, of course, she is only adjusting the piece, in which case she is allowed to say ‘J’doube’, which is French for ‘I’m adjusting this’, before she touches the piece. Fights have broken out over this rule. Matches have been won or lost because of it. Because the touch-move rule has to be enforced before the opposing player makes a move, it all takes place in a moment. And unless you’re right up close to the board, like one of the players, it’s potentially impossible to tell whether the player said ‘J’doube’ before touching the piece, while her hand was on the piece, or even slightly after touching the piece. Particularly if the the projected move was a mistake or led her into a trap, she might have realised it was a trap at the last second and then hurriedly said ‘J’doube’ in order to correct her mistake. And this, my darlings, not the legacy of Bobby Fischer, is why they don’t allow knives into chess tournaments.

It’s obvious that God said ‘J’doube’ only after creating the pangolin

The Amazing Catwoman’s dad, after a few pints
Talking with the natives?

Sorry about that tangent; it might mean nothing. The first thing to know, when you’re exploring an unfamiliar Faire Realm to gauge its safety level for punters, is that these are pocket universes. Each comes with its own internal set of rules, a rich history, and within it there dwell beings, or sometimes only the echoes of beings, who have a rich history and tradition. So, when you can search them out (and they don’t look like little Murderbots), the local inhabitants are the best place to start. Remember, you’re in their world and so what they say is truth as they see it, and you’re the tourist asking for the bus station in a place where there are no buses and in fact the concept of a bus (yes, even a Love Shack Bus) has never been thought of and will not exist until suddenly there’s a Fallen God driving a packed vehicle full of screaming aliens through the world. Most of the time, the local inhabitants realise they are part of a Fairelands Realm, and they’ll be welcoming or at least attempt to help you if they can figure out what you want.

I get along with demifae as a rule, and the place seemed to be populated mostly with them. So I dropped down onto one knee and greeted the first one who waved to me.

‘Well met, little sister’, I said. ‘I am a Protector for the Great Faire’.

She nodded, which was a good initial sign.

‘I hope the tourists are being kind to you’? I was trying to keep my language simple.

Her brows knotted together, which I took as a sign she didn’t understand.

‘Are the people nice so far’?

Another feverish nod. Then, she lifted both arms up to the sky as if gesturing. Lifted arms is also in some cultures a sign of worship or praise. Her expression, like many demifae, was difficult to read. There’s a sharpness to demifae features that leads most other beings in the humanoid family to think they’re making a joke, possibly a cruel one, all the time. And in the case of some of the most famous demifae, of course, this has often been the case. What did she mean, I wondered? She chittered, then let go a long call in a tone higher than human ears would have registered. I expected dogs, if there were any here, to come running.

‘Wow, that’s skull-killing! What are you doing, little sister’?

She just kept gesturing and chittering. As if she were speaking to someone. I looked at her arms again. Or directing them.

And then I looked up.

‘Great clods of sparkly unicorn dung, is that how you creatures move these huge chess pieces around’? I stepped out of the way, quick. Attached by a chain to some kind of fae moth, which must be able to lift approximately two hundred and fifty thousand times its own weight (by my reckoning), was a white pawn. And sitting on the pawn’s … head? Are they called “heads”? Dad would have mine for forgetting those details. Anyway, driving and controlling the whole rig was another demifae, who watched “my” demifae’s hand motions closely.

The demifae on the ground was directing the one guiding the moth. My powers of reason are astonishing, I tell you. Honestly, it only took a few fractions of a second to come to this conclusion, but in one of those cinematic moments where time seems to slow whilst you work something out, the whole idea spread out in front of me, like… well, like a chess board. Without the board part, you understand: although chessboards figured everywhere else in the Realm of J’adoube, there was no discernible playing surface on the swampy ground.

Other Methods

Elsewhere, I noticed, other demifae were also attempting to move chess pieces, with varying degrees of success. On a scale of sublime to ridiculous, J’doube is moving ahead at Warp Factor We Just Made It Up, Captain. Oh-kay. I wasn’t hired to sweep the Realm for mental health threats, but I’ll make a note in my report that I’m advising anyone granted a pass to go off the path have a psych evaluation, or at least a bit of Reiki, before and after their outing.

Few Physical Threats

As for physical threats, I wasn’t finding any. I did have a moment of uncertainty when I passed one of the small marshes and heard a noise.

It was nothing

It turned out to be another chittering demifae, and I’m afraid I scared this one half out of its wits—and let’s face it, that’s a pretty small brain, so a half-witted demifae, even a temporarily half-witted one, is downright dangerous, given the glamouring and magical powers these little beings have. I should have done better. I resheathed the decorative looking but very sharp Fairelands issue Protectorate sword (this one’s specially made by Vae Darkheart of Petrichor, and her workmanship is top-notch), then resolved to just map out what I could and report my findings back to my contact in the Guard.

Ongoing adjustments

Some of the larger pieces have lounges built into their bases, but these I determined safe since there were ways to get to them that did not take tourists off the path overmuch. The rest of the place, however, seemed to be in a constant state of, well, adjustment. I will add a note to my report that if the Faire can afford it, we should get a team of surveyors out here to measure how much and at what rate pieces are moving over days. And also, I’ve never met a demifae chess player: is there some greater force overseeing the Realm that we should know about? Maybe the Faire itself already knows who’s pulling these strings, but it’s best not to leave anything to chance. I laugh at myself for even thinking that, given the logic to nonsense ratio I’m assessing here.

Right.

My Report

While the Fairelands Realm of J'doube is unsettling, I have not during my assessment noted any risk of life and limb to Fairelanders who choose to venture off its well-marked shopping paths. However, given the dichotomy between Logic and Nonsense here, I advise that Fairelanders with off-path passes undergo a psychological assessment before passes are issued and that a second screening is advised shortly post-departure. As chess pieces seem to be constantly moving around and in an ongoing state of flux (see my explanation of the chess term "J'doube" in the notes), I also recommend the Realm be surveyed daily in order to determine whether the movement of the pieces themselves constitutes a significant risk to Faire tourists. Report filed by The Amazing Catwoman, this sixth day of the Great Faire

*The McGuire Scale refers to Seanan McGuires Compass for evaluating magical worlds as laid out in her Wayward Children books. You can learn more about the Compass, and the books (if you haven’t read them, you probably want to!) here.

Notes & Credits

The Region:

The stunning and unsettling Region of J’doube comes from the creative genius mind of Sharni Azalee of The Looking Glass. Her worlds are detailed, evocative, and inspiring, and this one is no exception. Visit J’doube in Second Life.

The Amazing Catwoman (TAC):

TAC’s amazing skin was created by Lumae and released just days ago at Fantasy Faire. You can this, the Amesha Ink (freckled) and the other two skins Lumae has created for Fantasy Faire at the Lumae Faire Store in The Amethyst Rift.

TAC’s beautiful dress, armour, boots, and sword are also new at the Faire from Petrichor. As always, Vae has created an outfit that comes in multiple colours with uncountable (for me anyway!) numbers of combinations and unique looks. Dress, armour, boots, sword, and satchel are all sold separately at the Petrichor Faire Store in The Cerulean Bombora.

Body: Maitreya
Hair: Magika, Lydia
Head: Lelutka Evo X Ceylon
Ring: EarthStones, Double Infinity Ring

From The Author

Fantasy Faire is so many things.

Fantasy Faire is so many things. For me, it’s a chance to remember fallen comrades, tell some new stories or expand on some old ones, introduce new characters, look at beautiful sites, and of course it’s the best shopping on the grid, bar nothing, nowhere. This year, Queen Gwyneth has sent ahead her new hire, Friðrós, partly to pre-scan the Faire for her, and partly because, well, Gwyneth’s not getting any younger. So for now, maybe just for today, here’s an account from the blog’s new Huldufólk.

From Friðrós

Queen Gwyneth sent us ahead of her. So much for pre-Faire bonding with Her Majesty, but it’s wonderful to finally visit the great multi-realm Fantasy Faire, even under the watchful eye of Bran, the Queen’s steward. He is Seelier Than Seelie, or at least that’s what everyone says, everyone being the three people who will talk to me even though I’m new.

In the Realm of The Wandering Woods

Bran arranged for us to portal first to The Wandering Woods, an Elfin realm, because he thought it would make me feel at home. And yes, the architecture is definitely Elfin, but so many things are different. The trees are so tall! Taller than the tallest of the buildings, so tall you have to look up to see the canopy that’s keeping it all so delightfully cool and shady here.

A realm of many spirals

This Realm is full of spirals, which meant that as a good Huldufólk, I had many spirals to walk throughout our visit. So many that, if I’m honest, I was downright dizzy before we’d stopped to rest (the first time)!

Lady of the Forest

Such work must have gone into the creation of this beautiful Lady, and so much love, too. At first, I was awed by the reverence in the Fae Realm of Awenia to the Old Gods, but now I am made equally happy by the seeming similarity in other lands. It’s one of the things I will actually tell the family when I get around to FaceTiming them.

Before I departed Awenia, Her Majesty gave me some guidelines for enjoying the Fairelands properly.

  • First, do not try to see the whole Faire in a day. It’s simply too big.
  • Second, don’t miss the little details in your awe-struck discovery of these Lands.
  • Third, get some rest when you can.
  • Fourth, don’t forget to eat!

When Bran tried to get us to move on to another Realm, I played country cousin and reminded him of the Queen’s advice. His mouth became that line that it becomes when you have stopped him by reminding him of a Rule. People who adhere to the Seelie side of the Unseelie/Seelie silliness love rules, and they follow them. This rule even came from his Queen. He could not dispute that the Queen had indeed given me a set of Rules! It was hard not to smile.

The little details

These demifae really were tiny! They’re busy all over the Realm of the Wandering Woods, but I liked these two just having a conversation by one of the lamps that help you see your way through the cloudy blue of this Realm.

Get some rest, and eat something!

I think it’s OK to combine two rules into one. Bran wasn’t so sure, but I said I was really tired, and could we please spend the night here because I needed to wash all the portal dust out of my hair and also my feet hurt, and then he asked me why didn’t I just fly. What a twerp.

Notes & Credits

Many of the items in these photos are featured at or available at the 2021 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire. Links next to items available at the Faire point directly to individual stores.

Centaur Photo:
Taken at: the Candle Path between Fairelands Junction and The Cerulean Bombora
Centaur Avatar: Jinx, Cen-Lightaur (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Centaur Skin: Cinnamon, Galaxy
Skin: Petrichor & Trap, Kalan Vors Skin in Vuraak (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Eyes: The Little Bat, Felis Eyes (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Centaur Tail: Cinnamon, Princess Tail
Corset: Ricelli, Tanya Corset
Hair: No Match, No Viking


Friðrós Photos:

Taken in: The Wandering Woods
Head: Lelutka EvoX Ceylon
Body: Maitreya
Skin: DeeTaleZ, Aria in European tone
Clothes: R3D, Runar Tunic (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Boots: R3D, Runar Boots (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Hair: Analog Dog (natch!), Swoon
Eyes: AviGlam, Elegance Eyes

The Wandering Woods, where most of these photos were taken, is designed by Kilik Lekvoda and sponsored by Titans.

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