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Left Luggage

A magical pathway spread out before me as I entered the Realm of Erstwhile. My assignment wasn’t clear, but I’ve worked the Great Faire long enough to understand that sometimes you just have to find the Guard supervisor and let him (or her, or whoever) direct you.

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I stopped and turned to look.

I stopped and turned to look. Before me sprawled Erstwhile Station, an airship port that doubled as a floating (in the flying sense) market. While airships are mostly used to convey people from one Realm to another, their pilots have to make a little money while they’re in dock, and so for the Faire, the Station becomes a fascinating array of little markets from all over the meta verse. I had never been there before, so the assignment was going to be interesting.

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Erstwhile Station

Of course, I was pissed off about the getup they put me in. As usual, svart alfar were not welcome, so I got a budget for a skin and hair painting. Now, sometimes they want you to look a particular way, and I’m OK with that, but whatever was in that guideline letter that I handed over to Lumiya Rae was either completely unintelligible or intended as some kind of test, because when she finished up and I looked in the mirror, I was lavender. Lavender. As in light purple. Quick as I could, I thanked her for her beautiful work and quit the shop.

The fact was, I did look hot in lavender. I just also looked kind of sweet.I flickered my left hand in a wave to Lumiya as I left the shop and noticed how the tone of my skin almost matched the light amethyst of my engagement ring. You know, the one I never take off? From the fiancé I haven’t seen in…well, I can’t count the years. I wonder if he thinks I died. I wonder if I did die. Guys at the House were adamant that I shouldn’t ever google myself. It only leads to pain and heartache they said.

Crap, where was that hairdresser? I’d been so busy snowflaking I’d forgotten to look. What was her name? Ah, yes. Raven Bell. Surely she’d help me darken up this look a bit.

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“Rainbows? You have got to be kidding me.”

“Rainbows?” I was nearly shouting. “You have got to be kidding me.”

“I am not, Madam. It says here on the card.” Ms Bell quirked a brow. “But seriously, you can’t go wrong with a braid extension like that.”

“No,” I said, “I suppose you can’t. But couldn’t we have made it brown?”

“Brown would blend into your jacket. No way.”

I nodded, for once resigned to my fate. “I guess you’re right.” I summed up the courage to smile and made my way out of the shop on high wedge heels, which were at least easier to manage than stilettos. At least these ones had bats on.

I made my way up the gold-lit stairs and into the station, where I found my handler. It was hard to concentrate on anything he said, because someone was playing the most incredible music. Symphonic, dramatic, music that seemed to make the building itself into a film set, a dream of some kind. I was transported. The drama, the intensity of it, how it filled the hall.

“I’m sorry Derek,” I said to my handler. “I was miles away.”

Derek smirked. Smirks always look a bit menacing on dwarves. “Happens to everybody when that guy is here playing music.” He pointed to a startlingly handsome guy in a suit with a steampunk-y helmet on. “Anyway, for the next two hours, he’s DJing for some kind of a tour of the station, I don’t know.” Derek shrugged. “Your job is to make sure nobody gets too close to him while he’s working. He’s very focused. Just man the outside of the music booth and try to look nonthreatening but serious.” He nodded. “That skin painting really suits you.”

I grimaced. “Right, boss,” I said, ignoring the jab about the skin: this was undoubtedly Derek’s idea of a joke. “I’ll get right on it.” I made my way to the music booth and flashed my credentials, in the form of a Faire necklace made of some kind of rusted iron and set with little gears, to the DJ. He nodded back, then resumed his work.

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I did a visual inspection of the station. Oh, great.

I did a visual inspection of the station. Oh, great. There, attending the tour, was Queen Gwyneth. I hunkered down. It’s not like she’d notice or even recognise me: she seemed as lost in the music as everyone else. With her was an elegant lady in a cloak, the tour guide. The ten or fifteen folk on the tour were all talking excitedly about the furniture, the fittings, the green light that drifted down from floating orbs. To be honest, their conversations annoyed me, as they sometimes got a bit loud and it was harder to hear the amazing music.

It was impossible not to lose myself in the music that flowed from the DJ’s capable machines. Every horn motif seemed to make the hall bigger. The colours seemed brighter. My imagination soared. I thought to glance back at the music booth and there was his name on a little brass plaque. Nyza Stillwater. Well, Mr Stillwater, I thought, I’ll have to hope I end up being assigned as your guard more often during this Faire. At this point, I noticed two giggling fairies who’d just walked in. “Oh my stars, there he is! It’s really him!” Great. Fangirls. I mentally climbed out of the music, which had changed from a melody sweet enough to make Derek cry to a strange electronic circus march, to watch the fairies. Mr Stillwater hadn’t noticed them, thank the gods. If they got any closer, I’d have to say something.

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It seemed Her Majesty had noticed them as well.

It seemed Her Majesty had noticed them as well; she took up a post between them and the music booth on the other side. Wait: did she know him? Suddenly I felt the urge to actually go up and speak to her.

Luckily for all of us, the tour progressed up to the market and the fairies followed along, though they did cast several flirtatious glances in Mr Stillwater’s direction. I don’t think he even knew they were there, he was so immersed. Gwyneth left with the tour crowd as well—and that was just as well, because I really didn’t need any more drama in my night, or my life, than this music was giving me. And it was such good drama. I wanted to sit down right there and outline a novel about Erstwhile Station, some great intrigue, some lover’s tryst happening right underneath the not-so-watchful eyes of station personnel, maybe a forbidden auction of clandestine wares, perhaps some vitally important spy being transported to a safe house, but the only way through was through Erstwhile Station.

I’m usually so good at keeping my mind on my work, but all this music made me want to do was dream, and dance, and live a million stories, all at once.

Eventually, the women (they were all woman; that seemed a bit odd) on the tour made their way back down into the station itself. Everyone seemed to go their separate ways after that, and Mr Stillwater ended the music set. He acknowledged me with another nod and the briefest smile before he headed up to the docks, presumably to catch an airship to somewhere. I knew I’d hear these tunes in my mind as I went on to my next assignment.

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My next assignment turned out to be left luggage.

My next assignment turned out to be…. left luggage. Seriously? Left Luggage? I have years of combat training, enough magic to get by, and Derek puts me on Left Luggage?

Fine.

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I’d just pace around Left Luggage for what? Six hours? Great.

I’d just pace around Left Luggage for what? Six hours? Great. Sometimes I’m ready to blame the whole I-always-get-the-dumb-jobs thing on being female and not really into dressing like the cover of a circa 1980s fantasy novel, but whatever. I let the whole thing go. Unusual for me, I know. The Amazing Catwoman does not let things go.

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Instead, I looked out at the port behind me, and I daydreamed.

Instead, I looked out at the port behind me, and I daydreamed. Daydreamed to memories of music with titles like “Sky Is the Limit” and “Starfall” and “Chronopolis”, things I’d never imagined hearing before but knew that I must hear again. I almost pulled out my phone and did a search on Mr Stillwater right then and there, to see what the rest of his public Faire schedule was, but no: I’d wait til I got back to my digs in Pools of Ethuil in the morning to do that.

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For now, it seemed enough to remember, imagine, and dream.

For now, it seemed enough to remember, imagine, and dream. Something about the way my mind reacted to that music made me want to dream more.

Maybe this will be a Faire for dreaming.


DJ Nyza Stillwater has handled the music for most of the region tours sponsored by the Fantasy Faire LitFest for the past three years, though he’s been DJing at Fantasy Faire Radio for longer than that.  He and I met last year after I led a LitFest tour of Raven’s Perch. Our first conversation was a little like TAC’s internal dialogue, above—how inspiring I’d found it, what wonderful ambiance he created. We were standing near the memorial stones on Raven’s Perch, and I explained that one of the names on the stone was my late husband, Joe Raftery. We talked a little about music, and I told him the story about how, during the last year of Joe’s life, he’d go around to conventions and sing “The Parting Glass” to make everybody cry, then follow it up with “I Am Not Dead Yet” from Monty Python’s Spamalot to make everybody laugh. I explained how, when I told my therapist what an emotional roller coaster this was for me, my therapist suggested that maybe I find a song to sing for him that explained how I felt. So I did something I’d been thinking of for a long time: I learned Annie Lenox’s beautiful song “Into the West” and began regularly performing it with the harp after Joe sang these songs. It always made people cry, and it’s remained in my regular repertoire since then. Even after Joe’s death, performing that song is a source of comfort for me, I explained. Nyza said, “Well, I guess I’d better play that for you right now, then.” And that he did. We became SL friends and kept talking to one another both throughout the Faire and afterwards. And, well, some of you might have noticed that my SL display name has changed. Nyza and I were partnered in SL last summer, and we will get married in SL tomorrow, 22 April, 2018, in Astrid’s Nemeton. 

Every year, the Fantasy Faire LitFest team prepares and leads tours of all the FF Regions. Nyza’s music helps set the scene and create the ambiance. If you haven’t been on a LitFest tour or experienced Nyza’s wonderful musical sets, check out the LitFest Page on the Fantasy Faire website. The tours are designed to promote inspiration and creativity, and everyone is invited to submit the stories they write about the regions to be published on the official Fantasy Faire blog!

Style Cards:
The Amazing Catwoman
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ Bento Mesh Head, Lulu
Skin: Lumae, Elvi (Ethisi) (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Pools of Ethuil!)
Eyes: The Little Bat, AED Eyes (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Severina!)
Ears: Gauze, High Elf Ears
Necklace: HarshLands, FFX Necklace, Steampunk (uncommon) (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Willows of Nienna!)
Dress: Stitched, Ginnifer Dress (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Pools of Ethuil!)
Hair: Raven Bell, Chronos (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Erstwhile!)
Braid: Raven Bell, Bento Braid (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Erstwhile!)
Shoes: The Dark Fae, DraciChic (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Santoria!)

Gwyneth:
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ Bento Mesh Head, Lulu
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Helena
Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Severina!)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Necklace: Zuri, Sweet Bouquet Necklace Hair: Raven Bell, Chronos (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Erstwhile!)
Tiara: Zuri, Zahra Floral Tiara (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Erstwhile!)
Dress: Silvan Moon Designs, Vintage In Vogue Gown
Hair: Elikatira, Sophia
Shoes: The Plastik, Filvina High Heels

Location: The 2018 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, Realm of Erstwhile, Sponsored by The Looking Glass and designed by Sharni Azalee and Marcus Inkpen

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