Rebuilding

Well, I’m sure everyone knows what happened on White Owl Island at Lughnasadh. I’m surprised that Gelato woman hasn’t spread her tabloid photographs all over the state of Washington and Realms Beyond at this point.

If you don’t know, some terrorist, and we suspect Saoirse, blew up my house. That’s right. She blew up my house. We were right in the middle of a romantic dance, Nathaniel and I, and the night couldn’t have been nicer. The crowd was small but friendly, and then up on the hill, an explosion, and our home was nothing more than rubble.

I just can’t even think about it or talk about it now, so I am spending a lot of time decorating the treehouse, since Nathaniel and I will now be making that our primary home.

I’d already done the salon, and our bedroom is in progress, so I went Realm-hopping again and found some beautiful things at a shopping faire called Fable to decorate our ground floor guest suite with.

Decorating-Fable - 1

Now, an empty room just bothers me.

Now, an empty room just bothers me, so I got Bran in to help me with the wallpaper right away. Sometimes his glamouring skill is better than mine, mostly because I don’t do a lot of that at the moment and he has been busy getting this and the Queen’s Garden ready.

Decorating-Fable - 3

I do love this lilac colour he chose, and the sleeping bench looks great here on this wall.

I do love this lilac colour he chose, and the sleeping bench looks great here on this wall. I found some great furniture and so many more wonderful things at the Fable shopping faire, and I’m sure more of it will feature. We’re furnishing this room in furniture and décor from Adorably Strange Wares, a name that makes me giggle, because they are adorable and yet a little strange as well. Bran was lovely; he never once asked me if the room wasn’t stately enough.

And, oh! I should mention: I received the loveliest package from those talented people at Silvan Moon Designs. They wanted to let me know that the Fantasy Gacha Carnival is coming up, and they sent me a sample of this beautiful Psalm of Soraya gown. It comes in many colours, all mix and match, and the fit is perfect.

Decorating Fable alt1

This beautiful bed is what sold me on the décor.

This beautiful bed is what sold me on the décor. I love the banners and bunting. I’ve still got a little work to do in here, but for the most part I’m satisfied. I suspect Nathaniel will worry about practical matters like wardrobes and water closets, but I just can’t be bothered right now. Bran did argue that the silhouettes might make it look too much like a children’s room, but I’m sure everyone likes silhouettes. Don’t they? I mean, I do.

Decorating-Fable - 4

It will be all right.

It will be all right. We will find out whether Saoirse was working alone, or I guess even if she did it at all: Arahaelon made it very clear that he wanted Nathaniel and me as far from the explosion site as possible and that he would be conducting the investigation himself. I am glad we have the place in Faerie, even if Nathaniel wants to be more involved with the folk “on the ground” as he says. Arahaelon and I have put a simple portal in that leads from the green in Faerie to the White Owl Island village park, which will make commuting easier for him.

Clutie is furious about the Faewatch article: she always lets Cherish get to her. Me, I figure it’s just one of the repercussions of being a bit of a celebrity, not that I really like the attention. I’ll probably scan it and pop it onto the blog just to keep a record, though I do think the photo of the house actually blowing up was in very poor taste.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Lona Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Mina, Indy
Eyes: Mesange, Borealis Eyes (Available NOW at Genre!)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Olivia (Full face and body Omega applier, available at the 7 Deadly s{K}ins Main Store!)
Dress: Silvan Moon Designs, Psalm of Soraya Gown (Available SOON at The Fantasy Gacha Carnival!)
Circlet: Supernatural, Hymn (Silver)

Bed, Bench, Silhouettes, and Banners: Adorably Strange Wares, The Briar Rose Set. Sold separately in light and dark versions. (Available NOW at Fable!)

Poses: All from An LarThe Crest Series, except “Now, an empty room just bothers me”, which is Where is the Pool Bar, from Gem Poses, and available at Fable.

House: LAQ Decor: Serene Tree & Windmill Home.

Location: White Owl Island Faerie. If you’re looking for a great contemporary fantasy roleplaying sim, why not check us out? White Owl Island, Where Everybody Knows Your Shape.

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I’d never redecorate the Tree House Yet Again without it!

7ds FABLE2  MESANGE LOGO 2017    silvan-moon-designs-logo-full

Faewatch: The Goblin War!

Faewatch - 1

Presented by Cherish Gelato

The Goblin War

[Theme Music, Fade up, and….]

Voiceover: Welcome to the Faewatch radio programme, with your presenter, Cherish Gelato!

[Glissando]

CG: Good morning, all you Faewatch listeners! As you know, we’ve had a lot of secondhand news lately about a war being fought between the combined courts of the Wylds and what we estimated to be an immense goblin force, tens of thousands of them.

CG: Of course, we hear so much about what happens in the Wylds of Faerie secondhand that we sometimes don’t know what’s true and what’s a fabrication. But you know Faewatch always tries to give quality information, the best quality we can get, so we’ve gathered together four individuals who were actually involved in the war and put them in to the same room to give us a run-down of what occurred from several points of view. On my left here, we have The Gypsy Davey, who helped prepare the Queen’s Bower to receive the all-important Sithen Rose. On my right, we have Tac, who is an archer in the Seelie forces and was present at the battle. Next to Tac, here’s Princess Drysi, one of the three Royal Children, and the first time we’ve had the chance to interview one of these enigmatic Fae. Next to The Gypsy Davey is seated Dyisi, Seer to the Wylds. And of course, seated just down at the end of the table, Seelie Queen Gwyneth herself. Thank you all for coming.

CG: Your Majesty, you’re looking radiant today. Your beauty eclipses the sun. I’m honoured to be in your presence. Can you tell us a little bit about the conflict and how it all played out.

SQG: For most of the major battle, I was in our makeshift infirmary, tending to the wounded. We were unprepared for the number of wounded we’d have during the first wave of the battle. However, some of the other people here were there, so I’d like to direct this question to Dyisi, who has been invaluable in the war effort. I also understand you have one of my archers here as well, so she might be able to answer a little better than I could.

Gwyneth in the infirmary

Gwyneth in the infirmary

CG: Thank you, Your Majesty. Let’s redirect that question to Dyisi, and Tac, if you feel the need to put in any details, just let me know.

D: It was a war, nai.  Noht unlike other wars that I have seen.  Though I can noht say that I had as much of a hand as others may choose to see it.  There was those who sought to bring such unbalance, and thus I lent what I could to correct such being a thing.  Ah.. nai..  But it was just as any other war that has existed as long as such unbalances are too exist.

CG: I understand all wars have similarities. Can you give us an idea of whether the goblins were vanquished? My listeners are very interested in how the Fae of the Wylds are faring.

D: I would guess they had been, nai..  we are still here are we noht?  I would think that had a different outcome have been met, this ah.. interview.. would noht be within this parallel.  Though had this been another parallel, I would noht be here.   As for Fae, I would think asking they who are fae would be.. ah as they say..  better down payment?

T: If I can answer that, at least partly, I can tell you that at the end of the battle the goblins retreated back into their hold, their numbers much diminished. Commander Wulfrich did a good job of making sure that our forces were where they needed to be at the right times.

Here's a reference photograph of Tac, dressed for archery.

Here’s a reference photograph of Tac, dressed for archery.

CG: That’s excellent news. Thank you, Dyisi, and thank you as well, Tac. Princess Drysi, what was your role in the conflict?

PD: Due to my youth and inexperience, and so as to not put myself or anyone else in danger, I was not able to participate  in the battle. I instead worked to hone my fighting skills so I may be better prepared  for any future attack on my people.

CG: You show a real flair for leadership, Your Highness. I hope I’ll be able to speak with you and your siblings at length sometime soon! But let’s get back to the conflict. Your Majesty, you said there were many wounded. Can you give us an idea of numbers?

SQG: I’m afraid I can’t at this time. We have only a few beds in our infirmary, so it was reserved for the more serious cases, while those who could be moved were patched up and sent back to their families for convalescence. Our healers will be looking in on all the wounded over the days and weeks to come. Numbers in Faerie, as you know Cherish, are always subject to change.

CG: I understand there were some fantastic beasts helping out during the battles. Oracle Dyisi, can you tell us a little bit about the Jabberwock?

D: Aahh nai nai..  One who I have summoned from Tulgey Woods.  I had sent him to help Maric and those of his command.  I have been told that Jabberwock had ..mn..  what was said.. melted faces?  Nai…  Did as he would.  From what had others also gave told of, he frightened goblins to flee.  Which, according to many.. is hard to do. He has returned though to his home.

SQG: I didn’t see the Jabberwock, but Dyisi nearly scared me to death when she showed up in my Bower with the Bandersnatch.

Gwyneth reacts to the Bandersnatch.

Gwyneth reacts to the Bandersnatch.

CG: The Bandersnatch? Dyisi, are you in command of every character from Wonderland?

D: Last I was aware, two beasts do noht an entire land of Wonder.  Mmmn..  excuse.. three.  However, Bandersnatch and Jabberwock were given to me as summons to help during another.. war.  One I shall noht go within details of.  If that is of mind to you.  Nai?  But, they protect White Bishop and who I ask of them to.

CG: Of course; my journalistic integrity is impeccable, and I shall never question you about things you don’t want to talk about. Well, listeners, it seems that even Satyrs have secrets they’d rather not reveal, and Dyisi’s revolve around a little girl named Alice! Now, let’s take a quick break and I’ll see you all back here in a moment.

[Glissando]

CG: And welcome back to the Faewatch Radio Programme, a very special panel interview with key players in the Goblin War: Seelie Queen Gwyneth, her daughter Princess Drysi, the Seer of the Wylds, Dyisi, Tac, an archer in the Seelie forces, and The Gypsy Davey, who has been preparing the way for the Sithen Rose to be replanted in the Queen’s Bower.

CG: It looks like most of the major players on the side of the Seelie Forces have survived the war. Your Majesty, how is King Maric faring?

SQG: My Lord King has retired to another realm to rest and recuperate.

CG: That sounds ominous. Let’s move on.

CG: Tac, you’re the only foot soldier here: can you give us a glimpse of your view of the battle?

Tac: Well, it was like most other wars I’ve been in: I guess I agree with Dyisi on this point. As an archer, I wasn’t in the midst of the fray, but rather above watching it. There were some beautiful moments, like when Princess Thalia threw this massive ball of water at the goblin forces with her trident, and then the Jabberwock just came and mowed them all down and the rest of them went running. We were picking them off like rabbits at that point. [she laughs] Honestly, unless it had been a complete rout with the goblins winning, there was no way any of our forces could have been overrun. We had too much protection on the ground with warriors like King Maric and Arahaelon and Commander Wulfrich fighting for all they were worth, and the little guys like me up in the trees taking care of oncoming onslaughts.

CG: Tac, thank you for a brief and informative overview. How is it a clever girl like you is stuck in the archery forces and not commanding a regiment of your own?

PD: Good question.

Tac: [after a brief pause] Well, I’m sort of not from the Wylds. I landed here and have been held here against my will, for something I have no idea about what I did, and I can’t go home until I have a conversation with Her Majesty, and she never has time for me. They’re not about to let me command a regiment, even if I’m smarter than half their section commanders. They don’t want anybody who can realm-walk getting out of their realm. All I want to do is go home to my house and get started on my work again.

[A strangled chuckle can be heard]

CG: Princess Drysi, did you have something add to that? And, Your Majesty, we try to have an open forum here; perhaps you could have your conversation with Tac right here on our radio programme!

[Audible laughter and an air of amusement permeate the room]

PD: No, no thank you; I’m all right.

SQG: While it’s true that I did intend to have a conversation with Tac, I’m afraid my schedule has been very full and….

Tac: Your Majesty, I’ve been here since Midsummer, and it’s now past Samhain and heading toward Yule. I would really like to get the hell out of this backwater realm and get back home.

SQG: I’m sure we can arrange a meeting very soon. [a brief pause] You know, you look very familiar. Are you sure we haven’t met face to face before?

Tac: Your Majesty, if we’d ever met face to face, I would already have asked you about my incarceration in your Realm and I would have asked you to let me go home.

CG: Well! It seems you two have a lot to talk about, but that’s not really the subject of our discussion today. I am sure, Tac, that Her Majesty will meet with you just as soon as she has a little time in her schedule. Princess Drysi, your hair keeps changing colour! Is that something that happens to you when you get anxious?

PD: I, well… on top of the combat training my mother has also taken a moment to teach me a little about glamouring; so far i’ve only really figured out how to change my hair.  I guess I’m so used to it now it just happens without me thinking.

CG: That’s a good trick and a great skill! No doubt many of our mortal ladies would love to be able to accomplish this. Your Majesty, how easy is for a fae to change your hair colour with a glamour?

SQG: Due to a curse I sustained years ago, I’m unable to change my hair colour. But the concept is very simple for the Fae. As we are made of magic, magic course through us. And Drysi, I remember when I first learned how to glamour clothes and nail colours and things like that: for several weeks I just kept changing them, but there was a point where it became so normal to me that stuff just kept changing on its own.

Tac: I had to learn glamour in a hurry, because when I left my home Realm, I ended up as a being who was illegal in that world, and my housemates had to teach me very quickly how to become anybody I wanted to be. [she laughs] Can you believe I went from being a massage therapy student to an archer in the Seelie Army?

SQG: Wait. A massage therapy student?

Tac: Yeah.

[There are 5 seconds of complete silence.]

CG: Davey, what can you tell us about the Sithen Rose?

TGD: The Sithen Rose is traditionally the heart of any Fae Sithin that exists within a larger Realm. The Wylds Sithen Rose needs some tender loving care, so I was summoned by Dyisi to come and create a place for it, then help get it planted in the ground.

Davey with the Sithen Rose

Davey with the Sithen Rose

SQG: Fenella. Fenella Wallin.

Tac: How the *censored* do you know that?

CG: Why don’t we take a quick break, and we’ll be back in a moment.

[Glissando]

CG: Welcome back, listeners! Well, it seems we have a few revelations today! I will look forward to getting you all back on to the show to answer some more questions and talk more about your lives in the Wylds. But for now, that’s all the time we have! Thanks so much to our guests, especially Her Majesty Seelie Queen Gwyneth, who was so kind as to come across to our studios today and bring these lovely people with her.

[Theme music]

Style Cards:

Gwyneth in the Infirmary:
Head:
Catwa Jessica
Skin: Pink Fuel Morgana Catwa Applier in Porcelain, Maitreya and SLink appliers for body and hands
Ears: BentBox, Sylvan Ears (Available at We Love Roleplay)
Body: Maitreya Lara
Hands and Feet: SLink
Eyes: IKON, Triumph Eyes, Nymph
Corset: Cila, Shara Elf of Luna, Silver *rare* (Available at the Fantasy Gacha Carnival)
Hair: Emo-tions, Tariel
Crown: The Annex, Snow Queen Crown *rare*
Necklace: Aisling, Lavi Necklace
Wings: Remarkable Oblivion, Eternity Wings, Innocence
Boots: Schadenfreude, Amargosa Boots
Tattoo: Things, Airell
Apothecary Cupboard & Contents: Artisan Fantasy Apothecary Gacha (Available at the Artisan Fantasy Main Store)
Apothecary Chest of Drawers: PPK, Healer Small Cabinet
Apothecary Box: Artisan Fantasy, Portable Apothecary
Infirmary Beds: PPK, Healer Exam Bed

Gwyneth Meeting Dyisi and the Bandersnatch in the Bower:
Head: Catwa Jessica
Skin: Izzie’s, Catwa Taleah Applier, Frost, Maitreya and SLink appliers, Frost
Ears: BentBox, Sylvan Ears (Available at We Love Roleplay)
Body: Maitreya Lara
Hands and Feet: SLink
Eyes: IKON, Triumph Eyes, Nymph
Circlet: Junbug, The Sabrina Circlet
Hair: Analog Dog, Gwen
Necklace, Cae, Cernunnos
Leggings and Sweater: M.BIRDIEstory, Loozy (Available at Uber)
Boots: 22769, Jika-Tabi Red Leather
Flower Circle: The Looking Glass, Dream Fields Circle (New from The Looking Glass)
Trees: Studio Skye, Enchanted Wood

The Amazing Catwoman:
Body, Hands, & Feet
: SLink Physique (original)
Hair: Elikatira, Brenna
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, November Girls’ Group Gift (Available at the 7 Deadly s{K}ins Main Store, SLink and other appliers also available there)
Ears: Gauze, High Elf Ears
Eyes: Mayfly, Luminous Mesh Eye, Deep Paris
Necklace, Otherskin, Selene
Boots: 22769, Jika-Tabi Blue Leather
Clothing: Azuchi Archer, Shirt Pants and Vest (Available at We Love Roleplay)
Bow: Gauze, Huntsman Bow & Quiver
Forest: Studio Skye, Enchanted Wood

The Gypsy Davey:
Body, Hands, & Feet: SLink Physique (original)
Hair: EMO-tions, Michael
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Damien Box 5, Smoked (Available at the 7 Deadly s{K}ins Main Store, SLink and other appliers also available there)
Ears: BentBox, Sylvan Ears (Available at We Love Roleplay)
Eyes: IKON, Sovereign Eyes, Electric
Sweater: Body Factory, Schott Sweater, (Available at Sad November)
Jeans: Ar2 Style, Biker Jeans
Necklace: Earthstones Celtic Claddagh Necklace
Boots: 22769, Jika-Tabi Black Leather
Rose Wall: Artisan Fantasy Wall Building Kit
Sithen Rose: The Looking Glass, Hearts Like China Roses
Surrounding Roses: {anc} Sugar Rose Field

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never leave home without it! 

7ds

Faewatch - 1

Nathaniel Ballard: MystHaven’s Sexy Steward

Everything you always wanted to know about the Beguiling Mr Ballard (Almost!)

—by Cherish Gelato
The Castle of MystHaven

The Castle of MystHaven

The Castle of MystHaven rises high above the village, dwarfed only by the mysterious peaks behind it. Stories say no one has ever been to those mountains, and we’re not going to prove them wrong, at least not today! Today, we bring you an exclusive, one-on-one interview with the mysterious Steward of MystHaven, Nathaniel Ballard, who’s captured the hearts of queens, dryads, Victorian vampiresses, and of course our readers!

Could you be the lucky winner of a private date with Nathaniel? Read on to find out how!

The village itself was quiet.

The village itself was quiet.

The village itself seemed quiet when I arrived there, a few townspeople talking, animals grazing on the common, the sort of thing you’d expect to find in a quiet, unassuming little place. Of course, this quiet, unassuming little place is connected to Faerie, and its leader has a very strange reputation, indeed.

Nathaniel met me in the castle's reception room.

Nathaniel met me in the castle’s reception room.

Nathaniel met me in the castle’s reception room after I’d been waved through by the Mysthaven guards, a daunting force of armed men who work tirelessly round the clock to keep the population of MystHaven safe from whatever lies out there, in Faerie.

I just have to say to start out: What a dish! I had to concentrate on the interview, but of course it was impossible not to keep sneaking glances at such a feast for the eyes. Nathaniel explained to me that because Lord Maric, the ruler of MystHaven was busy much of the time, he had the day-to-day responsibility for everything from the town treasury to defence, as well as the diplomatic liaison between MystHaven and the fae courts.

CG: Goodness—that’s a lot of responsibility for someone who looks so young. But you’re not as young as you look, are you, Nathaniel?

NB: Well, don’t believe everything Gwyneth says about me, sometimes she exaggerates. As to my age, that’s a kind of tricky question, since I don’t really know what year it is any more. I was born, by my reckoning, in the year 1853. In 1885 just before my 32nd birthday, shortly after the death of my wife, Alexandra, I was embraced, that is to say, was made a vampire. That was when I stopped aging, in physical terms, so, I look 32, and will look 32 so long as I choose to. The one who made me disappeared, and I spent six years searching for her in Germany and America, before ending upin London in 1891, six years later. Since then, due to various adventures, I seem to be somewhat disconnected from the normal streams of time. Since you are familiar with fae matters, you will understand that. By my reckoning, I have experienced four years since I arrived in London, which would mean that, were the calendar linear, it would now be 1895, which would make me 42 in terms of elapsed years.” He chuckles. “On the other hand, given some of what I have experienced over the past few years, sometimes I feel a lot older.

MystHaven's sumptuous dining room.

MystHaven’s sumptuous dining room.

CG: I could never imagine Gwyneth exaggerating, but of course, I am familiar with fae matters, and I do know that everything is not what it seems in Faerie! Of course, what my readers really want to know is, what’s it like to be the Consort of the Summer Queen?

NB: I have only been Consort, formally, since Ostara a couple of months ago. It is a formal acknowledgment of my relationship with the Queen, as opposed to my relationship with Gwyneth. It gives me an official position and status within the courts, a place at official functions etc. I suppose it gives me some measure of authority within the fae realms, but so far, I have not needed to exercise it. It’s largely a political matter and to my view, anyway, irrelevant in terms of our relationship.

CG: So your position as Consort gives you ‘some measure of authority’. Would you then, be leading the Shining Throng, say, into battle, in the absence of Queen Gwyneth?

NB: [laughs] I’m an accountant, not a warrior. Though, of late, I have become more and more of the latter. Leading the armies is matter for the rooks and ravens and such like, but, when it comes to the defence of the realm, then I would be there at the forefront and if the Shining Throng would accept my leadership, I would provide it, but I would take their advice. It is the same here in Mysthaven. Captain Kustav is a far more able warrior than I, yet he would accept my lead on the battlefield, but I would lead based on his advice.

The happy couple!

The happy couple!

CG: Good, good; so you do have a good head on your shoulders, despite your long sojourn in Faerie. But yes, what about your relationship with Queen Gwyneth? Are there wedding bells in your future?

NB: I met Gwyn in a place far from here, now long gone, called Jasper Cove. I had not long arrived there and had found myself a position as accountant and barkeep at the tavern there. Gwyn arrived a little later and started working as a barmaid. She was not as you see her now then. She was a short-arsed girl from the East End of London, and that was the London of the 21st century, as opposed to the London the 19th century I knew. She had a mouth on her that would make a sailor blush, and I should know, I was a sailor, but, despite that, she was smart, knew a lot about literature and poetry, which was about the only common ground we had. I used to call her a potty-mouthed polymath and she called me a posh fuck. She also thought I was, what was the word she used, gay – a homosexual. Nevertheless, we became friends.  It was while we were in Jasper Cove, as a result of some defences we had to erect to protect ourselves from attacks from fae creatures, that Gwyn discovered she was of fae blood, that she had been left with human parents, a changeling. Anyway, Jasper burned and we found ourselves here. Gwyn was still coming to terms with her fae nature. We were still friends, but became closer. Then, one day, we found ourselves facing almost certain death at the hands of the Raven of the then Unseelie Queen. I decided to take a chance on feelings that seemed to be developing, and kissed her.  We survived said battle and things developed from there.  And, a couple of weeks ago, I did propose and she accepted. We are trying to play down the whole ‘marriage’ in the political sense, because that opens a whole can of worms in the fae courts. We want it for ourselves, for love, but…

CG: What a sweet story! I am trying to picture Queen Gwyneth saying … well, anything unpleasant, really, and I just can’t. What a different side of her you must have gotten to know. So she’s changed a lot, then, from when you first met and fell in love with her. Is that ever a hardship for you?

NB: She has changed a lot, it is true. And it was hard on her. She came into her fae maturity a lot faster than was normal, because of circumstances. A fae prince here adopted her and we had to do a lot of negotiation for her to continue in the relationship with me because, in fae terms, she was far too young.  Also, during this time, I discovered that I was part fae myself, through my mother, who was descended from the Tuatha de Danaan.  And my fae nature was .. amplified through my dealings with a fae goddess and the late Unseelie Queen, so I have changed a lot too. As to it being a hardship, maybe so. She has a lot of responsibilities as do I. We have to be aware of the political implications of what we do. But, for all that she has changed – she is taller now, and more beautiful, even when you discount the glamour. She has matured and become more fae in nature, which can be … trying at times, when starts talking in ways that are normal to the fae, but to mortals seems a little crazy.. especially when her words start making flowers grow and butterflies appear.” He laughs, “Sometimes, I think it irritates her too, because she can’t swear properly any more. Even when she is frustrated and angry and wants to curse like a sailor, it still comes out like the dulcet tones of a refined princess, which rather ruins the effect.  But, when it is just her and me, underneath it all, she is still my Gwyn, I am still her Nathaniel and our love is as strong as ever, and gets stronger every day.

How could one's love for this man NOT get stronger every day?

How could one’s love for this man NOT get stronger every day?

CG: That’s so lovely. Now, of course our readers will be curious about your upcoming wedding! I know you said you wanted to play it down, but surely there’s no way for the Queen of Faerie to have a tiny, private wedding ceremony. Have you set a date? Do you have a theme?

NB: [rolls eyes, curses under breath] Let’s say that the political implications are still being sorted out. As I said, I am 1/8 fae by birth but probably a lot more than that by … adoption and quickening, but, that isn’t going to be fae enough for some. I’m not a huge fan of great ceremony. The only reason my first wedding turned into a bit of an event was because the town mayor attended, and that was because he was a family friend, rather than us having any great significance as a couple. I keep hoping that it can be an event for us, rather than a theatrical extravaganza, but,” he sighs, “I suppose, if it were down to me, I’d probably want to go for an Arthurian theme. The stories of King Arthur were my first great love as a child. Or maybe something Shakespearean.  But, it’s not about me, is it? Weddings are all about the bride, and usually, her family. I know Alexandra’s parents more or less took over ours. There’s probably less chance of that happening. We haven’t succeeded in locating Gwyn’s mother, Sia, yet, and I haven’t heard anything of her adoptive father for some while. Though, there is a chance we could find him, if we could work out where Roanofa…. or something like that is.  As for a date, I don’t really know.  We’re too late for Beltaine, the solstice is coming up way too fast, so I don’t know if we could get organised in time, then maybe Lughnasadh. We haven’t really talked about it yet.

CG: Oh, I was sure you’d say it was coming up at Midsummer. I mean, isn’t that the time your children will be … do we say, ‘born’, or not? Queen Gwyneth explained to me about the crystals when we spoke a few weeks ago.

NB: In an ideal world, midsummer would be the obvious choice, because once that is over, the throne becomes more the responsibility of the winter king, so we will have more time together without having to spend so much time on the throne.  And, yes, the children are due then, which is a whole other puzzle, as I have no idea how to deal with fae babies. I guess that is something we will have to work out between us. Like I said, I’m just the groom.” he grins. “If midsummer is what my lady wants, then I will have to apply my extensive logistical experience and do my damndest to see it happens.

A gentleman and a scholar.

A gentleman and a scholar.

CG: You seem to have everything under control, even if you say you haven’t. But moving on to some things our readers have asked about…. Of course, I, and our readers, are very curious about the world of the Fae: that’s why we’re in business here at FaeWatch. When Fae are intimate with one another. Do they- do you really glow?

NB: [laughs, coughs] Well, now, what a curious lot your readers must be. You hear a lot of things about fae intimacy, from glowing bodies to flowers blooming to exploding bluebirds.  Though the latter was suggested by one of the fae who was a little strange. I can’t say that my experience is typical, given my somewhat … hybrid … nature.  Fae intimacy involves a lot of fae energy, what I like to call the wyld, which is, to me, a life-affirming energy and there is often a lot left over, which can manifest itself in many ways. You may have noticed that Gwyn tends to get flowers growing round her feet, and that’s just be walking around. I’ve learned how to channel much of that energy, soak it up, so to speak. Plus, Blaise, her adoptive father, gave us a crystal that helps to dampen the external effects. Even so, there is often a lot left over sometimes, so, yes, there can be glowing.

The Steward's Chambers at MystHaven.

The Steward’s Chambers at MystHaven.

CG: Exploding bluebirds? That must have been some night! So you need magic to dampen magic? That’s very interesting. Now, Gwyneth has explained to me that the Fae don’t treat relationships as we mortals do: she says she has many lovers and intends to keep it that way. As her future husband, do you have any worries about the sort of … extracurricular company she might keep?

NB: [chuckles] Well now, you really do go for in-depth reporting. I know who they are, at least, I think I do, and, at times, we have shared intimacy, so most of her extra-curricular company, what a delightful way of putting it, is my extracurricular company too. And if there are others, on either side, that end up not being shared, then that is fine too, so long as we are both open with each other about it. It provides variety, it makes sure we never get bored, though that is extremely unlikely anyway, and at the end of the day, we come back to each other, and that’s the main thing.

CG: We ask the questions our readers want to know. I have a list here of questions sent in by our readers, some of which are far more … probing than what I’ve asked you so far. But let’s move on from your relationship with Queen Gwyneth. Is it true that Maric, Lord of Mysthaven, is a Prince of Hell and that this very village rose out of the depths overnight?

NB: [Shakes his head] I am fairly sure he isn’t from Hell. We have dealings with Hell, of course, but he is by no means a fan of the place or its denizens. I’m better inclined towards them, but then, I’ve known some of them a long time. But Maric, no, not a Prince of Hell, so far as I know. It is true that the village appeared her overnight, but I wouldn’t say it rose from the depths so much as emerged from the mists. It is my guess it came from somewhere in the Slavic areas of Europe, from the names and accents, but when it came from, I am not so sure.

Snapshot_006 Snapshot_007 Snapshot_005 Snapshot_004

Some shots of the village that rose out of the mists, fully formed, not so long ago.

CG: And did that not strike you all as just a little bit, well, creepy? Or do villages generally emerge from the mists in your experience?

NB: [laughs out loud] Ten years ago, I was a ships purser. I went to visit my older lover and she turned out to be a vampire who made me into a vampire. I spent 6 years traveling the world looking for her after that. Four years ago, I sailed into a place that looked very much like London, and discovered there were others like me, and also werewolves, faeries, elves, dragons, demons, a devil, a clockwork bunny rabbit…. a few years ago, I left that London and was shipwrecked. A man on a boat, that at the time, I believed to be Charon, took me across a river to an island outside time, where I met more exotic creatures, including a phoenix. That place burned and the boatman turned out to have also been the prince of that place, as well as a young man I nearly had an affair with when I was in London, and, was once that famous Elizabethan mystic, John Dee. I came here, and once, on this hill, stood a castle run by a vampire. I had a brief affair with a dryad and met an old, and much loved  friend I had previously known in London, who turned out to be queen of the Cait Sidhe. That castle was besieged by tree creatures and destroyed, while I took shelter with the Unseelie Queen and she and I became very close friends and more. I have battled great sea creatures, sluagh, the hounds of hell, the Wild Hunt, my girlfriend turned into a faerie queen, the old faerie queen passed on yet still visits me in dreams…. In among all that, a village appearing out of the mysts overnight barely merits a raised eyebrow.

CG: Well, when you put it that way, I guess it might be an everyday occurrence. Now, I’m sure you have to get back to your duties, but let me just ask you one last question, something that keeps coming up from our readers. You must know that you’re quite the heartthrob. I’ve had no less than fifteen requests that Faewatch sponsor a contest to win a date with you. How would you feel about that? Can we sign you up for some fun with a lucky mortal?

NB: I’ve never considered myself a heartthrob. And I’m not sure what sort of date I could offer – it’s not as if we have a wide range of restaurants, theatres etc to go to here. But, I suppose, if Gwyneth is agreeable, I could do that. Is there any way the contest could benefit some worthy cause?

CG: Of course, of course! Charity of your choice? I understand there are quite a few displaced folks wandering around Mysthaven: could we donate a portion of the entry fees to their upkeep? Thank you so much, Nathaniel, for your time and your candour. 

NB: Thank you, Cherish. It’s been a pleasure.

Want to learn more about this man? Enter our contest!

Want to learn more about this man? Enter our contest!

To enter FaeWatch’s Win A Date With Nathaniel Ballard Contest, just send your name, method of contact, and the entry fee of $100 to our offices here at FaeWatch. We’ll announce the winner sometime before Samhain!

NEXT WEEK: CHERISH GOES IN-DEPTH WITH HERMETIC HEDGE WITCHES TO PROVE WHETHER OR NOT YOU CAN CURE WARTS WITH HALF A POTATO AND A RUSTY NAIL! DON’T MISS IT!

Faewatch - 1

Exclusive: Royal Treehouse Tour!

Seelie Queen Gwyneth Opens Her Home to FaeWatch

—by Cherish Gelato
Snapshot_002

Seelie Queen Gwyneth’s fabulous treehouse is the tallest thing in the Great Seelie Forest.

So many rumours surround the Wylds’ Seelie Queen, Gwyneth. She comes from another world. Her three children, who have yet to be born, are waiting for the return of their (official) Royal father, King Janus before they will leave their incubation crystals. Her relationship with the Court of the Mists is far more solid—and physical!—than many in the Fae Lands would like. Her dangerous world-hopping hobby has been the subject of much speculation. She still pays homage to the mercurial and violent Isabella, who wounded Ardan, the Fae Court’s sacred tree, in a fit of pique. Isabella herself is rumoured to be wed to an ancient demon of unspeakable power. She never knew her mother. Her adoptive father, Prince Blaise of Roanóafa, fled the Ashmourne Wylds Seelie Sithen because she attacked him during her quickening. I decided to find out the truth behind these rumours, and I also wanted a look at the Seelie Forest which grew during her winter hibernation.

Queen Gwyneth welcomed me into her home just after the Spring Equinox. The reclusive young Queen opened her home to me, and our artist captured some beautiful images. She also granted me an interview and promised to answer some of our burning questions!

Our tour began where all visitors enter the Seelie Forest.

Our tour began where all visitors enter the Seelie Forest.

There is only one way to enter the Seelie Forest, and that is by magic. I travelled from the Village of Mysthaven to the sacred tree in the Summerlands, Ardan. Queen Gwyneth’s personal guard met me there and explained that as a mortal, I’d have to be blindfolded to be transported to the Great Seelie Forest. Both my artist and I were happy to be blindfolded rather than struck blind by magic! The trip was quite short, and Wulfrich, the Queen’s personal guard, was a delightful travelling companion. Her Majesty herself met us in the arrival grove and offered us food and drink, which we politely refused (can’t be too careful!).

She took us first to see what she describes as her favourite statue: a goddess that holds an ivy plant in her hands. Each day, the ivy plant dies and grows anew.

The Arrival Grove

The Arrival Grove

At first, I was disconcerted by the little lights that seemed often to dance and cavort around the Queen as we wandered through the bower: she explained that these are Will O’ The Wisps, and they are not purely decorative in nature: they’re used to send messages back and forth between the Fae who live in different parts of Faerie.

A conversation bower.

A conversation bower.

As we moved through the Seelie Forest, Her Majesty showed us some of her favourite places, the first one being what she called a “conversation bower”.

“It’s just a place,” she explained, “where anybody can come and relax and talk. I like to make sure all my Fae can feel comfortable in our forest, so there are many places like this throughout the wood.”

The Dancing Grove

The Dancing Grove

Just adjacent to the conversation bower is the Dancing Grove, a wide, circular space where many Fae come out to dance most nights. Fae are very in touch with their bodies, she explained, and so many of them love to dance. The only problem apparently is finding good musicians: they often have to be imported from the mortal realm. Sometimes, she said, people are afraid to visit Faerie because of things they’ve heard, like waking up the next morning to find that twenty years have passed. “We really don’t mean for that to happen,” she explained.

The Waterfall Cave

The Waterfall Cave

Around the edge of the wood, there are wide meadows and a lovely rose garden, which Brendan, my artist, refused to sketch because he felt the statue in the middle of the garden was following him with her eyes. This cave is one of several around the forest: it’s a very neat little space with a single comfortable-looking room. “Can we go in?” I asked. She replied that no; her foster sister lives there, and we wouldn’t want to invade her privacy, but she did show us the vegetable garden next to the rock formation, adding that her foster sister is a keen gardener. Wulfrich seemed to find this statement very funny, but I never did get the joke.

More Will O' The Wisps followed us as we made our way around the edge of the forest.

More Will O’ The Wisps followed us as we made our way around the edge of the forest.

We had to stop and rest a few times on our way around the forest, although the Queen and her Guard never seemed to tire at all. Ah, the blessings of being immortal and magical! As Her Majesty made her way around a large fairy mushroom circle and into the Seelie gathering place where there is a large half-circle of stones and an altar of some kind, she explained that the little fae, or demifae, like to congregate in the areas where magic is strong in the forest, and the stone circle is a very magical place. There must have been hundreds of them, all flitting about. It was here that we saw our first flying demifae, and I admit I was entranced! Even though I have interviewed many Fae as part of my work for FaeWatch, I never cease to be amazed by these charming creatures!

Now, it was finally time to visit the Royal Treehouse.

Now, it was finally time to visit the Royal Treehouse.

Queen Gwyneth took us through a flowered path that met another path, this one lined with trees. She introduced us to another statue, whom she called the Guardian of the Gate, and said he was there with his lantern to point the way toward the treehouse, though how anybody could miss that imposing structure seemed a mystery to me.

The tree-lined path.

The tree-lined path.

She invited us to walk through the tree-lined path, little lights still dancing round her ankles, and then explained that we would first walk up the stairs and then reach the treehouse by means of two magical ladders.

The first magical ladder.

The first magical ladder.

One has only to grasp these ladders, Her Majesty explained, and then one is transported up to the next level. This is a startling experience! When I reached out to grasp the ladder, I felt a dizziness in my head and a strong sense of vertigo. I had to close my eyes to calm myself, and by the time I opened them, I was already on an observation balcony, where there is a lovely view down to the cave—I was already so high up that I could see the entire Great Seelie forest all spread out below me. What a beautiful sight that was!

The entrance!

The entrance!

Up the second magical ladder we went; my artist was feeling so nauseous by the time we got to the top he chose not to capture that image. Then, we walked up a rope bridge and onto the entrance balcony. I could see another rope bridge on the other side, but Her Majesty said we should see the interior of the house first.

When we entered the house, I asked her if it would be all right to begin our interview. She agreed that this was a lovely idea. Her Steward, Bran, met us as the front door with offers of coffee, tea, fairy mead, or fae nectar—but again we refused.

Magical lamps in the entrance hall.

Magical lamps in the entrance hall.

CG: These are such beautiful lamps! How do they work?

Queen Gwyneth: They are lit by the demifae you see flying inside of them.

CG: But don’t they get dizzy? And how do you choose which fairies will have to go into the lamps?

QG: Oh, they consider it quite an honour to light these lamps. We had a party on the Spring Equinox, and the demifae held a lottery to determine who would get to “fly the lamps” that evening. I thought of taking them down after the party, but they wouldn’t hear of it!

The Great Room.

The Great Room.

CG: Oh, this is a marvellous living room! And your taste in art is exquisite, Your Majesty!

QG: Thank you! Painting is one of my passions, and some of the art is my own. This is our Great Room: we use it formally for social gatherings of course, but quite a lot of the time I’ll come in to find someone or other just lounging on a couch reading a book.

CG: Are all the Fae voracious readers?

QG: Goodness, no! We’re just like any other society: we have our intellectuals and our crafters, our cooks and artisans. I love to read, so a house filled with books makes me feel comfortable and secure. It reminds me of where I grew up.

The treehouse has a large kitchen with a table that the Queen explained can be made larger or smaller depending on the number of people who need to sit there.

The treehouse has a large kitchen with a table that the Queen explained can magically be made larger or smaller depending on the number of people who need to sit there.

CG: Ah, Your Majesty—that’s an excellent segue. Can you tell our readers about your early life, before you became Queen?

QG: [grows silent, pauses briefly] Yes, I suppose it’s no secret. I was raised by mortals and never knew I was Fae until I found myself, through a series of strange events I can barely remember, in the little village of Jasper Cove. There, King Alec saw my true Fae nature, and he and Queen Isabella began to teach me about my heritage. When Jasper Cove fell and we fled to the Wylds, my education was continued by my adoptive father, Prince Blaise, and his then-consort, Aislynn, along with Lady Siansa, one of the Ladies of the Seelie Court there. [She pauses again]. I never felt so loved as when the Prince adopted me. Even through the darkest times in the Wylds, when we feared Faerie would pull apart and cease to be, he supported me and stood by me. And he was … is a great warrior, Prince Blaise.

We moved onto the little balcony off the kitchen, where the view is again, spectacular and dizzying.

We moved onto the little balcony off the kitchen, where the view is again, spectacular and dizzying.

CG: And he’s … lost, your father? 

QG: [turns away, looks out over the forest] I have not heard from him for some time. I do not know where he is. Next question!

CG: Is it painful for you, that you are not now in contact with your father?

QG: I would prefer not to pursue that subject. Surely your readers would like to know more about what’s happening in the Faerie Courts now, rather than dwell upon the past.

CG: Well, people are curious about all aspects of your life, Your Majesty, but of course I respect your desire for privacy. Is it troubling to you, though, painful for you, that you have no real family around you?

QG: I do have a real family around me. I have my beloved King, Janus, my equally beloved Consort, Nathaniel, my sister Aoibheann, and all who are left of Faerie. They are my family. And I love them as fiercely as any birth and blood family.

CG: You mention King Janus, but there are rumours that he has deserted you and left the Wylds without a King. Is it true that the Lord of Mysthaven has usurped the Throne of Faerie and now sits beside you as King?

QG: Well, that’s a question full of speculation, isn’t it? And it seems that people will always assume the worst. My Lord King has indeed departed the Wylds for a little while; he had pressing issues that he could not ignore in another realm. And King Maric is no usurper: he only did what had to be done. Faerie was without a ruler while I slept for the winter: Our Realm needs a Winter King as surely as it needs a Summer Queen. He was anointed and accepted by our gods and by our mallorn tree, and yes; he does sit beside me as King. When My Lord King returns, the Unseelie Crown will pass back to him. Come; let me take you upstairs and show you our Library.

The Treehouse Library.

The Treehouse Library.

CG: Oh, do tell me about this library. Are all the books here magical?

QG: Not all of them: some of them are ordinary history books, novels; we have a wide and eclectic selection here. Most of the magical texts are contained in scrolls, and I’m afraid you wouldn’t be able to read them, Ms. Gelato.

CG: Oh, do call me Cherish, Your Majesty. I see there are only a few paintings on the walls up here: is that to keep down distractions when your people are reading and studying?

QG: Not at all: I just haven’t got around to hanging all the paintings yet. Perhaps we’ll invite you back when the House is fully decorated.

We proceeded to the Steward's Office, which is in the small room off the library and also houses the mechanism that operates the House's windmill.

We proceeded to the Steward’s Office, which is in the small room off the library and also houses the mechanism that operates the House’s windmill.

CG: Bran’s office seems positively Spartan in comparison to the rest of the House.

QG: [laughs] Oh, again, he’s just not got around to doing much with this room. Bran is constantly busy with the administrative bits and bobs of running the Fae Kingdom, so he says he has little time to decorate. I do keep teasing him about it, though. Perhaps if you put that bit into the published interview we’ll get him to hang a few pictures of his own!

CG: That could be! Now, tell me about your children, Your Majesty. When will they be born?

QG: We expect they will make an appearance sometime in the summer, but right now, Ardan is taking care of all their physical needs. I spend a lot of time near the tree, of course, because it is the centre of spirituality and magic in the Fae lands, and I can tell you they are growing beautifully and looking forward to meeting the world in the physical sense.

We continued downstairs into the Queen's personal chamber, where we were again offered something to eat or drink and (again!) refused politely.

We continued downstairs into the Queen’s personal chamber, where we were again offered something to eat or drink and (again!) refused politely.

CG: Your taste seems so simple and elegant, Your Majesty. I can’t think of a lot of Queens who’d be content living in a treehouse and having only a single room to themselves!

QG: [laughs] Well, the whole of the house really is my space, you know. I have privacy when I want and need it, and the house itself is a magical thing: I’m positive it has a life energy of its own. It did, after all, grow itself from the tree in which it’s situated. But you’re right: because I didn’t grow up as a Princess and spent most of my years before finding Faerie as an academic, my idea of a comfortable space might be a little different from that of other Royals. There is a lovely balcony off this room, though: come through, and I’ll show you some of the outside bits you were curious about earlier.

The Queen's Balcony has its own waterfall and a rope bridge, giving her a private entrance to the House.

The Queen’s Balcony has its own waterfall and a rope bridge, giving her a private entrance to the House.

CG: Oh, this is lovely! I’d have a hard time not spending all my days out on this balcony just enjoying the view of the forest below. Tell me, has Ardan recovered from his injuries yet?

QG: [pauses] You know, to an outsider, Ardan’s injury might not look like all that much, but I can assure you that when that unfortunate event happened, the whole of Faerie was shaken by it. And no; he has not fully recovered. We hope that when his growing season begins, as the year turns fully into Spring, he will make a full recovery.

CG: And — I know this might be a touchy subject, but you are still very much in contact with Isabella?

QG: Alec and Isabella will always be like foster parents to me. I would never have discovered my true nature if not for them. Our relationship remains cordial and close. More than that I’m not willing to speak about.

Down the second rope bridge, we found ourselves on another balcony, which the Queen said would be used as a social and dancing space.

Down the second rope bridge, we found ourselves on another balcony, which the Queen said would be used as a social and dancing space.

CG: Understood. I won’t go any further down that line of questioning, although if you ever feel like talking about it, you know that our readers will want to know! Now, is it true that you yourself do not spend all your time in Faerie, but rather travel to different realms on a fairly regular basis?

QG: I do travel between realms, it’s true. I have not done very much of that since I awoke, because there has been so much to do in Faerie. Making the land fertile is a full time job at this time of the year, so a Fae Queen’s work is never done. I am responsible for bringing life back to our land, so for this season especially, I will be remaining mostly in residence here at the House and of course holding Court in the Official Residence.

We made our way back up the other rope bridge and back through the front entrance, where the Queen pointed out the office and residence of her personal Guard, Wulfrich.

We made our way back up the other rope bridge and back through the front entrance, where the Queen pointed out the office and residence of her personal Guard, Wulfrich.

CG: Now Wulfrich, it looks like, has spent some time making this office his own.

QG: He has. Wulf has many years of travelling behind him before he came to us here in Faerie, and he’s collected so many wonderful things and stories over the years. And although he seems quiet when he’s on duty, few men are better storytellers than my Wulfrich.

CG: Oh, is he blushing? Wulfrich, are you embarrassed?

Wulfrich: My Lady Queen flatters me.

QG: Nonsense, Wulf. You know we cannot lie.

CG: That is true, then? The Fae cannot lie?

QG: [smiles] Yes, that is true. However, mortals are wise to be cautious around us, because there are many more ways to manipulate than the telling of simple lies.

We then went back to the Queen's chambers, where she relaxed on a divan and answered a few more questions for me.

We then went back to the Queen’s chambers, where she relaxed on a divan and answered a few more questions for me.

CG: Just one or two more questions, and then I’ll let you get on with the business of running the Faery Kingdom. Tell me about your relationship with the Queen of Caits.

QG: Queen Valene is a trusted friend, mentor, confidante, and a love of mine. She brings darkness to my light and wisdom to my worries. When we first fled to the Wylds, Valene was the first of the Fae to truly befriend me, and her love has sustained me over many a dark period.

CG: Are you lovers?

QG: Of course. No one can know Valene and not love her, as no one can look at me and not love me. [smiles]

Her Majesty, Seelie Queen Gwyneth.

Her Majesty, Seelie Queen Gwyneth.

CG: Rumour has it that you sustain a dizzying number of relationships with many different Fae. How do you keep them all straight?

QG: [laughs] It would be fair to simply say “I don’t understand the question,” and have done with that, Cherish. But I’ll be kind and try. We are all lovers, all the Fae, no matter what anybody may tell you. Every one of us is a creature of love. And I am the Queen of Love. Love, my darling, is what I am made of. Love is my essence, and it must be expressed both spiritually and physically. We are very physical beings, the Sidhe: touch comforts us and calms us; touch brings us closer to our magical natures; touch sustains and feeds us. Love is the pure expression of our need to connect, our desire to be one with one another. And love, pure love, is a well that never runs dry.

I admit that I had tears in my eyes, listening to the Seelie Queen talk this way, and though I am happily married, I could not deny that at that moment, I longed to kiss her.

CG: Oh, Your Majesty, thank you so much for allowing us to come and talk to you today. I hope we can come back again and learn more about the Fae of the Wylds. It seems there’s an ever-growing curiosity about your realm, and we are all looking forward to the many things you’re sure to accomplish as Queen.

QG: You’re very welcome, sweet Cherish, and I’d like to formally invite you, and your husband if he’s willing, to come and celebrate Beltane with us on the First of May.

We ended our interview there, and the Queen was whisked off by Bran and a demifae whose name I did not catch to attend to something having to do with asparagus. Wulfrich escorted Brendan and me back down to the Forest and then back to Ardan. Even though we had nothing t eat or drink while in Faerie, I think I shall die if I don’t go back there soon. What wonders have I seen, as the poet said. And that, dear readers, is what I hope will be the first of many glimpses into the life of the Seelie Queen.

Next week: Cherish wants to help you find out if your significant other is a Demon! She’ll take you through a quiz to help you find out if your boyfriend is a Prince of Hell!

OOC Note: This is the “Serene Tree & Windmill Home” by Winter DiPrima for LAQ Decor. I cannot tell you all how much I love this house! So much so that I keep making all my non-SL friends look at pictures of it. If they’re visiting me, they pretty much have to go on a virtual tour. And the number of people I’ve forced to come and visit me because of this house, well. It might actually give me a SL social life! 😉