Exclusive: Royal Treehouse Tour!
Seelie Queen Gwyneth Opens Her Home to FaeWatch
—by Cherish Gelato
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 😉