Freedom in the Pools of Ethuil

The Pools of Ethuil are one of the Realms in this year’s Faire that I come back to again and again. There is a serene and restful vibe there that I crave.

Pools FF 1 BLOG - 4

So many beautiful places to relax in the Pools!

There are so many beautiful places to relax in the Pools! But of course, I can never stay in one place for very long: if I linger, the local demifae start coming round and asking me when Awenia is going to be ready for residents. I’m tired of explaining the whole legal kerfuffle to everybody, particularly tiny fae who get bored after the first sentence and ask questions in the way I imagine toddlers do. “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” And then they never stick around to hear the explanation, little flibbertigibbets!

Pools FF 1 BLOG - 5

Thinking about all that makes my head hurt.

Ach, thinking about all that makes my head hurt. I wonder, though, as I wander round all these beautiful Realms, open to everyone for just these few magical days of the Great Faire, how we’ll put it all together. I mean, we want a town, a magical town, with links to or gates right into a little piece of Faerie. I think with our skills that’ll be possible to create.

Pools FF 1 BLOG - 7

The what-ifs

It’s hard not to get mired down in the what-ifs, particularly when so much of me is the culmination of dozens of odd what-ifs. The need to explain it all has fallen away from me now, after so many years away from the life I thought was my only one. Turns out we can have several different lives in one lifetime. And as I’m going to have a very long lifetime, being prepared for my life to change with no notice has just become not a shocking possibility but a resigned probability.

Pools FF 1 BLOG - 8

The feeling of peace

Still, as I roam the beautiful paths of Pools of Ethuil, it’s hard to let anything break through and bother me, because here is a place so much like the one I want to build for our people back in Awenia.

Pools FF 1 BLOG - 2

Why not dance?

And so, why not dance while the soft skies give us warmth from the distant sun?

Pools FF 1 BLOG - 1

Why not run?

Why not run, with no destination and no desire but the ecstatic wind against our skin?

Pools FF 1 BLOG - 3

Why not leap?

Why not leap, because everything is a leap: life, love, learning, trust, laughter, hope— it’s all a leap. Why not leap without fear?

Why not leap?

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Vista Bento Mesh Head, Lia
Skin: Lumae, Elvi, T1/Neutral (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in Pools of Ethuil!)
Ears: Swallow, Noldor Elf Ears
Necklace: RealEvil Industries, Passion Collar
Bracelets: The Plastik, Aeliora Bracelet
Antlers: Static, Andouiller, Vintage Key (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in Sanoria!)
Clothes and Headpiece: Azul, Rafa, Sapphire (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in The Bazaar Dungeon!)
Wings: Evolved Creatures, Fae Wings
Hair: Wasabi, Mayra Windblown (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in Aetherea!)
Shoes: Astralia, Queen’s Leg Jewels

Location: The 2018 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, Realm of Pools of Ethuil, Sponsored by Roawenwood and designed by Searlait Nitschke

FF18_Poster_SQUARE (Optional)

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.

LeftLuggageBLOG - 1 (1)

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.

LeftLuggageBLOG - 9

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.

LeftLuggageBLOG - 8

“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.

LeftLuggageBLOG - 1

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.

LeftLuggageBLOG - 2

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.

LeftLuggageBLOG - 4

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.

LeftLuggageBLOG - 5

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.

LeftLuggageBLOG - 11

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.

LeftLuggageBLOG - 6

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

Greetings from Astrid’s Nemeton!

We’ve settled in to our digs for the duration of the Great Faire, in the intriguing Realm of Astrid’s Nemeton. It seems to be a mixture of Asatru and Druidic cultures. The denizens here are (mostly) friendly, although some of them have rather large teeth!

Greetings From Astrid's Nemeton 1

Greetings from Astrid’s Nemeton!

We brought fae steeds, of course, as one can never be too sure what mounts there will be in these far-away and often strange Realms. I spent the first day of the Faire exploring our Realm on horseback: there was so much to see and do! It is possible to hire a boat and sail the waterways that marble the Realm throughout.

We are in a beautiful little house upon which a tree with iridescent leaves grow: this seems to be the style throughout the Realm. These houses remind me of nothing so much as the temple at Angkor Wat, even though those buildings are made of a different kind of stone. I never visited it, but I recall seeing photographs in some class or other at uni, or maybe it was secondary school: my old life seems to run together so much.

Greetings from Astrid's Nemeton2

Queue Marlowe did my hair!

Although I’m fortunate enough to be able to visit Queue’s Realm and have her do my hair from time to time, I always look for her braiding and styling booth first of all when we reach the Faire: there is nothing so wonderful as being able to enjoy the Faire in a beautiful new hairstyle and be able to tell people where I got it! She calls this braid style Janire, and I’m sure I’ve met the woman it’s named after somewhere or other. I don’t know why, but I have a strong, sharp memory of the taste of broccoli whenever I think of that name. Perhaps we had memorable broccoli together at some dinner or other? I do like broccoli.

As with all years, I will do my best to share with you, whether or not you can hop Realms as easily as we can, our experiences at the Faire. We’ve been so busy since the Faire opened on Thursday that I’m only just getting around to looking at the photographs I’ve taken. Luckily, the Faire has great wifi and I’m able to post right from our little house!


From Gwen: Co-sponsoring a Fantasy Faire region with LRRiven of Rivendale is such an honour! But it’s also a lot of work! Obviously, Riven as the region designer did so much more than I did, and Kitori Unplugged (aka Skeleton) tirelessly provided so many scripts that made everything Just Work, but the concept we created and the story we worked toward have been building for a year in one form or another. Indeed, we’re already thinking about next year! 

I’m hoping that for the next week I can partially relax, take in the Faire, and share many wonderful pictures and stories with you. Although these photographs were taken on Thursday just before the Faire opened, I’ve been so busy that this is the first chance I’ve had to post anything. 


Coming soon:

More from Astrid’s Nemeton
The Soundtrack of Erstwhile
A cubic *ton of things I haven’t thought of yet!


Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ Bento Mesh Head, Lulu
Skin: Lumae, Elvi (Nylisa) (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Pools of Ethuil!)
Eyes: Banana Banshee, Faelynn (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Aetherea!)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Dress: Noble Creations, Goddess Artemis
Hair: Analog Dog, Janire (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Falls of Hope!)
Headpiece: On a Lark, Gardenia Crown
Boots: !go!, Fay Boots Red
Horse: WaterHorse, Riding Horse, English WarmBlood
Horse Skin: Cinnamon, Celestial Pearl
Unicorn Mods: Jinx, Unicorn Set (Not new, but you can get it at the Jinx store in the Fantasy Faire realm of Tiny Town!)
Horse Tack: Aerith Tack FF18 (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Tiny Town!)

Location: The 2018 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, Realm of Astrid’s Nemeton, sponsored by Rivendale and Gwen Enchanted, designed by LRRiven.

FF18_Poster_SQUARE (Optional)

“You Are About to go on a Long Journey….”

Well, all the fortunetellers say that, don’t they? And obviously, the Great Faire is coming up soon, so we will be taking a long journey there, and then the long journey of days itself so that we can enjoy the all-too-short wonders of the greatest gathering of folk in all the wide Realms.

But that chance meeting with the fortuneteller at the art gallery opening just made me think, and you know what happens when I think.

(Not that! Keep quiet, you cretins!)

What happens when I think is, I dream.

And I did in fact dream about going on a journey.

Journey BLOG - 1

A journey that required a boat.

A journey that required a boat.

I wasn’t quite myself on this journey.

Journey BLOG - 1 (2).png

And I had the certain knowledge that this was the most important journey I’d ever taken.

And I had the certain knowledge that this was the most important journey I had ever taken.

It’s funny, a dream like that, where you’re someone else. I could feel the knowledge of having navigated a small craft around into a closed harbour, the careful manoeuvring to get it up against the shore properly, the movement of the rudder. Before me, a great tree rose out of the grassy bank, and as I looked up into her branches, I could have sworn she wore the face of a woman.

Style Cards:

Gwyneth:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Vista Bento Mesh Head, Lia
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Spring (Available NOW at the Spring Flair Event!)
Eyes: Astrae, The Elder Eyes (Available NOW at The Makeover Room!)
Ears: Swallow, Noldor Elf Ears
Gown: Silvan Moon Designs, Sparrow Lightheart Gown (Available NOW at We ❤ RP!)
Wings: Evolved Creatures, Fae Wings v 2
Hair: Tableau Vivant, Selene
Headpiece: Nanika, Lesya Crown

Mysterious Blond Man:
Body: Signature Gianni
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Brent
Head: Catwa, Skell Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Lightstar, Baldur
Eyes: Anatomy, Emilio Eyes, Blue
Clothes: Silvan Moon Designs, Knight of Ravensgate Tunic (COMING SOON to the 2018 Second Life Relay for Life Fantasy Faire!)

Adorbs Fairy Boat: JTD Leaf Boat, textured and scripted by the amazing Kitori Unplugged, AKA Skeleton
Manly Viking-Style Boat, Hopscotch, I See The Light

Female Pose: An Lar, from the Jupiter Series
Male Pose: Exposeur, from the That Boy Series

Setting: Pacific Northwest Forest on Awenia, designed by Dyisi.