Short Time

It’s been so long. Yes, as usual, I have spent all my time working. The practical side of faery is no less real than anything else you read, but it does not leave everyone’s favourite svart alfar very much leisure time. This is my last faery tour job before I take a short holiday, and it involves a bit of a journey, so I can tell you a bit about what’s been going on with me: I’m sure you’re all vitally interested.

Setting off in the morning

Awenia’s under re-construction this summer, so I signed up to work on fairytale tours. Fairytale tours are a racket and a half, but they keep me busy and you know how I hate to be bored. This was my last tour of the season, last assignment, even, and it was going to be a piece of piss; just spend a night at Merrywether Cottage while the Faery Aunties were gone to market so this particular fairy tale princess could enter the climax of whatever story the legend matrix picked for her. It’s a complicated spell system, and I’m not sure even the story wizards understand it, but basically my job was to keep her alive and on course long enough for the plot to create itself around her organically. What can I say: it’s not an exact science, and I’m only a stand-in, anyway.

I do really like this horse, though. Her name is Omega, and she has this amazing Aurora coat design. This year, Cinnamon won the contract bid to do all the animal art for the tales, so there have been the most beautiful horses everywhere you look. Obviously I’m biased, but I’ll miss Omega most of all when I have to go back to Awenia to get us ready for autumn tourist season opening.

Forced Perspective

I remember when I visited the Harry Potter studio park when it opened up in Watford Junction. It feels like a lifetime ago now, but it must only have been, what, eight, ten years? Anyway, everything was so close together, and docents explained how camera angles and forced perspective could make everything seem bigger than it was, closer or farther away, that sort of thing. Kevin was nodding away like he understood it all, and he probably did. I nodded too. When you’re immersed in it, it’s easier to realise how you can feel utterly separated from a castle that’s barely fifty yards away if you’re not meant to know it’s there.

This is a roundabout way of saying the ride to the cottage was short and I probably could have had a nice spar with some of the guys in the barracks before I headed out, but the story says it’s a day’s travel, so I took it at its word.

Evidently, the residents did as well, because nobody was home. Garden demifae explained the three fae aunties had gone out to the market early that morning and weren’t expected back and that “Little Fair One” marched out before lunch time with a picnic basket and said she’d be back eventually. Bless their little cotton socks, the fae aunties did not have any benches in their garden, so I liberated Omega from her tack and settled down in a nice forked tree to wait. Luckily, I had some contraband AirPods Pro and my equally if not more contraband iPhone with me, so there was at least some music (I have batteries. Don’t ask).

I fell asleep.

The Omega Full Moon Demifae Fan Club

When I woke up, there were three interesting things.

  1. No tourist.
  2. No fae aunties
  3. Omega was being fawned over by four demifae

I couldn’t really do anything about any of these things.

Well, I could laugh

I could laugh at one of them, so that’s what I chose to do in the moment. Because Omega was soaking it up like the Arabian princess she was. Don’t get me wrong, I do miss Awenia’s beautiful unicorns, especially my favourite dark chocolate unicorn of train station fame, but if I’m honest I’d just about swap my whole summer’s wages if they’d let me take this horse back home with me. I’m sure Gwyneth wouldn’t mind. We’ve got plenty of land for fae horses, and the tourists love them.

As the moon began to set, I started to worry, though. Surely the aunties should have been back by now. I didn’t want to take the demifae away from their new toy, and a few minutes more in a fairy tale wouldn’t hurt anyone, so I let it be.

“Don’t worry,” said a gravelly voice.

The Legend Matrix

“The fuck are you?” As an aside, when you jump half out of your skin, coming down hard onto the split trunk of the tree you’ve been dozing in for something like six hours hurts like fuhuhuhuhuck.

And then there was a gravelly laugh. “Well, you’re new, aren’t you? I’m the legend matrix. You didn’t wonder why there are so many dragons with polyhedral dice everywhere along the fairytale tour routes?

OK, I had actually noticed that.

I bit my lip. “Thought you were a fucking design feature,” I said.

“You are not entirely incorrect,” said the dragon. “I suppose you could say I am the central design feature.” He laughed again. It sounded a little bit like if a puppet made entirely out of paving stones had an asthma attack. I guess if you’re the central design feature, you get to laugh at your own jokes.

“So I shouldn’t worry?”

Worry

I was going to worry anyway.

“Nothing to worry about at all.”

“And why’s that?”

The glowing D20 slowed, stopped, and began to spin in the opposite direction. “She came to me and asked me to,” and then there was some static and a voice played back through what must have been a speaker somewhere in the dragon’s abdomen, “Just get me out of here, OK? This is not what I paid for!” Some static. “And so I did.”

I paused. “You didn’t send her home did you?” I could foresee that lawsuit.

“Of course not.” The D20 slowed again. “I am the central design feature of the legend matrix, not the all-powerful dragon god of the multiverse. That would require additional upgrades.”

Of course. “So what did you do?”

“I created her plot, of course. She seemed to want to spend her entire fairy tale tour in a castle, so I sent her to one.”

I frowned. “I mean, don’t they usually start off as peasant girls or get kidnapped or something?”

Another gravelly laugh. “When they’re the real protagonists, yes. But when they’re merely the prize to be won, sure, they can live in the castle. But rest assured, I have followed her form to the letter. She will live in a castle and have many servants. She will wear fine dresses and dance at many balls. And in the end, she will marry a prince. So what if she has to kiss a few frogs first? She didn’t specifically exclude it.”

And that’s why I bought a miniature copy of the official fairy tale tour guardian dragon statue in the gift shop before I took myself and my salary (codename Omega) through the realm portal back to Awenia.

Sometimes, even my crap summer jobs have happy endings.

Stay safe out there in the human hinterlands,
The Amazing Catwoman

Notes & Credits:
Enchantment closes today! It’s your last chance to see the beautiful build, enjoy the atmosphere, and grab some Sleeping Beauty souvenirs while they’re all in one place to take home to your own castle. Even if you’ve already been, you probably missed something: it’s an event full of wonderful stuff, beautifully and lovingly designed, and always full of wonder.

Enchantment items featured here:
Omega’s Skin: Cinnamon, Aurora Teeglepet skin (also comes in versions for Jinx Centaur and Waterhorse; matching wings are also available for your Teeglepet Pegasus)
TAC’s circlet: Air, Thorns Crown Gold
Demifae Fan Club: Titans, The Aurora Fae
Guardian Dragon: Cerridwen’s Cauldron, The Guardian Statue

Other Amazing Stuff:
TAC’s stunning new Drow Skin: Wyrd, Nightshade (This is at the Wyrd Main Store, and I cannot tell you how over the moon I am to have been the first person to test this amazing graphite/purple drow skin. It is perfect, and perfectly TAC)
Head: Lelutka Evolution, Nova
Body: Maitreya
Hair: Sintiklia, Connor
Ears: Andore, Hu-gu
Eyes: Yoshi, Alina (I’ve recently fallen madly in love with Yoshi eyes; expect to see lots of them here)
Clothes: Jangka, Hawkeyes outfit black, and Hawkeyes boots black
Castle: Harshlands, Devonshire Castle Keep
Omega Herself, Teeglepet, Arabian

Beltane in Lunafae with The Amazing Catwoman!

Look, folks. She is going to come in here in a couple days and tell you she’s had some kind of revelation. Me, I’m just happy to be on tap to serve the Fairelands once again this year. Realms participating run the gamut, but as my first day in the Fairelands as an official watcher happened to be last night, I was happy to be assigned first to Lunafae, where there was sure to be a lovely Beltane gathering.

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Skin Paint by Petrichor, Feathers by Trap & Petrichor, Hair by Raven Bell!

I got my skin painted by Petrichor that morning, and there is just nothing better than having a singularly talented skin artist like Vae perfect your look. As always, she is at the Faire, and once you’ve stepped into her spa you won’t ever want to leave. In addition to the beautiful skin paint, she and her pals at Trap are also offering these beautiful feathers with which you can accessorise the skin paint. Maybe for the first time ever, I felt it would be perfectly all right to walk around wearing next to nothing, because wearing this skin paint is like being a walking canvas, a living work of art. I was so happy to find that one of my favourite hair colourists, Raven Bell, had a whole bunch of new dyes that would look great with this and other great skin paints. Raven is also at the Faire, of course, and you can’t ask for a better stylist if what you want to play with is colour.

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Speaking of colour….

Speaking of colour, Lunafae is full of just the richest greens, greens that remind me of my time in the great forest before I ended up working for Her Uppity Majesty full time. It’s not a bad gig, you understand: I just like this one better and I wish it were year-round. That said, Good Queen What’s-Her-Name does shut down the tourist trade in Awenia Faerie for the whole of the Fantasy Faire, which means that happily I am drawing two paycheques for this period I’m working at the Faire. Most of which I’ll donate to the American Cancer Society by the end of next week, anyway. But that’s how it goes when you live in a world where folk just get sick and die. You do everything you can to help science find a way to save them, lengthen their lives, more gently manage their pain. That’s just what you do.

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Do I seem soft to you?

Do I seem soft to you? I’m feeling soft this year. Maybe it’s some kind of ageing thing. This may be why the pointiness of all these feathers is making me happy.

Lunafae itself makes me happy, to be honest. I find the whole place eerily soothing. Certainly from up on the ridge, you could not ask for a more peaceful place. Not really my style, but hey; I’ve had worse. And it’s just tempting fate to tell you about any of those times, so we just won’t go there. Walking down the water stairs in the late spring sun is a lovely thing, though: I recommend it to you. Don’t mind the statues in the arches: they are mostly not wearing a lot of clothes, plus they are four hundred bajillion times bigger than you so it stands to reason you could outrun them.

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So much to see!

When you reach the bottom of the steps, there’s so much to see. Ridge upon ridge of beautiful mini-meadows, lovely places to sit and shoot the breeze with the many demifae that populate the region, and a not inconsiderable number of bunnies. Enough bunnies that I wondered briefly if Sonya Marmurek were secretly wandering around just sort of introducing bunnies into the local ecosystem.

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But enough conspiracy theories….

But enough conspiracy theories: I’m sure that you, like me, are weary of them at this point. I’m really sick of that one about the mysterious globe in the Zodiac realm; I really do not believe you will be turned into an astrological rabbit if you pass under it 7 times… or is that where all these bunnies are coming from? They’re everywhere, all over the Fairelands. We will investigate this further; I’m sure of it.

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Bunnies! Everywhere!

There really are bunnies everywhere. Not that I’m complaining; who doesn’t like bunnies? OK, I do know a few people who do not like bunnies. But if you choose to avoid the bunnies, there are plenty of other creatures to interact with here: notably, the demifae are everywhere, and as they’re my close relations, I’m often up for spending time with them.

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Inspired to Dance!

Of course, demifae are known for their singular dancing ability, so it’s always a good time to dance (well, maybe stumble!) along with them. They never seem to mind if you miss a step, as long as you do not step on them.

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A Beltane Frolic

Worthy of a Beltane frolic and able to produce one whenever you might visit, Lunafae is pure magic. And there are so many lovely little spots, you could miss something if you didn’t take the time to explore absolutely everything.

Now, it’s true that the shopping at the Fantasy Faire is unmatched in all the Realms, and the opportunities to support a great charity are innumerable here as well. But while you have time, while these Realms are within your reach, take the time to explore. Somewhere, hidden in the details, you’ll find that thing you didn’t know you were looking for.

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Harping Fairy And Fae Harpy!

I couldn’t resist the play on words this photograph called up, so to end my first report from this year’s Faire, yes, late but not too late, here is a photo of Your Amazing Catwoman as a Fae Harpy, hanging out with a Harping Fairy. You’re welcome!

Credits & Notes:
Location: Lunafae, one of 18 Regions in the 2020 Relay for Life of Second Life’s annual Fantasy Faire. Sponsored by The Looking Glass and designed by Sharni Azalee. You too can visit Lunafae, but come before the 11th of May, when the Fairelands will fade into the mists once again, only to reappear in new guises next year.

Items featured at the 2020 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire:
Skin: Petrichor, Viscivorus Skin in Stellata (Find it at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Body Feathers: Trap & Petrichor, Viscivorus Harpy Body Feathers (Find them at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore, or at the Trap Store, also in Sirens Lore!)
Ears: Petrichor, Viscivorus Ears (Find them at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Hair: Raven Bell, Umbriel (Find it at the Raven Bell store in Auxentios’ Pass!)
Head Sparkles: Raven Bell, Umbriel (Find it at the Raven Bell store in Auxentios’ Pass!)
Eyes: Rainbow Sundae, Beautiful Creature Eyes, Bright 05 (Find them at the Rainbow Sunday Store in Mistakes Were Made!)

Other Stuff In This Look:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Erin
Wings: Egosumaii, Archangelum Alis (medium size) (Egosumaii Main Store)
Clothes: Enfant Terrible, Lumen (at The Fantasy Collective)

 

 

 

The Hazards of Contemporary Life, According to The Amazing Catwoman

First of all, they always put you up in a place with a name that only sounds good. “423 Windsor Terrace, LakeView, Limenós” sounds pretty posh, doesn’t it?

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Yeah. Only the view was posh.

Yeah. Only the view was posh.

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The rest was Neo-Modern Flophouse, but I was only there for one night, so.

The rest was Neo-Modern Flophouse, but I was only there for one night. At least there were no bugs in the bed, and it’s not like it was dirty. Everything was reasonable, just not as nice as the view. Well, the armchair was pretty good.

I was only there for a quick job, and then it was onto a train to a ferry port and out to Awenia, where I was still mostly hiding out in the big forest and keeping far away from her up in Faerie. One of those “What Could Possibly Go Wrong” moments could have happened right then, except I was too smart for it. Totes McGoats.

All I had to do was show up at the Limenós main train station, cast a spell on a couple of marks, and then slip down into the station to head for the Dragonstar, and then home, or as close as I get to it these days. Simples. I didn’t even have to work too hard on the glamour, though of course it’s still not OK to be Svart Alfar no matter what Stupid Event Or Other has convinced people it’s OK to be Elfy in public or whatever.

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Gotcha! Spell went off without a hitch.

Gotcha! Spell went off without a hitch; these two marks couldn’t see Elfin magic for whatever reason, and I didn’t stick around to find out what the premixed spell was actually going to do to them; that’s above my pay grade most of the time. I was just happy they were parked on a side street and about to engage in the time-honoured tradition of pre-trip snogging to notice a shady elf in leather lurking around behind them. I do like it when they give me these jobs within walking distance of the getaway train, though. Makes for better reading, less indigestion, you get the picture. With an hour to go before my train left, I had enough time to get a good seat, maybe even upgrade a class and put my feet up for the ten-hour trek to the ferry port.

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There is no escape.

And although I was sure I wasn’t followed down into the subway that led to the Dragonstar platform, there is at least one entity I can’t get away from, and that’s her. Ever since it became socially acceptable across multiple Realms to be supernatural, She has been getting work as a model for some perfume company, and this fucking “We’re All Mad Here” advert has been everywhere. You can’t open a fucking magazine or in this case walk down a set of fucking steps without being fucking bombarded.

Yeah. This was all I needed. I should be steeled to it by now, but I just can’t move beyond being angry with regard to that little situation where she kept me prisoner for half a year and then didn’t even bother to talk to me. And then her house got blown up and she had other things to worry about. Bleah. I was going to need chocolate on the train, and lots of it. Luckily, Limenós is famous for very good chocolate, and I knew just the place to get some of the hot, liquid variety before I boarded the train and probably some of the dark, melt-in-your mouth type as well.

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Of course, then things got a little more complicated.

Of course, then things got a little more complicated.

Great. Of all the entities to run into at the bottom of a subway, I have to meet quite possibly the most attractive dark unicorn I’ve ever seen.

Now, if you’ve ever played the The Amazing Catwoman Home Game, you know that I once had to dress up as a fantasy novel cover and tag unicorns at some stupid unicorn preserve. And let’s just say that not very much has changed in the last three years since I had to do that gig.

So that’s why the unicorn looked at me and said, in a voice that brushed soft like feathers against my mind, because they don’t usually speak out loud, “Well met, elf maiden. Why must you cover your beautiful skin?”

I sighed. “You’re not long off the preserve, are you?”

“Long enough to know that companions such as you are a rarity here,” he replied smoothly.

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I tried to find a way to blame this on her.

I tried to find a way to blame this on her. Clearly the advert had summoned the worst possible encounter possible for me.

“Look, I’m sure you’re very nice and all….”

“You couldn’t pronounce it,” he said.

“Do you think I don’t know that? I’m sure you’re very nice and all, but I’ve got a train to catch.”

“Are you on the Dragonstar? That’s my destination as well. These Limenóans aren’t very good at recognising magical needs though, are they? They keep trying to give me apples. I mean, apples are OK….”

“…but chocolate is better.” I couldn’t resist.

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“You are so right!”

“You are so right!” He brought himself up to his full height, which was considerably taller than me.

“I don’t suppose, if you’re heading for the Dragonstar as well, that you’d mind getting a friendly mythical beast a bit of the old bitter cacao?”

I rolled my eyes. “I could trouble myself, but I’m in rather a hurry.”

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He struck a gait.

He struck a gait. “Not to brag, but I’ve got a first class ticket and unicorns are always allowed a female travelling companion.” He snorted. “It’s meant to keep us calm.”

Suddenly this was all looking a bit more attractive. And besides, assuming someone did decide to come looking for me, who looks more innocent than an elfin maid (yes, fine!) accompanying a majestic unicorn? “Well, since you’ve appealed to my higher nature,” I said….

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And that’s how I found myself on the back of a dark unicorn.

And that’s how I found myself on the back of a dark unicorn, buying chocolate at the poshest chocolate shop in the Limenós Main Station (and that’s pretty posh), and getting a quarter car to myself in first class with stable space for a unicorn and a bed three times as comfortable as the one I slept in last night.

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I have no idea how long I’ll stay the travelling companion of a dark unicorn.

I have no idea how long I’ll stay the travelling companion of a dark unicorn, but things will rarely be dull. And who knows? It could be the start of a beautiful relationship. I can’t believe I actually just said that.

Sometimes, while my life is never exactly straightforward, it does not suck to be me.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ, Lulu Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Argrace, Kazuha
Eyes: Anatomy, Meow Eyes
Ears: Gauze, High Elf Ears
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Story, Walnut (Available NOW at Designer Showcase!)
Tunic: Senzafine, Meilikki (Available NOW at We ❤ Role-play!)
Boots: Senzafine, Telcontar Boots
Bracers: Lakrya, Yasha Mesh Bracers (Available NOW at We ❤ Role-play!)
Necklace: Bliensen & Maitai, Celtic Collar (Available NOW at We ❤ Role-play!)

Unicorn: Water Horse, Riding Unicorn
Unicorn Skin: Wren Works, Black Opal
Unicorn Mane and Tail: Flying Horse Head Studios, Glitterati
Unicorn Hooves: Cinnamon, Elven Unicorn Hooves

Left Luggage

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

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I stopped and turned to look.

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

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Erstwhile Station

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It seemed Her Majesty had noticed them as well.

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

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

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

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

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My next assignment turned out to be left luggage.

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

Fine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe this will be a Faire for dreaming.


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

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

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

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

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

Contractual Obligation

It’s not like I just sit around eating bonbons, you know. Not like some faeries. No, I have to work for a living. And occasionally that means doing stuff I don’t like, even if I kind of do like it in the end. That probably made no sense, but I can clarify by telling you that I just got done doing an ushering gig for some events at The Looking Glass. Now, The Looking Glass is one of those pocket Realms created by someone who has an amazing sense of design. Sharni is one of those creating wizards who just makes everything look so beautiful. I love visiting her Realm, and it’s almost impossible for me not to bring some of her beautiful creations home with me when I visit.

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So, this event had a steampunk theme.

So, this event had a steampunk theme. And I don’t mind steampunk, but there was of course a uniform involved. Obviously, there was a “no leggings” rule. And high heels. I mean, it wasn’t as bad as that time I had to get gussied up like the cover of a bad fantasy novel and tag unicorns… And I kind of like the hat. Luckily, the folks at The Looking Glass are accepting enough of my kind that I didn’t have to change my skin. In honour o that, I got a beautiful new skin painting from 7 Deadly s{K}ins, and I can’t even say how much I love the amazing work that Izara does. Nothing like being at home in my own Svart Alfar skin with a great skin painting.

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As I walked down the steps, I had to be careful of the heels.

As i walked down the steps, I had to be careful of the heels. Azoury makes beautiful shoes, but I did nearly lose my balance on the second step. They always say the first one is a doozy, but I think I must have got overconfident.

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I’d better be more careful.

I’d better be more careful, I thought to myself. Nothing like an usherette who can’t even stand up on her own two feet. I adjusted the hat from Wicca’s Wardrobe. I love this hat. I’ll probably wear it even after I’m done with this short-term gig. I got my hair done by the talented Truth Hawks for the occasion: I wanted something that, I don’t know, softened my look a bit. And it was nice to go back to the natural silver of my race. And then I thought about softening. I was in this mostly-prim steampunk outfit—and I was really pleased the uniform they chose was from Silvan Moon Designs, by the way. I know they mostly make girly gowns, but there was just something a bit snarky and spirited about this little dress. And I’m nothing if not snarky and spirited.

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I took the next step much more carefully.

I took the next step much more carefully. And although I wasn’t really looking forward to the job, I was sure the music would be great. How could it not be, in such a place? Briefly, I wondered about the audience, who might be there, what potential problems I might have to manage.

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As it turned out, there weren’t any problems.

As it turned out, there weren’t any problems. The event went off without a hitch, I enjoyed listening to the music even if I only got to sit down for an hour or so in the middle of the show. If it weren’t for the natural stealth-glamour of the Svart Alfar, I am sure my feet would be hurting like a bitch right now.

So why did I tell you all this? Well, I guess it’s because I want you to know that at least I’m working again and not hiding in the forest, as I have been for the last month or so. And also, I was looking for some news from the outside world. You see, yesterday, when I looked out from the forest dock, I found that there was nothing but mist across the Sound. It was as if White Owl Island never existed. And where does that leave me? I can camp, I can hunt, I can work with whatever creatures I find in the wood, but I know this little Realm is built upon pure Faerie. It’s over there somewhere, probably through the mists. I felt sure someone at The Looking Glass would know what was going on—there are some powerful magicians who frequent the place—but the folk who would converse with me either didn’t know or wouldn’t say.

Disconcertingly, when I arrived back at my camp in the forest, there was…. something. Something different. Some change in the air, and I’m not talking about the onset of the dark half of the year. Something that just smelled like change, but not a dying change. It may be that Little Miss Queeniepoo has got herself all powered up for winter and is somewhere in Faerie chanting and dancing her heart out, or whatever it is that they do, and who knows. Maybe I’ll wake up in a clearing of pink pumpkins. All this time, she’s known about me and hasn’t spoken to me, not one word. It’s not surprising: Gwyneth when I knew her was always a bit avoidant (and I mean “a bit” in the English sense, which is to say she avoids anything that puts her off balance) around personal conflict issues. Still… if this Realm that feels like home really is Gwyneth’s Realm, I know I must confront her sooner or later. Of course, I’ll pick sooner; she’ll pick later. We might get it done by Midwinter.

Style Card:
Body: 
Maitreya
Head: LAQ, Lulu
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Arnica, Drow Version (Available NOW as part of the Trick Or Treat Hunt, or for sale at the 7 Deadly s{K}ins Main Store!)
Ears: Gauze, High Elf Ears
Eyes: Whymsical Marketplace, Fantasy Eyes in Werewolf Amber
Dress: Silvan Moon Designs, Belladonna Ravenwood Dress Set (Available NOW at the Fallen Gods Tenth Anniversary Event!)
Hair: Wicca’s Wardrobe, Rumor (At the Truth Main Store!)
Hat: Wicca’s Wardrobe, Wellington Hat (Available NOW at We ❤ Roleplay!)
Boots: Azoury, Atlantis Boots
Ring: Aisling, The Good Wife
Collar: Footpaws, Celtic Filigree Garnet Collar

Poses: An Lar, The Zelena Series (Available NOW at We ❤ Roleplay!)

Location: The Looking Glass

Homecoming?

After many long months of masquerading as a (not very good, but improving, I think) art teacher, I eventually identified five proto-fae and helped them find mentors who could be there for them as they found their way in the restrictive Realm that was their home, at least for the nonce.

I did not relish pretending to be human for all that time. I was able to get away for a weekend here and there. But I still had to disguise my skin, so as to avoid the Svart Alfar prejudices so many exhibit even in more openminded Realms.

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Eventually, I found myself just off the ferry at White Owl Island.

Eventually, I found myself just off the ferry at White Owl Island. I don’t know what came over me: I suppose the proper-ish art teacher façade was too much and I needed to go far in the opposite direction. Taking the glamour off my skin in between Seattle and the Island just wasn’t going to happen: I barely managed the ears and clothes.

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Of course, I’d barely got to the end of the pier before I started having second thoughts.

Of course, I’d barely got to the end of the pier before I started having second thoughts. Sure, I know the place only looks so pretty and proper. And sure, I know I’m certainly worthy of living in a place like this: I don’t need to be in some scruffy backwater just to prove I’m a badass.

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But then I realised, as I turned toward the Sound from high above the beach, where I really wanted to be.

But then I realised, as I turned toward the Sound from high above the beach, where I really wanted to be.

So, fuck it: I slept on the boardwalk and vowed to go no further onto the Island itself.

Instead, at first light, I hired a rowboat and went across to the other island.

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All things considered, it was nice to put the Island behind me and the Forest ahead of me.

All things considered, it was nice to put the Island behind me and the Forest ahead of me. I’m not really dressed to go having lunch in a coffee shop peppered with yummy fae mummies and their spawn, nor do I wish to play let’s pretend with Queen Gwyneth, who apparently likes being a simple little bookseller here. Or something.

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Yes, and in the distance? That’s one house I won’t be visiting even if I’m back on the Island.

Yes, and in the distance? That’s one house I won’t be visiting even if I’m back on the Island someday. Might be sooner rather than later: they’re having some kind of shindig for Lughnasadh this week, and the DJ sounds kind of hot.

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I felt better, turning my back on the whole thing.

I felt better, turning my back on the whole thing.

And the farther I made my way into the forest, the better I felt.

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Eventually, I came upon a circle of vardos.

Eventually, I came upon a circle of vardos. Of course there’d be a Romani camp in here somewhere. Perhaps my luck was changing.

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Then again, there didn’t seem to be anybody home.

Then again, there didn’t seem to be anybody home. Not that you’d be able to tell if they were. Romani can hear you coming from miles around, they say. And if they don’t want to be found, well, fuck you.

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I decided patience was the best way to proceed.

I decided patience was the best way to proceed. After all, they’d have to come out, or come home, sometime, wouldn’t they?

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Wouldn’t they?

Wouldn’t they? I settled in to wait.

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What? This *is* my patient face.

What? This is my patient face.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Catya Bento Mesh Head
Hair: .Shi, Octavia
Eyes: Mesange, Arum Eyes (Available NOW at Hipster Men Event!)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Skin: Lumae, Ella Apoc (Catwa Applier) (Available NOW at The Indie Teepee!)
Leggings & Tank: Death Row Designs, Wasteland Leggings, Wasteland Torn Tank (Available NOW at The Indie Teepee!)
Necklace: .Shi, Evra Pendant
Wings: Evolved Creatures, Fae Bento Wings
Shoes: Death Row Designs, Dirty Combats (Available NOW at The Indie Teepee!)

Location: White Owl Island. 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 try and make The Amazing Catwoman look patient without it!

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Dancing on The Hill

Oh, The Hill. Colours just seem brighter there. Light seems to come from all directions. Animals and tiny creature frolic. It made me want to frolic, too. And then, of course, there is the music. At the Great Faire, music comes from all directions. Sometimes it’s contemplative and thoughtful, but last night, there was dance music. As I walked into The Hill to prepare for the Great Fae Parade, I could not contain the desire to dance.

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I felt saturated with colour and sound!

I felt saturated with colour and sound! And suddenly, I forgot all the things that made me unhappy. I forgot about leaving the Wylds. I forgot about everything but my body, the rhythm, the desire to move.

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It felt so good to be completely aware of my body.

It felt so good to be completely aware of my body. Too often, I think, I live in my head; it’s probably my academic background, my distance from my own emotions (I think that’s the Sidhe influence).

This year, I have been having fun at the Faire. I know every year I have fun shopping, but I’ve spent a lot of time finding myself at these Faires. I remember experiencing my development from my mortal shell into the Sidhe I was born to be, four years ago at my first Faire. And then there was the process of becoming a Queen during that Faire as well. My second Faire was fraught with relationship difficulties, hiding from the Gypsy Davey, avoiding The Amazing Catwoman. I still need to discuss our share history with her. It’s so hard to believe that she was once my best friend. Now, we seem to circle one another with distrust. I think she is afraid I will hate her. Or maybe she just doesn’t care any more. I wonder if she is at this Faire. She has been a guard at the Faire for events; it may be that she has found work here again.

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It was even fun to lose my balance!

It was even fun to lose my balance! I fell, laughing, to the grass, then danced my way to another of the rooftops, closer to the sea. The sky was impossibly blue. The grass was impossibly green. My skin, covered with bright festival paint, seemed to glow in the sunlight. And suddenly, I felt a sharp knife of desire in my belly.

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For just a moment, I was lonely, sharply, horribly, lonely.

For just a moment, I was lonely. Sharply, horribly, lonely. It isn’t that my love for Nathaniel has dimmed. It’s just that my Sidhe self, my sensual body, has the touch hunger, all the time, and I, I push it down because my mortal background says love is more important than sensuality and sex. But there I was, in the happy sunshine of The Hill, desiring nothing more than a lover, a beautiful Sidhe lover. A faery man with the ability to engage my body and my emotions and my mind at the same time. A soft and beautiful interlude. A woman with soft lips. Skin on skin. The smell of sweat and hair, long hair, falling around my face in a curtain.

Nathaniel, of course, knows that I have had other lovers. These have often been matters of the Land; they’ve often felt like obligations. Every time I gave myself to Maric, I knew that deep down, we did not really even like each other, that when it was all over, the night, the festival, the need to recreate the magic of the land, all that would remain—but between Maric and me, there was nothing. He was impenetrable as a soul, impossible for me to understand. I was shocked when I mourned him, shocked when his loss was the catalyst that made me just not want to be Queen any more.

I could have loved Mornoth, but he entered my life when I was already halfway gone from the Wylds. The war drained me, drained us all, and I didn’t want to live in a world of war.

That’s why the Faire, The Hill, is so wonderful. The spirit of love and camaraderie fills me with joy and desire. Joy and desire. That’s what’s been missing, missing from my life. Joy and desire.

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And as I stood on The Hill, waiting for my fellow Faire Fae, I made a decision.

And as I stood on The Hill, waiting for my fellow Faire Fae, I made a decision.

This year, this year. This year I’ll be open to love.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Lona Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Wasabi Pills, Raven (Available NOW at The 2017 Second Life Fantasy Faire!)
Eyes: Mesange, Iram Eyes (Omega Appliers) (Available NOW at On9!)
Ears: Swallow, Elf Ears High Definition
Skin: The Plastik, Koie, Catwa, Maitreya, and SLink appliers, in the RFL Hope shade (Available NOW at The 2017 Second Life Fantasy Faire!)
Dress: Paper Moon, Honeysuckle Fairy  (Available NOW at The 2017 Second Life Fantasy Faire!)
Feet: SLink, Pointe Feet
Shoes: Candy Crunchers, Dreamer Wraps

Location: The 2017 Second Life Fantasy Faire, The Hill, Sponsored Solarium/Titans.

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I’d never blog Fantasy Faire without it!

Visionaire Graduation!

So I’ve been MIA for the last couple of weeks. I’m sorry about that. It’s because I’ve been getting ready for my Visionaire Institute graduation ceremony and exhibit.

The graduation ceremony was today at 8am SLT (that’s 4pm in the UK, 11am on the East Coast of the US). If you want to hear the graduation remarks from both Nariko and Wren, the two Deans of the Institute, they are on the Visionaire homepage, linked above.

I had to work all last week, so Friday of this week, Saturday night, and Sunday were all spent finishing up my graduation portfolio and exhibit and putting it together in the gallery space for graduation. The exhibit theme was, “It’s in the stars”.

I’ve taken probably hundreds of photos in preparation for this one exhibit, and we don’t even know how long it’ll be up.

For now, because I’m tired and because I have to work tomorrow, I’m not going to credit or tag these photographs, even though some of them contain stuff I would dearly love to blog. I just want to get this entry up, post the photos to Flickr, and be on my way to bed, since 7.30 comes early tomorrow.

Thanks for bearing with me.

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My Stars

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Our Stars

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Star Fall

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Falling Star

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Floating Star

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A Star at Rest

Above are two representative photos from a 13-photo slideshow built around Robert Frost’s poem “Choose Something Like a Star”.

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Moth

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Many Moons

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Wishing On a Star, which appeared on my blog previously.

So there you go. Weeks of work, and it’s why I’ve not been around. I’ll try to pop back in tomorrow evening and tag and credit these photographs, but for now it’s time for me to take myself off to bed.

VISIONAIRE INSTITUTE GwenEnchanted.png

Eve of Destruction?

OK, I am fucking nervous about this “Art Teacher” gig. You can laugh ’til you spit, and I will still be nervous about it. Because I know what secondary school children are like: I was one not very long ago, and I was a holy fucking terror.

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Is this what an art teacher looks like?

Is this what an art teacher looks like? I’ve got the slouchy jumper. I’ve got skinny trousers. I’ve got sensible shoes. I’ve got silver jewellery with amethysts and some leather bracelets and bangles. My hair is carefully uncared-for. And when the fuck did I ever care what I look like anyway? Well, as long as they don’t dress me up like the cover of a bad fantasy novel, that is.

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Is this what an art teacher does?

Is this what an art teacher does? I keep imagining myself staring at a blank canvas and being completely frozen, unable to do anything with it. I mean, that’s what would happen if I were an actual art teacher.

Which I will be. Tomorrow morning at 8:30 in the fucking morning. And you can stop laughing, right now. Because I certainly won’t be. I will be marching in with a double flat white and I’ll probably put a pack of cigs in my pocket just so I look cool to art students (because they all probably smoke anyway).

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How does an art teacher even think?

How does an art teacher even think? I know Owen picked this cover because he’s pretty sure I can pull it off—but the truth is, I’m shaking in my sensible shoes. And it doesn’t matter how many times I go over it, I am pretty much convinced that I come out of this either exposed as a fraud or on my way to the nuthouse in the special huggy jacket.

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I am so lame, I even practiced standing in front of the class and introducing myself.

I am so lame, I even practiced standing in front of the class and introducing myself. “Good morning; I’m …” and then I forget my cover name and have to go look it up in the dossier. Because that is the kind of fuck-up you can’t recover from, in front of a bunch of 11-16-year-olds who probably know more about art than you do right now.

Right. I need two shots of bourbon, neat, and a sleeping pill. And a really fucking loud alarm clock.

Wish me luck. Or, at least wish that I get through tomorrow alive.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Simone Bento Head
Eyes: Mesange, Don’t Speak Eyes (Omega Appliers)
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Meilin, in tone Taupe (This is the February Group Gift at the 7 Deadly s{K}ins Main Store!) Taupe is a little light for TAC, even in human guise, but I wanted to try out the new Omega body appliers that Izara Zuta has made! These will be released at the upcoming Skin Fair, and they are wonderful! So easy to use, and so fast!
Jumper and Trousers: Salt, Carla Pants, Carla Wooly Jumper (COMING SOON to The Gacha Garden!)
Hair: Wasabi Pills, Tara (COMING SOON (tomorrow, in fact!) to Fameshed!)
Ring: Aisling, The Good Wife
Shoes: Ingenue, Marlene Oxford, Ebon

TAC’s flat:
Skybox: Vespertine, Reykjavik Loft
Couches, tables, light easel, and curtains: CLAVv, Light Studio (Available NOW at The Epiphany!)
Easel, stool, rolling shelf with canvases: Artisan Fantasy, Art Studio

Poses: Seated, XXY, both from the Thinking of You Pack (Available NOW at Shiny Shabby!)
Standing: Vanity, Cool Stance 1 (F)

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never make TAC soul-search without it (or the F-bomb)!

7ds   wasabi_logo_2012_512x512

Long-Term Contract

Owen didn’t come. He sent some minion of his. I stood out in the fucking rain. On the fucking roof. He sent a minion, some half-grown boy.

“We’ve got a job for you,” says this boy.

“Do we,” I responded.

“Owen needs you to come to his place, as a human, tomorrow evening. Here’s the address.” He handed me a card. Luckily, it was laminated, so it didn’t get nearly as wet as I was.

“And if I don’t want to come?” It was a half-hearted challenge: frankly, I needed the work.

“He says tell you you’ll be mentoring a young svart alfar in a Realm where we must hide ourselves.”

I sighed. Owen still knows me, I guess. “Fine.”

Then, the kid just walked off the edge of the roof and disappeared, and I took myself back to the B&B, took a shower, and sat up half the night figuring what kind of human I wanted to glamour myself into.

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Owen was exactly as I remembered him.

Owen was exactly as I remembered him. Well, aside from some fashion updates. “You’ve gone hipster,” I said once I’d shaken off the cold. His London is very cold this time of year.

“Nah, not really,” he replied. “No shaggy beard. I just can’t handle that level of hair upkeep.”

We both laughed. Even though it was smalltalk, it felt OK to talk to him again.

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“So I’ve got you a flat near the school where you’ll be teaching.”

“So I’ve got you a flat near the school where you’ll be teaching,” Owen said, as if this were the most normal thing in the world.

What?” I balled my hands into fists. “That kid didn’t say anything about teaching.”

Owen scratched his head; his hair flopped into his eyes again. “I figured you’d get that when I said you’d be mentoring,” he said.

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“No,” I replied evenly.

“No,” I replied evenly. “No, I did not.” I really needed the work, though. “What kind of teaching?”

“I’ve got you set up a teacher in the comprehensive this kid is about to start attending.”

“A teacher.”

Owen nodded.

“In a comprehensive.”

Owen nodded again.

I turned to walk out. “Look; I can get jobs in elf-safe areas where I know what I’m doing, even if the risk of my getting killed is pretty high.

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“Tacey! Don’t!”

“Tacey; don’t!” Owen struck a pose that reminded me vaguely of Saturday Night Fever. “You’re the only one who can do this job! The only one!”

“Oh, ffs, Owen,” I said, pronouncing the letters instead of the words. “You know I’m going to hear you out, but a teacher? Seriously, stop being so dramatic. Pull yourself together and let’s talk about this. I am no teacher. I don’t have the credentials, which I know you can fake, but I also don’t have the knowledge, which I know you can’t. What’s your solution?”

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Owen visibly relaxed.

Owen visibly relaxed. And he smiled a little smile. “Yes, credentials we can fake, and knowledge we can’t, but—” and here he spread out his arms wide as if he had the solution to everything. “You’re going to be an art teacher.”

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I exploded again.

I exploded again, and Owen drew back before I even finished my breath. “An art teacher! Owen Gentry! I do not know the first thing about art!”

“Neither do most secondary school art teachers,” Owen said grandly. “That’s why you’ll be perfect for this.”

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“You’re kidding me,” I said.

“You’re kidding me,” I said. “Secondary school art teachers don’t know much? That’s your spin? That’s your selling point?”

“Tacey. Take a breath.” Owen always thought that saying that name — a name my family never even used — would calm me down. It rarely did. “Tacey. Look. You know how to impersonate almost anybody. You can give yourself a crash course in art and art history, get a couple of little projects started, that kind of thing, over the remainder of this week and the weekend, and you’ll be just fine on Monday. First week of school is mostly reception, anyway.”

I frowned. “What kind of a Realm starts the school year in the middle of January?” I asked.

“The kind that has a Saturnalia festival up to the ninth and gives people two weeks to recover,” Owen replied smoothly.

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“OK, that’s different.”

“OK, that’s different.” I tapped the toe of my shoe against the floor. “I feel weird in dresses. Am I allowed to wear trousers in this position?”

“You are,” Owen said. He relaxed yet more, put his relieved smile on. “Can I ask, why’d you make your human glamour like that? You could have looked like anybody, but you chose a short, tiny woman who’ll just blend in to a — ah, ok. Yeah; I get it.”

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I winked.

I winked. “See? That’s the difference between you and me, Owen; I don’t always have to be a pretty boy.”

Owen looked thoughtful. “You may be right,” he said. “You may be right. Let me take you out to the flat?”

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“How far out is this place?” I asked as I turned toward the door.

“How far out is this place?” I asked as I turned toward the door.

“Just south of the river. Deptford. You know it?”

I gaped. “I grew up on Telegraph Hill, in New Cross.”

“OK, then, you’ll be familiar with some of the surroundings.”

I wasn’t so sure: going back to “my” part of London and seeing it the same but different, as all close realms keep many of the same attributes, always gave me the willies.

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“Yeah, OK,” I said.

“Yeah; OK,” I said. “Take me to the flat.

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Yowza.

Yowza; Owen sure knows how to make a girl feel like an artist, I thought as I entered the converted warehouse space. “You’ve got that fox picture on your wall as well,” I observed.

“Yeah; I own all these places; put a few things I like in each of them,” Owen replied. “Same kitchen, too.”

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“I kind of like this kitchen,” I said.

“I kind of like this kitchen,” I said. “Hang on— I had the same one when I went to that Mabon festival in — oh, I don’t remember the name of the town now.”

“Yeah; those belong to me as well,” Owen said. He put his hand in his pocket; I knew he was itching for a smoke, or a vape, or whatever he did in this Realm.

“So you…”

“Your usual fixer works for me,” he said. “Listen; I gotta go, but text me if you need anything? I hate voice calls.”

And then he was out the door, just like that. Fucker. Drop a bombshell like that on me? How long have I actually been working for Owen, anyway?

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Then, again… fuck it.

Then, again… fuck it. The prospect of spending the next six months in a posh art studio in southeast London, even if it would be a little creepy and require way too much research on my part… not so bad. And, you know. Helping a poor little svart not go through what I went through. OK, OK, I’ll take it. I texted Owen to say I had decided to take the job.

“Knew u would! Nite

Great. He even texts in textspeak, I thought.

Style Cards:

TAC:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Simone Bento Head
Eyes: Mesange, First Date Eyes (Omega Appliers)
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Fajen, in tone Sand (Available NOW at the OMG Gacha Fair!)
Hair: Wasabi Pills, London (Available NOW at Ultra!)
Dress, stockings, shoes: Mignon, Mia, Black
Ring: Aisling, The Good Wife

OWEN (portrayed by Ben Ballard):
Skin – 7 Deadly S{k}ins – Jager, Cotton V2
Eyes – IKON “Sunrise” eyes, Light Steel Blue
Hair – no.match – NO_OFFENCE Blonds (Macchiato)
Outfit – hoorenbeek Mesh Outfit – Kimmel

TAC’s flat:
Skybox: Vespertine, Reykjavik Loft
Couches, tables, light easel, and curtains: CLAVv, Light Studio (Available NOW at The Epiphany!)
Brown art table, bench, bowl, and tea towel: Apple Fall, Artists Collection
Large easel, stained art table, stools, rolling shelf with canvases: Artisan Fantasy, Art Studio
Kitchenette: Trompe Loeil, Finley Kitchenette
Kitchen Lighting: {e}lusive, Shapes Pendant Lights (Available NOW at The Liaison Collaborative!)
Mirror: {anc}, Looking-Glass, Magic Mirror, Heaven

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never put TAC in yet another crazy situation without it!

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