Three Twisted Knots

Not all those who wander are lost.

Madness

I won’t lie to you: J’doube is madness. After eight years of working Faire Security (because, let’s face it, the so-called “Pawlice” are really for punters to have a laugh about, and someone has to do the heavy lifting), I have never seen a Realm like J’doube. So when they sent a few of us seasoned enforcers in to sweep the region before a couple of satellite parties, we were expressly told that whilst the surrounding shopping boardwalk seemed to be relatively safe, no-one was sure about the areas off the built-up path.

Personally, I found it surprising initially that the Realm’s application for Faire admission had been approved at all. If we measure Realms on the McGuire* Scale (and who doesn’t?), J’doube looks like a never-ending struggle between Logic and Nonsense. What’s more logical than chess? My father was a Chess Master, the highest ranked player in Lewisham for some time, and he would say, ‘there’s nothing more logical than chess, but chess players are a different matter’. I, The Amazing Catwoman, learned to play chess from my father, and I was a pretty good chess player, for a ten year old. In fact, I’m still a pretty good chess player. For a ten year old. This may be because my dad left my mum to move in with his equally chess-obsessed girlfriend, Marisol, in Tenerife. After which he became equally surfing obsessed, which I guess makes sense, at least given his favourite personal thought about chess as noted above.

There’s nothing more logical than chess, but chess players are a different matter.

The Amazing Catwoman’s Dad, sometime in 2009
J’doube at ground, or water, level

Besides, there’s no more disputatious word in chess than ‘J’doube’. Hang on to your knights: I’m going to svartsplain this to you. In a chess tournament, and even in some casual games if it’s agreed upon, you have something called the touch-move rule. That means that if a player touches a piece, she must move it. Unless, of course, she is only adjusting the piece, in which case she is allowed to say ‘J’doube’, which is French for ‘I’m adjusting this’, before she touches the piece. Fights have broken out over this rule. Matches have been won or lost because of it. Because the touch-move rule has to be enforced before the opposing player makes a move, it all takes place in a moment. And unless you’re right up close to the board, like one of the players, it’s potentially impossible to tell whether the player said ‘J’doube’ before touching the piece, while her hand was on the piece, or even slightly after touching the piece. Particularly if the the projected move was a mistake or led her into a trap, she might have realised it was a trap at the last second and then hurriedly said ‘J’doube’ in order to correct her mistake. And this, my darlings, not the legacy of Bobby Fischer, is why they don’t allow knives into chess tournaments.

It’s obvious that God said ‘J’doube’ only after creating the pangolin

The Amazing Catwoman’s dad, after a few pints
Talking with the natives?

Sorry about that tangent; it might mean nothing. The first thing to know, when you’re exploring an unfamiliar Faire Realm to gauge its safety level for punters, is that these are pocket universes. Each comes with its own internal set of rules, a rich history, and within it there dwell beings, or sometimes only the echoes of beings, who have a rich history and tradition. So, when you can search them out (and they don’t look like little Murderbots), the local inhabitants are the best place to start. Remember, you’re in their world and so what they say is truth as they see it, and you’re the tourist asking for the bus station in a place where there are no buses and in fact the concept of a bus (yes, even a Love Shack Bus) has never been thought of and will not exist until suddenly there’s a Fallen God driving a packed vehicle full of screaming aliens through the world. Most of the time, the local inhabitants realise they are part of a Fairelands Realm, and they’ll be welcoming or at least attempt to help you if they can figure out what you want.

I get along with demifae as a rule, and the place seemed to be populated mostly with them. So I dropped down onto one knee and greeted the first one who waved to me.

‘Well met, little sister’, I said. ‘I am a Protector for the Great Faire’.

She nodded, which was a good initial sign.

‘I hope the tourists are being kind to you’? I was trying to keep my language simple.

Her brows knotted together, which I took as a sign she didn’t understand.

‘Are the people nice so far’?

Another feverish nod. Then, she lifted both arms up to the sky as if gesturing. Lifted arms is also in some cultures a sign of worship or praise. Her expression, like many demifae, was difficult to read. There’s a sharpness to demifae features that leads most other beings in the humanoid family to think they’re making a joke, possibly a cruel one, all the time. And in the case of some of the most famous demifae, of course, this has often been the case. What did she mean, I wondered? She chittered, then let go a long call in a tone higher than human ears would have registered. I expected dogs, if there were any here, to come running.

‘Wow, that’s skull-killing! What are you doing, little sister’?

She just kept gesturing and chittering. As if she were speaking to someone. I looked at her arms again. Or directing them.

And then I looked up.

‘Great clods of sparkly unicorn dung, is that how you creatures move these huge chess pieces around’? I stepped out of the way, quick. Attached by a chain to some kind of fae moth, which must be able to lift approximately two hundred and fifty thousand times its own weight (by my reckoning), was a white pawn. And sitting on the pawn’s … head? Are they called “heads”? Dad would have mine for forgetting those details. Anyway, driving and controlling the whole rig was another demifae, who watched “my” demifae’s hand motions closely.

The demifae on the ground was directing the one guiding the moth. My powers of reason are astonishing, I tell you. Honestly, it only took a few fractions of a second to come to this conclusion, but in one of those cinematic moments where time seems to slow whilst you work something out, the whole idea spread out in front of me, like… well, like a chess board. Without the board part, you understand: although chessboards figured everywhere else in the Realm of J’adoube, there was no discernible playing surface on the swampy ground.

Other Methods

Elsewhere, I noticed, other demifae were also attempting to move chess pieces, with varying degrees of success. On a scale of sublime to ridiculous, J’doube is moving ahead at Warp Factor We Just Made It Up, Captain. Oh-kay. I wasn’t hired to sweep the Realm for mental health threats, but I’ll make a note in my report that I’m advising anyone granted a pass to go off the path have a psych evaluation, or at least a bit of Reiki, before and after their outing.

Few Physical Threats

As for physical threats, I wasn’t finding any. I did have a moment of uncertainty when I passed one of the small marshes and heard a noise.

It was nothing

It turned out to be another chittering demifae, and I’m afraid I scared this one half out of its wits—and let’s face it, that’s a pretty small brain, so a half-witted demifae, even a temporarily half-witted one, is downright dangerous, given the glamouring and magical powers these little beings have. I should have done better. I resheathed the decorative looking but very sharp Fairelands issue Protectorate sword (this one’s specially made by Vae Darkheart of Petrichor, and her workmanship is top-notch), then resolved to just map out what I could and report my findings back to my contact in the Guard.

Ongoing adjustments

Some of the larger pieces have lounges built into their bases, but these I determined safe since there were ways to get to them that did not take tourists off the path overmuch. The rest of the place, however, seemed to be in a constant state of, well, adjustment. I will add a note to my report that if the Faire can afford it, we should get a team of surveyors out here to measure how much and at what rate pieces are moving over days. And also, I’ve never met a demifae chess player: is there some greater force overseeing the Realm that we should know about? Maybe the Faire itself already knows who’s pulling these strings, but it’s best not to leave anything to chance. I laugh at myself for even thinking that, given the logic to nonsense ratio I’m assessing here.

Right.

My Report

While the Fairelands Realm of J'doube is unsettling, I have not during my assessment noted any risk of life and limb to Fairelanders who choose to venture off its well-marked shopping paths. However, given the dichotomy between Logic and Nonsense here, I advise that Fairelanders with off-path passes undergo a psychological assessment before passes are issued and that a second screening is advised shortly post-departure. As chess pieces seem to be constantly moving around and in an ongoing state of flux (see my explanation of the chess term "J'doube" in the notes), I also recommend the Realm be surveyed daily in order to determine whether the movement of the pieces themselves constitutes a significant risk to Faire tourists. Report filed by The Amazing Catwoman, this sixth day of the Great Faire

*The McGuire Scale refers to Seanan McGuires Compass for evaluating magical worlds as laid out in her Wayward Children books. You can learn more about the Compass, and the books (if you haven’t read them, you probably want to!) here.

Notes & Credits

The Region:

The stunning and unsettling Region of J’doube comes from the creative genius mind of Sharni Azalee of The Looking Glass. Her worlds are detailed, evocative, and inspiring, and this one is no exception. Visit J’doube in Second Life.

The Amazing Catwoman (TAC):

TAC’s amazing skin was created by Lumae and released just days ago at Fantasy Faire. You can this, the Amesha Ink (freckled) and the other two skins Lumae has created for Fantasy Faire at the Lumae Faire Store in The Amethyst Rift.

TAC’s beautiful dress, armour, boots, and sword are also new at the Faire from Petrichor. As always, Vae has created an outfit that comes in multiple colours with uncountable (for me anyway!) numbers of combinations and unique looks. Dress, armour, boots, sword, and satchel are all sold separately at the Petrichor Faire Store in The Cerulean Bombora.

Body: Maitreya
Hair: Magika, Lydia
Head: Lelutka Evo X Ceylon
Ring: EarthStones, Double Infinity Ring

From The Author

Fantasy Faire is so many things.

Fantasy Faire is so many things. For me, it’s a chance to remember fallen comrades, tell some new stories or expand on some old ones, introduce new characters, look at beautiful sites, and of course it’s the best shopping on the grid, bar nothing, nowhere. This year, Queen Gwyneth has sent ahead her new hire, Friðrós, partly to pre-scan the Faire for her, and partly because, well, Gwyneth’s not getting any younger. So for now, maybe just for today, here’s an account from the blog’s new Huldufólk.

From Friðrós

Queen Gwyneth sent us ahead of her. So much for pre-Faire bonding with Her Majesty, but it’s wonderful to finally visit the great multi-realm Fantasy Faire, even under the watchful eye of Bran, the Queen’s steward. He is Seelier Than Seelie, or at least that’s what everyone says, everyone being the three people who will talk to me even though I’m new.

In the Realm of The Wandering Woods

Bran arranged for us to portal first to The Wandering Woods, an Elfin realm, because he thought it would make me feel at home. And yes, the architecture is definitely Elfin, but so many things are different. The trees are so tall! Taller than the tallest of the buildings, so tall you have to look up to see the canopy that’s keeping it all so delightfully cool and shady here.

A realm of many spirals

This Realm is full of spirals, which meant that as a good Huldufólk, I had many spirals to walk throughout our visit. So many that, if I’m honest, I was downright dizzy before we’d stopped to rest (the first time)!

Lady of the Forest

Such work must have gone into the creation of this beautiful Lady, and so much love, too. At first, I was awed by the reverence in the Fae Realm of Awenia to the Old Gods, but now I am made equally happy by the seeming similarity in other lands. It’s one of the things I will actually tell the family when I get around to FaceTiming them.

Before I departed Awenia, Her Majesty gave me some guidelines for enjoying the Fairelands properly.

  • First, do not try to see the whole Faire in a day. It’s simply too big.
  • Second, don’t miss the little details in your awe-struck discovery of these Lands.
  • Third, get some rest when you can.
  • Fourth, don’t forget to eat!

When Bran tried to get us to move on to another Realm, I played country cousin and reminded him of the Queen’s advice. His mouth became that line that it becomes when you have stopped him by reminding him of a Rule. People who adhere to the Seelie side of the Unseelie/Seelie silliness love rules, and they follow them. This rule even came from his Queen. He could not dispute that the Queen had indeed given me a set of Rules! It was hard not to smile.

The little details

These demifae really were tiny! They’re busy all over the Realm of the Wandering Woods, but I liked these two just having a conversation by one of the lamps that help you see your way through the cloudy blue of this Realm.

Get some rest, and eat something!

I think it’s OK to combine two rules into one. Bran wasn’t so sure, but I said I was really tired, and could we please spend the night here because I needed to wash all the portal dust out of my hair and also my feet hurt, and then he asked me why didn’t I just fly. What a twerp.

Notes & Credits

Many of the items in these photos are featured at or available at the 2021 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire. Links next to items available at the Faire point directly to individual stores.

Centaur Photo:
Taken at: the Candle Path between Fairelands Junction and The Cerulean Bombora
Centaur Avatar: Jinx, Cen-Lightaur (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Centaur Skin: Cinnamon, Galaxy
Skin: Petrichor & Trap, Kalan Vors Skin in Vuraak (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Eyes: The Little Bat, Felis Eyes (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Centaur Tail: Cinnamon, Princess Tail
Corset: Ricelli, Tanya Corset
Hair: No Match, No Viking


Friðrós Photos:

Taken in: The Wandering Woods
Head: Lelutka EvoX Ceylon
Body: Maitreya
Skin: DeeTaleZ, Aria in European tone
Clothes: R3D, Runar Tunic (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Boots: R3D, Runar Boots (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Hair: Analog Dog (natch!), Swoon
Eyes: AviGlam, Elegance Eyes

The Wandering Woods, where most of these photos were taken, is designed by Kilik Lekvoda and sponsored by Titans.

It’s Faire Time. This year, I’ve sent a party ahead of me, just to scout around and see what there is to see. I’ll wait until the furore dies down and I don’t have to worry so much about handling huge crowds in the Fairelands. Of course, there will be crowds throughout, but the heaving throngs during the Faire’s first weekend, well. I don’t think I’m up for that this year.

Of course, with Bran and my new little assistant Fridros off in the Fairelands already, and Nathaniel doing gods know what with the ongoing and apparently never to be completed business in Mysthaven, I have had… time to reflect.

Perhaps too much time.

Not for the first time, I tried to find out whatever happened in my birth realm to Gwyneth Evans, PhD student, LARPer, not very important person. She, well, she just doesn’t exist. I know I am not meant to look for her. It was one of the first things I was advised not to do, and even though the being who gave me that advice is dead to me now, it still echoes on those occasions when I do look for her.

This time, looking for her is like pushing through a veil.

Tonight, I am scrying. It’s like pushing through a veil when I finally find some combination of mental attitude and force of will that seems to get me somewhere, and… oh.

There she is. It must be her.

There she is: it must be her. Initially, I am pleased that we are wearing similar hairstyles. We are, in some sense, still the same person. But where is she? I expected to find her tombstone maybe, or her long-recovered from a half-remembered accident. But she is not in any place I recognise.

When I probe further, I get the sense that she is fighting something.

She looks angry.

She looks angry, determined, and I know that even Gwyneth-from-back-then was a fighter. It’s how she survived to become me. It’s how anyone survives a Realm-slide. The displacement alone is enough to injure most beings, no matter what their mental state when they began whatever it was they were doing when they slid.

Yes, I think, she is winning this battle.

But then something changes

But something about the pull of the rift behind her changes, becomes stronger, and I see her slide backwards, attempt to block the force by running forward. Almost imperceptibly, her body begins to move backwards, toward the chasm.

She closes her eyes, concentrating on something, then looks up. At me. Perhaps it’s an illusion of the Seeing, but she looks straight at me, and there’s recognition in her ice grey eyes.

She mouths the word “You”.

Finally, she crumples to the floor, tries to dig her nails in and swerve her body away from the chasm, but I know she is losing now. She is going to be pulled in, and I can only See, so there is nothing I can do for her.

But I can almost hear her as she looks up at me again, her lips forming the word You as she struggles against the pull of the chaos behind her.

You, I imagine her saying. You did this to me.

And then everything goes black.

What did I do?

Try as I might, I cannot get her back. The veil descends, golden and impossible, and I am left with the sure knowledge that somewhere, Gwyneth Evans who was me has been sucked into some kind of rift, and it is all my fault.

What did I do? What have I done? And how can it echo through all the long years up to today? I don’t even know if I am seeing current time or some strong memory or impression played over again and again from … from somewhere.

I was so rattled I did something I almost never do: I rang Dyisi. I told her what happened.

“That was foolish, child,” was her first response.

I took a breath. Yeah, I knew that.

“Could be a false seeing,” was her next thought. “You feel this guilt, so you see this thing that might not even have happened.”

I let go a sigh.

“You don’t have any words?” she wondered. “This breathing is not a communication.”

“What if I destroyed her life?” I asked. “What if she’s out there hating me?”

“You have other enemies,” Dyisi replied. “Do you worry about them all night and all day? Also, the only life you can destroy is your own, and I don’t think you have done that, even with your bad choices.”

“Not all my choices are bad,” I said.

“Nai, you still have the strength to defend yourself,” she said. “I think this girl you saw is a guilt fantasy, and you should go to a city where they have therapists.”

I swallowed. “I hate therapists.”

“And I’m not one,” she retorted. “See you at the Faire.”

Click.

Notes & Credits

Many of the items featured in these pictures are available at the 2021 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, which opened on Thursday, 22 April. Faire links should point to Store SLURLS in Fantasy Faire itself.

Gwyneth (present)
Head: Lelutka Evo X Avalon
Skin: Lumae, Lelutka Amesha in T2
Ear Tattoos: Kumiho, Circuit yellow (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Hair: KMH 163 (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Makeup: Zibska. Liva (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Eyes: Not a Peep, Hoard Eyes (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Headpiece & Earrings: Bliensen & MaiTai, Fisk Headband and Earrings (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Nails: Venge Stiletto, Fantasy Faire Edition (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Tattoo: Nefekalum, Eostre Pink Edition (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Corset: Ricelli, Tanya Corset
Background: Titans, Roof shingles from Wandering Woods (You can see them at Fantasy Faire!)

Gwyneth (Seeing)
Head: Lelutka Evo X Avalon
Skin: ND/MD Lyn, Tone 0 (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Hair: KMH 163 (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Makeup: Arte (eyeshadow) and Gloom (lipstick)
Eyes: Arte, Blue Eyes
Outfit: Petrichor, Araleus Outfit (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Tattoo: Nefekalum, Avalon’s Gift 2021 Special Edition (Available at Fantasy Faire!)
Photo Box: Petrichor, Aralaea Backdrop (dark) (Available at Fantasy Faire!)

My father had a tea cup with a picture of Mr Spock on it and this quote. I can remember my mother teasing him about it. He must be, she said, the only elf with this obsession with Star Trek. I can tell you now that’s not true: I have met a few elves who like Star Trek. There’s something about the Vulcans and the Romulans. I guess it’s like they say: representation is important. The OG elves think of we younger generation as somehow not properly separate from human folk. “Younger Generation” elves, as far as I can tell, means anyone born after the Ingólfr Arnarson arrived, permanently devaluing the island for all eternity. My grandfather claims to have witnessed the ceremonial founding of Reykjavik. He tells the story the same way every single time. Oh, they came in with their primitive boats and their Norse butchery, yes, he says. But, he always adds, at least in those days they were properly pagan. I hear. Fucking Lutherans. And then, he spits. And everyone laughs politely, even though we know that Asatru is stronger than ever now. You don’t glamour out in the world to avoid persecution these days: you glamour out to avoid fangirls and stalkers.

I’m leaving all that behind.

But now, I’m leaving all that behind. Mother wouldn’t hear of it until I was a hundred and fifty, and father made me wait another twenty-five years (and twenty-five more snooze-inducing reiterations of The Day Grandfather Saw The Founding Of Reykjavik over Midsummerthing.

I got a posting, and it made Grandfather cough in that way he does when he wants to say you’re full of it but is trying to be polite to you. Well. It’s not a permanent posting. It’s a temporary gig, and it’s only guaranteed for the next month or so. I’m going to be part of the Awenian Throng, and one of my duties will be to accompany Her Fae Majesty, Queen Gwyneth of Awenia though the Great Multi-Realm Faire. I’m sure you’ve heard of it: It occurs every year around this time and runs until right after Beltane.

So get this. Father has told Grandfather that I am serving Her Majesty as a bodyguard, not as a member of her retinue, one of a dozen or so. And so, the evening before I began the multi-portal journey, he put me into this ludicrous archery outfit and made me pose for photographs.

Why ludicrous?

Well, it’s because I am no archer, no archer at all. No Fae Queen would employ me as a bodyguard: I’m useless (by elvish standards, anyway: I suspect I could manage to fool a few humans).

And so there I was, all taped up in this kit my brother used when he was in Álfaskátar, and of course Grandfather will likely remember the outfit and the buckles and the pretty bow, but he won’t say anything; he’ll just smirk behind his hand and let it pass, and thank the gods that Huldufólk are not bound by the truth árátta as your more popular Celtic and Anglo-Saxon elfkin are.

He made me pose for pictures. I’ll say that again, because it still feels just so wrong. He made me pose for pictures.

Really, Father?

Really, Father? That’s what my eyes are saying.

And then he’s all, draw the bow! Let’s get a picture of you in action.

Action, Father? The only action I’m likely to be doing is making change for Her Majesty whilst she shops it up in the Fairelands.

That’s it, girl!

I felt like a complete sham. Why is it that Father so wants me to be something completely other than what I am? It’s not as if I decided to hop off to America and join the Born Agains or something.

I can hardly contain my joy.

This is my over-the-moon face. That’s a quote from Veronica Mars. I like Veronica Mars. Sometimes when I’m mortalled up for a party or something, I glamour my hair blonde and introduce myself as Veronica, just for fun.

But really, it’s Friðrós. Or Rós. It means Peace Rose, and it’s OK to call me Rose if you can’t pronounce Icelandic, which you probably can’t, because who would if they were not an Icelander? Subtitle: why this blog post is in English.

Anyway, it all starts tomorrow. I have to endure one more family dinner (Grandfather is thankfully on holiday in Asgard). Tomorrow I can stop glamouring my hair short and put on a dress. I heard Queen Gwyneth was fun to hang out with, so there’s that. I wonder if she will give me something really nice to wear?

Notes & Credits
Items featured at the Chronicles And Legends Event:
The Clothes, Boots, Quiver, & Bow: Art&Ko, Elf Archer Set
Chronicles And Legends is open until the 2nd of May, and this round’s theme is Seelie vs. Unseelie!


Everything Else:
Hair: No Match, No Load
Head: Lelutka, EvoX Ceylon
Skin: DeeTaleZ, Aria
Eyes: AviGlam, Elegance Eyes
Makeup: Tone 2, UBU Layerables
Leggings: Alaskametro, Lyra
Body: Maitreya
Backdrop: Oshiro, Zoco


This is not your world. Were you to step into it, My Fae Realm of Awenia, you would change, because it, the Realm, would change you. There is no way to enter Faerie, any Faerie, and return the same. I know this as well as anybody knows it, because I have stepped into Faerie many, many times, and I never return the same.

But I’ll welcome you anyway.

I’ll welcome you anyway, as I always do; it’s my duty after all, and sometimes even my pleasure.

Welcome, I should say, to Faerie as it is today, and if you’ve been here before you’ll notice there’s not a castle here any more. Yes, yes, I still have to get Angharad to change those signs. Poor girl: she was far too settled in her magical little room, and so she has been quite the sourpuss about my replacing the castle with a more open Court building. Sooner or later she will come to admire the gardens.

Some things remain the same, of course

Not everything has changed with the seasons; Clio is still happily mostly living in the Formal Book Garden, and whilst there are some new additions to the Book Forest, there is nothing so overwhelming as last year’s upheaval. And yes, the cats still live in the storyteller’s cottage, and if you’re lucky you can find a goddess come to life on the hill above the book path.

There’s a new offshore statue as well

Our Fae Lily of the Valley blooms here, and a special variety they are indeed. These beautiful plants, and the Raindale Mushrooms as well, I picked up at one of the many pre-Faire Faires, Chronicles & Legends. These Faires must all have a special theme; that’s kind of their thing, and this one amused me by having a theme of Seelie vs Unseelie. These names people paste on our kind, they always amuse me. As if there were some stark dividing line between seasons, and moods, and morals, and the fae. I smirk every time someone suggests to me that because I was first a Summer Queen that I am somehow morally more … ordered? light? gods forbid, good? than the Winter Queen, but then of course, here I am also the Winter Queen, and I hear my share of laughter on the icy winds. How shocking it must be to find that we, like humans, are complex. Multifaceted. Not paper dolls.

My sepia portrait

I think if I were in a book, I’d want to be in sepia, a halfway colour that renders more from shade than contrast. I’d want to be shaded, smudged, full of depth and the suggestion of colour.

But turn the page…

But turn the page and I would be there in the late-spring dark, glowing pale against the lightless sky, spotlit by the moon herself, and seeming drawn from cold yet calling summer. Calling summer, I would step out of the dark page and examine the light as if it were a physical thing, a paintbrush tool to flick across my glamoured features, made soft for you because our perfection would blind you, sweet mortal, even as you longed to see us for who we are.

Of course you are welcome here. The Fae Realm of Awenia is a welcoming land. So green against the mud-time of your Bostons, so blue compared to your overcast Londons, so quiet next to your crowded New Yorks, no matter what names they are called by. Perhaps that’s why I’d appear first in sepia, so that you would see those shadows first of all instead of this saturation your eyes may be overwhelmed by when you come to us at last.

No, this is not your world. But it could be, if only you were willing to change. And even if you say you are unwilling to change and stay, unwilling to become part of the Realm and embrace its mystery and novelty, a part of you will always be Awenia, even if you are here only for a day.

Nathaniel says there should be a disclaimer.

That just makes me smile.

No-one ever reads the terms and conditions. It’s all fine, really. Just press ‘Accept’.

Most of what Gwyneth is wearing and some other items featured in this post are from the just-opened Chronicles & Legends event.

Notes & Credits

Items featured at Chronicles & Legends: Seelie vs. Unseelie:
The Gown: (A)MAZE/Viki, Alyara. This gown comes in multiple colours, and each colour way has both a light and a dark version. It’s stunning.
The Wings: Celeste, Seelie Bento Wings. Beautifully mod, so I was able to tint them to match the gown.
The Eyes: Arte, Luce Eyes
The Circlet: Kotolier, Circlet Lacrima
The Nails: Rawr!, Fae Nails
The Lily of the Valley & Purple Mushroom: Raindale, Lilibell Set

Other stuff:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa HDPro Soft
Skin: DeeTaleZ, Elise
Brows: Simple Bloom, Liv Spring Soft Arch
Eyeshadow: Mewsery, Glitter Girl
Lipstick: TheMars, Betty Lip

Environment:
Shot on location in Awenia Faerie, Court Island
Court Building: Compulsion, Elven House
Fountain: Titans, The Etoile Fountain
Mermaid Statue: Titans, The Siren Statue
Floating Lotus Flowers & Lily Pads: Rivendale, Purple & Pink Lotus, Green Lily Pad
Seals: HEXtraordinary, Seal Wanderers
Clio: Teeglepet Arabian
Bridge: The Looking Glass, The Shrine Tree Bridge

Chronicles & Legends opened on 10 April and will close on 2 May. It’s worth the trip!

There’s something about a cloudless night. Or that’s how it seems. I recall my (human) father always referring to a moon covered with clouds as a ghostly galleon, after the Alfred Noyes poem. And maybe we don’t associate a clear night with magic, or omens, or stories. Maybe. Maybe we don’t.

A cloudless night
But I felt something

But I felt something. Something on the wind. Something that made me think. It was the smell of surf and spring. The wind of things to come, my mother (my imagined mother) might have called it.

And it wasn’t just the magical gown

And it wasn’t just the magical gown, though this dress from Senzafine could make a potato feel like a princess. No, it was the slowing-down of March into nearly-April, the sound of future music on the horizon, the sight of all those tiny points of light out there.

Something, something beautiful is coming.

A thing to be held close, maybe even danced with.

Something to be both celebrated and nurtured. Can you hear it?

There is a low, lilting song making its way to you. And you might not even be sure you can hear it right now, it’s so far away.

So faint and far away, it is.

But it’s coming closer.

Notes & Credits:
Gown: Senzafine, Saria Gown— available for only a few more days at We Love Role-play.
Skin: Lumae, Lelutka Amesha, T2
Head: Lelutka EvoX Avalon
Ears: Lelutka EvoX Elf Ears
Hair: Mina, Pepper
Eyes: Arte, Spring Eyes
Body: Maitreya Lara

Environment:
Lighthouse scene: K&S, Lighthouse Backdrop
Foreground Building: Minimal, Charming Abbey
Starry Night: Landscapes Unlimited, Off Sim Starry Night

It’s been a long time since I found myself in a realm and didn’t realise how I ended up there. It’s even been a long time since I dreamt of such things. I confess, I’d fallen into a sense of complacency, I guess you’d say: that is, I became comfortable with the illusion that I had some sort of control over life outside of Awenia Faerie. The truth, of course, is that I don’t really have all that much control over life inside of Awenia Faerie, but I’m sure I’ve made that clear in various stories repeated here.

It’s somewhat odd to find oneself in someone else’s gallery….

That’s why finding myself in someone else’s gallery gave me quite a turn. Well. I say gallery, but it was really more like a hallway with a few pictures: I’m sure whoever owned the hallway thought of it as “The Gallery”, though: the frames alone were testament to that.

Ruffs? Uncomfortable.

Of course, it didn’t take much longer than the realisation that I was clearly in someone else’s hallway/gallery/whatever to clock that I was dressed in appropriate Tudor bordering on Elizabethan garb, and while corsets aren’t nearly as uncomfortable as contemporary mundane media would like us to believe, I’ve never been a fan of slashed sleeves and ruffs. They constrain, they itch, and frankly, unless you’ve got a swan neck, they have the (in my opinion, anyway) not always flattering feature of making it look as if you don’t have a neck at all. Then again, that could be what the Elizabethans were going for. I can’t remember if the neck was some sort of forbidden bit of anatomy. Certainly not as devil-tempting as the elbow or the wrist!

Graffiti, alive and well

I admit I was somewhat amused when I turned one of the pictures over and found scrawled on the back in what could have been grease pencil, or crayon (red): DnT FKCNG CAR Hu DeEs IS. JUs+ WNNA G0 HM. It would seem I’m not the only person to have ended up in this hallway.

I do hope they found their way home: I mean, obviously they found their way somewhere else, seeing as how I’m not currently boring some poor lost traveller with tales of Sir Walter Raleigh.

Well, whoever that 18th century dandy is, I think I’d best be going.

At least there was not similar graffiti behind the portrait of Revolutionary American George Washington on the other side, but I do tend to think of that timeline as an alternative, no matter what you might have grown up with. In any case, it’s not difficult for me to find my way home from these little unplanned visits! Before I go, though: let me just see if I can manage to keep this dress. Sure, ruffs are itchy, but the Great Faire approaches, and one can never have too many gowns!

Notes & Credits:
The Elizabethan Gown: Silvan Moon Designs, The Virgin Queen (Available now at We Love Roleplay!)
The Demure & Blushing Skin: Lumae, Lelutka Amesha, Blush (freckled!) (Available now at the Lumae Main Store!)
The Don’t leave me alone with anybody in the drawing room hair: Exile, Dangerous
The Everything goes with gold and roses circlet: Air, Rose Circlet
The Eyes that were never so blue: Yoshi, Syn Eyes
Head: Lelutka, Lilly
Body: Maitreya
Ears: Swallow, Elf Ears, High Definition

I have been absent a while. I can only apologise for that. Thanks to the many Awenia Fae who kept My Realm safe over the last few months, and thanks also to you, invisible but important readers, for bearing with me and having faith that I, like the light, would return.

Constant as the Moon, they say

‘Constant as the moon’, said my Welsh granny, the one who wasn’t my granny but who knew more than she let on.

‘What does that mean, Gran’? I asked; I think I was twelve or thirteen. ‘You say that all the time, but the moon isn’t constant at all: it’s always changing and growing and shrinking and moving around the sky and whatnot’.

You know how sometimes, when a thing occurs in just the perfect space, a person comes to life in a different way? That’s what happened to my granny in that moment. Her face sharpened, from her eyes to her rounded chin, and a half-smile edged across her face.

‘The only constant’, said Gran, ‘is change’. She took a breath. ‘Heraclitus. Greek. About five hundred years before the Christians start counting up from one. He was called “the dark philosopher” because he was so hard to understand. I think he would have been more understood, but probably even less understanding, in our modern world’. She squinted, mouthed a couple of syllables. ‘Oh, yes; that’s it. Panta Rhei was his motto: Life is flux. So even though she may not be always the same, she is in fact constant‘.

‘Oh’. I must have stood there with my mouth open for a good half minute.

‘Go on, or I’ll move on to Socrates, or Plato, or maybe even Plutarch’!

I don’t remember learning anything about Socrates, Plato, or Plutarch until I was in sixth form, so I must have gone.

I came back by way of the Viking-themed Faire at Enchantment.

If you’ve not visited the very beautiful Viking Faire at Enchantment, you must! There are so many beautiful things I struggled which ones to show you first! One of the first things I did was have my hair styled and braided by the ladies from Ayashi, because they had such lovely beads (I’ll have a closer photo to show you later!). And the beautiful gown is from (A)Maze; it’s called the Freya gown, and I think it’s certainly worthy of a goddess who rides around in a chariot pulled by cats! The circlet is designed by Rainbow Sundae, and its simple shape and perfect line work really well when everything else I’m wearing is so ornate! When I unpacked my trunk upon returning to Awenia, this was the first gown I pulled out, and then I thought, now— what would set this gown off beautifully is a stunning skin paint-over from Lumae! Bran even shouted at me, yes, yes, so rude to leave him and Clutie with all the rest of the putting away (not like I was going to do it anyway: Hello? Faery Queen!), but off I went to see Lumiya Rae, who of course had the perfect thing! A fantasy blush skin paint modelled on her Ayesha style, perfect for early spring and full of hope, particularly when set with the dark red of this gown.

The Gods Are In The Details

‘The Gods are in the details’, or that’s what folk say, anyway: the detailing on the gown’s overbuilt waist is just stunning, isn’t it? And here too you can see the perfectly pink paint Lumiya applied to my skin just hours before. I think I’ll be asking her to style me up like this again: I wonder if she would accept a nice holiday in Faerie as compensation for a few more shades of this lovely blushiness? I love it so much: I feel like I’ve been dipped in rose petals and swished around in milk. OK, not really: that would be a little gross, because unlike many Fae, I am not a big fan of milk generally— but you didn’t come here to find out about my dietary habits! You came here because like everyone else you want to know what Her Majesty the Fae Queen of Awenia, Gwyneth, is wearing, of course!

It is good, so good, to be back, my darlings. I’ll check in with you again soon.

Notes & Credits:

Items featured at Enchantment, which is open now:
Hair: Ayashi, Astrid Hair
Circlet: Rainbow Sundae, Hilda Headband
Gown: (A)Maze, Freya Gown

Amazing new fantasy skin from Lumae, available at the Lumae Main Store:
Amesha Blush, freckled! (best freckles on the grid!)

Everything else:
Head: Lelutka, Lilly
Body: Maitreya
Eyes: Arte, Blue Eyes
Ears: Swallow, Elf Ears High Definition
Eyebrows: Arte, Lilly Eyebrows

Environment:
Photos shot in Awenia Faerie
Castle: Rivendale, Dreamy Castle
Side Chair (partially visible): Petrichor, Celeste Chair
Awenia Faerie is wholly built inside a Landscapes Unlimited Sweetwater Valley Large Skybox Environment
Moon & Stars: Landscapes Unlimited, Off Sim Starry Night (possibly the most gorgeous star system I have ever seen)
Clouds: Landscapes Unlimited, Off Sim Clouds

I think we choose to celebrate darkness, madly and wildly, until it catches us deeply and seems unwilling to let us go. Once darkness has had you like that, you end up either celebrating it even more wildly, or retreating, as I have done, into a more peaceful world.

Peace, my friends

I am aware of the unimaginable size of my hubris when I say I have retreated into a more peaceful world. Had I all the will and magic of the universe, I would wish for all of us, each of us, to create the world we wish to live in. I know and am grateful for the immensely lucky hand which the gods have dealt me. Let’s be honest: if you were reading about me in a book, or in some poor writer’s memoirs, you would rename me Mary Sue, wouldn’t you? Trust me: I’m not blind. I would have done the same, had I come across my story before I lived it.

See the sun arising

See the sun arising
See the sun arising
Darkness is gone

We sing this together in midwinter, as the days begin to lengthen seemingly infinitesimally. And even in the cold haze of the early Faery morning, see, there is the sun, or some hazy projection of it, at least. Above the castle, the birds have already begun their day, and down below, the demifae are just ending their nights’ revels. For this small time, the Realm sleeps. Well, it seems to sleep.

The Realm sleeps only from a distance.

Closer-in, you will find the winds doing their work, moving snow around, you will find the lights above DJFae’s Dance Floor swirling their merry spiral, waiting for the happy steps of those our Danya inspires to dance (which is just about everybody who listens when she spins).

FluffyCat The Bookseller

You will find FluffyCat the Bookseller at his appointed post, because when do you need a good book more than on a blustery winter night? I ask him, What do you recommend? and he replies, On this night, there is no better book than Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising to steady your spirit with a story. I’m sure I have a signed edition here, Your Fae Majesty. Tempting, but I am only allowed to have so many copies of The Dark Is Rising. Someone else will be the lucky reader—of this one.

Snow, or mist? My own Book Garden seems more magical than usual, now that we have had midwinter snow.

It is not a time of newness, this, so when new things appear in the winter’s dark, we take notice.

Ode To The Moon

This pleasing cottage, called Ode To The Moon and created by the ever-imaginative Dragonia of Dragon Magick Wares, even came with its own tiny island. Whoever will live here will have their own holiday tree, not to mention half a dozen sheep—no; that one in front is a (tiny) reindeer.

Snowy Book Forest

How do we ascertain the anchor of a Realm? Is it the largest feature? Is it the most beautiful place? Is it the spiritual centre? If it is the most long-standing, then the Book Forest is at Awenia’s heart, if not its physical centre: there has been a Book Forest in Awenia for as long as there has been Awenia. For me, that’s about six years, but the folk who live here know this length of time as “for-ever”.

Our Sacred Meadow

The demifae have changed the altar from autumn to winter; no-one ever sees them do it, but it’s always efficient and perfectly on time. Can you see the tiny faery up in the Winter Guardian tree? Sometimes we can sight them when the seasons turn, just admiring their handiwork. You may know that the guardian trees in our Sacred Meadow relocate seasonally: do you see the Spring Guardian there in the distance? It’s as if she is only a few steps away. Calibri is the little pony who helps visitors find their way around Awenia; he’s strayed from his place by the portal. The unicorn is Lampen, one of the two unicorns who live here regularly.

Sleeping Demifae

And look! There’s a demifae, fast asleep on the altar Yule log. They must have worked through the night, making sure midwinter came to us on time. Here: let’s leave them some extra marshmallows for when they wake up.

As always, on this day, particularly after Fluffycat reminded me of The Dark Is Rising, I think of Susan Cooper’s beautiful poem, “The Shortest Day”. Do you know it?

I’ll put a couple of links below, but here is the text as I sent it in this year’s holiday card from Awenia.

The Shortest Day

The Shortest Day 

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us—listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome, Yule!

Poem by Susan Cooper

Here is an NPR recording of Susan Cooper reading some lines from the poem and talking about it last year at this time.

Oh, my darlings, I do dearly love you. And I do hope for peace.

Notes & Credits

  • The Avatar:
    • Gwyneth is wearing Silvan Moon Designs’ stunning Royal Yule Gown, available now at We Love Roleplay.
    • Her skin is Petrichor’s Lazulian Femme (quartze) for a base, topped with the Draziele Holiday Tattoo, Frost, also from Petrichor.
    • These eyes, also from Petrichor, are the Koele eyes.
      • Both the eyes and the tattoo are available now at Saturnalia.
    • Gwyneth’s hair is from Kuni, the Duda Hair
    • The brass crown is from Fika, the Duchess Fringe Tiara
    • The Candle Mantle and Crown are from Static, Candlelight Crown & Mantle, also available at Saturnalia. (that’s a great event; y’all should all go to it [no, I am not blogging for them!])
    • Makeup is from SlackGirl (eyeshadow) and TheMars (lipstick)
    • Gwyneth is in a Maitreya Mesh body and the Catwa HDPro Soft head. Her shape is home-made and handmade.
  • The Environment
    • Shot on location in Awenia Faerie.
    • Stunning Tree: The Looking Glass: The Shrine Tree, a One-of-a-Kind (well, two-of-a-kind!) item. You can come visit it.
    • Fir Tree in Peace photo: HarshLands, Fir Trees
    • Frame and Lights in Peace photo: {anc} Frame & Stool
    • Sim Surround: Landscapes Unlimited, Sweetwater Valley
    • Solar System: Landscapes Unlimited, Off Sim Starry Night
    • FluffyCat’s Book Wagon: Kraftwork, Travelling Bookseller
    • FluffyCat Herself: Foxwood, Fluffs
    • Ode To The Moon Cottage: Dragon Magick Wares, Ode To The Moon
    • Stage: {anc} Dreaming Stage
    • Sheep: [anc} Dreaming Sheep
    • Reindeer: Hextraordinary, Romping Reindeer
    • Small Tree: {anc} Noel Tears Tree
    • Large Tree: {anc} Snowy Day Christmas Tree
    • Items In Book Forest: There are so many! IM me in world or ask me in a comment if there’s something specific you want to know about. The book path is by Una, and the central house is 8f8’s Storyteller’s Burrow house.
    • Winter Guardian: HarshLands, Winter Guardian. Kadaj Yoshikawa has created guardian trees for all four seasons, and they are integral to the Awenia Sacred Meadow. You can see the Spring Guardian also in the photo that features the Meadow.
    • Pony and unicorn: Teegle! I love Teegle and can spend hours playing with my pretty unicorns and ponies.
    • Yule Log: Hextraordinary, Yule Log
    • Demifae on Yule log: CF, Forest Fairy, Snow Sit

(thanks to fellow blogger & photographer Justyn Time for the following video link! — not super happy with the harp background, but you can see the book!)









Tomorrow, the sun will rise on a light-er day. Be peaceful, and love one another.

It’s All Here

I remember everything. From the first haunting strains, through the climax of Act I, and into the tears of Act II.

I Dream The Details

The details come to me in dreams: the places we went, the melodies we shared, the deep red of roses, the underpinning of music, and the love of music, and the longing for the end of that phrase, the reach for resolution, and the coda, and the bar line.

And now, the story.

But why tease you with these murmurs and adjectives? So what if it haunts me still? So what if they all suggested it mustn’t really have happened. No, no: I think it’s time.

Are you ready to hear my story?

To Be Continued….

Enchantment’s Phantom of the Opera Round opens Today, 15 November, 2020!

Featured Enchantment Items:
Hair: KMH, F149
Gown: Poet’s Heart, Prima Donna Gown
Jewellery: Kunglers, Emmy Necklace & Earrings
Mirror: Old Treasures, Phantom’s Mirror
Sofa: Old Treasures, Phantom’s Opera Lounger
Get all this and so much more at Enchantment, and start your story.

Everything Else:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka Evolution Fleur Unbound|
Ears: Swallow, Shiny Elf Ears
Skin: Wyrd, Edda
Eyes: Arte, Lolly Eyes
Eyeshadow: SlackGirl, 50
Lipstick: TheMars, Apple Crush
Moon & Stars: Landscapes Unlimited, Off Sim Starry Night


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Oxblood & Wolf

Oxblood & Wolf | Mens Style from The Ox and The Wolf