To wear this world of paper, you must first Imagine how the texture fits your form. It wrinkles there, and here’s a dash of red, and over there the shadow of a path.
It’s not enough to be a paper doll; No, you must learn to breathe in two, not three Dimensions: forget depth, and think in shade And light, but mostly light: when shadow’s lost
It’s easy to forget there’s only ink And paper between you and all the noise That ceases to exist here in this place. But take a little something of it home:
Whether a dragon’s tooth of just a thought And hold it in your hand to keep you whole
The snowfall left a pillow on the ground In Ling Xiao Long, a dragon stirred and woke And whirled into an inky effigy Surrounded by serenity he seems
At first an out of place brushstroke, but then I see his curves reflected in the flowers
And all the pillows fade to unimportance
And everything that held us is a lie.
Notes & Credits:
The photos for this post were shot in the virtual region of Ling Xiao Long. Ling Xiao Long is one of twenty-one regions that make up this year’s Relay For Life of Second Life’s Annual Fantasy Faire. Ling Xiao Long is the designated “LitFest” region, where authors and poets and writers of all sorts come to talk about their trades and to write together. Tours of the Faire regions also depart from the marketplace at Ling Xiao Long.
Ling Xiao Long is sponsored by PaperFriends and designed by Fiona Fei. You can visit Ling Xiao Long in Second Life, but only until the 9th of May, when the Fairelands recede back into the mists until new magical lands rise to become the next Fairelands regions.
What’s Gwyneth Wearing?
O my darlings, Enchantment is just around the corner, bringing to us A Midsummer Night’s Dream, my favourite Shakespeare play, because I am a Summer Queen and I love a Summer Theatre. Many of the beautiful things Gwyneth is wearing will be featured at Enchantment, including:
The Stunning Rose Gown: Fugue, Midsummer Dream Gown in Rose, Distilled.
The Blossom Mask: Bliensen & MaiTai, Peaseblossom Mask
The Silver Tattoo: Nefekalum, Thisbe
Head: Lelutka EvoX Avalon
Skin: Lumae, Amesha in T2
Jewellery: Kunglers, Adna Earrings and Necklace
Hair: Tableau Vivant, Chloras Add-On
Don’t worry! There are more Fairelands Stories to come; the faire isn’t over yet— but these things from Enchantment lent themselves beautifully to the story, and Enchantment opens just a little more than a week from now, on the 15th of May!
What a strait laced old tight-arse he is! But I managed to get him lost in A’Dracunas: it’s not hard to do— the signs even tell you how! I lit off across the border into a place called The Dark Awakening, which was not very dark at all, picked up some new clothes, and tried on a pain of wings for fun!
How could anything be more fun than getting rid of your babysitter on the eve of the Queen’s arrival at the Faire?
Aren’t these hair extensions great? Miss All Sunday Lemon from Wasabi did them for me personally when she found out who I worked for! The dress, which I’m sure Brán would say isn’t really a dress at all, came from Izzy over at 1313 Mockingbird Lane! Her clothes are so amazingly beautiful. It’s so much fun to dance in new clothes and feel hair and wings flowing along behind you. It was hard to stop once I’d started.
I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun all in one go!
Here I am flying up to my airship, the Fairechilde! Ok, it isn’t really my airship and mostly I am not meant to go there at all because it’s full of grown up parties, but I did anyway, so there!
I wonder how much trouble I’m going to get in for this. I don’t think she’ll send me back home, at least not yet. Maybe I won’t get the permanent position, though. Hmm.
I do really like these clothes, though! I think I’ll go back to the 1313 store and try on some more…. I wonder how many outfits I can buy before Brán catches me? I guess I’ll find out!
Notes & Credits:
These photos were taken in The Dark Awakening, which is the 2021 Relay For Life region at Fantasy Faire. The Dark Awakening is sponsored by Trinity Clothing and designed by Sharni Azalee, Kilik Lekvoda, and May Piggins.
Carl Sandburg wrote those words. Sandburg as a poet wasn’t studied overmuch when I was at uni doing my literature Master’s, but I had read some of his things in an independent study. He was on the short list of poets I wanted to cover in my PhD work, partly because, when I looked in to his life, most American sources really glossed over the secondary work he did as a member of the Social Democratic Party and a frequent contributor to socialist newspapers. I smile when I think about that. Because Sandburg was also celebrated as “the voice of America”. It would be easy to dismiss him, if you only ever saw his most famous poem, which you probably know even if you don’t know it was written by Carl Sandburg.
The fog comes on little cat feet.
It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on.
You might think, oh, there’s another American imagist poet. And you might also think, well, here is a poet who was very popular within his own lifetime, and dismiss him for that. Literature is just as fickle as the tabloid press sometimes. Look deeper. It’s almost always more interesting in medias res. Sandburg certainly was, and is.
In Faerie, there is often fog. But what you may find inside it varies from Sandburg’s silent-but-watchful cat to things you’d wish you didn’t live to remember.
When I replaced our old portal with this newer one from Harshlands, Clutie said the portal light reminded her of a swirling fog. We tested it a few times and, sure enough, when you travel through to our new portal, you seem to be surrounded by fog. Or mist. Tangentally, “mist” is a funny word. It’s considered less prosaic than “fog” and often used when a writer wants to add a little bit of magic or mystery into a scene. It’s also, technically, more associated with low-forming clouds on mountains, whereas “fog” gets used when we are talking about what rolls in from the sea or clears in the morning. Scientifically, we differentiate the two things by how far you can see through them. “Fog” reduces visibility to less than one kilometre. “Mist” allows visibility for 1-2 kilometres. Which means, really, that what you find in Faerie is more “fog” than “mist”, because when it comes, it seems to swallow the Realm whole. And of course, in German, “Mist” means “animal excrement”. So I suppose if I could wish something for our tourists here in Fae Awenia, I’d wish for them to meet not with Fae mist, but with Fae fog.
Lest you think I’ve just been rambling around the Realm, idly going on about Carl Sandburg and and the admittedly fascinating distinctions between “fog”, “mist”, and “Mist”, I have been corresponding regularly with Friðrós, and Bran has already sent several little items he knew I’d love, so that I can be properly attired in this year’s Fairelands Finest when I arrive at the Faire after our Awenia Beltane fires.
Bran found this dress, for example. It comes from the wickedly fabulous Devious Mind, and the rainbow colours are so lovely to welcome in the summer. We’re preparing the altar for the inevitable and invisible change from Spring Guardian to Summer Guardian; it’ll happen sometime tonight, just when no-one is paying attention. These wings came from the faire too, made by Idrial Ghost of FAS, as did the skin painting. I won’t even tell you how many favours we had to call in to borrow Skye Nefekalum for 90 minutes to oversee this lovely skin painting. I mean, it helps when you’re moving from one pocket dimension to another, I guess, and it’s not like Awenia’s a big enough Realm to have much traffic, at least when it’s Faire season: I mean, who would visit us for Beltane when they could be at the Faire?
I may be rambling. This is the first year in many I’ve not been there for the opening of the Faire gates, and I admit it feels like a loss. However, with Bran and Friðrós keeping me in touch with what’s happening, I feel almost connected, and it did mean I was able to do the altar summoning this year.
Take a last look at Spring in our Sacred Grove, for soon it will be Summer. The very capable sculptor Kadaj Yoshikawa sent over an advance copy of his Pillars of the Faire statue, and beautiful it is indeed. I hear tell there’s a new elf statue from him as well, and I’m sure it’ll find its way into one of our spaces before the Faire is done. Yellow is already giving way to green here, and as we dance, so the seasons change. Never doubt that it is we who Turn the Wheel.
As the light grows, we add berries, cups full and bowls full and all manner of sweet summer tastes to our summer central altar, and the whole job is overseen by one of the many demifae who makes it her business to oversee all the altars in the Sacred Grove. There are three; did you know? This one is our grove altar. It’s where we gather and give reverence. Behind me is our feast altar, and really you might say, but that’s just a big table with a feast laid out upon it—and what else is a beautifully laid table, I wonder, than an altar? Further back, and not so visible from here is the divination altar, in a quiet, sheltered place underneath that big oak tree. And I’m blessed to have a Realm so full of life, love, and fellowship as we move into the glorious peak time of the sun and my summer self waxes into her golden power. It will feel good to enter the Faire on Saturday as a fully Summer Queen.
Now, remember I was telling you about Carl Sandburg up there? The whole poem that quote is taken from is called Tentative (First Model) Definitions of Poetry, and it has only ten lines. I think it’s somehow necessary that every poet write at least one poem about poetry itself, even though there are so many reasons not to. It’s why everybody learns to play Horse With No Name on the guitar, too. Some kind of rite of passage.
Speaking of rites, and of passages, it seems The Author wants a word with you, so please excuse how the language will now change from that of Your Beloved Fae Queen to a very ordinary middle-aged lady who lives in yet another London I did not come from.
From The Author:
At Fantasy Faire, we make a lot of noise, have a lot of fun, and raise a lot of money for the American Cancer Society. In the virtual world of Second Life, we hold the largest online charity event in the world, and this year it includes 21 regions and spans two weeks and change*. From my human perspective, I’ve been involved with the annual Fantasy Faire as more than a tourist for seven years. This is my seventh year.
After seven years, Fantasy Faire is still magical to me. If you look back in the “category” section of this blog, you’ll find posts from 2015 to the present day, all telling stories or singing poems about these worlds created by the stunning imaginations and skills of our Fantasy Faire World Builders. Every year, the vastness of the Regions delights and captivates me, and every year, there’s at least one thing that blows me away and makes me cry.
This year, that thing happened when I walked through the Balderdash store with my friend. Because Saiyge Lotus designs Fairelands Junction each year, which isn’t a shopping region, you will find her store, usually looking humble on the outside, in one of the many shopping regions.
Yeah, I’m going to stop now and tell you a story. It’s not a long story, but it is connected to the story of Why I Relay, which you can read in other blog posts from years past. Most of you know that my beloved husband Joe passed away from cancer in January of 2016. Now, that was hard, and heart wrenching, and I wasn’t ready for a world without him in it. Joe was an atheist, a staunch atheist who would occasionally refer to the Christian God as “the invisible man in the sky”, or “your imaginary friend”. He was ruthlessly scientific and left-brained, an engineer by trade, and yet he loved romantic comedies and sentimental songs. Go figure. He did not believe in an afterlife. Rather, he believed that his atoms and consciousness, in whatever form they continued, would go out into the cosmos and spend their eternities filtering down to earth. To paraphrase (and possibly blaspheme), “We are stardust, and to stardust shall we return”. When the family left the hospital room where he’d died during the night, I brushed my hand across his forehead and whispered to him that I would see him again in the stars.
And that’s why I cried when I saw this. Thank you, Saiyge.
The smallest things in the universe (that we have observed so far, anyway) are quarks and electrons, the building blocks of the atom. And in terms of size, the electron is smaller. And if Joe’s right, he’s out there with those things, whirring around in the cosmos and doing what stardust does.
Although my first life job means that I can’t attend the Milk Wood Writing Dash very often, I do try to go during Faire, and that beautiful little memorial kept spinning through my head. The prompt was “smallest”, which made it obvious what I was going to write about.
In case you don’t know, the Milk Wood Daily Dash is a 15-minute timed writing prompt exercise, followed by sharing (if you’re comfortable). Very often, I try to write a complete sonnet in those fifteen minutes. Most of the time, I succeed, believe it or not. So here’s what came out of that Dash, and I’ve only changed one word in editing.
If I told you that up among the stars Those pieces of you flew and made their homes Among electrons building stars and more I’d never search the sky. Because the stars
Are busy being built, and you, my light And light creator, are too focused now To bother with a thing you know for sure. But all is well, I’m happy when you send
A meteorite to let me know you can, And, chaos as I am against your method, You know I’ll wish on it, and then one day, In thirty or forty light years or so,
We’ll hear that wish together, me and you, Though we already know wishes come true.
So thank you again, Saiyge, you beautiful being, for putting into a little mesh object the sum total of mine and Joe’s dance across the cosmos. If stars sing, they’d write a song about this one thought.
*Corrects an earlier error: the faire this year spans two weeks and four days, not three weeks as I originally said: this Fae Queen is not very good at maths, and that was a computational error on my part!
Notes & Credits:
These photos were all taken in The Author’s home Realm of Awenia, where Fae Queen Gwyneth is about to become the Summer Queen once again, where The Amazing Catwoman sometimes works as second in command in the Realm Guard, where Nathaniel and Gwyneth are about to redecorate a cottage after leaving their old castle behind, where we sometimes have visits from beautiful people, and where Romany Davi will shortly be proposing a new idea about bringing more tourists to Awenia. Awenia takes its name from the druidic symbol of the Awen, which is the symbol and the sigil for divine inspiration.
Items Featured from Fantasy Faire:
Gwyneth’s Dress, Pearl Strings, and Necklace: Devious Mind, Asteria, Rainbow for Fantasy Faire 2021 (Get it here!) Gwyneth’s Wings: FAS, Faery Wings (Get them here!) Gwyneth’s Skin Painting: Nefekalum, Willow, Violet Edition (Get it here!) Memorial Sign: Balderdash, We Will Meet Again (Get it here!) New Statue (though it’s not as visible as it should be): Harshlands, The Pillars Of The Faire (Get it here!)
Head: Lelutka, EvoX Avalon Skin: Lumae, Lelutka Amesha, in T2 (Available at the Lumae Main Store!) Hair: Monso, Yasiren Hair Headpiece & Veil: Rozoregalia, Viscum Tiara and Viscum Veil
Everything else is just what’s usually visible in Awenia Faerie—there’s far too much to list here, but if you have questions about specific items, IM Gwen Enchanted (that’s me) in world, and I’ll happily let you where everything else comes from.
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
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
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.
‘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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 Storein 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 Storein The Cerulean Bombora.
Body: Maitreya Hair: Magika, Lydia Head: Lelutka Evo X Ceylon Ring: EarthStones, Double Infinity Ring
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.
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.
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.
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)!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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, 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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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? 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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