Another Visit to the Rainbow House

It felt good to be back. I mean, I know it’s not my house, but I think if I had a house like this, I would want it to look exactly so.

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A smile and a sigh of relief

I couldn’t keep the smile off my face when I went back to the Rainbow House. Once more insulated from the beautiful but cold landscape outside, I just let myself sink into its comforting atmosphere.

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Home is where the hearth is

The kitchen was clearly a kitchen to cook and live in: no faffy china cabinets or drawers full of “good” silver that’s never used. It was dominated by a working hearth with multiple cooking surfaces and a sturdy oven. The touches of beauty and decoration were simple: flowers on the baking counter and farm table, wreaths of leaves on the walls, a couple of printed tapestries with trees. Nearly everything else had an obvious, practical use.

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Beautiful flowers—and cocoa!

I love how attuned to nature and the workings of plants so many of our Fae Folk are. Here it was the middle of a cold winter, yet on two kitchen surfaces there were beautiful flowers that looked as if they’d been plucked from a summer garden and just brought in that morning.

And, yes, as Clutie had already realised, there was a hot cocoa bar set up on the sidebar near the kitchen’s single circular window. I had just a little taste, more so I could taunt her with the fact I hadn’t brought her back with me (she was busy readying the castle for New Year’s) when I returned home.

Then, I noticed that on the kitchen table, there were two cups set out for tea, some toast, and a teapot. A quick check proved one cup of tea was still quite hot and the other hadn’t been poured yet. I suspected I’d interrupted the shy inhabitants at their breakfast.

“I’m so sorry if I’ve interrupted your breakfast,” I said, quietly but clearly. “Your home is so beautiful, and I love exploring new places. Please, if you ever get the chance to visit Awenia Faerie proper, pop round to the castle and I’ll give you a full tour of my house. I’m going to head back there now, and leave you all in peace.”

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A long, last look

And that’s what I did, but not before taking one long, last look at the Rainbow House. There’s no way to know if it’ll still be here next time I come looking: these little Realms have a way of shifting and sometimes even closing in on themselves. But I’m sure I’ll keep a lookout: you never know when (or where!) magical places will appear again.

Style Card:
Items Featured at the Winter’s Hollow Event:
Rainbow House: Dragon Magick Wares, Elemental A Frame
Gwyneth’s tunic: [QE] Designs, Daphne Sweater Dress, Winter Magic
Gwyneth’s boots: [QE] Designs, Silvan Boots, Winter Magic
Homey Hearth: Candle & Cauldron, Kitchen Witch Hearth
Beautiful flowers on the baking counter: Circa Living, Versailles Floral Vase Stand

Other stuff:
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ, Noelle Bento Mesh Head
Skin: Lumae, Elvi, T1 (All current skin lines are on sale for 100L at the Lumae Main Store)
Eyebrows: alaskametro, Glitter Eyebrows
Hair: Analog Dog (natch), Ahji (a recent release at the Analog Dog Main Store)
Eyes: Euphoric, Enigma Eyes
Baking Table: O.M.E.N., Messy Baking Table
Wall Tapestries: DRD, Vagabond
Kitchen Table, Chairs, & Clutter: All from Apple Fall
Hot Cocoa Bar: Peaches, A Raven’s Feast
Poses: All from An Lar

Long-Term Contract

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

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

“Do we,” I responded.

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

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

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

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

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

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Owen was exactly as I remembered him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“No,” I replied evenly.

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

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

“A teacher.”

Owen nodded.

“In a comprehensive.”

Owen nodded again.

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

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“Tacey! Don’t!”

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

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

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Owen visibly relaxed.

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

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I exploded again.

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

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

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“You’re kidding me,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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“OK, that’s different.”

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

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

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I winked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Yeah, OK,” I said.

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

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Yowza.

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

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

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

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

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

“So you…”

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

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

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Then, again… fuck it.

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

“Knew u would! Nite

Great. He even texts in textspeak, I thought.

Style Cards:

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

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

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

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

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Back to the Magic Shoppe

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Gwyneth:

It might not have been such a good idea. But I couldn’t help myself. How many times have I said that over the years? Yeah; you do the maths. Anyway. After I found myself in my bower garden, eating the heart of a probably-still-alive raven and then running off to Mornoth for what I can only describe as “mind blowing Unseelie sex”, I got to thinking. How much of my transformation was due to the natural way of things, and how much really had been sparked by the wizard’s potion?

So, yeah. You know what I did. I figured I might as well go back and talk to the guy. Find out a little more than I’d learned that day.

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To be honest, I was more than a little anxious.

To be honest, I was more than a little anxious about going back to that little village. I mean, it seems strange, doesn’t it, to have a village with only one shop (or should I say “shoppe”?), a park, a grand house, a gate house, and an inn without a pub? The pub is outside the village gates. I mean, what kind of village doesn’t have a pub? I began to think that maybe the whole place was invented, somehow, that it all rose from around the shop, and the wizard, whatever his name was, was responsible for the whole thing.

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The park was nice, though.

The park was nice, though. I wasted quite a bit of time there, to tell you the truth. Mostly, I paced. I also made up scenarios in my head where the wizard (whatever his name was) was responsible for Every Single Thing That Had Ever Gone Wrong In My Life, Ever, from the moment I was separated from my birth mother right on down to the possibly wrong choice I was making right now to confront—well, discuss details—with this guy. If he was even a guy.

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I mean, what if he were actually some kind of demon?

I mean, what if he were actually some kind of demon? Oh, for fuck’s sake, Gwyneth. You are a Winter Queen. An Unseelie Queen. At least for the nonce. Unseelie Queens don’t go around worrying and fretting whether the guy they’re about to talk to is a fucking demon. Suck it up, buttercup.

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I left the bright, autumn-y park, and a fog fell over the village.

I left the bright, autumn-y park, and a fog fell over the village. Well, that was certainly a good omen. Through the shop (shoppe) window I could see him, buzzing round behind the counter, as if he had important stuff to do. Probably planning to corrupt some nice kids from Chelsea or something.”

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‘Back again?’ He looked none too pleased to see me.

‘Back again?’ He looked none too pleased to see me. ‘Looks like the potion did its job, Your Majesty.’

‘I just wanted to get a little clarification’, I said. ‘That stuff laid me low for hours.’

‘I did warn you’, he replied.

‘You did’, I said. ‘But I have some questions.’

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He looked toward the rear wall of the shop. ‘Questions.’

He looked toward the rear wall of the shop. ‘Questions’, he said. ‘Has the potion had lasting ill effects? Are you missing any limbs?’

I covered my mouth to hide my reflexive laughter at that. ‘No, nothing like that’, I said.

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‘Well then’, he said, marrying his hands together, ‘What are these questions?’

‘Well then’, he said, marrying his hands together, ‘What are these questions?’

I thought for a few seconds.

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‘I want to know how much of my transformation was due to your potion’, I replied.

‘I want to know how much of my transformation was due to your potion’, I replied, ‘and how much was due to other factors’.

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‘Other factors?’ he asked. ‘What sort of other factors?’

‘Other factors?’ he asked. ‘What sort of other factors? Did you seek out help from other magicians?’

‘No, no; nothing like that’, I replied. ‘There’s the magic of the land I live in, of course. And the magic of the Unseelie forces that naturally take over when the year begins to fade. I’ve wondered, to be honest’, I continued, ‘if the change wouldn’t have come about without your potion.’

He hmmed. ‘I can’t say, of course’, he said. ‘I suspect the answer is, “eventually”, but let’s go through the ingredients and the formulation method, and we’ll see what we think then.’

He moved over toward a case of shelves stuffed with every kind of reagent I could imagine and motioned me to come with him.

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There followed a technical explanation of the potion he’d concocted.

There followed a technical explanation of the potion he’d concocted. Obviously, it was boring. I did my best to appear interested. Why had I asked this question again? And why wasn’t I in Nu Jyorck shopping? Why was I even interested? Was I even interested?

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During a particularly dry speech about why he’d used juniper berries instead of gin, which might have been just as effective but would have had more ill-effects, he paused.

During a particularly dry speech about why he’d used juniper berries instead of gin, which might have been just as effective but would have had more ill-effects, he paused.

I of course paused too. I mirrored his expression.

‘Well, of course’, he continued, ‘by more ill-effects, I mean that you’d have felt a bit drunk when you woke up.’

I laughed. ‘In what way would that be considered an ill-effect?’

He laughed, too. Well, at least I’d said the right thing.

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‘So what you’re telling me basically’, I said, ‘is that you’ve got no idea’.

‘So what you’re telling me basically’, I said, ‘is that you’ve got no idea’.

‘Certainly not!’ he replied. ‘I think that given your unique circumstances, the change certainly would have occurred regardless.’ And he smiled. ‘Just not as fast. Or as completely. I think my potion certainly helped; it most definitely was not a placebo.’

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‘Well, I never suggested that’, I said.

‘Well, I never suggested that’, I said. ‘I’ve just been curious about the whole experience, the whole process.’

‘Have you, now’, he said. ‘I rather thought you were bored by my long-winded explanation.’

 

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Well, I couldn’t help but laugh at that. And he laughed with me.

Well, I couldn’t help but laugh at that. And he laughed with me. Maybe he wasn’t an old fool after all.

‘Why did you really come here, Queen Gwyneth?’ he asked.

I shook my head. ‘I don’t know. I guess I just wanted to see if I felt different, being here in my new skin, so to speak.’

He smiled. ‘Why don’t you take a room at the inn for the night? Get a feel for the space. Maybe you’ll know more about how you feel in the morning. A good night’s sleep will shed some more light on what’s happened to you.’

I was surprised to find that the day had drifted away while we’d been talking. ‘I think I’ll do that’, I said. We said our goodbyes, and I headed next door to the inn.

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I woke up early the next morning. 

I woke up early the next morning. Of course, the “inn” didn’t serve breakfast, and knowing already that the wizard (whatever his name was) wasn’t a morning person, I figured I’d just hop back to my own Realm and that would be that.

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So I turned to walk down past the magic shop, toward the village gate.

So I turned to walk down past the magic shop, toward the village gate. Autumn leaves were scattered on the flagstones. The air was chill. I shivered, but not with cold.

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It was with anticipation.

It was with anticipation.

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The morning brightened as I passed the magic shop on my way out of the village.

The morning brightened as I passed the magic shop on my way out of the village. Of course I glanced up into the window, but there was no wizard. No doubt he was sleeping in, or possibly up in the upstairs library of the shop.

I chuckled to myself. ‘A good night’s sleep will shed more light on what’s happened to you’, he’d said.

‘Fuck light’, I said to myself as I turned the corner with a skip in my gait. ‘There’s work to be done.’

Style Cards:

Autumn Garden and Magic Shop Photos:

Gwyneth:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Destiny
Ears: Mandala, Steking Ears, Season 5
Eyes: Mesange, Lionsong Eyes (Omega appliers)
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Alies, Drow (Omega face appliers, Maitreya body appliers) (Available NOW at the Bloody Horror Fair!)
Hair: Analog Dog, Ella (Available at Hairology!)
Crown: Junbug, Crown of the Tuatha De
Necklace: Swallow, Key of Love
Dress: Silvan Moon Designs, Tears of Liliana, blue (Available at We❤ RP!)
Shoes: Roped Passions, Leaf Lullabye, Silver Hudded

The Wizard:
Avatar: Tricksie Anderton, Avatar 50+
Clothing: Silvan Moon Designs, Earl of Regent Doublet Set, Midnight
Hair: No match, No Hunt

Autumn Garden: Two Moon Gardens, Overgrown Glory—Autumn
Magick Shoppe: Death Row Designs, Magick Shoppe (Now available at the Death Row Designs Main Store!)

Morning After Photographs:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Destiny
Ears: Mandala, Steking Ears, Season 5
Eyes: Mesange, Lionsong Eyes (Omega appliers)
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Alies, Drow (Omega face appliers, Maitreya body appliers) (Available NOW at the Bloody Horror Fair!)
Hair: Vanity Hair, Bye Bae (Available at Hairology!)
Crown: Junbug, Sabrina Circlet
Necklace, Bracelet: Bauhaus Movement, Inkie, Purple
Dress: Maro, Anna (Available at the Seasons Story!)
Shoes: Paper Moon, Kajah Mountain Sandals

Inn: Breno, The Smith House
Magick Shoppe: Death Row Designs, Magick Shoppe (Now available at the Death Row Designs Main Store!)

Autumn Forests: Studio Skye, Enchanted Woods
Gate House: Apple Fall, Gatekeeper’s Lodge
Big House: Apple Fall, Hardwick Manor

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never take Gwyneth back to the scene of the crime without it!