Midnight at the Fair Maiden

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Gwyneth:

I continue to be plagued by strange dreams, dreams in which I am someone else, in a completely different world, with a completely different life.

I remember as a child reading a series of books by Diana Wynne Jones, about a series (well, several series, actually) of worlds in which there were varying degrees of magic and tolerance for magic. In every world, there were different versions of oneself, the only exception being in the case of special nine-lived enchanters, who had no cognates in other worlds. This, apparently, was how they got these nine lives. Anyway, I became fascinated with the books at first because there was a character named Gwendolyn, a name close enough to Gwyneth to spark my imagination. As I continue to dream my way through to whatever lesson these experiences are going to give me, I suspect I am getting glimpses of my lives in other worlds. Or maybe I just read too much speculative fiction as a child.

This dream was memorable, mostly because it included Dyisi, and “I” had no idea who or what she was! And oh, the things I thought about her, about Fae, about the world! I can’t imagine being raised in such a society, where a difference like pointed ears or a pair of horns means you’d be treated differently by everyone. No, wait. I can imagine that. I was raised in such a place. Even my own history becomes mutable, what with all these alternatives to consider.

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She came in right at midnight.

She came in right at midnight. I was cleaning off the bar, just about ready to head home.

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“We’re closed”, I said, without looking up.

“We’re closed”, I said, without looking up.

“Ah, but I have come so far”, replied a heavily accented voice, and I didn’t recognise the accent.

When I looked up, I couldn’t believe what I saw.

“I am just needing a few things”, she continued. Her glasses obscured her eyes, but there seemed to be a light glowing behind the lenses. And she had glowing horns. And a tail, and… yes, hooves. And for some absurd reason, there was a white crow perched on one of the horns.

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I took a step back. “You’re not allowed”, I said.

I took a step back. “You’re not allowed”, I said. I lowered my voice: someone could be listening. “You can’t be here, if you’re not human. You’re illegal”.

“Illegal, am I?” she asked. “Why’s that?”

“Because of the Betrayal”, I said.

She shook her head. “Never heard of him”, she replied. “I am called Dyisi”.

“Gwyneth”, I said. This prompted a sharp laugh from the horned woman. “The betrayal. You know. When the Faerie said she’d keep us safe, but she broke her promise and so was turned to stone?”

“Was she now”. The woman—Dyisi—didn’t seem very impressed. “I’m no Fae; I’m a Satyr”.

“Doesn’t matter; you’re still illegal”, I said.

“Ah, well”. She tilter her head up to me. “I wonder if you’re not illegal, too?”

I shushed her with a gesture. And I could feel her reaching out with some internal power, to get at me, disturb my glamour, take me down with her. “You need to go”. I’m afraid I used my overbearing barmaid voice, the one I have to use on the old men, every night at half eleven, to get them all out of the door before twelve, so I can clean the place and get home before night workers’ curfew, one o’clock in the morning.

“So be it”, she said. And then, I kid you not, she just became more and more transparent until finally she disappeared.

So I finished what I was doing and locked up. Couldn’t stop thinking of her, though.

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You have to bash the pub door with your hip. I give it an extra push with my elbow.

You have to bash the pub door with your hip to close it properly; I like to give it an extra push with my elbow, just to make sure it’s locked. It’s a good thing the village has a curfew: the prince is afraid we’ll all be eaten by vampires, because of the betrayal, so nobody is allowed out on the streets after pub closing. Nobody but the barmaids ever see the ridiculous dance we have to do to close the pub door. I think the curfew’s funny for two reasons: first of all, if he were really serious about the vampire thing, why not make it sundown? And second, why make the only people in the village who have permission to be out after pub closing the pub girls? Aren’t we the most vulnerable? Anyway.

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Who was this “Dyisi”?

Who and what was this “Dyisi”? She had no fear of walking as a … different sort of person. She seemed surprised that anybody would.

How is that even possible?

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I mean, people everywhere know of the Betrayal.

I mean, people everywhere know of the Betrayal. We just happen to be the lucky (and by lucky I mean not) village on the edge of nowhere where the legend actually happened. People don’t visit us much because they fear they’ll be tainted with the stink of the Betrayal. All my uncles and aunts moved away long ago, and none of them can understand why my mum and dad stayed here to raise me, being what we are. Mum and Dad say it’s so I have to stare at her every day and learn my place in the world, since our kind are given to hubris.

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And they’re right.

And they’re right: having to look at that, day in and day out, would give any Fae (I feel funny even to say it: I’m meant to say “girl” whenever I mean “fae”. Or “boy”) cause to worry. See how her back is turned on the village’s High Street? That signifies how she failed to protect us when the Dark Fae came to steal our children, a century ago now. She is the only place in the world where we see an actual depiction of a Fae. They (we) are prohibited in every city, every town, illegal in artwork, and of course the penalty for being one, or being any member of a race not human, is death. I look at her pointed ears and remember how mine sometimes used to show, back when I was young enough not to keep the glamour up in my sleep. I can still feel the bruises on my bottom: Dad takes glamour very seriously, even if we’re not meant to know other things can be done with magic.

I walked down the lamp-lit street, mindful of every dark corner: who knows what could be lurking there, Mum says; I don’t know why you work in that place, she says, when we have a perfectly good toy shop that any girl would love to work in. The money, Mum, I say. It’s the money. She can’t think why I need money, but I can: Soon as I can afford transport, I’m getting out of here. Somewhere far away.

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I was still thinking of Dyisi when I reached our house.

I was still thinking of Dyisi when I reached our house. It’s at the other end of the village, even though that means about a five-minute walk. Mum thinks it’s the end of the earth, and she’s always waiting up for me, and she’s scared because the pub is on the edge of the forest, “and you have no idea what horrific things take place in there,” she’ll say. One day I’m going to walk all the way past the forest to the ruined castle and see if it’s really haunted. When I’m twenty-eight. By that time, I’ll have saved all the money I need to get out of here, and I’ll carry it all with me when I walk to the castle, just in case, as the stories say, there are other, less human, ways of getting out of the village.

For a moment, I wondered what kind of creature Dyisi was, but I knew it would be pointless to ask: I’d be up against the court of Mum and Dad, and I’d have to wait ’til I’m thirty to get out of here, because they would make me quit my job at the pub tomorrow if they knew a creature with glowing horns had walked in, presumably out of the forest, and just fucking disappeared from inside a well-lit pub. Maybe that’s how Fae get around. Maybe they can just think themselves anywhere. Tomorrow I’ll try thinking myself into the  bathing chamber before Michaela. She thinks she’s so special, dating the son of the mayor. Wait til their wedding night, I think, and it makes me smile. I bet she loses her glamour when he puts it in her, and that’ll be the shortest marriage in the history of the village. Mum and Dad will say they didn’t know, she must be a changeling, and the whole village will go onto alert, and we’ll have martial law for a few months like the last changeling scare, but after she’s executed, everybody will forget.

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And so, into our house I went.

And so, into our house I finally went, after checking to make sure Dyisi wasn’t following me. Maybe she is some kind of evil spirit, and I only thought I saw her. Maybe she is some piece of me that I didn’t know existed because Mum and Dad don’t tell good little girls these things. Maybe Mum doesn’t have pointy ears beneath her glamour: maybe she has big glowy horns and a twitching tail!

I had to put my hand over my mouth to stop myself giggling when I came in and saw Mum.

“You’re home late,” she remarked.

“Nelson puked on the doorstep again,” I explained.

“That old arse. Well, he’ll die soon enough.”

So will we all, I guess. But I’m not going to die here.

Style Cards:
Dyisi (full style card will come eventually)
Body: Maitreya
Hair: No Match, No Lime (available at Hair Fair! Hair fair is open until 31 July!)

Gwyneth:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Stella
Eyes: Soul, Sidhe Eyes
Skin: 7 Deadly s[K]ins, Maren, Powder (Available at Mesh Body Addicts, open until 29 July!)
Hair: Barberyumyum, 78AHF  (available at Hair Fair! Hair fair is open until 31 July!)
Clothes: Faida and Fallen Gods, Mythiara Rogue, Royale (Available at The Epiphany!)
Necklace: glYph, Miraculous Necklace, Purple
Boots: Lassitude & Ennui, Bernadette Boots, Grey (Available at We❤ RP!)
Poses: PosESion, from the 100 poses for $399 set currently on sale at their Main Store

Setting:
Sim: Private Sim
Buildings, pub, village, doors, streetlamps: Death Row Designs, Dangarnon, from the 2016 Fantasy Faire sim of the same name.
Statue: Death Row Designs, The Last Hope, a two-of-a-kind item offered for auction at the 2016 Fantasy Faire
Village Paths: Happy Mood, Dirt Road
Trees: Studio Skye, Enchanted Woods

Pub Decor:
Bar: Fetch, Lyla Bar
Elk Head: Medieval Fantasy, Elk Trophy
Deer Head: Medieval Fantasy, Deer Hunting Trophy
Cider Bottles: Jian, Hillside Orchard
XXX Barrels: Jian, Hillside Orchard
Unicorn Head: Nomad, Unicorn Taxidermy
Shelves Behind Bar: Serenity Style, Five Minutes Shelf
Wine Bottles Atop Bar Shelves: Aphrodite, Wine bottle collection
Purple Bottle on Bar: Morgan Sim Designs, Stowaway Fae’s Shot o’ Rum Bottle
Artwork Behind Bar: Lilith’s Den: Yrdrasil Axis Mundi
Bar Torches: Death Row Designs, Dangarnon Torches

It is such a pity Dy and I didn’t play a longer scene in the pub, but it was bedtime for her! I’ve kept the pub intact up on the platform where I create such things, so you may see more of No-Fae-Allowed Village Gwyneth’s life in the future, if only so I can show you things like the amazing polar bear statue in one of the corners and the beautiful tables sourced from Noble Creations and Tia.

Yes, I am one of the two people who won the DRD Last Hope Auction at the 2016 Fantasy Faire, and every time I look at that statue, I think of the Fantasy Faire, my beloved husband (whom I lost to cancer in January), and my hope that one day little donations like mine will help to make a real change in the way we treat cancer, leading to a complete cure, for everyone. I am deeply in awe of the amazing DRD team, who created one of the most inspiring objects I’ve ever seen in Second Life or any other life, and one that I’m proud to say graces and will grace my every living space in SL, be it RP, creative office, or OOC hangout. Unlike its purpose in this work of fiction, in reality this statue represents hope, the hope we can give and the hope that goes on before us, hope’s everlastingness, its raw power, and sometimes, its sadness. 

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never create entire villages on a 1/4 sim sky platform for, um, one photo shoot, without it….

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The Back Forty

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The Amazing Catwoman:

So, yeah. I said my mobile was working in that strange forest I landed in. About two hours after I discovered the crag above the water, right after I’d put together a makeshift campsite and managed to gig a couple of frogs for dinner, I got a call from my fixer. Security gig, small town, infested with demons, probably last a week or so, basic demon cleaning, no biggie, nice payoff at the end, accommodation provided by the town in question.

Sounded like a sweet job, so sure, I took it.

You know, nothing is ever the way they pitch it to you. Nothing.

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What. The Actual. Fuck.

At first, I thought I might have travelled to the wrong Realm by accident; that’s been known to happen. But no; I was shortly met by Zeke, my contact. Seriously? There are actually people named Zeke? Who the fuck even knew that? And what were his parents even thinking? Jesus. Or Whomever. Zeke took me through the nearly deserted town, explaining that most of the population had deserted the place, “On account of this demon infestation, see?”

“No offence,” I said, and I winced inwardly at that: I think people who say “no offence” usually mean to give quite a lot, but I didn’t, really I didn’t, “but it looks like the population has been gone for quite some time.”

“Week or two, tops,” he insisted. “And why’d they send a demon to take care of a demon infestation, anyway? No offence.”

“Would you like to know how many knives I’ve got stashed in these boots, Zeke?” I asked. “I’m no demon; I’m a svart alfar, and I’m not seeing any evidence of demons around here, so you’d better produce one or I’ll be heading back to my fixer without doing jack shit for you, and you’ll still pay my fee, or you’ll meet some real demons. A lot of very interesting people work for my boss.”

Zeve raised both hands, backed up a couple of steps. “Whoa there, little lady. Nobody needs to be siccing demons on anybody, not with the problem I’ve got.” All this time he’d been leading me down an overgrown street. “Here we go,” he said finally. “Village Garage.”

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Yep: it was a garage, all right.

Yep: It was a garage, all right. And holy mother of fuck, there was an old Dodge with the engine on pumping out black smoke like it was in the middle of a full-on engine failure.

“What’s up with the Dodge?”

“That’s the demon.”

“You’re shitting me.”

“I would not shit you about the demon Dodge,” Zeke intoned.

“Right.” I covered my nose with my hand. “Yeah, OK; I can smell the sulphur. You got one of those face masks you use when you’re working with something smelly that might give you some kind of lung disease if you inhale too much of it?” I asked.

“Got a bandana,” he said.

“Great.” Great. Zeke handed me an oily bandana, which I duly tied around my nose. “You know I get a bonus if I clear up your problem in short time,” I said.

“Go for it,” Zeke replied. “I’ll leave you to it.” And he was off down the street. Coughing a bit.

“All right, you little fucker,” I said. “Come out where I can see you.”

“No.”

“Don’t make me fill this car up with chlorine,” I said.

“You wouldn’t. There’d be an explosion.”

“I would. Whole town’s deserted because of you and your little friends,” I said. “And I am not a very patient demon cleaner.”

“It’s just me.” The demon actually managed to sound petulant. “The others got bored.”

“Bored.”

“Yeah: too easy. Once we trashed the church, whole population, vamos.” I think it snapped its fingers.

“Except Zeke.”

“Yeah, except him. I’m working on him.”

“What do you want a shitty little town in the middle of nowhere for?” I asked.

“I dunno. Something about a vortex of evil to take over the whole universe,” the demon replied. “It’s the same shit every job. We’re always going to take over the universe, and we never do, and then there I am, barely a fortnight later, stuck in the belly of a car that still takes leaded petrol, because that is my lot.”

“So you don’t believe there’s actually a vortex here that’ll help your masters take over the universe.”

“Fuck no. This is just make-work. All the big boys are busy with politics at the moment. They have to keep us out of trouble.” A black shape began to manifest out of the smoke the Dodge was coughing up. I could swear it shrugged. “I used to think one day they’d put me on politics, but that was a fucking pipe dream,” it continued.

“So quit.”

“What?”

“You heard me: quit.”

“Can’t. Got debts.”

I rolled my eyes. “You demons have such a fucking caste system.”

The black smoke took a vaguely humanoid shape. It managed to manifest a pair of red eyes. “Very impressive,” I said.

“You don’t sound impressed.”

“I’m not, actually. Seriously: there are whole cities out there with huge demon populations. You could corrupt a couple of kids, pay off your debt in no time.”

“Seriously?”

“Sure. Plenty of work for lesser demons: your boss just isn’t very imaginative.” I scoffed. “The whole ‘vortex of evil’ plot; so overdone. Somebody’s been watching too much Buffy.”

“I loved that show.”

“Me too, but it’s not the same as real life.” The Dodge stopped coughing up smoke and the engine stilled. “Seriously, I’ll pop you off into a Realm where you can just walk into a bar, meet some loser, start stripping souls, make yourself a tidy retirement fund.”

“Yeah?”

“Sure. Here.” I opened up the bag I carry for this kind of work. “Pocket dimension. Pop in there and I’ll transport you to the right place, once I check in with Zeke and let him know the job’s done.”

The amorphous head tilted. “You’re not having me on?”

“Nope. You got kids out there thinking sex with demons would be pretty rad. You can take two, three souls a night that way, and nobody’ll even miss them.”

Shadowy fingers worked as the demon did some internal calculations. “Could pay off my debt in a year that way.”

“You owe six hundred souls?”

“Nine hundred, actually. Married a human and had four kids with her.”

I whistled. “That’ll do it. Yeah; into the bag with you.”

And that was that. It went willingly into the pocket dimension, and I closed the bag with the drawstring. Five day job? Five minute job.

Of course, once I checked in with Zeke I had to wait until sunset to catch the portal out: it was one of those old fashioned ones that only works at dawn or twilight.

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So I wandered around a little.

So I wandered around a little. Discovered what is probably the only intelligent life in this town. Checked in with the fixer, made sure Zeke paid him, made sure the funds plus my bonus were in my account. Swapped the bag with one of the demon relocation team. Then, I got myself back to that forest as quick as I could manipulate the Realm stream, because another couple of frogs would not be a bad way to end the evening.

And here’s some more fashion bloggy stuff!

Once again, I’m featuring one of the great hairstyles available at the 2016  Hair Fair! Hair Fair is open until 31 July, and a percentage of the proceeds of all sales go to benefit Wigs For Kids. Hair Fair is the best place to stock up on the latest and greatest hairstyles available on the Grid!

With that in mind, and because there is going to be no way to write a separate story around all the hair I picked up at Hair Fair (I bought a lot of hair…. no one who knows me will be surprised by this!), here are some editorials of other styles I can’t wait to put on TAC for role-play and blog stories in the near future:

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41’16, from Red Mint!

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69HF, from Barberyumyum!

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Blowdry, from Atelier Pepe!

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Cross, from Little Bones!

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ, Trinity
Ears: Soul Uni Ears, Blix
Eyes: Soul, Sidhe Eyes
Skin: The Plastik, Draziele, Aeshma
Hair: Mina, Odyle (available at Hair Fair! Hair fair is NOW OPEN!)
Clothes: Wicca’s Wardrobe, Nimue Outfit (Available at We❤ RP!)
Boots: Wicca’s Wardrobe, Montana Boots (Available at We❤ RP!)
Ring: Aisling, The Good Wife
Necklace: Empyrean Forge, The Dreamer, Fortuity Vibrant
Poses: PosESion, from the 100 poses for $399 set currently on sale at their Main Store
Setting: The Village and Bar Deco, which is a gorgeous sim with so many photo opportunities! (Another great discovery thanks to Ziki Questi’s fantastic blog)

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. The Amazing Catwoman never talks lesser demons into shady pocket dimension transfer deals without it!

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