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!

 

 

 

What I Did After My Summer Holiday, by The Amazing Catwoman

The Amazing Catwoman:

The Amazing Catwoman:

Well, first of all, those fuckers in New Brighton fired me after one night on the job without so much as a “fuck you very much, TAC.” Fucking vamps. I mean, at least you’d think a crowd like that would be up to date on whether or not women could be badasses, but no; I was too small, not intimidating enough, why on earth would anybody hire a little girl like me as a bouncer, blah, blah, blah, she’ll be somebody’s ghoul by tomorrow midnight, blah-ti-blah. Fuck you, vampires of New Brighton.

So they sent me to Ironwood Hills, because there was apparently a ghost problem.

So they sent me to Ironwood Hills, because there was apparently a ghost problem.

So they sent me to Ironwood Hills, because there was apparently a ghost problem. I mean, seriously. Ghosts? Fine, fine, fine. I loaded up with anti-ghost herbs and took the notes from the fixer. It was a weird realm jump: I materialised outside a fucking cemetery over a sewer drain, and the steam was godawful. Well, fine. I’m not one to be a complete idiot, as I’m sure you know by now, so instead of heading immediately into the cemetery, I got suited up, then made my way into town to find out what was going on from the locals.

Town, wouldn't you know it, was deserted.

Town, wouldn’t you know it, was deserted.

Town, wouldn’t you know it, was deserted. It was a ghost town. (See what I did there?) So I sat on the steps with an abandoned teddy bear and planned my next move.

As it turned out, most of the houses were boarded up: this one even had the word HAUNTED on it in big letters.

As it turned out, most of the houses were boarded up: this one even had the word HAUNTED on it in big letters.

As it turned out, most of the houses were boarded up: this one even had the word HAUNTED on it in big letters. Of course, everything was fine until I actually did hear a loud moaning sound coming from…. well, from everywhere, really.

I took off at a run to see what there was to see in the rest of the town.

I took off at a run to see what there was to see in the rest of the town.

I took off at a run to see what there was to see in the rest of the town.

These things always have a source. That moaning continued, though, from just fucking everywhere. It was unnerving. It would stop, then start again, like a crazy sentient wind. Once I got further into town, I noticed signs for a carnival. Oh, great. Carnivals are hotbeds for weirdness, so I figured it’d be worth checking out as a possible source of the trouble.

When I got to the carnival site, I was gobsmacked.

When I got to the carnival site, I was gobsmacked.

When I got to the carnival site, I was gobsmacked. It was half full of water, there were crows everyfuckingwhere, all this stuff looked like it had been dilapidated for decades, as did the rest of the town, really, and you don’t even want to know about the creepy dolls: those little things are seriously unnerving.

Then, a freaky thing happened: a rift opened in the sky, I kid you not. And I fucking froze. My heart rate went up, there was a pounding in my head and my ears rang and all my nerves started to tingle, and I knew, just knew, that I had to get away from there, and fast. Fuck my fee, fuck the job: there was no saving Ironwood Hills. As a realm, it is a goner, there is nobody here except creepy dolls and a strange brigade of little children playing in the refuse, and just forget the whole thing, I was running. Out of there. Fast.

Then, everything went dark.

Then, everything went dark.

Then, everything went dark. Only I was still frozen in place. Fucking paralysed. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before; what the fucking fuck. I know, I know, I’m cursing too much. Blame her: She made me a potty mouth.

Dizzy, dizzy, dizzy, and then blackness.

And I woke up on a fucking beach.

And I woke up on a fucking beach.

And I woke up on a fucking beach. On a beautiful day. With my heart still pounding. I wasn’t wearing my same clothes, and something had gone crazy with my hair, and there was one of those floaty planes—what are those things called, anyway—over the sea.

When I looked in the other direction, sharks. I started to get dizzy again.

When I looked in the other direction, sharks. I started to get dizzy again.

When I looked in the other direction, sharks. I started to get dizzy again. Great. This was just fucking great.

Then I remembered an old trick the Gypsy Davey taught me, and I reached for my shadow.

Then I remembered an old trick the Gypsy Davey taught me, and I reached for my shadow.

Then I remembered an old trick the Gypsy Davey taught me, and I reached for my shadow. Take me, take me, out of this place. Take me away, lady goddess.

Then, with dizziness and bonus nausea, not to mention a feeling of constriction everywhere, I found myself in some kind of mediaeval castle.

Then, with dizziness and bonus nausea, not to mention a feeling of constriction everywhere, I found myself in some kind of mediaeval castle.

Then, with dizziness and bonus nausea, not to mention a feeling of constriction everywhere, I found myself in some kind of mediaeval castle. There were lutes playing. Servants quietly scurried around with their eyes on the floor. Nobody remarked on my sudden appearance: they just all said, “My Lady” whenever I passed them. “My Lady” would like a fucking dirty martini with extra olive juice, thank you very much.

I did not much like this world.

I did not much like this world.

I did not much like this world. It seemed to me that if this was some alternate life for me, I would be a very bored “Lady”. And half a dozen people explained to me that the purple of my dress complimented the red of my hair, which had been bound up in some admittedly impressive braid thing. The one thing I’d have loved to take away from this existence, which frankly reminded me all too much of her, was the necklace I found around my neck when I materialised. Such a beautiful thing. Perhaps I’ll see if… no. I am not taking any more favours from her than I have to. And why was I here, anyway? What possible impulse could have lead my shadow to bring me to such a place, unless it was just looking for something as far away as possible from a beach? I did note, when I looked out this window, that we were absurdly high, on some impossible peak. The castle seemed accessible only by a bridge that it would have been impossible to cross even on horseback. I did not waste much time wondering how supplies got in: enough of the servants were sporting pointy ears for me to imagine this must be some sort of an elfin or faerie kingdom. Still, it was terrifying to be on a beach one minute and then trussed up in a corseted dress the next. Ugh. I reached for my shadow again.

OMG, that day was so horrible.

OMG, that day was so horrible.

OMG, this day is so horrible. Late night / early morning mist, and my dad shouting from the doorway and my mum looking out the kitchen window and crying, but fuck them. Rusty and I are going to Cornwall to surf and live a life like God intended people to live, free and not tied down to stupid parents.

And my dad yelling,

And my dad yelling, “I knew that little arse was trouble from the first time he came driving up here in that hippie van!”

And my dad yelling, “I knew that little arse was trouble from the first time he came driving up here in that hippie van!” And the fight going on and on and the mist burning off and Rusty just lying down to sleep in the back of the VW because he didn’t want to deal with my parents, and me fighting my way into the house again to grab a few things: I mean, how is a girl meant to survive without an iPhone, anyway?

And my dad stormed out of the house to work, and my mum just stood there crying, and all of a sudden all I could think of was being a little girl again.

And my dad stormed out of the house to work, and my mum just stood there crying, and all of a sudden all I could think of was being a little girl again.

And my dad storms out of the house to work, and my mum just stands there crying, and all of a sudden all I can think of is being a little girl again.

And I’m overwhelmed by this sense of loss, and Rusty finally gets fed up with waiting and starts the engine, and so I turn to get in…

And everything starts spinning.

And everything starts spinning.

And everything starts spinning, and nothing makes sense, and I see stars and have to grab for the van’s open window so I won’t fall over….

And then I find myself jerked abruptly away, and that life spins in tatters away from me.

And then I find myself jerked abruptly away, and that life spins in tatters away from me.

And then I find myself jerked abruptly away, and that life spins in tatters away from me. I land with a thump on her fucking altar, in the middle of the Great Seelie Forest, surrounded by giggling demifae and gossipy little will o’ the wisps, and it’s late morning and I’m stark fucking naked, not that it matters here, but what the fuck just happened to me?

I stretch and try to stand.

I stretch and try to stand.

I stretch and try to stand. “Don’t do that, Tacey,” says Clutie—you’d guess she’d be around, it being her domain and all. “You’ve had quite a shock. We’ll get a healer to you soon as we can: we think you’ve had a panic attack and spun yourself round several realms on your way back home.”

“This is not my home,” I snap, and it’s “Tac, not Tacey.” I fucking hate that name. “Tacey” means “quiet”. I mean, seriously. I am not Tacey. I am The Amazing Catwoman. Tac.

I try to stand up anyway and end up losing my balance and falling backwards.

I try to stand up anyway and end up losing my balance and falling backwards.

I try to stand up anyway and end up losing my balance and falling backwards. “Whose crap is this on the altar, anyway?” I mutter as I fall. But when you’re in the Magnificent Fae Queen’s back garden, there are always demifae ready to catch you when you fall over, even if they pull the shit out of your hair.

“Fine,” Clutie says, and there’s a hiss in her breath. “Tac, then, and it might not be home but we think you ought to stay for a little while, just until you get your realm-walking feet back. We’ll take you to see Dyisi if you want, though our healers can repair most of the damage.” Her voice softens as they settle me back down onto the altar. “It’s leftovers, by the way, from the Queen’s handfasting. It was just last week.”

“Oh, great,” I groan. “All this and I have to put up with her married bliss on top of everything else?”

“Oh, do calm down, Tacey—Tac,” she corrects herself before I can correct her. “So you don’t like Faerie. Well, you’re going to stay here for a little while, so shut your gob and get used to it.” Wow, she’s as bad as my dad back in…. what was the name of that town again?

“I was somebody else,” I say quietly.

“Probably several somebodies,” Clutie replies as if I’ve done the universe some great harm. “Now settle yourself, ground and centre, and let us help you.”

What happened to me?

What happened to me?

What happened to me? I rise up on my toes, breathe in the (admittedly) sweet air of Faerie, and let my feet feel the altar, the altar to the Earth, the earth to the Water, the water to the Sky, the sky to the sun, the sun to the great initiator, Fire. The sun of Faerie is like nowhere else, and I bathe in it, breathe it in, let myself go calm. I was a savage on a beach. I was a queen in a castle. I was a teenage girl running away from home. And for just a moment, goddess knows how long it’ll last, this does feel like home. I just hope I don’t have to deal too much with her.H

Style Cards

Hair Fair is opening as I write this, and the sensational Queue Marlow has outdone herself with this year’s offerings from Analog DogThe Amazing Catwoman is wearing all the new Hair Fair styles, plus one style that’s new in the Analog Dog Main Store, in this post. There’s also some great stuff from The Season’s Story and Oh My Gacha as well: check out the detail style cards below for lists and links!

Ironwood Hills, first photo:
Body: Maitreya
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Tavia v1 Natural RARE (Available at Oh My Gacha!)
Hair: Analog Dog (natch!) Theresa (New at the Analog Dog Main Store!)
Ears: Gauze, High Elf Ears
Clothes: Faida, Jeanne, Brown
Boots: Lassitude & Ennui, Hellebore Boots, Brown
Eyes: Avatar Bizarre, Cheshire Cat Gold
Necklace: Otherskin, Selene, Black
Ring: Aisling, The Good Wife

Ironwood Hills, Subsequent Photos:
Body: 
Maitreya
Skin: 
7 Deadly s{K}ins, Tavia v1 Natural RARE (Available at Oh My Gacha!)
Hair: 
Analog Dog (natch!) Theresa (New at the Analog Dog Main Store!)
Ears: 
Gauze, High Elf Ears
Eyes: Avatar Bizarre, Cheshire Cat Gold
Ring: Aisling, The Good Wife
Necklace: Otherskin, Selene, Black
Clothes: Fashionably Dead Designs, Cirilla (blouse, boots, corset, and pants)

Timeless Memories (beach) Photos:
Body: 
Maitreya
Skin: 
7 Deadly s{K}ins, Tavia v1 Natural RARE (Available at Oh My Gacha!)
Hair: 
Analog Dog (natch!) Sassafras (New at Hair Fair!)
Ears: 
Gauze, High Elf Ears
Eyes: Avatar Bizarre, Cheshire Cat Gold
Ring: 
Aisling, The Good Wife
Necklace: 
Otherskin, Selene, Black
Clothes: 
Fashionably Dead Designs, Cheeky Ranger (Tunic, Boots)
Tights: Izzie’s Cozy Tights
Tattoo: White Widow, Tombstone (At AnyBody)

Castle Photos:
Body: Maitreya
Skin: 
7 Deadly s{K}ins, Tavia v1 Natural RARE (Available at Oh My Gacha!)
Hair: Analog Dog (natch!) Molly (New at Hair Fair!)
Ears: 
Gauze, High Elf Ears
Eyes: Avatar Bizarre, Cheshire Cat Gold
Ring: 
Aisling, The Good Wife
Necklace: 
Otherskin, Salvation (At Fair Play!)
Dress: Les Encantades, Grace (At the Medieval Faire!)

Suburban England Photos:
Body: 
Maitreya
Skin: 
7 Deadly s{K}ins, Tavia v1 Natural RARE (Available at Oh My Gacha!)
Hair: 
Analog Dog (natch!) Psylocibin (New at Hair Fair!)
Eyes: IKON, Destiny Eyes, Moor
Skirt: Wimey, Dark Denim Skirt RARE (At The Season’s Story!)
Tops: Wimey, Summer of Fandom Gacha commons (At The Season’s Story!)
Minivan: Bad Unicorn Clothing, “Prop” Summah Minivan RARE (At The Season’s Story!)
House: Breno, The Smith House (At The Fantasy Collective!)

Great Seelie Forest Photos:
Body: Maitreya
Skin: 
7 Deadly s{K}ins, Tavia v1 Natural RARE (Available at Oh My Gacha!)
Hair: 
Analog Dog (natch!) Sassafras (New at Hair Fair!)
Ears: 
Gauze, High Elf Ears
Eyes: Avatar Bizarre, Cheshire Cat Gold
Ring: 
Aisling, The Good Wife
Necklace: 
Otherskin, Selene, Black
Stone Circle: Artisan Fantasy, Maiden Tor Stone Circle
Trumpet Mushrooms: Cerridwen’s Cauldron
Flower Field: The Looking Glass, Ichi Fields

Locations:
Ironwood Hills, a beautifully creepy sim with open rez-rights, is a fantastic location for photography and just to explore. There’s loads to see, so go back often, and pass a few Lindens their way: it costs money to keep a sim open of course, and making it available to the public like this is such a beautiful gift.
Timeless Memories, fairly recently redesigned with a Mediterranean flair, is a gorgeous place both to visit and to photograph. I’m sure I’ll be back and grab more than just a few beach photos to scare TAC with sharks!
Skye Neist Point, part of the Studio Skye sims, is one of my favourite places to go when I need gorgeous landscapes and beautiful buildings. Studio Skye will also make you long to design your own forests and gardens with their meticulously and elegantly designed landscapes.

Other Locations: The suburban street was built in a sandbox, because I couldn’t find anything out in the Wide Second World that met my needs for this part of The Amazing Catwoman’s journey, and of course the Great Seelie Forest is part of Wicked Wylds, a private, invite-only roleplaying sim that invites good writers who want to create great characters.

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never leave home without it!