Faewatch: The Goblin War!

Faewatch - 1

Presented by Cherish Gelato

The Goblin War

[Theme Music, Fade up, and….]

Voiceover: Welcome to the Faewatch radio programme, with your presenter, Cherish Gelato!

[Glissando]

CG: Good morning, all you Faewatch listeners! As you know, we’ve had a lot of secondhand news lately about a war being fought between the combined courts of the Wylds and what we estimated to be an immense goblin force, tens of thousands of them.

CG: Of course, we hear so much about what happens in the Wylds of Faerie secondhand that we sometimes don’t know what’s true and what’s a fabrication. But you know Faewatch always tries to give quality information, the best quality we can get, so we’ve gathered together four individuals who were actually involved in the war and put them in to the same room to give us a run-down of what occurred from several points of view. On my left here, we have The Gypsy Davey, who helped prepare the Queen’s Bower to receive the all-important Sithen Rose. On my right, we have Tac, who is an archer in the Seelie forces and was present at the battle. Next to Tac, here’s Princess Drysi, one of the three Royal Children, and the first time we’ve had the chance to interview one of these enigmatic Fae. Next to The Gypsy Davey is seated Dyisi, Seer to the Wylds. And of course, seated just down at the end of the table, Seelie Queen Gwyneth herself. Thank you all for coming.

CG: Your Majesty, you’re looking radiant today. Your beauty eclipses the sun. I’m honoured to be in your presence. Can you tell us a little bit about the conflict and how it all played out.

SQG: For most of the major battle, I was in our makeshift infirmary, tending to the wounded. We were unprepared for the number of wounded we’d have during the first wave of the battle. However, some of the other people here were there, so I’d like to direct this question to Dyisi, who has been invaluable in the war effort. I also understand you have one of my archers here as well, so she might be able to answer a little better than I could.

Gwyneth in the infirmary

Gwyneth in the infirmary

CG: Thank you, Your Majesty. Let’s redirect that question to Dyisi, and Tac, if you feel the need to put in any details, just let me know.

D: It was a war, nai.  Noht unlike other wars that I have seen.  Though I can noht say that I had as much of a hand as others may choose to see it.  There was those who sought to bring such unbalance, and thus I lent what I could to correct such being a thing.  Ah.. nai..  But it was just as any other war that has existed as long as such unbalances are too exist.

CG: I understand all wars have similarities. Can you give us an idea of whether the goblins were vanquished? My listeners are very interested in how the Fae of the Wylds are faring.

D: I would guess they had been, nai..  we are still here are we noht?  I would think that had a different outcome have been met, this ah.. interview.. would noht be within this parallel.  Though had this been another parallel, I would noht be here.   As for Fae, I would think asking they who are fae would be.. ah as they say..  better down payment?

T: If I can answer that, at least partly, I can tell you that at the end of the battle the goblins retreated back into their hold, their numbers much diminished. Commander Wulfrich did a good job of making sure that our forces were where they needed to be at the right times.

Here's a reference photograph of Tac, dressed for archery.

Here’s a reference photograph of Tac, dressed for archery.

CG: That’s excellent news. Thank you, Dyisi, and thank you as well, Tac. Princess Drysi, what was your role in the conflict?

PD: Due to my youth and inexperience, and so as to not put myself or anyone else in danger, I was not able to participate  in the battle. I instead worked to hone my fighting skills so I may be better prepared  for any future attack on my people.

CG: You show a real flair for leadership, Your Highness. I hope I’ll be able to speak with you and your siblings at length sometime soon! But let’s get back to the conflict. Your Majesty, you said there were many wounded. Can you give us an idea of numbers?

SQG: I’m afraid I can’t at this time. We have only a few beds in our infirmary, so it was reserved for the more serious cases, while those who could be moved were patched up and sent back to their families for convalescence. Our healers will be looking in on all the wounded over the days and weeks to come. Numbers in Faerie, as you know Cherish, are always subject to change.

CG: I understand there were some fantastic beasts helping out during the battles. Oracle Dyisi, can you tell us a little bit about the Jabberwock?

D: Aahh nai nai..  One who I have summoned from Tulgey Woods.  I had sent him to help Maric and those of his command.  I have been told that Jabberwock had ..mn..  what was said.. melted faces?  Nai…  Did as he would.  From what had others also gave told of, he frightened goblins to flee.  Which, according to many.. is hard to do. He has returned though to his home.

SQG: I didn’t see the Jabberwock, but Dyisi nearly scared me to death when she showed up in my Bower with the Bandersnatch.

Gwyneth reacts to the Bandersnatch.

Gwyneth reacts to the Bandersnatch.

CG: The Bandersnatch? Dyisi, are you in command of every character from Wonderland?

D: Last I was aware, two beasts do noht an entire land of Wonder.  Mmmn..  excuse.. three.  However, Bandersnatch and Jabberwock were given to me as summons to help during another.. war.  One I shall noht go within details of.  If that is of mind to you.  Nai?  But, they protect White Bishop and who I ask of them to.

CG: Of course; my journalistic integrity is impeccable, and I shall never question you about things you don’t want to talk about. Well, listeners, it seems that even Satyrs have secrets they’d rather not reveal, and Dyisi’s revolve around a little girl named Alice! Now, let’s take a quick break and I’ll see you all back here in a moment.

[Glissando]

CG: And welcome back to the Faewatch Radio Programme, a very special panel interview with key players in the Goblin War: Seelie Queen Gwyneth, her daughter Princess Drysi, the Seer of the Wylds, Dyisi, Tac, an archer in the Seelie forces, and The Gypsy Davey, who has been preparing the way for the Sithen Rose to be replanted in the Queen’s Bower.

CG: It looks like most of the major players on the side of the Seelie Forces have survived the war. Your Majesty, how is King Maric faring?

SQG: My Lord King has retired to another realm to rest and recuperate.

CG: That sounds ominous. Let’s move on.

CG: Tac, you’re the only foot soldier here: can you give us a glimpse of your view of the battle?

Tac: Well, it was like most other wars I’ve been in: I guess I agree with Dyisi on this point. As an archer, I wasn’t in the midst of the fray, but rather above watching it. There were some beautiful moments, like when Princess Thalia threw this massive ball of water at the goblin forces with her trident, and then the Jabberwock just came and mowed them all down and the rest of them went running. We were picking them off like rabbits at that point. [she laughs] Honestly, unless it had been a complete rout with the goblins winning, there was no way any of our forces could have been overrun. We had too much protection on the ground with warriors like King Maric and Arahaelon and Commander Wulfrich fighting for all they were worth, and the little guys like me up in the trees taking care of oncoming onslaughts.

CG: Tac, thank you for a brief and informative overview. How is it a clever girl like you is stuck in the archery forces and not commanding a regiment of your own?

PD: Good question.

Tac: [after a brief pause] Well, I’m sort of not from the Wylds. I landed here and have been held here against my will, for something I have no idea about what I did, and I can’t go home until I have a conversation with Her Majesty, and she never has time for me. They’re not about to let me command a regiment, even if I’m smarter than half their section commanders. They don’t want anybody who can realm-walk getting out of their realm. All I want to do is go home to my house and get started on my work again.

[A strangled chuckle can be heard]

CG: Princess Drysi, did you have something add to that? And, Your Majesty, we try to have an open forum here; perhaps you could have your conversation with Tac right here on our radio programme!

[Audible laughter and an air of amusement permeate the room]

PD: No, no thank you; I’m all right.

SQG: While it’s true that I did intend to have a conversation with Tac, I’m afraid my schedule has been very full and….

Tac: Your Majesty, I’ve been here since Midsummer, and it’s now past Samhain and heading toward Yule. I would really like to get the hell out of this backwater realm and get back home.

SQG: I’m sure we can arrange a meeting very soon. [a brief pause] You know, you look very familiar. Are you sure we haven’t met face to face before?

Tac: Your Majesty, if we’d ever met face to face, I would already have asked you about my incarceration in your Realm and I would have asked you to let me go home.

CG: Well! It seems you two have a lot to talk about, but that’s not really the subject of our discussion today. I am sure, Tac, that Her Majesty will meet with you just as soon as she has a little time in her schedule. Princess Drysi, your hair keeps changing colour! Is that something that happens to you when you get anxious?

PD: I, well… on top of the combat training my mother has also taken a moment to teach me a little about glamouring; so far i’ve only really figured out how to change my hair.  I guess I’m so used to it now it just happens without me thinking.

CG: That’s a good trick and a great skill! No doubt many of our mortal ladies would love to be able to accomplish this. Your Majesty, how easy is for a fae to change your hair colour with a glamour?

SQG: Due to a curse I sustained years ago, I’m unable to change my hair colour. But the concept is very simple for the Fae. As we are made of magic, magic course through us. And Drysi, I remember when I first learned how to glamour clothes and nail colours and things like that: for several weeks I just kept changing them, but there was a point where it became so normal to me that stuff just kept changing on its own.

Tac: I had to learn glamour in a hurry, because when I left my home Realm, I ended up as a being who was illegal in that world, and my housemates had to teach me very quickly how to become anybody I wanted to be. [she laughs] Can you believe I went from being a massage therapy student to an archer in the Seelie Army?

SQG: Wait. A massage therapy student?

Tac: Yeah.

[There are 5 seconds of complete silence.]

CG: Davey, what can you tell us about the Sithen Rose?

TGD: The Sithen Rose is traditionally the heart of any Fae Sithin that exists within a larger Realm. The Wylds Sithen Rose needs some tender loving care, so I was summoned by Dyisi to come and create a place for it, then help get it planted in the ground.

Davey with the Sithen Rose

Davey with the Sithen Rose

SQG: Fenella. Fenella Wallin.

Tac: How the *censored* do you know that?

CG: Why don’t we take a quick break, and we’ll be back in a moment.

[Glissando]

CG: Welcome back, listeners! Well, it seems we have a few revelations today! I will look forward to getting you all back on to the show to answer some more questions and talk more about your lives in the Wylds. But for now, that’s all the time we have! Thanks so much to our guests, especially Her Majesty Seelie Queen Gwyneth, who was so kind as to come across to our studios today and bring these lovely people with her.

[Theme music]

Style Cards:

Gwyneth in the Infirmary:
Head:
Catwa Jessica
Skin: Pink Fuel Morgana Catwa Applier in Porcelain, Maitreya and SLink appliers for body and hands
Ears: BentBox, Sylvan Ears (Available at We Love Roleplay)
Body: Maitreya Lara
Hands and Feet: SLink
Eyes: IKON, Triumph Eyes, Nymph
Corset: Cila, Shara Elf of Luna, Silver *rare* (Available at the Fantasy Gacha Carnival)
Hair: Emo-tions, Tariel
Crown: The Annex, Snow Queen Crown *rare*
Necklace: Aisling, Lavi Necklace
Wings: Remarkable Oblivion, Eternity Wings, Innocence
Boots: Schadenfreude, Amargosa Boots
Tattoo: Things, Airell
Apothecary Cupboard & Contents: Artisan Fantasy Apothecary Gacha (Available at the Artisan Fantasy Main Store)
Apothecary Chest of Drawers: PPK, Healer Small Cabinet
Apothecary Box: Artisan Fantasy, Portable Apothecary
Infirmary Beds: PPK, Healer Exam Bed

Gwyneth Meeting Dyisi and the Bandersnatch in the Bower:
Head: Catwa Jessica
Skin: Izzie’s, Catwa Taleah Applier, Frost, Maitreya and SLink appliers, Frost
Ears: BentBox, Sylvan Ears (Available at We Love Roleplay)
Body: Maitreya Lara
Hands and Feet: SLink
Eyes: IKON, Triumph Eyes, Nymph
Circlet: Junbug, The Sabrina Circlet
Hair: Analog Dog, Gwen
Necklace, Cae, Cernunnos
Leggings and Sweater: M.BIRDIEstory, Loozy (Available at Uber)
Boots: 22769, Jika-Tabi Red Leather
Flower Circle: The Looking Glass, Dream Fields Circle (New from The Looking Glass)
Trees: Studio Skye, Enchanted Wood

The Amazing Catwoman:
Body, Hands, & Feet
: SLink Physique (original)
Hair: Elikatira, Brenna
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, November Girls’ Group Gift (Available at the 7 Deadly s{K}ins Main Store, SLink and other appliers also available there)
Ears: Gauze, High Elf Ears
Eyes: Mayfly, Luminous Mesh Eye, Deep Paris
Necklace, Otherskin, Selene
Boots: 22769, Jika-Tabi Blue Leather
Clothing: Azuchi Archer, Shirt Pants and Vest (Available at We Love Roleplay)
Bow: Gauze, Huntsman Bow & Quiver
Forest: Studio Skye, Enchanted Wood

The Gypsy Davey:
Body, Hands, & Feet: SLink Physique (original)
Hair: EMO-tions, Michael
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Damien Box 5, Smoked (Available at the 7 Deadly s{K}ins Main Store, SLink and other appliers also available there)
Ears: BentBox, Sylvan Ears (Available at We Love Roleplay)
Eyes: IKON, Sovereign Eyes, Electric
Sweater: Body Factory, Schott Sweater, (Available at Sad November)
Jeans: Ar2 Style, Biker Jeans
Necklace: Earthstones Celtic Claddagh Necklace
Boots: 22769, Jika-Tabi Black Leather
Rose Wall: Artisan Fantasy Wall Building Kit
Sithen Rose: The Looking Glass, Hearts Like China Roses
Surrounding Roses: {anc} Sugar Rose Field

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

7ds

Samhain in the Wylds!

Gwyneth:

Gwyneth:

Our Samhain Ball was a smashing success!

I don’t have a lot to say about it, except what I’ve already said about Drysi and that ridiculous bunch of Sidhe noble boys who got their comeuppance fairly quickly at Arahaelon’s hand, but here are some photographs in case you want to know how some of us looked on the night!

Our Ballroom

Our Ballroom

Dyisi, Wren and I decorated the ballroom OOCly a few days before the party. There was much laughter, particularly since I had to admit to both of them that I love Samhain, but not Halloween so much, and I don’t like blood and gore, so there were many jokes about what I would and would not have in the ballroom on the night. And just don’t talk to me about tombstones.

Wylds Samhain BLOG - 6

Mikachu, our glorious ferret!

Another photo of Mikachu

Another photo of Mikachu

Nathaniel having a drink with a skeleton. Wren says he's probably talking about that time he used to be on a boat.

Nathaniel having a drink with a skeleton. Wren says he’s probably talking about that time he used to be on a boat.

Wren and her skeleton dog would have won our costume contest, if we'd held one.

Wren and her skeleton dog would have won our costume contest, if we’d held one.

Nathaniel and Gwyneth. Gwyneth looks like she may break into a burlesque routine at any moment.

Nathaniel and Gwyneth. Gwyneth looks like she may break into a burlesque routine at any moment.

Dyisi and Kern. Kern argued that he already is a Samhain/Halloween creature, so he came as himself. We couldn't even get him to put a mask on.

Dyisi and Kern. Kern argued that he already is a Samhain/Halloween creature, so he came as himself. We couldn’t even get him to put a mask on.

And finally a shot of Dyisi and Gwyneth. Dy was in human form for reasons I won't go in to because it would take so long, but whoa! was she tall!

And finally a shot of Dyisi and Gwyneth. Dy was in human form for reasons I won’t go in to because it would take so long, but whoa! was she tall!

Style Cards (from people who got them to me):

Gwyneth:
Head
: Catwa Jessica
Body: Maitreya
Skin: Lumae, Niska Varda Raven (currently discounted at the Lumae Main Store)
Hair: Analog Dog, Topaz
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Eyes: LG Daydream Eyes, Bewitching
Crown: LayGyo, Elven Queen Crown
Mask: Material Squirrel, Aveline Filligree Mask
Gown: AZUL, Julie, special pre-release Halloween Version (Available at the AZUL Main Store!)
Necklace: Earthstones, Spider Cascade Necklace
Stockings: Graffitiwear, Spooky Stockings
Shoes: Trend, Widow Heels

Dyisi:
Mask
: Illusions – Delitesco
Hair: [LeLutka] – Josephine
Necklaces: Earthstones – Crystal Cascade
Kalopsia – Memento Mori
[LP] – Persephone Necklace Pom
Bracelets: .aisling. – Aphrodite (Bracelets and Hand Shell)
Hair Band and Fan – Volstead – Peacock
Skin: Plastik – Astrali Reverie
Eyes: Plastik – Galaxie Eyes (L – Arc, R – Plura)
Hands: Slink – Mesh Casual
Hand Henna: Jalwa – Khaleeji
Shape – Self made

Nathaniel:
Body
– MADesigns Complete Avataers – Riley (Modified)
Skin – DNA Damian Type 1
Eyes – MADesigns Eyes_Promise Green 13

Outfit
{Exalted} Emir Blue,
Chimeric Fashions Metal Mesh Mask Silver
Steel Scimitar from Mekan

Thanks to Dyisi and Wren for helping decorate the ballroom. Thanks to everyone in the Wylds who came and role-played and made our Samhain Ball a success. You are all amazing, and I could not hope for better friends, comrades, and cannon fodder! 😉

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

A Conversation with Dr Gwyneth Evans

by Chrissie Sanderson

Dr Gwyneth Evans is disarmingly charming as she greets me. I’m a bit breathless from the ferry trip over to Bainbridge Island, and the following drive took me down lots of winding roads. When I finally get to her cottage, she’s sitting on the front doorstep, vaping and reading a book.

She chose the cottage near Agate Point, she says, “because it reminded me of my granny’s house in Aberydyfi (that’s pronounced ‘aber-dovey’ and means, ‘mouth of the river dovey’ according to Dr Evans) from when I was small.”

Once we're inside, she invites me to have a look around.

Once we’re inside, she invites me to have a look around.

Once we’re inside, she invites me to have a look around. My photographer is having a field day with all the first editions of classic science fiction and fantasy that grace the bookshelves, but I’m more interested in where it all came from.

She explains that the books were shipped over from the UK when she started her visiting professorship at the University of Washington three years ago. “Everything else I found at antique shops, well, except the artwork on the walls: that’s my hobby when I have free time.”

“So you’re a painter as well?” I examine the large framed work on the bare wall to my left.

“Not really. Some are altered photographs from an online game,” she admits. “I spend time playing dress-up online and making pictures.” She shrugs. “A couple of them are photographs that I digitised years ago, mostly from the time I spent playing LARPs when I was a kid.” She laughs. “Of course, at my age, everybody feels like a kid. I turned 60 this year; can you believe that? I can hardly believe it.”

“So a milestone year for you,” I say as I take a look at her cluttered desks. “What time will you be checking in to the Hyatt?”

She checks her watch. “Probably around four, I think; I need to get some rest time in before opening ceremonies.”

“How does it feel to be a Guest of Honor at a Worldcon?”

“It’s exciting. I’ve been attending Worldcons since….” she pauses to think. “I guess my first one was Glasgow in 2005? I would have been, what, nineteen?”

“Wow, every single Worldcon since 2005? That’s 41 years of World Science Fiction Conventions. You must have seen a lot of stuff.”

“Well, I missed a couple,” she admits. “I was in a terrible car accident when I was 21 and I lost a leg. Took a lot of work to get back in to the swing of my studies and my teaching after that. I was in a wheelchair for 15 years before they developed the technology to rebuild limbs. Now most people say they can’t even tell.” She lifts her skirt to show me the implant marks on her right knee. “Looks like a zipper, right?”

I laugh. “How many Hugos have you won?”

“Six,” she says without missing a beat.

By this time, we're comfortable ensconced on her couch.

By this time, we’re comfortably ensconced on her couch.

By this time, we’re comfortably ensconced on her couch. “And you’re teaching creative writing and the history of science fiction and fantasy?”

“That’s right. When you’re as old as I am, you get to teach the good classes.”

“Which Hugo are you most proud of?”

“Well– it’s not really a Hugo, but I’m most proud of the Campbell Award.”

“That’s your latest one?”

She smiles. “Last year. After all these years writing criticism, I finally got a novel in my head, and I’m so proud that it was well-received.”

“I loved it,” I admit. “The Prince of Jasper Cove kept me on the edge of my seat, and I can’t wait to read the next instalment.”

She gestures back to one of the desks in the back of the living room. “It’s on its way, I promise. Teaching keeps me so busy, particularly with a new lot of excited creative writing MA candidates every term.”

We move to the bookshelves, where she proudly shows me some first editions she's collected.

We move to the bookshelves, where she proudly shows me some first editions she’s collected.

We move to the bookshelves, where she proudly shows me some first editions she’s collected. “I come across these in all sorts of weird places,” she says. “Even though it’s getting harder and harder to find paper books these days.”

“You released The Prince of Jasper Cove as a paper book, didn’t you?” I say as I run my hand reverently across the covers of books I’ve loved for years. “How did it sell?”

“We sold out!” she says with some excitement. “Of course, the print run was only like, 500, but collectors snapped them up.”

“Tell me about this photograph,”

“Tell me about this photograph,” I say, gesturing to the one on the back wall next to the drafting table.

She smiles, and a wistful look crosses her face. “That’s my LARP group, from back in the 2010s. That was the year I got to play the Faerie Queen. It was so much fun. I was crazy in love with that guy I’m standing next to, John. We were quite an item once.” Her eyes crinkle up when she smiles. “And that’s my best friend there, sitting on the log. She played a satyr. We’re still good friends today.”

“What about John?” I asked.

“He died,” she responds. “In the car accident. Along with everybody else in that photograph, except Chrissie.”

“Same name as me,” I say. “And I’m sorry.”

“It was a long time ago,” she says, quietly. “I like to imagine they’re all living somewhere, in some alternate universe, lives they love and want to live. I was lucky, so lucky, to live through that.”

“We’re lucky you did, too,” I reply.

Once again, Dr Evans looks a bit wistful.

Once again, Dr Evans looks a bit wistful.

Once again, Dr Evans looks a bit wistful. “It’s thinking of them, imagining what alternate lives they might have had, that inspired The Prince of Jasper Cove, and all the rest of the books I’ll write about that group of characters. So in a way, they’re all still alive.”

Her phone rings; it’s her World Con liaison, saying he’s about 5 minutes away by car. “Well then, that’s all the time we have,” Dr Evans says briskly. “I need to stuff a suitcase and pack my laptop. Marisol will be cross with me; I said I’d be ready in plenty of time.

“See you at the World Con!” I say.

“See you at the World Con!” she responds.

And that’s what it’s like to spend an hour with Dr Gwyneth Evans. I’ve attached her World Con schedule to the bottom of this article, so you know how to find her this weekend at the 104th World Science Fiction Convention in downtown Seattle.

by Chrissie Sanderson, for The Stranger, Seattle’s oldest online arts newspaper!

Style Card:

Body, Hands, Feet: SLink Physique
Skin: LAQ, Gun, tone 1, with Maitreya and SLink appliers* (new at the LAQ Main Store!)
Hair: Truth, Ami
Eyes: Poetic Colors, Summer Sky Eyes, Pool Blue
Clothes: Valentina E, Rebecca Lace Top and Maxi Skirt
Shoes: Ingenue, Pandora Sandals
Glasses: EarthStones, The Countess (Available at the Cool and Vintage Fair!)
Jewellery: EarthStones, Belly Crystal, Katya Bangles, Krishna Harmony Ball, Krishna Pendant, Tumbled Stones Earrings

* I have rarely been so excited about a new line of skins before, but Mallory Cowen of LAQ has created Gun, an aged skin, on the heels of an ageing tattoo that actually works and looks good and comes in various intensities! Well done, Mallory— this skin inspired a story of an alternate Gwyneth and an alternate world for her altogether. Thank you for making such cool stuff!

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

The Amazing Catwoman: A History

The Amazing Catwoman:

The Amazing Catwoman:

So I had this chat with Dyisi, who is a Satyr. I’d never met a Satyr before, let alone a female one: I don’t think they really tell you about female Satyrs in school mythology, although I guess there have to be some, else where do the baby Satyrs come from? Not that you ever hear about baby Satyrs either, come to think of it.

Anyway, Dyisi had obviously been conscripted by her to tell me what a bad little elf I’d been. I listened less than patiently while she explained to me about paradoxes and some shit like that. She caught me at a bad time: after the whole ‘guard this event’ business, I’d wandered off as far into the Unseelie part of the forest as I possibly could, because I was having a problem.

See, I spend most of my life glamoured to the hilt. And all through that event, my glamour kept wavering, and it didn’t seem like there was much of anything I could do about it. After the event, I couldn’t hold it at all, so I ran off because I didn’t want anyone who was at that event, certainly not the Queen’s Consort of the Captain of her Guard, to see me as I was … as I am.

As I am. What a funny phrase that is. “As I am” has changed so much over the last three years.

My birth name is Astrid Fenella Tacey Wallin.

My birth name is Astrid Fenella Tacey Wallin.

My birth name is Astrid Fenella Tacey Wallin. My dad’s Swedish and my mum’s English. I have an older sister, Fiona. I have three  first names because each member of the family gave me one when I was born. Astrid from my dad, Fenella from my mum, and Tacey from my sister, who was three at the time and might have been trying to say “Stacey”, but nobody’s sure. Anyway, my mum  looked “Tacey” up: it is a real name, just really uncommon, and it means “quiet”. Fuck that.

This picture here was taken on the best night of my life, two weeks before everything changed. My fiancée, Kevin, took the picture. It was right after he became my fiancée. You can’t see the rock in this picture, but never mind that: he took rock pictures after we got back to his place that night.

In rock picture number one, he made me laugh.

In rock picture number one, he made me laugh.

In rock picture number one, he made me laugh. “What? I said. “You want me to just point to the ring and smile or something?” I hate it when he catches me laughing, because I don’t like how small and squinty my eyes get when I laugh, so I asked him to take another one, same pose, without me laughing.

Here's that one. I like it a little better.

Here’s that one. I like it a little better.

He is a really good photographer: he is … was … studying it in uni. I don’t know where he is now. After what’s happened to me, I can’t imagine he’s dead. But maybe he is. There was a lot of blood.

Even though it doesn't show the rock, this is my favourite picture anybody has ever taken of me, ever.

Even though it doesn’t show the rock, this is my favourite picture anybody has ever taken of me, ever.

Even though it doesn’t show the rock, this is my favourite picture anybody has ever taken of me, ever. In some pictures, you have to pretend you look good. But I think he made me beautiful in this one.

And these photos, plus my beautiful engagement ring with the amethyst and the zirconia, are the only things I have left of my old life.

It was Gwyneth convinced me to get into LARPing, and I’m glad she did, because without the LARP, I’d never have met Kevin. And I liked the dressing up bits of it. I was never into the fighting stuff: I mean, they taught me some archery once and I was rubbish, so I just never went any further with it. I was happy to be  Kevin’s wench and dress up in cute fantasy clothes that made me look prettier than I am. Sometimes I got to dress up as his slave girl: he always liked that. It was only a game, though: I’m much too cheeky to be a slave, really. And I had one useful talent: I was in massage school at the time, so I could offer massages for goods and services, which usually went over well with the kind of people you sometimes meet at LARPs—computer guys who spend their weekends pretending they’re in a fantasy novel. I know it’s a cliché, but I’m sure some of them didn’t know many girls, I guess, would be the polite way to put it.

But anyway. Gwyneth and I grew up across the street from one another, and we’ve been … we were … best friends for as long as I can remember. We went to the same school, but in secondary school we went to different places. I always knew she was way smarter than me, but when everything changed, she was in the process of becoming a university professor like her parents. And I was in massage school. I guess it was an unlikely friendship.

Enough about that, though. We were on our way home from this big LARP, the last event of the summer, put on by this huge LARP conglomerate called Shining Lands. It’s basically like a big campout, only we hate camping so we stay in the lodge, with lots of role-play and a pretend war, and lots of guys in armour they made themselves. The costumes are brill. Last big party of the event is this big charity auction to benefit Shining Lands and enable them to rent spaces and put on other events. Gwyneth always made something for it—she’s a keen knitter—and Kevin would auction off a photoshoot in character or something. Richard, I don’t know what Richard did. Emma was kind of new to LARPing and just along with us for the ride. Anyway, I’d dressed up in this metal bikini getup with a collar and armbands, and I’d got a good price for a series of massage treatments over the next six months, as long as the winner was based in London. That poor guy who spent £300 to get massages from me must have been pretty pissed off when he heard the news. And why am I even worried about him? I don’t even remember his name.

I remember being pissed off because as we got into the car Gwyneth whispered to me that Richard had (finally) kissed her. I was like, “Why didn’t you let me take a picture of it?” I was always doing that: taking candid shots of people doing what they do. I used to get lectured about bringing my iPhone into events, but fuck them. It’s play. I play with my iPhone. I didn’t have time to bitch at her, because we had to leave the carpark in a hurry or get charged more. So I pulled a pair of jeans and a t-shirt over the metal bikini and played car boot Tetris for as long as I could stand it, then just told them to throw shit in the back of the MPV and we’d sort it later. I was right pissed off that they hadn’t done the packing earlier, but blah blah blah. Nobody listens to Fen.

We were heading for the M11. We got to the merge and everything was fine. Richard and Gwyn were arguing about who got the best stuff at the rialto, Emma was reading a book, and Kevin was handling the satnav. I don’t know how I didn’t see the lorry, but we must have been in each other blind spots or something, because he barrelled in to us at full speed just as I was about to complete the merge. The MPV went over on its head and there was a shitload of glass. Kevin wasn’t moving, and I was having trouble breathing, and there was some sort of a scuffle in the back seat: I don’t know what that was about. I was trying to get the damn window down so I could crawl out, but then, I don’t know. It was like my lungs were filling up with water, and I couldn’t breathe, and then everything went dark. The last things I remember hearing were loads of car noises, honking, some sirens in the distance, and Richard screaming Gwyneth’s name over and over, telling her not to get out of the car. Then, everything went black and I felt really floaty, and I heard this voice, like in the movies when Jesus calls people to heaven or something, only it didn’t say, “Welcome my child,” or any such bullshit as that.

It just said, “Svart Alfar”.

I remember pain, like I fell on something spiky, but only bruised myself. And I don’t know how long I was out.

When I came to, I was on some kind of camp bed in a bright room—the light hurt my eyes, I remember.

When I came to, I was on some kind of camp bed in a bright room—the light hurt my eyes, I remember.

When I came to, I was on some kind of camp bed in a bright room—the light hurt my eyes, I remember.

“I think she’s coming around.” A deep voice, an unfamiliar accent.

“Pity. I was hoping she’d bought it during the night.”

“Shari, it’s a big room. We all have to share. You’re sharing it, full stop.”

There was a sigh from the other end of the room. I uncurled slowly—everything hurt—and opened my eyes.

Shari was a tiny thing.

Shari was a tiny thing.

Shari was a tiny thing—I thought even I could take her in a fight—and her room looked like some boarding school princess bedroom, with the fancy computer and the pretty pictures and the loft bed with fairy lights.

I squinted and tried to focus a little more clearly on Shari.

I squinted and tried to focus a little more clearly on Shari.

I squinted and tried to focus a little more clearly on Shari. Was she… her eyes were funny. And her head seemed too big. And she had ear cuffs on that made her ears look pointy, and her hair was half blue and half blonde. Wow, talk about your fantasists. She’d have been a big hit in LARP-land, I thought.

“Your name, Svart. What’s your name, and who do you work for?”

“What?” I continued to squint toward Shari.

“OK, let’s get some things straight, right off the bat,” Shari said.

“OK, let’s get some things straight, right off the bat,” Shari said. “This is my room. You are here because I am a nice person and I am letting you share it. That is your corner. The rest of the room belongs to me.”

I ignored the guy’s question and nodded at Shari; she seemed to have the authority, at least in this room.

“Your name, Svart.

I tried to speak. My mouth was so dry. It came out “Mumble, mumble, Tacey Willan mumble, London, United Kingdom.” My voice was getting clearer with each word. “And what the living fuck is a Svart?”

“You are, you lying sack of shit, and we need to know who you work for and how you found our safe house.”

I blinked a couple of times. The only thing in my limited field of vision was Shari and her fairy bed.

“She’s got no idea,” Shari said.

“She’s got no idea,” Shari said. She hopped off the stool and stood beneath the fairy lights. “Great, we’re in some kind of fucking soap opera where beautiful dark elf chick comes to us with no memory and ends up being the saviour of the world or something.”

A sigh from somewhere to my left. The guy again. “Shari, shut up.” He cleared his throat. “Tacey,” he said, testing the name. I never use that name, but fuck it. “Tacey, what happened? Did someone drop you here? And if you don’t mind my asking, are you a runaway slave or something?”

I actually laughed at that—my first post-wakeup laugh. “Costume,” I said. “For a charity auction.” I didn’t think he needed to know more than that. “There was an accident. I need to get back to my friends.”

“No sign of an accident anywhere around here,” said the guy. “Look, my name’s David, so now you know that. I’m the security guy here.”

I stood up weakly.

I stood up weakly.

I stood up weakly, nearly lost my balance a couple of times. “Steady there,” David said. He held out a hand for me, but I refused to take it as an afterthought: reflexively though, my hand shot out. And then I saw my skin.

“What the fuck happened?” I asked. “Am I covered head to toe in bruises?” I started looking at my legs, my feet. All this silvered grey colour, with dappling in spots, almost iridescent in the light.

“You’re a Svart Alfar, idiot,” Shari said derisively. “A dark elf.” She smirked. “And you’re illegal.”

“Illegal?” I repeated. “How can I be illegal?”

“Simple,” David said. “Svart Alfar are against the law. Too magical. All deported to Faerie sixteen years ago. Any who manage to stay here are smart enough to glamour themselves to the nines and not get caught. So how’d you do it?”

“How’d I do what?”

“How’d you find our safe house?”

I sighed. “Look, arsehole,” I said. “I don’t even know what a Svart Alfar is, and the last thing I remember was a lorry barrelling into my MPV at full speed.” I didn’t see any need to tell them the whole story.

“You know what?” Shari tilted her head, and I could sort of see some mist around her. “She’s telling the truth. She’s got no idea.”

“You know what?” Shari tilted her head, and I could sort of see some mist around her. “She’s telling the truth. She’s got no idea.”

I eyed Shari. “What are you?”

“I’m an elf, like you, only I’m a Lios Alfar, a light elf. We’re not illegal.”

I looked at Shari. I looked at myself. “So I’m fucked,” I said flatly.

“Not necessarily,” David, who looked human from what I could see under his hat, replied. “Svart have incredible glamouring powers, and we could use another fighter.”

“A fighter? I’m no fighter,” I said. “I’m a massage student.”

Once I'd stretched a bit, I realised something: I felt stronger.

Once I’d stretched a bit, I realised something: I felt stronger.

Once I’d stretched a bit, I realised something: I felt stronger. “So Svart are fighters with incredible glamouring powers.”

“That’s right,” David said. “And we’re going to get in a shitload of trouble if we do anything other than report you to the authorities, so….”

“You’re fucking kidding me,” Shari said. “You want to take in this stray?”

“Can’t hurt, might help,” David replied. “Besides, how are we going to explain we have a Svart?”

“I don’t know,” Shari retorted. “We found it in our front garden, waited overnight, then rang the authorities when the offices opened?”

“And then they’ll send her to Faerie at best,” David said. “At worst they’ll decide she’s some kind of criminal and incarcerate her.”

“I’m not looking forward to either of those options,” I said quietly. “What do I need to do to learn what I have to learn in order to survive and then get out of your hair as quickly as I can?”

And that, minus a few details, is how I became associated with House Geasan. They taught me how to hide, how to fit in, how to fight. Of course, they also sold the metal bikini for money and made me wear secondhand rubbish for a year until I got to the point where I could steal my own. I came up with the alias of The Amazing Catwoman when I first looked in the mirror and saw my eyes. It must have been that evening, or maybe even that afternoon; I don’t remember too well.

To make a long story longer, that’s why I was so worried when my glamour stopped working in Faerie.

I admit it, I became a bit paranoid, wandering around the Unseelie Forest.

I admit it, I became a bit paranoid, wandering around the Unseelie Forest.

I admit it, I became a bit paranoid, wandering around the Unseelie Forest. I kept waiting for other Svart Alfar to jump out of the woods and claim me or take me hostage, or something.

Let's just say I didn't let go of that awesome spear Wulfrich issued me with.

Let’s just say I didn’t let go of that awesome spear Captain Wulfrich issued me with.

Let’s just say I didn’t let go of that awesome spear Captain Wulfrich issued me with.

And after my talk with Dyisi, I don't think I wanted to see anybody, not for a few days at least.

And after my talk with Dyisi, I don’t think I wanted to see anybody, not for a few days at least.

And after my talk with Dyisi, I don’t think I wanted to see anybody, not for a few days at least. So I spent my time in the forest, hunting and fishing, avoiding contact with various Fae, none of whom looked much like me or reminded me of any of the stories David and Shari and the other eight people (eight!) who lived at House Geasan told me. The one thing they did tell me was to avoid the Sidhe at all costs. And this Realm of Faerie? Is lousy with Sidhe. Half the people at that dinner were Sidhe, and I barely got a glimpse of Queen Gwyneth. How odd that a Fae Queen would have the same name as my former best friend who is probably dead or God knows where right now. What I do know is that Sidhe, particularly Royal Sidhe, are not to be trusted as their stock in trade is using other Fae races for their pleasure. Despite the fact that we Alfar have been around for much longer than the Sidhe, they seem to have made it to the top of the Fae food chain and are the unquestioned leaders of Faerie. Probably, I’ve heard it said, by stepping on the backs of the Lios Alfar. 

And of course I'm stuck in this realm because *she* detected something out of whack when I landed on her altar.

And of course I’m stuck in this realm because *she* detected something out of whack when I landed on her altar.

And of course I’m stuck in this realm because she detected something out of whack when I landed on her altar. Which means that sooner or later she’ll want to meet me and probably question me, and mark me as an Enemy of the State or something.

In the three years I’ve been doing jobs for and with House Geasan, I’ve never met another Svart Alfar. At this point, I think I’d probably drop dead if I did meet one.

So after three days in the Unseelie Forest, I returned to Captain Wulfrich. I expected punishment; instead I got a hearty clap on the back and a “welcome back”, and a “hope you enjoyed your time off hunting; we’ve got a new job for you.”

It seems there is some trouble with the Goblin Kingdom, so they have me guarding this bridge between their Mallorn Tree and the Seelie Lands.

It seems there is some trouble with the Goblin Kingdom, so they have me guarding this bridge between their Mallorn Tree and the Seelie Lands.

It seems there’s some trouble with the Goblin Kingdom, so they have me guarding the bridge between their Mallorn Tree, which even in Alfar lore is the centre of a Faerie Realm’s power, and the Seelie Lands. I’m swapping off with six other guards, all of whom are men, all of whom are taller and lighter than I am. Four of them make fun of my ears constantly; the other two are afraid of me. I don’t even know their names.

I'm spending my days doing battle exercises and getting used to the very weird concept of swordplay in a skirt.

I’m spending my days doing battle exercises and getting used to the very weird concept of swordplay in a skirt.

I’m spending my days doing battle exercises and getting used to the very weird concept of swordplay in a skirt.

I’m a little bummed about not being able to carry my spear while guarding, but Wulfrich says it’s safer to have a sword and a shield, so he’s the captain.

And no more of that gold and blue velvet nonsense: I’m in good battle armour, not the kind I used to wear in LARPs, which basically said, “Come at me, monsters! I shall vanquish you with my baps!” with the stag insignia of Queen Gwyneth’s Guards.

Sooner or later, I'll have to meet the Queen.

Sooner or later, I’ll have to meet the Queen.

Sooner or later, I’ll have to meet the Queen. And of course they all talk about her as if they’re in love with her: the rumour is that Sidhe Queens have this almost hypnotic influence over their subjects. I hope very much that one of the great unknown powers of the Svart Alfar is that we are immune to such tricks, but I somehow doubt it: if that were true, we’d be at the top of the Fae food chain, and not the Sidhe. Of course, they also say this Queen is different from other Sidhe Queens in that she accepts everybody on their own terms, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Every brush I’ve ever had with Fay Royalty over the last three years has led me to believe that none of them can be trusted, no matter what they tell you.

I can’t decide if I want to meet the Queen and get sprung from this Realm as quickly as possible, or if I want to put it off for as long as possible. I guess til that day comes, I’ll just stay here on this bridge, where nothing seems to be happening, squinting against that goddamn blinding tree, and thanking all the gods that leather, at the end of the day, is pretty good at absorbing perspiration.

Style Cards:

Fenella in London/Rock Shots
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Michelle (Exclusive for The Lexi Project!)
Hair: Exile, Under The Sun
Eyes: Dulce Secrets, Terra Firma Eyes, Hydrangea (Available at Designer Showcase!)
Lipstick: Dulce Secrets, Bee Stung Lipstick (Available at The Makeover Room!)
Dress and Shoes: Posh Pixels, Punkette (Available at Marvelous Monthly!)
Bracelet: Earthstones, Mesh Squared Bangles
Necklace: Maxi Gossamer, Clockwork Steampunk Heart
Necklace: Tantalum, Ultra Rare Steampunk Book Necklace
Ring: Aisling, The Good Wife

Fenella Waking Up at House Geason
Body: SLink
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Unicorn Dark Grey Smooth
Hair: Exile, Letters And Lipstick
Eyes: Gauze, Paradox Cat Eyes, Amber
Ears: Gauze, High Elf Ears
Metal Bikini, Collar & Bracelets: Una Medieval, Irelia Silver
Ring: Aisling, The Good Wife

Shari at House Geason
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Michelle (Exclusive for The Lexi Project!)
Ears: Mandela, Steking Ears, Season 5
Hair: Elikatira, Gia
Eyes: Boudoir, Fairy Eyes
Necklace: Ellabella, Magi Necklace
Top: Serendipity, Secrets of the Ancient Dragon (Available at the Hidden Sanctuary Event, The Ancient Ones Return)
Jeans: Evilkyoot, Express Jeans
Boots: Ison, Cult Riding Boots, Black

The Amazing Catwoman in the Unseelie Forest
Body: 
SLink
Skin: 
7 Deadly s{K}ins, Unicorn Dark Grey Smooth
Eyes: Gauze, Paradox Cat Eyes, Amber
Ears: Gauze, High Elf Ears
Hair: Calico, Quinn
Clothes: Blue Moon enterprise, Celtic Breeze (Available at We Love Roleplay!)
Spear: MacMoragh & Muse, Obara’s Spear
Necklace: Otherskin, Selene
Ring: Aisling, The Good Wife

The Amazing Catwoman Guarding the Bridge
Body: SLink
Skin: 
7 Deadly s{K}ins, Unicorn Dark Grey Smooth
Eyes: 
Gauze, Paradox Cat Eyes, Amber
Ears: 
Gauze, High Elf Ears
Hair: Calico, Quinn
Outfit: Phunk, Princess Warrior Armor, Sword, Shield & Boots
Brooch: Miamai, Game of Thrones House Emblems, Baratheon (rare)
Ring: Aisling, The Good Wife

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

WLTB 500x500Hidden sanctuary events sign skinlogodiap

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gwyneth:

Gwyneth:

I felt … disconnected. The fact is, there’s so much going on right now. Nathaniel and I have barely bothered to act like newlyweds, we’ve both been so busy. And the children are, well. They are a challenge; let’s just leave it at that for now. I didn’t know what I needed to make this feeling of disconnection go away, so I went out into the Forest, because being in the forest often helps me find answers I’m seeking.

At first, I was still consumed by stress and discontent.

At first, I was still consumed by stress and discontent.

At first, I was still consumed by stress and discontent. So many things going on. Dyisi and Maric are both missing. Aoibheann is apparently a tiny ball of golden light. One of my children jumped on a demon’s back. Another of my children missed my wedding. And the third one apparently can’t be bothered to walk: she just flies everywhere.

I sank down onto the mossy ground in a clearing, closed my eyes, and just wished for peace and contentment. Just for a moment. I don’t know how long I sat there, just concentrating on my breathing and wishing, almost, that I could be back teaching summer courses in Cambridge and with the biggest problems in my world being how to juggle my marking load with the yearly schedule of LARPs and whether or not Richard would kiss me again. Almost.

Then, I felt a nudge at my right hand.

Then, I felt a nudge at my right hand.

Then, I felt a nudge at my right hand. When I opened my eyes, I kid you not, I was surrounded by animals. Deer, squirrels, rabbits, foxes, cats, a hedgehog, and even an odd little field mouse. The creature who’d nudged my hand was a young unicorn; I reached in my bag and produced the stash of nuts and seeds I take with me on these junkets into the Forest. Of course, then everybody wanted a nibble, so I was glad to share. And so were they. There wasn’t any fighting or carrying on about who got more than whom, just me and a host of animals sharing a snack on a summer day. I sat with the animals for some time, just enjoying the camaraderie.

As the day grew long, we all settled down for a nap, but unsurprisingly they were all gone when I awoke.

Now I still have just as much to think about....

Now I still have just as much to think about….

Now, I still have just as much to think about, but somehow my burden seems lighter, having enjoyed a long afternoon with some of the less-mentioned beings who inhabit my realm. Funny, while I was spending time with the animals, I wasn’t bothered by a single demifae demanding I come look after a garden, or any high-minded Sidhe Lords who think to bend me to their political will by use of clever words and flattery.

  1. Figure out why Aoibh is a little glowing ball;
  2. Find out what’s up with Maric and Dyisi;
  3. Teach Eilian some manners;
  4. Get closer to Drysi so she doesn’t grow away from me too fast;
  5. Teach Bronwyn to walk;
  6. Make sure Wren doesn’t feel left out;
  7. Seek out Janus and ensure his return to Faerie;
  8. Find my mother;
  9. Spend some quality time with Nathaniel;
  10. Begin planning the formal wedding, even though it’s not til next year; and
  11. Find some way in amongst all these important things to keep my Kingdom running smoothly and fairly.

Well. That’s not too much to do, is it?

This post was inspired by Alia Baroque’s brilliant PURE Eden skin and Persephone tattoo, juxtaposed with my discovery of these gorgeous {anc} bunnies. Check out the style card for specific credits and links!

Style Card:

Body: Maitreya

Skin: Fallen Gods, Pure, Eden (Wayward Carnival)
Tattoo: Fallen Gods, Persephone (flowering, soft) (Genre)
Crown: Lode,Snapdragon BIG (red)
Wings: Arhi big wings (rare)
Ears: Lumae: Leevi Long Ears
Eyes: Mayfly, Luminous Mesh Eyes (Borealis) (Wayward Carnival)
Dress: Cellar Door, Roman Tunic Red (The Secret Affair)
Hair: Analog Dog (Natch!) Molly (Hair Fair)
Necklace: EarthStones, Feuilles Lariat Necklace
Animals:
Bunnies: {anc} Cotton Bunny, Sugar (Wayward Carnival)
Foxes: Half Deer, Fennec Fox: Stargazer, Playful, Sleepytime
Cats: Fashionably Dead, Cat: Curious, Sitting, Standing Up
Unicorn: Culprit, UniQrn, Snow Leopard Baby
Hedgehog: Fashionably Dead, Hedgehog 1
Squirrel: Raya Johnson, Mesh Full Perm Squirrel
Mouse: Schadenfreude, Queen of the Field Mice
Deer: Just Animals, Deer 1 Standing
Mushrooms:
Half Deer, Dreamscape Mushrooms
Roawenwood: Tangleshimmer Grove Mushrooms
Landscape: Enchanted Forest Clearing, Studio Skye
Background Building: The Looking Glass: Enchanted Walkway
Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never stay home without it!