An Orchard In Elemaria

When I came back from the rather less than formal ball held in the Drifts of Anamnesis, a desert which somehow became an oasis at exactly the right time, I admit I was feeling a bit drained and a bit sad.

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But who could possibly feel sad in this gown?

I know what you must be thinking, of course. ‘But who could possibly feel sad in such a beautiful gown, Your Fae Majesty’?

And you’d have a point. Silvan Moon Designs has created the most wonderful spring gown in an array of colours appropriate to the season. I was so proud to wear Dance of Spring to the informal ball; it almost didn’t matter that nearly everyone else was dressed rather less than formally. This periwinkle colour is to die for, isn’t it? And the gown’s crushed velvet falls so beautifully. I admit I sneaked out of the Fairelands to visit the carnival of fashion and hijinks that is We Love Roleplay, and that’s where I found this beautiful gown. I’m sure they still have a few left if you hurry to the carnival.

But the truth is, sometimes even when one is wearing a fabulous dress, it’s still possible to feel a bit sad. Even a lot sad.

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There’s a voice inside my head

I’m one of those people with a running narration going on all the time: it’s like a voiceover in my head. And that night, the voice wanted me to remember and feel sad about the fact that the Great Fantasy Faire was ending for another year. And I did feel sad, and I did remember. I remembered the first chilling steps I took into Lamented Fens and how I grew to love that darkness. I remembered the sheer joy of Heliodor and the rush of being in a Realm of light. And the more filtered light of Autumnium, yes, that too. There was the darker call of Siren’s Lore, the inescapable bottoms of Melusina’s Depths, the madcap hysteria of Mistakes Were Made. I recalled dancing on turtles in Cassiopeia, listening to the words of great authors in the Drifts of Anamnesis, seeking the pleasure of the Bard Queen in Queensgarden. My surprise at entering Agra Adara and finding it was not at all what I thought it would be. Ambigula, a living art installation, Isle of Shadows with its scary giant bunnies, the frozen distance of Auxentios’ Pass, and of course the cosmic order (and chaos) of Zodiac. The stunning basin of the Spirit Valley of Kuruk will stay with me always, and of course, the Fairelands Junction bridged all these gaps and brought me closer to every Realm simply and easily, this time from a crystal desert cave. My two homes away from home, Elemaria and Lunafae, will be the hardest to leave behind. I’ve written from both these realms, and while the Fairelands were too vast this year for me to write from every one of them, I considered my next steps, and the next day, carefully, as I prepared for my last morning in the Fairelands.

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Morning in Elemaria

I awoke in Elemaria and descended the long staircase to the spiral star labyrinth at the forest junction. In spring, butterflies like to follow Fae royalty, so I had a few to contend with. I don’t mind them, just so you know. But they do get a bit buzzy.

In the glorious May sunshine, I sent the butterflies out to do their work. Flower pollination is serious business at this time of year. And I thought about pollination, about the kind of growth that irritates your nose and makes you briefly grumpy with life. What could I plant now, just as myself, that might be worthy of this land, these Fairelands, our kingdom and community, our spirit?

My fingers lingered over the spirit star of Elemaria woven into the bodice of my gown. This, my loves, is the Elemaria Spirit Gown, and I cannot tell you where to go and get it, for there is only one, and I am fortunate to wear it in the name if Elemaria and Light and the rising star of Hope. I don’t often showcase one-of-a-kind gowns, because I want you all to be able to find the treasures I show you, but I am now wondering why I do not do that. Perhaps over the next few weeks I’ll photograph some of the beautiful one-of-a-kind dresses I’ve collected over the years.

Forgive me for the fashion tangent: it’s just my nature. I was thinking what could I plant, what could I give, what would be a thing from me, more than the time (and, let’s be real, the money) I spend every year to help our Faire be a success and help us grow and help more and more people. What would that thing be?

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It came to me in the form of an apple.

And then it came to me, in the form of an apple. Because one thing my darlings, one thing I am told I’m very good at, is offering inspiration. I have a life that revolves around teaching, the arts, music, writing, and helping light the spark of creativity in folk both young and old.

So no this isn’t the apple you’re thinking of, even though I am come straight from fairy tale and myth to be with you here.

This is the apple of inspiration. You can see it in the emblem carefully painted on its curved edge. It’s an emblem you see if you ever look at any of my work. It’s an emblem you see if you ever look at me: it’s tattooed once on my real life wrist, and again in the belly of a symbolic salmon on my real life chest. This is the Awen, the symbol of divine inspiration, said to represent the three rays of poetic inspiration shining straight down from the gods themselves.

And so today, at the centre of the spirit labyrinth of Elemaria, I give you this apple. Here, I will plant it in the forest nearby. And because inspiration is not an ordinary apple, but a magical one, it may bear fruit sooner than you think.

Fairelanders all, be you world builders, paper pushers, music folk, organisers of parties, readers of books and tellers of tales, sculptors of meshes and images, willing to bring your sense of wonder, thank you. And don’t worry: this is not just my apple tree. This is your apple tree, too. You can sit beneath it with anybody you like, discover gravity in your own way, learn the ways of magic, marvel at the star within that mirrors, not-so-coincieentally, the spirit star of Elemaria I’m thinking of now. Take it with you. Plant your own. Bring back your baskets of apples to share with all the world.

Look at what we can grow.

Items featured from this year’s Faire:
Skin: Petrichor, Viscivorus Skin in Serinus (first set of photos) and Pareities (second set of photos) (The Faire is closed now, but I’m sure these skins will be at the Petrichor Main Store soon enough!)
Ears: Petrichor, Viscivorus Ears (These beautiful ears come with each of the Viscivorus skins, and they’ll be available at the Petrichor Main Store before you know it!)
Gowns: Silvan Moon Designs, Dance of Spring (first set of photos) (Find it at We Love Role-play!); Silvan Moon Designs, Elemaria Spirit Gown (one-of-a-kind, and my honour to wear). The Elemaria Water Gown was available at the Faire and will I hope be available soon at the Silvan Moon Designs Main Store

Other Stuff in this look:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka Nova Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Ayashi, Amalia Hair (a rare Gacha from The Epiphany) (first set of photos); EMO*tions, Hairbase B and hairpieces A and K (at the EMO*tions Main Store)
Crown (second set of photos): Rivendale, Evenstar Crown

Elemaria was one of 18 regions in the 2020 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire. It was sponsored by Silvan Moon Designs and designed by Bee Dumpling and Solas Enchantment.

Although the fairelands exist only in our memories and our photographs once they’ve receded back into the mists, they are never forgotten. This year, the spirit that built those lands raised over $73,000USD for the American Cancer Society. We are a blessed and mighty community, and I am proud to be part of it. Good night, Fantasy Faire 2020. You were a beauty.

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Sunset over the Fairelands, 10 May 2020

 

The Rabbit Hole in Isle Of Shadows

I was feeling sad. After all, it was the last day of the Faire, and soon I’d have to take a portal back to Awenia and pick up all the pieces I’d left dangling for the last two seasons. I flew up to one of the clouds that hover over the Fairchylde in Isle of Shadows, and, well, OK— I just kind of felt sorry for myself for a while.

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Aaaaallll byyyyy myyyyyseeeeeeelf…..

I promise I didn’t sing that song. For long.

Of course, then I noticed how much there was to see from this vantage point….

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First of course, there was the Fairchylde Herself.

First of course, there was the Fairchylde Herself, and that just made me want to look farther and farther.

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Hello, teeth!

Hello, teeth! Haveit Neox’s beautiful snakes intertwining to hiss or kiss, possibly a bit of both.

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The Isle itself, with Siren’s Lore visible in the distance.

And then there was the Isle itself, with Siren’s Lore visible in the distance.

After that, well. A few more disturbing things caught my eye.

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Bunnies!

Bunnies! On a cloud! What could those nefarious little critters be up to?

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There were hordes of them!

There were hordes of them! Bunnies, everywhere! Could it be… Could it be the bunny energy was being generated by the Fairchylde Herself? I shuddered to think.

And then, I knew I must investigate further.

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Giant Bunnies!

Giant bunnies?! The reality was more terrifying than I could possibly have imagined.

So I did what anyone would do under the circumstances!

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I started to flee!

‘You don’t have to run, you know’.

It was a soft voice, barely accented, but I didn’t recognise the origin.

‘I don’t? But the Faire is almost over, and I’m being attacked by giant bunnies’!

‘No-one is attacking you. Calm down. I’m Kuro, and I’m taking you to your next adventure’.

‘My what’?

‘Your next adventure, Your Majesty’. The fox twitched its red eyebrows. ‘Here; let me jump up on to your shoulder’.

… to be continued.

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The Faire is Ending…. but Enchantment is OPEN!

Credits And Notes:
Location: Isle Of Shadows, sponsored by Seanchai Library and designed by Aelva & Emme Eales,  is one of 18 regions in this year’s Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire. You can visit Isle of Shadows, but you will have to do it before midnight SLT tonight, 10 May, 2020, because that’s when the Fairelands will fade back into the mists for another year.

Do not despair! The Faire returns every year, and on its heels is another one of my favourite events, Enchantment!

Enchantment item featured here:
Spirit Fox: Harshlands, Spirit Fox (Find it at Enchantment!)

Items featured at this year’s Faire:
Skin: Petrichor, Viscivorus Skin in Chrysatos (Find it at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Ears: Petrichor, Viscivorus Ears (Find them at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Outfit: Devious Mind, Fiora (Find it at the Devious Mind store in Zodiac!)

Other Stuff in this look:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka Nova Bento Mesh Head
Wings: Egosumaii, Fae Wings

Why do you come to Siren’s Lore?

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Siren’s Lore

The Lady in the Sky, she says, ‘Why did you come here’?

And I say, ‘I came here to dance’.

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I came here to dance

And she just looks at me, all level, even though she is miles above me. ‘You take a walk first, and then we talk again’, she says.

So I do that; it’s not every day the Lady in the Sky just comes round and tells you to do something.

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Beauty here

I’m in the Realm of Siren’s Lore, and yes; it is beautiful here. It’s full of lush green and moss, the trickle of water everywhere, and around every corner there is some new thing to see.

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A little beauty here….

A little beauty here…

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A little danger there….

A little danger there….

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A little more beauty here…

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A little (maybe a lot!) more danger there….

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Sea gardens

And so I walk around the sea gardens, and I do enjoy it; I do. There are beautiful views, glorious works of art, calming and dangerous waters. It is a paradise.

And then I come back.

And then, the Lady in the Sky, she says, ‘Why did you come here’?

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I came here to dance

‘I came here to dance’, I say.

‘Very well’, she says. And then there is music and a whooshing of ocean spray.

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Top of the wall

And then I am dancing on top of the wall, with the visage of the Lady in the Sky behind me.

‘You could do worse’, she says, ‘than come here to dance, daughter’.

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Visit Siren’s Lore before the 10th of May, 2020!

Credits And Notes:
Location: Siren’s Lore, sponsored by Petrichor and designed by Sen Beresford,  is one of 18 regions in this year’s Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire. You can visit Siren’s Lore and maybe even have a chat with the Lady in the Sky and end up dancing high above, but you will have to do it before the tenth of May, when the Fairelands will recede, as they do every year, back into the mists. Although the Fairelands return year after year, each Realm is unique and will not be seen again, at least not on this plane.

Items featured at this year’s Faire:
Skin: Petrichor, Viscivorus Skin in Decaocto, with lighter lips and lip stripe tattoo applied — really, Petrichor gives you so much with each of these skins it’s like having six different skins in one box!  (Find it at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Ears: Petrichor, Viscivorus Ears (Find them at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Outfit: Devious Mind, Ishara (Find it at the Devious Mind store in Zodiac!)

Other Stuff in this look:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka Nova Bento Mesh Head
Hair: No Match, No Leave
Eyes: Euphoric, Talula

Love Letter

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LunaFae

It happens every year. Even though I try to visit all the regions in our beautiful Fantasy Faire, even though I aspire to photograph each one and write something from each one, I often end up feeling more at home in one special one than anywhere else. This year, it’s Lunafae.

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The Little Things

From the aerial vista to the little details, it’s as if every detail was placed exactly and precisely in the right place. Now that I’ve had a little experience with various bits and pieces of the Faire, I have some idea of how much time and work it takes to put all the little pieces in place in exactly the right way.

My late husband, the engineer, admires the way everything is laid out. Like a clock, he says.

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Bird On A Lamp

I say, is it a clock? If it is a clock, it is a love clock. Lunafae is a love letter to the moon.

He calls me a hippie and fluffs my very short hair. “You’re like a very soft hedgehog,” he says.

“Let’s look at the moon stones,” I say.

Each of these photos shows one of the moonstones. Each one comes with a different quote about some aspect of the moon. I love walking around the garden’s edge and discovering each of the stones as I go. My poor, long-suffering late husband shakes his head and talks about how the stones were put together and how all the maths work.

In fact, he gets so engrossed in how the maths worked and working out the phases of the Lunafae clock, I just head to a bench, stretch out, and soak up the day.

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All Day

Fact is, I could really just sit and soak in Lunafae all day. In fact, I’ve done it more than once. There are so many places to sit and write, think, daydream. Visiting doesn’t seem enough: I kind of want to live there.

This year marks the fourth anniversary of my husband’s death from cancer. Every year the Faire is a place where I can be with other people whose lives have been forever changed by the disease in its many forms. And getting involved with Fantasy Faire is one thing I can do both to honour his memory and help in what small way I can to make a better future or a better present for cancer sufferers, survivors, carers, and families. I don’t do a “Why I Relay” post every year; it’s wrenching for me to remember and write about the experience of watching the love of my life fade away and die.

And so, instead, I pictures us walking hand in hand through the gardens of Lunafae.

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More Bunnies?!

And, OK, we’re speculating between ourselves about the strange bunny phenomenon at this year’s Faire. We can’t decide what’s causing it, but we’re having fun making up stories about it.

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A rough year needs a soft space

It’s been a rough year. I think it has been for everyone. A series of personal blows kept me out of work for some time, and then I started working from home when the UK went into lockdown. I got a late start on Faire blogging and photographing this year because working from home in the age of Coronavirus meant I didn’t feel confident to take holiday for the first week of the Faire and had to wait until week 2 to have the kind of time I need to put together the kind of photographs and blogs I create.

Ah; he’s done with the maths! Now we can begin again. And there we are, my late husband and me, walking through the gardens. We go slow, because we have all the time in the world. Like the moon, we grow dark and bright, dark again, and bright again, and we make tides and spur seasons, and some say we make magic.

We’ve stopped now to listen to the demifae harpist play some Irish standards on her glass harp that looks kind of backwards but isn’t completely. We sit on a bench. We hold hands. We lean on one another and watch the sunset. It’s how every day should end. How every day should have ended.

Love,
Gwen

Lunafae is one of 18 regions in this year’s Relay for Life of Second Life’s Fantasy Faire. You can visit Lunafae, but do so before the Fairelands fade into the mists after 10 May, 2020. Sponsored by The Looking Glass and designed by Sharni Azalee, Lunafae is a wonder to behold, and I hope that when you visit there, you will see even part of what I see. Long before I got to know Sharni, I admired her work from afar, and her beautiful creation this year has brought me so much I haven’t spent a faire day without visiting the region. 

A Conspiracy in Elemaria?

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Elemaria From Afar

From a Distance, the Fairelands Realm of Elemaria looks stately, doesn’t it? I suppose that’s why I, Your Fae Queen, was drawn to it. I do love castles. And as I’ve been absent from my own Realm for some months now, I was looking forward, when I first arrived at the Great Faire (regrettably late this year for reasons beyond my control), to walking the stately halls and pathways of a good, old-fashioned castle.

And it’s true, the pathways are stately, and the bridges are divine, and the views out over the sea are spectacular. And I don’t even need to mention the shopping to you: if you’re here are the Faire, you know that there is nothing better than Fairelands shopping. A balm to soothe the soul, I think, is shopping. If I ever get to the point where I’m tired of ball gowns and flowing skirts, just take me back to Awenia Faerie and turn me into a statue.

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The thing is, it was sunny!

It was indeed sunny, a perfect day in early May, and so close to The Author’s birthday. I spent only a little while exploring the bridges and pathways (and possibly buying an entirely new spring wardrobe), but then the seemingly endless gardens called, and so that’s where I found myself, just at midmorning.

Some of you may have already heard from Fen, who I suppose you know better as The Amazing Catwoman. She’s been filling in for Wulfrich as my chief of security. He has gone on a long quest, and if I’m honest I don’t know if he’ll ever be back. The position’s as good as hers, and even though she still seems uneasy with me, I’m glad we’ve resumed our friendship. She’d been here ahead of me, scouting the Fairelands, and when we met my first morning here, she delivered some news that I must confess shook me slightly:

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There are bunnies. Everywhere.

“Gwennie,” she said. “There are bunnies. They are everywhere.” She paused for effect, or maybe because she’s never been super articulate, poor dear. “I am not making this up. I have only seen one or two Realms without bunnies, and I think they might just have been hiding out or something. I suspect a conspiracy.”

I considered. “Is it that thing where that huge drill in Auxentios’ Pass is meant to cause magical ailments and all manner of temporal anomalies?” I wondered.

“I think that’s a rumour,” she said. “I suspect that weird globe in Zodiac. Or, maybe…. maybe….” and she drew a finger across her lips, “I think maybe Sonya has something to do with it.”

And wouldn’t you know it; as soon as I started exploring the Realm’s generous and lush grounds, there they were. Bunnies.

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This would require rumination.

This, I decided, would require rumination, and so I searched around for an out-of-the-way spot. Luckily, Elemaria boasts many of these: you could spend weeks here and never end up in the same quiet space to think.

The first such place I found had only half as many bunnies as the place before, so I settled in.

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Thinky Thoughts

What possible significance, I wondered, could a large number of bunnies in the Fairelands have? Beings who’ve seen less of the magical world than I have might just think it had to do with spring, but I was not convinced. Also, there was a bunny, just over there. Just staring at me.

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I ducked into the nearby cave

I ducked into the nearby cave to avoid the bunny’s disconcerting gaze. Another time, if I visited here, I might wonder who might have made this place, explore the nooks and crannies, but if I’m honest, I was just relieved not to find any errant rabbits within.

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A Conspiracy Of Bunnies?

Now, everyone knows that the collective term for rabbits is a nest, or that’s what my human granny told me back before all this crap started. But something tells me these rabbits are in fact a conspiracy.

And it all started to roll around in my head. Huge steampunk drills that may be shrunk down and worn as hats. Weirdly glowing blue zodiac balls. No double-entendre intended, I swear. Spring. Propogation. The possibility of poems with an acrostic spelling out S O N Y A  M A R M U R E K hidden away in some dusty corner of the Heliodor Library.

My therapist tells me I may overthink things. She says instead of letting a thing roll around in my head for hours, sometimes years, I could, if I thought about it, expend much less energy and simply confront the source of my worry, let fate take its course (though I have heard recently that fate does not in fact exist), and just move on with my life.

Fine.

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Rabitterrogation

I decided I might as well confront the closest bunny and ask what was up with all this.

Unfortunately for me, the bunny wasn’t interested in talking. But it was a nice rock and a lovely day, so I had a bit of a sun before moving on.

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They’re everywhere!

Everywhere I went, there were more and more bunnies. Finally, I found a set of steps that led up to a secluded spot that I imagined must be just right for some meditation. And there was food on the table, so I had some lunch. Might as well, right?

Luckily, we Fae Royals are not encumbered by the rule that one must wait an hour after eating before swimming.

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I might have said, “Cowabunga!”

I might have said “Cowabunga!” but I’ll deny it if you ask me. Ah, but what a lovely end to a day’s exploration of Elemaria. It was sure to be the first of many forays there: you all know how much I love a beautiful garden, and Elemaria, I decided, is really not a stately palace after all: It is a stunning garden, a forest, a stream system, and apparently a bunny sanctuary, all conveniently housed within the walls of a stately palace.

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And the views are to die for.

And the views are to die for.

More on the bunny conspiracy as my research continues over the final week of the Faire.

Credits and Notes:
Location: Elemaria is one of 18 regions in this year’s Relay for Life of Second Life’s annual Fantasy Faire. The region is sponsored by Silvan Moon Designs and designed by Bee Dumpling and Solas Enchantment. You too can visit Elemaria, but be sure to do it before the 10th of May, when the Fairelands will, as every year, dissolve back into the Mists.

Items featured at this year’s Faire:
Items featured at the 2020 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire:
Skin: Petrichor, Viscivorus Skin in Trivialis (Find it at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Ears: Petrichor, Viscivorus Ears (Find them at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Dress: Silvan Moon Designs, Water Nymph Dress in Sunset (Find it at the Silvan Moon Designs store in Elemaria!)
Headpiece, Acios, Tamesis Headpiece (Find it at the Acios Store in Cassiopeia!)
Wings: MishMash Fusion, Cracked Wings in Chartreuse (Find them at the MishMash Fusion Store in Lamented Fens!)

Other Stuff in this look:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka Nova Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Stealthic, Verge