The Spirit of the Juniper Tree

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They should know we’re watching.

They should know we’re watching. And in hindsight, many of them will say they do, they did. And yet.

And yet.

And yet we still bear witness to all the secrets and horrors that mortal lives suffer, and even welcome. Is it any wonder we dryads have no great love nor devotion to humanity? Better to stay hidden, lest we be drawn into their drama, we say. Unlike our treacherous and arguably royal cousins, the Sidhe, we gain no pleasure from tricking an unarmed enemy. But over and over, we’re forced to witness every imaginable betrayal.

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How do we bear it?

How do we bear it? By remembering that we are souls of wood, that we do not have to be soft, that only the laws of the wild magic, such as they are, apply to us, and we need not be bound by mortal folly.

Even so, even so. Even so, there are happenings that will move even the slow and steadfast heart of a dryad. Most of us have a story: this one is mine.

I have lived as the spirit of many trees, moving from seedling to sapling, slipping away when death comes near, and many years ago, I lived in a juniper tree that was sat in the forecourt of a wealthy man and his wife.

The wife had a liking for trees, and she believed in many things it was not seemly to believe in for a woman of her age and time. She wanted a child, badly, and she came out and sat beneath my tree every single day. She told her husband she was praying. And she was, after a fashion: she was beseeching the faeries to bring her a child, whether it be her own or a changeling she did not mind.

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She left me gifts

She left me gifts, apples mostly. That always made me laugh. Could I not walk over to one of the apple trees and pick my own? Is a gift a gift, if one can get it oneself with so little trouble? I am sometimes plagued by these philosophical questions. But suffice it to say that apples did not interest me overmuch.

No, it was the day she cut her finger peeling one of those apples that she got my attention. She gave herself a good nick, and blood dropped onto the snow. That’s when I started listening, because while human drama doesn’t interest us, human blood, even to a tree spirit, is a lovely, lovely treat.

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I went away and conferred with the Council.

I went away and conferred with the Dryad Council. And bicker, bicker bicker, back and forth, but finally I was allowed to place a magical juniper berry into the woman that would certainly cause her to bear a child. It had to be done while she was asleep beneath the tree, which was a bit of a faff, but I’m perseverant (most of us are).

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And there follows the tale you may know.

And there follows the tale you may know, of this beautiful lady finally conceiving and bearing a child, and of her being so pleased with the baby boy that she died of happiness on the spot, once she had looked upon him.

Mortals. What are they thinking? What was she thinking, dying of happiness because she’d borne a child, with no consideration of its future, its welfare? I cursed myself for my softness in helping this lady’s wish to be granted, because while I’m not the oldest dryad in the forest, I’m old enough to know how these tales go.

Child born, mother dies, father remarries evil stepmother.

It’s drilled into us. This is how the stories go. And even if the second wife wasn’t evil to begin with, fairy stories will twist her to evil, and that’s exactly what happened here.

After a long mourning period, the man of course remarried, and his new wife gave him a daughter, and that’s about the time the story twisted her to evil.

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She became obsessed with her daughter’s future.

She became obsessed with her daughter’s future and decided that the best way to ensure house and lands for the girl would be to kill her older brother. Of course, it took her years to come up with this plan, by which time her daughter and the boy were beautifully bonded as siblings, despite the fact that the stepmother did nothing but abuse the boy. No-one ever called her out on this behaviour, not even her husband (also known as the boy’s father). So by the time she got around to killing him, he was something like ten years old and the girl was perhaps seven. I do not know: time goes by so quickly for mortals; for trees it is a bit more slow.

But you know the next bit of the story too, don’t you? You know that she killed her stepson by decapitating him, and then to cover up what she’d done, she placed him in a position where his sister would surely find him and knock his head off, effectively making the girl believe she was the murderess and not her mother.

I think, mortals, that there should be rules about this sort of thing. There really should be. First of all, it is not acceptable to die of happiness on the day of your child’s birth. That opens the child up to a future of torment over which you, happy mother, will have no power.  Secondly, if you’re going to murder your child, evil stepmother, it should not be acceptable to pin the blame on the surviving child whom you mean the death to benefit. Think of the psychological scars!

Luckily for the boy, the sister knew quite a bit about fairy tales, and after having seen her mother cook the boy up into blood puddings, which her mother and father ate happily at a dinner where she could only cry, she had enough wits still about her (a miracle, considering her day: oh, it makes me fume even now to think of it!) to gather up the boy’s bones and bury them beneath my branches.

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I sang with the wind all night.

I sang with the wind all night, and in the morning, because of the girl’s quick thinking and my not inconsiderable talents, there rose from the branches a beautiful tufted bird with snapping black eyes and a voice that could make a Sidhe queen’s frozen heart melt.

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We conferred briefly.

We conferred briefly, the boy and I, and then he went off to collect the things you know from the rest of the story: the gold chain, the red shoes, the mill stone. Chain to the father, shoes to the sister, mill stone to crush the stepmother. Magically, the bird becomes the little boy all alive again, and seemingly regardless of the stepmother’s corpse out there somewhere in the forecourt, the man and his two children go inside and have their dinner. Which, I just have to hope, did not include any leftover puddings from the last meal served at that table.

And that’s my story of that one time I softened my heart and tried to improve a mortal’s life. I’m so glad this is a fairy tale and not a fable. If it were a fable, I’d have to come up with a pithy moral, like, The family that kills together, chills together, or something equally macabre.

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Juniper Tree and Juniper Bird, from Rivendale.

Style Card:
The Juniper Tree: Rivendale, Juniper Tree (At Enchantment until November 30th)
The Juniper Bird: Rivendale, Juniper Bird (At Enchantment until November 30th)

The Dryad:
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ, Lisa Bento Mesh Head (New at Uber)
Hair: Raven Bell, Willow (At Enchantment until November 30th)
Skin: Fallen Gods, Wood Nymph, Spring
Ears: Eclectica Elf Ear, Creature Version
Wings: Evolved Creatures, Fae Wings
Eyes: Seydr, Hallows Eyes, Grave
Leather catsuit: !go! Findis Overalls, Brown
Wrapped Tree Top: Shi, Tree of Life Creepers Top
Boots: Illi, Medieval Archer Boots

Environment:
Location: Awenia Faerie
Apple Trees: The Little Branch, Apple Tree
Wishing Well: Hextraordinary, Wishing Well (At Enchantment until November 30th)
Basket of Apples: Finishing Touches, Basket of Apples
Stone Wall: Artisan Fantasy, Maiden Tor Stone Wall
All poses, except tree sits (included with the tree) are from Frolic Poses (Beseeching, Harbinger, and Fairy)

 

Arise

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At the round earth’s imagined corners

At the round earth’s imagined corners, blow
Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go,
All whom the flood did, and fire shall, o’erthrow,
All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance, hath slain, and you whose eyes,
Shall behold God, and never taste death’s woe.
But let them sleep, Lord, and let me mourn a space;
For, if above all these, my sins abound,
‘Tis late to ask abundance of thy grace,
When we are there. Here on this lowly ground,
Teach me how to repent; for that’s as good
As if thou’hadst seal’d my pardon with thy blood.

—John Donne (1572–1631)
Holy Sonnet 7

Featuring:
Gown: LUXE Paris, Innocence Skirt & Top, soon to be available at the Spoonful of Sugar Festival, a charity event to benefit Doctors Without Borders.

Spoonful Of Sugar AD 2018

I imagine the dedicated people who give their time to Doctors Without Borders must seem like angels to many of the people they help.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Cate Bento Mesh Head
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Friday (Available NOW at AnyBody!)
Eyes: Seydr, Versicolor Eyes (Available NOW at We Love Roleplay!)
Lipstick and Eyeshadow: Cazimi, Rendezvous Pro Palette
Nails: Cazimi, August VIP Nails
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Headdress: Kosmii, Seraph Headdress (Available NOW at The Fantasy Collective!)
Wings: Remarkable Oblivion, Eternity Wings, Innocence
Hair: Magika, Cream Soda (New at the Magika Main Store!) —If you haven’t checked out Magika’s new colours and textures, you really must visit. You get almost 200 hair colours in every single pack, all for L$369. If you join the Magika group, there’s an additional group colour HUD that has some great multicolours.
Photo Box: The Bearded Guy, Moon Hall
Floating Stars: E.V.E, Dancing Stars Fireflies White Lights
Pose: Frolic Poses, Angel 3

The Ancient and Honourable Company of Fae Pirates?

So, after the trip to Helgen Francis, I thought I was done with this spate of weird dreams. It’s not as if nothing interesting has happened since then, either. The Book Forest has rearranged itself. I went off adventuring to Eclectica for the first time in ages. And, possibly coincidentally, there have been whisperings through the grapevine that The Gypsy Davey has been seen in Awenia. I thought I was safe. I thought I had finally gotten over the strangely vivid dreams that’d been plaguing me for months beforehand.

I was wrong.

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The Ancient and Honourable Company of Fae Pirates?

“The Ancient and Honourable Company of Fae Pirates? You have got to be kidding me.” The disembodied voice that had welcomed me to this Company (a company of one, it seemed, but more on that later) faded off into the distance. Then the only sounds were wind, the unending sounds of the sea rising and falling, and the chittering of a small purple dragonet who didn’t seem to want to leave me alone and kept hovering there near my shoulder.

“I don’t even like ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day'”, I muttered. “First person who says ‘Arr, Matey’ to me gets shanked. Or at least glamoured into a very small fish.”

This wasn’t a problem because apparently there were no other people. Perhaps the Company were all off doing some raiding. But as we seemed to be, well, becalmed (not terribly far from land, but still), my mind kept going to more sinister places.

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What if the crew had all been murdered?

What if the crew had all been murdered? What if I was sent here to help them, but I arrived too late? And of course, the same fate might be awaiting me.

The little dragonet chittered.

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What are you trying to tell me?

What are you trying to tell me, little fellow? I wondered. I may have even asked it out loud: it wasn’t like anybody would be making fun of me for inappropriately chatting up a dragonet.

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The Opposite Direction

I walked the length of the disturbingly empty ship to the stern, the bit that was closest to—well, some people might call it land: it appeared to be a building on an otherwise barren rock rising out of the sea. Still nothing. Even though I had no idea what the dragonet was trying to tell me, it chittered excitedly while looking in a completely different direction than I was.

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Where’d they go, Henry?

“Where’d they go, Henry?” I asked the dragonet. “You don’t mind if I call you Henry, do you? I’m Gwyneth.”

The dragonet made a chittery-scolding sound. Maybe he was trying to give me the location of the rest of the crew, assuming they existed. Maybe he just had bad associations with the name Henry.

“Of course, I can’t argue with this outfit, Henry,” I rambled on. “If I were actually going to be a pirate, even a dream pirate, I would totally wear something like this.” The dress with all its frills was a lot of fun, but I couldn’t decide whether my favourite piece was the leather thigh-high leggings or the strapped boots. It is, of course, a good thing that Fae Queens don’t actually walk on the earth; we hover a few centimetres above it as a rule. I haven’t put weight on my feet in years, and I think stiletto heels might just do me in. They are absolutely gorgeous, though. For a fleeting moment, I wondered why I didn’t have any weapons. “Aren’t pirates usually armed to the teeth, Henry? Maybe not Fae Pirates, hm?”

Once again, Henry chittered excitedly. I could only assume he was agreeing with my assessment of the pirate outfit.

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Glad

“I’m glad you agree with me, Henry,” I said. “We’d have had Words if you didn’t.”

Henry made a sound suspiciously like a burp.

And then, in perfect English, he said: “Your Majesty. The crew are marooned on that island with all the trees over there.” He used a wing to point. “You were the only expert we could get on short notice.”

Expert? I blanched.

“My name isn’t Henry; it’s Beauregard. You’ll need to pilot the ship to the island.”

I squinted. “Looks close enough to swim from to me.”

“Looks are deceiving, Your Majesty,” Henry—I mean, Beauregard—continued. “These are serpent-infested waters.”

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I have no idea how to pilot a ship!

“What? I’ve no idea how to pilot a ship!” I exclaimed.

“Well, the Navigational Owl has flown off, said something about mating season,” said Beauregard.

“Navigational….owl?” I asked.

“Sure; all AHCFP ships have one,” replied the dragonet.

“AHCFP,” I said.

“The Ancient and Honourable Company of Fae Pirates?” Beauregard sighed. “You recall I welcomed you to our numbers when you arrived on board.”

“That was you?” I asked.

“Of course,” he said. “I have different tones of voice for different purposes. I’m not two dimensional, you know.”

“I never said you were!” I envisioned that this argument could go on like this for some time, so I just sighed and approached the large steering wheel.

After that, it all gets muddled. I think we were entering some kind of vortex where we were Sure To Drown when I finally woke up.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Simone Bento Mesh Head
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Seattle (Available NOW at Ultra!)
Rings, Claws, and Dragon Bracelets: RealEvil Industries, Dragon Rings
Ears: Swallow, Shiny Elf Ears
Eyes: Zombie Suicide, Starry Night Eyes
Clothes: Silvan Moon Designs, Buccaneer Celeste (Available on 4 September at We Love Role-play!) —includes dress, leggings, boots, and hat
Hair: Analog Dog (natch!), Nori (Available at the Analog Dog Main Store!)
Necklace: RealEvil Industries, Passion Collar
Subdermal Heart: Ama, Forever Yours
Wings: The Plastik, Maliana Bento Wings
Septum Ring: Venge, Kelpi Nosering
Beauregard (or Henry) the dragonet: Hextraordinary, Dragonet Companion (rare!) (Available NOW at The Arcade Gacha!)

Location: Athan Selidor, Beyond The Island
Poses: All from Frolic Poses
Lighting: LumiPro
Facial Expressions: Lelutka AXIS