The Power of Hope

No; I don’t know what happened.

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In a moment of reflection

In a moment of reflection, I began considering our land and its predicament. I took myself to the water ritual dais and meditated for a while upon the great axe left there, sunk in the stone, for some foretold ruler whom many now believed would never come.

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What to do; what to do?

What to do; what to do? I was no great priestess; I had not been blessed with second sight or any measure of magic.

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The power of hope

What I did have, I realised as I stood there, with the mists rising fast around me, was some understanding of and belief in the power of hope.

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The moon both rose and fell

At that moment, it seemed that the moon both rose and fell, fell upon me, and if I were sentimental or superstitious, I might say it felt like music, even though it didn’t, really. But it felt like music.

Then, I turned.

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The moment we first saw one another.

The moment we first saw one another. I suppose I would say this is a moment to tell our grandchildren about, but even as young as we still are, I fear we won’t have grandchildren.

But I’ll tell you about it anyway. Or as much as I can. I don’t really know what happened, and she says she doesn’t know either. And believe you me, I have tried to coax the story out of her more times than you have, and she’s got a temper on her, my Gwen.

It happened in an instant. One minute I was sitting in the mead hall, having a drink with my fellows and speculating on next year’s raids, and the next minute I was on top of the Axe Rock. There was a little flash of light from below, and then this beautiful woman was turning toward me.

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He fell right on the rock.

That’s right. I looked up, and he was falling right out of the sky, trying to keep his balance and land on his feet. I was proud when he succeeded.

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So, no shit; there I was….

So, no shit: there I was! And I was like, well. If the gods dropped me here, I’d better have a go at this axe then.

Really? Do you have to say it like that?

Like what?

Like you would if you were twelve.

Surely you’re not going to scold me about my language. Who’s telling this story? Me. It is my story, and I will say “No shit; there I was” if I like.

I did start the story.

You have a tongue, woman.

Yes. Yes, I do.

Anyway; it’s not like you really need me to tell you the rest of the story; the whole world knows the story now. That was the day I first laid eyes on my Gwen and the day she first laid eyes on me. And of course, I was like, well. If the gods dropped me here, I’d better have a go at this axe then.

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It’s my axe now.

It’s my axe now. And that is the tale of how, in one day, in the space of one minute, I met both my destinies. If you were my grandchildren, I’d tell you to go to bed now, and maybe you should even if you’re not my grandchildren.

Good night, Enchantment.

Style Card:
Items featured at this King Arthur round of Enchantment, which closes in only a few hours:
Nordic Ritual Platform, Nordic Ritual Altar, and Axe in the Stone: Harshlands, whose note about why they designed the pieces they did inspired me to weave a little story around them.
Moonlight: Puke Rainbows, Sparkling Moonlight
Davey:
Armour: The Scarlet Fae, Valinor
Gwyneth:
Dress, Colar and Armwarmers: Les Sucreries de Fairy, Aveline
Skin: Ritual, Elspeth, Nimue

The rest of the stuff:
Davey:
Body: Belleza, Jake
Head: Catwa, Skell
Hair: No Match, No Refuge
Skin, Not Found, Ash (currently at Shiny Shabby)
Ears: Mandala, Steking Ears, Season Five
Gwyneth:
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ, Noelle
Hair: Little Bones, Reason (currently at Uber)
Shoes: Beyond the Mists: Ribboned Dance Shoes (Pure)

 

Left Luggage

A magical pathway spread out before me as I entered the Realm of Erstwhile. My assignment wasn’t clear, but I’ve worked the Great Faire long enough to understand that sometimes you just have to find the Guard supervisor and let him (or her, or whoever) direct you.

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I stopped and turned to look.

I stopped and turned to look. Before me sprawled Erstwhile Station, an airship port that doubled as a floating (in the flying sense) market. While airships are mostly used to convey people from one Realm to another, their pilots have to make a little money while they’re in dock, and so for the Faire, the Station becomes a fascinating array of little markets from all over the meta verse. I had never been there before, so the assignment was going to be interesting.

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Erstwhile Station

Of course, I was pissed off about the getup they put me in. As usual, svart alfar were not welcome, so I got a budget for a skin and hair painting. Now, sometimes they want you to look a particular way, and I’m OK with that, but whatever was in that guideline letter that I handed over to Lumiya Rae was either completely unintelligible or intended as some kind of test, because when she finished up and I looked in the mirror, I was lavender. Lavender. As in light purple. Quick as I could, I thanked her for her beautiful work and quit the shop.

The fact was, I did look hot in lavender. I just also looked kind of sweet.I flickered my left hand in a wave to Lumiya as I left the shop and noticed how the tone of my skin almost matched the light amethyst of my engagement ring. You know, the one I never take off? From the fiancé I haven’t seen in…well, I can’t count the years. I wonder if he thinks I died. I wonder if I did die. Guys at the House were adamant that I shouldn’t ever google myself. It only leads to pain and heartache they said.

Crap, where was that hairdresser? I’d been so busy snowflaking I’d forgotten to look. What was her name? Ah, yes. Raven Bell. Surely she’d help me darken up this look a bit.

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“Rainbows? You have got to be kidding me.”

“Rainbows?” I was nearly shouting. “You have got to be kidding me.”

“I am not, Madam. It says here on the card.” Ms Bell quirked a brow. “But seriously, you can’t go wrong with a braid extension like that.”

“No,” I said, “I suppose you can’t. But couldn’t we have made it brown?”

“Brown would blend into your jacket. No way.”

I nodded, for once resigned to my fate. “I guess you’re right.” I summed up the courage to smile and made my way out of the shop on high wedge heels, which were at least easier to manage than stilettos. At least these ones had bats on.

I made my way up the gold-lit stairs and into the station, where I found my handler. It was hard to concentrate on anything he said, because someone was playing the most incredible music. Symphonic, dramatic, music that seemed to make the building itself into a film set, a dream of some kind. I was transported. The drama, the intensity of it, how it filled the hall.

“I’m sorry Derek,” I said to my handler. “I was miles away.”

Derek smirked. Smirks always look a bit menacing on dwarves. “Happens to everybody when that guy is here playing music.” He pointed to a startlingly handsome guy in a suit with a steampunk-y helmet on. “Anyway, for the next two hours, he’s DJing for some kind of a tour of the station, I don’t know.” Derek shrugged. “Your job is to make sure nobody gets too close to him while he’s working. He’s very focused. Just man the outside of the music booth and try to look nonthreatening but serious.” He nodded. “That skin painting really suits you.”

I grimaced. “Right, boss,” I said, ignoring the jab about the skin: this was undoubtedly Derek’s idea of a joke. “I’ll get right on it.” I made my way to the music booth and flashed my credentials, in the form of a Faire necklace made of some kind of rusted iron and set with little gears, to the DJ. He nodded back, then resumed his work.

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I did a visual inspection of the station. Oh, great.

I did a visual inspection of the station. Oh, great. There, attending the tour, was Queen Gwyneth. I hunkered down. It’s not like she’d notice or even recognise me: she seemed as lost in the music as everyone else. With her was an elegant lady in a cloak, the tour guide. The ten or fifteen folk on the tour were all talking excitedly about the furniture, the fittings, the green light that drifted down from floating orbs. To be honest, their conversations annoyed me, as they sometimes got a bit loud and it was harder to hear the amazing music.

It was impossible not to lose myself in the music that flowed from the DJ’s capable machines. Every horn motif seemed to make the hall bigger. The colours seemed brighter. My imagination soared. I thought to glance back at the music booth and there was his name on a little brass plaque. Nyza Stillwater. Well, Mr Stillwater, I thought, I’ll have to hope I end up being assigned as your guard more often during this Faire. At this point, I noticed two giggling fairies who’d just walked in. “Oh my stars, there he is! It’s really him!” Great. Fangirls. I mentally climbed out of the music, which had changed from a melody sweet enough to make Derek cry to a strange electronic circus march, to watch the fairies. Mr Stillwater hadn’t noticed them, thank the gods. If they got any closer, I’d have to say something.

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It seemed Her Majesty had noticed them as well.

It seemed Her Majesty had noticed them as well; she took up a post between them and the music booth on the other side. Wait: did she know him? Suddenly I felt the urge to actually go up and speak to her.

Luckily for all of us, the tour progressed up to the market and the fairies followed along, though they did cast several flirtatious glances in Mr Stillwater’s direction. I don’t think he even knew they were there, he was so immersed. Gwyneth left with the tour crowd as well—and that was just as well, because I really didn’t need any more drama in my night, or my life, than this music was giving me. And it was such good drama. I wanted to sit down right there and outline a novel about Erstwhile Station, some great intrigue, some lover’s tryst happening right underneath the not-so-watchful eyes of station personnel, maybe a forbidden auction of clandestine wares, perhaps some vitally important spy being transported to a safe house, but the only way through was through Erstwhile Station.

I’m usually so good at keeping my mind on my work, but all this music made me want to do was dream, and dance, and live a million stories, all at once.

Eventually, the women (they were all woman; that seemed a bit odd) on the tour made their way back down into the station itself. Everyone seemed to go their separate ways after that, and Mr Stillwater ended the music set. He acknowledged me with another nod and the briefest smile before he headed up to the docks, presumably to catch an airship to somewhere. I knew I’d hear these tunes in my mind as I went on to my next assignment.

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My next assignment turned out to be left luggage.

My next assignment turned out to be…. left luggage. Seriously? Left Luggage? I have years of combat training, enough magic to get by, and Derek puts me on Left Luggage?

Fine.

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I’d just pace around Left Luggage for what? Six hours? Great.

I’d just pace around Left Luggage for what? Six hours? Great. Sometimes I’m ready to blame the whole I-always-get-the-dumb-jobs thing on being female and not really into dressing like the cover of a circa 1980s fantasy novel, but whatever. I let the whole thing go. Unusual for me, I know. The Amazing Catwoman does not let things go.

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Instead, I looked out at the port behind me, and I daydreamed.

Instead, I looked out at the port behind me, and I daydreamed. Daydreamed to memories of music with titles like “Sky Is the Limit” and “Starfall” and “Chronopolis”, things I’d never imagined hearing before but knew that I must hear again. I almost pulled out my phone and did a search on Mr Stillwater right then and there, to see what the rest of his public Faire schedule was, but no: I’d wait til I got back to my digs in Pools of Ethuil in the morning to do that.

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For now, it seemed enough to remember, imagine, and dream.

For now, it seemed enough to remember, imagine, and dream. Something about the way my mind reacted to that music made me want to dream more.

Maybe this will be a Faire for dreaming.


DJ Nyza Stillwater has handled the music for most of the region tours sponsored by the Fantasy Faire LitFest for the past three years, though he’s been DJing at Fantasy Faire Radio for longer than that.  He and I met last year after I led a LitFest tour of Raven’s Perch. Our first conversation was a little like TAC’s internal dialogue, above—how inspiring I’d found it, what wonderful ambiance he created. We were standing near the memorial stones on Raven’s Perch, and I explained that one of the names on the stone was my late husband, Joe Raftery. We talked a little about music, and I told him the story about how, during the last year of Joe’s life, he’d go around to conventions and sing “The Parting Glass” to make everybody cry, then follow it up with “I Am Not Dead Yet” from Monty Python’s Spamalot to make everybody laugh. I explained how, when I told my therapist what an emotional roller coaster this was for me, my therapist suggested that maybe I find a song to sing for him that explained how I felt. So I did something I’d been thinking of for a long time: I learned Annie Lenox’s beautiful song “Into the West” and began regularly performing it with the harp after Joe sang these songs. It always made people cry, and it’s remained in my regular repertoire since then. Even after Joe’s death, performing that song is a source of comfort for me, I explained. Nyza said, “Well, I guess I’d better play that for you right now, then.” And that he did. We became SL friends and kept talking to one another both throughout the Faire and afterwards. And, well, some of you might have noticed that my SL display name has changed. Nyza and I were partnered in SL last summer, and we will get married in SL tomorrow, 22 April, 2018, in Astrid’s Nemeton. 

Every year, the Fantasy Faire LitFest team prepares and leads tours of all the FF Regions. Nyza’s music helps set the scene and create the ambiance. If you haven’t been on a LitFest tour or experienced Nyza’s wonderful musical sets, check out the LitFest Page on the Fantasy Faire website. The tours are designed to promote inspiration and creativity, and everyone is invited to submit the stories they write about the regions to be published on the official Fantasy Faire blog!

Style Cards:
The Amazing Catwoman
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ Bento Mesh Head, Lulu
Skin: Lumae, Elvi (Ethisi) (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Pools of Ethuil!)
Eyes: The Little Bat, AED Eyes (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Severina!)
Ears: Gauze, High Elf Ears
Necklace: HarshLands, FFX Necklace, Steampunk (uncommon) (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Willows of Nienna!)
Dress: Stitched, Ginnifer Dress (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Pools of Ethuil!)
Hair: Raven Bell, Chronos (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Erstwhile!)
Braid: Raven Bell, Bento Braid (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Erstwhile!)
Shoes: The Dark Fae, DraciChic (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Santoria!)

Gwyneth:
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ Bento Mesh Head, Lulu
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Helena
Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Severina!)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Necklace: Zuri, Sweet Bouquet Necklace Hair: Raven Bell, Chronos (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Erstwhile!)
Tiara: Zuri, Zahra Floral Tiara (Available NOW at the 2018 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, in the Realm Erstwhile!)
Dress: Silvan Moon Designs, Vintage In Vogue Gown
Hair: Elikatira, Sophia
Shoes: The Plastik, Filvina High Heels

Location: The 2018 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, Realm of Erstwhile, Sponsored by The Looking Glass and designed by Sharni Azalee and Marcus Inkpen

Beginning a Book Forest

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Gwyneth:

I’m building a book forest. Yes, that’s right: a book forest. I got inspired by this gacha at The Guardians, the Storybook Gacha by BananaN. One of the rares is a Book Door! And I was thinking, what would you find if you walked through a Book Door? I’d come across this great set from Una, the Book Road, after I played an Una gacha at a past Fantasy Gacha Carnival, and I’ve been  meaning to use it and blog it every since, but life and my kitchen (don’t even ask!) and sickness got in the way, so it’s been on a shelf in my inventory for months now. I also have this great Book Tree from HarshLands that I’ve used in other places before and photographed on a couple of occasions.

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Building a Book Forest

Building a book forest, as it turns out, takes some time. I designated a portion of the sim platform to put it on and then began laying out paths. Now, I love to shop (tell us something we don’t know, Gwen!), and so when I got to check out some pre-release items that’ll be at The Crossroads, which opens today, 3 January, I discovered the magical work of Keira RaindaleRaindale has an absolutely gorgeous gacha coming out at The CrossroadsMaplemoor. It includes, among other gorgeous things which I’ll show you as I continue to build and photograph the Book Forest, the gorgeous lamp and wishing well you can see in this photograph.

So, what do you need, really, to build a Book Forest?

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You need a head full of stories.

You need a head full of stories, first of all. You must love, really love, story. I as a writer, blogger, songwriter, student, and investigator of all things mystical, love nothing better than a good story, and Gwyneth the character reflects this. Like me, her background is in literature and books; unlike me, her concentration is much more on poetry and high literature than mine is, though I have studied those bits and pieces and have read widely. Behind Gwyneth you can see both the Raindale Wishing Well and the HarshLands BookTree. Gwyneth’s skin is part of a stunning new set from The Plastik. Vae really hit this one out of the park, and this skin, Taryn, in colourway Creme, is available at The Plastik Main StoreThe hair is Carrie, new at the Analog Dog Main Store.

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You need a good lamppost.

You need a good lamppost. Possibly several of them. Because there is never a place in the forest where you’ll feel alone if you have something to guide your steps along the Book Road. All of the bits of the Book Road, by the way, are from Una, as are the large books that ring the forest. The trees surrounding the books are the Mystical Birches from The Little Branch. I’ll include a style card below the post, but Gwyneth is wearing a stunning new gown from JunbugLittle Bird. You can pick up the gown at this month’s Fameshed event; this is the Ruby Silk, but it comes, as you’d expect from Junbug, in a fabulous array of colours. I fell in love with this crown at the recently-closed Winter Solstice in the Mystic Realms event; it’s by Muse, the Rose Brooch Crown. This one wasn’t available at the event; I hunted it down at the Muse Main Store.

So, let’s see. You need a head full of stories. You need a good lamppost.

And, oh, yes.

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You need to not be afraid of the dark.

You need to not be afraid of the dark.

There’s more to come: I’m in love with my book forest, and I will show you all of it, once it’s done.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Catya Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Analog Dog (natch!),  Carrie (NEW at the Analog Dog Main Store!)
Eyes: Mesange, Serendipity Eyes (Omega eye appliers)
Skin: The Plastik, Taryn in Creme (NEW at The Plastik Main Store!)
Hands: Vista, Bento Prohands
Nails: ZOZ, New Year’s Nails (Dark) (Available NOW at Cosmopolitan!)
Gown: Junbug, Little Bird (Available NOW at Fameshed!)
Crown: Muse, Rose Brooch Crown
Shoes (even though you can’t see ’em!): Illi, Rosalynn Heels

Scene:
Book Door: BananaN, Book Doorway, from the Storybook Gacha (Available NOW at The Guardians,!)
Book Road: Una, Book Road, Small
Flanking Books: Una, Book Road, Book 5, Book 6, Book 2
Lamppost: Raindale, Maplemoor Lantern, from the Maplemoor Gacha (Coming Soon to The Crossroads, which opens TODAY, 3 January 2017)
Wishing Well: Raindale, Maplemoor Well, from the Maplemoor Gacha (Coming Soon to The Crossroads, which opens TODAY, 3 January 2017)
Forked Tree: The Little Branch, Green Ash
Mushroom Circle: The Roawenwood, Tangleshimmer Grove Fairy Ring (Purple)
Book Tree: HarshLands, Book Tree
Grasses: all from Alirium, Puffy Grass and Downy Grass
Glowing Undergrowth: Cerridwen’s Cauldron, Gaia Undergrowth
Poses: An Lar, all from the Ava Series

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never build Book Forests without it!

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Off on an Adventure? And, A Tree Grows in the Treehouse…. That’s not weird, is it?

Gwyneth:

Gwyneth:

I woke up in the middle of the night to do the sorts of things that even Fae Queens must do in the middle of the night, and there was… well.

There was a tree. In my bedroom. Like, right at the foot of my bed. It wasn’t the sort of thing I could miss, especially as there was a large lantern hanging off a branch positioned directly above my pillow.

Seriously, Universe? A tree? In my bedroom?

Seriously, Universe? A tree? In my bedroom?

Seriously, Universe? A tree? In my bedroom? I mean, obviously I live in a treehouse. But a whole extra tree? And this one comes with books, all written in a foreign language. I don’t even recognise the text. Dyisi took a look at them earlier, and she just sort of ‘meh’ed and then we moved on to talking about boys and clothes. Yes, Dyisi and I talk about boys and clothes. Stop laughing.

So when I got back from the place where even Fae Queens have to go....

So when I got back from the place where even Fae Queens have to go….

So when I got back from the place where even Fae Queens have to go… after the moonlight had clothed me in autumn, I did what any sane Queen would do upon realising there’s a strange tree full of books growing in her bedroom.

Because, duh. That’s what trees are for, right? You climb the tree, you have a think, you climb down off the tree, and it disappears from your bedroom, yes?

No.

What does happen is you go over to your little makeup table and you find an invitation. To a ball.

What does happen is you go over to your little makeup table and you find an invitation. To a ball.

What does happen is you go over to your little makeup table and you find and invitation. To a ball. In a far-off realm.

Apparently some relative of Father’s needs a Royal Sidhe on his arm for some charity event. He needs someone who’s unknown and a bit exotic. Of course, the invitation doesn’t say this, but I picked it up from touching the scroll.

It’s a more contemporary Realm than ours, much more contemporary. And it has an openly Fae upper class. Should be an interesting trip. I think I’m going to go: Father wouldn’t have given my name to anyone if he thought there’d be trouble. Certainly he wouldn’t do a thing like that.

I did spend some time thinking about it, though.

I did spend some time thinking about it, though.

I did spend some time thinking about it, though. Should I, or shouldn’t I?

There is so much going on in our Realm. A plague we don’t understand. Demifae uprisings. Goblin wars. But– a chance to ride in a limousine, have my nails done for real instead of just glamoured, check some email, post to my ‘blog’ openly instead of hiding out in an Internet Cafe in a nearby realm where they don’t like Fae at all.

And I could use the break. I think I really could.

Getting Dressed

Getting Dressed

Clutie and Dani are all excited about the trip: they want to dress me once beforehand so we can see what I’ll look like on the night. They’re hard to refuse, those two.

So Clutie and Dani do my hair and fix me up in a dress that will work in a modern realm.

So Clutie and Dani do my hair and fix me up in a dress that will work in a modern realm.

So Clutie and Dani do my hair and fix me up in a dress that will work in a modern realm; : we’ll take this one, though I reserve the right to buy something new if it catches my eye! I do like what they did with the beads and the braid, though. They’re the best hairdressers ever, these two. I’m taking Clutie with me, for sure.

Should I worry about the children? About the plague? About the war? I know I should, but I want to get away. I need to get away. Does that make me a runner? Am I a running runner? Maybe I am. But I’m going. Going to have a nice time with a guy I don’t know at a party in a Realm where I’ve never been before, and the Court is just going to have to deal with it, because I’m the Queen and I say I’m going, so there.

I will be gone IRL from Friday-Monday, at a music conference with friends in Darkest Somerset. So while Gwyneth is away dancing her feet off, I’ll be singing my head off with friends old and new. Enjoy the long weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you when I get back!

Style Cards:

Seriously, Universe?
Body: Maitreya
Skin: Fallen Gods, OpalFae (Eden) (Available at the Illumination Point Event!)
Hair: Olive, The Powder Hair
Ears: Soul, Uni Ears, High Elf
Undies: Erratic, Fiona, Nude
Tree: HarshLands, Fantasy Book Tree

Autumn Fae Photos:
Body: 
Maitreya
Skin: 
Fallen Gods, OpalFae (Eden) (Available at the Illumination Point Event!)
Hair: 
Olive, The Powder Hair
Ears: Soul, Uni Ears, High Elf
Outfit: Flippant: Cicada Fall Fae (This was the August Group Gift at Flippant’s Main Store,so you only have a few more days to get it: after that, it goes up to 179L.)
Tree: HarshLands, Fantasy Book Tree

Getting Dressed:
Body: Maitreya
Skin: Fallen Gods, OpalFae (Eden) (Available at the Illumination Point Event!)
Hair: Olive, The Powder Hair
Ears: Soul, Uni Ears, High Elf
Undies: Erratic, Fiona, Nude
Shoes: Deviance, M’Lady’s Slippers, Sapphire
Dressing Table: Aisling, Coquette (Available at Festival of Sin!)

Hairdressing with Clutie and Dani:
Body: Maitreya
Skin: Fallen Gods, OpalFae (Eden) ((Available at the Illumination Point Event!)
Hair: No Match, No Siren (Available at Enchantment!)
Ears: Soul, Uni Ears, High Elf
Dress: Mistique: Elora Gown, Blue (Available at the Illumination Point Event!)
Shoes: Deviance, M’Lady’s Slippers, Sapphire

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

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