Hairology!

Gwyneth Blog Header

Gwyneth:

I’m still not feeling creative enough to work on the story-blogging, so you get two posts in a row that are mostly straight-up fashion blogs for me. Sorry about that, and I do promise to get back to the story blogging as soon as I can.

I’ve been blogging Hairology for a few months now, because it’s one of my favourite events. This would be because I’m a complete SL hair addict (I hear my friends going, “No!”). This month, Hairology gave the designers a month to rest, because Hair Fair is just around the corner (OH YES!), so the Hairology designers have put some of their favourite styles out at a discount this month. So there’s great hair there at discounts of between 25 and 50%, not to mention many of the creators have little cakes in front of their stalls, which contain (YES!) free hair! There’s so much good stuff at this event I can’t possibly show you all of it, so I’ve picked just six styles to highlight.

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First up, Wasabi Pills!

First up, Wasabi Pills! Wasabi Pills has been a staple of Second Life hair since I started coming back to SL to role-play about five years ago, and I used to pretty much live in Wasabi Pills hair. This is one of my favourite styles she’s done in some time, and it’s called Ocean. It’s available at Hairology for 50% off for the duration of the event. Now, because I can never highlight just one thing, I’m also playing with some different skins in this post, and of course I’ll tell you all about the clothes as well. I’ve also indulged in a little SL tourism in this post, so I hope you’ll enjoy the great photo locations and maybe  visit a few of them yourself.Gwyneth is wearing a Glam Affair skin here; I picked up the Viktoria Catwa applier at this month’s Collabor88, and of course the Maitreya body is loaded with Glam Affair skins, so I didn’t have to worry about body appliers for this one. I wanted to keep all the skins in the same shade range that Gwyneth normally wears: as a Sidhe, she is naturally pale but healthy looking; this is tone “Europa”. The dress is from Tres Blah; it was in the May Luxe Box. Body is Maitreya, Head is Catwa Helena, eyes are Soul Sidhe Eyes, ears are BentBox Sylvan Ears.

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This location is The Yorkshire Dales.

This location is The Yorkshire Dales. It’s in the SL Destination Guide Editor’s Picks at the moment, and it’s well worth a visit. The poses here are from the Bauhaus Movement Luna Beam series, which I picked up at this month’s Liaison Collaborative.

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And here we have hair from Phoenix!

And here we have hair from Phoenix! The style is called Kathy, and it’s 25% off at Hairology this month. The skin here is one I’ve already showcased in the last blog entry, but it’s worth an extra mention: it’s 7 Deadly s[K]ins Leslie head applier in new colourway Sand. The crown is the Kibitz Mynerva Circlet, and the necklace is Serena Teardropby Maxi Gossamer.

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The dress Gwyneth is wearing here is very special.

The dress Gwyneth is wearing here is very special. It’s the Callista Rain Wedding Gown Set from Silvan Moon Designs. Who are Silvan Moon Designs, you ask? They’re a collaboration between The White Armory and Blue Moon Enterprises, and as you can see, this style is just stunning. It comes in a variety of colours and has that amazing flowing-but-fitted look that Bee Dumpling manages to put across with so many of her designs for The White Armory. Body is Maitreya, Head is Catwa Helena, eyes are Soul Sidhe Eyes, ears are BentBox Sylvan Ears. The first pose is from !bang, number 562. The second one is again from Bauhaus Movement’s Luna Beam series. The location is The Balladwood, which is part of my sim.

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Mina Hair always has something to offer

Mina hair always has something to offer; this style is Juliet, available at Hairology for 50% off this month. Mina’s textures are so lush! I wanted to take Gwyneth somewhere hot to shoot this photograph, so I picked New Brighton Beach Pier, which is one of those places that’s been around in Second Life for ages and still manages to be a fun location to visit and great for photography. You can even rez stuff there, so it’s easy to get your poses exactly the way you want them to be. The clothes are from the current round of Cosmopolitan: they’re from Asteria, part of a mix-and-match collection of sleeveless blouses and short-short skirts called Taylor. The shoes are Empire, the Erica flats from the most recent Enchantment round. Body is Maitreya, Head is Catwa Helena, eyes are Soul Sidhe Eyes, ears are BentBox Sylvan Ears.

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Here’s a closer shot of this beautiful Mina hair.

Here’s a closer shot of this beautiful Mina hair. The skin in these photos is from LeForme, and it’s my first LeForme skin. Well, second, really. See, I liked the LeForme skin that was on sale at this month’s We ❤ RP, but it was too dark and freckled for Gwyneth, so I went to their main store and picked up this one as well, Luna, in their Pale shade. I about tripped myself up looking for body appliers in their main store before I realised they were all right there in the skin package! Both these poses are from the An Lar Kildare series.

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Pr!tty!

Pr!tty! I travelled back to White Owl Island for these next two photographs. White Owl isn’t ready to open yet, but we have kitted out the book store, as you can see! Now, I don’t buy a lot of Pr!tty hair, mostly because the styles are a bit too sleek for Gwyneth. But this style, NaviI think I first bought at The Chapter 4 a while ago, and I love it—and not just for the sparkly headband that comes with it! It’s at Hairology for 25% off, so I fatpacked it since I only had one colour previously. Because, you know. One day I might want pink ombre hair. (What? I really might! Stop looking at me like that!) Are these jeans not amazing, by the way? They’re from Purple Moon, and they’re at this month’s On9 event. The shirt is from The Vintage Fair, which really must visit if you haven’t yet; it’s made by Gawk, the Anthracite Favourite Sloppy Sweater. I picked it up because ICly, Gwyneth is originally from London and she feels a bit nostalgic about it from time to time. These shoes are Reign‘s Kiko Flats from this month’s FaMeshed. The base remains the same: Body is Maitreya, Head is Catwa Helena, eyes are Soul Sidhe Eyes, ears are BentBox Sylvan Ears.

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Still Pr!tty!

Still Pr!tty In this photo, you can see the light-uppy headband better. Gwyneth loves crowns, being a Queen, and she also loves things that light up, being Gwyneth, so those two things stuck together make her a very happy Fae Queen. This skin is from The Skinnery, another kind of skin I’ve not worn in ages. I really liked the Magali Catwa applier (in tone Milk) they had at Collabor88, though, so I took the plunge and invested. And, boo-yah! When I went to the Skinnery main store to pick up body appliers, I found that they make appliers for my beloved BentBox ears! Happy, happy day! These poses are from the InMotion Summertime set, which is available at this month’s round of The Instruments.

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Mithril Apothecary’s Taproot

Next, we move from White Owl to Everlong. I know I’ve shot in Everlong before, but I think a few things have changed since I’ve been there. I discovered this fun stage, and I liked the sentiment expressed on the white board, even if it is an old General Foods’ International Coffee slogan. I also love anything that has to do with swans. Anyway, Taproot is another hair I’d bought in only one colour previously, but the 50% off price at Hairology enabled me to buy the fatpack! The clothes are the Spirit Sianna Jeans and Shirt, available at this month’s Collabor88. The shoes are also available at Collabor88: they’re the Schadenfreude Flannery Loafers. As always, Body is Maitreya, Head is Catwa Helena, eyes are Soul Sidhe Eyes, ears are BentBox Sylvan Ears. This and the pose in the photo that follow are both from the An Lar Hollow series.

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More Taproot

Here, you can see the texture on the Mithril Apothecary Taproot hair a bit better. The necklace Gwyneth is wearing is the Bellona Necklace from a Tia gacha, though I couldn’t tell you which event I got it from. As for the skin, it’s from DeeTaleZ. I have long been a fan of DeeTaleZ skins; this is one of their recent Catwa faces, Fable, in their lightest shade, Celtic.

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And finally, No Match

And finally, here is No Match‘s No Answer, which is at 25% off for Hairology. Once again, the clothes come from Collabor88: the Addams Rocker Zipper Jeans and Tina Classic Shirt and Bra. Gwyneth’s basic construction remains the same: Body is Maitreya, Head is Catwa Helena, eyes are Soul Sidhe Eyes, ears are BentBox Sylvan Ears. Now, this location is a place I just found out about today through Ziki Questi’s BlogThe Gates of Melancholy. You have got to visit this place. It’s stunning. Designed after the paintings of Andrew Wyeth, I could not get enough of this sim. In fact, if I hadn’t already shot all those photos in other locations and this had been my first location, I would almost certainly have shot the whole set in The Gates of Melancholy. But I’m too lazy to reshoot ten photographs, so you get The Gates of Melancholy as a sort of “last but not least”, even though that might be a cliché. Might be. Anyway, not since I discovered Windwept have I been so utterly enamoured of a SL location, and you can bet I’ll be back here to shoot some more. In fact, I can almost feel a story coming on, just looking at this place. And isn’t that what the best places in SL do, anyway? They inspire us. They make us want to create, ourselves.

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Now for a closer look at Gwyneth at The Gates of Melancholy

Now for a closer look at Gwyneth at The Gates of Melancholy. This time, the skin is one anybody who reads my blog (all two of you! Thanks!) will find very familiar: it’s Lumae’s Eirtae, in her lightest Tone 1Lumiya Rae also makes appliers for my beloved BentBox Sylvan Ears, which is only one of the many reasons why I love her and her skins and why I’m so proud to be a Lumae blogger. I’m really chuffed to say that just today, she updated this skin. Of course, I’d already taken these photographs, and we know from above that I just can’t be bothered to go back and reshoot photos. However, the next time you see Gwyneth in Eirtae, it’ll certainly be the updated and repainted version! By the way, if you own the Bare  version of Eirtae and you haven’t received an update yet, Lumiya says there are thousands to be sent out and you might get them quicker by popping by the Lumae Main Store and hitting the redelivery terminal there.

So just to wrap up, this month’s Hairology  is worth a visit for so many reasons, not just these six. There are so many more great discounted hairstyles waiting for you there, not to mention the freebies inside the cake pieces! And don’t forget that the most exciting thing about all this is the reason why Hairology is offering discounted hair this month: the designers are being given time to prepare their wares for Hair Fair, which opens on the 16th of July! I can’t wait!

No Style Cards today; they’re all embedded in the text. 

I’m making a concerted effort to credit the great pose creators whose work I use in my blog posts. I haven’t been doing that, mostly because I use an Ani-Mate Pose Hud most of the time, and so I cycle through poses very quickly. From here on out, I’m going to try and make sure all poses are credited, not only so that folks know where they might find them, but so I myself can remember which ones I used!

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never ramble for hours about hair and skins without it!

 

 

Preparing for Samhain

Gwyneth:

Gwyneth:

I could tell something was up; Clutie and Dani were chittering like mad this morning. I mean, more than they usually chitter. And usually they know better than to enter my bedroom before Bran has brought me my first pot of coffee; speaking of which we’re running out of the Kona I got when I was in Nu Jyorck; I’m going to have to go back and replace it soonish. And eventually I’ll have to tell you all what happened while I was there. It wasn’t anything huge and spectacular, but Nu Jyorck was a very interesting place.

Anyway. I could tell something was up. And then it dawned on me. Autumn has come to the Bower and to the Realm. Mason is swift approaching. And that means… shit.

“Your Majesty, Your Majesty!” Finally, Clutie could no longer contain herself. “The first wave of Samhain gowns is here for you to try on!”

Oh, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Samhain gowns. It’s about to be masqued ball season, and the Fae are very, very serious about Samhain parties. Now, I love parties as well as the next girl, but back in my old life, Halloween was never my favourite holiday, and don’t get me started on British vs. American customs. But the fact is, the Fae seem to celebrate Halloween (Samhain) far more in the spirit of the Americans than the British. Which, OK, is fine, but a lifetime of being told that “we do not dress up and go door to door in this country, well not at Halloween, anyway,” will stick with a girl, you know?

I tried to roll over in bed, but that little bitch landed on my head. Her feet were all wet from dew, and she practically stuck a toe up my nose. Ew.

“Fine, fine, fine,” I said finally. “Where do you want to do it?”

“Ballroom!” she and Dani chorused together. They’d obviously been planning this since before the sun came up. So I got up and didn’t bother doing anything with myself, since they’d be poking and prodding at me all morning anyway. Let them worry about whether or not there are knots in my hair.

The first dress they had me try was surprisingly regal!

The first dress they had me try was surprisingly regal!

The first dress they had me try was surprisingly regal! And I have to admit, I loved the jewellery Dani picked out. The dress designer is Dark Water Designs, and the jewellery is from Devious Mind. Dani did my face with some more of those designs she gets from Madrid Solo, and Clutie pulled my hair back in to a simple design from Rezology which I actually rather liked.

"It might be too formal," Clutie said critically.

“It might be too formal,” Clutie said critically.

“It might be too formal,” Clutie said critically.

“What? What are you talking about? I love it!” I wrapped my arms around my chest, unwilling to have them remove the dress. “It’s perfect! We don’t have to try any of the others: let’s just pick this one!”

Dani clucked. Clutie kissed her teeth. “Your Majesty,” she said. “My Lady. You know there are no less than seven separate masqued balls you’ll be expected to attend this season? You can’t wear the same dress to all of them.”

I groaned.

“No, you can’t send regrets to any of them,” Clutie said sternly. “Put your big girl wings on and lift your arms so we can get you out of this dress and into the next one. Put it in the ‘yes’ wardrobe,” she said to Kern. Why do they always pick him to do the heavy lifting? Then again, he does look stunning without a shirt on.

“And when you’re done with that,” I said, “send a message and cancel my brunch with the children. They won’t mind.”

"The children need Samhain outfits too," Clutie said as she straightened the mermaid skirt on this dress.

“The children need Samhain outfits too,” Clutie said as she straightened the mermaid skirt on this dress.

“The children need Samhain outfits too,” Clutie said as she straightened the mermaid skirt on this dress. Dani nodded as she deftly attached a butterfly made of black titanium to the dress’ headband.

I just shook my head. “Let’s really not think about the prospect of getting Bronwyn to wear black this morning.” The two Sidhe footmen pulled the mirror around so I could see myself. “Oh! I love this one too! I look like a goth flapper! A Gibson Girl without the boobage!”

This dress is by Beyond Persuasion Designs, and Clutie explained (she was translating for Dani, whose only human language is Portuguese, of all things) that the raven tattoo pattern came with the dress, but that it was her idea to match them with the face paint design from Mon Cher and the jewellery from Alchemy Immortals. She was quick to point out that she’d chosen the hair design from Lelutka when I praised it. I had to laugh at that. “Right,” I said. “Yes wardrobe for this one too: next!”

"Next!"

“Next!”

Clutie giggled. “That’s the spirit!” she said as the two footmen came round to help me shimmy out of the dress. (Yes, of course they were cute. There are no ugly footmen in the Seelie Court!)

"It's purple! I love purple!" I said, when I saw this one.

“It’s purple! I love purple!” I said, when I saw this one.

“It’s purple! I love purple!” I said, when I saw this one.

“It has purple accents, Your Majesty.” Clutie always gets more formal when she is correcting me or telling me how to do something, I’ve noticed.

“Whatever.” I rolled my eyes. “What? Drysi’s not here to do it: somebody has to be the teenager here.”

Clutie clucked. “Do you know where Her Highness is, Your Majesty?”

Uh, oh. Two formal titles in one sentence. “I do not,” I said tightly. “Dyisi would only say she’s somewhere safe and she’ll come to me when she’s ready.”

Clutie sniffed and visibly chose not to say anything more on the matter. “Kern, put the Facepalm dress into the ‘yes’ wardrobe, and note that we’re using the MOCK makeup and the Eden Moon jewellery with it, please? Hair is…” she flipped through a set of index cards big enough that she had to use both hands. “Oh! Rezology again.”

Kern sighed the sigh of the long-suffering and complied. As the two footmen moved to remove this dress, he did manage one comment: “Why are you always sending me out of the room when the Queen’s undressed, hm?” There were giggles. They might have been from me.

I gave the dress a final twirl and waited for them to bring on the next one.

I gave the dress a final twirl and waited for them to bring on the next one.

I gave the dress a final twirl and waited for them to bring on the next one.

“It’s not really a ‘room’, Kern,” Clutie muttered while she went through designer cards to decide which dress would be next.

No sooner had they put the next dress on me than a small murder of crows appeared.

No sooner had they put the next dress on me than a small murder of crows appeared.

No sooner had they put the next dress on me than a small murder of crows appeared. “Well, I guess this means Nemaine approves of this one,” I said.

"Would you cretins get off me? And don't be taking any more of my hair back to Nemaine: she's got plenty already," I grumbled.

“Would you cretins get off me? And don’t be taking any more of my hair back to Nemaine: she’s got plenty already,” I grumbled.

“Would you cretins get off me? And don’t be taking any more of my hair back to Nemaine: she’s got plenty already,” I grumbled.

Clutie ignored the crows and asked Kern to make a note that the Moeko dress included jewellery by Glint and another facepaint design by Madrid Solo, lipstick by MOCK. I asked about the body paint, and she explained it was a design that actually came with the dress, from the dress designer. “Tableau Vivant for the hair,” she whispered to Kern.

“When did I start handling the notecards?” Kern asked.

“You complained about not seeing the Queen naked,” Clutie responded. “So I’m handing off the wardrobe job to….” she flung her hand out in a seemingly random direction. “him!” A surprised steward’s assistant came running from the ballroom’s edge. “Yes, madam; of course, madam,” he said. Clutie rolled her eyes at him, but I don’t think he noticed: Clutie’s eyes are very small, of course, and he only had eyes for me. Of course.

I liked the dress a lot better once the crows had been shooed away at last.

I liked the dress a lot better once the crows had been shooed away at last.

I liked the dress a lot better once the crows had been shooed away at last. “Hey, you can see my shoes!”

GizzA,” Clutie informed. “You’ve been wearing them all morning.”

“I know, I know!” I said. “But now I can see them!”

Clutie sighed. “Next dress, please?”

“Next dress, please.”

"Now, this," I said, "really makes me feel like a Gothic Samhain Princess. And Dani, what have you done with my hair?"

“Now, this,” I said, “really makes me feel like a Gothic Samhain Princess. And Dani, what have you done with my hair?”

“Now this,” I said, “really makes me feel like a Gothic Samhain Princess. And Dani, what have you done with my hair?”

Dani chittered excitedly to Clutie. “Analog Dog, she says,” Clutie informed. “Best curls ever, she says.” Clutie turned to Kern. “Necklace is from Cae, armlets are from Earthstones, dress is from Deceitful Innocence.” Kern grumbled that she was talking too fast, and she grumbled back. “Makeup is Madrid Solo and MOCK again.OK, strike a Gothic Princess pose for us, Your Majesty, and then we’ll move on to the last dress for this morning.”

"Only one more dress?" I moaned. "Oh, the humanity!"

“Only one more dress?” I moaned. “Oh, the humanity!”

“Only one more dress?” I moaned. “Oh, the humanity!”

Everybody laughed. Some of the footmen applauded, luckily not the ones who were holding up the mirrors.

“Right, Your Majesty. Keep your eyes closed for this next one: I want you to get the whole effect immediately!” Clutie had a wicked gleam in her eyes.

“Am I going to hate it that much?” I asked.

Clutie smirked. “I have absolutely no idea,” she said, wide-eyed.

So I closed my eyes, because after all, these are my trusted advisors, right? Clutie would never steer me wrong. I felt — ooh, definitely raw silk. I heard the swishing of fabric, the engaging of buttons and clips. Someone slid my shoes off and added stockings—felt like fishnet! I love fishnet. On my feet, definitely boots (I love boots). And… was that a hat they were putting on my head? Oh, help.

"Open your eyes, Your Majesty," Clutie said.

“Open your eyes, Your Majesty,” Clutie said.

“Open your eyes, Your Majesty,” Clutie said.

I couldn’t stop myself: I squealed! I screamed with delight. “It’s so, so, so, Purple!

Clutie fell backwards in the air, she was laughing so hard. She managed to get out, “It’s So- So- So- Souled Out, actually!”

We were all laughing by this time. “The hat too?”

“Yes, the hat too.” Clutie grinned widely. “I knew I was right to save this one for last. Kern– did you get that? Dress is by Souled Out. Makeup is Madrid Solo. Hair is Olive. Boots are Lassitude and Ennui, and the necklace is Maxi Gossamer.

Kern scribbled furiously— at least he could almost manage the notecards.

I turned sideways. "You have no idea how much I love this outfit," I said to no one in particular.

I turned sideways. “You have no idea how much I love this outfit,” I said to no one in particular.

I turned sideways. “You have no idea how much I love this outfit,” I said to no one in particular.

Several different versions of, “Oh, yes, we do, Your Majesty!” came from various voices.

"I'm not taking it off," I declared.

“I’m not taking it off,” I declared.

“I’m not taking it off,” I declared.

“Yes, you are, Your Majesty,” Clutie replied. “Because it is not Samhain yet, and this is for a Samhain party.” Demifae logic. Gotta love it.

“But I don’t want to take it off!” I protested.

“Would you like me to ask the guards for help?”

I smirked. “I can’t decide whether to say ‘yes, because then I’d have sexy Sidhe men holding me down,’ or ‘no, because the jacket might get torn in the process….'”

In the end, I let them take it off me and went back to my chambers with a spring in my step and a smile on my face.

But the HAT. Oh, sweet Lady of Summer, I love the HAT!

But the HAT. Oh, sweet Lady of Summer, I love the HAT!

Style card for items not mentioned specifically in the text:
Body: Maitreya
Skin: DeeTaleZ
Ears: Lumae
Eyebrows: Dead Apples
Hands (and feet, even when not visible): SLink

All these clothes, and the Glint jewellery, are available at Endless Love of the Night: A Gothic Wedding Eventhosted by Hidden Sanctuary Events. Many of them are exclusives; for example, only 20 copies of the Beyond Persuasion gown Gwyneth is wearing in the second set of photos will be sold. 

Endless Love of the Night: A Gothic Wedding Event is OPEN NOW!

Hidden sanctuary events sign

See you at Hidden Sanctuary!

See you at Hidden Sanctuary!

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!

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