Waking to Autumn

Gwyneth:

Gwyneth:

Every day is a story here in the Wylds, and today, a day on the verge of the Autumnal Equinox, which we call Mabon, was no different. I’m accustomed to strange things happening in the treehouse, strange things happening in the Bower, and the Land itself makes changes when it wills.

And oh, my darlings, Autumn is coming.

I awoke in the ballroom, on the still-warm ground.

I awoke in the ballroom, on the still-warm ground.

I awoke in the ballroom, on the still-warm ground. The soft blanket of leaves that covered me brushed away when I turned and half-rose to consider my surroundings. I’d gone to bed in my cosy room in the Treehouse, with a warm fire burning and my magical tree lantern burning slow and low above my bed. But now, the trees were dressed for Autumn, and, it seemed, so was I. Leaf wings, a leafy dress, leaves twining round my arms and legs, and the funny pinpricks of new ink on my arms and legs, my hands and feet. Even my body felt different, my face. And the cluster of autumn moths that swirled and lighted on my cheek and surrounded my eye did not faze or annoy me. It couldn’t be just another day.

And, oh! Look, my loves, at the path from the ballroom.

And, oh! Look, my loves, at the path from the ballroom.

And oh! Look, my loves, at the path from the ballroom. Dressed in yellow and orange, the sky a twilight purple. I felt part of the landscape as I walked, barefoot, down the path an into the Bower proper. On my left, there was a large stone structure, which seemed to be at the centre of it all, but I turned in the opposite direction to see what else might be waiting for me, what the Land had done during the night.

When I turned right, I discovered a little greenhouse at the end of the path.

When I turned right, I discovered a little greenhouse at the end of the path.

When I turned right, I discovered a little greenhouse at the end of the path.

I couldn't stop myself from going inside.

I couldn’t stop myself from going inside.

I couldn’t stop myself from going inside. And I found — a room full of clocks. No less than nine clocks on the walls, on the floor, all set to the same time, pendulums out of sync with one another. The ticking alone might drive a woman mad, but when they chimed the hour — and it was seven o’clock in the morning, my loves, a time I think of as “Kitty Cat Breakfast Time,” since that was the time I used to get up and feed the cats back home in Southeast London. I am rarely up at this time here in the Wylds: night revels keep me busy and sleeping til noon is the custom here, of course. Unless you’re Nathaniel, who has to get up and deal with his morning meeting in Mysthaven each day, poor darling.

There was also a strange mask on the wall, some kind of glowing orb, unbelievable stacks of books, and somebody’s untidy and finished up of tea. Who knew what that was about. I’d come back and investigate later; for now, I wanted to take the third path, opposite the ballroom, and see what awaited me there.

Whimsical signs adorned the walkways.

Whimsical signs adorned the walkways.

Whimsical signs adorned the walkways. This one says, Once upon a time…, and the one just to my right says, Some Place Else…. I was fascinated by the signs and their little messages, so much so that I almost missed the treehouse (not the Treehouse: there was no sign of my beautiful Treehouse!) just behind me in my quest to get to the little stone house I could see peeking from behind the trees.

But first, there was a field of magical flowers to run through.

But first, there was a field of magical flowers to run through.

But first, there was a field of magical flowers to run through. Don’t tell Bronwyn, but I love running through those shimmering flowers as much as she does. Soon enough though, I turned to the red door.

The sign reads, "Storytellers Burrow".

The sign reads, “Storyteller’s Burrow”.

The sign reads, Storyteller’s Burrow, and the bell outside rang clear and bright when I pulled the cord. I could only guess what I might find inside.

inside, it was dark and cosy.

inside, it was dark and cosy.

Inside, it was dark and cosy. Every surface seemed to have at least one book, and more likely ten or twelve: the fireplace behind me is filled with books. I perched on the edge of this sofa to adjust to the dim light and get my bearings.

Morning light filtered in through the windows.

Morning light filtered in through the windows.

Morning light filtered in through the windows. A window seat filled with books. A broken clock, also filled with books. Books and more books, everywhere I looked.

Shelves and shelves of them.

Shelves and shelves of them.

Shelves and shelves of them. The back door leading out into the flower field was propped open with a stack of books, and there were books lining the stairway up to an alcove where there was a bed, and a desk—once again, piled high with books. Nathaniel will love this place, was all I could think.

I wandered through the flower field and back to the path...

I wandered through the flower field and back to the path…

I wandered through the flower field and back to the path… where I found the large stone structure I’d seen before from afar. it looks for all the world like some kind of ancient temple, with arches for doorways and very few actual doors. Wulfrich will not be pleased at the lack of security here, but it will give the guards and Knights something to do when they’re not out fighting goblins or trying to contain those animals affected by the plague spreading through the Realm. But I don’t wish to think on those things.

The temple itself was almost completely bare of furniture, save for  tea-room on the bottom level and a half-finished looking feasting hall in the large room on the higher level. Looks like I have a job to do, decorating such a place. But there are bedrooms for all the children, though I suspect Wren might spend much of her time in the little treehouse: she seems to like treehouses.

i walked through all the arches and courtyards to find one closed door.

I walked through all the arches and courtyards to find one closed door.

I walked through all the arches and courtyards to find one closed door. And I knew the Land had given me a fine and private place.

Inside, my familiar old couch—we call her "Justine".

Inside, my familiar old couch—we call her “Justine”.

Inside, my familiar old couch—we call her “Justine”.

And a simple table for private meals.

And a simple table for private meals.

And a simple table for private meals.

I sank down onto the rich red rug, and knew I was home.

I sank down onto the rich red rug, and knew I was home.

I sank down onto the rich, red rug, and knew I was home. The bed behind me seems made of trees, and I admit I retired to it, shortly after checking that my dressing and communication mirror was in place. I had Bran bring me a cup of chamomile tea (and thank the goddess the tea parlour was set up: there’s even an espresso machine there!), and then I retired to that lovely great bed for a much needed mid-morning nap.

I’m pleased to have so many spaces for people to stay: it looks like we will have refugees from Mysthaven staying here until we take care of that little problem with His Unseelie Majesty back at Mysthaven Castle. My hope is that Galyanna can take care of it on her own and my beloved won’t have to get involved, but there’s no telling what can happen when he is involved with things. I still get shivers when I think of Gwythyr Gwynn, and unlike the others, I say his name. Because while a name has power, speaking it gives me power. And I cannot show fear of him. I cannot.

And now, now that my morning nap’s done and I’ve been at this crappy old PC in an Internet Café, in a city that looks not unlike photographs I’ve seen of Seattle, and where there are no obvious Fae (I’m glamoured to the gills as I write this), I must get back. There is so much to do if I’m to have the place ready for the Samhain Ball, barely more than a month away now. So much to do.

Style Card:

Gwyneth:
Head: Lelutka, Stella
Skin: Lumae, Nisha Bare (New at the Lumae Main Store!)
Hair: No Match, No Angel
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Eyes: Mayfly, Luminous, Mesh Eye (Borealis)
Makeup and Moths: SlackGirl, Flies (Available at Apply Me!)
Dress, Arm and Leg Vines: Jinx, Amelia Autumn (Available at The Color Me Project!)
Wings: Faeline Fairy, Akemi, Fire
Necklace: Miamai, Rise In The Sun
Arm and Leg Tattoos: Things, Agneis & Airell Tattoo (Available at The Secret Affair!)

The Bower in Autumn:
Ballroom: The Looking Glass, Enchanted Ballroom
Moon and Stars Net: Refined Wild, Nightly Netting
Forest: Studio Skye, Enchanted Forest
Pathways: Happy Mood, Dirt Road
Signs, Stone Houses, Bookcases, Couches: 8f8, Storyteller’s Burrow (Available at The Arcade Gacha!)
Clocks: Remarkable Oblivion (Available at The Arcade Gacha!)
Large Stone Structure: Cariad, Priory of Elandriel
Gwyneth’s Bedroom/House: Cariad, Highlander Cottage
Couch: Libertine, Justine
Table and Chairs: SonToria, Farmstead Table and Chairs
Bed: On A Lark, Twig Bed
Flower Field: The Looking Glass, Ichi Fields

WLTB 500x500

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

The Amazing Catwoman: A History

The Amazing Catwoman:

The Amazing Catwoman:

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

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

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

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

My birth name is Astrid Fenella Tacey Wallin.

My birth name is Astrid Fenella Tacey Wallin.

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

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

In rock picture number one, he made me laugh.

In rock picture number one, he made me laugh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It just said, “Svart Alfar”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shari was a tiny thing.

Shari was a tiny thing.

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

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

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

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

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

“What?” I continued to squint toward Shari.

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

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

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

“Your name, Svart.

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

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

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

“She’s got no idea,” Shari said.

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

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

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

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

I stood up weakly.

I stood up weakly.

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

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

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

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

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

“How’d I do what?”

“How’d you find our safe house?”

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

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

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

I eyed Shari. “What are you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Style Cards:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WLTB 500x500Hidden sanctuary events sign skinlogodiap

Checkmate

The Gypsy Davey:

The Gypsy Davey:

We heard of a vineyard looking for hands, so we travelled west, to the island of Checkmate.

We arrived to a morning rainstorm.

We arrived to a morning rainstorm.

We arrived to a morning rainstorm, and took our time exploring the island before searching out the vineyard owner and seeing what work he might need from we realm-hoppers. The boys were on me all morning about the length of my hair: Dyisi’s magic has given me more than my colour back, and my hair seems to be growing inches every day. I have to keep it braided or pulled back, or it gets everywhere.

The boys discovered this folley on one end of the island, high above everything else.

The boys discovered this folly on one end of the island, high above everything else.

The boys discovered this folly on one end of the island, high above everything else. It wasn’t in poor repair and in fact looked like someone had been there recently: there were candles lit in the windows and the divan inside looked as if someone might have slept in it the night before. “We could sleep here Uncle,” one of the little ones said. I reminded him that we have cosy vardos and that we’d need to check the horses before we went much further, but then we took a walk a little further on.

Once the sky cleared, I thought I'd give the boys a little lesson in perspective.

Once the sky cleared, I thought I’d give the boys a little lesson in perspective.

Once the sky cleared, I thought I’d give the boys a little lesson in perspective. There were crows wheeling about everywhere: the creatures seem to follow me. “So,” I asked them. “Am I taller than this lighthouse?”

“No, Uncle,” said one of the big ones; I think he’s called Michael, but I forget these things. They’re just the boys. “The lighthouse is far away, and you only look bigger than it is.”

“Now, why is that?” I asked, and we had a lively discussion of how things could be the size of your thumb when you’re miles away but dwarf you when you got up close.

Then, of course, we checked the horse and saw to the wagons.

Then, of course, we checked the horses and saw to the wagons.

Then, of course, we checked the horses and saw to the wagons. The morning was beginning to wear, so I wanted to get in touch with the vineyard owner, who was sure to know that there were travelling folk on his land already.

He turned out to be an all right fellow, and his wife offered us tea, which we accepted.

He turned out to be an all right fellow, and his wife offered us tea, which we accepted.

He turned out to be an all right fellow, and his wife offered us tea, which we accepted. We found vines in need of a little tender loving care. The vineyard owner looked us over in the way they do, sniffed, said, “Well, you’ll do! I can use you for a week or so.” This life, you’ve got to be glad of what work you can get, but by the time the sun was higher in the sky, the day began to grow hazy, the way a day does after a morning rain. I figured I’d best go back to the vardo and exchange my raincoat and boots for something a little more forgiving of hard work and sweat.

I tied my hair up, and when I got back, the boys had already tended a third of the little vineyard.

I tied my hair up, and when I got back, the boys had already tended a third of the little vineyard.

I tied my hair up, changed my clothes, and when I got back, the boys had already tended a third of the little vineyard. “Good work boys, but you know there’s a bigger one back beyond those trees.” There was groaning: they’d been working full-out in hopes this was the whole of the vineyard. “A man doesn’t plant a whole island with grapes and have only this little space to show for it,” I said. “It’s another lesson in perspective, boys.” More groans. Everything is a lesson, Uncle. Why can’t we go back to Faery, Uncle. How come your hair is so long, Uncle. What does that tattoo mean, Uncle. Shut up and be careful with the pruning shears, boys.

Finally we were done for the day, and the boys wanted to go exploring.

Finally we were done for the day, and the boys wanted to go exploring.

Finally we were done for the day, and the boys wanted to go exploring. Again. Our time wasn’t wasted: we found this beautiful little place, again, high up on a hill above everything else, and it looked like someone had taken a posh man’s living room and just arranged it on top of a mountain. Little lanterns hung as if by magic. “Sky’s going pink, boys,” I said. “We’ll have to get home.”

“But Uncle,” they said. “Uncle, there’s a beach! You can see it from here!” I sighed and let them lead me down a ways.

The way to the beach was down the same flight of steep stone steps we’d come up to find this place.

It was nice to look out over the vineyard we'd tended that day, think of a good day's work, and consider the next day as well.

It was nice to look out over the vineyard we’d tended that day, think of a good day’s work, and consider the next day as well.

It was nice to look out over the vineyard we’d tended that day, think of a good day’s work, and consider the next day as well. Almost, I could imagine myself the master of such a place. That is, until the urge for going got me. Then, well. The road.

Finally, we reached the beach, and the boys made me tired with all their running about, and that after a hard day’s work from all of them. Oh, to have that kind of energy again.

How eight boys who can't agree on the time of day managed to make a sand castle together is beyond me.

How eight boys who can’t agree on the time of day managed to make a sand castle together is beyond me.

How eight boys who can’t agree on the time of day managed to make a sand castle is beyond me. But there it is, just about to be washed away by the tide. The little ones didn’t even make a fuss about it. “We’ll build another one tomorrow, just like this one,” they said. Of course they will.

Home then, to the vardo and the farmhands coming round for a bit of music and dancing and seeing what it’s like to step and turn with a gypsy lady. And there will be farmer’s daughters and some posh girl who’s a niece of somebody who’ll wander round, but they will come later, after I’ve had my supper and a pint of something and perhaps a wee nap.

Style Cards:

Photos in Coat & Boots:
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins: Ziggy (The Menstuff Hunt Prize, at the 7 Deadly s{K}ins Main Store!)
Hair: EMO*Tions: Michael (A new release from EMO*Tions!)
Clothes: Equinox: King’s Guard Tunic, Pants and Boots (At The Conquest event!)
Brooch: Miamai: Game Of Thrones House Emblem Brooch: Baratheon (Rare!) (Gacha, at the Conquest event!)
Ears: Mandala: Steking Ears

Photos in Shorts:
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins: Ziggy (The Menstuff Hunt Prize, at the 7 Deadly s{K}ins Main Store!)
Hair: Besom: Derek (At The Mens Department)
Shorts: Trashed: Denim Shorts Smile (Menstuff Hunt gift)
Shoes: 2Real Footwear: Emotion LMT Limited Edition Shoes (The Mens Department)
Tattoo: Reckless: Bronx (The Mens Department)
Necklace: Otherskin: Wish

Location:
The Vineyard at Checkmate, a sim designed by Amae Moriarty, is a gorgeous place to visit and photograph. We enjoyed continuing our story there, and we hope you’ll go to visit too. Don’t forget to give at least a little donation if you stay a while: places like this need to stay up and running so we have beautiful spaces to visit in Second Life for a long time to come.