Kitties And Bunnies And Bears! Or, How I Visited The Spirit Valley Of Kuruk And Did Not Find My Centre Or Experience Perfect Bliss And Tranquility

You have to go. That’s what everyone says, anyway. Sometime in your life, where your life is defined as that period of existence between physical birth and physical death, you must at one time or another visit the Spirit Valley of Kuruk. I will note that visiting the Spirit Valley of Kuruk is a challenge, because it has appeared only once in my physical lifetime (that I know of).

Once I heard that the Spirit Valley was visible and within a day’s travel, I just dropped everything and went, all by myself. I felt it needed to be a personal and solitary journey.

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The Spirit Valley’s Beauty Is Unmatched

One thing no-one will deny is that the Valley itself is singularly beautiful. With a landscape marked by stunning chalk paintings (which look to be well-kept by those who live there), it’s easy to just stand there, awestruck, when you first enter the basin. For me, the paintings were overwhelming. It was only after I had taken many of them in that I began to notice the rock formations themselves, the many paths and caves. It seemed made by a miracle, the sort of place where anything could happen. So, as I stepped into the Valley, I was prepared for a magical experience.

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La-Dee-Dah!

And magic did occur soon after I took that first step. For there, asleep on a rock, was an adorable turquoise kitty cat with ickle pink ears! I couldn’t help it: I squealed.

Now, if you’ve ever woken up an adorable turquoise kitty cat with ickle pink ears (and who hasn’t, really?), you know that the adorable turquoise kitty, as a rule, does not like to be disturbed while she is sleeping.

There was hissing. Hackles were raised. Claws were displayed. Clearly, the kitty was just here for the sunlight and nap spots.

“Fine,” I said, and made to walk away. Everyone knows the first thing you have to do in the Valley is take a picture with the Big Bear by the singing bowls at the big fire circle. I’m not really sure if he has a name: I was really just there for the photo opp.

Halfway across the circle, I heard a loud ‘MEOW’, and sure enough there was the adorable turquoise kitty! She was trotting up behind me fast. ‘Look, you!’ she said. ‘I don’t know what you are, Miss Biped, but you woke me up, so now I’ll be visiting the Valley with you. That means you have to feed me.’

Well, all right then. I was in the company of an adorable, verbal turquoise kitty cat with a sarcastic streak. Super. I may sound sarcastic, but in fact it was very nice to meet a talking kitty cat; I’ve always wanted to know what’s on their adorable little minds.

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The Obligatory Tourist Photo!

And here we all are, mugging for the camera with one Big Bear and one Little Bear! This photo cost me five dollars! Five dollars for a single photo? I suddenly began to wonder about the spiritual basis of the Spirit Valley itself, or at least of the Photo Bear, who had impressive looking teeth.

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Still, looking up was a treat. So I did that.

Still, looking up was a treat. So I did that instead of thinking about how many photos I wanted to pay that kind of money for. Luckily, my mobile phone is easily stashed inside even the smallest vest, which I might have been wearing that day.

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Time to plan our next move!

Still, I was here, and I was going to see as much of the legendary Spirit Valley as I could before nightfall. Bears make me kind of nervous at night, if I’m honest.

‘We’re going over there!’ said the adorable, talking turquoise kitty cat.

‘What if I don’t want to?’ I had not yet realised that one does not argue with an adorable, talking turquoise kitty cat.

‘Well, La Dee Dah says you do!’ said the cat. And she hoisted her tail and ran up the mountain, up a roundabout trail, and toward a cave.

‘Caves are dangerous!’ I called out. ‘Is that your name, then? La Dee Dah? That’s a mouthful. Can I just call you “La” for short?’

‘No!’ came the sharp reply, followed by a loud yowl. ‘Shit! I fell’.

Great, adorable talking turquoise kitty cat has a potty mouth. I sighed and followed. ‘Do you need help? I could pick you up.’

‘Touch me at your peril, you winged abomination!’

I chose to avoid peril and watched as she clawed her way out of the ravine into which she’d fallen.

Up and up we climbed, until we came to…

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Bones. Lots and lots of bones.

There were skeletons. Like humanoid skeletons. In chains. ‘La Dee Dah!’ I shouted. That was going to take some getting used to. ‘We do not sit in skeletal laps! You don’t know who’s been gnawing on those bones!’

It was at this point I noticed that her eyes were rather glow-y. I feared the worst.

Instead, she just muttered, ‘Spoilsport’, and stalked off in another direction. ‘I guess you want to see the Pretty Pretty River’, she said.

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Pretty Pretty River

As a matter of fact, I did, so I didn’t argue and followed her down the steep slope onto what felt once again like mostly level ground. Now, you may think La (I can call her that in my head) was being sarcastic, since she’d been mostly sarcastic since we met, but in fact the river in the Spirit Valley of Kuruk is called the Pretty Pretty River. It may be translated from some language that involves a lot of tonal humming and clicks, or maybe a bear roar? I don’t know.

It lived up to its name, though. There were many lovely trees and even a frog carved out of the rock. ‘Look, La Dee Dah’, I said, ‘his eyes are the same colour as your fur’!

She didn’t answer me, or really even acknowledge that I’d spoken, so intent was she on getting back to the great circle in the central part of the basin.

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This is my long-suffering look

I sighed the sigh of the long-suffering Divine Being who has just had her view of the Pretty Pretty River cut short. And I followed her, because what else was to be done, really. She was so small she might get hurt out there alone. There were, after all, bears.

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From this side, the big scary bear rock looked much more menacing.

From this side of the circle, the bear rock looked much more menacing. I tried to concentrate on the Pretty Pretty River, which does actually run all the way round the bottom of the Valley; I didn’t expect I’d get much closer to it for the duration of our time together.

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Unmatched Natural Beauty

Even though the trip wasn’t turning out the way I’d imagined, I couldn’t blame it on the scenery. As we turned toward the circle again, I was struck by the megalithic stones that flanked the entrance to the circle from across the Pretty Pretty River. I took a breath. La was having none of my hesitation; she just romped on out to the centre of the meadow, not bothering to walk the spiral in or out. Apparently the wrath of the bear gods does not descend upon adorable talking turquoise kitty cats. Apparently.

Once again, she ran ahead of me. It’s a good thing she’s so brightly coloured; I’d surely lose her if she had any sort of natural camouflage. Another reason to make sure she stayed with me: I suspected that after dark she’d glow in the firelight, and some bear would be all, ‘Look, an adorable turquoise marshmallow’! I still had to sprint to keep up.

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Step away from the bunny!

I found her cuddled up with a bunny. A bunny. Oh, I’d heard the rumours, rumours that the Fairelands this year were overrun with bunnies, possibly spawned by the very likely evil blue glowing globe in Zodiac. I’d also heard rumours that they were being manufactured by the Fairchylde Herself, or at least by one of those insane Fantasy Faire Radio DJs. Those folks are weird, baby. But we love them. I personally did not love them enough to forgive them for the Plague Of Bunnies the Fairelands were currently experiencing, but of course your mileage may vary. It is also suspected that Princess Sonya Of Critter Meadow might be involved, but she just seemed so nice that one time I met her. But while I was sifting through conspiracy theories in my head, La was still cuddled up with a bunny. A bunny!

‘La! We do not cuddle bunnies‘! I shouted. The accomplice bunny just glared at me balefully as I spoke. They have great big teeth, you know, bunnies. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s what really happened to the skeletons up there on the cliffside.

‘I can’t hear you’! La replied. She began grooming herself.

‘Fine’, I muttered. ‘La Dee Dah! We do not cuddle bunnies!’

The adorable talking turquoise kitty cat stood up, arched her back, and hissed at me. ‘You are not my real mum’, she said. ‘I do what I want’. She sneezed. ‘And I have decided that we are going to climb up the other side of the basin because I want to meet a real bear’.

Oh, good; another hike. Luckily, I have wings.

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How about this one?

‘How about this one’? I suggested. ‘He looks important’.

‘Can you not smell‘? she replied. ‘Or do they not teach you the difference between stuff that’s real and stuff that’s been carved out of stone and is some kind of bear god where you come from’? There may have been eye-rolling. ‘I’m gonna need a nap’.

I had heard that cats sleep 12-15 hours a day. ‘How long a nap do you need’?

‘Dunno. But after that we’re going back home and you’re going to feed me’.

I seem to have a new life-mate.

It didn’t take long for La to find the bear she was looking for. After a short exchange in growls, grunts, and paw movements, they came to an understanding.

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Nap Time!

I ended up sitting on a pillow next to a bear deep in meditation and probably afraid to move for fear of cat claws, for four solid hours while La took a nap.

And that, my friends is How I Visited The Spirit Valley Of Kuruk And Did Not Find My Centre Or Experience Perfect Bliss And Tranquility.

Credits And Notes:
Location: The Spirit Valley of Kuruk, sponsored by Spyralle and designed by Loki Eliot,  is one of 18 regions in this year’s Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire. You can visit the Spirit Valley and maybe even find your centre and experience perfect bliss and tranquility, but you will have to do it before the tenth of May, when the Fairelands will recede, as they do every year, back into the mists. Although the Fairelands return year after year, each Realm is unique and will not be seen again, at least not on this plane.

Items featured at this year’s Faire:
Skin: Petrichor, Viscivorus Skin in Quelea, with 30% lightening tattoo applied (Find it at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Ears: Petrichor, Viscivorus Ears (Find them at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Hair: Raven Bell, Nereid Hair (Find it at the Raven Bell Store in Auxentios’ Pass!)
Clothes: Laced Up Stamped Leather Top and Skirt, in Dark Brown (Find it at the MishMash Fusion Store in Lamented Fens!)
Long Necklace, Bracelets: Rise Design, Banje Bracelets, Banje Necklace (Find them at the Rise Design Store in Melusina’s Depths!)

Other Stuff in this look:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka Nova Bento Mesh Head
Bracelets and Short Necklace: Empyrean Forge, Wayfare Bracelet, Wayfare Choker, Wayfare Duo Necklaces
Wings: BentBox, Feathered Wings
Eyes: Euphoric, Talula

Special Guest Star: La Dee Dah, as herself (Dyisi)

Fate In Lamented Fens

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Fate steps up from the depths

Will you know it? Will you know that moment, the one where Fate turns? So many folk, they don’t know it, even when they look back on it. If only, they think, if only I had known. If only my fate had made itself more clear to me.

Oh, my sweet child.

Hello.

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Deceptive Moonlight

You have asked, and I have come. We are together now. Don’t mind the colour of the sky: here in the Fens the sky is always so close. It’s only that we cannot touch it. Well, not just yet.

Now, look through the moss, and you will see the most extraordinary things.

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Turn back?

Turn back, you say? Turn back to the boardwalk, the path, linger beneath the glass jar lights? Oh, but it’s so simple there. And you are not simple, are you? No? I thought not.

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A compromise

Let’s go just a little off the path. Just a few steps. That’s easy enough for you, isn’t it?

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Closer

We live in a modern age, surely. You don’t fear the dead, do you?

I myself enjoy the mist here, how it wraps around my ankles. Little cat feet. That was Carl Sandberg, you know. A poet; he was a poet.

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Now that you’re here….

Now that you’re here, let’s discuss your fate.

Fate, you see, is very simple. It’s like the path we just left.

You want Fate to be a thing that operates completely outside you. And that’s comfortable, isn’t it, the thought that Fate itself just steps in and makes your life what it is and will be.

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Like lamps.

But really, if you think about it, there is no Fate. There is you, and your choices. Fate might be just a lamp, a minuscule event, or feeling, or experience that pushes you toward one thing or another. So Fate is a lamp.

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This moon is a lamp.

This moon is a lamp.

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These candles are a lamp.

These candles are a lamp.

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And I? I am also a lamp, of sorts.

And I? I am also a lamp, of sorts. You’ve been following me all this time, haven’t you?

It’s only that, when you turn, I turn. And you won’t see me. You won’t.

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Who is watching you?

But I’ll see you. I’ve got good eyes like that. Very, very good eyes.

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The sky. The water. The Edge.

One day, not today but someday, I’ll invite you to come with me and touch this sky of mine. The sky is everywhere, you understand. It’s all around us. It’s only that you can’t touch it, not yet.

But when you’re ready, take my hands.

It’s only one step from here.

Credits and Notes:
Location: Lamented Fens is one of 18 regions in this year’s Relay for Life of Second Life’s annual Fantasy Faire. The region is sponsored by The Forge and designed by Riven (lrriven) and Skeleton (kitori unplugged), with quest written by the team and coded by Remnant Ashbourne. It is a creepy wonder of a Realm, full of moss and live oak trees and more depths than you could imagine down below the surface of that cloudy water. Lamps to guide you, voices to compel you, a choose-your-own-adventure sim quest, what more could a Fairelander desire? It’s only one step from here. You too can visit Lamented Fens, but be sure to do it before the 10th of May, when the Fairelands will, as every year, dissolve back into the Mists.

Items featured at this year’s Faire:
Items featured at the 2020 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire:
Skin: Petrichor, Viscivorus Skin in Serious (Find it at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Body Feathers: Trap & Petrichor, Viscivorus Harpy Body Feathers (Find them at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore, or at the Trap Store, also in Sirens Lore!)
Ears: Petrichor, Viscivorus Ears (Find them at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Hair: Raven Bell, Zylith (Find it at the Raven Bell store in Auxentios’ Pass!)
Dress: AtaMe, Pisces Goddess dress in Ruby (Find it at the AtaMe store in Zodiac!)
Necklace: Rise Design, Mythos Necklace (Find it at the Rise Design Store in Melusina’s Depths!)

Other Stuff in this Look:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka Nova Bento Mesh Head
Eyes: Euphoric, Animal Eyes
Lips: Jumo, Metallic Lips
Gloves: RealEvil Industries, Aewel Fairy Gloves
Wings: Evolved Creatures, Fae Wings 8.2

Kitty Photobomb! BLOG

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Adorable and completely appropriate cat portrayed by the ever-present Scougs (dyisi).

Beltane in Lunafae with The Amazing Catwoman!

Look, folks. She is going to come in here in a couple days and tell you she’s had some kind of revelation. Me, I’m just happy to be on tap to serve the Fairelands once again this year. Realms participating run the gamut, but as my first day in the Fairelands as an official watcher happened to be last night, I was happy to be assigned first to Lunafae, where there was sure to be a lovely Beltane gathering.

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Skin Paint by Petrichor, Feathers by Trap & Petrichor, Hair by Raven Bell!

I got my skin painted by Petrichor that morning, and there is just nothing better than having a singularly talented skin artist like Vae perfect your look. As always, she is at the Faire, and once you’ve stepped into her spa you won’t ever want to leave. In addition to the beautiful skin paint, she and her pals at Trap are also offering these beautiful feathers with which you can accessorise the skin paint. Maybe for the first time ever, I felt it would be perfectly all right to walk around wearing next to nothing, because wearing this skin paint is like being a walking canvas, a living work of art. I was so happy to find that one of my favourite hair colourists, Raven Bell, had a whole bunch of new dyes that would look great with this and other great skin paints. Raven is also at the Faire, of course, and you can’t ask for a better stylist if what you want to play with is colour.

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Speaking of colour….

Speaking of colour, Lunafae is full of just the richest greens, greens that remind me of my time in the great forest before I ended up working for Her Uppity Majesty full time. It’s not a bad gig, you understand: I just like this one better and I wish it were year-round. That said, Good Queen What’s-Her-Name does shut down the tourist trade in Awenia Faerie for the whole of the Fantasy Faire, which means that happily I am drawing two paycheques for this period I’m working at the Faire. Most of which I’ll donate to the American Cancer Society by the end of next week, anyway. But that’s how it goes when you live in a world where folk just get sick and die. You do everything you can to help science find a way to save them, lengthen their lives, more gently manage their pain. That’s just what you do.

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Do I seem soft to you?

Do I seem soft to you? I’m feeling soft this year. Maybe it’s some kind of ageing thing. This may be why the pointiness of all these feathers is making me happy.

Lunafae itself makes me happy, to be honest. I find the whole place eerily soothing. Certainly from up on the ridge, you could not ask for a more peaceful place. Not really my style, but hey; I’ve had worse. And it’s just tempting fate to tell you about any of those times, so we just won’t go there. Walking down the water stairs in the late spring sun is a lovely thing, though: I recommend it to you. Don’t mind the statues in the arches: they are mostly not wearing a lot of clothes, plus they are four hundred bajillion times bigger than you so it stands to reason you could outrun them.

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So much to see!

When you reach the bottom of the steps, there’s so much to see. Ridge upon ridge of beautiful mini-meadows, lovely places to sit and shoot the breeze with the many demifae that populate the region, and a not inconsiderable number of bunnies. Enough bunnies that I wondered briefly if Sonya Marmurek were secretly wandering around just sort of introducing bunnies into the local ecosystem.

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But enough conspiracy theories….

But enough conspiracy theories: I’m sure that you, like me, are weary of them at this point. I’m really sick of that one about the mysterious globe in the Zodiac realm; I really do not believe you will be turned into an astrological rabbit if you pass under it 7 times… or is that where all these bunnies are coming from? They’re everywhere, all over the Fairelands. We will investigate this further; I’m sure of it.

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Bunnies! Everywhere!

There really are bunnies everywhere. Not that I’m complaining; who doesn’t like bunnies? OK, I do know a few people who do not like bunnies. But if you choose to avoid the bunnies, there are plenty of other creatures to interact with here: notably, the demifae are everywhere, and as they’re my close relations, I’m often up for spending time with them.

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Inspired to Dance!

Of course, demifae are known for their singular dancing ability, so it’s always a good time to dance (well, maybe stumble!) along with them. They never seem to mind if you miss a step, as long as you do not step on them.

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A Beltane Frolic

Worthy of a Beltane frolic and able to produce one whenever you might visit, Lunafae is pure magic. And there are so many lovely little spots, you could miss something if you didn’t take the time to explore absolutely everything.

Now, it’s true that the shopping at the Fantasy Faire is unmatched in all the Realms, and the opportunities to support a great charity are innumerable here as well. But while you have time, while these Realms are within your reach, take the time to explore. Somewhere, hidden in the details, you’ll find that thing you didn’t know you were looking for.

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Harping Fairy And Fae Harpy!

I couldn’t resist the play on words this photograph called up, so to end my first report from this year’s Faire, yes, late but not too late, here is a photo of Your Amazing Catwoman as a Fae Harpy, hanging out with a Harping Fairy. You’re welcome!

Credits & Notes:
Location: Lunafae, one of 18 Regions in the 2020 Relay for Life of Second Life’s annual Fantasy Faire. Sponsored by The Looking Glass and designed by Sharni Azalee. You too can visit Lunafae, but come before the 11th of May, when the Fairelands will fade into the mists once again, only to reappear in new guises next year.

Items featured at the 2020 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire:
Skin: Petrichor, Viscivorus Skin in Stellata (Find it at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Body Feathers: Trap & Petrichor, Viscivorus Harpy Body Feathers (Find them at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore, or at the Trap Store, also in Sirens Lore!)
Ears: Petrichor, Viscivorus Ears (Find them at the Petrichor Store in Sirens Lore!)
Hair: Raven Bell, Umbriel (Find it at the Raven Bell store in Auxentios’ Pass!)
Head Sparkles: Raven Bell, Umbriel (Find it at the Raven Bell store in Auxentios’ Pass!)
Eyes: Rainbow Sundae, Beautiful Creature Eyes, Bright 05 (Find them at the Rainbow Sunday Store in Mistakes Were Made!)

Other Stuff In This Look:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Erin
Wings: Egosumaii, Archangelum Alis (medium size) (Egosumaii Main Store)
Clothes: Enfant Terrible, Lumen (at The Fantasy Collective)

 

 

 

You think you know us

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You say we are dark

You say we are dark because we come from down below
I say we are dark because we are the face of shadow

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You say we are freakish

You say we are freakish
with our shocks of silver hair
But I have seen your partners
with their bleachpots and their envy stare
At us who tend the blooming crystals,
mine the silver, mind the dark

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Where the mists embark

And I have seen your kind come slumming
down to where the mists embark

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Light comes filtering

Did you know light comes filtering
from places other than on high?
I laugh at you, you primatives,
you ice picks in the dark folks’ eye.

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See our ghostly glory

Hear our footsteps? That you will not.
We are silent, ghostly glory

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Come among us

Come among us; feel out presence
Lit by bioluminescence

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Laud our efficacious Goddess

Laud our efficacious Goddess
And her perspicacious largesse

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Let her soothe you with her waterfalls

Let her soothe you with her waterfalls
For she is old and wondrous wise

And when we turn your eyes to her
Our thirst for depth begins to stir

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To Rise

It’s then and only then, and then
She reaches out her mystic hand
And moves our souls
And teaches them
To Rise.

Style Card:
Items featured at the 2019 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire:
Skin: The Plastik, Amatheia Skin, Aroliah (The Plastik at Fantasy Faire!)
Gown: Senzafine, Calariel (Senzafine at Fantasy Faire!)
Necklace: Chimaera, Geode Necklace (Chimaera at Fantasy Faire!)
Hair: Raven Bell, Ethiel (Raven Bell at Fantasy Faire!)
Everything Else:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Genus Project, Baby Face
Eyes: AviGlam, Joy Eyes
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Eyebrows: Alaskametro: Glimmer Eyebrows

Twilight Spring is one of sixteen regions that make up the 2019 Relay for Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire. Twilight Spring is sponsored by The Roawenwood and designed by Searlait Nitschke. Remember, the Fairelands sink into the mists sometime around the fifth of May, 2019, so come visit soon!

 

Holidays in Awenia

I should not complain. This is the sort of job any faerie should be proud to have. But there are things about it that drive me up the wall.

For example, Her Majesty did not like that I chose a yellowish skin tone when she told me I needed a more exotic skin colour in order to impress the tourists. So I’ve now gone with something darker, of which she approves. “Oh, good: they’ll think you’re a svart alfar, like TAC, only more presentable to the public and nicer.”

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I did at least get to keep the rainbow hair

I did at least get to keep the rainbow hair.

Bran decided that I should help him shoot some holiday shots in the village square. “But it’s after Christmas,” I said.

“Nonsense, Angharad: it’s only the fifth day of Christmas, traditionally speaking, and our potential guests want to see what we do in the Realm at Yule time, and you know that’s not just one day. Even though many of them are mortal and Christian, tourists who come here will likely be a little more knowledgeable about the histories of their holidays than the ones we read about so often on those web papers.”

“Web pages, Bran,” I corrected gently.

He scowled. “You and the Queen, always ready with the corrections. Can I help it if I’m ignorant of these things? I do quite like video games, you know.”

Yes, you could help it, I said to myself. “Fine; let’s take some photographs of the Square all decorated for Yule,” I said, this time out loud.

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The Carousel

“Wait,” I asked, after about five minutes of Bran snapping photos of me all over the square. “Why do I have to be in all these photos?”

“It’s for the brochure,” Bran replied, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to say.

“The brochure? Nobody told me about a brochure.”

“Well, we do have to have promotional materials, and you are our hospitality co-ordinator,” Bran explained.

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This is fun, remember?

“This is fun, remember?” Bran wanted me to smile. He wanted me to smile a lot.

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Not that much fun.

“Not that much fun,” I retorted. “Do you want me to glamour some fangs or something?”

“Wrong time of the year for that, missy,” said Bran.

Missy? Seriously?

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Do faeries even need postboxes?

“Let’s get you by the postbox with all the presents,” he said.

“Faeries don’t even need postboxes, you know.”

“I know that,” said Bran, “and you know that, but this is a London postbox, and Her Majesty feels nostalgic about her home city, so we try to bring bits of it here for her from time to time.”

“You stole this postbox.”

Bran coughed. “Davey acquired the postbox. I didn’t ask questions.”

“Is that real post sticking out of it?”

“Of course: wouldn’t be authentic any other way.”

“But what about people’s letters?”

“Davey assured me he’d waited until after the last pickup for that day,” replied Bran. “If the postman was late on the pickup, the post can’t have been that important.”

I had no idea what to say to that, so I just let him move me along.

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Big finish!

“Now it’s time for the big finish! Lean back a little so I can get most of the tree in the shot, and, yes, big, big smile! Oh, that’s lovely!”

I rolled my eyes, but then I had an idea. “Can you take a close-up shot of me like this?” I asked.

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Getting in to the spirit?

“Are you finally getting into the spirit, when we’re almost finished, Angharad?” he asked.

“Nope. I’m going to send this to my parents back in Cymru. They will hate this hairstyle.”

Style Card
Lovely Town Dress: The Annex, Ingrid Dress (Available until the 18th of January at The Trunk Show)
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ, Gaia Bento Mesh Head
Skin: The Plastik, Elvenne in tone Chennus
Hair: Raven Bell, Chronos hair and Chronos Bento Braid
Ears: Swallow, Pixie Ears
Shoes: Breathe, Vivien Heels

Environment:
Carousel: IrrISIStible, Carousel (At SWANK until 31 December)
Christmas Trees: Half-Deer, Bottlebrush Christmas Trees
Deer: Love, Fantasy deer, winter prince of the forest
Adorable Weeble Gnomes: Balderdash, Gnome (At SWANK until 31 December)
London Postbox: Love, Christmas Post Box
Festive Lamps: CJ Creations, Winter Street Lamp
Holly Garland and Sparkly Bits: The Looking Glass, Our Festive Joy
Village Square Buildings: SOF Designs, Tudor Building Set
Poses: An Lar

 

The Spirit of the Juniper Tree

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They should know we’re watching.

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

And yet.

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

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How do we bear it?

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

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

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

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

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She left me gifts

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

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

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I went away and conferred with the Council.

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

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And there follows the tale you may know.

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

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

Child born, mother dies, father remarries evil stepmother.

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

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

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She became obsessed with her daughter’s future.

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

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

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

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

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I sang with the wind all night.

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

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We conferred briefly.

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

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

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Juniper Tree and Juniper Bird, from Rivendale.

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

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

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

 

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