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!

 

Portents….

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Something alerted me.

Something alerted me today. Sometimes, the sounds in our magical forest are more than wind and birds, more than wolves and our own warriors. But it is hard to know where they come from.

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And so I scry

And so I scry. I make my way down to the scrying bowl, let the magic rise, toss in the appropriate herbs.

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Visitors will come soon.

Visitors. Visitors will come soon. Should we plan a feast? Alert the bards? Should we gather the younglings and prepare a pageant?

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Portents….

No, no. Not those kinds of visitors. How heartbreaking to foresee a dark time. So I shall prepare, and wait, and let the magic rise, and hope for a better world.

So should we all.

Enchantment‘s theme this round is Lord of the Rings! Enchantment opens today, Saturday 9 February, at noon SLT. There is so much to see, so many stories to create, so many depths to explore. It’s a massive round with some of the best creators in Second Life contributing, so if you miss it, don’t blame me! 

Style Card:
Items featured at Enchantment:
Scrying Bowl: By Nacht, Mirror of Galadriel
Jewellery: Rivendale, The Evenstar Collection (includes necklace, crown, earrings, and brooch [brooch not pictured here])
Poses: Fashiowl, The Lord of the Rings

Everything Else:
Dress: Senzafine, Alastriel Gown (at We Love Role-play)
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Vera Bento Mesh Head
Skin: Lumae, Lelutka Deia Applier (All current skin lines are on sale at the Lumae Main Store for just $L100)
Ears: Swallow, Elf Ears High Definition
Hair: No Match, No Fiction
Trees: All from Heart, Ancient Oak Forest Set
Treehouse: Death Row Designs, Elven Tree House

Enchantment ~ Lord of the Rings ~ Feb. 9. 2019

The Rainbow House in the Stained Glass Grove

I’m beginning to think this little Realm is really one of those list songs. You know, like, “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea,” or “The Rattlin’ Bog.” Because I swear there was no rainbow house in the Stained Glass Grove when I found myself there before.

What does a rainbow house look like?

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The Rainbow House

Obviously this is what a rainbow house looks like! There it was, right across what seemed like a decorative bridge over a snowbank. The first thing I noticed (after its rainbow-ness, of course) was the beautiful carving on the front doors. Someone must have put a lot of work into that. Even though our Fae artisans can put up a house in a matter of minutes, it still takes some skill, whether magical or physical, to create such a wonder. And look at that beautiful solstice star above the door. It felt homey already.

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Whimsical trees!

And here we go with the song again: There are trees on the porch of the rainbow house in the stained glass grove (it’s really hard not to add ‘at the bottom of the sea’, there; it would just scan better). Also, peeking in the windows was fun.

Now, I’d brought Clutie along this time, because you never know when you’re going to have to send her back with some kind of message or reply, and also because Bran told me off royally (pun intended!) when I got home after my first visit to the stained glass grove, both for not telling him where I was going and for not bringing an assistant with me. I told him he wasn’t my real dad and I didn’t have to listen to him, then flounced, but really I did listen to him, at least enough to know I didn’t want another lecture of that magnitude.

Clutie is one of those demifae who can move into a larger, more human-sized form when she wants to, so I assigned her to camera duty and told her to take a photograph of me by those lovely doors.

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I claim this house for Faerie!

I raised my arms and shouted, “I claim this house for En— I mean, Faerie!” Sometimes I still drop back into old habits, you know. Clutie rolled her eyes at me, but she did figure out how to focus my iPhone camera on the third try. I suspect there will be lots of shots of her little shoes in my camera roll.

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Should we go inside?

“Should we go inside?” I asked. It was a rhetorical question, but Clutie answered it anyway.

“Your Majesty, of course we all know that everything in Faerie is under your command and by your leave, but perhaps entering folks’ private homes is a little disrespectful,” she said. Mother of the Moon, she is a proper little thing, isn’t she?

I informed her that it was a rhetorical question and let myself in.

She followed me, swearing under her breath (OK, years serving me has made her a little less proper), but I think she was just as interested in looking inside as I was.

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Altar and shelf

“Oh, will you look at that alter,” I said. “such a well-placed little stone labyrinth. I approve.” Clutie, meanwhile, was fascinated by the shiny crystal on the shelf next to the altar. I thought she was going to be absorbed by it somehow, she was staring so hard.

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Purple Tree, Purple Me!

“This tree matches my dress!” I squealed.

“That tree is a fire hazard in a wooden house,” Clutie retorted.

“It’s Faerie, Clutie,” I said. “I don’t think the house is going to burn, not from plain fire, anyway.”

She sniffed.

“The Author has one very much like it in her little retreat, you know.”

“Well, aren’t you the hoity-toity one, hanging out with The Author and being all special and precious.”

My eyes narrowed. “And you need to watch your tongue, Miss demithang,” I replied.

“Why? Is it burning?”

I always forget what little literalists demifae are. “Come on; let’s get back to the castle,” I said. “We can come back and explore some more later.”

Clutie tossed my phone at me and shrank to her normal size. “Make sure you bring me,” she said. “I’m sure I saw marshmallows over there.”

Style Card:
Items featured at the Winter’s Hollow event:
Rainbow House: Dragon Magick Wares, Elemental A Frame
Whimsical Trees: Raindale, Whimsical Topiary Tree
Solstice Star: Raindale, Yule Star
Lovely Purple Dress: Senzafine, Eirwyn Gown
Crown and Choker: SynCo, Ice Witch Choker, Ice Witch Tiara
Antlers: Spyralle, WinterGem Antlers, “Snow” Special Edition
Altar: The Roawenwood, Winter Solstice Altar
Shelf with mesmerising crystal: Velika Rituals, Winter Solstice Shelf
Purple Tree: [QE Home] Handcrafted Christmas Tree

Other stuff:
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ, Noelle Bento Mesh Head
Skin: Lumae, Elvi, T1 (All current skin lines are available at the Lumae Main Store)
Eyeshadow: alaskametro, Astral Eyeshadow
Eyebrows: alaskametro, Glitter Eyebrows
Hair: Truth, Teila
Eyes: Euphoric, Enigma Eyes
Environment:
Skybox Environment: IrrISIStible, Never-ending Winter Mesh Skybox
Poses: SD, Ice Queen

 

 

Out of Legend

You think we come from some fairy story?

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You think we trip down the pages?

You think we trip down the pages, as if they were steps from one of your fantasy castles? I assure you, we are there. But that is not where we come from.

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You think we are the stories?

But the stories! you say. You think we are the stories? Oh, of course, we are in your stories. But that is not where we come from.

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You think we are the stuff of legend?

Are we the stuff of legend? You think we are elements of your myths. We are in your myths and legends. But that is not where we come from.

It is easy to blur the borders: we are in a forest made of books, after all. A forest made of stories, legends, myths.

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You will find us in the shallow forest.

You will find us in the shallow forest, to be sure. On the edges, in the stories, in the tales handed down from your grandma and her grandma before her; you will find us there. But that is not where we come from.

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But what happens in the deeper forest?

But what happens in the deeper forest, beyond your simple paths, the house too small to live in but perfectly decorated with the plates set out for tea? What happens when you go so far in that stories begin to tell themselves? Well, we say. Well, then—you are closer.

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And what’s that behind you?

And what’s that behind you? Surely it’s only a shadow. Light filtering through cut paper, light bleeding out from twinkle trees, obscured by a solid object. You tell yourself that’s what shadow is. That’s what shadows do. Isn’t it?

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You think we are tragic creatures? 

You think we are tragic creatures? You think we are sad? No, no: we are watching. We are waiting. We are thinking.

We are waiting for those words that echo all throughout the forest, all throughout legend and myth and fairy tale.

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Oh! Here they are.

Oh! Here they are. Those words that bring our souls out into the moonlight, that let us give you just enough of us to want more, and more always.

Listen: in the stillness of the snow, the words whisper from every tree, every book, every bough, every light:

Once upon a time.

That is where you will find us.

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And here is the secret.

And here is the secret. Listen: I will only tell it once. You may revisit it in a hundred stories, but this is the only time you will hear it from my, from our, lips.

There is no difference between the copse of trees at the bottom of your garden and the ancient forests you wander when you can. It is only that in those ancient forests we rise wilder, and you can take a journey on foot to a place where you can believe in us.

There is no difference between the oldest story ever told and the story that springs into your mind now, fully formed. They are the same, and we are in both of them.

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All forests are one forest.

All forests are one forest. All legends are one legend. Each forest is new. Each story is new.

But I did not tell you where we come from, you will say. I have been telling you all along. We come from the breath between the lifting of the pen and the word on the paper. We come from the shoot of green that struggles up through the snow. We come from the deepest forest, the oldest story, and we are as present in the three trees in the schoolyard and the library book as we are, as we ever were, there.

Don’t fight it. Come in. I have more stories to tell you. So many more.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ, Noelle Bento Mesh Head
Skin: Lumae, Elvi (All current skin lines are in the Lumae Main Store)
Hair: Analog Dog (natch), Sassafras
Eyes: ADD Andel, The Three Forest Eyes
Gown: Senzafine, Emmeline Gown (Available now at We Love Roleplay)
Necklace and Earrings: Empyrean Forge, Fortuna
Circlet: A&A, Winter’s Malice Circlet
Antlers: Attic, Long Antler White
Nails: Cazimi, Winter Ombre Nails

Environment:
Location: Awenia, The Book Forest
There are so many things in the book forest that I cannot begin to list them all. But Awenia is open to the public throughout the month of December: Please come and experience it for yourself!

 

 

 

The Re-invention of Saga Silverman

It started last Saturday. My father had another of those never-ending receptions, and in the absence of my mother, I got to be the one parading around the mirrored hall, greeting guests and keeping a smile plastered on to my face.

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Of course, the dress was stunning.

Of course, the dress was stunning, a Senzafine. I’m sure someone on Father’s staff knew who my favourite designers were and took care of it properly. And I knew I looked lovely, like a mediaeval princess in a modern palace. At least, that was the impression I was trying to give.

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Someone Else in the Mirror

But the truth was, every time I caught a glimpse of my face in the tall mirror at the end of the hall, I saw myself more as a prisoner than as myself, if that makes any sense. It was like watching a stranger’s face, like seeing someone I didn’t recognise.

That’s when I decided that I, desperate rebel against my father by day, dutiful daughter by night, was going to make a change. I couldn’t do this any more.

I did make it to the end of the night.

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The last time….

But, once all the guests were gone, as I made my way back to the dressing room where Father’s PA waited to help me out of the dress, I knew this would be the last time. And as I walked out of the mirrored hall, I did not look back.

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Staring at the city

Once I got home and into my pyjamas and slippers, I stood for a while at the window, just staring out onto the city. I instructed the autophone to connect me to my mentor—let’s just call him Sampa. Of course that’s not his real name, but it sounds good next to Saga, which is my real name.

“You’ve got to get me out of here,” I said.

“What do I look like, the relocation squad?” He laughed at his own joke.

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I was serious.

“I’m serious, Sampa,” I replied. “I can’t do another one of Father’s functions. I’m starting to think I’ll lose it. Brandon von Oslo was almost attractive to me.”

“That does sound like an emergency.” Sampa didn’t sound as if he understood the urgency of the situation.

“Did you know that if you look out on the city in exactly the right way, it’s like a forest of will o’ the wisps?” I asked. I was squinting and looking out the window. “But I can’t see them at my father’s house. I get headaches there. Something heavy is on my head when I am there.”

“Ohhh,” said Sampa. “OK, let’s think about this. Do you have enough to live for a month or two without income?”

“Oh, I don’t worry about that,” I said. “You can always get work as a tattoo artist, pretty much anywhere you go. Do you know any tattooists who are really far away from New York? You have to: you know everyone, don’t you?”

Sampa cleared his throat. I heard pages turning in his obsolete little book of names and numbers and compromising information. “I have… hm. Four or five friends here in New York, even one upstate, but that’s not far enough away for you, is it?”

“Not remotely,” I said. “Ooh, a shooting star! I’m going to make a wish right now!”

Sampa chuckled. “Let me get back to you,” he said. “I may have a friend of a friend, but I’m not sure where he’s located these days.”

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I started taking pictures off the wall.

I started taking pictures off the wall. Really, I wouldn’t need to pack much. And I should remove the “odd” body paint, as Father had called it when he looked at me earlier that evening. And get my hair bleached and dyed. The apartment is one of Father’s: I would just leave all my shit, except the art stuff and the pictures and clothes that would work with the New Me… who would she be? I thought of kittens and unicorns.

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I liked thinking of kittens and unicorns.

I liked thinking of kittens and unicorns. I’d barely sunk onto the couch when the autophone rang again. “Answer,” I said sharply.

“Saga, I’ve got something for you, but it’s a little weird.” It was Sampa.

“Since when is anything we’ve done together not been weird?”

“Point. Anyway, yes; I do have a friend of a friend, but he’s,” Sampa coughed. “He’s in Alexandria, of all places.”

“Alexandria as in Egypt?”

“That’s what I said.”

“Well, that’s definitely far enough away.” I considered it for a few seconds. “Maybe I can visit the pyramids and meet some ancient gods and learn all about mummies?”

“Or maybe you could work part time in this tattoo shop until clients see what you can do and your business starts to explode.”

“Also a plan,” I said. “I’m pretty sure people like me.”

“They won’t like you down at Dragon in the morning,” Sampa warned. “Shop has got an opening, but my friend can only hold it for you for one week. I suggest you get your affairs in order.”

I laughed outright at this. “Order?” I laughed again.” Order is the enemy, Sampa.”

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That didn’t make it any better.

That laughter didn’t make it any better or any more fun to close the security gate at Dragon for the last time, just a couple of days later. They’d begged me to stay just a few more days, but I said I had to run off and play with the fairies for a while. They laughed at that. I really don’t think I’m all that funny. I really did mean I had to run off and play with the fairies for a while.

I got my hair bleached and pastel rainbowed, packed two bags and a bulging carry-on loaded with my laptop, tablet, and mobile phone. I locked the door of my apartment and shoved the single key underneath. Father—or one of his assistants—could find it when they came around looking.

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And that’s how I found myself on a plane to Alexandria.

And that’s how I found myself on a plane to Alexandria. Once the in-air wifi kicked in, I sent goodbye notes to all my social networking accounts and then locked myself out of them.

Everything is going to be different now. I have pink suitcases full of frilly clothes for fun and work clothes for work. I have holographic body paint. I have my portfolio. I have my own delicate needlework on my thighs, of course, and other people’s in other places. Every picture is a story, every window is a picture, and there are little sprites that come out when the stewards dim the lights on the plane so all these people can sleep.

Style Card:
In all photos:
Body: Belleza, Isis
Head: Genus Project:
Eyes: Go&See, Anona Eyes
Choker: Spell, Branch Choker
Poses: all from An Lar

In the mirrored hall:
Skin: The Plastik, Elvenne, Ahriman
Gown: Senzafine, Varhendis (Available at We Love Roleplay!)
Necklace: Kunglers, Adele Necklace
Hair, Magika, Love
Environment:
Photo Box: D.U.S.T., Mirrored Hall Photobox, 3D

In Saga’s Apartment:
Skin: The Plastik, Elvenne, Ahriman
Hair, Magika, Love
Dress: Les Sucreries de Fairy, Kimberly Long Dress
Slippers: The Dark Fairy, Unicorn Dreams
Environment:
Apartment: Focus Poses, Hello New York
Chair: Ison, Wooden Chair
Couch and Chair: Dreamscapes Decor, Fairy Tale Couch, Fairy Tale Chair
Coffee Table: Bazar, Toronto Coffee Table
Blue Tapestry: Consignment, Stardust
Other tapestries: DRD, Vagabond

At the Tattoo Shop:
Skin: The Plastik, Elvenne, Ahriman
Hair: Magika, No Tears
Jeans: Semller, 25 Point Jeans
Top: Goth1c0, Kath Loose Dress
Boots: DRD, Dirty Combats
Environment:
Shop: Focus Poses, Guetto Background
Tattoo Sign: Daniel Fettuccio, Neon Dragon Tattoo Sign

On the Plane:
Skin: The Plastik, Draziele, Alabarus
Hair: Magika, Solace
Clothes: Giz Seorn, Montana Outfit
Lipstick: Cazimi, Tinted Lipgloss, Natural
Environment:
Plane: FoxCity, Flight Club (Day Travel)

Autumn Reminiscence

I miss my Gran. Of all the people in my (adoptive) English/Welsh family, it’s her I’d really like to talk to. Because she’s the one who knows how it all happened, I’m sure of it. She handled the deal with the Sidhe, she arranged the “private” adoption for my London parents. And that means she might know who my father is, or at least be able to tell me a good story.

But I’ve followed that advice given to me by the Ferryman years ago. I’ve never tried to find my old family, and that includes Gran. At first, it was hard, but living in Realms without technology created some distance. Now that I do have access to technology again, I’ve too much to do to waste even a few hours on what I suspect would be either fruitless—or painful.

She had the best house in mid-Wales, set back, and in October I’d visit her, from about mid-October through the first week of November. Going to the University school had its perks, and one of them was being able to take holiday without them getting all uptight about it.

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Now I can see it only in memories

Now, I can see it only in memories. And when I remember it or dream of it, I’m always some funny amalgamation of who I am now and who I was then. Here I’m in one of my Elf-Clan outfits (though when I look more closely, it really looks like the work of Senzafine, and I’d know that stuff anywhere). I remember that tree being the tallest tree in the world, and the little lighted garden shed my grandmother tended plants in all year round.

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Two perspectives

In my memory, I can look at it both with the sense of wonder I always felt going there, and from a more calculated, adult perspective. While we visited at other times of the year, my Autumn trip was always just me, alone. My parents, unlike me, couldn’t get away from their lecture halls for three weeks in October and November. No; for that time, she wanted me there by myself. She wanted me for Samhain.

I used to think Hallowe’en was pretty naff, and Gran used to make jokes about it, too. But, she said, it was also the old New Year, and she wanted her granddaughter there with her, to celebrate that time.

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What do I remember?

I don’t remember us doing anything particularly special or anything that in my child mind felt strange or weird around that time. We had a nice dinner, sometimes with my Great-Aunts from Aberystwyth when they could be bothered to come. Gran always set an extra place at the table: she said it was for Granddad, whom I never met. Eventually, I read about dumb suppers, probably in secondary school, and I recall asking her about it.

“Clever clogs,” she said. And there the discussion ended.

We never went to the village Bonfire Night celebration. Instead, Gran got my uncle Huw around to build a huge bonfire in the back garden, which was once Granddad’s barley and vegetable patch, she always said. Now I think of it, it was a bit too big for the usual back garden, but mid-Wales is much more spread out than London, so I never questioned it. I’d watch from the window of the big house: you could just see the garden area if you looked just-so through the trees. He spent hours building a tower of logs while Gran and I made the Guy out of straw. She’d invite all her friends and a few children I knew from the village, and we’d have our own fire, far from the crowds and the fireworks.

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October

I’m sure I’m thinking about this now because it’s just turned October, and though Faerie doesn’t change with the seasons as profoundly as other places, we still celebrate them and consider the cyclical nature of the world and the Realms around us. Lately, I’ve been thinking: if I could relive any event from my childhood, it wouldn’t be Mum’s lavish birthday parties, or getting my PhD, or even that first kiss from Richard. It would be staring, transfixed, at a fire that seemed ten times as tall as I was, sparklers in my hands. But I wouldn’t go back to one of the ones with loads of people. I’d go back to the last one, the year I was twenty-one, the one where it was just Gran and me. She got village boys to build the pyre, and we made the Guy same as always. The boys scampered off to the village celebration, so it was just us, staring up at the fire, silently watching the effigy burn. Uncle Huw had died just a few months earlier, so it felt like a sombre occasion. Gran had tears in her eyes for part of that fire, and I thought at the time she was grieving for her son.

Now I wonder if she wasn’t also bracing herself against the knowledge that I too would disappear from her life before the next Bonfire Night.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Keme Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Nyne, Tahari
Skin: Skin: Lumae, Catwa Neoma, T1 (All current skin lines are available at the Lumae Main Store!)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Eyes: Song, Frost Eyes
Tunic: Senzafine, Velista Tunic (Available NOW at We Love Roleplay!)
Leggings: Senzafine, Alaire Applier Leggings
Boots: Senzafine, Telcontar Boots
Necklace and Earrings: Empyrean Forge, Homecoming

Environment:
Location: Awenia, The Box (platform)
Autumn scene, including large tree, garden shed, couch, lights, bridge, pumpkin, swing, and boulder: Trompe Loeil, Ceres Outdoor Scene
Poses: All from An Lar

 

 

The Big Tea

Well, it finally happened. Her Majesty, Queen Gwyneth, Mistress of All She Surveys, had one of her people invite me for a morning tea in the Remembrance Garden.

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Welcome, she said.

“Welcome,” she said, as if it were the most natural thing to be meeting up like this, after all this time. “I know I have promised you a face to face meeting for some time. In that time, I’ve had a lot of things to contend with, and that’s one of the reasons why I simply had you released from the Faery Realm in the Wylds. It had been too long.”

“I’ll say,” I muttered. “I hope you will forgive me for not using all the honourifics and proper forms of address, Gwyneth.”

“Under the circumstances,” she replied, “I think that’s quite understandable. Fenella. Fen.”

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Oh, I did not trust this woman.

I could feel my lips tightening. “How can you even call me that, after what you did to me?” Oh, I did not trust this woman. “You kept me a prisoner. That fucked with my livelihood. A livelihood I had to take up when I was catapulted from our home Realm into  whatever this is.”

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I know it must feel strange

“I know it must feel strange, for this to have waited so long,” Gwyneth said, “but in that time I’ve been busy building a new Realm after having had to abdicate the old one, putting together Awenia, so to speak. And I haven’t left other things out. I’ve searched, now that I have the Internet again, for Richard. For Emma.

“And what about Kevin?”

“Fen, I don’t think he made it,” Gwyneth said. “There was so much blood.”

“I don’t think any of us made it,” I said flatly. “I think we all died and were somehow transported. How else would you explain any of this?”

“Come and sit,” she said. “Let’s have some tea and discuss all of this— or as much as we can possibly get through in a couple of hours, OK? And then, then— I have a proposal for you.”

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Fine, I said.

“Fine,” I said. I came here for tea: might as well have some tea.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Gwyneth said, probably anticipating another angry question from me. “That’s why I’ve waited so long. I didn’t have anything to offer you, any information, any idea of what happened. I had nothing to give you that you’d have valued.”

“And you do now?” I drummed my fingertips on the table.

“What my adoptive Father said to me was that I could never have gotten to the Realm we were in, this series of Realms, without already having Faerie blood in me. I think that has to be the same for you; otherwise you’d have perished.”

Perished?” I snickered. “Who even says that?”

“Hello? PhD in English?”

Then we both laughed, and for a few seconds, it felt like it always did; like we were the best friends in the world and this was just another morning-after tea. And then, there was an awkward silence.

I broke it, finally. “So, you think Richard, Emma, and Kevin might not have had any Fae blood in them.”

“I don’t know what to think,” Gwyneth said. “I remember, not long after I first crossed into Jasper Cove, starting to receive some odd photographs; one was of Richard and me kissing.”

“But that had just happened, before we left the LARP,” I said. “How could you have a print out of something like that?”

“I don’t know,” Gwyneth replied. It felt heavy in the air.

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She’d heard nothing from the others.

“I’ve heard nothing from the others,” she admitted. “Not even a peep, not the slightest indication that they were out there. So, when I finally realised who you were—do you remember that awful radio show?—I had to keep you. I told myself I’d explain it to you, that if two of us were together, we might draw the other two—three.” She hastily corrected herself.

“You really think Kevin didn’t survive.” I looked down at my left hand, the one with Kevin’s ring on it.

Gwyneth leaned forward. “I don’t know,” she said. “I just don’t know.”

I considered.

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that like attracts like.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that like attracts like,” I said. “Somehow, no matter where I end up, other svart alfar find me. And for whatever reason, when I was so confused and upset and everything was going wrong, I ended up on your altar. What’s to say the others won’t, eventually, as well?”

“It’s been years,” Gwyneth said. “Then again, it had been years for you as well.” She rested her elbows on the table, put her chin in her hands. Such a Gwyneth-like gesture. I almost liked her for a minute there. “OK,” she continued. “I have a proposal for you.”

“Should I be scared?” I asked.

“I don’t think so,” she replied. “Awenia will open to the public soon—well, soon is a relative term—and I’d like you to stay here and help Wulfrich with security.”

“Captain Wulfrich?” I responded. “From the Wylds?”

“Yes. He’s a loyal sort,” Gwyneth said. “If what you say is true, like attracting like and all, let’s stick together. Let’s make our story public. Maybe we’ll get some bites if we put out a line with bait.”

“Public?” I said. “I know something happened and the Veils have fallen, but really?”

“Oh, good,” Gwyneth said. “You know about that.”

“Wasn’t hard to deduce,” I replied. “One day I’m operating under cover of secrecy, every Realm a potential landmine, and the next day government agencies are fine with hiring me and I’m allowed to be me, at least some of the time.”

Gwyneth shook her head. “I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you.”

“No, you can’t.” My right hand clenched reflexively into a fist.

Svart will always be welcome here,” Gwyneth said. “I don’t have any illusions about anybody being more evil than anybody else, except in some isolated incidents where a being is more selfish and justifies horrible things more easily than most others. We are all the same, and the public must learn to see us as such.”

“So you put me in a position of some authority, and people will think you’re amazing and open-minded,” I retorted.

“So you stay here, you and I do some magick on the side, and maybe we scry Emma or Richard. Or Kevin.”

“Will you stop talking about Kevin as if he’s dead!” I couldn’t take it any more. “I’ve never taken this ring off, you know.”

“I suspected,” Gwyneth said. “So, do we have a deal?”

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I stood up.

I stood up. “Reservedly,” I said, “we have a deal.” Then I whistled for Harris (yes, I call the dark unicorn Harris), and I just rode away while Her Smug Majesty stood there agape.

I turned away as Fen, or TAC, or whatever I am to call her, rode away on a unicorn of all things. As if life couldn’t get any weirder. Then, I climbed the stairs of the Serenity monument.

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Halfway up, I stopped to think.

Halfway up, I stopped to think. What if she was right about all this? Could we find Richard, Emma and maybe even Kevin? I shook my head. Probably too much to ask for.

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Hope.

But, if there’s any one thing that’s gotta me this far in my unbelievable and fantastical life, it’s Hope. I shall hope.

Style Cards:

The Amazing Catwoman
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ Bento Mesh Head, Lulu
Skin: The Plastik: Elvenne Skin, Charcus
Ears: Illusions, Sylph Ears
Hair: Truth, VIP Gaea
Clothes: Noble Creations, Mama Erzule (Available NOW at We Love Roleplay!) (includes hat!)
Eyes: Seydr, Versicolor Eyes, Autumn (Available NOW at We Love Roleplay!)
Necklace: Rozoregalia, Lezato
Ring: Aisling, The Good Wife

Gwyneth
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Simone Bento Mesh Head
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Monday (Available NOW at The Chapter Four!)
Ears: Swallow, Elf Ears HD
Eyes: Seydr, Versicolor Eyes, Druid (Available NOW at We Love Roleplay!)
Gown: Senzafine, Elswyth (Available NOW at We Love Role-play!)
Hair: Truth, VIP Gwen
Head and Chest adornments: Bauhaus Movement, Susanne Set

Environment
The Serenity Monument: Kaelis Ember, Find Here Amenity
Tea Set: Trine Epiphany, Artisan Tea Set, Summer
Ground Cover: The Looking Glass, Harmony Garden Daisies (Available NOW at Swank!)
Tea Table and Chairs: The Looking Glass, Harmony Garden Tea Time (Available NOW at Swank!)
Bounding Trees (with birdhouses): Harmony Garden Birdhouse Trees (Available NOW at Swank!)
All Poses from The Black Tulip
Facial Expressions Created with Lelutka AXIS