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)

 

August’s End

It was a Hot Summer Night.

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On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?

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Will he offer me his mouth?

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Yes.

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Will he offer me his teeth?

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Yes.

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Will he offer me his jaws?

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Yes.

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Will he offer me his hunger?

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Yes.

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Again, will he offer me his hunger?

 

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Yes!

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And does he love me?

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Yes.

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Yes.

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On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?

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Yes.

 

Style Cards:
Formal photos:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Lona Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Pink Hustler, 8134 (Available for a few more days ONLY at Hairology!)
Eyes: Mesange, Skye Eyes
Ears: Swallow, Shiny Elf Ears
Skin: 7 Deadly s[K]ins, Cecily (all-in-one Omega applier!) (Cecily is the September Group gift, COMING SOON to the 7 Deadly s[K]ins Main Store!)
Gown: Silvan Moon Designs, Pennies From Heaven Gown (Available NOW at The Trunk Show!)
Collar: Footpaw Industries Celtic Filigree Amythest Collar (attached rose from Footpaw Industries AeLan necklace)
Shoes: SlackGirl, Bling Shoes

Tree Photos:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Lona Bento Mesh Head
Hair: EMO-Tions, Marlee (Available NOW at The Trunk Show!)
Eyes: Mesange, Aspen Eyes (Available NOW at The Hidden Chapter!)
Ears: Swallow, Shiny Elf Ears
Skin: DeeTaleZ, Miriam (Catwa face applier)
Headpiece: Venge (Formerly Vengeful Threads), Anisah Head Adornment (Available NOW at Genre!)
Dress: Petite Mort, Royal Serene Lace Dress
Tree Top: .shi, Tree Of Life Creepers Top (and floating leaves)
Gloves: Drastic, Walnut Moss Maitreya Hand Branches
Collar: Footpaw Industries Celtic Filigree Amythest Collar (attached rose from Footpaw Industries AeLan necklace)
Shoes: Rhude, Jhani

Many thanks to Lord Nyza Stillwater, who indulged me by posing with me in these photographs. And no, I wouldn’t say yes to all the boys. But I would say it to Him.

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I’d never tell a love story through 70s iconic pop songs without it!

Location: White Owl Island Faerie. If you’re looking for a great contemporary fantasy roleplaying sim, why not check us out? White Owl Island, Where Everybody Knows Your Shape.

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On Being a Tree

No, seriously. Have you ever thought about actually being a tree? I had a roleplaying character once, back when I was, I don’t know, fifteen (or at least mentally), whose main power was that she could turn in to a tree and spread an aura of unshakeable calm. The boys in my D&D group loved that, I can tell you.

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To start out with, though, it is possible.

To start out with, though, it is possible to become a tree. Obviously, you need the right environment. Duh, Faerie. And the right attitude. This, for me, can present a problem. So in lieu of the right attitude, I choose the right clothing. I mean, it’s really the same thing, isn’t it?

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You start with a garment that pretty much covers your torso in tree-ness.

You start with a garment that pretty much covers your torso in tree-ness, add some tree-style gloves (which are a bit scratchy but look fabulous), put in some floaty leaves for good measure….

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And you finish it up with shoes that are made of actual oak leaves.

And you finish it up with shoes that are made of actual oak leaves. I kid you not. Or, as Fen might have said before she became The Amazing Catwoman and developed a worse potty mouth than I used to have, “For-real-sies”. No, I am not making this up. Don’t ask her: she’ll probably tell you to fuck off.

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You have to find just the right kind of light.

You have to find just the right kind of light. The sort of light that filters over you and makes you imagine that if only you were a bit more still, you could make slanting light fill the forest, call sunbeams, green the ground with a translucent leaf.

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You have to appreciate shadow.

You have to appreciate shadow. Because what tree doesn’t grow up in the shadows of other trees? Well, aside from those fake tree plantations, or maybe trees in an orchard, or — yeah, whatever: we’re talking about actual, real forests here, not some artificial construct made by other hands, be they mortal or Fae.

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You have to really want to be a tree.

You have to really want to be a tree. And I’m not taking about sort of going, “Yeah; it might be nice to be a tree.” I’m talking about full-scale, bark-fetish level tree envy. Like, “O how marvellous it would be to have a thousand year lifespan and never have to talk to another human being again as long as I lived, assuming someone didn’t chop me down and turn me into, I don’t know, some evil marionette and make me talk as if I were a … OK, obviously I’m going off on a bit of a tangent here.

Moving on.

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Finally (and this is the hard part), you must actually be still.

Finally, and this is the hard part, you must actually be still. Which, OK, I am not very good at. But I trust that once I have all these things in place and once I learn to be still, I shall be a very good tree indeed.

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All that remains after that, of course, is to just let it happen.

All that remains after that, of course, is to just let it happen.

Hm.

I pretty much suck at that bit, too.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Lona Bento Mesh Head
Hair: Pr!tty, Yoshi (Available NOW at Hairology!)
Eyes: Mesange, Aspen Eyes (Available NOW at The Hidden Chapter!)
Ears: Swallow, Shiny Elf Ears
Skin: DeeTaleZ, Miriam (Catwa face applier)
Headpiece: Venge (Formerly Vengeful Threads), Anisah Head Adornment (Available NOW at Genre!)
Dress: Petite Mort, Royal Serene Lace Dress
Tree Top: .shi, Tree Of Life Creepers Top (and floating leaves)
Gloves: Drastic, Walnut Moss Maitreya Hand Branches
Collar: Footpaw Industries Celtic Filigree Amythest Collar (attached rose from Footpaw Industries AeLan necklace)
Shoes: Rhude, Jhani

Location: White Owl Island Faerie. If you’re looking for a great contemporary fantasy roleplaying sim, why not check us out? White Owl Island, Where Everybody Knows Your Shape.

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Homecoming?

After many long months of masquerading as a (not very good, but improving, I think) art teacher, I eventually identified five proto-fae and helped them find mentors who could be there for them as they found their way in the restrictive Realm that was their home, at least for the nonce.

I did not relish pretending to be human for all that time. I was able to get away for a weekend here and there. But I still had to disguise my skin, so as to avoid the Svart Alfar prejudices so many exhibit even in more openminded Realms.

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Eventually, I found myself just off the ferry at White Owl Island.

Eventually, I found myself just off the ferry at White Owl Island. I don’t know what came over me: I suppose the proper-ish art teacher façade was too much and I needed to go far in the opposite direction. Taking the glamour off my skin in between Seattle and the Island just wasn’t going to happen: I barely managed the ears and clothes.

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Of course, I’d barely got to the end of the pier before I started having second thoughts.

Of course, I’d barely got to the end of the pier before I started having second thoughts. Sure, I know the place only looks so pretty and proper. And sure, I know I’m certainly worthy of living in a place like this: I don’t need to be in some scruffy backwater just to prove I’m a badass.

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But then I realised, as I turned toward the Sound from high above the beach, where I really wanted to be.

But then I realised, as I turned toward the Sound from high above the beach, where I really wanted to be.

So, fuck it: I slept on the boardwalk and vowed to go no further onto the Island itself.

Instead, at first light, I hired a rowboat and went across to the other island.

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All things considered, it was nice to put the Island behind me and the Forest ahead of me.

All things considered, it was nice to put the Island behind me and the Forest ahead of me. I’m not really dressed to go having lunch in a coffee shop peppered with yummy fae mummies and their spawn, nor do I wish to play let’s pretend with Queen Gwyneth, who apparently likes being a simple little bookseller here. Or something.

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Yes, and in the distance? That’s one house I won’t be visiting even if I’m back on the Island.

Yes, and in the distance? That’s one house I won’t be visiting even if I’m back on the Island someday. Might be sooner rather than later: they’re having some kind of shindig for Lughnasadh this week, and the DJ sounds kind of hot.

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I felt better, turning my back on the whole thing.

I felt better, turning my back on the whole thing.

And the farther I made my way into the forest, the better I felt.

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Eventually, I came upon a circle of vardos.

Eventually, I came upon a circle of vardos. Of course there’d be a Romani camp in here somewhere. Perhaps my luck was changing.

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Then again, there didn’t seem to be anybody home.

Then again, there didn’t seem to be anybody home. Not that you’d be able to tell if they were. Romani can hear you coming from miles around, they say. And if they don’t want to be found, well, fuck you.

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I decided patience was the best way to proceed.

I decided patience was the best way to proceed. After all, they’d have to come out, or come home, sometime, wouldn’t they?

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Wouldn’t they?

Wouldn’t they? I settled in to wait.

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What? This *is* my patient face.

What? This is my patient face.

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Catwa, Catya Bento Mesh Head
Hair: .Shi, Octavia
Eyes: Mesange, Arum Eyes (Available NOW at Hipster Men Event!)
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Skin: Lumae, Ella Apoc (Catwa Applier) (Available NOW at The Indie Teepee!)
Leggings & Tank: Death Row Designs, Wasteland Leggings, Wasteland Torn Tank (Available NOW at The Indie Teepee!)
Necklace: .Shi, Evra Pendant
Wings: Evolved Creatures, Fae Bento Wings
Shoes: Death Row Designs, Dirty Combats (Available NOW at The Indie Teepee!)

Location: White Owl Island. If you’re looking for a great contemporary fantasy roleplaying sim, why not check us out? White Owl Island, Where Everybody Knows Your Shape.

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I’d never try and make The Amazing Catwoman look patient without it!

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Rendezvous

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The Amazing Catwoman:

You just never know what people are going to throw at you, do you? Owen said, ‘Meet me up on the roof in an hour. I’ve got a proposition for you.’ He waggled his eyebrows, just like old times. I knew it wasn’t that kind of proposition, but Owen’s known I have a crush on him for long enough that I guess he feels he can play with me a little bit.

And I never really minded all that much: it wasn’t like Owen and I were ever going to end up in the sack: his warm and fuzzy feelings about illegal svart alfar apparently stop when the clothes come off, or something.

Anyway, it was raining.

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I found this umbrella up on the roof, and it was a good thing, too.

I found this umbrella up on the roof, and it was a good thing, too. By the time I’d climbed up out of the shop’s second floor balcony and onto the roof proper, it was pissing down. The landscape seemed to crumple in on itself, until the roof was all there was. And the sheeting rain helped that effect: the greater sky was lost inside the rain. I was happy the umbrella had lamps: I’d not have been able to see two feet in front of me if it weren’t for those. Even the soft glow from the windows was lost in the downpour.

I waited for half an hour, thanking the gods I’d changed in to leathers before I went up. In my line of work, you have to be prepared for anything.

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Finally, he showed up.

Finally he showed up.

‘Well?’ I asked. ‘I’m getting drenched up here, yeah?’

Owen laughed. ‘It’s actually something I’m investigating right here. This set of rooftops has some very strange properties.’

I looked around. ‘Looks like a regular rooftop to me’, I said.

‘You’d think that, wouldn’t you?’ Owen folded his arms, brushed a hand through his damp hair, ducked beneath my umbrella. ‘Glad you found that, by the way: it always rains up here.’

‘We should stash a few more if we’re going to be working together up here’, I replied. ‘So, what’s the deal?’

‘We’ve got a full moon coming up in a couple of days’, he said. ‘I want you to stick around at least until then, meet me back up here. I’ll feed you, take care of your expenses; no worries about that. And then you can see what I mean’.

I was dubious. ‘Owen, we’ve not seen one another in how long?’

‘Two years’, he said (a little too quickly). ‘Well, two years and change’.

I lifted a brow. ‘I thought it was longer’.

‘Nope’, Owen said. ‘That’s about how long it’s been since you broke away from the House.’

‘I had to’, I said.

‘I know. Everybody does eventually’, he replied. ‘Don’t worry about it. Just do this one thing with me, and then maybe we’ll go our separate ways.’

‘Maybe?’

‘Maybe.’

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: LAQ, Trinity
Ears: Gauze, High Elf Ears, Naturals
Eyes: Mesange, First Date Eyes (Omega Appliers)
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Cinnamon, in tone Oak
Hair: Shi, Discorded (Available NOW at Shiny Shabby!)
Top: E-Clipse Design, Nemo Jacket (Available NOW at Shiny Shabby!)
Trousers: Lassitude & Ennui, Hand-Stitched Leather Leggings (Maitreya Appliers)
Boots: JustDesign, Ara Boots in Earth
Ring: Aisling, The Good Wife
Umbrella: E.V.E., Aerial Screw Parasol (Available NOW at Shiny Shabby!)

Setting:
Rooftop: Milk Motion: The Rooftops of Paris

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never subject you guys to cliffhangers involving The Amazing Catwoman without it!

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