The Changing Landscape of Awenia, 1

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“Take my portrait, Bran.”

“Take my portrait, Bran.” It was a simple enough suggestion. We were walking through what I can only describe as the New Awenia. We’d reached a lovely town square, graced by my beautiful Last Hope statue: for all my riches and advantage, it’s my most treasured posession, and it’s everywhere that I am. For me, it’s a symbol of Faerie and Fae sovereignty. For the Author, it’s something more, but this is my story.

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It might see odd that I would walk through Awenia wearing… this.

It might seem odd to you that I, a fairly modest Queen as Faery Queens go, would wander my Realm dressed in such a way. But it’s high summer, I’m in the height of my power, and frankly, the Realm itself is almost deserted except for some support staff (and the cats, of course). And Bran loved this little number I picked up at the We Love Roleplay faire last week: it’s from The Annex, and honestly, most of the thing I wear that people would consider sexy come from The Annex. The designers there just have a way of making things look both fetching and classy, which I know I’ve said before, but anyway. It’s called Astrid, in case you’re curious.

Bran has become quite a shutterbug and has got himself a DSLR. He swears it takes better photographs than the iPhone, but I don’t see much difference. This, apparently, is because I am a Philistine. He loves to follow me out wherever I go and take photographs, which is fine with me, but I think he has some kind of aspiration to be a fashion photographer. He’s been following me to modelling shoots as well. Sometimes I have to order him to stop asking the photographers and directors questions.

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I don’t think he’s quite there, though.

I don’t think he’s quite there, though. This is his idea of a sexy pose! When I looked at this photograph I laughed out loud. “I look like I’m about to fall over and hit my head on the wishing well,” I said.

To his credit, he didn’t pout. “Perhaps next time,” he said, “I shall just push you in.”

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It was clear the town had been restructuring.

It was clear the town had been restructuring since Midsummer’s fires blazed just a few weeks ago. No wonder I have been feeling so tired recently! All my magic’s been going to the Land, and the Land wants a complete refurbishment before we open Awenia to the public, paperwork willing, in the autumn.

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Imagine you’re home.

“Just look toward the castle,” Bran said before snapping this photograph, “and imagine that you are already there, that you’re already home.”

As it turned out, I really did want to go home after that. “Let’s just sit up on the tower,” I said, “outside mine and Nathaniel’s private apartments, and watch the changes from there.” Already I could feel wings straining against my shoulder blades. “It’ll be all misty up there, so I’ll have to put something on my legs,” I continued.

“Ooh!” Bran said as his own wings stretched out behind both of us. “Why don’t you get into that new Senzafine we got at the same faire?”

“That is a very good idea, my darling,” I said. And then we were airborne and I had no more time to consider my wardrobe. I’ll have so much to tell Nathaniel when he pops back in from wherever he’s been this week!

Style Card:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Vista Bento Mesh Head, Lia
Skin: 7 Deadly s{K}ins, Ferna (Available NOW at The Chapter Four!)
Ears: Eclipse Art Studio, Elf Ears Dior
Eyes: Cazimi, Mandala Regular Eyes (Omega)
Clothes: The Annex, Astrid (Available NOW at We Love Roleplay!)
Hair: Monso, Sua (Available NOW at Fameshed!)
Nails: Cazimi, Solids, Sea Sand
Leg Wraps: Una, Sakura Leg Belts
Necklace: RealEvil Industries, Passion Collar

Town Buildings: Tudor City Builder Kit, by SOF Designs, designed by Firstleviathan Resident. There will be more photographs of what we’ve done with this kit to make Awenia even more special as it already is in the days and weeks to come.

The Last Hope statue is a one of a kind (well, two of a kind!) work of art from the amazing minds and hands of Death Row Designs. I had the good fortune one year to have enough money to spend a crazy amount on this item in the Fantasy Faire live auction. It really is my most prized possession in Second Life. 

 

 

Works in Progress….

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Gwyneth:

So, yeah. You know how it is. The seasons turn, Yule comes and goes, the mortal world is celebrating the beginning of a new year, and you’re pacing around on your sim platform, trying to think of a series of evocative photographs that’ll get you through Certain Things Yet To Be Announced, not to mention your Visionaire graduation, which is coming up sooner than you’d like to admit. And you look around yourself, and you go, ‘Well, sweet goddess; why am I building and tearing down all these photo sets on a temporary looking platform? I have a whole effing sim to play with!’

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Well, OK, maybe it’s not exactly that story for everybody.

Well, OK, maybe it’s not exactly that story for everybody. But we’ve all had that revelation when we realise we’d been making something more complicated than it had to be, yeah? Some of the best things in the world are simple. Take this new hair from Wasabi Pills. It’s called Isla, and it’ll be at Fameshed on the first of January, unless they open late because of the holiday. I love it, because it is marvellously, stunningly, simple. Like the solution to my problem.

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And so, my lovelies, I present to you some works in progress.

And so, my lovelies, I present to you some works in progress. First of all, I’m still experimenting with finding the perfect shape for Gwyneth’s Catwa Catya Bento mesh head, which I still love to pieces. Just the eye animations keep me rapt, because Gwyneth’s eyes seem to move naturally in their sockets, rather than kind of sliding beneath the sockets on a static mesh head. In fact, I’ve changed her face shape slightly since shooting these photographs; I became unhappy with a detail about the way her cheek met the hollows beneath her eyes and spent a while playing with that this morning before starting this post. I’ll shoot a couple of special photos so you can see what I mean before I finish this post, so please don’t mind me if I yammer on for a bit here.

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Out of the mist…

But getting back to what I was talking about before I got distracted by my hair…. I began thinking, even though the ground area of my sim is covered by the beautiful Pacific Northwest Rainforest that Dyisi Oppewall has created for our roleplaying group, there are still all these (extra!) prims left over, and so why didn’t I just make a sim-sized sky platform with a great surround so that it felt like there was a horizon?

And thus, out of the mist, was this idea born. It doesn’t have a name yet. What you see in the photo above are the bare beginnings of it; there’s a rez platform over on the left, even. As with most of my changing SL homes since the 2016 Relay For Life of Second Life Fantasy Faire, the first and central object placed is my glorious Last Hope statue, a one-of-a-kind (well, two-of-a-kind!) item created by the geniuses at Death Row Designs. Some of you know I lost my beloved husband to cancer at the beginning of 2016. Some of you also know that in another life, I’m a semiprofessional harper. To me, this statue is me playing a lament for my beloved. The dove is hope itself, or possibly Joe’s immortal spirit, come to listen. I knew at the time I wanted a circular path around the statue and four of Elicio Ember (the personable, nice, and downright sexy mastermind behind Cerridwen’s Cauldron)’s stunning Fae Waystones placed at cardinal points round the statue. I wanted paths running toward the surround edge in all four directions.

The skybox surround is from Landscapes Unlimited, and aside from having to build an invisible floor underneath it, I am 100% satisfied with it, as I can change it to many different looks depending on the season of the year or whether or not I want to live on Mars. 😉

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A few more things have now been added….

A few more things have now been added in this photo, but importantly you can see Gwyneth’s whole outfit, so I can talk about the clothes! The dress and boots are both from Zenith, the Autumn Sweater with Skirt in Rose, and the Leather Boots with Lace Socks, also in Rose. You can get the boots at Uber. If you noticed the necklace and earrings, they’re from Empyrean Forge, the Levity necklace and earrings.

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Ohh, but that skin!

Ohh, but that skin! It’s a new Catwa applier from Pink FuelSabine, formerly available only as a Lelutka applier. This was just released yesterday, and yes, I was part of the yammering glom-mob that descended on the Pink Fuel Main Store to pick it up, both in my favourite shades (Porcelain and Crystal—you see Porcelain above) and in their yummy new shade Brulée, which is available at a special price for now. Pink Fuel has long been one of my favourite skin creators, up there with Lumae7 Deadly s{K}ins, and DeeTaleZ (though, yes, my heart will also belong to Curio if she comes back to us) as some of the most beautiful skins you can get in Second Life, in my opinion. Pink Fuel also distinguishes itself by offering a dizzying array of body styles, particularly suited to those of us on the Itty Bitty Titty Committee. These are the Lionsong eyes from Mesange. I’m wearing Mesange eyes almost exclusively these days because they’re available as Omega appliers and I simply can’t be arsed with correctly positioning dozens of different mesh eyes to suit whatever head I’m wearing. And seriously, I’m a bit of a perfectionist about these things. I even tell other people when they’re posing for me and wearing mesh eyes to fix that cross-eyed thing right now; I’ll help you; no, really, it’s important; I’ll wait.The ears are the Swallow High Definition Elf Ears, and Gwyneth, as almost always, is wearing the Maitreya Lara body. Behind her, you can see more of Cerridwen’s Cauldron‘s lovely plants, including the Challis Flower, which is just about my favourite thing ever at the moment, and some of Elicio‘s beautiful Fungal Undergrowth. You can pick up both these and the Fae Waystones referenced above at the Cerridwen’s Cauldron Main Store in world or on the SL Marketplace if you fancy shopping from your couch.

So, what follows are some fairly rough shots of the still-unfinished and in the very beginning stages of my new home in Awenia.

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First, an aerial view, so you can get your bearings.

First, an aerial view, so you can get your bearings.

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8f8’s Cottage Cairn and Windmill

The first two buildings I put down were 8f8‘s lovely Cottage Cairn and Windmill, both from the New Beginnings set, from a past Arcade Gacha. One of the best things about having a sim-sized place to decorate is getting to put out all these beautiful buildings I’ve acquired at this or that gacha event over the years.

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Then, I decided I wanted a little commercial district.

Then, I decided I wanted a little commercial district. So here we have from right to left Ex Machina‘s Chelsea, which reminds Gwyneth enough of London that she won’t have to visit too often, then Death Row Designs‘ The Joint coffeeshop, followed by The Magick Shoppe, also by Death Row Designs. These shops border what will become a park/village green of sorts, across which you’ll find some nice places to eat.

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Across the park.

Across the park, from left to right, there’s the lovely Hideki Bakery, next door to which is another Vintage Bakery by Dustbunny, though I’ll probably turn it into a pastry shop or a restaurant, and then there’s the whimsical Tea Shop from Tentacio. Then you have Tarte‘s Grinder’s Cafe, which might or might not stay where it is; I’m not sure.

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Just so you can have a sense of the space I’m allowing for the park.

Just so you can have a sense of the space I’m allowing for the park/village green, here’s a more zoomed-out shot where both shop rows are visible.

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Rez Platform Number One.

Here’s Rez Platform Number One, where you can see some tasty things that might or might not make it onto the finished build; and

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Rez Platform Number Two, plus buildings I’m holding out for consideration.

Rez Platform Number Two, plus buildings I’m holding out for consideration. And I have some amazing new ideas that just came into my head today!

All this is going to keep me busy on what promises to be a long and lonely New Year’s Eve, the first I’ve spent without Joe since New Year’s Eve 2003/04, which was the night we met.

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I guess now everybody knows I’m a tree-hugger!

On another note, The Guardians opens tomorrow, the first of January, 2017 (!), and there is much, much cool stuff to be had there.  BananaN has done a book gacha that I’m so so very fond of: you can see several pieces of it in the background of this photo. The tree I’m hugging is the Young Maple from The Little Branch, and I’m wearing the Fame Femme Amelli Sweater, which is turning out to be a real favourite for casual wear this season. The boots are the Gypsy Boots from Wicca’s Wardrobe, and the hair! Oh, yes, the hair!

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Amazing hair from Analog Dog (as if AD made anything other than amazing hair, right?)

This is amazing hair from Analog Dog, as if Queue Marlowe ever made anything other than amazing hair, right? It’s called Lei, and it’s the Gift of the Guardians that you’ll receive if you play Analog Dog‘s gacha fifteen times at The Guardians event. I should mention the necklace, now that you can see it: it’s Minimal‘s Camera Necklace, and I bought one for myself and two friends at The Project Se7en today. And the rings are from  Absolut Vendetta, the Hydra Rings for Vista Bento Hands. Yes, I now have Bento hands, and I’m so glad I got them! I’ll tell you more about them anon.

The Lei hairstyle is an obvious tribute to the gargantuan talent that was Carrie Fisher, and it seems a fitting note on which to end this, my last big blog post of 2016. I might shoot you a couple of teasers as it’s going to be a long night for me, but this is the wordiest I’ll get, I promise. Carrie Fisher was only 60 years old. That’s the same age my husband Joe was when he died on the 29th of January, 2016. Star Wars was the last film I saw with my father in the cinema before he died at the age of 46. I was twelve. When I took my primary-school-aged son to see it during the ramp up to the second trilogy of Star Wars films, it was all I could do not to weep through the film as I remembered sitting in the cinema with my dad: I would have been eleven.

Tonight, wherever you are, somebody is going to go down a list of the people who’ve died this year, and it’s a long one. That somebody might even be you. If you can, I want you to consider doing two things. One of them is for yourself. The other, selfishly, is for me. Remember that on the worst day of your life, someone else is having the best day of theirs. That one’s for you. No matter how bad a day you’re having, someone else is experiencing the greatest joy ever. Imagine that. Now here’s the one for me. When the somebody (who might be you) is going down that list of people who’ve left us this year, please, for me, whisper, or shout, or say, ‘James Joseph Raftery’. Let my beloved’s name be spoken on the same wind as all those other names, and let his bright, love-giving, life-saving spirit be woven into that song. Say it: ‘James Joseph Raftery’. He hung the moon. He lit the stars. He took my broken heart and put it back together, and even though my heart has been breaking every single day of this long, long year, it’ll never be as broken as it was before Joe, because Joe knew how to mend things. He hugged me and loved me and believed in me so hard he made me Real. ‘James Joseph Raftery’. Say his name for me.

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never build new homes without it!

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Midnight at the Fair Maiden

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Gwyneth:

I continue to be plagued by strange dreams, dreams in which I am someone else, in a completely different world, with a completely different life.

I remember as a child reading a series of books by Diana Wynne Jones, about a series (well, several series, actually) of worlds in which there were varying degrees of magic and tolerance for magic. In every world, there were different versions of oneself, the only exception being in the case of special nine-lived enchanters, who had no cognates in other worlds. This, apparently, was how they got these nine lives. Anyway, I became fascinated with the books at first because there was a character named Gwendolyn, a name close enough to Gwyneth to spark my imagination. As I continue to dream my way through to whatever lesson these experiences are going to give me, I suspect I am getting glimpses of my lives in other worlds. Or maybe I just read too much speculative fiction as a child.

This dream was memorable, mostly because it included Dyisi, and “I” had no idea who or what she was! And oh, the things I thought about her, about Fae, about the world! I can’t imagine being raised in such a society, where a difference like pointed ears or a pair of horns means you’d be treated differently by everyone. No, wait. I can imagine that. I was raised in such a place. Even my own history becomes mutable, what with all these alternatives to consider.

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She came in right at midnight.

She came in right at midnight. I was cleaning off the bar, just about ready to head home.

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“We’re closed”, I said, without looking up.

“We’re closed”, I said, without looking up.

“Ah, but I have come so far”, replied a heavily accented voice, and I didn’t recognise the accent.

When I looked up, I couldn’t believe what I saw.

“I am just needing a few things”, she continued. Her glasses obscured her eyes, but there seemed to be a light glowing behind the lenses. And she had glowing horns. And a tail, and… yes, hooves. And for some absurd reason, there was a white crow perched on one of the horns.

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I took a step back. “You’re not allowed”, I said.

I took a step back. “You’re not allowed”, I said. I lowered my voice: someone could be listening. “You can’t be here, if you’re not human. You’re illegal”.

“Illegal, am I?” she asked. “Why’s that?”

“Because of the Betrayal”, I said.

She shook her head. “Never heard of him”, she replied. “I am called Dyisi”.

“Gwyneth”, I said. This prompted a sharp laugh from the horned woman. “The betrayal. You know. When the Faerie said she’d keep us safe, but she broke her promise and so was turned to stone?”

“Was she now”. The woman—Dyisi—didn’t seem very impressed. “I’m no Fae; I’m a Satyr”.

“Doesn’t matter; you’re still illegal”, I said.

“Ah, well”. She tilter her head up to me. “I wonder if you’re not illegal, too?”

I shushed her with a gesture. And I could feel her reaching out with some internal power, to get at me, disturb my glamour, take me down with her. “You need to go”. I’m afraid I used my overbearing barmaid voice, the one I have to use on the old men, every night at half eleven, to get them all out of the door before twelve, so I can clean the place and get home before night workers’ curfew, one o’clock in the morning.

“So be it”, she said. And then, I kid you not, she just became more and more transparent until finally she disappeared.

So I finished what I was doing and locked up. Couldn’t stop thinking of her, though.

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You have to bash the pub door with your hip. I give it an extra push with my elbow.

You have to bash the pub door with your hip to close it properly; I like to give it an extra push with my elbow, just to make sure it’s locked. It’s a good thing the village has a curfew: the prince is afraid we’ll all be eaten by vampires, because of the betrayal, so nobody is allowed out on the streets after pub closing. Nobody but the barmaids ever see the ridiculous dance we have to do to close the pub door. I think the curfew’s funny for two reasons: first of all, if he were really serious about the vampire thing, why not make it sundown? And second, why make the only people in the village who have permission to be out after pub closing the pub girls? Aren’t we the most vulnerable? Anyway.

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Who was this “Dyisi”?

Who and what was this “Dyisi”? She had no fear of walking as a … different sort of person. She seemed surprised that anybody would.

How is that even possible?

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I mean, people everywhere know of the Betrayal.

I mean, people everywhere know of the Betrayal. We just happen to be the lucky (and by lucky I mean not) village on the edge of nowhere where the legend actually happened. People don’t visit us much because they fear they’ll be tainted with the stink of the Betrayal. All my uncles and aunts moved away long ago, and none of them can understand why my mum and dad stayed here to raise me, being what we are. Mum and Dad say it’s so I have to stare at her every day and learn my place in the world, since our kind are given to hubris.

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And they’re right.

And they’re right: having to look at that, day in and day out, would give any Fae (I feel funny even to say it: I’m meant to say “girl” whenever I mean “fae”. Or “boy”) cause to worry. See how her back is turned on the village’s High Street? That signifies how she failed to protect us when the Dark Fae came to steal our children, a century ago now. She is the only place in the world where we see an actual depiction of a Fae. They (we) are prohibited in every city, every town, illegal in artwork, and of course the penalty for being one, or being any member of a race not human, is death. I look at her pointed ears and remember how mine sometimes used to show, back when I was young enough not to keep the glamour up in my sleep. I can still feel the bruises on my bottom: Dad takes glamour very seriously, even if we’re not meant to know other things can be done with magic.

I walked down the lamp-lit street, mindful of every dark corner: who knows what could be lurking there, Mum says; I don’t know why you work in that place, she says, when we have a perfectly good toy shop that any girl would love to work in. The money, Mum, I say. It’s the money. She can’t think why I need money, but I can: Soon as I can afford transport, I’m getting out of here. Somewhere far away.

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I was still thinking of Dyisi when I reached our house.

I was still thinking of Dyisi when I reached our house. It’s at the other end of the village, even though that means about a five-minute walk. Mum thinks it’s the end of the earth, and she’s always waiting up for me, and she’s scared because the pub is on the edge of the forest, “and you have no idea what horrific things take place in there,” she’ll say. One day I’m going to walk all the way past the forest to the ruined castle and see if it’s really haunted. When I’m twenty-eight. By that time, I’ll have saved all the money I need to get out of here, and I’ll carry it all with me when I walk to the castle, just in case, as the stories say, there are other, less human, ways of getting out of the village.

For a moment, I wondered what kind of creature Dyisi was, but I knew it would be pointless to ask: I’d be up against the court of Mum and Dad, and I’d have to wait ’til I’m thirty to get out of here, because they would make me quit my job at the pub tomorrow if they knew a creature with glowing horns had walked in, presumably out of the forest, and just fucking disappeared from inside a well-lit pub. Maybe that’s how Fae get around. Maybe they can just think themselves anywhere. Tomorrow I’ll try thinking myself into the  bathing chamber before Michaela. She thinks she’s so special, dating the son of the mayor. Wait til their wedding night, I think, and it makes me smile. I bet she loses her glamour when he puts it in her, and that’ll be the shortest marriage in the history of the village. Mum and Dad will say they didn’t know, she must be a changeling, and the whole village will go onto alert, and we’ll have martial law for a few months like the last changeling scare, but after she’s executed, everybody will forget.

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And so, into our house I went.

And so, into our house I finally went, after checking to make sure Dyisi wasn’t following me. Maybe she is some kind of evil spirit, and I only thought I saw her. Maybe she is some piece of me that I didn’t know existed because Mum and Dad don’t tell good little girls these things. Maybe Mum doesn’t have pointy ears beneath her glamour: maybe she has big glowy horns and a twitching tail!

I had to put my hand over my mouth to stop myself giggling when I came in and saw Mum.

“You’re home late,” she remarked.

“Nelson puked on the doorstep again,” I explained.

“That old arse. Well, he’ll die soon enough.”

So will we all, I guess. But I’m not going to die here.

Style Cards:
Dyisi (full style card will come eventually)
Body: Maitreya
Hair: No Match, No Lime (available at Hair Fair! Hair fair is open until 31 July!)

Gwyneth:
Body: Maitreya
Head: Lelutka, Stella
Eyes: Soul, Sidhe Eyes
Skin: 7 Deadly s[K]ins, Maren, Powder (Available at Mesh Body Addicts, open until 29 July!)
Hair: Barberyumyum, 78AHF  (available at Hair Fair! Hair fair is open until 31 July!)
Clothes: Faida and Fallen Gods, Mythiara Rogue, Royale (Available at The Epiphany!)
Necklace: glYph, Miraculous Necklace, Purple
Boots: Lassitude & Ennui, Bernadette Boots, Grey (Available at We❤ RP!)
Poses: PosESion, from the 100 poses for $399 set currently on sale at their Main Store

Setting:
Sim: Private Sim
Buildings, pub, village, doors, streetlamps: Death Row Designs, Dangarnon, from the 2016 Fantasy Faire sim of the same name.
Statue: Death Row Designs, The Last Hope, a two-of-a-kind item offered for auction at the 2016 Fantasy Faire
Village Paths: Happy Mood, Dirt Road
Trees: Studio Skye, Enchanted Woods

Pub Decor:
Bar: Fetch, Lyla Bar
Elk Head: Medieval Fantasy, Elk Trophy
Deer Head: Medieval Fantasy, Deer Hunting Trophy
Cider Bottles: Jian, Hillside Orchard
XXX Barrels: Jian, Hillside Orchard
Unicorn Head: Nomad, Unicorn Taxidermy
Shelves Behind Bar: Serenity Style, Five Minutes Shelf
Wine Bottles Atop Bar Shelves: Aphrodite, Wine bottle collection
Purple Bottle on Bar: Morgan Sim Designs, Stowaway Fae’s Shot o’ Rum Bottle
Artwork Behind Bar: Lilith’s Den: Yrdrasil Axis Mundi
Bar Torches: Death Row Designs, Dangarnon Torches

It is such a pity Dy and I didn’t play a longer scene in the pub, but it was bedtime for her! I’ve kept the pub intact up on the platform where I create such things, so you may see more of No-Fae-Allowed Village Gwyneth’s life in the future, if only so I can show you things like the amazing polar bear statue in one of the corners and the beautiful tables sourced from Noble Creations and Tia.

Yes, I am one of the two people who won the DRD Last Hope Auction at the 2016 Fantasy Faire, and every time I look at that statue, I think of the Fantasy Faire, my beloved husband (whom I lost to cancer in January), and my hope that one day little donations like mine will help to make a real change in the way we treat cancer, leading to a complete cure, for everyone. I am deeply in awe of the amazing DRD team, who created one of the most inspiring objects I’ve ever seen in Second Life or any other life, and one that I’m proud to say graces and will grace my every living space in SL, be it RP, creative office, or OOC hangout. Unlike its purpose in this work of fiction, in reality this statue represents hope, the hope we can give and the hope that goes on before us, hope’s everlastingness, its raw power, and sometimes, its sadness. 

Spiffy photos taken with the indispensible aid of my LumiPro. I never create entire villages on a 1/4 sim sky platform for, um, one photo shoot, without it….

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