Fantasy Faire is the People

I thought I had nothing more to say. I thought I had said all that I had in me in my ramblings of these last years. I kept thinking I should write a wrap-up piece, something to express my feelings by the end of the Faire, but every time I thought of it only scattered thoughts ran through me, fluttering about like confused butterflies, refusing to settle into a path of words.

Today Haveit Neox emailed me a link to the video you see above. He filmed it during the traditional May Day Masked Ball of the Faire, our last official event. He also filmed the last unofficial event of the Faire, the return of the centaurs and the party following that. As I watched it I felt that strange, but oh so Faire-familiar feeling of smiling through threatening tears. I wiped my tears, smiled, and thought that this film shows so perfectly what Alia Baroque said in his interview: Fantasy Faire is the people.

There are bold centaurs, beautiful unicorns, twerking dragons, prancing dinkies in lobster-suits, frolicking fauns, graceful fae, glittering petites, towering giants, angels and demons to balance each other out… there are goats and ponies and a giant fox, there are even humans, of all things!

There are roleplayers, creators, dancers, bloggers, photographers, DJs, authors, speakers, coders, sound technicians, actors, artists, world builders, organizers, sponsors, musicians, particle performers… there are visitors from all the communities across Second Life.

In the Fairelands the Tiny Police can riverdance on the toes of a giant towering over the tallest of buildings, artists can be transformed to centaurs, Relayers can visit lands built for the hope risen from imagination, DJs can spin on a deck of a ship carried by a dragon, dancers can hold a stage of a whole world created to celebrate them, roleplayers can weave their stories with a new flow of visitors to partake in their lives, storytellers can share their words in an environment grown out of inspiration, photographers can despair at the beauty eleven days is never enough to capture… in the Fairelands anything is possible. In the Fairelands we come together: many communities, many tribes, all joined for those brief magical days.

We are all Faire Folk. For eleven days this is our land, our shared continent where all can come together, meet and talk and dance and experience the magic. Fantasy Faire is the people.

Thank you.

Last Delta

Swim with Me – The Merge

Boop Beep Boop Beep

***Fairelands Service Announcement***

We interrupt this scheduled story to announce that the story will not end today. We(as in me, myself and I) have gotten many messages, both to IMs and by Notecard, that you did not want the “Swim with Me” story to end with the Faire. It was always the plan, that this was going to be an exclusive story series, done for the faire, allowing for similar interests and lore to flow in. It was a unique way to cover some of the items from the faire, at the end of each story.

Due to public response, it has been decided that the story will go on, or a story within the same mer realm, continued in much the same format , in short little snippets, with various info and item coverage at the end of each post. You will be able to follow the rest of the story, beyond this point, on the blog Pixel Mythos. A special page has also been created, so that you can view all the “Chapters” in one spot.

It is the hope that the particular story, with these characters, will continue on again, here, come Fantasy Faire 2017.

***This has been a Fairelands Service Announcement***

Helena Stringer - Fantasy Faire 2016 - Swim with Me - The Merge - 1

Riletta and her new friend, Big Blue, had been traveling for many Lights now, and the call, which came twice a day, so powerful, finally seemed to be getting closer. Having a Blue Whale nearby was handy as he could accurately calculate the distance of the sound waves. It wasn’t a skill she acquired, sorting out long distance vibrations, carried through the currents.

The travel was fast, much faster than had she been on her own. She glided in the slipstreams that her friend made, and as they crossed the oceans of their world, she saw many new creatures, all coming together for the same goal.

Suddenly, a large shadow merged in the waters, casting dark shadows across Big Blue’s back. It was there and gone before she could make much sense of it. They were too close to the surface for it to have been a boat. She tapped on Big Blue, and sliced out out of the slip and up to the water’s edge. Surfacing her head, she saw a Thunderbird flying at breakneck speed, carrying what suspiciously looked like her mother in it’s claws. Off in the not so far distance, amidst the mists, she could see lands.

Not totally sure what was going on, she plunged back into the waters, veering towards her whale friend.

“I just saw the oddest thing. I noticed a large shadow glide along your back, and since we were so close to surface, I knew it wasn’t a boat. I thought I’d check it out, hence the tap to stop. It was a Thunderbird, and it looked like it had my mother in it’s claws. I inherited her royal purple colouring, it is a telling of our royal line, so it must have been she, there are only two of us left.”

“That does seem odd princessa, where could they be going?”

“The only thing I can think of is this; she either got impatient with me, and went to the birds to for information or she found out something and went to them for help.”

“Was there anything else you could descern from your slip to the air?”

“Yes, I know the direction they are taking, it is the same as ours. I saw mists, and lands beyond those. That seems to be our destination.”

“It is time to hurry then. I can’t compete with a Thunderbird, but I can try to get there in record time. Come now, lets be off.”

Riletta’s head was full of questions, as she let her body be pulled into the strong current her friend was producing. They would have half a Light yet, before the reached the mists she saw. Even at the speed they were now going. She hopped her mother didn’t get into any trouble, in that time.

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Talise rolled along the rock, into the water, as the Thunderbird stopped his hover to alight onto the surface. The rock jutted out just beyond the mists, their swirling masses hinting at what was hidden inside, but never letting her see a true view.

She waited for the Thunderbird’s smaller brethren to arrive, for she did not have the gift of universal speach, and could not communicate with the Thunderbird directly.

She mused that Cambreyan was probably still fuming at her, cursing her decision to leave her realms in his hands, until either she or the princessa returns. He did not like the idea of her going off on an epic adventure, that was the whole reason why Riletta had been sent off originally, as a royal emissary.

The news they received, once they got to the islands, had not been good, and she could not wait for her daughter. If anything, she had to go, to spare her daughter’s fate.

An evil had found it’s way here, to her realms, and that of other oceans. Something that attacked from within, mutilating one’s body, until it works against the victim. The birds said the mist shrouded lands might be the key to what knowledge she seeks. So she opted to take a trip, directly to them, by air.

Her scales hurt, having been dried out from the harsh winds. It felt good to be back in the water, though the water felt different here. It was so infused with magiks. It felt like hundreds of little hands, all caressing her tail. She was glad to be propped up, she wasn’t ready for a full submersion into the handsy waters.

Just then, a Pelican landed beside her with a splash. It was Dronal, her translator.

“Finally, I am eager to figure out what this is all about.”

“I am not able to fly as fast as my much larger cousin, dear lady. Forgive me. He says he cannot continue beyond this point. The magiks within would tear him apart, as he is a fully realized magik, and does not have a mortal form. I, however, have been told to accompany you. He can speak through me, and see what I see.”

“Well that is a handy trick. I don’t wish to lose one of the last remaining wonders to our world, so if it pleases him to wait here, I am fine with you being my escort.”

“The Light is almost done, let us rest here, and wait for the new Light. We can start fresh then.”

“I agree, I will rest in the shallow little tidal pool there. I don’t feel up to sleeping under the surface this Dark. These magiks disturb me.”

“As you wish, my lady.”

Helena Stringer - Fantasy Faire 2016 - Swim with Me - The Merge - 2

It was just the start of Dark, when Big Blue guided Riletta towards a clustering of volcanic spires. He chose here to rest for the night. There would be no finding the queen just yet. When they surfaced, the whale for breath, and she, to see what she could in the moonlight, the calls of seabirds could be heard not far off.

She could almost feel her mother, not far off, but the swirling mists drifted out along the waters, obscuring most of her sight, even with the moon’s light. It couldn’t penetrate the swirls. They floated along, then flitted up, looking a lot like ancestral spirits do, when they are called for ceremony.

They seemed alive, these mists.

Submerging again, she followed Big Blue to his chosen spot, once again curling up on his fin. Her she had slumbered, almost a week. She had gotten use to his rise and fall, which he was required to do through the Dark, for breath.

Tomorrow, she thought, that will be the end of this journey. Mother will surely find out what is going on.

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Talise awoke to such a clatter, that she was disoriented for a moment, forgetting where she was, and for what reason. The seabirds were dropping fish and crabs before the huge Thunderbird, which he was promptly crunching up in the pale glow of the cresting Light.

One little bird, one not known to her, ventured forth with a sardine, a fish too small for the Thunderbird to nab, and dropped it into her little tidal pool.

“Thanks, my feathered friend. A welcome gift.”

Dronal waddled over on his short legs, his pouch wiggling with his own catch.

“Ah, so you are up. I have some news. As the flock and I went off to catch a feast for our cousin, we spotted a young blue whale surfacing, not far. Not a unique experience in itself, we do see them from time to time near the channels that flow around our islands. What was interesting to see, was the purple hued mermaid nestled on his pectoral fin. Hued much the same as you.”

“Oh! that must be my daughter. We must go to her. We can figure out the rest together.”

“Then eat quick my lady, and come, I will show you the way.”

Talise scooped up the little fish, saying a quick thanks, flipping backwards into the rushing morning waves, to enjoy her breakfast below the surface.

The Light was rising ever so quickly, shooting it’s beams into the clear waters, allowing her to follow the pelican above with ease. Not much Light went by before she started to see volcanic spires, their bases rising from the depths. Resting not far was the aforementioned blue whale. Young bull was of good length, and had beautiful splattering of dots along his back, which flowed down into smaller ones along his side.

She saw nothing of her daughter, as approached. She started to slip along the other side of the whale, when she was grabbed from below.

“Mother! I thought we were going to find you this morning. I didn’t expect you to find us. I figured you had already breached the mists.”

“No, my fellow travelers wished for new Light, so we rested through the Dark.”

“We traveled until we got close enough to the mists. I was already partway into Dark by then. I looked a bit in the moonlight, but the mists drift out, back in and swirl around too much. It’s like they are alive.”

“I have a feeling, my daughter, that they are just that. The Thunderbird wants me to go inside, with his translator, who is going to act as his vessel. He cannot go himself, he is of magik, and would end up being dispersed.”

“I guess we go then.”

“Yes, yes we do.”

Their little party, now brought together, surged forth, swimming along the surface, while Dronal flew above. The mists got thicker, swirling, grabbing at their waterlogged bodies and wind ruffled feathers. They started to have to put actual effort into their movements, pushing back at the mists, the currents and winds. They could no longer see, from where they came, or where they were going. Where yesterlight the mists gave glimpses of what was beyond, this Light there was just a thick shroud.

Many moments went by, and finally the droplets seemed less dense, the thick layer over the water lessening.

They finally push their last push, and breached what seemed to be a barrier, suddenly hurtling forth into calm waters. Before them was a series of lands, all pushed up against one another, each different, but somehow inter meshing with it’s neighbor.

Before them were the Lands of the Mists, the Fairelands.

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They traveled towards a towering piece of land, perched up on  flowerpot rocks, with the flora growing rather chaotically. The water would not be left out and competed with the grander of the land, with buildings jutting out of the shallows not far from shore.

It was a breathtaking sight, leaving one looking all about, as there was just so much going on.

There were all manors of intelligent beast, furred, feathered, finned and footed. They could see them chatting, playing, milling about. Little Sprites flew along the waves, leaving colourful trails in their wakes.

They rested there, staring, until slowly, those they were watching noticed and started watching them. Some hurried off, taking a crystallized tunnel, others came closer to the shore. Not sure who to approach for the best results, they waited, talking amoungst themselves.

“We are going to need to approach someone, figure out who is of a sort of power here, who will have the answers we seek.  We can’t just sit here and expect something to happen.”

The Queen had spoke to soon, because just as she had finished, a swirling mass came towards them, with a cluster of robed figures. They could not see a form, and it glided mere inches above the water’s surface.

The Mass swirled in vivid colours, with the core being the brightest of lights.

“Hello Travelers, I am the manifestation of the Fairelands, given a semi corporeal form. When you speak with me, you speak to the lands themselves. I am but an avatar, and have no one true form.  You will see what your heart desires most, so that your head can make sense of what is before you.”

It was true as well, they each saw something a bit different, forming from the core light. They each saw representatives of their own kind.

“The Fairelands wont be here much longer, already the visitors have gone, and all that is left are those too sick to leave and those who stayed to help with their care. There are also the people of the ceremonies, and merchants packing up their wares, but they will not know what you seek. I am going to take you to a place, where you can rest, and ask the questions you need to. There is a channel of water just there, you may follow that way, there will be enough room.”

So they followed.

Again, it seemed, there was just too much to look at. Such wonders were here, and it was just a small part of what they saw beyond the mists. Each one of them wanted to explore, the enchantment of the lands making them nearly forget the reason for being here. Far too soon, they reached a huge cavern, with water so still.

“Here is were you can rest, and we can talk. It is a safe place, set away from curious ears. What brings you here, and how were you able to pass through our shroud of mists?”

Talise, being the highest rank, felt it was her task to answer for them all.

“10 Lights ago, we heard the first Call. It vibrated through the waters, all creatures in my realms heard it. We could not understand it, but we felt there was some urgency. I sent my daughter, my quickest envoy, to seek out answers. When she didn’t contact me in a timely manor, and my people started to feel the lure of the Call, I started looking for information. That information lead me here. We wish to know why all creatures, from the whole waters, were compelled by it. What does it want?”

“It has been a long time, since a Call has been activated. Those here, in these lands, we do nor hear it, as we are already on the mission it tasks. This is not good news, for your world, that is has activated itself here. The Fairelands are full of magiks, from all sorts of lands, world, universes. The people are much the same, from all manors of places, and times. What you see here, is also elsewheres, at the same time. It can be confusing, I know, but we don’t have time to really explain it. What is important is this, each time the Fairelands appear, there is a sentinel, a sort of guardian, put forth to guard the places we pop up in. We lost our guardian for your world, due to an unfortunate turn of events the last faire. So the lands set up a beacon, to detect any trouble that might arise, and if something did happen, to send out a form of communications.”

“I have heard tell of this trouble. We have no name for it yet. It was already starting to target the waters. You brought it with you, with these lands?”

“The answer is no and yes.”

“That makes no sense.”

“We would never unleash something onto any of the worlds we manifest in. This is why we have or Sentinels. They are there to protect, to chase down and keep the evil at bay. The problem is this particular enemy can be slippery, and is also very good at detecting weakness. Your world was too pure, too whole, a beacon in itself, for this sort of thing. So while we did not bring it, did not unleash it, and normally have precautions, it watched and waited. It eventually found a hole.”

“So because there was no sentinel, we now have something preying on us, all of us. The Call didn’t help either, many have perished, trying to get here, eaten by the sharks, and other predators. All you have brought us is trouble. How are you, and the lands, to help us?”

“We go back into the mists, very shortly. I, again, don’t have the time to explain it, but think of it as another plane, where all thoughts, emotions, imagining, of every creature out in the cosmos, gets collected. It takes time to weave those into existence, so the Fairelands need rest. The Fairelands are here to teach and to help, to fight back, against this thing that now inhabits your world. We can teach you how to combat this, we can give you the knowledge, but you must come with us, to this cosmic plane. The Knowledge there will cleanse your world, and we will give it. There is a cost, as the universe is about balance. In order to learn, for you to absorb the information the Fairelands, you must stay with us, until the mists part again, and the lands re-emerge amoungst the worlds.”

“We would be gone, for a whole year, while this thing ravages our waters.”

“It is not just the waters it will attack, but every living thing. You have to come, knowing what you leave behind, but also knowing that when you come back, you will have the tools you need, to rid this thing from your world.”

“There seems to be little choice. One year of suffering compared to untold years, while still a heavy toll, is the lesser evil. We will come.”

“Only you and you daughter will come, for the others, we have special tasks. You, the speaker of the Thunderbird beyond, you will be tasked to travel the winds, with your cousin, and tell the world of what is going on. This evil doesn’t discriminate, and will attack any with a spark of life. There are some things that can be done, to bolster against it. I bestow upon you a crystal helm, which will slowly transfer this knowledge to you. You must go, make haste.”

With this, Dronal flew up, his new helm glinting, and took off with great speed the way they came.

“You, Big Blue, you I task as being the new guardian of this world. This is a task your ancestors, on many other worlds in the stars, have been tasked with, in the past. Your line of whales has always been known as protectors of the Oceans. You will stay here, and await the return of the queen and princessa. The beacon will stay, as it is set apart from the mists. Once one of every creature living in the ocean has arrived, it will cease it’s call. You will inform them of what is going on, you will tell them to follow the instructions of Dronal and the Thunderbirds. You too, must go now, for the mists are thickening, soon the lands will fall out of existence on this plane.”

Big Blue bobbed, signaling he understood, and turned to Riletta, and blew bubbles at her. She smiled, enjoying the playful underwater whale kiss.

“I will await you, my friend, you have given me much purpose and honour, on this journey. Do not forget this little whale.”

“Little my buttfin! Shoo you, until we meet again!”

“Daughters of the Ocean. Inside each of you is something that has been laying dormant for much too long. You have wild magiks, deep deep within, and this is what will protect you, in the moments coming. We don’t have much time, as the mists are swirling, and the water is already churning beyond shore. Are you ready for this next step? You will never be the same again.”

“Yes, we’ll do this for our world. It is our home.”

“Then come, the lands are prepared to protect you as much as they can, you must step into my core, I will act as a shield.”

Mother and daughter, stretching out hands, to hold one another, swam forth, and leapt into the embodiment of the Fairelands, which had turned back into a swirling mass of magiks and light.

Outside, the portals lit up, and the fairelanders set forth to return to their own homes, to continue their own fights. To bring hope to their own people, in forms of new information, new techniques of healing. To bring dreams, stories, memories created here, in these magikal lands.

Those left here to rest, those with no more sands in their hourglass, started to dissolve, flickering forth as bright sparks. The sparks flew up to form together, to swirl and fly in a rush along the lands. They are the glue, what holds the illusion, makes the lands take true form. They are the reason why the lands are here, and why the living gather. They now will forever be a part of the Fairelands.

From within their shielded globe, the mers watched all this. The rebirth of the dying, much like a phoenix, ever so bright. They watched them in fascination, as the sparks flew, rising up, and bursting forth. The lands glittered as they all fluttered down in a rainbow of colours.

Once the lands were fully covered, the mists came, almost malevolent. The thick tendrils started to touch everything, and with them came the waves. Inch by inch the waters rushed forth, everything touched crumbling to the depths below. Towers and statues tumbled, buildings washed out, floating, then sinking. Trees creaked and fell, caught up and into the whirlpool that was now forming.

A big wave rushed towards them, and all they could think of was their people, and why they were doing this. The wave pushed them, steering their globe towards the now gaping whirlpool.

The queen’s last thoughts on this plane were simple. She wanted Dronal to not be too overloaded with his task, that the Thunderbirds could use what he learned, and form a stand against this evil. She wished Big Blue the best, on his new task, and a task it would be. She desired Cambreyan to not be to mad at her, for he would have to run her queendom for a whole year, as well as fight this thing now in their waters. She wanted strength, for what lay ahead, for her and her daughter.

With all this swirling in her head, as the waters rushed in, enclosing them, pushing them, forcing them down, her last thought, looking at Riletta, was that of Hope.

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An Original/Continuing story by Helena Stringer – With “chapters” uncovered over the course of Fantasy Faire 2016

Read the First Part HERE
Read the Second Part HERE

Continue reading Swim with Me – The Merge

Farewell to the Fairelands

Gwyneth in Blackmoor BLOG - 1

Now cometh the enveloping mists
Slowly spreading like tendrils
The migration inevitable
Across the vast emptiness

Alas these lands of wonder
Enchanted as they are
A heartbeat of light beating
Must yet succumb

The world makers wait
Knowing it comes
They embrace their children
Until the very last

The vigilent warriors
Watch from the walls
Grasping tightly
To these shores fleeting

Yet, hope will not fade
Far into time forward
Another place, another time
The beloved awaits rebirth

Never fading from memory
Shining brilliant across the seas
Ever brighter in its absence
In grand tales of the heroic

We release you then to the mists
A prolonged embrace now outstretched hands
Strength and love ever bind us
Farewell sweet lands.

If only just for now.

Bee Dumpling
May 2nd, 2016

LitFest Tours Special: Story from OtherWorld

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Seven Empty Thones
By Saffia Widdershins

“What do you see?”

“I see seven thrones on top of the highest hill, in the shade of the standing stone and the great tree,” said the young King.

“Are they all thrones?” asked his First Minister. “Look more closely.”

“Ahhh … only two are thrones,” said the young King. “They’re more decorated than the others. But even the others are … I don’t know … more formal? It seems a strange word to use here, where nature is so predominant.”

He was silent for a moment, considering. The First Minister watched him, a half smile on his face. It is possible to be proud of your King in many ways, especially when your King is young.

“Then perhaps a King, his Queen and their advisors,” he said. “Look how they are set out – a line, but curved a little. The advisors … like arms spread out to embrace. And there … that strange little stool by the foot of the thrones.”

“Perhaps a place for a prince or princess to sit and learn the business of government,” suggested the First Minister.

The King frowned a little. Young or old, the First Minister reflected, kings do not care for the thought that they need to be training up their successors.

The thrones face inward,” the King said suddenly. “Towards the land. If they turned them around and looked out over the sea, what a jolly view they would have!”

“But inland is where the people would gather,” said the First Minister gently.

“That’s true,” said the King. “I wonder if it was for judgements or law giving. Perhaps it was for entertainment … to hear music, or to see plays. Or fire dancers. That would look splendid – although they’d have to be careful not to let that huge tree catch on fire!”

There had been fire dancers who came to the palace three years previously. The King had not forgotten.

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But now his attention was still on the tree. “I wonder how old it is. Centuries, I’d think. You could have a whole town of houses in that tree – like the Dumbodins build, in the Creen Uplands. But none of their trees are as big as this! And all alone … I wonder if it was lonely.“

His voice dropped. He had no brothers, but even if he had, he would still have been set apart. And honest friends for a King, a young King, were not easily come by.

“I know these plants,” he said suddenly. “The mushrooms … and that one – there – with trailing fronds that glow. I have seen them in the palace gardens.”

The First Minister nodded. “Yes, you will find them in many gardens. And more … The island … the island can be found. Or rather an echo of that island. Somewhere to the west of here, beyond the Gulf of Rhionis.”

“So I can visit it?”

“Oh yes,” said the First Minister. “Though some say … it is an echo of this island. A loving – and much-loved – reflection.”

“The tree is there? And the thrones?”

“The tree is there. But the thrones … are not.”

“Perhaps,” said the young King thoughtfully, “the thrones have decayed. With time, you know.”

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“Perhaps,” said the First Minister. “But legends tell of a court of fair folk, wise and learned, who would gather here in a pavilion of crystal, to tell tales and to hear tales told. And that people would dance here on a magical boat, anchored high in the trees.”

The young King gave an astonished laugh. “A boat? In the tree? How did they get it there?”

“Legends say that it was lifted there – and held aloft – by a kindly dragon.”

The young King laughed again. “Now that really could do some fire damage to the tree!”

“Indeed.”

Somewhere in the chambers, a clock chimed a musical note. All the palace clocks were musical and gentle reminders of the passing time, but the young King’s face fell.

“Already? But there’s so much more to see – and talk about! The dragon skull, resting on the edge of the island. Was that the dragon who held the boat, do you think?”

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“No,” said the First Minister. “That was a young dragon, I believe, and full of strength. The dragon’s skull … that was a dragon who grew unimaginably old and rested, full of years.” Was there a wistful note in the First Minister’s voice?

The King’s gaze was still fixed on the painting.

“Your Council will be waiting,” said the First Minister.

“Yes,” said the King, a little glumly. Then he looked around the room, at the paintings that shone like jewels in this dark wood panelled room, where the light came gently through the mullioned windows.

“But we can come again tomorrow and see them?”

“Perhaps not tomorrow,” said the First Minister. “For your days are full, and very busy. But I promise you – we will come again and see more.”

“Good!” said the young King, and he moved to the door.

But the First Minister paused and looked around the room, at the fourteen bright paintings, each showing a different imagining of a different realm. And he sighed, very softly, for he knew – as the King did not – that when they came again, the realms would be there …. But utterly changed.

For that was the magic of the Fairelands.

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LitFest Tours – Stories from the Regions: Blackmoor

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The Ballad Beyond
by Saffia Widdershins

Alone in the mists, the fae waited, her fair hair covered by a dark red hood. At her side, the little unicorn shivered and stamped a nervous foot. The motion caught her eye and she looked down at him and smiled.

“Patience.”

He shook his head, but then stilled as though he heard something.

Sharp elven ears heard it too. The fae drew a deep breath, audible as the sigh of wind over night seas, and she stepped further back into the shadows.

Footsteps, approaching slowly. A slight shuffle, as though one leg was dragging.

Slowly a figure approached, through the tunnel and into the park. Slowly, it made its way down the wooden walk between the watchful gargoyles towards the lighted bank of candles on the broken, half-forgotten shrine. There he stopped – for it was a man, wizened, old and bent. He gazed at the candles for a long moment.

Then with a sigh that was nearly a groan, he reached inside his shabby cloak and lifted out a candle, a rare beeswax candle, tall and elegant. He leaned forward stiffly to light it from one that already burned there, and then set it down in an empty space, taking care it was set upright and proud.

Then he stepped back and gazed at it for a while.

“Tam.”

She spoke softly but he clearly heard, for he stiffened and then straightened a little. But he did not turn towards her.

Ah well, he had always been proud.

“Tam,” she said again, and now she stepped forward, the little unicorn trotting at her side.

“I came to see you, Tam,” she said softly. “To see if you have forgotten … “

He was still staring at the candles, obstinately silent, as though to give her words was to give her power over him.

He had not forgotten, then.

“Do you light the candle for me, Tam? Or do you light it for her?”

She was close enough to him now to see the tear making a track down his face, although he still held his face averted, staring ahead.

“Was she good to you, your Jennet? Did she love you like I loved you? Or did she just want a name to give as the father of her babe? How soon did the life of mortals begin to weary you, Tam Lin?”

At that old, old name he turned suddenly, showing her his face for the first time, facing her fully. Despite what she had known, she shrank back. And he saw it and smiled grimly, displaying the ruins of teeth in a face lined with wrinkles.

“Yes,” he said, and his voice was hoarse, as though from years of disuse. “You did this. You gave me the life of the fae lands, but forgot to give me youth. Jennet died … as mortals must. She was full of years – and they were good ones, the years we spent together, watching our children grow and in time, rule the land. And their children … ten generations now between me and the Lord of Blackmoor, and yet still I live.”

She took a step towards him, her hand raised and held out to him.

“Then come with me,” she said. “True Thomas, my Tam Lin, come along with me. It may be harder to find now, but the way is still there. We will not take the hard road, we will not take the soft. We’ll take the bonny, bonny road to fair Elfland, and we’ll take it together. And there … I will give you the gift you crave – your youth.”

And he laughed softly.

“Ah, my Queen … my fairest Lady … you never understood mortals, did you? You think I crave my youth again? No.

“I crave what you stole from me. My death.”

##

Snapshot_014

Blackmoor
by Midniight Dae

I never really felt that I knew my father, but I lit a candle for him anyway and wished him well in his next incarnation. Things had been tense between us since my mother died and he discovered that his bereft daughter wasn’t willing to concede to his every whim. Banging on the table with his knife wouldn’t get him dinner any faster, and after I threatened to throw it in his lap, he got the message. Yes, things got tense.

I was there to light a candle, when I first saw the stranger. Hesitant footsteps down the tunnel sent me scurrying for cover. The sanctuary is a desolate spot, especially on one of our usual foggy winter evenings. I scrambled up the bank, familiarity allowing me to move slowly and silently. I was above the tunnel when he emerged. By his grey hair, he was older than I, but not by much. My own face held its share of lines. The sweat of sudden fear was quenched by cold fingers of fog, but the folks of Blackmoor soon learn the ways of silent disappearance.

I saw him again, a few nights later, near the shrine for hope. By then I’d heard he had been asking about me, but caution outweighed curiosity and I had no desire to confront him on another night of fog and scarce company. I backed away, careful on the slick cobbles, and vanished easily into the evening.

I was meditating near the waterfalls when he finally cornered me. It’s one of my favourite places, but that didn’t excuse stupidity. He backed away when he saw my frightened glances, looking for an escape route.

“I only want to talk. The Arcadia inn at the main square in an hour?” He backed away when I nodded, but I never stopped gripping my dagger until I reached the roadway and the streetlights.

When I reached Arcadia, he was staring outside, as bemused as most outworlders, staring at what appeared to be a lake inside the building. I muttered the words of power from behind him and the normal inn returned to view. We like to keep our inn for locals only, but occasional guests are permitted. I waved the barmaid over, and she brought two flagons of the better ale.

“You have something that you want from me?”

“No, not at all,” he looked down at his hands then back to me, and I noticed some very familiar blue eyes. “I think we share the same father.”

##

Bmoor004

“Gemfire and Obsidian”
by Talia Sunsong

“Catch me if you can!” said Gemfire. She beat her wings faster and dove into a fog bank.

“Gemfire, no, that’s heading towards Blackmoor. It’s dangerous.” Eran called at Gemfire’s fleeing back. “The elders said never to go to Blackmoor.”

The only answer was Gemfire’s laughter, that somehow sounded more hollow as it echoed off the fog.

“Come back! Oh, curses.” Eran dove into the fog after her. “Where is she?” Eran could see nothing in the dense fog. He slowly flew forward. Strange trees with twisting branches appeared in the fog.

“Whoa!” Eran dodged a branch that seemed to reach out to grab him. He scrutinized the tree, in case it was actually trying to grab him. It stood motionless.

“It must have just been my imagination. The tree looked like it was moving, because I was moving in the fog.”

He could see the thick branches of more trees poking through the clouds of fog. If he kept flying, he might find himself entangled in a branch, or hit his head on trunk.

“Gemfire jokes that I am thick headed, but it still would hurt to ram a tree.”

Eran flew down to the ground. He landed on an uneven stone path. Immediately, a cold dampness soaked through his Fae shoes. Shoes made of flower petals did not offer much protection from the cold.

They were made for the sunnier lands that Fae lived in.

“Gemfire, where are you?”

Eran strained with his sensitive ears to hear any sound of Gemfire.

All he heard was the dripping of water echoing inside of a tunnel, and a murmur of a waterfall many yards away.

I hope she didn’t hit a tree, thought Eran with a sense of foreboding.

This place was so dark compared to the Fairylands he lived in.

There was a low sound, of a foot scuffing on stone.

“Gemfire?”

Eran crept forward. The sound had come from the other end of a tunnel. He hesitated at the opening. It was dark and smelled of rotting vegetation. Everything told him this was a dangerous place to go, yet if Gemfire was hurt inside the tunnel, he had to go to her.

Eran entered the tunnel. He felt the clinging of a hundred threads of spider silk.

“Yuck!” Eran wiped the web off his face. Something landed on his left shoulder.

Spider? thought Eran, brushing his shoulder quickly. He felt dampness. It was drops of water dripping from the top of the tunnel onto him.

There was another scraping noise. Eran moved more quickly through the tunnel. It opened next to a gray body of water with a wooden walkway over it. Winged stone gargoyles sat atop columns next to the walkway. A shadow moved on the walkway.

“Who is it?” said Eran.

There was a low laugh. “Me,” said a gravelly voice.

Eran spun around. He saw no one. “Who spoke?”

“Don’t you have eyes to see?” said the rasping voice.

Eran looked up and realized the stone gargoyle was speaking. “By the Fae gods, you are alive.”

The gargoyle lifted a leg to scratch at a spider crawling on its side.

“Of course I’m alive. Where have been, that you have never seen a stone gargoyle speak?”

“In the Fae lands,” replied Eran automatically.

“Hah!” said the gargoyle, narrowing his eyes as if Eran had lied.

“These are the Fae lands.”

“The Fae lands are not like here. They are sunny and warm, with a great tree many Fae live in.”

“These are the Fae lands, foolish boy,” sneered the gargoyle. “Why are you here?”

“I’m looking for my friend, Gemfire. She’s Fae too.”

The gargoyle laughed. “She’ll be staying here then, with Obsidian.”

“What?” Eran stepped closer to the gargoyle. “Gemfire, stay here, in this dark place? Where is she? Show me.”

“Show yourself, boy. Obsidian is wooing her now. With his magic and dark beauty, you don’t stand a chance.”

“Where?” Eran clenched his jaw tight. How dare anyone use love spells on Gemfire. No one would take her from him.

“Obsidian is starting to play his magic lyre. That always works on the ladies.” The gargoyle jerked his head towards a spot down the walkway over the murky water. The faint sound of music drifted across the waters.

Not wasting another second, Eran ran down the rickety walkway towards the music. A board suddenly cracked under his foot, and he leapt to the next one to avoid twisting his ankle. The walkway ended at a series of alcoves. Most were dark and forgotten things, but there were candles burning in an alcove down a pathway to his right.

The music drifted from that direction, as well as the sweet notes sung by a man.

Eran ran closer. In the candle light he could the face of a man, slender and youthful looking, like many magical creatures with long lives who looked eternally young. The eyes seemed dark and full of cunning, the lips twisted into a self satisfied smile. The man strummed a lyre and sang a crooning song of desire for a beauty to come to him.

A woman stepped closer to the man. Her red hair and gem like wings caught the candlelight.

“Gemfire!” cried Eran.

Gemfire turned to Eran, her eyes widening in surprise.

“Eran, you’re here?”

“I followed you. We’re not supposed to come here, remember the elders said to stay out of Blackmoor.”

“Eran is your name?” said the man with disdain. Eran looked at the man. Now that he was close, he realized the man did indeed have Fae wings. Although they were jet black wings with chips of shiny crystals like obsidian.

“Eran is my name, and you are Obsidian, I would guess?”

Obsidian raised his eyebrows. “I am Obsidian.”

“He was playing a song for me,” said Gemfire. “It was so beautiful! Please sing it again, Obsidian.”

“No more songs, Gemfire. It’s time to leave.” Eran held out his hand to Gemfire to pull her away from Obsidian.

“Eran said that his elders told him to stay out of Blackmoor, so Eran should obey his elders.” Obsidian pierced Eran with his look.

“Come Gemfire, time to go.”

“Gemfire can stay.” Obsidian set down his lyre and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Oh, Eran. I can stay for a while. I’ve never been here and it’s such a lovely place. I never knew there were Fae here.”

“I still haven’t shown you the waterfall,” said Obsidian picking up his lyre and holding out his hand to Gemfire. “You must see it.”

Eran heard the extra emphasis Obsidian put on the word “must”. He could hear the magic tones underlying the word “must”. It was a command spell.

“Gemfire, do not listen to him,” said Eran, but Gemfire had already taken Obsidian’s hand and they were flying down the path. Eran flew after them.

Holding Gemfire close, Obsidian flew rapidly down the twisting pathway. Eran dashed after them, barely avoiding collisions with boulders and trees.

Obsidian and Gemfire landed on the grass at the top of a tall waterfall. Obsidian strummed his fingers across his lyre.

“Come with me my beauty, Gemfire. Stay with me my love. Be by my side, Gemfire, and forget about the others.” Obsidian sang, his dark eyes meeting Gemfire’s eyes.

“Don’t listen, Gemfire, it’s a spell!” yelled Eran.

“Ignore the voice of others, listen only to me,” sang Obsidian. “The other one will be caught by a tree.”

A tree bent down and tried to entwine its branches around Eran. Eran threw himself sideways. The tree missed getting a grip on Eran, but a twig scratched Eran’s face.

Eran swooped down on Obsidian, and snatched the lyre from his hands.

“Gemfire, don’t listen to Obsidian. He is an evil Fae. He will just try to trap you with his evil ways,” sang Eran desperately. Gemfire’s eyes turned to Eran.

“Eran, you’re singing? You never sing.”

“Come away to safety, let’s leave this awful place.” Eran rose higher in the air, and Gemfire followed.

“I’ll get you next time,” called out Obsidian. “This isn’t over.”

##

Bmoor002

A RFL of SL Event

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