All posts by Inara Pey

Eclectic virtual world blogger with a focus on Second Life, VR, virtual environments and technology.

The Song of the Spirit Pool

The Spirit Pool by Kayle Matzerath, Fantasy Faire 2017

Since the dawn of the First Age, when the peoples of the world started counting the passage of Time, we have been here. Keepers of the waters; guardians of Life’s Way; shepherds to those seeking rest as their Path leads to the gates of Beyond.

Carved from the living rock above the waters and below the outspread arms of the Goddess, our halls are open to all, from above or below the waves. Like time itself, our waters flow outwards from their beginning in the hills, passing through tunnel and channel as they seeking the Spirit Pool, while the ebb and flow of landfolk and seafolk mark the beat of the citadel’s heart.

The Spirit Pool by Kayle Matzerath, Fantasy Faire 2017

To some we are a place of commerce, folded between land and sea. To those seeking Answers or uncertain of their way as their years wane, we are a place of Sanctuary and peace. The waters of the Spirit Pool offer rest and clarity of vision and thought to those who seek either.

As the world turns, so we have seen the rise and fall of many; but while the years fall like leaves from a bough and the ages unfold as the petals of the flower, we remain. These walls, ancient before the world grew old, tire not. Though countless thousands of feet have walked our piers and halls, the stone beneath them does not fade nor wear. Our banners do not fade.

The Spirit Pool by Kayle Matzerath, Fantasy Faire 2017

“Timeless” some might call it; but that would infer we have escaped time. But how do you escape something to which you’ve never been held in thrall? We simply Are; and that is why the weary, the lost, the lingering souls caught between one realm and the next, find their way to us.

Beneath the Goddess’ outstretched arms, within the shade of covered terraces and walks, guided by the lanterns held aloft by the Handmaidens of the Pool or within the waters of the Pool itself, all who are uncertain, all who seek reset before passing beyond the realm of the physical, are welcome here.

The Spirit Pool by Kayle Matzerath, Fantasy Faire 2017

As a trader or traveller coming to this citadel for commerce, you may not see them moving among the people here, but we do. Our promises is to care for them, provide the peace they need so that they may hear their own calling. We do not offer direction; we do not encourage passage one way or the other. Each of those bound by time must make their own choice as to which path they will take.

That is how it always has been, here in the midst of the Spirit Pool, and it is how it always will be. We greet you now as friend and traveller, and offer our halls as a place of trading and meetings. And we will welcome you again, one day, when your spirit is in need of rest and your thoughts in need of focus, when the Spirit Pool calls to you once more.

The Spirit Pool by Kayle Matzerath, Fantasy Faire 2017

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The art at Fantasy Faire

Fantasy Faire: Art Gallery 1

As anyone who visits the Fantasy Faire Flickr pool will know that among its many achievements, each year’s Faire bring forth an outpouring of creativity through people’s photographs of the Fairelands regions. It’s also not unreasonable to say that fantasy art as a whole is one of the staples of Second Life photography as a whole, such is the popularity of fantasy realms in-world.

It’s therefore fitting that Fantasy Faire embraces this wellspring of individual creativity each year by offering Second Life photographers and artists the opportunity to display their work. In fact, this year fantasy art is doubly celebrated, with not one but two galleries of art to be appreciated.

Fantasy Faire: Art Gallery 2

Both can be found within Opal Flight, the Arts and Entertainment region of the Faire, which sees Haveit Neox and Lilia Artis bring forth a magnificently unique region which is itself a work of art, extending as much below the waves as it does above. The galleries play host to the work of 40 artists, including the likes of noted Fantasy Faire photographers Alisaundra Andel and Caitlin Tobias, as well as a host of names familiar and perhaps new to those who follow Second Life art. You can find the full list of artists, with links to their Flickr streams on this page, so I won’t repeat them here.

The first of the galleries is presented above the surface of the water on the west side of the region, beautifully hung from the stems and leaves of great white gallery plants. A path of floating leaves offers the way to them, but such is the scale of the gallery space – and if you have the luxury – I would suggest flycamming to view the art more completely. Follow the path around to the end of the art display, and it will lead you onwards and beneath the waves to the underwater part of the region.

Fantasy Faire: Art Gallery 1

The second of the galleries can be found underwater within a coral rotunda at the centre of the region, which if teleported to directly can also act as a gateway to the undersea environment Haveit and Lila have created; an environment I thoroughly recommend visiting.

The art displayed within the galleries offers a broad mix of style, narrative – something regular readers of my blog will know attracts me – emotion, power and sense of fun. The names of the artists are not directly displayed, but provided you are within whisper – I think – range of an image, touching it will cause the title and artist’s name to be displayed in local chat. I have no idea of the criteria used to select the images, but the number of images displayed by any artist seems to vary between one and two pieces.

Fantasy Faire: Art Gallery 2

On a personal note, and through both of my visits to the galleries, I did find myself feeling that the this exhibition is a little one-sided, with the onus very much on avatar studies. But over the years, Fantasy Faire has produced some fabulous realms over the years, many of which have been the subject of photographs and art. So having a few of these recalled among the preponderance of avatar sets would not have been amiss, and might have further broadened the depth (and possibly the appeal) of the exhibition.

Nevertheless, given how easily an art exhibition can be overlooked with so much else occurring at Fantasy Faire, I do very much recommend that anyone who enjoys Second Life art and photography stop by Opal Flight and visit the galleries. And as noted, while doing so, they take the time to explore the region as a whole. It truly is a delight.

Opal Flight

The Bard Queen’s Song: hints and tips

Morbus – your eventual destination in the Fantasy Faire Quest!

Note: This article has been updated to reflect some late-breaking changes to the Quest.

This year, Fantasy Faire once again presents the hunt in an expanded, story-based quest in which visitors to the Fairelands are invited to participate. In previous years, a call has gone to Heroes and Heroines to come to the Bard Queen and assist her in righting wrongs. But this year, it is the Bard Queen herself who has seemingly vanished – and that could be very bad news for the Fairelands!

Watch the trailer to find out more!

 

So – if you’re ready to be the Hero or Heroine – here’s a quick run-down of what to do and what to expect.

A Quick Overview

There are in fact two quests available – the The Bard Queen’s Song, which forms a multi-part adventure, and a treasure hunt.

The Bard Queen’s Song is multi-part, HUD-driven story you can complete in one go, or complete in stages; it is an Experience based activity, so all your progress is automatically saved, even if you remove your HUD. These notes are about this quest.

The treasure hunt involves seeking the treasure chests hidden in each of the Fairelands involved in the hunt (one per region) and touching them to claim your prize. The hunt can be completed before, after or during your progress through The Bard Queen’s Song, or without ever engaging on the main Quest.

Getting Started

First off, you’ll need the Quest HUD. This can be obtained from the kiosks at any of the Faireland realms landing points. Two versions are available:

  • L$250 – provides you with the Standard Quest package with HUD and Farion NPC
  • L$350 – provides you with the Deluxe Quest HUD and Farion NPC, together with a special gift card and male and female costumes so you can be more in character – and it will help you recognise other Adventurers, so you can help and support one another!
The Experience Permissions dialogue

When you have purchased your HUD package and unpack it.

IMPORTANT: if you purchase the Deluxe HUD package you must REZ it to unpack it do not wear it to unpack, as doing so will cause the gift card to be lost.

When you have unpacked the package, wear both the HUD and the Farion NPC (which will sit on your shoulder, but be invisible – it will appear once you have met Farion on the Quest.

As noted above, The Bard Queen’s Song is Experience based. This means that if this is your very first Fantasy Faire Quest, or if you revoked the Fantasy Faire Experience from 2016, you must accept the Experience via ta dialogue similar to the one shown on the right (note that as I never revoked the Fantasy Faire Experience, the image on the right refers to the 2016 Quest – the dialogue box you see will reference The Bard Queen’s Song).

It is essential you accept the Experience by clicking Yes, otherwise it will not work.

If you have previously participated in the 2016 Fantasy Faire Quest and did not subsequently revoke the Experience, you will be automatically accepted into The Bard Queen’s Song without this dialogue appearing.

The HUD

As with most HUD-based activities, the HUD tracks your progress, provides hints, provides access to various options and displays information pertinent to your progress, such as the scrolls shown below.

The Quest HUD (bottom) with clickable options, and showing three of the scroll displays – note the centre one is only display when you first wear the HUD, and explains joining the Experience

The following options are available on the HUD:

  • Teleport – displays the clickable teleport list (shown above right)
  • Sponsors – displays a list of Quest sponsors’ logos
  • Help – provides a note card on using the HUD
  • History – displays dialogue box allowing you to replay the videos (“cutscenes”) which introduce the various parts of the Quest or obtain note cards (“logs”) introducing the various parts of the Quest
  • Lists – displays a list of the Fairelands containing a treasure chest if you’re on the treasure hunt (shown above left). Regions where you have found a chest are greyed-out (as with Mudrana)
  • Setup – offers you a number of settings:
    • SAVE – saves your progress to date in the Quest (which should happen automatically)
    • RELOAD – reloads your progress to data if required – this is sometimes necessary if you crash for any reason while on the Quest
    • RESET – completely resets your status in the Quest, allowing you to start over from the beginning, if you want. Use this option with care, as all your current progress will be lost!

Farion NPC

Make sure you wear the Farion NPC – it will not be visible until you’ve completed your fist task (finding him!) – but one visible, you can touch him at any time for additional clues – some of which will be vital for progress without frustration. Should he turn transparent for any reason, just touch him again to pop him back into view.

Continue reading The Bard Queen’s Song: hints and tips

The song of Dawn’s Promise

Dawn’s Promise by Marcus Inkpen and Sharni Azalee, Fantasy Faire 2017

We sit between the darkness and the light; between youth and age. Ours is a place of times past and times present; where the promise of that yet to be awaits.

Ours is a world of the crumbling and of the beauty of rebirth. We are eternal. Life’s energies flow through the waters of our realm, and the gift of renewal and creation float on the breeze. Our houses speak of the Old Times, the past, and the wisdom and grace of Age. The blossoms on our trees, the blooming of our flowers speak of present time and the vitality of rebirth, the richness of Life Anew.

Dawn’s Promise by Marcus Inkpen and Sharni Azalee, Fantasy Faire 2017

This realm offers all who seek it rest, respite and renewal. We ask naught in return. We do not demand adherence to rules or the invocation of arcane rights. We do not require you follow a mystic path or give obeisance to icons or gods. We ask only that you walk our grassy streets, and between the shadows of our homes and the light of the easterling Sun with open heart and mind; that you do not judge nor fret nor fear; that you simply Be.

We have been here since before others learnt to count the passing of Time; we will be here long after such counting has ceased. We will not always be visible to the world; we choose to make our presence known now, and for a brief span. But even when we can be no longer been seen, we will be here. Watching. Waiting. Our bridges will remain open to those who seek; the renewal of our waters are here for those who thirst.

Dawn’s Promise by Marcus Inkpen and Sharni Azalee, Fantasy Faire 2017

Our streets, our paths our bridges, our homes. All are yours to explore. Peace as rest can be found throughout our lands, under bough, atop rock, and under dome. Drink from our waters; eat of our fruits; let our lamps light your way.

There are those in the world who look to the West, to the setting of the Sun. They see the closing of a day as a time for reflection and endings. But we look to the East and the rising of the Sun; because Dawn is the time of Beginning, the time of Promise, when things are made new, and life opens fresh and bright, like the flower opens to greet the day’s new light.

We are the people of Dawn’s Promise, and we will take your lost and aged energies of the past and make them young again, as young as when the World was new. This is our Promise, our gift to the open of heart and mind.

Dawn’s Promise by Marcus Inkpen and Sharni Azalee, Fantasy Faire 2017

Visit Dawn’s Promise at Fantasy Faire, April 20th-30th, 2017

 

Fantasy Faire 2017: your shorthand guide to the realms and events

Fantasy Faire 2017: Dawn’s Promise – click any image for full size

The largest fantasy-related event to take place in Second Life, Fantasy Faire brings together fantasy enthusiasts, creators, performers and designers for eleven days of commerce, special events, live music concerts with special emphasis on fund-raising for Relay for Life of Second Life.

This year, the gates opened on Thursday, April 20th and will remain open through until the end of the month of April, presenting 15 regions (including the entertainment and Quest regions) to be explored and enjoyed. I’ve had the good fortune of having early access to the regions as a Fantasy Faire website writer (although one of my articles got trounced upon by another on the same subject), so I’ve been able to see things as they’ve been built – and try some bits out; more on that soon!

Fantasy Faire 2017: Egregore

One of the things that is fascinating about this year’s event is the broad range of the Fairelands region themes. In one or two cases, these go beyond what might be considered “normal” fantasy and into realms perhaps not so well visited in the past. The is a definite urban grunge bordering on a post-apocalyptic feel to San Mora, for example; while The Rose is clearly inspired by the plazas, buildings and canals of Venice as we see it today.

Darkness also has something of a theme as well – not so much in the “evil” kind of darkness per se (although there is that – or at least a foreboding deepening – as well. No, by darkness, I mean just that: several of the regions have opted for a twilight or night-time theme. Anansi, meanwhile has a twist of Something Wicked This Way Comes about it – in a very steampunk-ish way! There is even a touch of science-fiction through one of the role-play stories!

You can find the background notes on all the 2017 Faireland regions either via Sonya’s official welcoming post, or by visited the individual pages on each – and as time allows, I may well be offering thoughts on some as the days of the Faire progress.

Fantasy Faire 2017: Spirit Pool

Of course,as well as all the best in fantasy shopping, Fantasy Faire offers just about something for everyone. There’s the Literary Festival, which is based at Kakushi Pasu, and which I previewed earlier in the week. There is also the Fantasy Faire Quest – which opens on Friday, April 21st to avoid the initial rush to the Fairelands, and about which I will hopefully have a lot more to write about in due course!

Then there are the auctions. The silent auction takes place at the two auction houses at Kakushi Pasu (here and here), and the auction runs through until 17:00 SLT on Saturday, April 29th. The Live Auction will take place on the final day of the Faire, Sunday, April 30th, at Opal Flight.

Fantasy Faire 2017: Kakushi Pasu

Role-play! There will be plenty of opportunities for role-play throughout the Faireland regions (follow the links provided to find out more, SLurls at the end of this article):

In addition, there will be special role-play classes hosted at Fallen Sands.

Fantasy Faire 2017: Opal Flight

As a part of the entertainment, there will be dance shows from the top dance troupes from across Second Life, including the Changhigh Sisters, The Monarchs, The Night Theater, Sky Fire, the Misfits and more. Together with cabaret shows, burlesque – everything you could want in fact!

Then there are the DJs, the art galleries – so much to see and do, in fact, that you’re going to want to bookmark the Fantasy Faire website (as if you haven’t already!) and keep an eye on the event calendar (use the Agenda view for easier, daily viewing!).

The Monarchs will present Draco Eternum throughout the Faire, as well as other top dance troupes and entertainment being on show as well!

 

An attraction to Otherworld

Otherworld
Otherworld

I’ve already written about what, for me, makes visiting the regions of Fantasy Faire special, so it may seem unfair to pick out one or two for mention beyond that post. However, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I am a long-time admirer of Elicio Ember’s work and designs, and so Otherworld tends to call to me strongly wherever I’m in the Fairelands.

Otherworld
Otherworld

I particularly love visiting it during the mornings (my local time, that is). It is then that the Fairelands are at their quietest and I can wander through the caves and high fields of Otherworld, climb the stairs,  descend under water or wade through the pools – and simply enjoy the tranquillity and the marvellous architecture.

At these times, My thoughts can roam, taking a short break between getting myself upright and plunging into all things physical and virtual, as demanded by the day.

Otherworld
Otherworld

Time has again conspired against me this year, preventing me from writing anywhere near what I had hope might have otherwise been the case for each of the Faireland realms; so I hope this video of Otherworld goes some way towards making up for things.

Fairelands thoughts and memories

The Golden Delta - Alia Baroque
The Golden Delta – Alia Baroque

Fantasy Faire is one of the most popular large-scale events in Second Life. It is something looked forward to with huge anticipation by all those who participate and visit, not only because of its underpinning aim – to support cancer research and the care of cancer victims – but because it has such a unique atmosphere. The Faire is not so much an event, rich in activities and places to visit; it is a world within a world; a series of realms through which we are invited to travel and explore, where we can discover new things and make new friends.

A large part of this does come down to the regions themselves. Each year we area treated to the most incredible, region-wide themed builds, each joined one to the next to create a series of realms, contiguous to themselves through which we can travel as visitors, adventurers, the curious or the amazed.

Dangarmon - Jaimy Hancroft and Eowyn Swords
Dangarnon – Jaimy Hancroft and Eowyn Swords

But every so often a Fantasy Faire brings forth builds that are just that little bit extra special; and for me, 2016 is one of those years. Each of the regions has its own unique look and feel – as they always do; yet at the same time, there is something that resonates as we walk through them, a faint feeling of deja-vu; a feeling that while nothing quite like them has been seen here before, so to are these places someone connected to Fairelands of the past.

Kilik Lekvodas’ Bright Haven, for example, carries an echo of Kayle Matzerah’s Lumenaria from 2013 through its colours and broad streets, while Kayle’s build for Breeze carries a similar whimsy to that found in his 2014 Wiggenstead Mooring, albeit it with a little hint of Hobbiton thrown in! Meanwhile, in Kaelis Ember’s Serenity, one can also hear the elven songs once sung in Rynn Verwood’s Medhir Woods from 2014. Even dark Malfience in some ways carries echoes of 2013’s Valley of Ish’Nar.

Breeze - Kayle Matzerah
Breeze – Kayle Matzerah

Which is not to say that any of this year’s builds are in any way copied from the builds of the past – far from it; they are all truly unique. Rather, these echoes and hints help give us a feeling that not only do they form a world of their own, they are also part of a larger whole.

It’s not hard to imagine, for example, that if we could just continue a little further south from Mayah Parx’s Tinker’s Hollow, so might we come to her 2013 realm of Ravenshard, before travelling onwards from there to that year’s Blackwater Glenn, by Marcus Inkpen and Sharni Azalee, and from there travel back to Lokii Violet’s Blackmoor to continue our journey owards through this year’s realms. Or that by travelling north from Elicio Ember’s Otherworld, we might once again tarry in his Faery Court from 2014. whilst west of Twilight’s Illusion, by Sweetgwendoline Bailey and Eldowyn Inshan, there waits the winter city of Aurora, designed by Beq Janus.

Lucentia - Markus Inpen and Sharni Azalee
Lucentia – Markus Inpen and Sharni Azalee

Such echoes are strong throughout many of the Faireland regions this year, greatly adding to the sense of returning to much-loved and familiar lands, even while the regions themselves are unique.And where the echoes may be less clear, we have the magnificence of builds which may well resonate into the future – The Golden Delta, by Alia Baroque, or Loki Eliot’s norse masterpiece of Echtra, the Sapphire Mirror Lake, Dangarnon, Lucentia.

It is in exploring the regions at each year’s Faire they I find my greatest pleasure; allowing my imagination free rein to concoct stories about each of them while seeing if memories of past realms and places seep through and alter my imaginings. Of course, your memories of Fairelands past as reflected in Fairelands present most likely differ from mine. Nevertheless, they are still link us, one to another, as citizens of these realms, and of those which have come before them, and which are never truly lost to the mists of time.

Fairelands Junction - Saiyge Lotus
Fairelands Junction – Saiyge Lotus

If you haven’t yet visited the Fairelands this year, there is a still time – follow the portal links on the right of this blog!