Awakening

The winter, apparently, was long.

The winter, apparently, was long.

The winter, apparently, was long.

And, it seems, I slept. I remember the demifae coming to me with food, nuts, berries, sometimes meat.

And I remember Janus coming to me, again and again, throughout the winter, drawing upon my strength, the sleeping queen, the dormant spring, lying there like the water beneath the frozen land, waiting for the touch that burned and froze and burned again.

And then, something stirred.

And then, something stirred.

And then, something stirred. I heard voices, familiar and comforting voices, and when I turned in my sleep, it seemed I could remember the rich rush of water, the coming thaw, the gloriousness of my feet against green grass.

As lovely as my long dream was, I could hear it was time to wake. How they tease you when you’re sleeping, the memories of the land, your own memories, the minds of the fae dreaming and awake. Being a Queen means being inside all of them and letting them all have their sovereignty, and if that, just this once, meant sleeping through winter, well then: I slept through winter.

Both voices, so familiar, one grown and one growing.

Both voices, so familiar, one grown and one growing.

Both voices, so familiar, one grown and one growing. Nathaniel and Wren, come to wake me like a fairytale princess.

Well.

Nathaniel, come to wake me like a fairytale princess, Wren, come to ask a million questions and explain the intricacies of life as a fae teenager. Bless her, she’s got wings now, and the land is working its magic in her blood as surely as it did in mine.

IMG_0083

But something happened of course. Something happened when Nathaniel kissed me.

But something happened, of course. Something happened when Nathaniel kissed me. To be fair, something always happens when Nathaniel kisses me, ever since that night when I was drunk and kissed him because I was angry he hadn’t kissed me yet and something about his skin.

IMG_0123

The Wylds have done their work on Nathaniel as well.

The Wylds have done their work on him as well, and the man who kissed me drew away from me a different man and reminded me of the goddess inside me who grants me the breath to walk in her footsteps.

I would have been afraid once of a man with horns and wings like a bird. I would have been afraid once of a man whose teeth can sink into flesh like a hot wire through butter. Maybe it’s only because I didn’t know what he was, but rather who he was, when I came to love him. Maybe that’s the only reason things didn’t turn out even more sadly for us all.

IMG_0086

Yes, of course they gave me the news.

Yes, of course they gave me the news. News of this or that ascent and descent, the comings and goings of Huntsmen and the terrifying yet strangely exhilarating news of King Gwythyr in the wind.

It seems my dream of winter is over. It seems my crown of rain and candles were never seen except in my dream. It seems I danced with ravens only in the shadow roads, and my only dance partner was My King, and I never knew I slept except in the certainty of that dream of dancing toward winter. My plan, my life as a Winter Queen, well. I made it a month into autumn and not even to Samhain, and dream a dream of love in that other life, love I would never dream possible if I knew that were the only world.

You ask, “My Queen, what may I bring you?”

You ask, “My Queen, what may I bring you?” And I say, “Bring me rain. Bring me snowdrops. Bring me primroses springing beneath my feet. Bring me an early sunrise. Bring me the promise of birds courting in the trees, rabbits fucking in the sparse wood, bears waking and thinking of fucking in the deep wood, deer keeping themselves under control until the last few moments of spring bleed into the wet, hot, rutting summer. Bring me ice water from the mountain above the Residence: Bring me the thaw. Bring me the melt. Bring me mud time and bud time and every little strawberry blossom that heralds every asparagus spear.”

IMG_0080

And then you ask, “But what of the Winter Queen you might have been?”

And then you ask, “But what of the Winter Queen you might have been?” And now I will quote a book that you never have read and are unlikely to read, a book about a lion, and I will tell you that, “Nobody is ever allowed to know what might have been.”

You want to see me in my kingdom? You want to see me in a crown, in jewellery, in a dress that makes mortals tremble? Why should I make mortals tremble? Mortals tremble of their own accord. And when they see me, some of them realise why they tremble.

But here: I will indulge you. Now there are buildings behind me, mountains.

But here: I will indulge you. Now there are buildings behind me. Now I wear roses and gold. Now you can see what my feet have wrought even in the hazy morning of my first day, my first day awake, my first day back.

Did I tell you it was a long winter? Oh, yes, long. And now I am awake. Awake and in my Nathaniel’s arms, awake and giggling again with Wrennie, awake and hearing more of Aoibheann’s adventures (they are never-ending), awake and wondering once again if Dyisi is a genius or a rustic or a little of both, awake and wishing more than anything for a week between seasons so that I could rest and remember Gwyneth Evans and read a contemporary fantasy and laugh about how fairies could never survive in London. And a week to go there as a fairy.

And who will question me if I wear birds in my hair?

And who will question me if I wear birds in my hair?

And who will question me if I wear birds in my hair? No one. Who will question me if the air bends around me and crowns me with light? No one. Yes, I think a week in London, undercover as Gwyneth Evans, would do me a world of good. Someone needs to tread on my foot on purpose and then tell me to go fuck myself, someone who won’t be marked for death later by some Sidhe who wandered upon us and guards me still. Or so they say: I have not yet seen Wulf.

Fade away, dream, fade away.

Fade away, dream, fade away.

Fade away, dream, fade away. I shall watch you, but only far enough to know you’re fading. Any farther and you might not come back again, or so says my Welsh granny. My false Welsh granny.

Perhaps that should be a week in Aberystwyth. Twenty years ago. And maybe that’s how it all started, anyway.

So many things to think about. My mother, lost before she was found. I must find her again. And my children. I do not think I can hold off their births much longer: it may be that sleeping through the winter was in some way my desire to do just that.

My Valene. My Nathaniel. My Janus. My Aoibheann. And that creature in the castle who calls himself now a king.

Rise, sun, rise.

Come, summer, come.

Gwyneth’s Dream

I had a dream about the turning of the season...

I had a dream about the turning of the season…

It began with rain, for the unpoetic reason

It began with rain, for the unpoetic reason

that it rained

that it rained.

I found myself in a land of clouds and shadows...

I found myself in a land of clouds and shadows…

With the water all around me, I danced barefoot in the shallows...

With the water all around me, I danced barefoot in the shallows…

With the ravens.

With the ravens.

In a dress of autumn gold, I tried to stay above the surface...

In a dress of autumn gold, I tried to stay above the surface… 

And there wasn't any music, and the waterscape was wordless...

And there wasn’t any music, and the waterscape was wordless…

But I danced.

But I danced.

I felt the cold sting my shoulders...

I felt the cold sting my shoulders…

Felt the world sing for harvest...

Felt the world sing for harvest…

Knew the flowers and the queen of spring would die...

Knew the flowers and the queen of spring would die…

In the heart of the darkness, love grew strong, hard, and heartless...

In the heart of the darkness, love grew strong, hard, and heartless…

And my friends betrayed my trust and walked away...

And my friends betrayed my trust and walked away…

I danced away.

I danced away.

Autumn wings made of paper...

Autumn wings made of paper…

Short the wick, summer's taper

Short the wick, summer’s taper

Bent me low: in the gale, I could not fly...

Bent me low: in the gale, I could not fly…

Though the storm screamed "despair!" I forgave my betrayers...

Though the storm screamed “despair!” I forgave my betrayers…

But it left me raw and outcast in the rain...

But it left me raw and outcast in the rain…

I kissed the rain.

I kissed the rain.

I kissed the rain, and I let the ice flow through me...

I kissed the rain, and I let the ice flow through me…

In the soaked and silent landscape, I felt autumn like a church key....

In the soaked and silent landscape, I felt autumn like a church key….

Pry me open...

Pry me open…

I spun through gold...

I spun through gold…

tasted white...

tasted white…

and turned to midnight...

and turned to midnight…

Felt a heaviness above me, hard with bone and graced with firelight...

Felt a heaviness above me, hard with bone and graced with firelight…

Crowned with candles.

Crowned with candles.

Oh, the long dance toward winter...

Oh, the long dance toward winter…

Rain to ice fell like splinters...

Rain to ice fell like splinters…

Sliced the light: rays of darkness heard my cry...

Sliced the light: rays of darkness heard my cry…

Built me back into ashes...

Built me back into ashes…

Lit by flame, lightning flashes...

Lit by flame, lightning flashes…

And I carved a new sceptre out of pain...

And I carved a new sceptre out of pain…

I love the rain.

I love the rain.

 

GKR, 28 August, 2014.

All these photos were taken at the amazing H220, one of the most inspiring sims I’ve visited in all my time in Second Life. Please visit H220. Love it. Experience it. Go back often. And donate. 

H22O

Gwyneth’s Dream

I had a dream about the turning of the season
It began with rain for the unpoetic reason
that it rained.
I found myself in a land of clouds and shadows
With the water all around me I danced barefoot in the shallows
with the ravens.
In a dress of autumn gold I tried to stay above the surface
And there wasn’t any music, and the waterscape was wordless
but I danced.
I felt the cold sting my shoulders
Felt the world sing for harvest
Knew the flowers and the queen of spring would die.
In the heart of the darkness
Love grew strong, hard and heartless
And my friends betrayed my trust and walked away.
I danced away.
Autumn wings made of paper
Short the wick, summer’s taper
Bent me low: in the gale, I could not fly.
Though the storm screamed, “despair” I forgave my betrayers
But it left me raw and outcast in the rain
I kissed the rain.
I kissed the rain and I let the ice flow through me
In the soaked and silent landscape, I felt autumn like a church key
pry me open.
I spun through gold, tasted white and turned to midnight
Felt a heaviness above me hard with bone and graced with firelight
Crowned with candles.
Oh, the long dance toward winter—
Rain to ice fell like splinters,
Sliced the light: rays of darkness heard my cry.
Built me back into ashes
Lit by flame, lightning flashes
And I carved a new sceptre out of pain:
I love the rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being a Roleplaying Sim Tourist: Mystara

Elf settlement.

Elf settlement.

So because Firestorm has released the (OH GOD YES) 64-bit beta for Macs and I no longer get texture errors every two seconds and crash less than half as often, I decided I’d go back to a RP sim I’d heard was gorgeous but which lags so much it pretty much used to crash me on arrival. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to walk around Mystara at more than 10 fps, but this trip was very different, thanks to the amazing 64-bit beta (which I cannot even crash unless i turn graphics to stupid, then use phototools to take the shadow resolution up to max, which will crash just about anything). 

So I dressed The Amazing Catwoman in something appropriately mediaevaloid (with a CLOAK!), popped on an OOC tag to avoid interaction with other humans driving avatars, and headed to Mystara.

Bridge over the River Something Or Other

Bridge over the River Something Or Other

There were a few people roleplaying in the Elf Settlement, and I didn’t want to appear to be eaves-dropping or just sort of hanging about waiting to be approached by the welcome wagon, so I didn’t spend too long there. It was like many “Elf” settlements in SL, largely comprised of whitish buildings with coloured glass windows and loads of water everywhere– there were little waterfalls throughout. I decided I’d head for the human settlement/walled town, which looked a little quieter. You had to cross this bridge to get there. You can see the Elf settlement on the left, and directly behind the Catwoman is a series of platforms and rope bridges connecting many treehouses together. This is the realm of the children of Mystara, who apparently have a shitload more fun than I did as a kid. ;)

Closer-in

Closer-in

Why do I like photographing The Amazing Catwoman so much? I can’t even remember why I created her: she was never a role playing character. I think what’s important about her to me is that she’s very ordinary looking. Gwyneth is a Sidhe Queen, so she has to be not just beautiful but stunningly beautiful and beyond the ken of mortals. The Amazing Catwoman is a brown headed girl with long pointy ears who dresses like a boy a lot of the time. And she has this amazing freckled skin from La Petit Morte, but that’s another story, and this isn’t a fashion blog (at least not at the moment!). 

Inside the human town.

Inside the human town.

Inside the human town were the usual things that you find inside roleplaying towns. Livery, pub, bookshop, various other little businesses, a few houses, and an overheard rp post that did not make me want to heave up my lunch! OK, so it was really thought-y and kept changing tense, but there was only one misspelled word. I count it as a win. ;)

Crawling the walls

Crawling the walls

I found a ladder that got me onto the town’s walls. Crawling seemed safer than walking; it was a narrow path and there were — well, I think they were dragons of some kind — overhead. I tried to explore a castle but the gates were locked. There were lots of little messages everywhere explaining what I was feeling and what sort of place I was entering or nearing, which I guess is important if you’re a huge role-play sim with a — well, I haven’t heard a lot of good things. But the sim is beautiful, and that’s why I went there. 

Why is there always a pirate-style ship?

Why is there always a pirate-style ship?

It doesn’t matter how mediaeval a roleplaying sim is, there is always an 18th century sailing ship docked somewhere. The Amazing Catwoman really enjoyed playing Captain. :)

 

 

A very beautiful water garden. It might have been the road to mer-land, but I'm not sure.

A very beautiful water garden. It might have been the road to mer-land, but I’m not sure.

A very beautiful water garden that might have been the road to mer-land (another thing rp sims always have these days), but I’m not sure. 

 

 

 

 

Way up at the top of a mountain, I found a settlement of tents.

Way up at the top of a mountain, I found a settlement of tents.

Way up at the top of a mountain, I found a settlement of tents, guarded by a Friendly Skull of Some Animal Or Other. 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't know why you'd want to live in a tent with this view.

I don’t know why you’d want to live in a tent with this view.

I don’t know why you’d want to live in a tent with this view — wouldn’t it make you feel angry or jealous or fill you with the need to inflict damage on people who live in prettier houses than you? I let The Amazing Catwoman ponder this thought (and also the fact that you only get 10 prims if you rent one of these tents) for a little while.

Then we visited a rickety bridge.

Then we visited a rickety bridge.

Then we visited a rickety bridge. The orb The Amazing Catwoman is holding is probably some kind of magical thingy to tell her where she should go next, but you never can be sure with her. I reckoned maybe we’d go back to the elf settlement to shoot some pictures, but there was still lively rp there, and I really didn’t want to bust in on anybody’s bank holiday fun, so we, um….

We played that balancing game she loves on the rickety bridge. Yeah; that's it.

We played that balancing game she loves on the rickety bridge. Yeah; that’s it.

We played that balancing game she likes on the rickety bridge. Yeah; that’s it. I want some big leaves like that for my garden. 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a sunbeam on one of the platforms in the children's tree village area thingy.

Here is a sunbeam on one of the platforms in the childrens’ tree village area thingy.

Here is a sunbeam on one of the platforms in the children’s tree village thingy. 

I didn’t stay much longer, because real life had to happen, but I may go back to Mystara (now that I can!) and take more photographs. It really is a beautifully designed role-play space.

A Second Life In Pictures — The Colder Water

The Amazing Catwoman experiences The Colder Water.

The Amazing Catwoman experiences The Colder Water.

I know, I know. Many of you are used to this being Gwyneth Evans’ roleplaying blog. And one day I may return to that. However, stuff has happened lately that has made me not want to role-play or write about roleplaying, and until I’m past that stuff, my SL catharsis is, as often, photography. I’ve been a tourist in a lot of different places lately, and some of them are worth sharing. I also think I’ve taken some pretty good photographs, though your mileage may vary. :)

When I don’t know where to go, or I want to experience something amazing, the first place I go is Ziki Questi’s Blog. Ziki is a goldmine of information, both in current an archival posts, and the photography is pretty good, too. 

One of the places I’ve been to recently that really made my heart happy was The Colder Water, which of course I discovered through Ziki. The link is to her post on the destination.

That amazing windlight sky just made the Catwoman feel so intense and moody!

That amazing windlight sky just made the Catwoman feel so intense and moody!

I very often don’t use regional windlight settings when I’m photographing, and sometimes not even when I’m just visiting: I have a few windlight settings that I like very much and use all the time. But sometimes, the setting for a space just grabs me, and that’s what happened with this windlight. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Leaning over the edge, into what surely must be the blackness of the cold water below.

Leaning over the edge, into what surely must be the blackness of the cold water below.

I’m glad that The Amazing Catwoman isn’t actually a goth, because posing someone gothy in this space would have felt redundant. Instead, I felt that the Catwoman became gothy by association with that sky. The only other sim I’ve been to in the last year that made me feel so overwhelmed by texture and the beauty of grayness was the stunning H22O, which I think I might have posted about at some point. If I haven’t, I’ll dig up the photos of Gwyneth dancing in the rain for you all at some point.

House, Lighthouse, Island

House, Lighthouse, Island

This rocky shore just brings home the things I love about our English beaches. I don’t like expanses of sand and oiled up people on questionably tasteful lawn chairs. I want a crag. Cormorants. A seal colony. I’m so in awe of place that bring those amazing places to life, and this sim really did it for me. 

Joy in Darkness

Joy in Darkness

With graphics set to “stupid” (and omg, thank you Firestorm for the 64-bit Mac beta!), The Amazing Catwoman casts a long shadow as she hurls herself through the endless twilight of The Colder Water.

But what would it look like in full daylight? Would it be as stunning? There’s no doubt the moodiness of the sim has a lot to do with the windlight setting, but how about everything else? Would I like it as much in another light?

Actually, yes. Just in a different way.

Actually, yes. Just in a different way.

Actually, yes. Just in a different way. Here is a very similar photograph, also shot with a long shadow but at a different time of day, and I think it holds up. I should mention there are actually three lighthouses on the sim; the one you can see behind The Amazing Catwoman is not the one you could see in the distance from the photos shot on the pier: that one is on the island across which she’s running.

Snapshot_033

There; now you can see the other lighthouse on the island. And the sim looks just as nice with a sunsetty light.

I probably took dozens of photographs while I was there with the Catwoman. I doubt if I’ll bring Gwyneth there, but you never know where the Bird Goddess is going to end up. 

The sim features loads of stuff you don’t see in these pictures, like a railway line that goes into the middle of the sea and the lighthouses themselves, which are well worth a look.

Snapshot_054

There are also odd little jellyfish creatures floating around everywhere, but the less said about them the better.

There are also odd little jellyfish creatures floating around everywhere, but the less said about them the better. I’m pretty sure they were chasing The Amazing Catwoman. She has such an effect on wildlife.

I hope you’ll want to visit The Colder Water. It’s a really beautiful place, great for losing yourself in, for a few minutes or a few hours.