Piano Man

I dreamed of Mother last night.  Mother and music. It has been quiet at the castle lately, as Gwyneth is off on her travels again. One advantage of having Awenia running parallel to the real world and the 21st century as that she can indulge in activities she enjoyed before the Boatman brought her to Jasper Cove, and which have eluded her while we were separated from the mundane world and her native time period. The disadvantage is that she is rarely home, and some nights, I miss her. As I write, she is travelling to some gathering of musical types, a convention of sorts. I might have accompanied her, but the draft proposals for the Accords between Awenia and the mundane world are proceeding, slowly, through various committees at the Bureau for Supernatural Affairs, and I must needs be available for consultation.

Funnily enough, it was music that caused me to dream of Mother. Gwyneth’s servant, Bran, had introduced me to various apps you can install on a tablet that access music online. One such allows you to specify genres and styles that you like and then it makes a play list for you. I would never have imagined being able to get music from the cloud. I am still amazed at what you can do with gatherings of water vapour. That was a joke, by the way, after many patient hours with Skeleton, I have more or less wrapped my mind around the concept of networks and servers and such like things.

In this particular case, I was letting the music app – see, I know the terminology now – play random light classical music at me, while I relaxed with some John Donne and a bottle of rather nice Fitou. Suddenly, among the random tunes was a piano arrangement of the An die Freude, Ode to Joy section from the 4th movement of Beethoven’s Ninth. That got my attention. That had always been one of our favourite pieces of music, and Mother and I had often sung it as part of the choir at church concerts. It was possibly why she chose it as one of the pieces she tried to teach me on the piano. And, it was likely why it was one of the few pieces I could manage without fumbling too much. And, there, tinkling through the headphones, was the very same music, albeit played with far greater ability and assurance than I ever had.

That stayed with me, even though there was much other music, while I finished the bottle, and in the night, it entered my dreams. In my dream, I was once again back in the music room at our house in Chatham, seated at the piano, with Mother standing by my side. Strangely, in the dream, it was the adult me sitting at the piano, rather than callow youth I had been at 12 or 13. Also, Mother was wearing a dress that my memory tells me she did not buy until some years after, perhaps when I was 16. Dreams can be strange that way.

In the dream, I was stumbling through the Ode to Joy section and, frankly, making a bit of a mess of it. Mother stood there, patiently, gently – she never shouted or scolded – correcting me, but I kept stumbling over one section. She leaned over and kissed the top of my head, mussing my hair and patting me on the shoulder. “Sing it, Nathaniel, darling,” she said. “Sing it with me.”  She reached across me and turned the page back to the beginning. She gave me another reassuring pat and then stepped back. I cracked my knuckles, ignoring the slight gasp of annoyance from Mother – she always hated it when I did that, a habit I got from Father, who used to do it before sitting down to some task – and applied myself to the keyboard again, singing the words I knew so well. “O Freunde, nicht diese Töne! Sondern laßt uns angenehmere, anstimmen und freudenvollere. Freude! Freude!”  Mother sang softly along with me. “Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium, Wir betreten feuertrunken, Himmlische, dein Heiligthum!” She was right, it helped, and I played through to the end with more confidence than I had ever managed before.

“Well done,” she said, calling me by my other name, the one only she and I knew and that she had told me I should never commit to paper. I was a little startled, as she rarely used that name, save for intimate conversations, when we were alone together out in the woods. She leaned over and kissed me again, urging me to stand up. She reached into the shadow behind the bookcase and brought out her violin. “And as your reward, you get to play with this.” She handed it to me and sat in my place at the piano. I stood there, rather stupidly, holding the violin and bow as if I did not know what to do with it. Even within the context of the dream, this seemed strange to me. I had had a very basic, beginner’s violin, which she had given me a few lessons on, but she had almost never let me even touch hers, let alone play it. “Let’s see if you can remember how.”

I brought the violin up to my chin and grasped the bow in the approved manner. I looked at her expectantly.

“How about this?” she said, and started to play. Au Clair de la Lune. I recognised the tune, of course, but for a few moments, could not for the life of me remember how to play. Memory told me that she had never taught me to play it on the violin. The piano, yes, but not the violin. I started to protest, but she waved me into silence. “You know this, Nathaniel, surely you remember.” She swivelled on the piano stool and moved my fingers into the correct position for the first notes. I sawed the bow a couple of times, trying to remember how to play, adjusting my fingers until I produced a satisfactory note. Mother turned back to the keyboard and began to play again. I joined in, and somehow, my hand knew the correct fingering and I played it perfectly. “Again,” Mother cried and started to play again, increasing the tempo. Once again, I played perfectly, despite the increased tempo. We reached the end and she started again, even faster… After that, the dream dissolved into random images and the sound of Father hammering at the door, which turned out to be Bran, waking me in the morning for breakfast.

Even after I awoke, I could still hear Mother’s voice, and I felt a sense of loss for the music I had once had, albeit to a very limited extent. I pulled on a robe and went down to breakfast, deep in thought. There were no messages from the BSA and only a brief message from Gwyneth, saying how much she was enjoying the convention. The thought occurred to me that, work on the Accords aside, I was now a man of leisure. And, I was a man of means. Surely I could afford a piano, and to engage a tutor. Perhaps now I could reach for what Mother had dreamed of, to make music as she had.

“Yes,” came her voice, softly in my ear, again, addressing me by my private name, “yes, my darling son, you should.” I blinked and looked around, but there was nobody there, just the echo of Mother’s voice in my ear. I reached for the tablet and called up the search engine. Surely there was a purveyor of pianos somewhere in Seattle.


Piano Man





The Fuchsia’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades

Mounsieur Cobweb, good mounsieur, get you your
weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped
humble-bee on the top of a thistle; and, good
mounsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret
yourself too much in the action, mounsieur; and,
good mounsieur, have a care the honey-bag break not;
I would be loath to have you overflown with a
honey-bag, signior.

Midsummer Night’s Dream – William Shakespeare

My first proper journal was given to me by my mother as one of the gifts for my 11th birthday. I suspect that this was because I had frequently been taken to task for filling my school books with thoughts that had little to do with my lessons and she thought it better that I had a better place to record such thoughts.  I have kept one ever since, through all my years at school, university, my career with Haskins Shipping, and even through the strange and surreal twists and turns that have been my life since that fateful day in Katharina’s dwelling in Bremerhaven. Sometimes, I have been very assiduous, recording something every day, other times, less so.

Of late, I have been less than assiduous, which is strange, since I seem to have far more leisure time than I am used to. Perhaps it is the enforced leisure that is to blame, for little of note has happened that would warrant recording.

But, that is not strictly true. My darling wife, Gwyneth, has been busy travelling. She was engaged as a creative consultant for a part of the Fantasy Faire, an event I have noted previously in my journal, creating a story – a quest, even – for a place called Astrid’s Nemeton at the Faire. In some ways, I envy her that task, but then, she is the creative one, whereas I am the rank amateur when it comes to writing. That said; she did call upon me to proof-read and comment upon her writings, which task I took to with relish. I may lack her background and training in creative writing, but when it comes to attention to detail, you can’t beat an accountant. The story she had created appealed to me, being in the nature of a quest. Such things were a major part of my early reading, in particular, the quests of the various Knights of the Round Table. I understand that the quest was much enjoyed by those who attended the Faire, so I am happy for Gwyneth, and happy that I played some small part in that.

For my part, I have done some travelling. I have taken myself a few times to that place called Paradoxia that I have recorded herein before, but found little happening. Perhaps something will happen there soon, and perhaps I will find some entertainment there, but that remains to be seen.

In the meanwhile, I have kept myself occupied. I have spent time learning how this marvel of technology known as the Internet works. I have reluctantly accepted that Cloud Storage has nothing to do with water vapour, despite the aesthetic appeal of that idea. And, I have learned that following links (see, I have learned some of the nomenclature) on some sites (more nomenclature) can result in many hours evaporating without even noticing.

But, technology has not occupied all of my time. I have also spent time getting used to the fae side of my nature. I have to confess, I will never be entirely comfortable with the wings, although I have learned to turn them on and off at will. Other aspects I am finding harder. I do not yet have Gwyneth’s facility with the glamour. Perhaps I never will. Perhaps it is a woman thing. Mother was nowhere near as extreme as some of her “fashionable” friends, but she would still change dresses and hairstyles far more often than Father, Gilbert and I ever would. That said; one of my university friends was somewhat of a dandy. If I had been like him, then maybe I might use the glamour more. But for now, I prefer the old-fashioned method of fiddling with buttons and stuff.

And then, there was Cobweb.

Yes, Cobweb. As in one of the fairies that attended Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream. I do not know if this one would be capable of killing a red-hipped humble-bee, though, given that he isn’t that much bigger than a bee.  I’m not going to argue. That was the name he gave, so I have to accept that as being the truth.

At least, I assume that this Cobweb is male. Bottom addressed his companion as such, though the name itself offers no clue. I never really know with the demi-fae, which this Cobweb seems to be. It is hard to tell, since he looks like an oversized moth with a child’s face. And, a moth, I might add, that seems to have not so much collided with a neon light, as swallowed one whole, being a very bright and alarming shade of pink.

Sorry, fuchsia, not pink. Apparently, that is important to him.

I had been thinking about the forthcoming opening of Awenia to non-fae visitors, in particular wondering if I need to draft something akin to the Accords I created for Mysthaven, as a means of protection for us and our visitors. I was dictating notes into a memo recorder app on my phone (technology is a wonderful thing) when I heard the hum of wings, and caught a bright flash of colour just off to one side. Now there are many things that have bright colours, and even glow, in Awenia, but I was not near any of those areas. I turned, and there he was, hovering near my shoulder, shining pinkly with an expression halfway between hopeful helpfulness and a slightly terrified rictus. I dropped the phone into my pocket, but forgot to turn off the recorder, so I was able, later, to transcribe the conversation.

“Hello,” I said, “Does Gwyn want me for something?”

“Gw..?”  He bobbed up and down uncertainly, apparently unable to finish the syllable

“Her Majesty,” I said, “also known as Gwyn, or Gwyneth.”  He bobbed up and down again. “It’s her name.”

“Gw…  No, no, I could not. Her Majesty is…” He twirled around, turning a somersault in nervous excitement.

“Her Majesty is elsewhere, I assume. Do you have a message from her?”

He shook his head. “No, sire, I have no message. But I could convey one for you if that is your wish.”

I shrugged. “I have no message to convey at the moment, but, I shall bear you in mind, should I wish to do so, though these days, I usually use this thing.”  I showed him the phone and dropped it back into my pocket.  He shied away from it, turning more somersaults. “So, you are not from Her Majesty?”

“No sire, no.” He fluttered a little closer and executed something akin to a bow. “I am here for you, sire, at your service.”

“At my service?” I asked. “I have no need of any service at present, but thank you for the offer. You may go.”

He bobbed, looking horrified. “No, no, sire, no, I cannot. I am at your service.”

“Are you now? Any please stop calling me sire. My name is Nathaniel.”

“Nath…” He tried hard, but could not bring himself to say it. “No, no, I cannot. Please do not make me… Sire.”

I shrugged. “Very well, as you wish. And what shall I call you?”

“Cobweb, sire, my name is Cobweb. And I am at your service.”  He bobbed another bow.

“Of course you are. And tell me, Cobweb, good mounsieur, are you going to get you your
weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped humble-bee on the top of a thistle?”

He bobbed and twirled, looking confused. “Sire? Is that what you wish me to do, sire?”

“Never mind,” I said. “They probably don’t have Shakespeare where you come from.”

“I do not know this Shakespeare, sire, but, if it is your wish, I shall endeavour to know more for next time.”  The helpful expression was back.

I shrugged. Knowing Shakespeare probably wasn’t going to be an essential part of his function, whatever that might be, but I am always happy to pass on my love of the Bard. “If you feel so inclined, you can do so. I am pretty sure there are copies in the library.”

He bobbed closer, glowing even more brightly. “I shall look, sire.”

I stepped a pace back, as the glow was somewhat intense. “You’re very pink,” I said, “and bright. Could you turn it down a little?”

“Fuchsia, sire, I prefer fuchsia, not pink. And this is who I am sire. I am sorry, but I do not know how to change myself.

“Fuchsia? Mother used to grow fuchsias in the garden. I suppose they were that sort of colour. OK, if that’s what you want to be, then who am I to argue?”

“You may argue if you wish, sire. You are the master, so you may do whatever you wish. I am merely at your service. But my colour is still fuchsia.”

“A very bright fuchsia. Excuse me a moment.” I found a pair of sunglasses in my pocket and put them on in the hope of being less dazzled.

He fluttered a little closer, seemingly puzzled by my new eyewear. “Why do you have dark glass over your eyes?”

“As I said, you’re a bit bright, dazzling even. These make you less dazzling.”

He fluttered away again. “As my master wishes.”


“Yes, sire. You are husband and consort to Her Majesty. It is only fitting that you have a personal servant. And that is I.”  He bobbed another bow.

“Personal servant?” I sighed inwardly. While I grew up in a household that included a housekeeper and a maid, I was never really comfortable with the idea, and It had taken me a while to get used to my staff at Mysthaven. But, this seemed something different. Then it occurred to me. “Ah, I see. So you’re my Clutie?”

“Clutie?”  He bobbed and twirled and his voice seemed to go up a register as he said her name.

“Yes, Clutie. Servant to Her Majesty,” I said, gesturing in the general direction of the castle. “You must know her.

“Mistress Clutie, yes, I know her,” he said, adding in a softer voice. “Not as much as I would like to.”

“What was that?”

Cobweb looked down at the ground and muttered. “Not as much as I would like to.”

“You like Clutie? I mean, really like her?” I emphasised the word like.

Cobweb bobbed and twirled. “Yes. She’s so pretty and funny and clever and … pretty and…” He turned even pinker, which I would not have thought possible. “But, she would not be interested in the likes of me.”

“How do you know?” I asked. “Have you tried asking her?”

Cobweb’s bobbing and twirling got even more frantic. “I could not, sire, she is Her Majesty’s and she is too pretty for the likes of me, and I would not know how…”

I shrugged. “Well, you don’t know until you try. Not that I am the best person to be giving advice on courting. I don’t exactly have a stellar record in that respect.”

Cobweb looked puzzled. “You are husband to Her Majesty. Did you not court her? Or was it for political reasons?” He said, whispering the word political.

I laughed at that point, thinking of the day that my relationship with Gwyn became more than casual (Five years ago, come July 4th, as I found out later, checking back through old journals.) “I didn’t exactly court her, although a dispute with one of the Royal Courts was involved, which I suppose makes it sort of political. But, no, I didn’t court her. I just kissed her. To be fair, we did think we were about to die.”


I held up a hand. “If you’re not going to address me by name, I think I prefer sire to master.”

“As you wish, sire.” He looked expectantly at me. “You were about to die?”

“What? Oh yes.” I chuckled, replaying the events of that day in my head. “Gwyn and I were just friends, and, at the time, I don’t think she even knew she was fae, let alone high sidhe and I did not know I was of the blood either. Anyway, a demon of our acquaintance used her powers to provoke us into a fight with the Raven to the Unseelie Crown by forcing me to defend Gwyn’s honour. So, there we were, facing the Raven, with the demon taunting him, facing almost certain death… so, I thought, what the hell, and kissed her.”

Cobweb bobbed and twirled, his eyes growing big. “And did you die?”

I glared at him, composing some sarcastic response to that before thinking that, technically, from my own personal experience, death wasn’t necessary a terminal experience, so it was a valid question. “No,” I replied. “I made no aggressive moves and opted for diplomacy instead, formally requesting an audience with the Unseelie Queen to resolve the issue, so there was no need for violence of any sort. Also, we were under the protection of the Queen of the Cait Sidhe, which helped. The demon was not so fortunate.”

“Oh my,” said Cobweb, turning little circles in wonder. “And did you resolve it?”

I nodded. “Yes, it was resolved, and the Unseelie Queen and I became good friends, Gwyn and I became an item, and some while later, she became Seelie Queen, I became Lord of Mysthaven, we had three children with the pro-tem Unseelie King…” I paused and took pity on this poor creature, desperately trying to take it all in and understand.  “… It’s complicated.”

“Yes, master…  sorry, sire. It would seem so.”

“But, as I said, I never really courted Gwyn. So, I can’t really advise you on how to proceed with Clutie.”

“I could not, sire, proceed. I could not even talk to her.”  He bobbed uncertainly.

“Well, you are going to have to at some point,” I said.

“How so?”

“Well, Gwyn and I live together in the same castle, at least, occasionally, when we aren’t on our travels. So, you aren’t going to be able to avoid Clutie for ever.”

“Oh,” he said, blushing again. “I had not thought of that. What ever shall I do?”

“Just be yourself,” I said. “Be kind, be helpful, and listen, and see what happens.”

He looked uncertain. “If you say so, sire.” He fluttered upwards, drawing himself up to his full height. “And I shall be the best me that I can.”

“That’s the spirit.”

“Is there anything I can do for you now, sire?”

“A bacon sandwich would be nice. I am sure Bran can show you how.”

“At once, sire, at once.”  He bobbed another little bow and then sped off. A pink, sorry, fuchsia streak against the gathering dusk.

So, I have my own personal demi-fae servant. I will have to train him in my ways, especially in the matter of not being as persistent as Clutie. And, possibly, mentor him in the matter of acting on his crush on Clutie. How the hell did my life get so weird that I find myself brokering a romance between two demi-fae? As I said to Cobweb at the time. “It’s complicated.”

The Fuchsia’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades








Spread Your Wings


LO I the man, whose Muse whilome did maske,
As time her taught, in lowly Shepheards weeds,
Am now enforst a far vnfitter taske,
For trumpets sterne to chaunge mine Oaten reeds,
And sing of Knights and Ladies gentle deeds;
Whose prayses hauing slept in silence long,
Me, all too meane, the sacred Muse areeds
To blazon broad emongst her learned throng:
Fierce warres and faithfull loues shall moralize my song.

Edmund Spenser – The Faerie Queene

There is a wish that most rational beings, or at least those that have survived into some measure of adulthood, have expressed at some point or other in their lives. It has been expressed in many forms, but the general thrust is “I wish I had known then what I know now.”  It is a natural enough wish, whether it be about your first fumbling forays into the realm of romance or more far-reaching life choices such as marriage, moving to another country or changing career. I have, myself, indulged in such speculation in the past, but now, knowing that reality is a somewhat variable and occasionally fragile concept, I tend not to. Even more so since I gained the use of the Shadow Roads and the Realm-walking, where it would be all too easy to tamper with that reality and give my past self that knowledge. From my reading of Dee’s journal, scoundrel though he was, I know how bad this could be and so take great pains to avoid the possibility. The weakest point of my resolve in this matter is in respect of my mother. That, in many ways, would be the most dangerous area in which I could tamper. Nevertheless, I have of late wished that I had known something of my mother’s heritage while she was still alive. I wish that I had known then of her fae side and what it meant to her. Oddly, it is that most mundane of human endeavours – bureaucracy, that brings it to mind.

Gwyn and I have a meeting soon, with representatives from the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs and/or the Consilium Arcanum, to discuss the progress of moving Awenia towards becoming an open fae realm. She has even rented an AirBnB in Seattle, which is apparently some fancy way of borrowing somebody else’s dwelling for a short time. It seems a potentially unsanitary arrangement to me, but I am sure she knows best. I suppose it will afford us more privacy than a hotel.  So far as I see it, my purpose in such things is in the mundane side of things, and, dare I say, the bureaucratic elements.  I do have previous experience of negotiating trade deals, treaties, the Accords between Mysthaven and the Summerlands and such like. That experience, to my mind, is independent of what shape I wear. Gwyn, on the other hand, is quite keen that, for the purposes of these meetings, I should emphasise the fae side of my nature. Which, I suppose, is fair enough (or fairy enough, ha ha), since it is a fae realm that we will be discussing, so, I cannot disagree.

mourning locket with hair engraved

The question is, of course, what is my fae nature? As with almost everything in my life, it is complicated. In part, it comes from being consort and husband to Gwyn, my very own Faerie Queen. All that Wyld energy from our proximity, our love and our love-making cannot fail to affect me. Some comes from that other faerie queen, the late Faermorn, from the Quickening she gave me, from other times we spent together, and from my time in her realms and at the Wellspring of the Wyld. Much came from Isabella, from that chance encounter with her and Alex and me being the unintended recipient of her life-giver energy. But, even before that, there was Mother.  My mother, who I later learned was part-fae, a descendant of the Tuatha de Danann. I did not know it at the time, even though I unknowingly held the clue to it so close to my heart for many years. It was the inscription on the mourning locket I have worn so long. It was there, on the locket, in an inscription in a script I did not know.  It was an aunt from my mother’s side, Aislinn, who gave it to me after the funeral, and I never thought, in my grief, to ask her what the inscription actually said. I copied it to my notebook and occasionally asked people who had some knowledge of languages, but to no avail.


It was only much later that I learned the reading of it – “Ida Elvine Aubrey iníon Siobhan Ní Cearbhalláin iníon Caoimhe Ní Nuadháin iníon an Rí Tuaithe Dé Danann” or “Ida Elvine Aubrey daughter of Siobhan Ní Cearbhalláin daughter of Caoimhe Ní Nuadháin daughter of the Kings of the Tuatha de Dannan.”

That was my mother’s lineage, and her fae heritage. I did not know it when she was alive, and only learned long after she passed. Now that, if anything, is something I wish I had known while she was alive.  Looking back, there were enough clues, had I had the knowing of it. Her skills with plants and with healing, her love of art and music, her affinity with nature, all pointed to something in her nature. It is no wonder that she loved to go barefoot in the woods and meadows, or encouraged me to commune with the trees. Her free spirit and her disregard for the rules of modesty, in private at least, must have stemmed from that side of her. And, now that I recall it, it seems that I never knew her to tell a lie, even when to do so might have made life easier. That she encouraged me to read Spenser’s The Faerie Queene at such a young age might have been a massive hint, again, had I had the knowing of it. Why she did not tell me, even in her last days, as the consumption took her, I do not know. Perhaps she did not wish to fill me with longing for a place and time I might never be able to reach, or perhaps she feared that the rational side of me, instilled by my father, might reject it or dismiss it as a fanciful notion of hers. I will probably never know, save that she visits my dreams again from the Summerlands, as she did one time. Even if she does not, I suppose that I can be content that she now knows, from that dream, that I at long last had realised that side of me.

idaballardphoto2 copy

Whatever her reasons, and whatever the many and various twists of fate that led me to the discovery of that part of me and the subsequent development of my fae side, I have come to terms with the existence of it. It is a part of me and I am content with that. Actively displaying it, on the other hand, I still find difficult. When the first external manifestations appeared, I had little control over them. I grew used to the ears, and the wings, appearing at inconvenient moments when the Wyld energy was strongest around me. I have since learned to control my appearance, though with nowhere the facility that Gwyn has. The ears I can manage easily enough, but the wings, not so much. And, for whatever reason, it is the wings that Gwyn wishes me to be more comfortable with, and to be more open with wearing them. And so, I put myself to getting used to them. Of course, even that was not as simple as it might have been. When I first earned my wings, so to speak, they were a dark brooding red and feathered. Gwyn did not approve of those at all. I cannot say that I blame her, for they do look more suited to a demon or at best, a fallen angel.


And so, it was time to try on some other wings. Of course, I am used to Gwyn changing her wings almost as often as she changes her clothes, but I had not considered it in respect of my own wings, nor was I entirely sure of the method of changing them. To be perfectly honest, I am not entirely sure how I manage to manifest the ones I am used to. I just think of them and they are there. Manifesting others is another thing entirely, even if I had some inkling what style of wings I would enjoy. I remember liking the wings that Janus, our lover and the other father of our children, had, the ones that resembled sycamore keys, but somehow that just did not work at all. Gwyn lent a hand and, after a couple of attempts that made me look like some mad scientist had  been experimenting on some unwilling Lepidoptera, we settled on something that we both liked, more like, in appearance, to the Odonata, specifically, a dragonfly. These, I can live with, being far less gaudy, and, to my tastes, anyway, more pleasing and refined. I could probably do without the coruscant effects, but perhaps I will learn to control that with time.



Despite my fears, having the wings does not appear to require me to have a whole new wardrobe, as, unlike my beloved wife for whom it is almost a religion, I am not overly fond of shopping for clothes.  Somehow or other, in a manner I do not understand, which pretty much applies to most things about the fae side of my nature, my clothes adapt to the wings, or perhaps it is the wings that adapt to the clothes. I do not know, and I am disinclined to put this to the test by trying to don or discard a jacket while I am wearing the wings. There are mornings when I have a hard enough time getting my normal limbs into trouser legs and shirt sleeves (and I have to confess, on occasions of extreme inebriation, getting legs into shirt sleeves and vice versa), let alone getting a jacket over diaphanous wings twice the length of my arms.


I spent the rest of the day wandering around Awenia, getting used to the wearing of the wings. Perhaps, by the time we have our meeting, I will be as comfortable with them as I am in my own shape.


Spread Your Wings


If You Don’t Know Me By Now

According to the Bard, the night before the big battle, Henry V went among his men, disguised in a borrowed cloak to see how they fared and what they were thinking. His reasoning being that they would not know him without the trappings of his rank and would thus give a more honest response. Of course, not everything he heard was to his liking, but such are the perils of going incognito.

It would make sense that most of the men in that army would not know their king by his face, because there were many of then and only a few would have occasion to see him save on the battlefield, when he would be fairly obvious.  One might have thought it would be harder to remain incognito here in Awenia. It is not a huge realm and both Gwyneth and I are not prone to hiding in our castle. Nevertheless, it is, apparently, possible.

Gwyneth and I had arranged to go out for dinner. Partly because we like to spend time together occasionally, as married couples do, and partly because we wanted to see how the eateries in town would deal with visitors in advance of us opening the realm. And so, we arranged to meet and eat.

Unfortunately, I arrived a little late, delayed by official business and by mistakenly going to the wrong restaurant at first. Now, I had expected a fairly informal, intimate dinner, and had dressed appropriately – what I gather is known as smart-casual, so I was somewhat surprised to find her there in full regalia, speaking to the kitchen and wait staff. I took it in my stride, complimented her on her beauty and commented that I felt woefully underdressed next to her.

Now, while I do not lack a sense of humour, I am not overly given to cracking jokes, however, this remark sent the entire restaurant staff into hysterical laughter. My beloved wife seemed equally amused, and even more so by my apparent bemused expression. I am not quite sure why, since bemused seems to have been my default state of mind since she entered my life.

We took our seats and perused the menu. After a few moments, she took pity on me and explained. Apparently, she had also dressed down for the occasion. The waiter who was supposed to be attending our table had somehow failed to recognise her and had been most insistent that this table was reserved for important guests and refused to allow her to sit. He had also told her that she was woefully underdressed for the establishment, which explained the laughter when I had applied the same description to myself. Apparently, he had insisted on standing his ground, continuing to refuse her, and continuing to not recognise her, despite the portrait on the wall, until she changed the glamour to appear in her full regalia.

The poor man was mortified to say the least, and tried begging her pardon. Which, I am sure my darling Gwyneth will grant him, eventually. In the meantime, she decided that he could be better put to work elsewhere and gave him into the tender care of Bran, suggesting that he might serve well as a footman. I cannot blame the man entirely, as he is apparently relatively new to Awenia and may not yet be fully familiar with its inhabitants or its leaders. And I have to give him credit for doing his job, albeit while labouring under a misapprehension. And, he provided some measure of entertainment too, even if I missed most of it.

After that, we had an excellent dinner, and the staff, no doubt wishing to avoid future careers below stairs at the castle, performed their tasks most efficiently. I am tempted to have a quiet word with Bran and suggest that he makes sure that establishments are fully briefed before we go out to dinner again, to avoid repetition of this embarrassment.  On the other hand, that might deprive us of future amusement and the opportunity to hear what the people think. Of course, with the latter, there is the risk that we, like Henry, might hear things not to our liking. I am not sure how I would feel about that, or how Gwyneth would like it either. I guess we’ll just have to see how things go.

If You Don’t Know Me By Now – Seal


A Room for Everything

I have limited experience of this modern marvel that is called television. And for what it can deliver, I have to agree that it is a marvel, even if the word itself, a bastard hybrid of Latin and Greek offends me somewhat. I am, it would seem, not the only one to think so. I was quite surprised to discover that C.P. Scott, a journalist and politician from my own time, experienced this marvel, presumably after I left that particular timeline, and commented something along the lines of “Television? The word is half Greek, half Latin. No good can come of it.”

I have to disagree with the latter part, but perhaps he did not live to see all that it could offer in terms of drama, documentaries (these programmes about the natural world are quite stunning) and even comedy, although I lack the cultural context that would enable me to understand much of the latter. Among the offerings that this medium offers seem to be rather a large number of programmes (I believe that is the correct word, although it seems that Americans prefer programs) devoted to the construction, acquisition, remodelling, refurbishment, decoration and furnishing of houses and homes. Father would have perhaps enjoyed the construction programmes; although I think he might have disapproved of the fascination such things seem to hold for people who would not know one face of a brick from the other.

Mother would probably have enjoyed those programmes about decorating and furnishing. This latter was something she often sought my opinion on, when we would sometimes travel to London to browse the stores for such things. I do not know why. Perhaps she enjoyed the company, or perhaps she appreciated my contrasting, if less well informed, opinion.  On music, poetry and literature, I can at least offer an informed opinion, but when it comes to soft furnishings and drapes and other such things, I could only offer an entirely subjective reaction. Perhaps that was all she needed. I was certainly happy enough to indulge her. I can almost hear her voice, commenting on the decisions made in some of these redecorating programmes and decrying their choice of colours or fabrics. Or perhaps she wouldn’t. While she was not a slavish follower of the latest fashions, she was well enough informed about them and understood the reasons for them, so she would probably have adapted well to the modern aesthetic.

One minor aspect of some of these programmes seems to involve the presenters, or possibly the potential buyers of a property, walking through and commenting on the use of the rooms. “This will make a great study” and “this would be ideal for the children’s bedroom” and such like. Now there I am on a firmer footing. Only a short while ago, my darling Gwyn summoned me to solicit my opinions with regard to our new official residence in Awenia, which opinions I was happy to supply, and she was seemingly happy to accept. Of course, we have both been somewhat busy since then, so implementation of those ideas is very much a work in progress. That is not an issue, since our private spaces are already established, and the more “public” areas of the castle are unlikely to be needed for a while.

In the meanwhile, I found myself attending to a similar task at another castle. My old home, the Castle of Mysthaven, is slowly reconstructing itself, albeit in a rather strange manner more reminiscent of a Perpendicular Gothic cathedral than a castle. Nevertheless, my castle is what it will be until such time as I can find a successor to the Lordship of Mysthaven. I took myself across the realms a few days ago, to see how things progressed. I did not encounter Aoibheann or my daughter, but I did meet with my stewards. They, much as Gwyn did recently, solicited my opinion of the allocation of function to the various rooms.

The entrance to the castle is suitably grand and imposing and will serve well as a general reception/waiting area, though obviously, it will need some furniture – bench seats, occasional tables and such like. A raised area, near the window, and at the bottom of the stairs looks like a good place to have informal meetings and discussions. A place for comfortable chairs and low tables, for chats with my stewards and people from the town over a pot of coffee and a few pastries. There was a large, impressive seat there. A magnificent construction of wood and leather, perhaps intended as some kind of throne. If I have to have a throne, I would rather something such as this than a gaudy affair of gilded, carved wood and red velvet. Maybe it will look better once in the proper place, rather than left here, presumably put down for some reason and not subsequently moved.

I was less pleased by the next room, which had a raised area at one side, clearly intended as some sort of dais for a throne, or possibly for an altar. I dismissed the latter out of hand, since I have no intention of taking up any religion for myself, much less imposing such on anybody else. For my personal preference, I would as soon dismiss the former idea out of hand too. I have no desire to sit upon a throne of any sort, much less hold audience from one in such a grand and imposing room. That said, much as the concept repels me, I can see there may be a necessity for such things. The people of Mysthaven are used to my informal ways, but visitors from elsewhere, even Faerie, may need to see the trappings of power and authority. Mornoth probably expects such things, and Bronwyn probably accepts the necessity, although I hope that what she will see is still her father, outside the formalities of court.

A semi-circular area off the throne room would serve well for gatherings and perhaps feasting and a more convivial setting for after the formal business of court. This should be a multipurpose area, and when not otherwise in use, will be a nice place to stand and look out over the town.

On the other side of the reception area, there are a couple of rooms that can be a meeting room, for more business-like meetings, and my office, for I should still have such in this new castle. Here I could receive visitors in a more private setting and sit and discuss matters of state, of trade, of treaties etc without the trappings of court. I could also have smaller formal meals here, which will be a little more cosy and comfortable than the main court room.

Up the stairs, of which there were many, were rooms that would serve well as guest quarters for those of my visitors I could not politely lodge at the tavern, and rooms that will serve well as my private chambers. I do not imagine that I will be spending a great deal of time here as my primary residence is always going to be the castle in Awenia, but, a Lord should have his private chambers, where I can retire from the business of being Lord of Mysthaven, and perhaps where I can receive more intimate guests, should I ever have any.

The vaults themselves do not seem to have changed that much. Maric’s laboratory looks pretty much as I remember it, as do the quarters for the men. I do not know why. Perhaps it is by design, but if that is so, then I might ask the question, as did Blake, “What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” It could be that the presence of the laboratory, and the aura of magic that surrounds it, have somehow protected them from change. Or, perhaps the process of change is not yet complete. For now, it is enough that there is some place familiar to me.

That logical part of my mind that was shaped by Father’s influence tells me that there should be further rooms to explore at the higher levels, especially given the height of the main tower, but I could not find any way to them. Perhaps, that too is a work in progress.

I did not see many others around the town. At the moment, the town seems subdued, quiet, with the townsfolk going about their business quietly scuttling from one place to another in case a building falls on their heads. Given the fluid mature of the realm, this is entirely possible and I can not blame them. They were pleased enough to see me, and some had questions regarding the disposition of the other buildings around the town square, but overall, they seemed as content as could be expected given the changes they are undergoing. My stewards have been doing an excellent job in my absence. Much as I would like to claim credit for that, they were already more than competent before I took the reigns. I would like to think, however, that they have learned something from me. Perhaps they have.

I gave further suggestions regarding the disposition and furnishing of the various rooms of the castle, and regarding the other buildings, but they were only suggestions. The townsfolk and my stewards have been a part of the town a lot longer than I have, and they likely know what is best. I took my leave then, and returned to Awenia and to my wife. There at least, although the castle is still new to me, is home.

A Room for Everything – 10,000 Maniacs





The Year Turns Around Again

I was born in 1853. That much I know for certain. I was married to my dear Alexandra in 1880. I lost her to the pains of childbirth in 1885, the same year that Katarina took me from the mortal life I had known and thrust me into this world of darkness before vanishing from my life. For six years, I wandered, seeking answers and seeking her, until I fetched up on the Isle of Legacies, that strange mirror of the London I had once known. That was in 1891. That was the last time, until now, that I knew for certain what year it might be. Since then, I have known only the turning of the wheel of the year; not by the numbers on the calendar, but by the passage of the sun and stars. And so it was through the time that passed in Jasper Cove, Ashmourne Wylds and Mysthaven. I could not say for certain how many years, for I was not as assiduous as I could have been in recording the passage of time in my journal, but I suspect at least five.

But now, once again, I am back in what passes for the normal passage of time. I followed my heart, following my wife across the realms to the 21st century. I followed her to the year 2017 of the Common Era, which phrase I am told is now preferred to the Anno Domini that was the habit in my time. For the first time in many a year, I once more knew both where and when I was. I was on an island in Puget Sound. I found myself, once again, managing a bar. I found myself learning the basics of the marvel that is the Internet. I found that human nature has not changed in the 126 years since I left the world I once knew and had to deal with those who would hate another for what they were.

So my memory tells me. The rest of the world, as I recorded in an earlier journal entry, thinks otherwise. I do not yet know why. Whatever other disparities there may be between my memories and those of the world, the time itself has not changed. It is still 2017, if only for a short while longer. I am grateful that I will get to spend this New Year’s Eve in the company of Gwyn, my beloved wife and our close friends. The house is not yet completely organised as we might wish, but the important parts, the library and private chambers are already a home. And so, we shall celebrate, quietly, but in good company.

What the coming year will bring, I do not know. There is much to be done in preparing Awenia for when it becomes an open faerie realm, arrangements to be made, negotiations with the Consilium Arcanum etc. There will be times I will not be needed and I have a hankering for travel. The possibilities are endless. Between the Shadow Roads and my own abilities to walk the realms, I could go almost anywhere. The biggest problem is choosing where. In the meanwhile, I will go join my wife and friends to ring in the New Year.



Hi there. While Nathaniel goes off to celebrate, I, Nathaniel’s chronicler and typist, am going to take over. 2017 has not been the most productive year for this journal. Role play, for various reasons, has been thin on the ground for Nathaniel and my other characters. That said, it has still been a productive year. I’ve worked on various other projects at the Daily Dash in Milk Wood, the best writing community in Second Life, and on stuff not related to Second Life. I even had a go at Nanowrimo. Of course, as with every other year I have attempted Nano, real life intervened and stole most of my writing time during November. Despite that, I achieved more words than I might otherwise have done. I don’t do resolutions, but I plan on being a bit more disciplined with regards to writing in the coming year.

I also hope to get more role play in. Nathaniel’s home sim is unlikely to be up and running for role play for a few months, but I hope to take him on a grand tour of other sims in the meanwhile. And, with a bit of luck, my other characters will get some playtime in too.

To all those who have stuck with me over the years, and those few who have sampled the contributions from Albert, Katarina, Francois and Ben, I thank you for your patience. I wish you all a happy, prosperous and productive New Year. Many thanks to all the fellow role-players without whom none of Nathaniel’s adventures could have happened. In particular, Faermorn, Dyisi, Wren, Kit and especially Gwen, a blogger, photographer, role-player, friend and all round wonderful person who also portrays Gwyn, Nathaniel’s wife.  I’ll now return you to Nathaniel…

Oh! He seems to be busy with Gwyn. Oh my goodness, I didn’t know you could do that with a bottle of rum and a bunch of mistletoe… maybe we’ll just leave it there.

The Year Turns Around Again 

Plus ça Change


The French have a saying – “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” which translates as “the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing,” or, as most people would express it, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” In my last diary entry, I quoted Heraclitus saying how everything changes and made reference to how my Gwyneth rebuilds the landscape and our home in the faerie realm, Awenia, as often as she changes her dress or her hair. These words were maybe, accidentally, prophetic, for it seemed but a few hours since I committed those words to paper that I received a text message from my beloved – “We’re Moving. Obviously Yule Decorations Will Come First.”  I have become used to such things with Gwyneth. She is as changeable as the weather and as constant as the sun and the stars, and I love her for that. I could see that some, perhaps living under more normal circumstances, might feel that something as important as moving house deserves a slightly less peremptory notification, but our circumstances have long ceased to be normal. Besides, even before I was able to walk between worlds with the same ease that others walk down the street, I was used to a nomadic existence. For much of the year, my home was my cabin aboard ship – the Carisbrooke Castle, the Raglan Castle and the Odiham Castle and, until the sea took her from me, the Bold Admiral, and so far as your surroundings are concerned, nothing is as changeable as the sea.

“Plus ça change…” The more things change…  The landscape of Awenia may change, the shape, size and location of our home may change, but some things will remain the same. This will still be our official residence. We will still have parts of our home that are not really ours – those that belong to the people we serve. We will still have those parts that are reserved for our more intimate guests and friends, and those that are ours alone. It was thus in the faerie home in the Wylds. It was thus in the castle at Mysthaven. It was thus in the tree-house here in Awenia. And it will be thus in this new home. Such is the way of things for those of us who are called to serve the people as their leaders. This service is far from what either of us, my beloved Gwyn or I, would have chosen, but, it is a service we accept with, I hope, good grace.

Having been so peremptorily notified of our move, I immediately curtailed my activities, which were of no great importance, and made my way to Awenia to see what our new home might be.  I was pleasantly surprised. It is not the cottage by the sea that I have long promised Gwyn, but as an official residence, it will more than suffice. This new castle, unlike our tree-house, it does not require ladders to access the front door, which will be a great improvement for me, even though I mostly flew rather than climbed. It is also, so far as I have been able to determine, not constructed from the bones of an ancient vampire, nor haunted by the ghost of a 2,000 year old queen.  In these respects, it has many advantages compared to previous residences. In general appearance, it seems to be a series of overlapping and interconnected octagonal towers, pleasantly arranged in a way that flows naturally from one to the other. It was on this matter that Gwyn wished to consult with me; seeking my ideas as to the usage, furnishing and décor for the rooms. Normally, I am content to leave such things to her, so it was a pleasant surprise to be asked.

Of course, she had already made a start by the time I got there – moving stuff in crates by means of magic. My remark that this was perhaps not seemly for a queen was not well received. I am more used to men in brown overalls carrying stuff, but perhaps such people are in short supply in faerie. I concentrated on the functional side of things, since my aesthetic is firmly rooted in the Victorian, which might well have suited the style of the building, but may not necessarily be appropriate for the modern day.  I did offer ideas regarding the furnishing, but only so far as they were relevant to the suggested function. The main doors opened into two overlapping octagons, so I ventured that this should be the most public area of the castle, a reception area where we could receive guests, hold meetings, have cocktail parties, balls and such like. A small room off of that would serve well as the office for the purpose of official business, much as my office did in the castle in Mysthaven.

Another octagonal room from the main receiving area would serve well as a dining room, where official visitors and larger groups of personal visitors could be entertained, and a further room beyond that could be a lounge/withdrawing room where we could relax with guests after dinner, a place for port and brandy and cigars. I envisaged that this sequence of rooms would also represent a gradual transition from the public to the more private. The main reception area would be for any guests, whereas the dining room and lounge would be for those guests we have more of a relationship with, be they diplomats and official representatives or personal friends, and those few that are both.

Upstairs, I envisaged as being more the private parts of the residence, though there would be guest quarters for our official visitors and friends. It was here that I was reminded of some of the many reasons I love Gwyn. We have only had the castle for a short while, but Gwyn has her priorities, which I find are much in accord with mine. While the rest of the building is largely given over to crates and miscellaneous furniture brought from the tree-house, upstairs, she had already decorated and furnished the library and our private chambers. Even in this short time, she has already made it a home. There is also a Christmas tree in the library. Apparently, this is now a tradition, though it was a new thing that the Prince Albert introduced in my era. The library is a good place for it, as it is possibly the only room tall enough. I am glad she did so. It will make it a home, and we can celebrate Yule together in it.

There remains much to be done. Decisions on the function of the other rooms, furnishing and decorating them, but we have time. It will be some months before we will be receiving official visitors other than the people of the town. Gwyn has opened discussions with Arcturus Treem, the local representative of the Consilium Arcanum, with regard to opening our faerie realm to humans and other folk. Yes, the Consilium still exists, albeit in a somewhat different form, and some folk, like Arcturus are still here and remember the way things were before the change, or the Cataclysm, as he apparently called it. Her initial discussions with him were productive and he seemed in favour of the idea, but these things take time. That is a good thing, as it gives us time to prepare. And I look forward to it, because this is something where I think I could be of help. While things may be different here in this reality, some things have not changed, and that includes the various manners and protocols involved in dealings between the fae and humankind. Here, at least, I have experience, from drawing up the Accords that we had between Mysthaven and Faerie, and I am sure I could help in these negotiations too.

Talking of Mysthaven, I have neglected it too long, and I miss my friends. I must visit there soon.

Plus ça Change