Saturday, January 13, 2024

Another Luna Moth Invitation: Mysteries of Gulben

An envelope decorated with a botanical sketch instantly drew my attention amid a pile of otherwise ordinary mail. Inside was an invitation, either exquisitely handwritten or a superb imitation, printed on thick watercolor paper. I was invited to a unique Botanical Market, a rare opportunity to acquire exotic, magical plants. Considering my limited gardening success, which extended only to sustaining a few resilient cacti, this seemed like an odd offer. However, the invitation was so beautifully crafted, especially the Luna Moth illustration, that it felt less like a summons to a market and more like an invitation to an intriguing adventure.

The address led me to "Gulben," a building that appeared to have leaped straight out of the 1960s. It combined the architectural essence of a science laboratory with a cinema theater, characterized by its solid concrete structure, glass doors set in metal frames, and wood-paneled decorations. Yet, despite its grandeur, it appeared forsaken. Inside, the air was stale, and the silence was almost total. Checking the invitation again to confirm the date, I ventured further, drawn upstairs by a mix of curiosity and unease.

The silence deepened here, too profound for a bustling market. I nudged open a wooden door, half-expecting to find more emptiness. Instead, I felt a sudden sensation of falling as my foot found only air. The feeling was fleeting, and I steadied myself, assuming it was a brief spell of dizziness. The room behind the door appeared to be a small closet. When I turned to leave, the scene beyond the door had astonishingly transformed. The once-desolate stairway was now lavishly decorated with flowers in pots of all shapes and sizes, surrounded by a crowd that could only be customers observing the plants. The rich scents of fresh coffee and floral greenery filled the air, mingling with the soft rustling of voices.

How... Wait… I was confused for a moment but then had a flash of insight. Of course! There were just two similar buildings connected through a gateway, which I had mistaken for a closet. I had entered via the wrong, empty one. And when I thought I had turned back to leave the closet, I actually went through its second door into this building. Let me check it... I turned back, attempting to go through the closet again, but in the opposite direction this time, only to find the door I had come through had vanished. That was an unexpected turn of events. The only way to go was downstairs. Descending the stairs, I examined the flowers lining each step. Surprisingly, they looked quite ordinary, without any hint of exotic magic. No mysterious glows or enchanting particles. Could they be concealing something more? Intrigued, I reached out to a pomegranate, half-expecting to find hidden eyes or teeth on the other side of the fruit.

As my hand reached out towards the pomegranate, it was halted by the firm yet gentle grip of an elegantly dressed lady. "You must be new here. It's your first time, isn't it?" she asked, her smile radiating a warm, knowing amusement. Puzzled, I replied, "How could you tell?" She chuckled softly. "Only a newcomer would be so bold with the pomegranates." Her words piqued my curiosity. "What's wrong with them?" I inquired. "Ah," she said with a hint of mystery in her voice, "do you know the story of Persephone? How eating just a few pomegranate seeds bound her to the Underworld?" I looked around, slightly unsettled, half-expecting the surroundings to morph into something more sinister. "We're not in the Underworld, are we?" I asked half-jokingly.

She flashed another enchanting smile. "Not quite, we are somewhere in between the worlds. Remember how you fell through the portal? That's no ordinary closet you walked through." Her explanation left me more bewildered than before. The closet was a portal? To where exactly?

"Well, since you've come through the portal, you're indeed invited," she continued. "But, my dear, you're quite the mindless newbie. It seems you're the newest pupil of our brotherhood, here to acquire your starter's set. You'll need the first-year student's seed set and this purple rose," she gestured towards a delicate rose in a jade vase, "which will guide you through your first semester of herbology."

The information overwhelmed me. "Wait," I stammered, "student, herbology, guiding plants... what are you talking about?" She looked at me with a hint of surprise in her eyes. "Haven't you seen Harry Potter? This place is somewhat akin to Diagon Alley for you. Oh dear, they've sent you the market invitation before your admission letter!"

Her reference to Diagon Alley surprisingly shed light on the situation. It was as if the world of cinema had prepared me for this very moment. Confusion still swirled within me, but her words began to weave a sense of understanding.

"Don't worry," she reassured me, "I'll help you with your purchases, and then we'll seek some clarification from your faculty staff."

She directed my attention to the purple rose. "Handle her gently; roses here are quite temperamental. Treat her with care, and she'll be an invaluable guide for your upcoming semester. For today, let's leave the stairway plants be. Now, off to the alchemist's corner for your magic seed starter set."

Her guidance, though surreal, felt oddly comforting. I followed her, still processing the fantastical turn my day had taken, cradling the purple rose and stepping into a world that was an extraordinary blend of magic and reality.


This experience was possible with:

:FANATIK: GULBEN V1.2 B - a new product in a FANATIK shop, a huge building that requires 60 x 61 x 14,5 m of land and 237 prims. It offers a great choice for a museum, an exposition or even a secret hospital where people are held captive for the secret experiments. All behind the façade of an innocent administrative building with the look of the 60's.

*LODE* - different pieces of flower decor. Those are really great cut flowers and head pieces. The best florist of SL.

Apple Fall - the work by Apple doesn't require introduction. Just a must to visit place for home and garden decoration. His Plant stands I used are perfect to display the cut flowers. Some of his flowers I used are Baby Pomegranate Spray - Charred Pot, White Iris, Single Cut Hydrangea.