A World Beside Our Own

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Yuletide Greetings

Lyric and the elves stay with us for several days into Yule. Emmya doesn’t let me leave the manor. Diane and Hrivënahta are on call if I suddenly experience any side effects from my rebirth. I’m going to call it as it is. This wasn’t a transformation, it was a rebirth. I look again at the portrait of Lairelindë’s daughter; I am the reincarnation of her child, but still me… that part is still comforting.

We decorated the manor in Holiday splendour, and there are so many treats and confections available. Which is a good thing. It took two days for my complexion to return to normal. As we approach the celebration, I no longer look pale and sickly. I seem to have developed a substantial appetite. Lyric says it’s half refuelling my new body, half my new puberty as an elf kicking in. She said, not to worry, my new Elven metabolism is nearly twice that of a human girl. I will easily be able to eat a lot while gaining no weight.

“Once you reach adulthood, you’ll be able to go longer without food and water than humans do. Enjoy your appetite while you still have one.” She winks. It’s nice having her here. Apparently Drow develop differently than their Elven counterparts. My new exuberance makes Luna smile, it’s been a few decades, but she remembers her youth more than our mother does.

Sala loves my new alto voice, as it now matches hers. We both talk excitedly about getting together on Boxing Day, that’s the earliest that Emmya will let me leave the house on my own.

We sit down together Yuletide morning around the decorated tree. Our Elven delegation finds the event pleasant, they do something similar to celebrate the winter solstice, so the tradition isn’t entirely foreign. I’m so spoiled this year:

Emmya gives me a digital drawing tablet, so I can do art where I want while carrying fewer supplies with me. The gift was a suggestion from Melody, as she finds my artistic talents have merit and should be encouraged. In just two months, she’s said I’m one of her most promising students.

Lyric encourages I keep my paper and pencils, and gives me a gift from the bardic council. The haversack is a magic bag that can carry nearly 100 kilos of goods, while only weighing two. I can carry what I want, as long as it can fit into the main pouch, the front pouch, or the two side pouches. I just need to think about what I want, reach into the right pouch, and I can pull it out without hunting for it. She warns me that sharp objects can break the bag, so to keep anything sharp in a sheath.

Laïrecarca has a gift from the Druid council. I discover Druids come from a higher cast and are almost treated like nobility. She calls the bo staff I unwrap a quarterstaff. It has a spiral pattern of dark brown and grey wood.

“The dark brown is called Darkwood, it is lighter than oak, and just as durable. The grey wood is Ironwood. It is just as strong as steel, but still wood. This allows a druid the strength of an iron-core staff without penalizing your abilities.” I give her a questioning glance. “Iron will hamper a Druid’s magic, and should be avoided at all costs. The only metals a druid can wear are pure precious metals, like silver and gold. We should keep away anything else with nickel or iron from you.”

I nod, I take a few steps away and twirl the staff, testing its weight and balance. This is going to be a fun weapon to have. The Druid looks at my actions and smiles.

“You’ve had martial training?” She enquires.

“Rose has started me on the bo staff as part of my Taekwondo training.” I smile, “I only know a few basic defensive moves, my real training doesn’t start till the new year.”

“I will wait till spring to test your true talents then.” She bows to me. I suddenly realize I have a new martial combat trainer in my godfather’s personal guard.

I can almost think of Lairelindë and Yàviersulë as my parents. They certainly treat me that way. I have an odd side thought, wondering how my birth family is doing this Holiday? In some ways I miss them, mostly my grandparents and extended family. I never got to say goodbye to them. I wonder if I’ll ever see them again? I wonder if it’s worth it? They’ll never recognize the new me… even with the illusion on my pendant, I look a bit like my human grandmother, enough to suggest a blood relation, but my Elven self looks nothing like my human family does. Ashanna has taught me a magic word I can use to turn on or off my illusionary figure, so that I don’t need to remove Lairelindë when I want to be myself.

Luna is the last to give me her gift. Oddly enough, I think Ashanna planned on this as our gifts match. It’s a silver bracelet, with floating heart pendants. There are three named charms on the bracelet with birthstones: Mine, Luna’s and Ashanna’s. I note that Luna’s birthday is in April, and my mother’s in June by their birthstones. We put our respective gifts on each other’s wrists. We smile and hug and hold each other close.

My gift to my mother is a portrait I painted here at home. I’d been hiding it from her. It’s the three of us. I had to do some last-minute alterations to my face, to show my new Elven features. It was really hard to do, as my new face isn’t as round as my human head was. Changing the eyes to their new almond shape to match theirs was also difficult. Changing my blue iris to the emerald green I now have was the easiest. Fortunately, because the paint was dry, I could paint over my original face, and then tweak the background so that the old me is no longer visible.

“Your godfather has a gift for you also new leaf.” Laïrecarca says, “but he wants to give it to you in person.” She then turns to my mother. “Yàviersulë has asked that we return to Arborea on New Year’s Day, and has requested the presence of his wife and godchild for a four-day trip. Will you grant his wishes?”

Ashanna looks at my godmother, this is as much her choice as my mother’s. “Are you fine with attempting to cross the realms?”

It will happen eventually, we might as well make the attempt now. I shall forever fear crossing the void otherwise.” Lairelindë responds. “A four-day trip sounds adequate, and it will bring comfort to finally see my people again.

“I want to go with you.” Luna says protectively.

You can’t, my child.” Lairelindë gives her a sympathetic smile. “Arborea is a realm of near constant daylight. Nights are short and it only rains enough to keep plants alive. I know you want to keep your sister safe, but going to such a holy realm would be akin to a death sentence for you. I dare not put your life at risk.

“I’ll be fine.” I give Luna a hug, and she holds me tight.

“You can bring a guest with you if you wish.” Lairëcarca offers.

“I could bring Sala!” I blurt. “She would love that trip!” Luna frowns at being replaced by my girlfriend, I shake my head and she sighs in resignation. “I’ll ask her parents when I see them tomorrow.” I smile, and Ashanna nods in agreement.

The rest of the day features a feast, accompanied by wine and mead from Arborea. I’m surprised that my mother allows me to partake in the consumption of alcohol. Only a few glasses with food, but this is my first taste of wine, and I find I enjoy it. The mead? Not so much. After a taste, I decline a glass of it.

Later that night, a slightly tipsy me breaks away from family and friends to get online. Like me, most of the guild are just getting away from their family obligations and we have our own guild Yuletide event in the game. Some players exchange gifts with each other. There is a ‘Father Winter’ in game. The decorated tree in the capital has a stack of gifts for players. New toys, snowball guns, and a new mini-snowman designed by Dani. When I check my in-game mail, there is an additional Winter Veil (as the game calls the event) gift from Rose. It’s a beautiful new robe, custom designed for my new Elven druid, and a staff to go along with it. Yesterday I sent them a picture of a healthy Elven me, and I noticed, when I logged on, that my druid’s face, features, and stature matches mine in real life. There is a note with the gift.

I hope you don’t mind your avatar’s new look. We thought it would be nice to be the real you in game.
Your human friends likely can never see your true face, so this is a suitable substitute to be
as beautiful in the game as you are in reality.

I put the outfit on and join my friends for our Winter Veil gathering, Konrad is the first to remark the change.

“You’ve tweaked your avatar, how did you get your elf to look so beautiful?”

“The devs helped me.” I grin. “I’ve been working on this look in my digital art class, so when I sent it to Rose, she was more than happy to enable it for me to use in the game.”

“Simiathlas, what did you do to your voice, it’s gone up at least an octave since last week?” Jarla comments.

“It sounds so musical.” O’Connor says affectionately.

I smile, I named my new druid character after my actual name. Only Kevin has caught on that it matches my social media profile name so far, but he’s not made a big deal about it. We had a chuckle about it in a private conversation, and that was the end.

“I’ve taken the next step towards my transition.” I smile. “I underwent a procedure to change myself over the Holiday.” I probably shouldn’t have outed myself to the whole guild. A dozen of the 20 members are here. It must be the wine loosening my tongue.

“I thought transgender people weren’t allowed an operation till they reached adulthood?” Konrad frowns in game. Being equally candid, he just reinforced my statement.

“My mother agreed to it. It was an unusual request, but we know a few people, and could get it all done privately.” I reply. “I posted a picture yesterday on my social media page once I fully healed.” The picture, of course, is the illusion that my amulet projects. So my profile picture is now that of a blond-haired, beautiful, blue-eyed 15-year-old girl. What the human me would look like after a full 2 years on hormones, according to Rose.

“The connections you have now are unbelievable!” O’Connor’s avatar shakes his head as he drinks some Holiday ’nog. “Celebrity friends, private doctors, working around the entire medical system…”

Tarvis suddenly gasps. “What kind of operation did you have Sim?” he’s been calling me that nickname since I started using this toon.

“Tarvis, this is going to be a big surprise to you. Only Konrad and Jarla have known about this, as we’re friends in real-life. I was a transgender girl.” I take a big breath. “I’m sorry that I hid that fact from the rest of the guild, but I needed to find some place where I could be seen as a girl, and this was the safest place to start.”

“So… you were really a boy all this time?” O’Connor quirks an eyebrow.

“Physically, yes, but I’ve never been a masculine person, It’s why I'm so naturally feminine in game.” I say apologetically.

O’Connor sort of relaxes. “Oh, so I’m not gay then, my crush on you being a girl was totally natural…” he’s quiet for a moment. “Um.. I probably shouldn’t have said that, but the spiked eggnog has loosened my tongue.” He says blushing.

I go over to our guild’s lead paladin and give him a hug. “Love you too.” I say in my song-like alto voice.

“Okay, you sounded cute before, but that sounded totally hot!” O’Connor says blushing even more.

Jarla’s toon raises its finger. “So, when you said you had an operation, it wasn’t just your vocal cords…?”

“I got rid of that offending thing between my legs, and I am a girl now.” I finish for her.

“Oh, wow girl! That’s incredible!” Narielle says, she’d been quiet so far.

“When can I see the new you?” Konrad requests.

“I’m going to my girlfriend’s tomorrow to celebrate with her family, maybe after that? I can come up to the city and visit you. Would that be okay? It has to be before the New Year, cause then I’ll be out-of-town till almost the start of school.” I reply.

“Where are you going the first week of the year, Simia?” O’Connor’s asks. He was nice enough to ask me what I’d like for a nickname.

“My godfather lives out of town, so I’m going to spend a few days with my extended family.” I reply.

“Godfather?” Tarvis gets curious.

“My adopted family is a bit… complicated.” I start. “There’s my mother and sister here, but I have Godparents. They’ve helped sponsor my transition, and so I’m spending time with them. They treat me like their godchild, it’s sort of sweet.” I smile.

“I’ve heard her talk about her godmother before.” Jarla comments. “They’re really close.”

“Sim, you have the most amazing life now!” Tarvis says, raising his glass as a toast. “To the new you!”

“To the New You!” everyone raises their glass to celebrate my coming out to the guild. I was worried that my candid comment to Kevin would upset the others, but they’re taking my admission to having been transgender in stride. I love my guild!

“You realize that you have done in only three months what takes most transgender women three years or more to achieve, right?” Konrad says, I can feel a hint of jealousy that I’ve complete my transition before he has.

“I know. I guess I’m just lucky?” I shrug.

“The things that money can do that the traditional transition path won’t. I knew you could skip some steps with informed consent, but you just took the speed lane that some of our friends wish they could!” Jarla says amazed.

Bradly is looking over my social media page. “Is some of that cosmetic surgery? Konrad’s shown me pictures of the old you, and you are amazingly beautiful now!” he says affectionately.

“Can I have a link to that?” O’Connor asks politely. I send him the link and he gasps. “Okay, I feel like a dirty old man now, you look like you’re twelve!”

“Fifteen.” I correct him and giggle musically.

“I’m almost twice your age! I’m sorry for hitting on you, Simia.” He says in a guilty tone.

“Seven years is not twice her age, chill dude. We knew she was one of our teen members.” Tarvis consoles him.

“I thought her giggle was cute before, that was adorably musical.” Jarla smiles.

“You still haven’t answered my question.” Bradly pokes.

“Yes, some of my operation was cosmetic. You can’t grow a b-cup in two months. It was a tissue donation from a genetic match. Unlike other cosmetic surgery, the new cells will grow and develop like they normally would on a genetic girl.” I reply.

“That’s unreal!” Bradly says amazed.

“The magic of modern medicine.” Narielle grins.

If only you knew… I say to myself. What I went through doesn’t have a real modern-day medical equivalent, but I can’t tell them the truth. Even if I did, they would think I’m pulling their leg. Let them think that mundane science gave me this wonderful new look and body. It’s easier to believe than exposing my new magical existence is. I need to protect my family and the lifestyle I live now.

I send a private message to Kevin. -=You know, there is a new medical procedure to use your t-cells to grow you an actual working phallus. You could have a real penis in five years. =-

Kevin replies. -= I’ve been following that, my endo says she can put me on a wait list as early as 18 - with parental consent. I still want to see you. We haven’t been together in real life since you left in October. =-

-= I’ll come up on the 28th, maybe even stay overnight if your parents let me use your spare bedroom? That way we can meet up with Ruby before I go back home… =- I reply.

-= I would really like that, thank you. =- Kevin replies.

“Quit flirting you two, we don’t get to talk with Simia often.” O’Connor teases us.

“We’re planning for Simia to come back up to the city to visit.” Konrad responds.

“Am I part of those plans, I haven’t seen her since October either.” Jarla pouts.

“If my parents agree to her staying overnight, yes, it’s a four-hour trip from where she lives to the city, so it just makes sense that she can stay a day or two with us.” Konrad replies. “I’ll be back in a bit, I’ll ask my parents while they are tipsy and more agreeable to a stranger, from my online game, staying with us for a two or three days.”

“You will not tell them the truth, will you?” Jarla probes.

“I’m protecting our friend. No, I will not tell them who Simia really is, far as our families know, that person is gone and will never be back again.” Konrad replies.

“Well, you’re not wrong. Simia is nothing like the person who left your city back in October. Introducing her as a new person is going to be significantly easier than trying to explain how this adorable girl was the boy they used to know.” Tarvel answers.

“You got a point there.” Jarla smiles.

“Right. Really got to go guys…” Konrad says, then logs off.

Some of the guild logs off around the same time as it’s getting late. So we’re eight of us going through the Winter Veil events when Konrad comes back nearly a half hour later.

“Okay, wow. That was harder than I thought it would be!” Konrad says the moment he pops into voice chat.

“Well?” Jarla asks him before I can.

“It’s a go!” He grins. “You can stay two nights if you like, but expect my parents to grill you like your my girlfriend when you get here.”

“Considering you’re a dude and asking your parents for a girl, who you’ve met online, to stay for a couple of days?… what else did you expect?” Tarvis chuckles.

“You know, if you want me to be your girlfriend for this trip, I can play that game.” I say in a suggestive voice. I swear, I’m getting to be just as bad as my sister.

“Simia don’t tease me like that, you know I’ve wanted to date you for over a year now, and I don’t think I could take a long-distance relationship! So, forewarning.” Konrad gets back to what he wanted to say. “You’ve only known me for two years when we first started playing online together. If you hint that we’ve known each since primary, you’ll give yourself away.” He says in a serious tone.

“How long have you two known each other?” O’Connor says surprised.

“We used to live four blocks away from one another, we’ve been going to the same schools since we were five.” Jarla answers for us again.

“They’ve been my best friends for years. I’m so glad we’ll be able to meet up in a couple of days!” I say excitedly, my voice hitting an alto.

“It’s going to take me awhile to get used to that musical voice of yours.” Jarla says amazed. “It’s incredibly pretty!”

I smile. “Well, that’s my last quest done, I should hit the hay, I have a long day tomorrow.”

We share a round of goodnights and happy Yuletide with one another. I know my friends would love to talk longer, and frankly I’m far from tired. My new Elven body only requires four hours of meditation, and I’m fully rested. But after my teasing Kevin like that, I felt we were going to get into a long conversation about if a relationship is possible, and I don’t think I’m ready for that conversation with him. I already have a girlfriend, I’m getting just as bad as Rose with wanting to date more than one person.

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