Friday, 19 October 2012

Colour Challenge 42 - Cosmic

About to go dancing with my land legs
I'm not quite sure how this avatar came about, except that I've just been decorating for Halloween and put out my Dolome tentacle furniture, which might have inspired me. My colour-pack Magika hair was the perfect match, and I've been saving this dress for a challenge where it would be hard to find the colour elsewhere, since it has just about every colour in it. I just wanted to make something a little more exotic and simply adding the cuttle-horns and octopus eyes wasn't enough for me, especially with a very humanoid skin. Octomer avatars tend to be very expensive, which is why I haven't made one before now, but I was delighted to find a set of tentacles on the marketplace by PFC. They are mod-copy (always good for tinting), very reasonably priced, and I liked the look of the sculpted 'saddle' joining the legs to the body. The naturalistic scripted writhing also lived up to its promise (see second picture!)

I decided to splash out, because an Octomer is something I can always reuse, but having already chosen the dress, it seemed appropriate to commandeer the famous story by Hans Christian Andersen and transform from Octomer to human(oid) dancer. Most of you will be familiar with the Disney film of the story, with Princess Ariel, but if anyone has read the original story you will know that the Little Mermaid suffers excruciating pain like knives stabbing her feet with every step. I suffer from fibromyalgia, a neuro-muscular syndrome which can be very painful, and I know just how she feels. My stabbing pains tend to be in the pelvis rather than the feet, though recently I've had to contend with a swollen foot which isn't too happy to be walked on either. I think it's the changing autumn weather, brought on by the cold and damp. Anyway, there is no way you would get me dancing, so I decided the pain of the little Octomer's transformation would be transitory. I have a hard time believing anyone could be a graceful dancer feeling what I feel when I walk around! I didn't put the shoes into the story, I think she'd have to draw the line at high heeled pumps, but I wore them in the photo because they came with the dress.

I wrote a long story for this one, using The Little Mermaid as a base and adapting it to fit the photos I got from exploring around the sim; I wanted to showcase some lucky shots with the tentacles, which clearly have a mind of their own. Hopefully fun and enjoyable, but if you really don't want to read it, you can click on the top picture to bring up a photo slideshow and ignore the text, and scroll down to the bottom of the page for the item credits.

~O~ The Little Octomermaid ~O~

Octomer Arabesques
Once upon a time, there was a little mermaid who really wanted to go dancing. At night she would float to the surface of the sea and gaze across to the mainland. She was entranced by the bright lights and wonderful music which poured out of a club on the beach. Now, this was no ordinary mermaid such as you have heard about in other stories; she was an Octomer, which are of the Octopus tribe, having eight long tentacles instead of a fish tail. She could dance beautifully under the water on her tentacles, twirling and pointing through complex arabesques that no human dancer could perform; but on land, all she could manage was to drag herself painfully through the sand, her rubbery tentacles dragging behind her. Without the water to cushion her weight, her tentacles were not strong enough to hold her up. But oh! How she wanted to join the human dancers in that club, and dance the night away with them on sturdy legs and feet.

The little octomer plucked up her courage to go and visit the Sea Witch, who was feared and respected in equal measure. She was very wise and learned in the ways of magic, but it was said that if you displeased her, she would eat you up and spit out your bones to plant in her garden. Nonetheless, she was the only person who might possibly help the little octomer. The Sea Witch cackled with laughter at the girl's request, but she agreed to help her.

"There is a special ink I need, from an octopus who dwells at the centre of the Labyrinth. Bring me some of this ink, and I will make you a potion that will give you human form - for a limited time. There is also a sword down there, an ancient weapon of the humans. You will know it, for its magic will have prevented it from rusting. Find the sword and bring it to me as payment."

Ruined Temple above the Labyrinth
The little octomer knew about the Labyrinth. It had been built long ago by humans, up on dry land; but a great earthquake had ravaged the islands and the Labyrinth had sunk to the bottom of the sea. It had lain there for centuries, while fish and mer-children played hide and seek in its twisting corridors. There was a ruined temple atop the Labyrinth, which the little octomer had often visited, but it was overgrown with corals, sponges and sea weed, and the steps down into the centre of the maze were blocked by fallen rubble. The only way to get to the centre was to trace the Labyrinth all the way from an entrance on one side, conveniently marked by the wreck of a sunken ship.

Finding the ball of twine
The little octomer swam to the shipwreck and explored idly while she thought about how to tackle the Labyrinth. She had played there many a time as a little girl, but the children never ventured too far inside. The maze was vast and nobody knew the way; they were afraid of becoming lost inside the gloomy, cave-like corridors. They would always turn back when they reached the first intersection. But the little octomer would have to navigate the entire maze, and it was vast, stretching for miles. How would she find her way? As she swam up and down the wooden hulk of the ship, she came across some big pottery jars half buried in sand; amphorae, she remembered from her history lessons, which the ancient humans had used to transport oil and wine. She investigated the jars, more due to putting off her trip into the Labyrinth than to any real curiosity; but then she found something. Tucked into the bottom of one of the jars was a strange, round object. She fished it out and examined it. The ball was made of some kind of thin tendril of woven fibres, incredibly long, wrapped over and over around itself to make a compact shape. She teased out the end of the tendril and unwound it, thinking. Maybe, if she fastened one end to the ship, she could take the ball with her and unravel it as she swam through the Labyrinth. Then if she got lost, she would be able to follow the tendril and find her way back!

The octomer's clever tentacles made short work of the knot, and she swam happily into the Labyrinth, reeling the twine out behind her like the fishing lines her people learned to avoid. It was still no easy task; the maze was long and complex, and she did not like being enclosed in the tunnel-like corridors, with no easy way back to the open ocean. It was dark and dank in the maze, barely lit by strange, phosphorescent tube worms growing on the walls, for of course there was no sunlight down here for plants to grow. Odd echoes bounced from the walls, reverberating through the water in muffled and overlapping waves, so that as she swam, she was surrounded by a constant whispering like lost souls in the dark. Several times, she would choose a junction that would lead her back to her line, so that she was forced to retrace her steps so as not to tangle the thread. She persevered though, thinking of the light and music of the dance club, and at least the corridors were empty; no creatures penetrated far into the dismal tunnels and she was all alone, but that also meant she was in no danger from sharks.

Finding the Sword
Finally, after what seemed like hours, the little octomer swam through a doorway into a wide open space, where welcome sunlight filtered down through cracks in the masonry overhead. She had reached the centre of the Labyrinth! She cautiously made her way through the strange piles of bones and human artefacts which littered the sandy floor, pushing aside little black fish which crowded around her, nibbling curiously at her hair. She searched carefully for what might be the weapon the witch wanted, but it proved easier than she had feared. The sword was sticking up out of the sand between the ribs of a gigantic skeleton, some kind of monstrous creature with a man's body and a horned, animal skull. The bright blade was untarnished by time or sea water and the glint of sunlight off metal seemed to beckon her, inviting her to release it from its long imprisonment. Now she remembered hazy snatches of fairytales told to her as a child at bedtime. There had been a monster in the Labyrinth, which preyed on virgin sacrifices. A human Hero had come to slay the monster, but its death throes started the earthquake, and the Hero had to run for his life, leaving behind his magic sword. Well, if the Sea Witch wanted the sword, she wasn't going to argue, but she would get the precious ink for her potion first.

Tickling the Octopus!
At last she found what she sought; tucked away in a corner, regarding her warily, the octopus of the Labyrinth. And what a giant he was! He must have squeezed in here through a gap in the roof when he was very small, but was now too large to leave. He had been feasting on the little black fish, and done none too badly from the diet. How to get the ink she needed though? Octopuses squirt ink when they are startled, but she didn't want to upset this fellow; he was rather large, and while generally friendly to their merfolk cousins, a fight with an enraged giant octopus was something she'd rather avoid.

Slowly, she advanced towards the octopus, bouncing gently on the tips of her tentacles. A sudden misstep and she twirled in the water, tentacles flailing as she righted herself. And what a surprise - the octopus copied her, turning himself over in the water in a graceful display. It seemed he wanted to dance, just like her! The little octomer spun and pirouetted through the water, every move matched to perfection by her new dance partner. She had an idea. She reached out as though to entwine tentacles with the octopus - then tickled him suddenly just beneath the mantle. The octopus squirmed and threw up his arms - and let loose a cloud of dark ink into the water. After all the friendly dancing though, he soon got over his surprise and didn't attack. Quickly she brought out the little bottle the witch had given her, and scooped up the cloudy water. With a wave to her new friend, she caught up the gleaming sword, ducked back into the Labyrinth and retraced her route through the maze, winding up the ball of twine as she swam.

The Sea Witch was very pleased with the sword, and made up her potion for the little octomer as promised. "Take a mouthful when you want to change; but make sure you're near the shoreline as you will find it hard to swim with your new human legs! The potion will last until dawn; the rising sun will break the spell and you will become an Octomer again. The spell will only work at the full of the moon, and you will have to wait another month before you can take it again. There should be enough doses in there for a good year of transformations, plenty of dancing for you I'm sure! Now be warned, it isn't a perfect transformation; you won't truly be human and you should avoid close inspection - don't go snuggling with any human males, or they might learn what you really are and become angry. But the potion will give you legs, and also change your skin so that you can pass more easily as one of them."

The little octomer thanked the Sea Witch profusely for her help. She wondered why the witch hadn't gone to fetch the sword for herself, but mindful of the forest of bones and sea weed which surrounded the witch's cave, she decided it would be prudent not to ask questions. There was going to be a full moon tonight, so she hurried home to dig out her most treasured possession. A cargo ship had spilled its load along one of the shipping lanes, and the curious merfolk had opened the floating crates to find human clothing. The Octomer had little use for fabric, and quickly lost interest, but the little octomer had kept one of the dresses. It sparkled like a fish's scales with all the colours of a rainbow, and it reminded her of the dancers at the club she so wanted to visit. She had a watertight metal box, lined with oilcloth, in which she kept her land treasures buried safe from the sea; she took this with her now, and the potion, as she approached the shallow water of the mainland.

Purple octomer skin
The little octomer swam into a secluded cove not far from the club. Nobody would see her make her d├ębut here from sea to land, but she could hear the hypnotising thump of music from the club, and see the coloured lights sweeping across the sky like lighthouse beams. The dance party was in full swing. She pushed the box right up to the shoreline, giving it a heave to lift it safely out of reach of the hungry waves, then swam back out a little way to hover in the water, her tentacles just brushing the sandy sea floor  She unstoppered the potion bottle, raised it to her lips, and took a single mouthful. Even as she swallowed, she pushed the stopper in tightly to conserve the rest of the potion, for she wasn't sure exactly what would happen as the transformation took effect. Immediately she felt a burning, tingling feeling all over her body, as her skin seemed to shrink and tighten as though drying out in the sun. She looked down at her arms and saw them fade in the moonlight, their natural purple hue leeching out to the milky pink of some of the humans, who, like the Octomer, came in several colours, though none so bold and bright as her people. 

All ready to dance!
As she turned her hands, examining her new skin, she felt a new sensation as her tentacles started to bunch up underneath her of their own accord, and she had to throw out her arms to keep her balance. Her tentacles writhed and knotted together, four on each side braiding together to form two twisted trunks like kelp stalks. Then came the pain, an intense stabbing sensation that almost made her cry out, as her pelvic saddle and knotted tentacles shifted and flowed, melting into a new form. Just as she thought she could endure the pain no longer, it fizzled away, and she sank down in the water, coming to rest with new feet on the sandy bottom. She stumbled out of the water and up onto the beach, shaky as she tried to balance, but - she was doing it! She was walking, actually walking on dry land, on her own two human legs. Quickly she found her box and opened it, putting in the potion for safe keeping and taking out the dress and a pair of stockings she had liked for their quirky design. She found she was shivering, her skin too thin now to insulate her from the cold. She had some trouble getting the clothes on, not being used to dressing, but they seemed to fit well enough and she marvelled at the way the silken stockings rolled up her legs from toes to mid-thigh.

Finally, after burying the box to reclaim later, she was ready; her hair a little wet from the water, but already drying in the gentle sea breeze. She stepped out daintily towards the noise and light of the club, her natural grace and agility already becoming attuned to this new mode of locomotion. After all, she was a dancer! And she pointed her toes like tentacle tips and twirled across the sand, laughing aloud with pleasure.

~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ ~O~ 

~O~ Credits ~O~

Location: Sea of Fables ~ Labyrinth (a Linden Public Works attraction)
Lunaland @ ClubX (south across the intermediate Bothnia sim)

Note: I didn't take any pictures of the labyrinth itself because it really is HUGE (it covers the entire sim) and not nearly as interesting as I described in the story. I'm afraid I cheated and went in through the temple, which is not really blocked. However, you CAN get a ball of twine from the entrance by the shipwreck (not actually inside the jars) which attaches as a HUD and helps to show you the way through the maze. It brings up a glowing map on the floor at each intersection, You Are Here marked by a bone in the sand. I thought it was a neat trick, but I'm not good with mazes and I'd have been better tempted to try with more scenery and a smaller maze. I suppose it could make a good site for a competition with friends, with a prize to the first person to reach the octopus (without cheating!) 

The skeleton in the centre is, of course, the Minotaur of ancient legend. Without my earthquake embellishment, I really don't know why Theseus would have left his sword behind (though the one there is a copyable free gift) but I have been to the archaeological site of Knossos on Crete and there is a lot of evidence that it did suffer badly in an earthquake at one time. There is, sadly, no evidence of any labyrinth, but the whole legend probably arose from the tradition of sending human tribute to Crete, for the cult of their Bull deity. I haven't read anything to convince me that these 'sacrifices' were actually killed; it's entirely possible that they were drafted into service at the temple or palace, or trained in the Cretan sport of Bull Leaping.

Octomer avatar: 

PFC Cecaelia Tentacles ('Cecaelia' is apparently the official name for a human-octopus hybrid, but I prefer 'Octomer'; you can google some gorgeous artwork under the first term though, if you like this sort of thing!) ** STAR PURCHASE **

TeaLane 'Ariadne' skin (acquired eons ago in some hunt or other...)

Silent Sparrow 'Cuttles' tentacle horns (mod/copy)

Magika hair ~ Dara (colour pack; mesh; HUD tint plus mod; toggles chewing strand in mouth)

Ruin Oktapous eyes ~ SE Marah (now known as {Rue} ) - possibly a limited edition item

Baiastice_J&Js Fairy Avatar Eyelashes

Mermaid Salvage shell top (store now only on marketplace)

Vintage Octopus tattoo (cheap and tintable!)

JASstore SeaSpirit necklace (with little animated bubbles!)

Hudson's Unisex Octopus jewellery bracelet (from Steampunk hunt)

Humanoid avatar:

[PXL] Skin 'Kate' Cracked (gift from Halloween gatcha, ask Rudh where she got it!)

Lemania Indigo Hologram Mini with shoes

*free* octopussysocks from Starlust Monster Beach Party on TwoMoons - I made the cute prim ruffles myself, modded from a neck ruff from a different LI outfit.

I didn't carry on the story past her first transformation (it had gone on long enough and I didn't have any pictures to correspond with actual dancing, as the club was empty when I visited) so I'll just add here that the cracks on her skin are from when she's been dancing all night and it's starting to dry out. People assume the horns are a headdress and the eyes are contacts... you wouldn't want to cuddle her though, she has a very low body temperature!


  1. WOW... such a great twist on the original story. Finding the labyrinth was awesome luck, and I'm glad you didn't dwell on the transformation too long that, knowing how you are suffering with the fibromagigga, sounds terrible! I really hope you are taking it easy. The tentacles were a great find too, the saddle seems to make them somewhat more realistic I think. Seeing some of the octomer avis that just flow into the tentacles always strikes me as a little strange!!! Still this is definitely one of the most interesting posts for the colour challenge by ANYONE so far hehe!!! Loving it and will use this story over the Disney story if I ever have children hehe!

  2. Fascinating blend of Hans Andersen and Greek legend! The stories meld together seamlessly - well done! The octomer is a lovely character - maybe her name is Cecelia?! It would be interesting to read a sequel. The dancing sequences with the tentacles are quite beautiful and I'm sure she'd be really graceful at the human dance.

  3. Wow that's a pretty involved post! You must have spend quite a lot of time on that. But I sort of got stuck at the first sentence actually... TENTACLE FURNITURE?! Shouldn't be surprised I guess ;)

  4. i was a week behind following your blog. In the middle of the night when i was awake because of coughing i read your whole story. it was like a bedtime story for me. You write very good Fledge. Loved the story and go to bed again now ..bye bye , Nic
    I was startled to read about your pains because of neurofibromyalgia. But this is such a good way to help relief your pains a bit: " I decided the pain of the little Octomer's transformation would be transitory " )))