Dalbergia Research’s official accounts on social media announced “with great sorrow” the death of Paige Mirabeau. She was known as Mistress Paige Mirabeau in older times, when she was the most popular and influential BDSM and D/s (Dominance & Submission) blogger for the community of Dalbergia’s MetaMondo virtual world – or MM for short.
Her blog, Mirabeau’s World, had started out as a personal – and often very intimate – journal of her D/s relationships, her experiences within the fetish community, and as an advice column for those who wanted to make the most of their fetish-centred relationships. At some point, though, it morphed into something far more mainstream, focusing on MM destinations, art reviews, and developments related to MM and virtual worlds in general. This greatly boosted her popularity and influence. She soon became the go-to source for all sorts of information for every user of the platform.
The news of her passing spread like wildfire. Hundreds of MM residents rushed to her social media profiles to tell themselves and others – as she was no longer around to read these comments – how much she would be missed, how great she was to the community. Even some people she didn’t get along with. Naturally, MM’s entire Inner Sanctum paid their respects, waxing lyrical about her contributions and her kindness, using verbiage of all shades of purple and of all degrees of insincerity.
But what is this Inner Sanctum? At a first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking of them as as MM’s equivalent of your high school’s “cool kids”; the popular ones, the ones whose opinion determines one’s place in the school’s food chain. In MM, the Inner Sanctum is a colloquial term for a loosely-knit group of extremely popular, and well-connected with Dalbergia staff, early adopters, content creators, artists, and bloggers; there were rumours of varying veracity that they get preferential treatment by the company. What is true, however, is that, in the eyes of far too many people, they could do no wrong and that they could ostracise you if they decided they didn’t like you.
Not everyone was as devastated by Mirabeau’s death; there was someone who had distanced herself from the Inner Sanctum, and chose to say nothing. Not at the time of her death, not a few days later, not a month later. Two years after Paige died, however, she posted on her personal blog the following poem:
You died – and so, you too became:
A fountain of wisdom, a mentor, a paragon of virtue, the Lady of Lórien.
A dozen wreaths escorted you; five influencers’ speeches,
And thirty-six resolutions honouring your wonderful contributions.
Yet, only I knew what a scoundrel you truly were!
A counterfeit penny, a whole existence built on lies!
Rest in peace, o Lady; I shan’t come to disturb your serenity. After all,
When the time comes for me to redeem my life I’ve lived in silence,
It’ll fetch a price far higher than that your pathetic stiff’s.
Sleep in peace. As you were always in life:
A fountain of wisdom, a mentor, a paragon of virtue, the Lady of Lórien.
You shan’t be the first, you surely shan’t be the last.
That was all she wrote. Her somewhat cryptic post didn’t attract a lot of attention at first. After all, gone were the days when her blog gathered more than a hundred views per day. In the wake of her separation from Paige, she had effectively stopped writing for nearly four years, and the vast majority of her readers went away – ironically, mostly to Paige. Many of them never came back, even after Arianna resumed blogging.
Even so, only a handful of residents still remembered Paige’s post from seven years ago about how “humbled” she was when the owners of Lórien, a twenty-sim collection of highly photogenic in-world destinations, created her as Lady of Lórien, so the reference was lost on most. About three months later, Charles Moser, one of Lórien’s owners caught wind of Arianna’s post and visited her, demanding “explanations” and threatening to ban her from his sims.
“I have nothing to explain, Charlie,” said Arianna. “It’s none of your business anyway.”
“None of my business? You’re dragging Paige’s name through the mud and, by doing so, you’re also making me and Edward look like we’ve given some sort of noble title to a despicable person!”
“For one, what I write is none of your business. Deal with it. After all, I know you had said the same when your beloved Paige pulled that fatal crosspost on me.”
“What do you mean?” he said defensively.
“Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about, Charlie,” said Arianna. Her head, fully covered by her shiny latex hood, was fixed in his direction. He knew that, if her eyes were visible, she’d be glaring at him. He was taken aback; he was hoping to come in, guns blazing, to take down that insolent, latex-covered scrapyard mongrel. “You were there when it happened,” she continued.
“W-When…?” he asked.
“Valentine’s Day, 2015. At Candy Midnight’s party,” she said calmly, but sternly. “In public chat. Do you remember what she said?”
“I honestly don’t remember,” he responded, looking away as he frantically typed his answer.
“Yes, you do, Charlie. Otherwise, finding the ‘right’ answer wouldn’t have taken you so long, and you wouldn’t have typed it so quickly after finally finding it. Would you like me to freshen up your memory a little? She said to her new plaything ‘oh, Arianna? She’s someone I’d once made the mistake of allowing her to think I’m her Mistress.’ Those were her exact words, Charlie. Ring a bell?”
“I think I remember. I don’t know what to say,” he said.
“That’s not my problem, Charlie,” she said, in a tone more ruthless than before. “That fatal crosspost, which I now, with the benefit of hindsight, have come to think was not accidental, was the final straw in a long series of emotional abuses on her behalf. Of course, to you and the rest of the Inner Sanctum she could do no wrong. After all, I’m just an outlier and she was one of your clique. One of the ‘cool kids’. I had to go through all of her shit alone, while you all heaped praise and adoration at my abuser’s feet. So, since what happened between me and Paige then was none of your business, it’s none of your business now, and so is how I handle it. As for your threats of banning me from your sims, go right ahead.”
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Absolutely,” she responded coldly. “First of all, your response wasn’t what a dignified person would give. If you had dignity, you’d simply say ‘I’m sorry.’ Instead, you asked me if I’m sure I don’t care if you ban me from your sims, which shows you only care about ‘punishing’ me for speaking out about what I’ve been through. That doesn’t make you a host I care for, Charlie.”
“Fine, then,” he said angrily. “If that’s what you wish.”
“I’m not finished, Charlie. Learn how to listen. Second, knowing your ties with Paige, I’d chosen not to visit your sims, much less write about them, since 2014. What makes you think I’ll reverse my decision now? And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have better things to do than have you here, throwing around your privilege and weight, and trying to pull rank on me.”
“What would make you happy, then?”
“By this, you mean ‘what would it take to convince you to take down your post’, I suppose?”
“Yes. What would it take?”
“Nothing. I want you to leave me alone. And I’m not taking down my post, period. As for that title you gave her, it was entirely unimportant; all you did was give her a silly honorific that further inflated her already bloated ego.”
“Then why did you refer to her by it?”
“Do you want the short answer or the long answer?”
“The short will be fine.”
“Is that the short answer?” he asked in disbelief.
“Yes. Happy now? Anyway… I’ve got things to do, Charlie. If you’re upset that I referred to someone by a nickname you gave her, that’s not my problem, and there’s nothing you can do about it. At worst, you can ostracise me – oh wait. Paige had taken care of that after the fatal crosspost, to deflect blame from her. But that’ll work only with Inner Sanctum groupies.”
“Fine,” he said, clearly angered, and teleported out. Arianna never bothered to find out if he went through with his threat to ban her from his sims.
– – –
1 This poem was inspired by Greek poet Manolis Anagnostakis’ poem “Επιτύμβιον“.