A Piratical Legacy Chapter 21 - ARRR-ound the World in 80 Days
Chapter 21 – ARRR-ound the World in 80 DaysHello Dear Readers and welcome back to A Piratical Legacy.Recap:In the last installment of A Piratical Legacy, the three oldest scions of house Buccaneer went to college, where they learned of a fourth familymember who had been separated from the rest of the family years earlier. The reunion was a happy one, and for a time it seemed the family wouldfinally heal from old, old wounds.In the end, however, old indiscretions came to light and the heir of the family, Gertie, found out that she was not a member of the Buccaneer line atall and thus ineligible for heirship. She fled to parts unknown, and this proved to be the last strain her parents marriage could handle. Marie alsoleft, and as Roche set out to find his daughter, the rest of the family wondered - who would be heir?
Grace Buccaneer hung up the phone with a dull thunk. Bringing her hands up to her face, she burst into tears.
Some hours later, after a long nap, she and her siblings sat heir? Grandfather Pao says that Gertie is ineligible. That means onethemselves around their kitchen table to discuss the matter. of us has to do it. And I certainly dont want to settle down.""Gerties gone," Will said, shaking his partly bleached blond head. "I "I dont think Id be the best choice," Nick said sadly. "I want to getcant believe shed just up and run like that." married to Green, hes a playable.""And its worse, if Grandfather is to be believed," Nick said sadly. "Guess itll have to be one of the three of us, then," Grace said,"Moms moved out, and dads taken off to find Gertie. Grandfather is nodding to Will and Anna.all alone in the house... and hes getting so old and frail. Im worriedabout him, guys." "Youre the only one who wants it," Will said. "But lets just get through university first, okay? Theres a bit of time to decide, still.""And then theres the other question," Anna sighed. "Whos to be
That evening, Green stopped by to see how his lover was taking thesad news of the dissolution of his family. With a shy smile through his tears, Nick produced a small velvet box from his pocket."Its really hard," Nick said sadly, tears coursing down his cheeks."But, Green... you wont ever let us fall apart like that, will you? My "Fine, then you can have this," he said softly.parents had the perfect marriage, or so it always seemed... yet theymanaged to fail. Promise me that we wont ever ... end up like them." "Sparkles!" Green exclaimed. "Eeee!""Of course," Green said. "Now Im definitely out of the running," Nick smirked.
Half a world away from the Paris suburb where his children abode, Roche Buccaneer prepared to go on a journey."I think the police said she got on a plane bound for the Twikkii Islands," he murmured to himself as he hoisted his suitcase into the taxi. Thepolice report had been hard to hear over the sound of the coffee grinder at the Starbucks that had recently been added to the police station. "Fine...Ill start there."
The very first thing Roche did when he arrived in the largest village on Twikkii Island was jump into the one of the many hot springs the islandwas famous for. Then he went on a tour to check out the local scenery. And then, armed with a picture of his beloved daughter, he started looking.
"Have you seen this girl?" he asked the first local he saw once hed gotten down to business.The lady, another tourist by the look of things, contemplated the photo for several minutes before answering."You know," she said thoughtfully, "I think I may have... let me think..."
"Ah, yes," the woman said with a smile. "It was several weeks ago, at least, and not long after sunset. Id just arrived on the island and headed tothese ruins before I even checked into my hotel. It was such a beautiful morning, too."I remember your girl because she was pretty well the only other person here, aside from the local staff," the woman continued. "She looked a littlelost, out of place."
"The very first thing she did was head right to Jumbok IVs shrine. She stared at it for a long moment. I noticed because I was doing the samething. It sort of catches you off guard the first time you see it."At first I thought she was going to act like a lot of the silly tourists we get around here. They like to toss soap powder into the spring to see if itwill foam up. But she didnt."
"No, instead she walked right up to the shrine, tossed something into it, and ... well, I dont know what she was wishing or praying for, but I hopeshe got it. She sounded kind of upset. Or hungry - it was hard to tell over the sound of the waterfall.""Did you hear what she said?" Roche asked."Sorry," the woman sounded genuinely regretful. "The roar of the falls was too loud. I didnt hear a thing." She gave Roche an appraising look. "Ihope you find your young lady," she added sincerely, patting his arm. "She looked like she needed a friend." She paused for a moment. "Orpossibly a sandwich."
Roche thanked the woman for her time and decided to visit the gift shop next. Though Gertie was not of his blood, he had the raising of her and ifshe had been shaped in any way by that raising, she would have gravitated to the souvenir rack."Have you seen this girl?" Roche asked the young-looking clerk, flashing a recent snapshot of Gertie.
"Actually, I have," the young man replied. "She looked a bit older than your picture, though. Bought one each of the palm trees and the chest. Saidshe was starting a collection, actually. I noticed her cause she seemed really cute," the youth continued. "A bit old for me, though."
Roche was ecstatic - Gertie really had spent some time here! Hedecided to reward himself with another trip to the local hot springs, "Cara," the woman said, smiling and extending a hand.but this time he brought Gerties picture with him. "Roche.""You look like a tourist, almost," a pretty local girl chuckled, takingin Roches swim trunks. "That is not the style of the islands at all, "It is funny, Roche," Cara continued in her lilting accent. "You arefriend. Your hair, though... all you are missing is a pirate hat!" almost reminding me of someone I met a few weeks ago... not in your appearance, no... but in the way you are talking.""Nice to know Im blending in," Roche chuckled. "Im not a local, butI come from a long and respectable line of pirates, maam." "Really?" Roche asked, suddenly alert. "What did she look like?"
"She was very pretty, and very young, I was thinking," Cara said. "It was in the hot springs at the ruins, not here. I only spoke to her for a moment,but I remember thinking that she was very young to be travelling on her own like that."
"I felt sorry for her, so I offered to show her around the islands a bit," Cara continued. "She was quite enamoured of our local delicacies, I must betelling you. She seemed determined to learn as much about the islands as she could, as well." Cara paused thoughtfully for a moment. "You know,no matter how much pineapple surprise Gertie ate, she never did look full. Always hungry."
"She went on tours, and said she was going to learn the hula and the hang loose. She was a lot of fun. I do miss her and wish I had a chance to beknowing her better, Roche. But she left some time ago and I do not know where she went. Why are you looking for her?""She is my daughter," Roche said, his voice echoing his despair. "She ran away from home...""I trust that you will find her, in time," Cara said, smiling winningly. "Someone on the island must know where Gertie went. If you keep looking,you will find the answer soon enough."
Feeling heartened by Caras words, Roche decided to try the Pineapple Surprise himself. He was pleased to discover that it was quite tasty. Being aPleasure sim, he then had another.Then he went into his room and jumped on the bed for a bit, and then the couch, which cheered him up a bit.Then he soaked in the hot springs again.He looked everywhere for a bubble blower, but the island natives didnt run towards that sort of recreation, much to his dismay.With a sigh, Roche resumed the hunt, though he was startled to discover a whole day had passed since hed talked to Cara.
That night, Roche decided to visit a local beach to see if anyone there had seen Gertie--and how recently they had seen her."I do remember this girl," the firedancer said after scrutinizing the photo. "She was a good student. She spent much time on the beach with me...and with others."
"It was a rainy day when I saw her," the man continued. "Very wet and unpleasant, with much lightning in the sky. It didnt deter Gertie, though,and she learned very quickly.""Did she tell you where she was planning to go next?" Roche asked."Alas, no," the fire dancer shrugged. "Once she had learned that fire dancing is not an approved culinary method or disreputable mystic tradition,she left me. But she spent a lot of time on the beach. It wouldnt surprise me if someone else had spoken with her and knew more about her futureplans. I do not think she is on the island any longer."
Roche sighed and returned to the beach early the next morning. It was pretty deserted that time of day, but he hoped that the crowds would arrivelater on. Until then he would just have to work on his tan.Well, and maybe build a sandcastle or two.Swim in the ocean?Hey, hes a pirate and a Pleasure sim. Mixing work and play is second nature to that kind of guy.
Roche had bronzed nicely by the time more tourists and locals had arrived at the beach. He spoke to several, but none remembered talking toGertie."Of course," one woman added, batting her eyes flirtatiously, "I havent been here very long. Maybe you and I can check around some of the localsights for her together, later?""Uh, thanks but I think I have to do this on my own," Roche said awkwardly. He found the womans attention flattering, but didnt really feel hewas ready for any sort of romantic relationship yet, no matter how casual.Although, as the woman walked away, Roche did suddenly have the urge to ask her out on a date. That would put him up to five first dates, if hewas counting correctly. But no, he had to find Gertie first. He shook his head and focused on the task at hand.
Roche took advantage of his time at the beach. When he wasnt busy questioning tourists and locals, he dug for sea shells and built sandcastles. Heswum in the ocean. And he began to feel some of the stress and anger hed been bottling up for so long melt away. He felt guilty, too, for his part inthe unhappiness that had plagued his family during his tenure as heir. He knew he was responsible for a large part of it. And at last, he finallybegan to feel some peace over what had happened."Sure, Ive seen that girl!" one stranger said in response to Roches questions while they built a sandcastle together.
"It was two or three weeks ago. She was hanging out on the beach, and it was raining pretty hard. Most of us ran for shelter, but not that girl. Shewas digging for treasure in the sand and wasnt finding anything, but she kept saying something about knowing it was around here somewhere. Ithink she was looking for a treasure map.""A treasure map?" Roche asked eagerly. "What sort of treasure map?"
"I couldnt tell you," the tourist shrugged. "A few minutes later, she got zapped by a bolt of lightning. Took the wind right out of her, let me tell you.The lifeguards spent a fair bit of time working on her before she was back to normal. Well, if you consider scorched hair and eyebrows normal."
"Oh, yeah, I remember her," a local lad chimed in. "She stopped by again the next day and seemed pretty fine. I dont think she was more thanshaken up. She spent the rest of the day sunbathing, though - said she was recovering. Or possibly grilling. I dont really remember."
"Uh huh," a third passer-by added. "She didnt get back to looking for that treasure map until about a week later... oh... maybe ten or so days ago?And she definitely found a few other things while she was looking! Finally, I suggested that she talk to Captain Dregg, in the pirate ship wreck.""Aww, Captain Dregg doesnt exist," the first tourist said scornfully."I wouldnt be so sure about that," the local youth laughed. "He might take it a bit amiss, you dismissing him like that." The teen turned to Roche."Mister, I suggest you talk to old Captain Dregg yourself. He doesnt miss much that happens on the island - maybe hell know where yourdaughter took herself off to. And whether she found that treasure map."
Roche shrugged and headed up to the pirate ship after asking exactly how he could contact the mysterious and spectral Captain Dregg. He wassomewhat skeptical, so he took his time exploring the ship before getting down to business."Arrrr! Th Dread Pirate Buccaneer be king o these waters!" he cried. "Ahoy, mateys! Make way fer your chief!"
"Arr!" he cried from the top of the crow’s-nest. "If only Grandpa Jack could see me now! Hed be proud of me living up to my Piratical heritage,savvy? Once Gerties been found the entire familys going to have to come here... and well bring Grandpa Jack, too!"But at last he could delay no longer. He climbed down from the crow’s-nest and, taking a deep breath, dashed into the captains cabin.
"Aaaaaaaah!" he shrieked, running down the gangplank and off of the ship. scurvy lubber?""Its only a wee ghostie," the local teen who had given him so much "Ill have you know that I come from a long line of devious and disreputableinformation earlier snorted. "Get back up there, Roche, and talk to the pirates," Roche said proudly.Captain." "Arr?"Roche changed his shorts and marched back aboard the beached ship... "Captain Jack Buccaneer was my great-grandfather," Roche added."Arrr!" the ghost cried, playing his accordion frantically and humming a seachantey. "That be true, mate?" Captain Dregg asked interestedly. "Hes okay, I guess. For a bear.""Arrrrr?" "Annoying, too," Roche smirked under his breath. "But Im here on serious"ARRR!!" business, Captain. My daughter ran away from home about two months ago and Ive been searching for her ever since. One of the locals said that you"ARRRRRR!!!" talked to her."The ghost broke into a grin. "Avast! And what can I be doin for ye, ye
"Oh aye, I remember her, mate," Captain Dregg said in a slow voice after looking carefully at Gerties picture. "A fine pirate lass she was, too.But... sad, aye? She had the feelin of someone who was searchin for answers, savvy? We chatted for a bit, and I gave her a map to see the WitchDoctor. Hes better at dealin with people than I be, mate, and th girl needed someone to talk to. Not to mention, hes a better cook whenever ismicrowave isnt on the fritz, savvy?""You know, you sound a lot like my great-grandfather," Roche told the pirate captain."Arr! We was at school together!""Grandpa Jack went to school?""Ah... spose I should say we was thrown out o school together."
"Witch doctor, did ye--er, did you say?" Roche asked uncertainly."Arr!" Captain Dregg agreed. He rummaged around in his pocket and handed Roche a moldy old piece of ethereal paper that turned solid theinstant it touched Roches fingers. "Here be the map, aye? When ye see im, tell im I sent ye, savvy?""Gotcha," Roche said, shoving the precious piece of paper into his pocket. He saluted the old pirate."Arr! Tis nice t see a youngun who kens the respect due his superiors," the pirate crowed, hauling out his accordion once more.
Not wanting to waste any time, Roche changed back into his regular A few hours later, the machines were mended and Roche none theclothes and headed quickly to the witch doctors hut. The oddly worse for wear other than a singed thumb and a slightly damp jacketdressed and masked man stared at him a long moment, then grunted (the dishwasher had shot him with a jet of hot water while he workedand pointed to his malfunctioning modern appliances. on it). He looked around the hut and was startled to find the witch doctor staring at him."What is this, some sort of test?" Roche demanded. The strange manignored him and walked right out of the hut and off to his hammock. "Now, what you need?" the mystic mumbled from behind his mask."Right..." Roche sighed. He got to work repairing the recalcitrant "Im looking for my daughter," Roche said, showing the medicinecircuitry. man a picture.
"Oh yes," the strange man replied. "Her, I remember. She has left the island, for good I think. Why do you seek her?""To let her know that even though we arent tied by blood, theres more to family than just that," Roche said. "And to let her know that sheswelcome to return home.""Ah," the man said. He was silent for several moments. "Ah."
"Your daughter came to see me because she wanted to find a path to truth and happiness," the mystic continued. "She had much sadness and angerin her, yet much kindness also. After she passed my test, we spoke for some time and she told me of that which troubles her."I comforted her and told her that the recipe she seeks is not here, but that I knew where she could find it, maybe. She would have to leave TwikkiiIsland and seek out the Wise Old Man of Takemizu."
"Before she left, though, I gave her something to help her in her travels, for I fear she has a long road still ahead of her," the conjurer continued."While her journey is mostly a maturing of the mind and palate, there are many possible obstacles and I wanted to do my part to ease her path, forher quest is a noble one."
"And now I give a similar gift to you," the warlock said warily. "Use "And now, Roche, I have some words of wisdom to give to you asit to aid you in your search for your daughter, and not for harm. I will well. Follow your heart, and you shall find your daughter and regainknow if you have abused my gift and will react accordingly." much of the happiness you have lost. Where once you walked in paths of darkness and misery, now you have arisen from the valley of"Thank you," Roche said fervently. "My daughter is in Takemizu despair, and happiness seeks you."Village, is she? Well, Ill just have to catch up with her. How longago did she leave?" "Uh, thanks," Roche said awkwardly. "If youll excuse me?""Maybe seven days ago," the witch doctor shrugged. "More or less. I "Go to your daughter," the witch doctor laughed. "And safe journeys.do not pay much attention to the passage of time." Farewell, Roche the Pirate."
It was a few days before Roche was able to continue on his journey,so he checked in with the rest of his family. "True," Roche nodded. "So? What is Orikes like?""Dont worry, dad, were doing great," Grace said reassuringly into "Oh, youll like her, dad," Grace reassured him. "Shes a Pleasurethe phone. "In fact, Will even has a girlfriend!" sim. Loves bouncing on couches. Shell fit right in with this crazy family.""Really? Who?" Roche was delighted. "Excellent," Roche grinned to himself. "Well, gotta go, Grace. Tell"A Simself named Orikes!" Grace said. "You know, this is two the others Im sorry to have missed them, but my flight boards in tengenerations in a row where spares have married simselves." minutes. Ill email when I get to Takemizu."
"Your legacy-deity is rather brave, bringing in so many simselves," Orikes mentioned to Will as they sat down to bowls of chilli. "You wouldntbelieve the havoc theyre wreaking in Terra Lostunda. Perma-winter. Legacy villains. Its all rather a mess.""Meh, I dont think they do much here," Will shrugged. "Except marry hot spares."
"Gee, thanks Susanna," Tycho Biggs said, stretching in appreciation as Susanna finished her massage."Not a problem," Susanna grinned. She leaned in a little closer. "Hey, if you lay down on my bed I can give you a full body massage. But, uh, youshould probably take your shirt off first."Susanna definitely knew what she wanted and had a few tricks up her sleeve to ensure she got it.
"Its been great seeing you, Ori," Will grinned, and kissed his date. "Youll be free again soon?""Definitely," Orikes said. "I cant wait to see how bouncy your couch is!" Will raised an eyebrow, and Orikes blushed, then swatted him. "Youknow what I meant!"
A little while later, Roche found himself checking into a moderately priced hotel in luxurious Takemizu Village."Room one-oh-six," the bellhop said. "Just around the corner and down the hall. Now, Mr. Buccaneer, is there anything else I can help you with?""As a matter of fact..." Roche said, pulling Gerties picture out of his wallet. "My daughter ran away from home, oh, about six months ago. Fromwhat Ive been able to figure out, she arrived here about three weeks ago. Maybe youve seen her? This village isnt that big.""Well, we do have a fair few visitors in and out of the place," the bellhop said. But he gave the picture a look anyway.
"Yknow," he said, squinting a bit, "she looks like someone my brother said stayed at his hotel a while back. Shes been gone for a bit, though, Ithink. Ill give him a call and see if she put a forwarding address on the register when she checked out.""Id appreciate that."
This time, Roche decided to immerse himself in local culture before he began searching properly. It would give the bellhop time to get back to him,as well. While he was a bit clumsy with some of the local gestures, the Takemizans seemed to think it was funny.
Feeling a bit more confident in his knowledge of local culture, Roche felt he was ready to start looking properly. The bellhop hadnt turned up adecent lead, so it was time to try other angles.Roche went for a walk and found a local tour pickup point after only a few minutes."Girl have this you seen?" he asked in halting Takemizan. "Daughter she mine is."The tour guide stared at him blankly for several moments before responding.
"You need a better dictionary, mister," she said in perfect, unaccented English. "But I did see your daughter a while back. She took one of ourhelicopter tours. Said something about taking time to learn a bit more about Takemizan culture before approaching the Master."
"Yes," the tour guide continued, smiling as she reminisced, "I remember that particular tour pretty well. The entire group got attacked by a swarmof maddened hornets as they were leaving and a whole bunch got into the helicopter. They managed to keep them out of the cockpit, but they werestill spitting mad when the tour group got out. Chased your daughter for quite some time before she was able to get away!"
"Hmmm," Roche said to himself as he digested the tour guides tale. "I bet Gertie was pretty uncomfortable after that. Ill bet she headed to the spa.Id better head to the spa too."It didnt take long to get directions."I bet she needed a soothing acupressure massage," Roche added as he looked at the signboard at the spa entrance. Humming the sea chanteyjauntily, he made his way to the massage parlour and waved Gerties picture at the masseuse. "Roche name mine be!" he said cheerfully to thewoman. "Offspring for I digging am."The masseuse giggled, then hurriedly composed herself before answering in English.
"You know, I think I do remember your daughter. She was very interested in learning acupressure massage, actually. She came for several lessonsbut in the end I found her quite competent.""Did she ever say what her plans were, or where she might go next?" Roche asked eagerly, dropping back into English himself."Not really, but you might want to ask Ninja," the masseuse replied. "He knows almost everything that happens in the village. Just tell him TaraCho sent you. He should be willing to help you if you can pass his test.""But Im a Pirate!" Roche protested. "Ninjas are my mortal enemy!""Well, maybe youd best keep looking for your daughter the hard way," Tara shrugged.
"If it helps, I did see her eating chirashi the stand in the spa lounge as well. Maybe she talked to the chef."
However, the chef had no information for Roche. "Sorry, mate, she didnt really say anything, just shoveled the food down like it was going out ofstyle," he said with a shrug. "You should look for Ninja. He knows everything.""And where am I likely to find this Ninja?" Roche asked with an unpleasant shudder."Check out the Zen gardens or the lucky shrine," the local chef suggested.Accordingly, Roche soon found himself grooming a very large Zen garden. As he raked, he could feel more stress melting away."I gotta get me one of these," he said to himself.He continued raking, but by the time hed finished, the Ninja still hadnt appeared.
Taking a deep breath, Roche walked up to the nearest local and bowed respectfully. The man bowed back with a solemn expression."Come does ever the Ninja here or somewhere else try I should?" he asked in Takemizan once the normal pleasantries had been exchanged.The man stared at him in confusion. Then he grabbed Roches dictionary and threw it into the nearest koi pond.
"Come and share tea," the man suggested. "Then tell me what it isyou seek." "Ninja would know where she is," Pong said, sipping his tea."Uh, okay," Roche said in English, staring disconsolately at his "Thats what everyone keeps telling me," Roche said. "But I haventwaterlogged translation guide. "Was my Takemizan really that bad?" had any luck finding him.""Worse," the man shuddered. He poured the tea. "I am Pong. Who "Sometimes he is here," Pong said. "Sometimes he is elsewhere. Ifare you?" not here, try the shrine. Where the mahjongg tables are.""Roche," the Piratical heir said. "And Im looking for my daughter "Thanks," Roche said with a bright smile. He finished his tea,Gertie, who is missing." exchanged farewells with Pong, and headed towards the shrine.
When he got there, Roche found that everybody was inside playing mahjongg, so he insinuated himself into a game with two fellow tourists and alocal girl."So," he said once the game had started. "Anybody seen my missing daughter? Or perhaps a Ninja?""Why are you looking for Ninja?" the local girl asked."Im told Ninja knows everything," Roche replied. "My daughter, who ran away from home some time ago, was spotted in Takemizu Village.Everybody says that Ninja would know where shes gone.""Ninja does know much," the girl nodded. "Do you have a picture of this girl?"Roche nodded and pulled one out.
"Ah, yes," the girl replied. "I met her briefly. She played mahjongg for several weeks with my uncle Abhijeet. He said later that she was looking forNinja, so she came to the shrine to pass the time. It is said that Ninja spends most of his free hours here."
"It took Ninja several days to show up here," the girl added. "Your daughter was a very bad mahjongg player, and Uncle Abhijeet won a fair bit ofmoney off of her. Not that she seemed destitute or anything. She actually gave off quite an air of not needing money.""Thats my girl," Roche grinned. "So, if I hang about will I meet this Ninja, do you think?""Quite probably," the girl said. "Actually, he should be here tonight..."
Bouncing with eagerness, Roche returned to his hotel to sleep for a fewhours before returning to the shrine at nightfall. "Since when?" Roche asked.He hadnt been there very long when *pop* the Ninja appeared... out of thin "Since The Book was written!" the Ninja said, brandishing a dog-earedair! hardcover momentarily before stuffing it back into his robes."Ninja!" Roche cried, spotting his quarry. "Wait a minute..." Roche said. "I recognize that book. Thats Grandpa Jacks book!""Pirate!" the Ninja cried in an angry voice. "My sworn enemy!" And hedrew a lethal-looking blade. "You are descended from Jack the Ninja?" Ninja asked warily."Wait!" Roche cried as the Ninja rushed at him. "I need to talk to you!" "Ninja?" Roche snorted. "Grandpa Jack was a Pirate! A scurvy old dog, as a matter of fact! That book was his best-selling work of fiction!""Talk?" the Ninja said scornfully, lowering his blade slightly. "A Ninja doesnot talk to Pirates!" The Ninja stared at him. "...oh."
"Listen," Roche said. "Im told you see everything that happens here. Im looking for my daughter, Gertie. This is her picture. Did you see her onthe island?""I did," the Ninja said, studying the picture. He still shot Roche hostile glares from time to time. "I taught her a few tricks as well. But it wasnt thesecret of teleportation she wanted. No, she wanted to find the old man.""Old man?" Roche asked."Yes," Ninja replied. "The old wise one, who lives up in the hills. She sought his wisdom and his recipe book to find completion.""Can you tell me where to find him?" Roche asked.
"I would not tell your daughter," Ninja sniffed. "And I will not tell you. It is a journey that must be made by all who seek out the wise ones wisdom.Your daughter wished at the shrine for guidance."
"Whether she got it or not," he added as he prepared to flip out of sight again, "I have no idea. But I did not see her again after that."Roche spent many days at the shrine, seeking knowledge. He found poison ivy. He found bees. He found elder-like incontinence occasionally. Butat last, he found what he was looking for.
Without a word, Roche walked up to the old man who sat meditating on the wooden floor. He bowed deeply."Yes?" the old man said in a high-pitched voice."I think you are the only one who can help me," Roche said."I do not help people," the man said in a firm voice. "You must learn to help yourself, Roche.""How do you know my name?" Roche asked."I saw that you would come as I meditated over my sandwich yesterday," the man said. Slowly, he stood up and gestured that Roche should pourtea.
Roche complied with a bemused expression."So," he said once they both held cups of the steaming liquid, "you meditate over sandwiches, do you?""Not just any sandwich," the man corrected. "Grilled cheese sandwiches, my young apprentice.""Hey, Im not interested in the path of cheese," Roche said, putting up his hand. "Nor an apprenticeship.""Pity," the old man said, and sipped his tea.After several moments of unnerving silence, Roche found his voice again. "Fine, Ill bite."
"Your daughter is very like you," the old man continued. "In demeanor, temperament. She was reluctant to join the path of cheese as well. She hadnearly reached her lifetime goal of twenty best friends when she sought my teachings."But I was able to convince her, in the end."
"You mean Gerties now a Grilled Cheese sim?" Roche asked, surprise coloring his tone."I thought I just said that," the wise old man said in a peevish voice. "Your daughter was a lot better at listening than you are as well, myapprentice.""Catch em young," Roche said, shrugging philosophically.The wise old man stared at him for a long moment, then laughed. "Perhaps you are right," he admitted. "The young are traditionally much morereceptive to such things. Fine, Roche, I will help you even if you dont convert to the Way. But only because I like you."
"Your daughter was very troubled," the wise man continued. "She felt that she didnt really belong anywhere, and she was uncertain that evencheese would hold the answer. I think I was able to reassure her, though - cheese may not be the answer to life, the universe, and everything--""Nope, thats forty-two!" Roche interrupted.The man glared at him. "As I was saying, I did let her know that there was more to life than just cheese. I encouraged her to embrace all cultures,all tribes, all creeds. If she felt that she belonged to nobody, she should make an effort to belong to everyone."
"And?" Roche asked. "What did she say?" called Three Lakes," the old man said. Roche jumped to his feet, but the man held up his hand. "Dont leave so quickly, my apprentice. IThe wise one sighed. "She seemed uncertain, though after all our may not have converted you to the Way, but I still feel compelled totime together she still felt strongly about the Way. I suggested that share with you a tale, one that very few know these days. Guard it,she continue her journeys - maybe the small peace she found in a share it, and keep it in your mind and maybe you will find someslice of camembert would spread throughout her being like the aroma peace as well."of an especially vintage chunk of gorgonzola." When Roche left the Pagoda in the Shadows, he was amazed to find"Do you know where she was planning to go?" that two years had passed during what had felt like hours to him. He had a lot to catch up on while he waited for his flight to Canada."Well, she said something about Canada, a place in the Rockies
Daddy,I know you havent written in a while, but I have some fantastic news for you. Pierce and his girlfriend Rani got engaged! Its so exciting. Were allsuper happy for them and Im sending you a copy of the ring picture.If you are in Paris in a few weeks, stop by Arravast. Were throwing an engagement party for them on the twentieth.Love,Grace
Dad?Where are you? Are you okay? You still havent responded to the last message I sent! Grandpa says he hasnt heard from you either.Were all doing well still. Susannas sleeping with her professor to bump up her grades and the rest of us are disgusted with her, although hermethod does seem to be working. Yknow, for all that she and I are twins we arent very much alike in a lot of ways. We look alike but we definitelyact differently!For one thing, I havent seen Lee in ages, and for another hes not my actual professor. Hes Morgans.Write soon, Daddy, and let us know youre okay! Please?-- Grace
I dont even know if youll ever see this, Dad. The police say they have no idea where you are.I thought I would let you know that Morgan and her girlfriend Kelly got engaged. Theyre happy, but were all so worried about you. Susannathinks youre alive still, but I dont know. I hope you are.If you do get this... Nick, Will, Anna and I graduate on May 12th. Please come, if you can.-- Grace
Roche felt horrible. He hadnt realized so much time had passed during his tutelage under the wise old man. He started to compose an email in theairport boarding lounge, gave up, and called his kids instead."When are you coming back?" Grace asked."Soon, I think," Roche promised. "After all, how hard could it possibly to find Gertie in Canada, eh?""Very funny, Dad," Grace snorted and hung up.When Roches plane landed in Calgary he immediately caught a shuttle to Banff, then hiked to the remote mountain village of Three Lakes. Hefound a campsite and then headed off to the food stand for a meal of flapjacks.
"Gertie?" the local chef said, his voice surprised. "Of course I know Gertie. Shes one of my best customers! Not to mention a local celebrity - shewon the axe toss at the last Lumbermans Festival, you know. Why do you ask?""Shes here?" Roche breathed."Of course shes here!" the cook said. "Why, I dont know what this town would do without Gertie, even if she does have some strange ideas aboutcookery.""Where can I find her?" Roche asked desperately.
"Thats a good question," a local named Wilma interjected, butting into the conversation. She waved at the cook as he turned to deal with anotherpatron. "Gwan, Henry. Ill talk to this here tourist, eh?""I appreciate this," Roche said as they strolled through the campground."Taint no problem, hon," Wilma said. "Gerties a friend of all ours. Lives somewhere out in the woods, yknow."
"She ventures into town occasionally for supplies and such," Wilma added. "And shes always joinin in the community games and the like. Shes achampion log-roller."
Feeling extremely heartened, Roche decided that his best bet in finding Gertie would be hanging around town as much as possible. He was boundto run into her.During one such community venture, he saw a group of individuals doing a very strange-looking dance."Its the slap dance," one of them explained. "And it goes a little like this, eh?"Before long, Roche was slapping and hopping like a native.
"Oh, yah, we know your Gertie quite well," they assured him. "Champion axe thrower. Too bad theres no competitions this week. Gerties come infor every one since winter."
Days passed, and his other childrens graduation day grew closer. Roche started to feel that hed never find his daughter, and took to wandering thecommunity in ever-widening circles.One day, to his surprise, he came across a rude little shack in a small thicket some distance out of town. Hed had to follow a very old trail even toreach it.That clearing proved to be home to a very strange creature.
Roche wondered if Gertie had seen the legendary Bigfoot, what her impression of the creature and its home had been.
Roche approached the beast cautiously, but was soon reassured by the friendly behaviour of the creature."You must be Gerties father," the man-creature said in a deep bass voice. "Gertie has spoken of you often.""You know where I can find her, then?" Roche asked eagerly."Of course I do," the Bigfoot laughed. "She and I are very good friends. She lives just along the ridge, just above the snowline. Shes a bit crazyliving so far out, but then we Bigfoots can get a bit crazy at times too. We understand each other."
"Could you take me to her?" Roche asked excitedly."Now that, I am afraid I cannot do," the Bigfoot said. "If you truly wish to reclaim Gertie as your daughter, you must make the journey alone.""Just point me in the right direction, then," Roche said enthusiastically. But the Bigfoot put up a warning hand.
"You should go warily, my friend," he said. "I have spent a lot of time with Gertie, here in my home, and I must warn you - your daughter is angry,and sad. She eats Grilled Cheese, and that calms her, and she has Mr. Mickles, and that amuses her. You do not want her to use Mr. Mickles onyou."
"She blames you, I think, in some ways. She blames her mother more. When she starts to blame too much, I make her slap dance."
"But sometimes, only Mr. Mickles can calm her anger."
"Still... I think she needs to see you, Roche. I think once she realizes how much her family loves her and wants her back, she will finally let the lastof her guilt and anger go."And maybe she will finally put away Mr. Mickles."
"Thank you for being so candid with me," Roche said. "Uh... what should I call you? Bigfoot sounds so impersonal.""My name is Andrew," Andrew Bigfoot said."Really?""Its what my mother has always called me.""Hm."
It was a long hike, and the path was faint, but within a few hours Roche found himself above the snowline on Gerties ridge.He knew hed reached the right place when he saw the tent and the cookhouse.
Still, he was startled when he rounded the log building... and there she was. Painting away in the cool mountain air without a care in the world.Gertie started at the sound of Roches shocked gasp. "Father?"
"What do you think youre doing here? How dare you invade myprivacy? How could you lie to me for so long?!?" "I was lied to as well, my dear child. I suppose your mother thought it only fair." And with a sigh, Roche recounted all of the things that"Gertie," Roche said several times while his daughter continued had happened between him and his wife: the price hed paid for theranting. "Gertie! Let me speak!" ability to have a family, the affairs theyd both had. And the good times, between the bad times. "Were not together anymore, Gertie."Oh, fine," she said petulantly. Your mother and I... I suppose the divorce is nearly final. I havent exactly been there to do the paperwork.""I never told you that you werent my daughter, couldnt be heiress,and all that, because I never knew!" "Why not?" Gertie demanded, determined to be angry."What?" "Because Ive been looking for you," Roche said simply.
"Oh."And so the story of Roches journeys in search of Gertie came out."You really did that? For me?""I really did," Roche said with a smile. "Youre my daughter, Gertie. No silly bit of DNA could change that."
"I--Im sorry to have put you through so much anguish," Gertie said in a soft voice. "I should have let you know I was okay. But I was so angry atfirst, and then sad... and Ive only just started feeling better about things. Of course, Im happy with the Way of Cheese, but it wasnt ever enough.And Ive only just figured out what was missing.""Whats that?" Roche asked."My family."
"Will you come home with me?" Roche asked his daughter.Gertie looked around at the mountaintop home shed made for herself in the wilds of Canada. She loved it there, but..."Yes, I will," she said, nodding decisively."Good," Roche said. "There will always be a place for you in my home, and I know your siblings feel the same way. Now, theres one stop weregoing to have to make on the way home..."
"Two, daddy," Gertie said. "If I"m going back to Pirate Island, I have a friend I want to bring with me.""Fine," Roche said, grinning. "But he has to stay at the hotel when we get to Paris.""Deal."
Meanwhile, in Paris..."Grandfather!" Anna squealed, launching herself at the Grim Reaper."ANNA, MY CHILD," Death boomed. "YOU ARE LOOKING VERY WELL.""I like it here," Anna said happily. "And Ive met... my family.""I KNOW. DO YOU WANT TO STAY WITH THEM? OR WILL YOU BE MOVING BACK HOME? ONLY, ALBERT HAS BEENNAGGING ME TO TAKE A VACATION AND I NEED SOMEONE TO LOOK AFTER THE BUSINESS WHILE IM GONE."
"Of course Im coming home, Grandfather," Anna smiled. "Ive been training my whole life to be the next Grim Reaper. Besides, if I stay then Illbe in competition with Grace for heiress, and she wants it way more than I do.""EXCELLENT.""Wont you stay for the graduation party?""SORRY. I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT WITH A SWIMMING POOL IN TWENTY MINUTES. HAVE A NICE PARTY. MAYBE YOUCOULD SAVE ME A CANAPE?"
Lee came over before the party started. "How do you feel about being a legacy spouse?" Grace asked slyly."Im here early, like you asked," he said when Grace opened the door. "Do you mean--?"Grace gulped, pulled Lee into the TV room, and got down on oneknee. "Lee, you know I love you. Lets make it official?" "Well, Anna says that shes ineligible, Nicks engaged to Green, and Ori and Will are together. Im the only choice, really.""Yes!" "Thats awesome!" Lee grinned. "So, tell me -- how big is the family"I love you so much," Grace said, embracing her fiancé tightly. fortune?""I sent in my resignation to the board today," Lee said. "So I can Grace just grinned at him as the doorbell rang. "Thatll be the rest ofmove back to Pirate Island with you." the guests," she said.
"GERTIE!" Grace squealed as she opened the door. She launched sister.herself at her little sister. "What are you doing here?!?" "Oh, how awesome!" Gertie breathed. "Thats seriously cool, big sis."Daddy brought me," Gertie said shyly. "Im--Im coming home." Dad says youre the heir by default, then?""That is so amazing," Grace giggled. "Hey, guess what?" "Yeah, but youre pretty much my co-heir, arent you?" Grace said with an affectionate smile for her sister. "Moving back home and all."What?" Only you dont have to have babies. You can be the nanny!""Im getting MARRIED!" and she flashed her ring at her younger "No thanks!"
There were many happy reunions at the party, and Rose was even more delighted than Grace to see Gertie, if that was possible."It just sucks that Im not moving back to Pirate Island right away," she said, moping slightly. "The only thing that stinks about being Placeholder,right?"
"Dad, Im glad you made it," Grace said, finally finding a moment to talk privately to Roche. "And Im so glad you found Gertie. Is there anychance you and mom--""No," Roche said firmly, but he smiled. "Your mom and I had some good years, but weve grown apart, Grace.""Do you think you can be on speaking terms for my wedding, at least?""Now that, I think I can manage."
The party kicked into high gear as time passed. Orikes couldnt help but snicker as she watched Green and Nick play pranks on each other."Stop laughing," Nick warned, drying his face after the water balloon struck home. "Were your future roomies, remember?"Orikes just smirked.
However, that smirk turned into a gasp of happiness when Will pulled Orikes into the study and presented her with a gorgeous diamond ring."Lets get married right away," he said happily."Im definitely up for that," Orikes agreed. "Maybe a double wedding with Nick and Green, if theyre up for it?""That sounds like an excellent plan."
"You know, Orikes, theres such a thing as being too close to your in-laws."
It didnt take long for Gertie and Roche to reunite with all their family and friends in attendance. And it took even less time after that for them tostart sharing all the things theyd learned on their vacation, like the slap dance, and the sea chantey.And bowing, hanging loose, and chest pounding.Before long, everyone was trying out the foreign gestures.
"Okay, Grace, smile!" Anna cried, pointing her digital camera at her twin.*click*
"Adulthood... here we come!"---Stay tuned for the continuing saga of the Buccaneer family ... coming soon!---------->
"WELL, NOW THAT I AM HERE... WHAT EXACTLY AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?"