Yep, another update! But before we press on, I would like to first point out this little shack. Charmingly rural, eh? Now, if I have succeeded in capturing your curiosity and interest, then you would do well to set the image of this place firmly in mind for the time being. All set? Hut in head? Well, then! Last chapter our overanxious heir apparent, Arthur, had kept his gaze upward in search for a sign that things will go well. But his Romancing brother Roland was after worldlier pursuits, taking a peculiar fancy to a reserved Knowledge young maid.
Indeed Roland had been acting oddly as well for the past days. And yet, nothing so surprised Arthur than the moment when his twin pulled him from his skyward search and practically shoved him onto the sofa. “ What is this?” Arthur demanded. “If this is about last week's little excursion–” “ No, no.” There was an odd, dazed ring into Roland's voice. “This is a matter of great import.”
“ You have to convince Papa, Artie,” Roland continued solemnly even as he faced his twin's blank (if not weary) look. “We must get into private school.”
But for all the sincere seriousness Roland injected into his request, Arthur broke into surprised laughter. “Private school? Why, you never struck me as particularly studious, brother!” There was no reply. “ Look, Roland, I doubt that your intention here is purely, if at all, academical. Tell me what the true matter is.”
“ All right, all right!” Roland surrendered. “It is all about her .” “ Her? That girl you met through the gypsy's aid, I assume.” “ Yea. Her name's Cecilia. And she is daughter to the Mayor of the Serena District. The business area. Big shot of a man, so they say.”
“ She is enrolled in the private school, too. Ever heard of the Serena Academy?” Roland asked. “ The District's largest academic institution, specializing in arts, culture, history...” Yea, that. That is where she is. That is where we ought to be.” “ Ah.” Arthur nodded sagely. “A tough enterprise, mate. Mayors' daughters come at the highest of prices these days. And you wish to show that you are of fairly good stock too, no doubt.”
Roland knew far too much. “How are you aware of all this?” an astonished Arthur asked.
“ Sister Bel-bel, of course. Cecilia was friend to the Sea-folk, Bel-bel was friends with the Labouis kids, networking, you know,” Roland shrugged. “So I figured it prudent for me to wring precious information out of her.”
“ Though, come to think of it...” Roland paused, his finger idly tapping his open palm. “Hmmm... Bel-bel had not called for a while now.” Arthur raised his hands: they were halfway from tearing his own hair as he regained full control and restrained himself; it was all he could do from groaning in vexation.
“ Of course, man! She has higher studies to do! And quite frankly, with her search for sister Jeannie, she barely has any time left for chit-chat – and we would do well not to disturb her these days.” “ Oh... oh yeah.”
“ Why? What is the matter?” “ Well, you know of Mama's... odd habits as of late, yea?” “ And what is wrong with cooking every now and then?” “ In truth, I rather believe that we ought not to disturb anyone. However...” Arthur added after a moment's delay, “I think we have to consider breaking the rule for Mama's case.”
“ None, really, if you consider muttering as you cook chili con carne before taking it with you outside as normal,” Arthur loftily pointed out. “ Aie, aie, easy on the sarcasm, brother! It does not become you.” Ignoring this, Arthur went on, “But even if we grant her that, where does Mama bring the food to? Where does her fortnightly sojourns lead to?
Roland, though, was steadfast in pursuing his own path. “But we stray, Artie, we stray!” he interjected. “What of private school, eh? Are you not an Heir and a Knowledge Sim?” “ But I am Popularity, brother.” “ ...who goes off to see the stars every even. Come now, Artie! Think of it! Private school!”
Young Arthur never did figure out how Roland was able to dupe him into agreeing with his operations. However, he did suspect that his Papa very much sympathized with the conniving Romancer. (And in other news Robert opened his own lemonade stand!)
“ Your children do seem very promising, and your family quite affluent ... er... that is to say, fluent, Master M–” But Damian was not yet ready to lift the security of their privacy. Even with his half-brother defeated, he still must be cautious. “They are quite brilliant, yea, thank you very much.” “ Of – of course.”
“ Well!” The headmaster recovered afterward, and was keen to shake Damian's hand. “It has been a pleasure dealing with you and your children... sir . They will do well at the Serena Academy... just as...” he tried to make a hint while keeping the tone casual, “the Mayor's daughter... quite an achiever, really...” “ Ah. 'Tis nice to note, Headmaster. 'Tis nice to note. Much thanks.”
“ So... yeah... hi class! Er... nice weather, eh?”
It was history class; Arthur and Roland both noted that their professor, Mr. Ruleroftheworld, was a crackpot. Still the former took it upon himself to do well in this class and maintain the former public school class standing Serena Academy had mercifully transferred onto his current record. Roland, on the other hand... (What? Even Creators' simselves need work to survive! And his surname's inconspicuous enough for my Sims, so there.)
“ Okay, kids,” the 'teacher' began. “I'm going to say this just once, so you better listen. Don't want to get a frigging F, yeah? Yeah. So we're going to discuss your school project.” The response was a collective groaning. “ Bah. Back in my wor– days – we dealt with twenty-page papers and fifty-page portfolios. Oh, wait, that's college, and you're high school. Oops. But you'll have it fun and easy, trust me.”
And with bulging, manic eyes, he announced, “You are all to design a bomb shelter. Oh, and a bomb's a projectile that goes BOOOM! And you have to present me with a working schematics by the end of the semester.”
“ But... sir!” came the objection; once again it was that scrawny git of a student ( whose name I forgot to list for punishment, eheheheheh ... er... ) who spoke out of turn. “But the mathematical equations necessary for such an undertaking – the intricate geometrical measurements, the choosing and plotting of proper coordinates – it is way beyond secondary education!” And looking for support, he nodded towards Arthur. “Am I not right?” “ Er... yea.”
“ Blast all that – it's just a structure I'm asking for!” the professor cried in frustration. “Why, I've done most of this neighborhood's buildings – and much more! – without all the arithmetical mumbo-jumbo! ...Though I do enjoy permutations and probabilities, but that's neither here nor there. Well? And,” turning sharply towards the other table, “what say you, Roland?”
“ Roland?” But it was Arthur who replied, in a tone too seriously in jest. “Oh, sorry, sir – but Roland would rather talk about kissing right now.”
Yet, instead of sending Roland to detention (or something worse), Professor Ruleroftheworld smiled knowingly and sighed in satisfaction. “Ah. Kissing. Crushes. Love. Award-winning topic, I must say!”
“ And I am to believe that he fancies doing it with a certain neat, shy, and disciplined exemplary student who, alas, is unfortunately trapped in Professor Crumplebottom's class, no?” Oh, how I love the sound of a jeering class early in the morning!
“ No! No!” Roland exclaimed, snapping back to reality. “I was... er... thinking about college! Someone just said something about college, yea?” Sure, Roland. Sure, Arthur thought.
“ Besides, what is the point of building shelters?” Roland went on with a more eager tone and a waving hand. “Are we not at peace right now?” With a little wriggling of his index finger, Arthur supplied, “With that I agree. The idea of having us design such strongholds is obsolete. The War is over.”
“ Peace? Peace, you say?” the professor repeated with a raised eyebrow. “Nay, Messrs. If there is one thing you ought to learn and retain about this history class is that our Isla has never been peaceful. Each dream, each new world, each Camelot, ” he emphasized the word as he looked straight at the twins, “has only ever ended with more pain. This is not to mean we ought to stop hoping for a better place, no. But...”
“ We must not be lax. We must be disenchanted. The Enemy is moving.”
“ Now, can we talk about fried eggs? They're yummy!”
Classes were over in the Serena Academy. Everyone had already left the instruction rooms and were busy socializing with each other. Some could be found flirting with the fairer sex; others were discussing school projects; still some more talked about... automatons? Wait, how did that figure here?
But of course, not every Sim was just everyone.
So we meet again, Roland said in his head. Even there he tried to pull off suavity – and he failed miserably. For his head was spinning. His hands were trembling. His heart aching. Would she speak to him? Would she even give him something besides her name? Would she even acknowledge him? Yet there she was at last, playing the harpsichord, and playing it well. And gods, she is beautiful! Roland moaned in silence. It was now or never.
“ Bravissimo, Cecilia!” was all he could muster.
Stupid! Roland berated himself. You have caused her to run away!
But this time Roland knew better – he followed her. “Cecilia! Wait!” he called out as he pursued her all the way into the home economics room, where she was making beds with unsteady hands. “I just want to talk! Nothing funny, promise!”
But Cecilia Goodytwoshoes had been in the Academy longer than Roland, and accordingly she knew some of its secrets better than he did. In a desperate bid for freedom she used one of the hidden passageways to head towards the library. It would be a far way, she soothed herself, a far way from this imprudent young man, this Roland. Yes, it would be a far way indeed.
Yes. She would be safe there. Safe, as her Papa assured her. Safe from disturbance. Safe from falsity. Safe from raging feelings, safe from breaking hearts, safe from unending pain. Safe from love. Safe from the error of love.
But the problem was that love ever finds a different way in. “ Honest... honestly!” Roland stammered, from nervousness not less than sheer exhaustion. “That was... quite a length of – of stairs! You have to t-teach... t-teach me a-about those... passage... ways... someday.”
Whatever shyness was native to Cecilia found itself displaced as shewhispered through gritted teeth, “Why. Are. You. Following. Me?”
“ Homework,” Roland replied. “This is the library, right? Best place for this kind of thing.” “ I do not believe you,” hissed Cecilia. “ Of course. You Knowledge people ever dismissed us Romancers as dim-witted cheaters.”
Brought to bay, Cecilia had no other alternative – she had to fight back and hold the fort. But hold it against... what, exactly? “ Oh, no. I do think you are quite sly, Roland. It is just that I dislike crooks.”
“ Really? Even crooks who are sentenced by their teachers to deal with deceptively simple-looking monomial equations to solve for the square root of y in terms of x ?” Roland thanked the heavens (and Arthur) for helping him with actual homework. “ It... does depend on how harsh judgment was,” Cecilia admitted. “It must be relative to the crime.”
“ Precisely,” Roland answered. “And must a man be doomed to the dungeons only because his brothers were bandits?” “ But not everyone jailed is innocent. The man may well be a rogue himself.”
“ Not every sculptor is sunk into the sin of idolatry, Cecilia.” “ But every idol must have come from a sculptor.” “ Yet good fruits often go unnoticed alongside the rotten ones.”
Finding no more refutation, the Mayor's daughter snapped, “Well, there you are; we have met; we have talked. Perhaps I may now leave.” “ Ah, but she who leaves the battle early must concede that the war is lost.”
“ Aie, aie, but I weary of this!” Cecilia wailed. “Let us speak plainly. You are a Romancer, Roland. Your kind always leave a trail of tears behind them.” Roland's riposte was equally frank. “You are after Knowledge: you ought to know better than that.”
“ Tell me. Is it wrong to desire only love, and to love in return?” “ I... I... I suppose... no. I suppose not.” “ And is love not the true goal of Romance?”
“ Oh, yes. Our methodologies vary, Cecilia. And some of these means are downright wrong. But the end... the end is worth pursuing if the seeker does what is right. And some... like...er... me... well... er... we want to... um... do it... right.” “ ...” “ Ehem.”
“ Loud conversations are not allowed in the library. Cecilia, I am disappointed. You are usually better than this. And you, Roland... keep writing, please.”
And judging by the flicker of a smile upon her unpainted but brilliant face, Cecilia Goodytwoshoes might have thought so, too. But Roland Mercator found that he did not particularly care about detention at the time.
And it was only a matter of time before acquaintance bloomed into friendship. And friendship, of course, is the first step towards intimacy, would you not agree?
Arthur, on his part, began making his own set of friends, but as of the moment, relationships were not at the forefront of his mind.
Even after maximizing his logic, it was still his wont to observe the heavens, awaiting a sign that was yet to come.
Moreover, he soon found his time slipping by as his Papa trained him further for heirship. “ Now, Artie,” Damian began. “I think it would do well for us to practice once more your swordsmanship. After all, it would not do, even in this time of peace, for a man to go about unarmed and unprepared. Think you not?” Why, that sounded much like his professor's warning. “Yea, Papa,” Arthur answered.
“ Well, then!” without further ado the patriarch whipped his own sword out, ready for action. “Get your sharp stance in place, boy,” he challenged his son. “For you will find this old man can still wield a blade.” “ Really, now!” Arthur retorted jauntily, drawing his own rapier. “Be careful, Papa! And do watch your creaking back!”
Unfortunately for young Arthur, however, his father was surprisingly adept still.
“ Aie, me!” Damian roared with laughter, having thrust his nimbler opponent with a complicated flourish. “You would have to do better than that wild waving, son! Use your advantage!”
But Arthur was a fast learner. Having realized that he was lacking in technique, he made good his speed and flexibility and with a quick springing motion, tackled his quarry at where he was most vulnerable: his aging legs.
“ AUGH!” Arthur was too good, however, and Damian was thrown a long and hard way back. Alarmed, the son immediately halted. “ Papa! Are you alright?!” Arthur cried out.
“ Oooh, very good! Very good!” Damian commented proudly, dusting himself off as he stood up. He held his sword up to signal Arthur, who was about to rush to his aid, that he was all right by himself. “ Now that is how one kicks arse!” the old man went on. “Why, this was the same genius your sister–“
“ Why, that was the best form I have ever seen! Pure genius, Jeannie – you might as well be the best grappler in the locale!” “ Oh, please. Of course I am, Papa.” “ And you have my same attitude, too!”
“ Thank the gods... why did you not reply at once? I thought something was up!” “ It... it was nothing. What is this about? Homework?” there was a steely edge to her voice, almost as if she were desperately hoping that Roland's call was purely academical. “ Er... not really. You free now? You know, for – for a little... um... excursion?”
“ It is past midnight already, Roland. I hardly think now is a good time to roam about! ...Besides... Papa would deem it most... imprudent.”
“ Because you are to go out with a Romancer?” The answer was swift. “No! It is not that!” “ Then what?” Sighing, Roland added, “Surely your Papa trusts that you are intelligent enough to hold on your own. I mean – why, are you not practically held against your will there?”
“ I am not held captive here, excuse me!” she burst out indignantly. “It is just... just...”
“ Are we not close friends, Ces?” “ ...Yes,” the response came at length. “ And what is wrong with close friends meeting up? And at St. Cecilia's, no less? Your Papa knows the place well, does he not?”
It was subtly named for her , in fact. “I... I guess... you are right. There is nothing wrong with that. Papa...Papa could not – would not – see anything wrong with that. Yes.” “ So... it is a date, then?” And in haste, “A f-friendly one, of – of course.” “ ...We will see.”
Roland managed a small smile before rushing to dress up. He was sure Cecilia would come.
This is a terrible idea, Cecilia – and you know it, the nagging voice in her head spoke through her disappointed reflection. He is a Romancer. He has nothing but kisses and embraces and... well... those kinds of things... in his head. Papa would not be proud.
But he had been intelligent, too, she reminded her own image, the events of that fateful afternoon in the library reemerging. He also made for a good conversation, however much she complained to the contrary. He was also quite charming... especially with his stutters...
Charming! Oh, indeed! Was the dry retort. He will only use you to achieve his ends, Cecilia! Love... ha! No, it is only his lust he wishes to satisfy. Lust! The reflection changed tact. Besides, how could he truly, earnestly fancy someone like you? You are drab, you are plain, you are without charisma.
No. She was beautiful – Roland himself said so. How her luscious hair fell neatly over her left eye... how her right brilliantly shone, coffee-brown and full of life... her lips sweetly smiling, angelic, seraphine... she was such a rosy-white vision that the moon seemeth pale and the sun cold... he himself told her that.
No, she certainly was beautiful, and there was nothing wrong with being beautiful. Just as there was nothing wrong with love – not that we are in love, we are friends, Cecilia quickly corrected herself. And what was wrong with two friends seeing each other?
She had been a good daughter, a good student, a good maid. Besides, it was not as if she were caged in their own house? Surely her Papa was no jailor!
Surely... surely she was doing nothing wrong. ...Right?
Roland was again standing before the altar, gazing at the beautiful arched glass windows, the immaculate marble pillars, and the moonlight streaming down upon the chapel's carpeted dais. Unknown to Artie, this was his favorite place in all the City, and not the Savage Bear's Pub as his twin so often suggested. Not that he could see himself marrying right then and there, no. But the place was beautiful in its pure sanctity. He could just remain here for an eternity.
...Although he would much rather spend this blissful experience with someone. “ I am right here, if ever you wish to know.”
“ Ces!” Roland was beside himself with delight. “You came!” “ Why, were you expecting someone else?” “ No, of course, not! It is just that... well, your Papa allowed you here, did he not?”
If Roland had noticed how Cecilia's gaze did not quite meet his as she replied, he did not let his suspicions show. “ Well, I am glad,” he said with a nod. “Anyway... er... hmm... what a... school week, eh? I bet Mr. Ruleroftheworld – the History teacher – gave you loads of work to do, too.”
“ Does he ever!” Cecilia agreed with a small laugh; to Roland it sounded like a thousand little bells pealing a most beautiful ring. “He seems to think it his duty to assign papers to students, that one.” “ Whoa! You – you actually dislike a teacher? Who are you, and what did you do to Cecilia!?” “ Very funny, Roland.”
Roland went on with his joke. “There, there,” he cooed in a baby-soothing tone. “You must have worked really hard with all the essays as we common folk slaved away.” “ Honestly, it was only about the Elf Civiliza-- oh.” Both had just suddenly realized that Roland's warm but firm hands were stroking Cecilia's smooth back – their limbs were displaying the intimacy their lips could not quite express.
“ Umm... let us play red hands, shall we?” suggested Cecilia, her voice a pitch higher as she withdrew from the comfort of Roland's backrub. Roland, for his part, quickly welcomed the invitation – surely there would be no danger in a small slapping game.
However, it was the first time Roland ever held her hands, and nothing could have prepared him from the satiny feel of her delicate fingers.
And it was thus no wonder that Cecilia won all too easily.
Not wanting his close friend to notice how his own hands were trembling at the new sensation, Roland quickly averted his stare towards the chapel's corner. “Hey, Ces, look!” he abruptly announced. “A harpsichord! You play those, right? Can you play a piece now?” Accordingly Cecilia spotted the instrument “Now?” she gasped. “T-there are too many peopl–” “ Please?”
“ I still do not know how you have bewitched me to this.” “ Rogue charisma?” Roland offered, thoroughly enjoying the melody Cecilia produced. But it was not until a while later that he noticed that her playing was accompanied by a slow, clear, enchanting strumming sound.
“ How... how is that...?” But Cecilia was more than ready to answer Roland's unfinished query. “That is St. Cecilia's harp,” she knowledgeably said. “Papa might have used the patroness of Music's name for this chapel to remind the populace of our family, but the harp is miraculous. The saint plays once more, so people say, in response to whispered prayers.”
“ And will it... will it answer mine?” Roland asked tremulously. In a hushed voice, “So legends say, if the wish is pure,” Cecilia responded.
“ Well then,” Roland said, his hand scooping hers softly, lovingly, “I hope it does.”
Roland went home elated that night. Bother trying to slip out of the house unnoticed; bother Serena Academy and its tough homework – he was sure he could face all of it with ease and confidence from now on.
Not even finding out that Artie was awake – and that he knew that he, Roland, was awake – could dampen Roland's spirits. His twin was probably immersed with this elusive 'sign' anyway.
Good night, good night, a certain character in a certain play once said, Roland dreamily told himself as he arranged his pillows. Indeed parting was such a sweet sorrow – but it matters not, he smilingly mused on. Everything will be great from the morrow .
...And yet, had he known how many times he had reckoned wrongly that night, Roland perhaps would not have smiled so blissfully.
To begin with, Arthur had already seen the sign.
“ Arthur, Arthur,” the voice – familiar and much-awaited – came calling at the door at last.
“ And I thought the 'White Gypsy' would come no more!” Arthur exclaimed as he embraced his father's old friend. The laughter on his lips sounded indeed more of a sigh of relief.
Jasmin Helipoator's lips curled at the title. “Your father did set much store with nonsensical names,” she commented. “It is my hope that you do not become like him in that respect – and some others.”
“ But come,” she added. “We have an Heir to pronounce.” ... to be continued.
Credits: Brief appearance by Gaius Caesar ( Ten Caesars Legacy by Blite) on slide 119. Special thanks to Professorbutters for the loan of Cecil and Cecilia Goodytwoshoes. And if you were watching carefully, you might have chanced upon an... ah... noteworthy fictional character. And I have yet to divulge openly what the matter with the hut is, so keep on speculating!
You might have also noticed that I've begun using special background templates! Here now is this chapter's, unadulterated with actual update pics. The song featured on slides 121-131 is from a local (which is to say, non-US) band. It is not that I particularly love them or their music, but the song Gemini was used for a local production of Romeo and Juliet , and for some reason I found it appropriate for these two. Rest assured I'll be avoiding songs-on-updates from now on.