Yep, it’s Jeanne’s shack, folks: built with her own scholar money and college grants! Amazing, ain’t she? Her LTW’s not even Max All Skills (not at Isla 3.0, anyway), and she’s only three points shy in mastering her last skill, Cooking. And that’s without the stuck Smart Milk glitch/advantage. ;p But you might wonder why there are shafts of light gracing Jeannie’s humble abode. I’d normally wonder, too, but as you probably know, I have a special affinity with the kid. Rest assured Jeanne has plans, and all is well. ...Or is it?
“Men of Xian-an!” A resounding cheer of battle responded, ringing all throughout the ranks of fully-armed men. “Your patience has been rewarded. The time to strike has come at last.”
“For centuries you have suffered the nominal rule of the foolish elves. Everyone thought that their knowledge and skill would keep the Isla intact. But after many long years of idleness, they deserted the land, achieving nothing. But I do not blame them. They never had the strength to hold power securely in the first place.”
“Then came the tyrant-kings, the Heliopatri Family. Claiming the right to succession through their links with the failing elves, the Kings sat upon their high thrones as they raised your taxes and enslaved your people. But they, too, were weak. The anger of this Isla overthrew them after a hundred years, and the children of the Kings are now wasting away, and they are forgotten.”
“But what followed was no better. The Mercator Family made promises of peace and prosperity that they could just not keep. Their patriarch was a senile fool, marrying a mere peasant, and after that was all too easily manipulated by his cruel firstborn. And where now is his younger son, this Damian, whom everyone had placed their hopes into? Why, he keeps hiding in his little rut!”
“So far, men of Xian-an, you have suffered all these upstarts to lord this Isla among themselves...”
“And, predictably, they have brought the land into chaos and ruin. But these days are over now. For we, the Xianxi, are taking the reins to our own destiny.”
“Do you want to know what I see? I see the best men of Xian-an ...”
“...fully-arrayed in battle gear...”
“...and brought together for a single purpose: to conquer all factions and bring them all into a single banner!”
“Now is the time, men of Xian-an! Now is the time to take what is rightfully ours!”
“So do not falter now. Strike quick and precisely. Do not show mercy. One show of doubt, one show of hesitation, and believe me: I will not hesitate to bring you down, myself.”
“Your army is now ready, O great Shogun. We await your command.”
“Yes. For too long I have waited for this,” the Shogun replied in a cool voice that nonetheless trembled in excitement. “Too long. And now... all my patience has come into fruition. That was speech was excellently done, I think. Inspiring... and terrifying. Just what this Isla needs.”
“General, rally the men. Raise the order to strike.”
“So it begins.”
On other news, however, Roland and Arthur have finally made it into college. I say finally because I’ve been a very slow player. As you can see, Artie here is a Popularity Sim. He wants to be Mayor, and in order to rule well, he must get acquainted with the Isla’s History. Roland, his Romancing brother, wants to be invited into every party, so...er... what does Philosophy have to do with his dreams?
Anyway, you can also see that Artie cleans up nicely. I’m using (the movie’s interpretation of) Faramir’s hair on Artie here, because I really have too few hair CC. Suits him, though, don’t you think? So far he has his father’s personality, aspiration, and looks. Now I am creeped out.
Roland, on the other hand, is prettier in the more conventional manner. Sure, he’s got none of Gage’s (The Uglacyand The Prettacy, Candi) and Cassius’ (Ten Caesars and The Squeaky Clean Legacy, Blite and Professor Butters, respectively) charismatic appeal. But he is a knight. Oh, and he’s not available right now. Not in my Legacy, anyway. And of course, this isn’t a cheap advertisement on my part to have you readers download him.
And of course, Artie brings Excalibur (and a phone) along with him. Because really, what self-respecting rip-off king Pop Sim wouldn’t have these things? Now, I would like to point out that the sword the King Arthur of the romances pulled out was not really Excalibur, which he received later on from the Lady of the Lake... but I digress. Besides, I’m parodying legends and heroes and LOTR, remember?
Soon enough, the twins adapt to the rigors of collegiate life. Artie, in fact, finds out that college assignments are somehow more difficult than those in high school, and had a certain power decided to let him run off on his own, he would have lost a precious 4.0 GPA.
Oh, and he would have been doing a lot of this, too.
Roland, on the other hand, seemed utterly perturbed. If he weren’t taking part in dubious activities...
...or sulking in a corner, apparently engrossed with heavy tomes...
...or busying himself with the hitherto despised game of chess...
...or writing his term paper....
“You are not telling me something, brother,” Arthur pointed out. Roland’s all-too-quick response did not help. “What do you mean?” “You have never been so... peculiar... in our excursions, Roland.”
“And I would like to point out that picking on ladies is something frowned upon. I just thought that, as a Romancer, you ought to know.”
“And nor is it your wont to discuss the merits of literary education, Roland. Nor is it wise, if your addressee is a Norseman.”
“What? So a Romancer such as I have no right to show culture, now?” an irate Roland snapped. “That is off-tangent. Look, all I am saying is that –” “I do not want to talk about it.”
“This has something to do with her, has it not?” Arthur pressed on. “Of course it is. You must miss her dearly, and yet you do not know whether she feels the same for you right now.”
“You do not even know what she is doing.”
“And, now that we mention it...”
“You do not even know where she is at all. And it must hurt. But life must go on, brother. You must go on – you cannot afford to break down like this. You are stronger than that.”
“That is easy to say for you, Artie,” Roland replied, trying to keep his bile checked. “But I cannot just simply wave all this away. I am no gypsy nor wizard nor elf, such as your fantasies would have it.”
“I am, after all, a simple man with a simple life, struggling to get the high grades you are used to. And I am struggling alone. But you have never been alone, Artie. Besides, you have not yet been in love. So I am sorry to say this, but you cannot understand.”
“Oh, which reminds me, brother – are you not supposed to find a spouse soon?” “Aaah, another one who seeks the path of love, I see.” The old gypsy’s tone was falsely misty, Arthur noted. But if she was able to... “My brother recommended you,” he began. “You are a matchmaker, yes? I seek a woman suitable for marriage.”
“And I am willing to pay an exorbitantly high amount.” “Hmm... yes... yes... that is well.” The matchmaker nodded as she received the ‘contribution’. “But you must understand, young man: it is not I who make the true match; I merely aid you in your quest. I can show you the choices, little Princeling... but what you need is aprincess. That is all I have to say.”
“But for now, you may date the household help.” “Right. My thanks.”
Even though Arthur did not feel quite right about having Lucy for his wife (despite the four! boltz), he found no offense in befriending her. (Yes. If your Pop Sim is the kind who always rolls Meet Someone New, and then Be Friends With... then going on a serial dating spree would not hurt. Just make sure you have money.)
“So, this time, will she be the one?”
Ah. Decisions to be made.
Sorry, Arthur. This just would not do. Oh, not because she is sworn to a vow or something.
With all the dating and the calls to the College directory, Arthur was able to sail across benign waters and live on the high end of his Aspirations.
Roland, however... “I cannot endure this any longer.”
And so it was that a lone figure made its way into the C.G. Textile Factory. I... I must do it. Roland told himself. Per-perhaps I may... talk... and... well... reason with... Yes. Yes. There- there is no harm in that. But what do I say?
Good evening... no, no, good even, sir. A word with you... no that is too demanding. Where is Cecilia? No, that is even worse. How about... look, I love your daughter, sir, and she must love me too. And Mayor or not, sir, I really would go through phalanxes if I need to, but... This is not boding well.
But little did Roland know that he was actually not alone. “Hey there, handsome.”
“Do you mind if I come over?”
“Oh, great. I think I have strayed into the red light district.”
“My, my, shouldn’t little boys like you be out of their beds this late in the evening?” the woman, who needed no invitation to come over, said upon arrival. Needless to say, Roland did not appreciate that. “Look, I am sorry, lady, but I am not after... these things.”
“I see.” The woman cupped her hand on her chin as she surveyed Roland carefully. “Let me guess. If you are not a loveless young man roaming around this shabby part of Serena for a bit of delight, then you must be... hm... oh, no, you would not happen to be a lovesick young man knocking at the Mayor’s door, are you? Asking for his only daughter’s hand and such?”
“How did you know?” a perplexed Roland asked. “Lucky guess,” came the sarcastic reply. “Honestly, you cannot be more obvious. Only the suicidal knocks at the Mayor’s door. Especially this late in the evening. But you are quite tense, too, I see. Surely you cannot be afraid of little old me?” With a winning smile, she added, “If you are so loyal to the love of your life,” she indicated this with a finger pointing sea-wards, “then no reason to be awkward with this scarlet woman, yes?”
“So why don’t we put your noble love into a test? My name is Mila, by the way.” She took Roland’s limp hand and shook it. “What’s yours?” “I... er...” “Oh, surely giving your name would not be against the rules, would it?”
Roland found that, soon, he was finding it harder and harder to think clearly. It was as if his guts were filled to the brim with boiling water, and his hands were moist with sweat. No, his heart was still beating steadily... one, two... one, two... but everything else could not deny feeling edgy... and pleasurable... “Ro... Roland,” he stammered at last.
“Roland. That’s a very nice name. I like that.”
“I really, really, like that.”
“Jasmin! I am glad that you were able to come.”
“Your father once thought me an omen of doom, Arthur – and you say you are glad to see me!”
Jasmin allowed herself a little laugh at the irony. “Something must have gone ill, indeed, for you to think of my coming as good tidings.” “Those were different days, Jasmin,” responded Arthur. “Back then all news was evil, and the collapse of my father’s family I cannot blame upon you. Nor would he do so, too, now that he sees the big picture.”
“But enough of that,” Arthur went on to another topic. “I am concerned about my brother, Roland. He seems troubled of late.” “Indeed?” “Yea. I believe that it would be best, however, for me not to meddle. He needs to sort this on his own, methinks.”
“And yet you seem perturbed, still. Your brother is not your only concern, is it, Arthur?” Arthur took a deep breath. “Nay, it is not. As you know, I, the Heir, need me a partner. And so far I have found none. ...None that I felt right with, anyhow.” It was now his turn to laugh mirthlessly. “And I must sound absurd, really, thinking that this is quite the burden. When, in fact, in the grander scale of things...”
But Jasmin interrupted him. “Yes, it is true – everyone is faced with problems these days. And we, the Arkyari – the gypsies in hiding – are anxious. Trouble stirs once more, and we feel it. And yet, Arthur – your concern is not the least of problems. While I counseled your father to rise and be concerned with the land, I certainly do not ask you to set your own woes aside. Not for your brother. Not for your family. Not for the land. Not for me.”
“You have to, at certain points, give weight to your own confrontations. It may well turn out that, having first taken care of your own matters, you will find yourself more capable of dealing with the rest. So I say this, Arthur, son of Damian: keep up with your search. And I hope – and I trust – that you will find her. You only have to bide your time. I hope that helps.”
“And, now, I must say: you have done rather well here in College. I have heard you made two new best friends...”
“Yes, that’s it, big boy. You are doing rather well.”
Mila raised her finger and traced the fine figure of Roland’s mien, stopping to flick, coyly, his nose. “See? This is not so bad, isn’t it?” “N-no,” Roland found himself saying. He saw his hands move snakelike upwards, reaching out to her bare shoulders. It felt like marble... utterly cold, but very smooth. Yes. Very smooth... “No. It – it is not so bad.”
“N-not at all.”
“Get off me!”
Mila was taken aback. “What? Was it something I said?” Roland gave no answer.
“I... I see,” she breathed, her eyes now staring down. “You must really love her.” “Yes.” “I... I am sorry.”
“No, I am sorry,” Roland quickly said, his chivalry returning full force upon seeing the woman dejected. True, she might be... of ill repute, to say the least... but Roland still believed it wrong to dishonor a lady so. He politely took Mila’s hand and kissed it. “I meant not to be so discourteous, milady.”
“I... I thank you. Men are... well, it is not their wont... mind, it was I who was at fault and–” “There is no need to talk of this,” Roland said. “Yes. There isn’t.” “I think it is best that I should leave now.”
“Farewell, Roland. May your love keep you well.”
“May it keep you well.”
Well, at least these two’s love for each other are keeping them well. Literally. Physiologically. As you veteran readers might know, founder Damian and Jeanne had absolutely no bolts for each other when they fell in love – autonomously. Marie did the independent “kiss” while they were in College. And since this has also been a recap chapter (thanks to the Exchange for deleting my old chapters), then the newer readers would do well to know this fun fact, too.
And for crying out loud, they do this in Free Will half of the time. Marie spends the other half of it rolling the Wants. But then again, she is a Family Sim.
See? ...Oh, dear. KaylynnLangerak: Many jokes have been made by us passer-bys regarding this matter. I have no wish to further that list. Wisely put.
But Marie and Damian had other businesses to attend to. One, in particular, required the presence of the entire family – one that did not happen for quite some time, Jeanne in hiding and all. “What is the matter, Mama– oh, and a present? For me? Why, thanks!” Nope, I see no problems with parents handing Snaps over to guests. Even to guests who are currently in College.
“So... how’s College treating you, little Bel-Bel?” “Honestly, Jeanne.” “Sister Jeannie changes hairstyles and outfits all the time.” “I am handsome even when my back is turned.”
“Heirship. Ha! I shall make the whole world bow down to my knees.” Papa ought to have done something while Jeanne was growing up. “...What is the occasion, again?”
It’s Robert’s birthday. “My whole family is here! This makes up for the fact that my entire childhood is either spent in the skilling room or in negligence!” Shush, Robbie. Shush! This kid is not even aware of me, and he gives me cheek already!
“I swear I am not that old...” (Yes. These shots are only compensation for not giving Robbie all the face time he deserved.)
And so, for the first time in a long time, one child grows up with his entire family intact, cheering for him.
“And there can only be one...” Highlander reference aside, Robert here sports the Scottish kilt in honor of his namesake, the great Robert the Bruce, king of Scotland and hero of Bannockburn. (And if you want, you can choose to hear him in a Scottish/Pippin accent, as I do.) He’s a 3/7/5/8/4 Taurus, so another sloppy, outgoing, playful, and mean kid for me. But he rolls my favored Aspiration, Knowledge, and the interesting LTW of...
“Forgery some may call it, but the best way to learn is to imitate. And I imitate both the artist and the criminal forger.” Good luck reconciling that with your family’s heroic stance, Robbie. (But I shouldn’t be surprised: Jeanne rolled that LTW before the rebuild.) And yet, all the same, I decided to let Robert go for all the skill scholarships. And... um, no, that’s not anachronistic. It’s the legendary Helmet of Mambrino. Do read your Don Quixote!
“’An infusion of ginger into a pot full of steaming water produces a most inviting flavor, not too salty, and yet with a certain tang. Moreover, this has been found to stave away the lingering scent of fish, and...’” And within hours of cultured readings, Robbie bags the cooking skill scholarship. I’ve never seen a Sim roll this blitzkrieg of Learn A Skill wants before.
“Ha ha! Take that, bully! Now I slay you, and your power is now mine!” But Robert is by no means unexcelled in terms of fighting. As with all Mercator children (save Bel-Bel, who is a princess), he learns how to give the enemy a good thrashing.
I hold the theory: the Jeanne face makes people awesome.
“Mama, Papa, I went to school an A student, and I return with an excellent report car– Ack! I did not need to see this!” You and children and teens everywhere, Robbie.
But even skilling machines like Robbie had to take a break every now and then. Damian, who had learned a lot ever since his daughter Jeanne got over-exerted and over-hopeful of attaining Heirship, took the time to let his son be, and read to him – autonomously – in his sleep.
“Well, done, my son. You – and all your siblings – you make this old man proud.” As I say, old age made Damian very familial.
And thankfully – and I say thankfully – Robert finishes all his studies without much fuss or plot or complications, and heads for College. In spite of his supposed outgoing nature, he kept mostly to himself the entire time, content with skilling. I guess he is being thoughtful here, as attention hoggers, like, say, Jeanne, have already taken up much of my concerns. (And thankfully Robert develops no I-want-to-be-Heir issues. Even though I invited trouble by having him named after a king. Only he and Artie have kings’ names.)
And speaking of Jeanne... “Fine, be that way. (Gee, and I had the decency to throw a nice Earned 10,000 Simoleons icon over my head.) But you might want to consider transferring the twins into the Greek House first.” Haven’t you tell that she’s named after the clairvoyant Joan of Arc? Though where the cheek comes from, I know not.
And, yes, for those who do not remember, Damian did found a Greek House. Here was the Mercator House in its humble beginnings.
“Are you sure we are in the right address, Roland?”
Here it is now.
“We thank you for securing the house before us, Bel-Bel.” “Yea. Between us three, we shall confide that you are the best sister in the world.” “Hush. Do not let Jeanne hear you two say that!”
But I understand why the twins were exaggerating their praises.
Bel-Bel, as you can see, has been relentless in setting the Mercator House in the best fashion possible. Of course, the twins’ scholarship money (10,000 Simoleons), College grants (which went to Artie’s dates), and Inventory junk (thanks, Mama!) aided a lot.
There is even a throne room, now displaying the current Heir’s – Arthur’s – personal banner. You can also see Excalibur set right before the throne. It shall be a family heirloom.
Obligatory portrait of the Founder. (My, my, he looks much more dweeb-ish back then!)
“So, how have you two been keeping yourselves?” “I became Famous on campus, just as Papa before me,” Arthur replied. “But then the officer of the law came upon me.”
“Excuse me, but on what charges are you apprehending me?” No, Arthur is not as Timid as Plot makes him out to be.
“It was to no avail, however.”
“Yes, I was taken, as well,” Roland added. “I thought I have been found out—” “Found out... of what?” “...Um... no, that is of no import.”
“And so we found what many others have only dreamt of founding.” Yes. Welcome to the not-so-secret society.
But Roland turned the conversation around. “But the real question, sister Bel-Bel, is: how have you been keeping? We have not heard of you in ages!”
“Well, I have been keeping myself quite busy... And...”
“And...?” “Oh, do you not see, Artie? Sister is blushing!”
“She is in love!” “But with whom?”
“And why should I tell you?” a distressed Bel-Bel said. “We are your brothers, and as knights, it is our duty to keep your suitors in check.” “I still remember how you manhandled my Xianxi friend last time, Roland.” “Oh, is it him?”
“No... but... well... you might know him.... friend of the family...”
“...Very charming... his father... business by the Sea... Mama’s people... you know...”
“Oi! You are not referring to the Labouis child, are you? Lenard? Sister Jeannie’s old friend?” “...Yes. He... he was brother to my best friend – Mariette, remember? – and... well... it happened.” “Whoa. Talk about strengthening family alliances, sister.”
“But something is amiss,” Arthur pointed out, looking around the place. “Think you not, Roland?” “Yes. Jeanne is missing. Where is Jeanne?”
Oh, Jeanne is a member of the Greek House, alright. It is just that she chooses not to live there.
But then, everyone has plans these days.
A white carriage passed by the cobblestone roads of the Serena District. The coachman, who was also the sole passenger, seemed utterly confident even as he came upon, at length, to the less reputable part of the area. Knowledge of this would have made everyone to flee in haste, just as Roland did. But Gavin Newson had work to do.
“Well, well,” Mila’s sultry voice, a purr deeper than most women’s wont, began. “And what brings a little boy like you here into the Rue de Rouge? I am guessing that your day has been particularly hard, hasn’t it, young Master Newson?” With that, her long, slender finger moved to tickle the young man’s cheek.
“Get off me, you foul woman!” Gavin snarled, and yet backing away at the same time. True, being bred in poverty had made him tough, but he was not, admittedly, well-suited for dealing with women of ill repute. “I am on... er... my Master’s business. And to be honest, He does not like working with you, either,” he added, with a hint of a threat.
“Oh, did you hear that, ladies?” in an exaggeratedly girlish pitch, Mila called out to her colleagues. “The High and Mighty Mayor does not like working with us. Woe is us, surely.” The rest of the women laughed the same laugh: playful, but filled with venom.
All pretense of coy playfulness gone, Mila took an aggressive stance and snapped back, “Well, Mr. Newson, you can tell your master that we do not like working with him, either. We are only driven by our needs. Oh, yes. We still remember. Your nice master tried to shut us down, didn’t he?” “Well! And you lot are a bunch of depraved, foul, disgusting, vile women, are you not?”
“See here,” Gavin went on, but this time carrying on in a more businessman-like conduct. “We both dislike each other; that much is clear. But you see, we have the power here: if you do not do as we say, you would not be able to earn money otherwise.” “Ha! Earn money?!” Mila spat. “He would not even let us do regular business any more!” “Well,” Gavin cut his gaze off to affect disinterest. “You are not in a position to bargain, are you?”
Pressing on with his advantage, the young man said, “All we ask is that you do this one single service. And...er... no, there is no need, Master says, for you to reach that kind of intimacy.Just make sure that he falls for you, and you – and your harem – will be rewarded most generously. Enough to starta new life,” Gavin concluded, emphasizing the last four words. He himself knew the impact of those words, after all. “And what if I do not follow your master’s orders?”
“You said it yourself, Mila. You remember what happens when the Master is... displeased.”
Gavin drew out a glowing red potion and held it before the star of the Rue de Rouge. “Now, seeing that your last effort did not go as well as we had hoped...”
But Mila dismissed the notion. “You are insulting me, Mr. Newson. I most certainly do not need that.” “Hmph. Then make sure you do your job. At once.” “Well, I will need incentives, though, as you know.”
“I thought as much,” Gavin said smugly, producing a wad of notes from his pocket. He handed it to Mila. “There. You lot are like the gypsies. The disgusting Arkyari... they with their hocus-pocus, you with your underhand ‘services’. You are vermin to society.” “So we have heard. But whatever.”
“It is a deal.” ...to be continued.
Yep! This chapter had the dual purpose of moving the story forward and reviewing the readers with its background. After all, we can’t go on without ensuring everyone knows just who the Xianxi, the Labouisie, the Arkyari, and the Heliopatri are, right? (Yeah, well, that’s what happens when you wrote a ginormous prologue THAT THE EXCHANGE EATS UP.) Yeah, because I doubt y’all still know who this one is. But of course, maybe it’s just me being OC.
And enter the Xianxi! See the Shogun here looking smug? Oh, that’s because he has grown old, waiting forever to get this chance: and now, poof! He thinks he’s now able to take the Isla by storm. Well, we’ll see.
After all, some cards are still upon the table. Credits: Professorbutters (The Squeaky Clean Legacy) for the continued loan of C. and C. Goodytwoshoes. I hope I do their well-rounded characters justice here. Oh, look that one looks kinda familiar. Wonder who that is. All-About-Style, ModtheSims2, Parsimonious. Awesome apparel, guys.