Chapter 23.1

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Chapter 23.1 of "A Tiouch of Randomness"

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Chapter 23.1

  1. 1. A Touch of Randomness Chapter 23.1 Parts and Pieces
  2. 2. <ul><li>Welcome to chapter 23.1 of ATOR. Since it has been a while, I’d advise you to reread chapter 22.4 before reading this one, if you have the time. </li></ul><ul><li>This chapter was originally meant to be uploaded as two separate chapters in Exchange format. Now that I’ve moved over to Slideshare, I guess they work better as one single chapter (also because they cover less plot-relevant events than the previous chapter, 22.4, and the next one, 23.2). </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Ever since she had stepped forward to accept the heirship, Muriel Random had spent most of her time thinking about the future (something that was quite unusual to her). But then again, now that she was the heiress, things would never be the same. She needed to change as well. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>One of the very first things she had to take care of were her skills. The formerly easygoing Muriel only lived in the present. She had thought she would never be heiress, so things such as skilling had never been part of her plans. </li></ul><ul><li>But her life had been turned upside down the minute she made her choice, and that was the very first things she needed to realize. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Oh, yes, her life was quickly changing in many ways, and not all of them pleasant, definitely. </li></ul><ul><li>Shortly after Muriel accepted the heirship when none of her siblings would take it, the Grim Reaper came for her beloved grandfather, Kennard Random. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Kennard’s death was a devastating blow not only to his close family, but to pretty much everyone in Randomville. The elderly heir had always been a man who was easy to love, and who had not made a single enemy during his long life. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>But, of course, his family took it the hardest. His grandchildren couldn’t hold back their tears, remembering every moment of coming home from school and finding Kennard waiting for them with a cake he had just baked; every moment of being comforted by their grandfather after a particularly horrible nightmare; every moment of complete acceptance of every decision they made, no matter how bad the other family members had taken it…every moment Kennard had been there for them. </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>After Kennard’s death, Shannon became a mere shadow of who she had been throughout her entire life. Sure, she had always made fun of her husband every time she had the chance, accusing him of being too soft, too much of a wimp. But she had loved him dearly, and now he was gone. He had made her a better person, and now she was alone. </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>In other places in Randomville, though, the death of Kennard was the last thing in the household members’ minds. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Felicia…we need to talk. It’s about Grandmother…she…that day, when Mom and Dad left for a while – you were up here resting, and she- that girl knocked on our door and she sent me away. She-” </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>“ Your grandmother killed her, yes.” Felicia said, not looking disturbed about it in the slightest. “But that is none of your business, Ichabod. It was never your problem to begin it, and if you value your life and the lives of your parents, you will never tell them anything about that, understood?” </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Ichabod shuddered in horror at the confirmation of his fear. </li></ul><ul><li>“ That…that is horrible – the girl…she was my cousin! Grandmother said that before she made me leave, I heard her! She killed her own granddaughter ! That girl was innocent, Felicia, she couldn’t have been that much older than me! What did she do to make you two think she deserved to die?” </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Felicia smiled. “Why, Ichabod, she existed . She was the daughter of your aunt, your Grandmother’s oldest child. Now you see, that aunt of yours has done some terrible things to me and your Grandmother and she hadn’t been punished yet. What Lillian did was to get back at your aunt Helled and to kill a filthy descendant of Electra Random. Two birds with one stone.” </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>As he listened to Felicia’s cold words, and realized she and his grandmother did not feel the tiniest bit of remorse over what they had done, Ichabod’s heart was filled with icy horror. Those people – his own flesh and blood, his grandmother and the woman who had always been like a sort of kindly but eccentric aunt to him – were monsters . They had killed an innocent girl, and likely more people before her, and he and his parents were stuck here with them… </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Noticing the horrified look on his face, Felicia smirked. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Come on, Ichabod, I told you not to worry about it. And don’t get stupid ideas about me and Lillian attempting to kill you next. You are the heir, and her grandson, the son of her favourite child. You are safe. Now, I advise you to forget about this unpleasant issue and go entertain yourself with something else.” </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Ichabod was at a loss for words for a little while, but then realized that, while he intended to do something about these heinous crimes, he couldn’t do it now. He had to keep himself and his parents safe from those two mad women. </li></ul><ul><li>So he just replied “Yes, Felicia.” and quickly left her room. </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>For the next few days and weeks, he acted like nothing had happened in front of Felicia and his grandmother, though that proved quite difficult. Looking at Lillian in the face without betraying his true feelings was an incredibly difficult task, and he was always scared she would hear his heart beating wildly in fear and just snap again. </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Mostly, he tried to distract himself by reading. At least then he could forget about what he had discovered for short amounts of time, and dive into worlds that were far better than his. </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Back at the main legacy house, Lala was trying her best not to freak out over her youngest daughter sneaking out almost every night. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Muriel, you have to listen to me – Randomville was never a safe place to begin with, and it has only become more dangerous since that poor girl Morgause, your siblings’ friend, was killed. You are my daughter, our next heiress, you can’t just keep going out mindlessly at night without thinking of the dangers!” </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>“ But I have been careful, Mom… I never went downtown, and that’s where the worst has happened. Besides, I’m not the one who has been sneaking out since Morgause died, just the other day, Miguel and Lucy-” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I will talk to your brother Miguel when I catch him , young lady. As for Lucy, I’m sure her parents will have something to say about this, sooner or later. I’m talking to you now, and you will do what I say. And that’s final.” </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>“ Wow, I’ve got to say that your sister is a sweetheart, risking herself like that for you. Your mom didn’t even notice you had been out too! You’re freaking lucky, Mo, my twin sister would never do anything like this for me.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I know. Muriel’s a saint. One of the best girls in my life, just like you, Maja. I am lucky to have both of you.” </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>“ Oh, you silly, loveable idiot. Just shut your trap and kiss me.” </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>“ Landon, I had been thinking…are we ever going to tell the kids about Morgause? You know, about how she might have been…your daughter. I’m not sure we should - I mean, what happened was already terrible to them, especially Marta and Miguel. And so soon after your father’s death…but on the other hand, they are not that young anymore. I’m afraid they might find out through someone else, and then all hell will break loose…” </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>“ To tell you the truth, Lala, I am not sure myself - you are going to hate this, even though all that happened before I even met you - but deep down, I am sure the girl was my daughter and not Lawrence’s. Don’t ask me why, I just have that feeling. If the kids ever find out…they will hate me. And I…I don’t want that to happen. I think I was a good father…at least to them . I don’t want to lose that.” </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>“ Landon – regardless of what happened between you, Helled and Lawrence – you were, and still are, a fantastic father to our six children. I have my own opinion about that other matter, but that is not important here. Maybe…maybe we should just let them think, like Miguel already does, that Morgause was probably their first cousin, via their uncle Lawrence. I guess…they don’t need to know the rest of that story.” </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>“ Thank you, dear, I-” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes, I know. But be careful. If the truth ever comes out, we made that choice. You will have to deal with them then. Tell them everything.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I…I know. I promise I will tell the truth if that ever happens. And I really hope it never does.” </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>Shannon Random passed away as soon as she got back from work, shortly after the conversation between her son and daughter-in-law. As she faced the Grim Reaper, she teased him, laughing, back to her old self again, because she would soon be back at Kennard’s side. </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>And this time, they would be together forever. </li></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>Shannon had never been loved by everyone in Randomville like her husband, but despite her difficult personality, she had been adored by her close family. Landon, now an orphan, burst into tears. He was now the family patriarch, and wondered how would he manage without his parents by his side. He was grateful he still had Lala… </li></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>It was Landon himself that later took his mother’s urn to the family mausoleum and carefully placed it on the table under her portrait. He stood there for a long time, gazing at his parents’ faces. </li></ul><ul><li>“ I just hope you are happy to be together again, wherever you are.” he whispered, and then left the mausoleum. </li></ul><ul><li>Years would pass until he entered that place again. </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>Marta and Matías reached adulthood not too long after their grandmother’s death. As the family was still mourning, there was not a big celebration of the event. Just the eight of them, sharing two birthday cakes. </li></ul><ul><li>But there was someone else Marta needed to see that day. After everyone had either gone to bed or gone off to do something else, she called her former boyfriend, Flexo Rodiek. </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>“ Marta, I do know what happened. Fran told me you refused heirship for me. I was very touched by that gesture – who wouldn’t be? But I was hurt, so hurt, when we broke up. I don’t know if we could ever make it work again…I just don’t… And no, there is no one else, if that’s what you think. For me, there was only you, ever, and you sent me away.” </li></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>“ And you think there was ever someone else for me? Not in a million years. Flexo, my heart was breaking when I broke up with you, but I had to do it. They had chosen me as heiress and I knew I could never be unfaithful. And I couldn’t marry you. It was the only thing I could do, and the worst mistake I ever made in my life. After Morgause died…my eyes were opened. I finally had the courage to say no to heirship. I wanted you back, needed you back.” </li></ul>
  33. 33. <ul><li>“ I…Marta, could I have some time to think it over? Maybe talk to Fran, too…and my mother. I can’t just decide what to do right now.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Of course. Take your time.” </li></ul>
  34. 34. <ul><li>“ Very well, then we’ll talk again in the morning. Goodnight, Marta.” </li></ul>
  35. 35. <ul><li>“ Now, you’ll promise you’ll behave, Matías.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Mom!” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Matías, you might be an adult now, but to me you’ll always be a kid. A kid who does foolish things. I trust Marta to keep you in line…I’ll just say that if I start hearing gossip around the town about your romantic conquests, you’ll be in so much trouble you can’t even imagine it.” </li></ul>
  36. 36. <ul><li>Despite her stern warnings, Lala did end up smiling and kissing her eldest children goodbye. </li></ul><ul><li>Then she stood outside, watching as a cab arrived to take them to their new lives. As soon as the cab disappeared from her sight, Lala sighed deeply. She was old. </li></ul>
  37. 37. <ul><li>That morning, the yellow cab took the Random twins to the house of Francine and Flexo Rodiek, which had been Marta’s plan all along. She entered the house and kneeled in front of a very surprised Flexo. Then she opened the small velvet box she was holding. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Marry me.” she whispered. </li></ul>
  38. 38. <ul><li>Flexo never did reply, because he was so overwhelmed by emotion he could not speak. </li></ul><ul><li>Instead, he just held Marta tightly in his arms. And that was all the answer she needed. </li></ul>
  39. 39. <ul><li>Their wedding took place that very same night, after they had called both families to tell them the good news. When hearing of their children’s engagement, both Error Rodiek and Lala Random squealed in joy over the phone. </li></ul>
  40. 40. <ul><li>In Randomville, there was a certain superstition about weddings that took place at night. It was said that they meant that the marriage would end badly. </li></ul><ul><li>Flexo and Marta Rodiek proved them wrong. </li></ul>
  41. 41. <ul><li>And all the guests, Rodieks and Randoms alike, clapped until their hands hurt, certain that they had all just witnessed the union of the luckiest two people in Randomville. </li></ul>
  42. 42. <ul><li>After Marta stepped away from the arch, Error Rodiek walked towards her, welcoming her into her family with a smile on her face and tears glistening on the corners of her eyes. </li></ul>
  43. 43. <ul><li>As everyone else was still congratulating Flexo and Marta, Matías held Francine’s arm and quietly took her inside. </li></ul>
  44. 44. <ul><li>There they had their own private celebration. </li></ul>
  45. 45. <ul><li>Lawrence Random spent almost an entire week lost in his own thoughts after he heard the news of his eldest niece’s wedding. </li></ul><ul><li>After what it seemed like an eternity, he finally made a decision of his own . </li></ul>
  46. 46. <ul><li>“ Alright, Lawrence, what happened? You’ve been acting weird all week, don’t think I haven’t noticed. Is it about Landon’s upcoming birthday? You knew it was coming, you have to face it. You won’t get old, but he will, you knew that would happen since you-” </li></ul>
  47. 47. <ul><li>“ Hell…it’s not that . Not at all, I-” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Then what?” </li></ul>
  48. 48. <ul><li>“ I…I think that I should- I…” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Lawrence. Deep breaths. Honestly, calm down. I hadn’t seen you act so nervous since we were both teenagers.” </li></ul>
  49. 49. <ul><li>Instead of replying, Lawrence slid a small velvet box across the table, his hands shaking the whole time. </li></ul><ul><li>“ This is your answer, Hell…or rather, my question for you. Do you…will you, I mean-” </li></ul>
  50. 50. <ul><li>“ Yes. Yes . Of course I say yes, you adorable idiot .” </li></ul>
  51. 51. <ul><li>“ For a moment there I was scared…that you…oh, you’ve made me the happiest man in Randomville tonight, Hell.” </li></ul><ul><li>Hell smirked at her now fiancé. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Oh, I think I can still make you much happier before this night even ends.” </li></ul>
  52. 52. <ul><li>They got married right there and then. No need for a fancy formal ceremony like the one Flexo and Marta had had. No need for relatives with smiles in her faces rising to congratulate them. </li></ul>
  53. 53. <ul><li>For Lawrence and Helled Random, having each other was enough. </li></ul>
  54. 54. <ul><li>Somewhere else in Randomville, however, the atmosphere wasn’t quite so cheery. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Liam…I know what you’re going to say. In any other occasion, I would have been thrilled to know I was going to have another grandchild, but now… So soon after- I just don’t know how I feel.” </li></ul>
  55. 55. <ul><li>“ Mom, I do know what you’re feeling right now. Morgause was your daughter, but she was my little sister too. How do you think I have felt since she died? I have watched my sons – her nephews – deal with their loss in their own ways, too. Milo misses her terribly. He is just a child, and can’t understand everything behind…what actually happened. And Myrddin…he was only a toddler when she died. He won’t even remember her…” </li></ul>
  56. 56. <ul><li>“ Her death took so many things from me, Liam…you, your father, the boys…you are all still here with me, and I am so grateful for it. But now…I can’t just let myself feel joy at the perspective of having a new family member, a new grandson or granddaughter. I am too scared something will go wrong again…” </li></ul>
  57. 57. <ul><li>“ Mom…you’re still grieving, we all are! It’s normal to-” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Is it? I just don’t know anymore, Liam. I just don’t know .” </li></ul>
  58. 58. <ul><li>“ You know…how me and Liir never actually wanted to get married? We were happy with just staying engaged, even if we did have children together, but…before Morgause died, we talked about it…thought how she had always wanted us to get married. We…we decided to get married on her adult birthday. As a present for her…we would have invited everyone, Grandpa and Grandma, all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends…me and Liir were even hoping she would meet someone special that day. And now …now that will never happen.” </li></ul>
  59. 59. <ul><li>“ Liam…you had never told me that…” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I was waiting for…a moment that was appropriate. And after what you said, I knew I needed to tell that story. Liir was also devastated by our loss, did you know that? You haven’t seen him since, but…he said he wanted to name our third child after Morgause if it is a girl…” </li></ul>
  60. 60. <ul><li>“ Name a daughter after Morgause? It is a lovely idea from Liir’s part, but I don’t think I could- oh, excuse me, Liam. I need a moment alone.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ It’s okay, Mom. It’s all right. We don’t really need to talk about that now. There will be plenty of time later.” </li></ul>
  61. 61. <ul><li>During the remainder of the pregnancy, Liam Bettencourt did not bring up that subject again. When he went into labour – a much easier one than the previous two – he did not yet have a name for his child. But he felt confident things would work out in the end. </li></ul>
  62. 62. <ul><li>After a while, he was holding a dark-haired baby girl in his arms, who looked sweetly at him with the same brown eyes she shared with her older brothers and her father, Liir. </li></ul>
  63. 63. <ul><li>With a sudden inspiration about what to do next, he walked over to Annabeth and placed the newborn in her arms. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Here, Mom, meet your granddaughter, Morgan Bettencourt. A similar name, yet not the same…I thought it was a good choice.” </li></ul>
  64. 64. <ul><li>As she held the small girl close to her face, tears of joy and relief streamed down Anna’s cheeks. She could love the girl. She could . Morgause’s death had not taken everything away from her after all. </li></ul><ul><li>Maybe now she could finally start healing. </li></ul>
  65. 65. <ul><li>“ I almost can’t believe it. Still an adult, and yet I am going to be a grandmother. A grandmother .” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Oh, Mom, don’t start. You are only as old as you want to be. Shouldn’t this be a happy occasion? I mean, Flexo and I are having a baby!” </li></ul>
  66. 66. <ul><li>“ You’re right, Marta…as always. Tell me, do you think you might be having twins? After all, you are a twin yourself, and so is Flexo.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ No, I’m pretty sure there’s only one. You wouldn’t know the difference, Mom…you only had twin pregnancies…but I have talked with Error about it. She’s convinced there is no way I am having twins. I don’t mind, though. I just want the baby to be healthy.” </li></ul>
  67. 67. <ul><li>“ I didn’t mean that, Marta! I was just wondering, that’s all.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Mom. I know . Don’t freak out. Now, there is something else that I should tell you. It’s about Matías.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Oh, dear. I did warn him. What has your brother done this time?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Possibly given you yet another grandchild. Fran’s pretty sure she’s pregnant, too.” </li></ul>
  68. 68. <ul><li>“ I see. Then I will ask you and Flexo to make sure your brother acts in a responsible way towards his child. Fran is a good girl, I have always been fond of her. I know Matías will never marry her, but he better not go and break Fran’s heart. Just tell him that, Marta, will you?” </li></ul>
  69. 69. <ul><li>Not long after Marta’s big announcement, it was Miguel and Melena’s turn to become adults. </li></ul><ul><li>Miguel, sitting at the kitchen table, declared he and Melena would go live in the spares’ lot, and that Moville was welcome to join them later. As for Lucy, no, she didn’t really mind not having him live with her. She actually preferred this particular arrangement. </li></ul>
  70. 70. <ul><li>Melena did not have much to add. She just said her goodbyes to her parents and younger siblings, and then wished Muriel good luck with the heirship. </li></ul>
  71. 71. <ul><li>Then she joined her twin, who was waiting for her just outside the kitchen, and they both walked away from their old home, towards their new lives. </li></ul>
  72. 72. <ul><li>After Miguel and Melena’s birthday, time seemed to go by awfully quickly for all of them. Soon, Marta’s pregnancy had reached full term, and she and Flexo were anxiously waiting their baby’s arrival. </li></ul>
  73. 73. <ul><li>Marta went into labour on a chilly spring morning, a couple of hours before dawn. </li></ul>
  74. 74. <ul><li>Her labour seemed to last forever, but in the end a healthy baby boy was born. He had his maternal grandmother Lala’s eyes, which none of her six children had inherited. Marta just smiled, knowing how pleased her mother would be to know this. </li></ul><ul><li>She and Flexo named their firstborn Nino Rodiek. </li></ul>
  75. 75. <ul><li>But, as it seemed, things could never stay calm in Randomville for long. Not that long after Nino’s birth, a very pregnant Francine walked outside to get the newspaper, when she was greeted by a surprise visitor – her older sister Filipa. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Hello, Fran – I think we have some important things to discuss.” </li></ul>
  76. 76. <ul><li>“ What are you talking about?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I’m pregnant, you idiot.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes, I can see that. Congratulations, guess I’m going to have yet another nephew or niece. But what does that have to do with me ?” </li></ul>
  77. 77. <ul><li>“ Oh, Fran…you’re not that naïve. You know . The baby is Matías’”. </li></ul><ul><li>“ What? ” </li></ul><ul><li>“ You heard me. Come on, surely you must have know he-” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes. I do know he was enjoying himself very much, juggling three lovers at once back when we were teens. Me, you and Fay. I chose to stay with him even though I knew. But I never thought he would- how could he have been so careless ?” </li></ul>
  78. 78. <ul><li>“ Accidents happen, Fran dear.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ So, what do you want? Don’t even think he will marry you. He won’t marry me either. He won’t ever marry any of his lovers, no matter how much he might seem to care about them. Is it money you want? Just tell me, so that you can go away as soon as possible.” </li></ul>
  79. 79. <ul><li>“ Oh, I know our beloved Matías won’t marry anyone. I wouldn’t want to marry him, anyway. No. What I want – is my job. And only that. No marriage, no kids, none of those responsibilities. Since you are the closest thing Matías will ever have to a wife…it’s your responsibility too. I want you to keep this kid.” </li></ul>
  80. 80. <ul><li>“ You want to get rid of your own child ? That’s-” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Don’t give me that look, Fran. I know that, with you, he or she will be well raised. I just don’t want that for myself. You actually like kids. I know you, and I know you won’t refuse. After all, it’s your nephew or niece, and your own child’s half-sibling. Besides…if you don’t take it, I will tell the whole family about what Matías did to me. I’d love to see him face the anger of our father and six brothers.” </li></ul>
  81. 81. <ul><li>In the end, Francine did give in to Filipa’s demands. Despite Matías’ romancing ways, she still loved him, and didn’t want to see him hurt by a bunch of her angry relatives. She did end up telling her twin the whole story, though. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Fran, I really can’t believe what I’m hearing. You…have you even thought this through? I swear that if he wasn’t Marta’s twin brother, I would beat him into a pulp for what he did.” </li></ul>
  82. 82. <ul><li>“ Flexo, please. There will be no violence.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ How do you expect me to behave towards a guy that got two of my sisters pregnant?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Just…just calm down. We’ll work this out. And don’t tell anyone except Marta. It…it will be our secret. I will keep Filipa’s baby and raise him or her as my own. As my child’s twin.” </li></ul>
  83. 83. <ul><li>Flexo looked quite annoyed. </li></ul><ul><li>“ And of course everything works out for him. He is not punished in any way. Filipa’s our sister, the babies have the same father, so they will look similar, and no one will doubt they are twins, since there are so many sets in our family anyway. Ugh . I will do what you’re asking me to, Fran, but I’m warning you, the next time he crosses the line…there will be hell to pay.” </li></ul>
  84. 84. <ul><li>As it had been arranged, Filipa moved in with them until her baby’s birth. It did not take long until she went into labour. </li></ul>
  85. 85. <ul><li>She quickly glanced at her child, a girl with black hair and Lala’s dark brown eyes, and then went off to find her sister. </li></ul>
  86. 86. <ul><li>“ Here, have her. She is all yours. And as for me, I’m back to my life. Have fun, Fran.” </li></ul><ul><li>With those words, Filipa hastily walked away, leaving Francine to look down at the little girl. She smiled, warming her aunt’s heart. This child was her daughter now, and no one would take her away, ever. She swore to herself the girl would never know her actual mother had been Filipa. </li></ul>
  87. 87. <ul><li>Francine was still thinking of what name to give her new daughter when she felt the first labour pains. Cursing under her breath, she still managed to carefully place the baby girl on the small rug next to the shower. Her child proved to have terrible timing already, waiting until she was home alone with two babies to be born. </li></ul>
  88. 88. <ul><li>Her son was born with exactly the same colouring as his half-sister. Francine smiled, forgetting all about her pain. Surely a sign the two children were meant to be raised as twins. </li></ul><ul><li>She then took her newborn children, Naomi and Ned Rodiek, to the nursery where their cousin Nino was already sleeping. </li></ul>
  89. 89. <ul><li>“ Hell…I have been meaning to ask you something. You and Lawrence…have you ever talked about, you know, having children?” </li></ul>
  90. 90. <ul><li>“ No. Couldn’t do it…not yet at least. It’s not that I don’t want children – and I know he would love to have them, even though he hasn’t said anything about that yet… I am too scared. After everything that happened to…to Morgause, who was raised by a completely different family, just because I gave birth to her… Any child I had would never be safe from Felicia and Lillian.” </li></ul>
  91. 91. <ul><li>“ I figured that was what you’d say… But then…forgive me for asking you this, Hell, but have you been trying to prevent pregnancy in any way? Or have you just…been hoping it doesn’t happen, at least for now?” </li></ul>
  92. 92. <ul><li>Helled looked unsure for a few moments, then she spoke again. </li></ul><ul><li>“ I haven’t been doing anything to avoid it.” </li></ul>
  93. 93. <ul><li>“ But then-” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I don’t know. If it happens, I’ll have to deal with it. Right now, I just don’t want to think about it.” </li></ul>
  94. 94. <ul><li>“ Well, just don’t freak out, okay? The Hell I know does not let her problems stop her from doing anything. Ever . And you do know that, whatever happens, I will always be here for you and Lawrence.” </li></ul>
  95. 95. <ul><li>Little did Helled Random know that, at the time her conversation with her aunt Gina took place, she was already pregnant. </li></ul>
  96. 96. <ul><li>And, just like she thought it would happen, she was scared to death when she did find out about it. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Hell, I have told you a million times... I am here for you and our baby. So is Gina. Nothing will go wrong. Not this time. I won’t let anything happen to the two of you, I promise.” </li></ul>
  97. 97. <ul><li>At least she did not have to go through this pregnancy ashamed of herself and alone. Lawrence, as he had promised, was always there when she needed him, willing to listen to every little fear she had without ever dismissing them as ridiculous. And his excitement about their unborn child was starting to get contagious. To her surprise, and joy, Helled found herself wanting this baby more than anything else in the world, to just have him or her there, safe in her arms. </li></ul>
  98. 98. <ul><li>Her fears started disappearing during her second trimester, but then came back in full force towards the end of her pregnancy. </li></ul><ul><li>Some days, not even Lawrence’s enthusiasm could make her forget about what was going on in her head. </li></ul>
  99. 99. <ul><li>But she would look at her husband and know he knew that, too. He also had fears of his own. Maybe together they would be able to get through all this…she just hoped so. </li></ul>
  100. 100. <ul><li>One night, she finally went into labour, and realized she had almost forgotten how awful this whole process was. </li></ul><ul><li>At least Lawrence and Gina were both there this time. </li></ul>
  101. 101. <ul><li>When it was over, she looked at her baby, and was at the same time disappointed and immensely relieved – he did not look anything like Morgause. He had Lawrence’s colouring, and dark brown eyes like Kennard. </li></ul>
  102. 102. <ul><li>He was there . He was healthy, he was safe. Their son. </li></ul><ul><li>As she heard Lawrence cheering, Helled whispered into her newborn son’s ear. Giving him his name, Martin Random. </li></ul>
  103. 103. <ul><li>Back at the House of Fallen Trees, Felicia had called Lillian to her room. This time, she wasn’t even sitting down, but lying down on her bed, looking sicker than she had in a long time. </li></ul><ul><li>“ I have had some ideas concerning the next generation, Lillian.” A gleam appeared in her eyes as she noticed Lillian’s worried expression. “I don’t feel that sick, you know. I think I will want my chair back.” </li></ul>
  104. 104. <ul><li>“ Well, I’m listening. The next generation. What about it?” </li></ul>
  105. 105. <ul><li>“ You do know that grandson of yours never had a single romantic interest, unlike Howl. He is much more fond of his books…and of accusing people left and right, it seems.” Felicia said, with a smirk. “Well, he doesn’t need to worry about finding a partner to have a child with. I have a plan.” </li></ul>
  106. 106. <ul><li>“ Hmm. What did you have in mind, then?” </li></ul>
  107. 107. <ul><li>“ Ichabod will have the Grim Reaper’s child.” </li></ul>
  108. 108. <ul><li>“ He…what? Those creatures people call ‘Reaper Children’- Isn’t that dangerous?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Not really, no. There are a few facts that we have to keep in mind, though. A Reaper Child, as you say, is artificially conceived, and that requires specific…well, conditions .” </li></ul>
  109. 109. <ul><li>“ A sacrifice, you mean. Someone needs to die…so that the Reaper will appear and Ichabod can get pregnant.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes. That is true. But there is more.” </li></ul>
  110. 110. <ul><li>“ More? I mean, I know people say Reaper Children have special powers, but that is debatable. Surely-” </li></ul><ul><li>“ It’s not that , Lillian. For a child of the Reaper to exist, it will need more than a sacrifice…it will need three sacrifices, to be exact.” </li></ul>
  111. 111. <ul><li>“ Three? I never heard that before. I thought it was just the one…you kill someone, the Reaper Child is later born, and that’s it…” </li></ul>
  112. 112. <ul><li>“ But it isn’t, Lillian. Most people do not know this. But a person dies for a child of the Reaper to be conceived. Another one dies for it to be born. And the third dies at the time of the child’s own death. The reason no one notices this…is because the first sacrifice has to be consciously done. The other two…happen. It can be anyone, anywhere, that dies those other two times. But we shall talk more about that later. Now, I need you to go through with the first sacrifice.” </li></ul>
  113. 113. <ul><li>“ Mom, don’t you think Ichabod has been acting strange lately? He barely talks to us anymore, keeps locking himself in his room…and he looks like he is scared of something.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I haven’t noticed anything unusual about him, Howl…” </li></ul>
  114. 114. <ul><li>“ Oh, Howl, you’re probably just exaggerating.” Rosa said, smiling. “He is still young, after all. He’s going through a period of transition...” </li></ul><ul><li>“ He is an adult already.” Howl replied. “And he wasn’t like this before…something must have happened…” </li></ul><ul><li>Lillian did not say anything this time; she just laughed nervously. </li></ul>
  115. 115. <ul><li>The rest of the meal took place in silence. Every now and then, Lillian would look at Howl, and every single time she noticed that suspicious look was still there. </li></ul><ul><li>She needed to be careful. </li></ul>
  116. 116. <ul><li>A sudden sound interrupted her thoughs. Rosa got up, coughing, her whole body shaking convulsively. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Howl…” she managed to mutter. “can’t breathe… help …” </li></ul>
  117. 117. <ul><li>Just as Howl, terrified, started rushing towards her, Rosa tried to get up on her chair, her hand clutching her throat, her face starting to get quite purple. She convulsed one last time and then fell over silently. </li></ul><ul><li>During the whole time, Lillian acted her part of the panicking mother-in-law. Felicia would have been proud of her performance. </li></ul>
  118. 118. <ul><li>She had not been expecting what happened to Howl, though. As soon as he realized his beloved wife was beyond his help, something must have snapped inside of him. He fell on the floor like a puppet whose strings had been cut. And he stayed there until Ichabod tried to talk to him. That was when he realized his mother’s death had broken his father’s mind, perhaps permanently. </li></ul>
  119. 119. <ul><li>After he took his father upstairs and gave him a sedative, Ichabod finally confronted his grandmother, tears of grief and rage on his face. </li></ul><ul><li>“ You. You did it again. You murdered someone in cold blood, someone from your own family. Why? What did Mom ever do to you?” </li></ul>
  120. 120. <ul><li>“ I am sorry, Ichabod. I had to. It was either her or your father…and I would never hurt my son. Ever. Rosa had to die. Someone had.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Why? Do you even realize how twisted your logic is? You’re a monster…you and Felicia…you’re both psychopaths! You killed my mother, and you’ve probably destroyed my father’s life, too. Why did someone have to die?” </li></ul>
  121. 121. <ul><li>“ Because of you, Ichabod.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Because of me ? What- do you actually think I am happy to see you slaughter everyone around me?” </li></ul>
  122. 122. <ul><li>“ It’s not that, you stupid boy! Can’t you see? This is all part of Felicia’s plan. She decided that, for your heirline to continue, you should give birth to the Grim Reaper’s child. And for that…someone did need to die. I arranged things so that it would be your mother.” </li></ul>
  123. 123. <ul><li>“ You…so…that means…my mother’s death served as the means for me to get pregnant with the Grim Reaper’s child?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes, exactly. So I’d appreciate you took good care of yourself during the next few months. Felicia would not be pleased if something was to happen to that child.” </li></ul>
  124. 124. <ul><li>Ever since his grandmother had told him the truth about Felicia’s monstrous plan, Ichabod had been feeling more and more depressed with every passing day. </li></ul><ul><li>He did contemplate suicide, only once, but then came to his senses. His father was still in Felicia and Lillian’s hands. He couldn’t leave him, not even if his insanity proved to be permanent. </li></ul>
  125. 125. <ul><li>So he decided he would find a way out, but not yet. As soon as that child of unspeakable origins was born, he would get himself and his father out of that house once and for all. </li></ul><ul><li>For now…the only thing he could do was cry. For his mother, for his father…and for himself. </li></ul>
  126. 126. <ul><li>“ You know, I always thought I would feel a lot happier about this whole thing. Becoming an adult, I mean. Instead, I only feel…I don’t know, a bit scared. What am I supposed to do now?” </li></ul>
  127. 127. <ul><li>“ Mo, you’re a spare . You can do whatever you want. You’ll be fine! Besides, you get along with Miguel and Melena much better now. You shouldn’t have any problem living with them. If you do, just move out. Find your own place in the world…like I did.” </li></ul>
  128. 128. <ul><li>“ Look at you. I don’t even know what to say. It seems like it was only yesterday you two were born, and I kept freaking out over a very unlikely third set of twins. But I’m very proud of you, Mo and Muriel. You’ve gone a long way, both of you.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Aww, Dad, thank you. I hope to have an equally good inspirational speech for you later. After all, it’s also your birthday, and Mom’s.” </li></ul>
  129. 129. <ul><li>“ So, are you ready?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ You know me. I’ll never be ready for this .” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Oh, come on... I don’t want a coward for a husband. We’re in it together, we’ll deal with it, both of us.” </li></ul>
  130. 130. <ul><li>“ See? Wasn’t that bad. Your vanity, now…that’s cause for concern.” Lala giggled. “I don’t recall any of the other Random men dying their hair after reaching elderhood.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I love to be different, dear. And that way, we match.” said Landon, smiling back at his wife. Lala just shook her head and went to join her youngest children. </li></ul>
  131. 131. <ul><li>“ Really, Mo…blue hair? Isn’t that a little out there?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ No, Mom, it looks cool! And if I don’t like it, I can always change it back, right? Or maybe dye it another colour, like-” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Uhh…Mo, on second thought, just stick to blue. Blue is fine.” </li></ul>
  132. 132. <ul><li>As her mother and twin brother were talking, Muriel Random stood there. She wanted that moment to last as long as possible…because that night, Mo was leaving. She would be on her own for the first time, without her twin…and as the new heiress, no less. </li></ul>
  133. 133. <ul><li>Just before dawn, Moville Random said goodbye to his parents and sister, and then left the house where he had been born. </li></ul><ul><li>Living with Miguel and Melena? He could make it work. Thanks to Muriel, he was no longer that little boy who was scared of everything. </li></ul>
  134. 134. <ul><li>A few days later, Lala introduced her daughter to one of her simself friends, David. As the blond man hesitantly greeted her, Muriel felt her anxiety over the heirship decrease a little. She had never had that one true love Marta had with Flexo. Sure, she had dated several boys during her teen years, but only for very short periods of time. And she had never actually loved any of them. However, she felt that, maybe, just maybe, she could love David. </li></ul>
  135. 135. <ul><li>Maybe she was moving too fast, but she never heard him complain. She knew he was one of those Family types, though. Hopefully he wouldn’t see her as some shameless romancer. </li></ul>
  136. 136. <ul><li>Unbeknownst to Muriel, David was struggling with those same feelings. It wasn’t that he was overwhelmed by Muriel’s advances, not at all. But this was Lala’s daughter …if Lala and her husband happened to come outside at that very moment, wouldn’t he be the one to blame? </li></ul>
  137. 137. <ul><li>Muriel just laughed, as if she could read his thoughts, and whispered “My parents are both at work now, silly. We’re alone.” </li></ul><ul><li>Then she grabbed him by his shoulders and kissed him passionately. </li></ul>
  138. 138. <ul><li>“ But maybe we should make this official. David Simself…will you marry me?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Muriel, isn’t this too soon? Your parents might-” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Never mind them, David. What do you feel?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I… Yes. I do want to marry you.” </li></ul>
  139. 139. <ul><li>“ See? Wasn’t that hard, was it?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ We can’t just go and get married now , though…” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Of course not. Mom and Dad would kill me for getting married without them here. And so would Marta. And Melena. And Mo. But don’t you worry. I have other things in mind for us to do while we wait.” </li></ul>
  140. 140. <ul><li>“ Muriel…it’s not that- you know…but if you get pregnant, won’t-” </li></ul>
  141. 141. <ul><li>“ Nobody will know! We’re getting married as soon as my parents come back and my siblings arrive. And that’s the last I’ll hear of that. Now, David… stop worrying .” </li></ul>
  142. 142. <ul><li>As she had promised David, as soon as all of Muriel’s close relatives arrived at the legacy house, it was time for them to get married. </li></ul>
  143. 143. <ul><li>David was beaming with happiness, just like herself, but yet Muriel could see him glancing nervously towards Landon and Lala every now and then (which amused her to no end). </li></ul>
  144. 144. <ul><li>That would no longer matter, though. They were now officially the newest legacy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Random, and there was nothing anyone could say about it anymore. </li></ul>
  145. 145. <ul><li>Right on cue, all the guests started clapping and cheering for the newlyweds. </li></ul>
  146. 146. <ul><li>“ A lovely ceremony, David. Congratulations.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Thank you, Lala.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Though I have to wonder, will I be getting a fifth grandchild soon? There’s already Marta’s boy, Matías’ twins, and Miguel’s little girl. And now…” </li></ul>
  147. 147. <ul><li>As she saw David’s very embarrassed face, Lala just laughed. </li></ul><ul><li>“ I was just messing with you, David…don’t you worry.” She looked at her husband, who was standing nearby. “Same thing happened to me and him, you know? When we got married, I was already pregnant with Marta and Matías. So…congratulations, for everything.” </li></ul>
  148. 148. <ul><li>Lala’s words did make David feel much more at ease, but he quickly went inside, not wanting to face his father-in-law just yet. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Oh, here you are. I’m so happy you’ve been getting along with Mom and Dad. I guess now we should call everyone to come inside, though…it’s time for cake.” </li></ul>
  149. 149. <ul><li>This is the end of chapter 23.1, though there are four extra slides – in memory of all the characters that died in the last chapter, and in this one. </li></ul><ul><li>With that said, happy simming to all, and a happy 2012. </li></ul>
  150. 150. <ul><li>First of all, Morgause Bettencourt. Apologies in advance for those of my readers that don’t care about/dislike Harry Potter, as I am going to make a comparison here. Morgause played the part of Cedric, you could say. A good person that did not deserve to die, but that was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And whose death served as a catalyst for later events. She died for the plot, but I still feel bad for the way I treated her in the story, and can’t help but hope someone will download her and give her a very happy, very boring life in their game. A girl can dream, right? </li></ul><ul><li>R.I.P Morgause, you’ll be terribly missed. </li></ul>
  151. 151. <ul><li>Kennard Random, one of the best heirs I ever had in my legacy. A good man – and that’s just about enough to describe him. Such a wonder how Johanna managed to have a son that was her complete polar opposite. The pillar of the family, right until the very minute he died. </li></ul><ul><li>R.I.P. Kennard, you will be dearly missed. </li></ul>
  152. 152. <ul><li>Shannon, firstly let me just say “thank you”. Your simself was a very welcome addition to my little legacy family. Always there to say exactly what she was thinking, not sparing anyone. Got into a lot of fights, but also said many truths along the way. The only one that could ever stand up to Johanna (a quality she later passed down to Landon). And a great match to Kennard, him being the only one who could make her behave when circumstances required it. </li></ul><ul><li>R.I.P. Shannon. You shall be missed. </li></ul>
  153. 153. <ul><li>And finally, Rosa Mourinho-Random. A sweet girl, and yet another one who fell prey to evil plans. One half of a great couple along with her husband Howl – she was truly his light after Gabriel died and Gina took Helled away. There for him right until the very end. </li></ul><ul><li>R.I.P. Rosa. You will be missed. </li></ul>

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