“I like this part,” Teagan said. He cleared his throat. “The Law will be appointed by the previous Law and is subject to approval by a majority vote of the people of Winterfell. Between one and three individuals can serve as Law simultaneously. The Law will serve for life, unless removed by majority vote.” “Especially the part about how you stop being the Law,” Mag said. “Yeah. That’s the whole reason why you’re doing this.”
They opened the mailbox and siIed their way through the papers, leaving the bills behind and picking out the unmarked manila envelope that contained the copies of the new consJtuJon. “Let’s give them hell,” they both said.
Now Piper needed a new assistant. He had too much work to do on his own and too few he could trust the work to. Lucia needed to stay where she was as the new EducaJon Minister. Piper might have a beMer‐qualiﬁed media person in Edward Grey, who was watching Arthur Stark as a bonus. Even then, that couldn’t replace an assistant. The Boltons weren’t good for much beyond simple tasks. Maybe the Starks had it right with two people to do the work of the Law. Perhaps he had gone too far. Maybe he should have stayed in poliJcs instead of trying to do both poliJcs and law at the same Jme. Maybe arresJng Will for Sansa’s murder hadn’t been necessary. He could have just as easily arrested one of the others. For plumbbob’s sake, why did they have to kill her in the ﬁrst place? They were supposed to be too nice to bloody their hands. True, Piper had planned for it, but it would have been so much less messy the other way. Except for having Sansa yapping in his ear about her delusions of grandeur.
“Good. Now, I won’t be giving you any orders to arrest him. But I will need you to keep an eye on his family for me and report back. Can you do that?” She nodded. “Then welcome to the police force, Mrs. Amana.”
Will took a closer look at Sullivan. Sullivan. Fiance who was an actor. Of course. Of all the students at this university, Lily had chosen Will’s future brother‐in‐law to be his roommate. Maybe everything was going to be okay.
“Win what?” She ignored him. “You’re in exile. You’re on your own playing with phone wires, as if they can bridge the communicaJon gaps that plague you. Your siblings are ﬁghJng a losing baMle. Your children are on their own. No, it’s only a maMer of Jme before you lose everything. You gave it a good try, but even the most valiant eﬀorts fail.”
“So I have…” Meg tried to work out the math and ﬁgure out how much shorter she had been than her dad in her vision. “About a foot to go. Maybe more. Can’t I grow faster?” Arthur shook his head. “It’s not good for you to grow too fast. Once you’re about fourteen or so, you’ll probably be as tall as you want to be.” “But I want to be tall now so Daddy will come back.”
“I think I saw Daddy today,” Meg mused. “But I wasn’t sure.” “Was it happening now?” “Yeah.” “If it is him, we can’t know where he is, Meg,” Arthur reminded her. “Otherwise the authoriJes might ﬁnd out from us.”
“Am I the heir?” she asked her grandfather. “That’s up to your dad,” he told her. “But it’s also up to you and your sisters. He’ll only choose you if you want to be chosen.” “Because I took it. But then there was a long dark spot and I was trying to decide whether to keep it.”
Sexiest Sim Alive: Arthur Stark! By Priya Ramaswami In a town so focused on keeping its collecJve head above water that it hasn’t seen a single party in over a hundred years, entertainment someJmes sounds like a word from a foreign language. But that is all changing with the meteoric rise of Arthur Stark. His new movie, Strictly Smustle, premieres next week, and he will reprise his role as Ted Lake on the new season of Sim Who in two months’ Jme.
For any ordinary Sim, these achievements would be beyond admirable. By now, though, we know that Arthur is no ordinary Sim. To stand out among the Starks, the family of illustrious individuals tasked with reforming Winterfell aIer the catastrophic disaster of four generaJons ago, Arthur has to do more. (Pictured: Malcolm Stark, former chief of staﬀ of what is now Stark Memorial Hospital; Brandon Stark, former Law of Winterfell; Chris Stark, famed Celebrity Chef.)
So how about taking up the mantle of his late uncle Brandon? Several years ago, Arthur and his sister Sabriel (the famously ﬁery head coach of Winterfell’s ﬁrst professional sports team) were all set to succeed Brandon Stark as joint Laws of Winterfell. Although Pius Piper won the legal argument on that day, Arthur and Sabriel never gave up. Today, their bid to rewrite the laws of Winterfell is spreading like wildﬁre, despite all manner of aMempts to suppress their arguments. How does he do it? He credits his big brother, Will, who is head of the Stark family and perhaps the most controversial ﬁgure in town.
At that point, the current head of Piper’s media organiza;on lowered the newspaper. “Yes, Arthur, what did you have to say about him? Let’s ﬁnd out,” Edward Grey declared.
“Will is the reason why I ﬁght,” Arthur says. “No one should have to be deprived of legal protecJons and arrested for a crime that there is absolutely no evidence of. It could happen to anyone.”
“Will is the reason why I ﬁght,” the media magnate repeated. “Isn’t that sweet?” “No,” Indy said. “Otherwise, you wouldn’t have called him in here to talk to you.”
Edward blinked. That obviously hadn’t been the response that he expected. “Quite right, India. As it happens, I do not ﬁnd that sweet. In fact, I ﬁnd it appalling that your client, considered the face of Grey Media, is publicly endorsing lawlessness by inci;ng rebellion against the lawful government and idealizing a convict—“ “Get real. Will Stark was never convicted of anything.” “But he started this rebellion.” “And there’s not any proof of that. You going to do anything worth my ;me today?” Indy asked. He looked at Arthur and rolled his eyes.
Edward took a diﬀerent tack: “I could yank the broadcast license for Sim Who. Then where would your plans to direct an episode be, Arthur?” Well, they would be in the toilet. The more important ques;on was “how would people feel about Sim Who being canceled for poli;cal reasons?” They would probably deluge Edward’s oﬃce with sonic screwdrivers. Besides, Teagan Fitzhugh was the show runner. He regularly broke the fourth wall and was related to a simself, so what was the point? Episodes would ﬁnd their way to sims’ homes even without a broadcast license.
“I demand that you renounce this ar;cle,” Edward concluded. “Then, and only then, I will consider maintaining the broadcast license.” “I’ll write—“ Arthur began. “You won’t be wri;ng anything. All you have to do is sign this statement.”
Arthur looked at the statement, then passed it to Indy. Indy nodded. “You want me to sign this?” Arthur asked. He had expected a bigger confronta;on. “It’s the best thing for you to do,” Indy answered. “That’s the smartest thing that plaid shirt’s done all day. And it’s s;ll not enough.”
By the morning aXer Ferd and Mag picked up the cons;tu;on from the Starks’ mailbox, a copy of it arrived on the doorsteps of almost every resident of Winterfell. Nobody knew where it came from. Some people threw it out along with their morning papers, but others, curious about this new piece of paper, read it. To the people of Winterfell. Your freedom is at risk. Your families are at risk. Of course, some people thought that the cons;tu;on’s authors were overreac;ng. Everything was ﬁne for them, aXer all, and the current Law seemed to listen to their concerns instead of assuming that they had no role to play in making a beYer world. Others wondered if the doom predicted in the cons;tu;on could happen to them.
The Starks’ allies took advantage of the buzz by hos;ng Tuesday discussion groups for the cons;tu;on. “Why do we need a new cons;tu;on?” one woman asked. “Everything’s ﬁne.” “I wish it was,” Teagan said, “but it’s not. Not if you can be arrested and held for days without any reason other than the Law feeling like it.” “But we haven’t done anything wrong,” someone else said. “It doesn’t maYer to us.” “Will Stark didn’t do anything wrong, either.”
“Didn’t do anything wrong? He killed someone!” “What people forget about the way Piper runs things,” Jocelyn said, “is that not everyone gets jus;ce in his world.” “No kidding.” Kay scowled. “I went to jail for a night just for looking at Piper funny.”
“And it isn’t just about who goes to jail and who doesn’t,” Wally Doran said. “Raise your hand if Piper’s agents have searched your home.” One woman raised her hands twice to reﬂect her frustra;on with the search. “You know what? All your hands are going to go up before long, unless one of you is hiding Will Stark under your bed,” Wally explained. “If Piper cared about you, he’d respect the privacy of your homes. Instead, he’s sending his agents to riﬂe through every nook and cranny that exists.”
“He’s obsessed with the Starks. He cares more about destroying them than about jus;ce, law, and order,” Indy said. “That’s why we’re asking you to vote for this cons;tu;on and use its procedure to remove Piper from oﬃce.”
Naturally, Ferd and Mag had leX Piper oﬀ the mailing list for the cons;tu;on, but the aYorneys on the ﬁrst ﬂoor couldn’t stop talking about it. “What is this?” Piper asked, sneaking up behind one of the junior staﬀ aYorneys. “It—“ She tried to hide it, but Piper had already seen the email on the computer about the cons;tu;on. AXer asking some ques;ons, he instructed her to print out the email aYachment, then went upstairs to read it.
How could the Starks have wriYen this? Piper had people watching their house constantly. He should have known about whatever they were trying to do. And they were supposed to be on the defensive! How could it have possibly gone wrong, inches from his birthday? But Piper s;ll knew what to do about it: Call a press conference and use it to keep everyone on his program. In the mean;me, he needed BriYany Amana to come to the oﬃce right away.
“Good aXernoon, Mrs. Amana,” Piper greeted her. “Let’s have a seat. I trust that you know why you’re here?” She blinked, giving Piper that wide‐eyed look he had come to detest.
“This. This is why you’re here.” Piper gestured at the cons;tu;on before ripping it in half. “Can you honestly tell me that you had no idea this was about to be distributed to every household in Winterfell?” “Yes,” BriYany said. “I haven’t seen it un;l this morning. Same as you.” “And why not? You are part of their family. And you can’t turn on your family. You said so yourself.” He leaned closer to BriYany. “Do they not trust you?”
“I can’t imagine why not—“ “Did you discuss our conversa;on with them?” “No.”
Piper began to pace around the room. “Mrs. Amana, I’m sure you can understand me when I say that I am beginning to ques;on your loyalty again. Your nephews and niece have a way of turning up in here and telling me quite convincingly that they are planning nothing, then produce—this. And you are doing so far less convincingly than they did.” “This took work,” BriYany said to Piper. “They’re working jobs and taking care of four children. They must have started this before our conversa;on.”
“Jobs and four children,” Piper repeated. “So if you didn’t help them, who did?” He focused on BriYany again. “Find out who their accomplices are. No, wait.” Piper began to pace again. “It must be those simselves. They’re the ones hiding Will. I know it.” “They wouldn’t do that,” BriYany thought out loud. “Oh, yes, they would. They like to talk about having rules. But I know they’d do anything to get rid of me and make their pet family happy again. They’d throw out all their rules to do it. Just the other day, they—“ Piper focused on BriYany again. “Get them out of that house. I’m going to ﬁnd out what they’re hiding. And do it now.”
Ten minutes later, Piper took to the podium. “You may have seen a new document circula;ng around town,” he explained at the press conference. “It is a document of rebellion. It is a radical aYempt to alter the fabric of government—a government which does not require any improvements at this ;me. We are beYer oﬀ without it.
“But never let it be said that I do not value your opinions. Tomorrow, I am calling a special elec;on on the rebellion. All adult ci;zens of Winterfell with no criminal connec;ons may come to the courthouse at any ;me between seven am and midnight to cast their votes on this crucial issue. I urge you to make the right choice.”
For the most part, the Starks spent their ;me going about their own business at home. Piper s;ll kept a goon sta;oned outside their home at all ;mes, so they didn’t discuss the cons;tu;on unless someone asked them about it. Instead, they stuck to the other responsibili;es BriYany had men;oned.
But as word got around, more and more people came by the Stark home to ask what they thought. “I remember when your uncle took back the Law from the mob,” Pao Mellon told Sabriel when he came to check on the bills. “You’re doing the same good work as him. Tell me what I can do to help.”
Sabriel didn’t answer him then, because the Boltons were s;ll in earshot. But that night, she snuck out of the house and put a note in the mailbox for Pao: How many people live here? And how many of them support us? Keep us posted. Without that informa;on, they would never know when their plan succeeded.
“You had a dream,” Gemma said. “And now you think you’re the heir?” Meg stood her ground and stared back at Gemma. “I don’t think it. I know it.” “That’s not fair. What if I wanted to be the heir?” Gemma asked.
“What are you talking about?” Lirael came running over, pursued by Lyra. “Who’s going to be the heir,” Meg said. “Meg thinks it’s going to be her because she had a dream about Grandpa,” Gemma explained. “I was telling her that’s stupid and unfair. Because it is.”
“What’s an heir?” Lyra asked. Gemma and Meg explained in terms, each one interrup;ng the other as they gave their own version. “That sounds hard,” Lyra concluded.
“But you don’t have to worry about it, because it’s me!” Meg announced. “Stop it. You know that’s not how it works. Aunt Sabriel’s going to pick someone—“ “It’s okay,” Lyra said. “I don’t want to be the heir.”
“Maybe now you don’t. But what if you want to later?” Gemma asked. “It’s just like what Piper did, sneaking into the oﬃce—“ Meg’s jaw dropped. “I’M NOT LIKE PIPER!” she yelled. “It’s just like him to say you’re gonna be everyone’s favorite forever and ever!”
“I don’t!” Meg turned to her sisters for support. Unfortunately for her, Lyra and Lirael had gone oﬀ to play Mary Mack.
“I wish they’d stop ﬁgh;ng,” Lyra said. “I don’t care if Meg had a dream. Except if it’s about something happy, like Dad coming back. I wish Dad would come back. Then, everything’s going to be okay again and they won’t ﬁght anymore.” She stopped for breath. “They’ve been ﬁgh;ng all day,” Lirael said. “I don’t—“ “Look! The swing’s open!” Lyra skipped toward the swing, thoughts of ﬁgh;ng forgoYen. Lirael followed.
Meg turned back. “I’m not—“ She stopped when she no;ced their teacher hovering over them with a familiar‐looking woman. “Gemma Stark?” Mr. Lillard asked.
Gemma assumed her tough pose, knowing something was wrong. “Yeah.” “The Educa;on Minister needs to talk to you,” Mr. Lillard said. “Could you please come with me?” “It’s supposed to be recess,” Gemma grumbled, but she went anyway.
“It’ll be you next.” Meg turned around. “Valen;ne!” She gave her best friend a hug, grateful to see someone who wasn’t going to aYack her. “What are you doing here? I thought you’d be with the older kids.”
“I had to talk to you,” Valen;ne explained. “Good. I’ve missed you. I can’t have classes with you anymore, and since your mom won’t let me come over—“
“They got to my mom,” Valen;ne whispered to Meg. “What?” “That’s the bad thing you saw. That’s why my mom won’t let you come over anymore.”
“That’s awful! We have to do something!” “I know. But we’ve got to be sneaky about it. I don’t want to end up like Kay, and it’d be even worse for you.” “So what do we do?”
“My mom’s supposed to give Piper informaJon about your family,” Valen;ne whispered. “So we lie to her and give her false informaJon to pass on to Piper. And then we lead Piper into a trap. So, what do you know about Piper’s downfall?” “Well—“ Meg tried to piece things together. “I haven’t seen anything with him and your mom—“ “Shh! They’re coming back!”
Meg looked up. First, she saw Gemma back on the playground. Second, she saw the two people approaching her and Valen;ne. “Is it my turn?” she asked Mr. Lillard. “Yes, Meg,” her teacher said.
She looked back at Valen;ne, then set her mouth in a line and followed them. They led her up the stairs into the empty schoolroom. The Educa;on Minister sat at the teacher’s desk, and the teacher leX the room. Meg stood.
“How are you doing in school?” Lucia asked. “I’m geeng A‐pluses,” Meg told her. “I’m looking forward to geeng out of primary school. My best friend’s already with the big kids.” “Good. And the situa;on at your home hasn’t hurt you?”
“What do you mean?” Meg asked. “I mean, growing up without a father,” Lucia said. “It must be hard. Have you had any word from him?” “No,” Meg said. But as she spoke, she realized her danger. She had seen her dad. She knew where he was. She couldn’t let anyone realize that she knew.
“Are you sure?” Meg had to do something. She let her face go blank and tried to ignore everything around her as she hoped for a vision, then searched her memory for a possible distrac;on. “Meg? Are you listening to me?”
“You searched the simselves’ house,” Meg said, trying to sound as eerie as she could. She watched Lucia. A glimmer of recogni;on crossed the Educa;on Minister’s face. Meg pressed on. “Do you know what they’ll do to you? They always get their revenge whenever someone hurts the people they love. They wait un;l we’ve taken care of a problem ourselves. But then they ﬂy in on dark wings and ﬁght back. They’re wai;ng for Piper to fall. It won’t be long now—“
“That’s enough!” Lucia shouted. “Go!” Meg walked from the classroom into the hallway and took a breath once the Educa;on Minister was out of sight.
Piper wasn’t young anymore. That meant that in addi;on to tracking down Will Stark, ﬁgh;ng oﬀ Arthur and Sabriel, and actually running the oﬃce, he had started looking for a successor. Unfortunately, all of his aYempts to ﬁnd someone had been met with either apathy or ﬂat‐out rejec;on. He had asked Lucia to refer her highest‐performing secondary school graduates to him in hopes of geeng someone young who could do the job throughout adulthood, but most of them seemed to have beYer things to do than come to the oﬃce on ;me and learn about the law.
Or they were Stark sympathizers. “You can’t train me to be the Law because you’re not really the Law,” Ivy Copur told Piper. “It’s like what Ted said on Sim Who. You can’t pretend to be somebody you’re not.”
This was where legacy families had it right. Brandon Stark had never had to think that much about the succession, because he could turn to his brother’s kids. Did Piper’s brothers have any kids who he could recruit? He hadn’t thought about his brothers in years. Why should he, when all they did was read books instead of caring about how to use their knowledge? Time was running out. Cons;tu;on or no cons;tu;on, everybody died, no maYer how much they tried to put it oﬀ. The search of the simself house had yielded absolutely nothing except for Lily standing around and smiling as if she had invited him over for tea, exactly as young as she had been when Piper arranged for her ﬁring all those years ago. As for asking the children, Piper could have predicted that it would have been useless when Lucia brought him the idea.
The special elec;on was supposed to cement Piper’s leadership, but that wasn’t working out so well, either. He had only won the elec;on by a narrow margin, despite having access to every resource the oﬃce of the Law could provide to ensure his victory. That cons;tu;on was catching on in the town’s collec;ve mind, and Piper’s familiar strategies were failing him. He would not allow the Starks to beat him at his own game. No one needed to know what the actual vote count was. A few extra in his favor to make his lead look more commanding, and maybe the movement would ﬁzzle if anything would have the courtesy of going to plan.
“Do you think we’re going to win the special elec;on?” Jan asked. Her eyes glowed from the previous night’s experiments. “No,” Arthur said. “I wish I could say yes. But we haven’t had enough Jme.”
“Maybe we have,” Sabriel said. “Piper thinks he’s cueng this oﬀ, but an elec;on means that people are going to talk.” “Not the people who are allowed to vote, though.” True to form, the Starks all had criminal connec;ons that barred them from vo;ng in the special elec;on. “It’s not over,” she said. “We’ve probably got a lot of people signed on, though I don’t think it’s half yet. And Piper’s only making things worse by searching so many homes for someone most people have barely even met. More are coming. The rules say we should give up once the elec;on’s decided, but we’re not playing by the rules.”
“Good evening,” Piper’s voice said on the radio. “Whoa!” someone said. “Lirael?” Jan asked, turning toward the source of the noise. “What are you doing here?”
“Reading,” she said. “Is that okay?” “How long have you been here?” Jan asked. “Since the ghosts—“
“Listen,” Sabriel said. “Thank you for your vote of conﬁdence,” Piper was saying. “Approximately seventy‐ﬁve percent of you voted to allow me to conJnue serving Winterfell as your Law. I will conJnue to govern well and according to the laws.” “No, you won’t.” But confusion appeared on her face. “Seventy‐ﬁve percent?”
“That seems high,” Jan said. The glow in her eyes had faded. “Well, I guess because we weren’t allowed to vote—“ “No. That’s not right,” Sabriel said. “We’ve been doing beYer than that, and we’ve got lots of allies who haven’t been ﬂagged as having criminal connec;ons.” “Or maybe it is, and we just aren’t doing as well as we thought.”
“We’ll ask around. Quietly,” Arthur concluded. “Or get someone to break into Piper’s oﬃce and get the real vote counts.” Lirael made a note to ask around if the grownups couldn’t do it. Or get Lyra to do that. No, that wouldn’t be quiet.
BriYany didn’t sleep well most nights. Even now that Carla was old enough to sleep through the night, she stayed up worrying about the dangerous game that she played. Would her children survive? What about the rest of her family? What about herself?
“Have you heard from your dad?” she heard Valen;ne saying outside. Who was she talking to? BriYany got up and walked toward the door.
“Well, maybe you will soon. I heard that he’s come back to—“ Valen;ne paused. “No, I don’t know where he is. But people are saying he’s back, and he wrote the cons;tu;on.”
BriYany stopped listening. Will back? Could it be true? If it was, what would she do about it? She turned her face from Carla, who slept on the other side of the bed, and remembered saying that she would arrest Will if Piper gave her the order to do so. She remembered telling Valen;ne that the Starks were the only other family that they had. She remembered vo;ng for Arthur and Sabriel that aXernoon. There was no telephone in the second ﬂoor hallway, so why had Valen;ne decided to talk on the phone out there?
“I can’t turn on them,” BriYany whispered to the wall. She would tell Piper about Will’s return—but only to further unhinge him.
“You’ve studied for that exam ﬁve ;mes over.” Sullivan sat next to Will on the sofa. “It’s okay to take a break.” “I don’t think I’m ready.” Will kept looking at the book. “Sean, you’re geeng beYer grades in physics than I’m geeng in drama. That’s not supposed to happen. You’ll be ﬁne. It’s okay to just…be a Romance Sim once in a while.”
Will looked at his ring‐less hands. “You won’t ever win,” he remembered. He griYed his teeth. He wanted the break that Sullivan oﬀered. The symbols were star;ng to swim, and he kept making mistakes in the calcula;ons. But this wasn’t about an exam. It was about the phone lines. It was about his freedom. It was about his family. “I can’t,” Will said. “I’ve got to keep going.”
“Suit yourself,” Sullivan said. “When they ﬁnd your body, don’t say I didn’t warn you about working too hard.” Will smiled for a moment as Sullivan stood up.
“Though my ﬁancé’s coming over this aXernoon for a visit,” Sullivan con;nued. “I’ll—“ Arthur? Here? Will found himself struck with the need to s;ck around somehow and see his brother. He could ﬁnd out what was really happening back home, not just garbled rumors. He could hear about his children—well, four of them. But when it came down to it, Will had to let Arthur slip away. “I’ll go to the library,” he ﬁnished.
“I was going to tell you to go to the spa. Or to the bar. But if you insist, the library. Just go get a massage aXer ﬁnals,” Sullivan instructed Will. “Thanks.”
If Will was actually studying for an exam, then he would have set aside the book a long ;me ago. But he was here to do his duty as the heir. He couldn’t rest un;l he had worked out the solu;on to the phone lines. At least the problem showed signs of giving way. Some;mes, Will wondered if he could have made the same breakthroughs while with his family. He thought about sleepless nights when Gemma and Meg cried their hearts out, unable to voice their needs.
But Will didn’t exactly sleep here at Oldtown, did he? He would uninten;onally nod oﬀ over his books, then force himself back into the problems again with thoughts of how he would never prove the winter woman wrong if he got a moment more sleep than necessary. Plus, not sleeping kept the nightmares at bay.
“Is that a photographer?” Sullivan asked. Arthur looked behind him. “Yeah, it is.” He waved the dormie over. “You want a picture of me and my ﬁancé?” The photographer took the picture, then headed oﬀ, plainly disappointed.
“I thought that’d send this one oﬀ,” Arthur said to Sullivan, no;cing that his ﬁancé was gaping. “What?” “You’re just that used to photographers?” Sullivan asked. “Didn’t you know? You’re looking at Winterfell’s Sexiest Sim Alive.” Arthur did a spin. “And all those fans had beYer know I’m taken.”
Sullivan pulled Arthur into a kiss. “Couldn’t agree more,” he said aXer breaking away. “Come on in and tell me everything.”
“You wouldn’t believe it,” Arthur said. “What?” Sullivan decided he had done a good enough job washing the burned macaroni and cheese out of the bowls. “Piper’s self‐destruc;ng way faster than I expected. When I leX, people were lining up outside the house to sign their names to our pe;;on.”
“And to get a glimpse of you, I bet,” Sullivan said, not a trace of jealousy in his voice. “Maybe. They’re all glad I survived the Sim Who ﬁnale. I’m thinking it’d be fun to direct an episode,” Arthur mused. “If my agent doesn’t throw a ﬁt. He’s one of Piper’s people.”
“Give it a try,” Sullivan said. “So, people lining up outside the house. What could have brought that on other than geeng a look at you?” “Piper decided to have a special elec;on on our cons;tu;on,” Arthur explained. “He was going to try to get rid of it that way. But we started asking around aXer the elec;on—and he rigged the votes.”
“So you won?” Sullivan asked. “Not yet, but it’s the beginning of the end. And now he’s convinced that Will’s the one who wrote the cons;tu;on in the ﬁrst place, so he’s prac;cally tearing oﬀ the walls on people’s houses. They’ve had enough.”
“Sabriel must be having a ﬁeld day,” Sullivan mused. “She is.” Arthur laughed. “And so am I. Once this is over, then…then we’ll be a family again. And you’ll be part of it. The ﬁrst thing we’ll do is go on a real date. Just you and me.”
When she grew up that evening, Gemma wished for an end to the ghosts. Unfortunately, she didn’t get her wish.
“Meg?” Gemma asked that night. “Yeah?” She couldn’t stop herself from talking. It must have been because of all the ghost scares. “Is it really happening like you said? Is it almost over?”
“Yes,” Meg said, not a trace of doubt in her voice. She had measured herself against the marks on the wall right aXer growing up. By now, she was about the right height for the vision to come true. But Gemma didn’t want to hear that. “Nobody cares what Piper has to say anymore,” she told Gemma instead. “That magazine with Uncle Arthur’s interview is supposed to be banned, but Valen;ne’s handing it out all around the school and nobody’s saying a word. How many signatures does the cons;tu;on have?”
“I think we might have enough now,” Gemma said. “But they’re wai;ng to see how it goes when Uncle Arthur directs the episode of Sim Who before going forward with the cons;tu;on. Because if we can have par;es and dates because of him, then that’ll be one more nail in Piper’s coﬃn.” “Works by me,” Meg said. “And then Dad will come back, and everything will be okay.”
They went to sleep, each hoping that becoming teenagers would help them get along beYer.
Sabriel examined her reﬂec;on in the mirror. Had she ever really looked at herself in mirrors before? She had never cared much about how she looked. She had always accepted her long hair as if she never had any alterna;ves.
That aXernoon, Arthur had returned triumphant from his Sim Who direc;ng session, which had cemented his place as an Icon in Winterfell’s ﬁlm history. He had also brought back several new signatures, which would be enough to present a very long list of names to the people of Winterfell and ﬁnish dismantling what remained of Piper’s government.
Time to get that icky hair out of her face and ﬁnish oﬀ Piper once and for all. Sabriel started to cut.
Most of the others also changed their appearances. Meg, Lyra, and Lirael all took their hair out of their current hairdos. Jan changed her hair back to brown.
Gemma tried to cut all her hair oﬀ, like her aunt. Luckily, Arthur convinced her to stop midway through. She didn’t have the bone structure for a super‐short cut.
Finally, Sabriel ﬁnished trimming her hair to her sa;sfac;on. She gazed at herself in the mirror, trying to get adjusted to not having the weight of unnecessary hair on her head anymore. She felt more like the person she wanted to be than she ever had before.
Meanwhile, Arthur was the only one in the family who didn’t feel like he needed a makeover. He picked up the phone and called Sullivan. “Hello?” “Remember that date I asked you for?” Arthur asked, a smile playing on his face.
“Yeah,” Sullivan said. “It’s Jme,” Arthur said. “I’m an Icon now!” “Congratula;ons!” Sullivan said. “I’ll be over as soon as I can!”
“First, we’re going to take out Piper,” Arthur said. “Meet me at the courthouse.” “I will. I love you.” “I love you, too.”
Sullivan turned to Sean, who had just come out of the bathroom aXer giving himself a dras;c makeover that made him look even more familiar. “I’m heading out,” he said. “I know,” Sean answered. “I’m coming with you.” “You don’t have to,” Sullivan said.
“Actually, I do.” Sean stood up. “I know you’ve wondered why I’ve been playing with phone wires and studying all the ;me instead of ac;ng like a normal Romance Sim. But I’ve got a ﬁx for the phones.” “Really?” “Really. They’ll be ﬁne tomorrow, and the day aXer that, and the day aXer that.”
“Then—“ Sullivan started, knowing the answer to his unspoken ques;on. “I’m Will Stark,” he said, his heart pounding at the admission. He kept talking to cover it up. “And we’re going to Winterfell together.”
Will kept walking through the crowd, slowly and steadily making his way toward the courthouse. He felt his feet growing heavier as he passed person aXer person, but they looked through him as if he was s;ll Sean Cooper. No one moved to arrest him. Why were all these people here?
He glanced through the window and heard Piper talking: “…announce that I have restored the phone lines…”
Will turned back. “What’s going on?” he asked a woman in a brown jacket. “The phones are ﬁxed,” the woman reported. “You can call out any day of the week now. He says he’s the one who did it.”
“Do you believe him?” Sullivan asked her. “I—I don’t think so.” “No,” Marisa said. “All he ever does is lie. He lied about the elec;on. Why should this be any diﬀerent?”
Sullivan turned to Will. “Go.” He was right. Will hadn’t come this far to turn back. He walked into the courtroom.
“…I hope to usher in a new age of communica;on…” Piper con;nued on. “What is a massively mul;player online game?” Will asked.
“Arrest him!” Piper shrieked. Will hadn’t had ;me to put a ﬁnger on it before, but something about Piper wasn’t right. Everyone stayed in their seats.
“It’s a game,” Will con;nued, standing just inside the doorway. “There’s not much that people can do when ;mes are tough, but they can play games—using the phone connec;on to do so. That’s how the phones were broken.”
“If none of you understand your du;es as ci;zens, I’ll do it myself!” Piper yelled, coming down from the podium. “As the Law of Winterfell, I—“ “You won’t.” BriYany rose from her front‐row seat and placed herself between Piper and Will.
Piper stared at her. “You liar! You told me that if I ordered you to arrest him, you would do it!” “Haven’t you heard?” BriYany asked. “You’re not the Law anymore.” “Of course I’m the Law!” “Not according to most of the people sieng in these seats.”
Piper stared out at the crowd, then broke into a run, exi;ng through a back door that Will did not remember seeing the last ;me he had been in the courthouse.
Will approached the microphone. “It was me,” he explained. “I ﬁxed the phones. I did it by building a new server that people could play games on, so that people won’t need to use the phones to connect anymore. So now, you can call any ;me you want. They’re going to be ﬁne from now on.” They didn’t call him a crazed killer or boo him oﬀ the podium. In fact, a lot of them looked happy.
Piper ran up the stairs. It couldn’t be true. They had to be lying. He knew he needed to ﬁx everyone’s opinion of him, but that? Not being the Law anymore? Impossible.
He opened the doors of the oﬃce to ﬁnd Arthur and Sabriel sieng at the twin desks and the oﬃce returned to its former color scheme. “Hiding?” Arthur asked Piper. “No, you’re not,” Sabriel ﬁnished. “I always told you this is my oﬃce.”
“You get out of those chairs,” Piper demanded. “You’re the one who’s going.” Sabriel stayed seated. “All those people outside? They want us to be the Law, and they hate you.” “I need proof of that. Where are the signatures?” “And have you tear up the page? No way. You’re not the Law anymore.”
“You should sit down,” Arthur said. “We’ve got a lot to talk about.”
Piping Down By Ursula Fitzhugh Pius Piper is no longer the Law and is leaving town for good. He will be spending his reJrement anywhere but here. If he ever returns to Winterfell, I would not want to be him when Sabriel Stark ﬁnds out about his return.
Under the new consJtuJon, Arthur and Sabriel Stark are now serving as joint Laws of Winterfell aIer the vote of no conﬁdence against Piper. Arthur has returned parJes, makeovers, and dates to Winterfell, and I have it on good authority that it will soon be possible to move around large items again thanks to Sabriel. Their ﬁrst act was to pardon Will Stark for the completely bogus charges that Piper brought against him. Now when people think about Will Stark, they will think of the sim who returned decent phone service and Internet access to Winterfell.
“Dad!” Meg ran out of the house once she saw Will approaching the house. “I knew you’d come back!” “Meg! I haven’t seen you since you were a baby.” Will had worried that he wouldn’t know which kid was which, but he had talked about the kids with Arthur and Sabriel on the way home. He pulled her into a hug. “I’ve got so much catching up to do.” Meg smiled. Everything was going to be okay now.
Next ;me on An Apocalypse of Ice: + Time to face the change ch‐ch‐changes! + Will everything really be okay now that Will is home? (LOL.) + Winterfell’s ﬁrst wedding party! + OMG I’m halfway through this thing now! (10/20 restric;ons aXer Arthur and Will liXed Show Business and Gamer!)
Guest starring: + Ferdinand Penguino (The Penguino Legacy) + India Ve;nari (The VeJnari Dualegacy) + Magellan Penguino (The Penguino Legacy) + Spencer Fitzhugh (The Fitzhugh Legacy) + Teagan Fitzhugh (The Morgan Legacy) + Ursula Fitzhugh (A Villainous Apocalypse) + Wally Doran (The Bass‐Ackwards Apocalypse) Thanks to Pen and Rose for their feedback on this chapter!
Time to break out the cute photos with Will. PARTY TIME, EVERYONE! Happy Simming :D