Chapter 10


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Special credits also go to Blite (Ten Caesars Legacy) for the cameo of Gaius Caesar)

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Chapter 10

  1. 1. The Lords of the Isle: The Heir Rising
  2. 2. Last chapter saw, among many other events of great import, the sign our Heir, young Arthur Mercator, had so awaited: the passing of a great star. Indeed the very next day he and Jasmin, an old friend of the family, set forth to settle once and for all the matter of his Heirship – and in this installment their adventure shall be discussed. However, our eyes must turn for the moment to another scene, a scene far away from the current concerns of the Legacy.
  3. 3. <ul><li>Sister Clara sat before her desk. It was going to be a good day to one of the kids in the Orphanage, she was sure of that, even as she studied the ostensibly expensive wallpaper (which cost not more than ten gold pieces per panel), the mandatory portrait of the Captain of the City, and the number of tomes (her only valuable possessions) stacked neatly at he back of her office. </li></ul><ul><li>At least, she was confident that the coming adopter would be a good provider. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Or, at least, so she hoped. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>“ Good day, Mr...?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Ruleroftheworld, if you please.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes, good day, Mr. Ruleroftheworld. I am given to understand that you would like to adopt a child. And all your credentials are in order, I suppose?” </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>“ Yes, yes, but do we really have to go through all these? I mean, this is all formality now, right? I did call yesterday and all, yeah?” </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>But Sister Clara was adamant in her insisting to see the proper papers. “I am sorry, Mr. Ruleroftheworld, but I really must make sure that you are capable of shouldering the responsibilities of parenthood. And as you may have surmised, one vital measure would be your documents.” </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>“ As you can see, sir, our little Orphanage is clearly wanting of renovation, and not to mention facilities.” </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>“ Numerous fissures are making themselves seen all about the house. And as you may have observed earlier, our dining room is reduced to merely the bare essentials.” </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>“ And our main parlor is equally dismaying. The sofas are already worn, the piano slightly off-key, the bookshelves molded, and the wallpapers peeling – and all these came from my own house before. </li></ul><ul><li>Now, sir, you may have heard of rumors that the City Government funds us minimally – that information is incorrect. We are not being funded at all, in spite of the City’s nominal care.” </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>“ Indeed even now I worry about my little charges. </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>“ Isidra and Hyperion are such a charming pair of siblings, after all... They’re now willing to interact with the ‘others,’ for so they call the children, bless them...” </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>“ And then there is this young man, Sephiroth. Such a peculiar name, is it not? Well, he has gray hair, even as a child, if you believe me. And he is very serious. Never deals with the non-Xianxi orphans. And he always pines for his Mother, so I have observed...” </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Mr. Ruleroftheworld made a slight movement: his hand gripped the edge of the office table. But the kind matron went on, “Why, it is fortunate that Lia Lan had already grown up! She is helping me very much in rearing with her fellow orphans these days, the gifted blossom...” </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>“ And yet – I must admit – I am still hard-pressed to keep up with the young ones. Just of late I took another one to my care. Why, that poor thing, Zane – kept miserable by his own mother, imagine! </li></ul><ul><li>And now that the City Tribute Committee is collecting this month’s dues, I am at a loss. How in the Elf-King’s name am I to continue supporting this Orphanage single-handedly?” </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>“ But you see, sir, I care about each and every one of my little ones, and I cannot bear the thought of them being left neglected out there. </li></ul><ul><li>You know how inhospitable our Isla is, I am sure. And by now I do hope that you understand why I cannot let the adoption process to go by lightly.” </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>“ So, Mr. Ruleroftheworld, do give me your papers. Formality it may be, but it is the only way I can be assured that one of my children gets to live a better life,” Sister Clara concluded. </li></ul><ul><li>Mr. Ruleroftheworld, convinced as he was with the matron’s argument, slid the proper documentations across the desk. “I am very sorry, sister,” he sheepishly said. “I‘ve had no wish to be so obnoxious.” </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>“ That is all right,” the sister replied with a sigh. “Perhaps I, as well, had said far more than–” </li></ul><ul><li>And so it was that one of the orphans barged into the room. “Sister, sister!” the child practically cried out, wringing her hands, as if in great pain or distress. “You have got to help me, sister! Please, oh, please!” </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>“ What is it this time, Johannine?” the matron wearily asked. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Sister! I don’t like that name, remember? I’m Jo. Anyway... As you know, I have always tried my best to befriend Hyperion... Honest! So, well, um, there I was, you know, befriending him...” </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>“ But then, as he offered his hand for a shake. So, um, there I was, and I was going to accept his hand, and just as I extended mine, he suddenly – oh, you would not believe this, sister! – he withdrew it! Just like so!” </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>“ And, not contented with his little prank, he ‘neener-neenered’ me!” </li></ul><ul><li>“ He... What did he do?” Sister Clara, caught offguard with the strange term, interrupted Jo. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Neener-neener, sister! He placed his hands like that on his head and screwed up his face and tormented me and it was scary and–” </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>“ Oh!” the little girl, Jo, began to wail. “Sister, Hyperion’s downright intolerable! It’s the third time he made me cry this week, honest! So, um, do not believe whatever he tells you to the contrary! Because he is always like that, picking on me every now and th–” </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>“ You’re lying,” Mr. Ruleroftheworld interrupted. </li></ul><ul><li>Jo quickly stopped wailing, and her face turned to an incredulous expression. “Wh-what? Sir, wh-whatever m-made you say that!?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Your tone right now,” he replied. “You’ve just stopped wailing.” That, and of course, Mr. Ruleroftheworld is my simself, and thus bound to know what I know. </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>Sister Clara was quick to cover the girl up. “I am very sorry, sir. This is Johannine – she prefers the uncouth ‘Jo,’ as you have witnessed – and is a little handful. Not that she is naturally mischievous and of a bad demeanor, no, but... Well, she rather does like teasing the other children, running of wild every now and then, telling the oddest of stories...” </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>“ Is that so?” Then, turning once more to little Johannine, Mr. Ruleroftheworld asked, “Would you care to pack your bags have a new home, Jo?” </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>“ Really!? You’re choosing me?” was the shocked, but apparently not unexcited, response. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yeah, why not? You’re just the perfect kid, I think.” A perfect combination of Outgoing and Mean... Unorthodox choice, but why not, indeed. Addressing the matron yet again, “I think I’ve found the right child to adopt, Sister Clara. By your leave.” </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>Apparently, however, Jo was not the only one surprised. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Very... Well... Very well, then.” </li></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>“ ...So...” </li></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>“ ...this is it? Is this where you live?” </li></ul><ul><li>And, judging from Jo’s expression, I was quite sure that she would have loved to ask my simself: “Is this where I’m going to live?” </li></ul><ul><li>Poor thing. </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>“ Yeah, I hang about here, at times. Why, don’t you like it here?” my simself asked casually, sure that whatever Jo’s answer would be, it would be her honest opinion. </li></ul><ul><li>“ ...Well... um... not really.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ That’s just as well,” my simself replied. “I’m sick of this place too, myself.” </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>“ ...Now, how would you like that place over there?” </li></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>“ Whoa! You have a butler!” </li></ul>
  33. 33. <ul><li>“ Greetings, mademoiselle . Would you care to have some breakfast?” </li></ul>
  34. 34. <ul><li>“ No, that’s not all.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ A playground! ...for me?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Hmmm, sure, why not?” </li></ul>
  35. 35. <ul><li>“ Awesome! Thaaaaank you, sir!” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Hey, it’s Dad to you now, kid.” </li></ul>
  36. 36. <ul><li>So I am glad to say that little Jo soon got the hang of her new life. Like most normal kids, she went to school... </li></ul>
  37. 37. <ul><li>Practiced a bit of painting... </li></ul>
  38. 38. <ul><li>Showed off to the butler, whom she had soon gone on to boss around... </li></ul>
  39. 39. <ul><li>Heck, she was even able to keep in touch with her friends in the Orphanage, and she’s taken to inviting them to her playground from time to time... </li></ul>
  40. 40. <ul><li>...though I’m still not quite sure why they’re all transfixed with staring at the wooden posts. </li></ul>
  41. 41. <ul><li>There was one problem, however. </li></ul>
  42. 42. <ul><li>Jo had no idea that her foster father was anything but normal. </li></ul>
  43. 43. <ul><li>...Just as our little lovebird, young Roland, had no idea, even as he woke up after a brief sleep and a beautiful dream, that everything was going to go wrong. </li></ul>
  44. 44. <ul><li>“ Roland.” </li></ul><ul><li>His father had never used so stern a tone and made so forbidding a face before. </li></ul><ul><li>“ G-good... d-d-day... P-Papa.” </li></ul>
  45. 45. <ul><li>“ We are to talk, Roland. Follow me.” </li></ul>
  46. 46. <ul><li>But Damian was beside himself in anger. And while Marie could only cover her mouth to prevent her sobs from escaping, Roland’s father unleashed his ire. </li></ul><ul><li>“ So you have been sneaking out at night, secretly seeing other people! Have you ever considered the consequences of this?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ B-but Papa...” Roland tried to reason out. How could he go on without Cecilia, without the love of his life? “S-she is–” </li></ul>
  47. 47. <ul><li>“ She is the daughter of a Mayor, Roland!” Damian cut in, his finger repeatedly pressing against his other palm to stress the danger of this point. “Her father is a public figure! And having connections with their family would mean us stepping into the limelight far too soon!” </li></ul><ul><li>“ B-but is that... is that not the point, Papa?” Roland pushed himself to say. “Are we n-not... well... are w-we not to... well... r-r-ride off tn glory... to save this Isla?” </li></ul>
  48. 48. <ul><li>“ Do you not understand?” Damian’s tone was quieter now; it was not, after all, as if he did not understand where his son was coming from. But his point had to be said. “True, we might have prevailed against the Count at the Black Castle, but even that had put us into a precarious situation. And we are not yet ready to be placed into the open. We do not yet have the strength nor the following. </li></ul><ul><li>That is why you must give up whatever connections you have with her , Roland. And that is why you and Arthur are to head into College.” </li></ul>
  49. 49. <ul><li>Damian concluded, “At once. And as far away from her family as possible.” </li></ul>
  50. 50. <ul><li>Young Arthur, however, had no idea of what was happening back home. Nor could he have come to his brother’s aid, or at least, comfort. But in his defense, this was because he had a pressing personal issue to settle. </li></ul><ul><li>“ So what of your family’s doings?” the gypsy, Jasmin, inquired of him as the two passed through roads that Arthur knew not of. “I trust your father keeps himself well?” </li></ul>
  51. 51. <ul><li>“ Oh, yes, he is very much well, thank you,” Arthur replied. “Verily he had only established another business enterprise.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Indeed?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yea. He is very much proud of the new store – the deed was in his name now. He brought me with him on the Smithy’s first day.” </li></ul>
  52. 52. <ul><li>“ He must have been very much absorbed with his new venture; that much I can tell.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Well, I did think Papa somewhat overdid himself, when I first chanced upon the site. He had two giant colossi mounted before the entrance – why, it seemed we no more had need of partisans to guard the store!” </li></ul>
  53. 53. <ul><li>But Arthur continued, “The insides, however, were in truth quite simple. We sold only a few banners here and there...” </li></ul>
  54. 54. <ul><li>“ ...A few muskets here and there, some suits of armor, and the occasional sword.” </li></ul>
  55. 55. <ul><li>“ I did help with the selling of the merchandise. As our professor said, even in this time one ought not be lax – and thus everyone ought to be prepared, methinks.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ And I daresay you did well, young Arthur.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes, I supposed I must have, but...” </li></ul>
  56. 56. <ul><li>“ ...It was Papa who did the lion’s share of the work. You do know how persuasive he is, no?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ He was charismatic, that much I can say.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes, yes, and it helped our business flourish.” </li></ul>
  57. 57. <ul><li>“ Your father must be very proud of you.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ ...Yes. He is.” </li></ul>
  58. 58. <ul><li>“ Well, this is a thing unheard of,” Jasmin softly said as she noticed Arthur looking crestfallen at the end of his narrative. “Many people would have given anything for their fathers to be proud of them, young Arthur. And yet here you are, your father’s pride, looking sullen.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ It... it is just that...” Arthur sighed. At length he continued, defeatedly, “I am not sure if I would make a proper Heir at all, Jasmin.” </li></ul>
  59. 59. <ul><li>“ I know what you hint of,” the gypsy said, in the same soft whisper. “Jeanne Valois Mercator would have made a better Heir, were she not born a woman. She is headstrong and confident where you are reticent and reluctant. She wields the sword like no one else. Surely she is the better person for the task laid upon your family. This is what you believe, yes?” </li></ul><ul><li>Arthur could not help but murmur in consent, “...Yes.” </li></ul>
  60. 60. <ul><li>“ It is amusing, how these assumptions form inside our heads, is it not?” </li></ul><ul><li>The startling turn caught Arthur offhand. “What do you mean, Jasmin?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Why, a long time ago, I rather thought that your own father was not fit to the task, myself. He was, after all, too engrossed with his own self. Too naive, as well, if I may add. Did you not know all this?” </li></ul>
  61. 61. <ul><li>“ And yet,” Jasmin went on with a shrewd, knowing smile, and a small laugh, “I was mistaken. We all know now of the events at your Uncle’s Castle. Foolish Damian Mercator had it all along.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yea, that is nice... but what does this have to do with me?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Oh, do you not see it? But you and your father are so much alike, Arthur. More alike than you might have cared to think.” </li></ul>
  62. 62. <ul><li>“ You have been destined to be Heir, Arthur. Just as your father before you was destined to begin a Legacy. I have noted of that ever since you were born. And yet you waver. You remain unconvinced of your own prowess. But it is of no matter. Are we not here, after all, to make trial of your worth?” </li></ul>
  63. 63. <ul><li>And it dawned on young Arthur that at the word, ‘here,’ they both had come to their destination. </li></ul>
  64. 64. <ul><li>For a moment all words eluded from Arthur’s grasp. The sheer height of the immaculate white marble pillars, the majesty of the crumbling stonework... all these were of a world that he had not yet in his waking life encountered. And from far-off, at the end of his vision, he could discern the bright blue calm of the Sea. </li></ul><ul><li>“ What... what is this place?” he exclaimed in wonder at last. </li></ul>
  65. 65. <ul><li>“ Welcome, Arthur, to the City of Elfinar, ancient home of the Sea-Elves!” said the gypsy Jasmin as, with a nod and a mysterious smile she beckoned the young man to follow her. </li></ul><ul><li>But Arthur was struck by the revelation. Roland was wrong! The world he dreamt, the world of his fantasies, the world of legends... “The Elves! They are real, then?” </li></ul>
  66. 66. <ul><li>“ Yes, they were. Of old this City was a beautiful place of fountains and gleaming stone and luscious gardens.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ And the Elf King–” </li></ul>
  67. 67. <ul><li>“ Yes, he dwelt here, too. Indeed we are come now to his ancient sanctum.” </li></ul>
  68. 68. <ul><li>Arthur found himself asking a string of questions. “But where are they all? The Elves, the Elf-King? If this is their City, then why...?” </li></ul><ul><li>But the answer he received only dismayed him. </li></ul>
  69. 69. <ul><li>“ Arthur, Arthur. The Elves have long been gone.” </li></ul>
  70. 70. <ul><li>“ They have all gone a long time ago, and the world they built is now gone, lost into Shadow.” </li></ul>
  71. 71. <ul><li>Arthur, however, was not fully content. “But why–?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Not now, Arthur,” the other interrupted, cutting his queries short. “I will tell you their story, if the time shall allow in the future: you may find their history amusing as well as instructive. But now our task summons us.” </li></ul><ul><li>It was then that Arthur, at his friend’s meaningful look, chanced upon... </li></ul>
  72. 72. <ul><li>It was the most wonderful thing he had ever seen. </li></ul>
  73. 73. <ul><li>“ So, Arthur, son of Damian, son of the true Count Mercator! Do you wish to make trial of your rightful claim to Heirship?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes... Yes, I do.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ And would you, should you find yourself rightful, press this claim and hold your name forever?” </li></ul>
  74. 74. <ul><li>At length, Arthur answered in resolute terms, “I do.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Then take pull the sword out, Arthur. Then we shall know if you are to be Heir or not.” </li></ul>
  75. 75. <ul><li>... </li></ul>
  76. 76. <ul><li>... </li></ul>
  77. 77. <ul><li>“ AAAGH!” </li></ul><ul><li>The sudden appearance and the drawn blade caused Arthur to step back in horror. Upon turning around, he saw that his friend’s face was entirely calm, as if she had expected all this to happen all along. “Jasmin, what is this!?” he demanded. </li></ul><ul><li>But Jasmin merely kept silent. </li></ul>
  78. 78. <ul><li>The newcomer pulled himself up to his full height. An imposing figure he struck, even as the sun lent its blaze upon his white armor, and the ornate mask stared straight at Arthur, cold and unfeeling. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Thou shalt take not the sword so lightly, methinks,” he spoke, his voice a low echo coming out through the carved iron lips. “Fight me, if ye deem thyself worthy of the Sword.” </li></ul>
  79. 79. <ul><li>Without further ado, the mysterious warrior thrust his blade forward, barely giving Arthur time to swerve. </li></ul>
  80. 80. <ul><li>But Arthur, for his part, was afraid. He had no weapon with him, having trusted that the matter would have proceeded in peace. And yet here he was, faced with a terrifying foe. He would be far blessed, thought he, even to come out of this encounter unscathed. </li></ul>
  81. 81. <ul><li>And yet – even Arthur himself knew that, as he was not the best of fighters, surely he would not have been able to dodge all these attacks, had his quarry been in earnest. In any case, his opponent was much taller, swifter, and reasonably good in the art of battle: his stance and footwork told Arthur all that. </li></ul><ul><li>Still, however, he had managed to avoid getting impaled by the masked warrior’s sword. </li></ul>
  82. 82. <ul><li>Moreover, he noticed that the iron-masked knight was holding his stance: he was not, as many seasoned soldier were wont to do, attempting to outflank young Arthur and attack him from a different angle. </li></ul><ul><li>It was, to Arthur, as if the white knight was doing nothing more than prevent him from gaining the Elf-King’s sword... </li></ul>
  83. 83. <ul><li>...and, upon further inspection... </li></ul>
  84. 84. <ul><li>“ Is this it?” </li></ul>
  85. 85. <ul><li>“ Is this all the heir of Damian can muster against mine hand?” </li></ul>
  86. 86. <ul><li>...getting him off his balance. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Thou art no fighter, little boy. Perhaps thou ought to consider flying now,” the white night taunted further. </li></ul>
  87. 87. <ul><li>“ Too easy.” </li></ul>
  88. 88. <ul><li>“ But you and your father are so much alike, Arthur. More alike than you might have cared to think.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Wait!” cried out Arthur, standing up once more. “This is not yet over!” </li></ul>
  89. 89. <ul><li>And so the white knight, its ornate mask still stern in its unmoving features, turned to face Arthur again. “Indeed?” he spoke mockingly. “But what have thou to bring up against me? I am much more the favored swordsman than thou art, and even more than thou shalt ever be.” </li></ul>
  90. 90. <ul><li>Arthur answered, “Yes, that is true.” </li></ul>
  91. 91. <ul><li>“ So I shall have to out-hustle you, shan’t I?” </li></ul>
  92. 92. <ul><li>Seeing the window of opportunity presenting itself, his quarry having been disoriented with that kick on her torso, Arthur quickly launched himself to the one thing that might yet give him a fighting chance in this fight. </li></ul>
  93. 93. <ul><li>... </li></ul>
  94. 94. <ul><li>“ The Sword!” the white night cried out, setting himself into a last-ditch attack. </li></ul>
  95. 95. <ul><li>But unfortunately for the white night, the assault proved futile. The Elf-King’s sword emitted a blinding ray of light as tremendous power surged out from the ancient weapon. </li></ul>
  96. 96. <ul><li>Arthur’s foe was thrown back. </li></ul>
  97. 97. <ul><li>“ Ha!” Arthur could not help but exclaim in triumph. “Perhaps you forget who you have set yourself against. I am Arthur, son of Damian, and I am Heir.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Is that so? Then well done, Arthur Heir.” </li></ul><ul><li>But it was not Jasmin who spoke, but rather, a most familiar voice. With this astonishing revelation, Arthur quickly turned towards the speaker, who earlier had been the white knight. </li></ul>
  98. 98. <ul><li>“ Well done, indeed.” </li></ul>
  99. 99. <ul><li>“ It was you!” he gasped. </li></ul>
  100. 100. <ul><li>“ Why, Arthur. You sound almost surprised.” And then, the unmasked one added, in a volume as if meant to be heard by her alone, “At least that makes one among us.” </li></ul><ul><li>Yep, only one person has the cheek to make that cruel snide remark. Come on, aren’t you readers surprised, too? </li></ul>
  101. 101. <ul><li>“ What is the meaning of this!?” Arthur demanded of Jasmin, who in spite of all the exchange of blows had not moved by a breadth. “You have led me into a trap – and now the form of my own sister is here! What fiendish phantasm is this?” </li></ul>
  102. 102. <ul><li>“ Arthur, Arthur. This is no net to strangle you with, I assure you,” the mysterious woman said calmly. “All that I have said is truth, and all have been set for your Heirship.” Then she paused, and gave the other person a significant look. “And as for your sister’s being here... well, why not ask Jeanne herself?” </li></ul>
  103. 103. <ul><li>“ Look here, Artie, and say that I am not your sister,” Jeanne supported the gypsy. “Why, if you do not acknowledge me at all, then you must be the biggest dunderhead in the Isla’s entire history. And besides, here I thought that you want to prove yourself equal to the Heirship? And now you act all, ‘Hey! This is a trap!’ At this rate, you will make a brilliant Heir yet, I can say that much.” </li></ul>
  104. 104. <ul><li>“ Alright, so it is Jeanne,” Arthur conceded. “But when last I looked, she, too, wanted the Heirship!” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes, she did. And I still think she does, I must say.” </li></ul><ul><li>That only bewildered Arthur further. “But... then...” he chose to ask the riddle his heart first longed to understand. “How... ho w come is Jeanne in here?” </li></ul>
  105. 105. <ul><li>“ A fair question. But perhaps Jeanne herself would like to answer that one.” </li></ul>
  106. 106. <ul><li>And Jeanne was more than happy to say her part. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Oh, it all began with Bel-bel, I suppose,” she began. “I must admit, we never give her the credit she truly deserves. In fact, from what I gather, she is developing her talents, maintaining high grades (not that I do not), and making her way to Papa’s old house in the College. But I digress.” </li></ul>
  107. 107. <ul><li>“ But what truly astonished me is her ability to do all these while actively hunting me down – oh yes, Artie, she did find me eventually, even though she has not informed you. </li></ul><ul><li>She was relentless. She consulted ever Orb, perused every tome, and studied every map in the College.” </li></ul>
  108. 108. <ul><li>“ At length, little Bel-bel discovered the existence of a secret society. Well, you know how the boarding houses are named Rotloff and Millicent Halls... remember? Well, the histories say that this Rotloff person, a man of great learning, built a castle in the hidden parts of the College. And there he had stocked all the tomes and records of knowledge he could. </li></ul><ul><li>And naturally, Bel-bel would have wanted such a resource for finding me. And though she had to break out of her shell in order to make the right friends, she chose to take the former option.” </li></ul>
  109. 109. <ul><li>“ And at length she was able to find the Secret Society of Rotloff’s Castle...” </li></ul>
  110. 110. <ul><li>“ ...And more besides.” </li></ul>
  111. 111. <ul><li>“ Jeanne?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ ...” </li></ul>
  112. 112. <ul><li>“ Jeanne! No! Wait!” </li></ul>
  113. 113. <ul><li>“ But for all the good – or good I would have called it back then, I know not what I shall term it now – my running away did, it was still an exercise in vanity. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Bel-bel had already gained access to the stored knowledge of the Secret Society, had she not? Locating me with the aid of such lore was only a matter of time.” </li></ul>
  114. 114. <ul><li>“ And this, I suppose, is where Mama comes in.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Bel-bel? Do you not think this the most inappropriate hour to–?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Mama. I have found where Jeanne is.” </li></ul>
  115. 115. <ul><li>“ Ysabel, are you sure of this?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes, Mama.” </li></ul>
  116. 116. <ul><li>“ She needs us aid, Mama. Jeanne might not accept this right now, and she might choose to believe otherwise, but it is family that she needs most at this moment. We must come to her.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I know, child. I know. But... she is rather headstrong...” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Jeanne will listen, Mama. In any case, she will not shun us away, methinks.” </li></ul>
  117. 117. <ul><li>“ And... Mama. Do not let anyone know. Especially not Papa. Especially not Artie. Not yet. It might prompt them to do something rash.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I understand.” </li></ul>
  118. 118. <ul><li>“ But of course,” Jeanne broke her narrative, &quot;I cannot disclose everything that happened . I am not some all-seeing deity (who enjoys far too much of these happenings) after all.” </li></ul>
  119. 119. <ul><li>“ And so, as I have said, it was only a matter of time.” </li></ul>
  120. 120. <ul><li>“ Mama was able to find her way to the College’s upper terrace, where I have currently taken up residence. Of course – I myself almost forgot that, once upon a time, Mama went to college, too.” </li></ul>
  121. 121. <ul><li>“ Ma... Mama?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Oh, Jeanne – how you have worried us so!” </li></ul>
  122. 122. <ul><li>“ And from then on, it has been Mama’s wont to visit every now and then. Mostly she would only drop by and ask me of my doings. But there were times when she would bring food – I was not a great cook, though I must say I am getting better at it.” </li></ul><ul><li>It all fit! “So it was you all along! I wondered where Mama was bringing all those chilli,” Arthur exclaimed. “And I thought there was a greedy chilli monster roaming about devouring things!” </li></ul>
  123. 123. <ul><li>“ Whatever gave you that idea, brother? But I stray. </li></ul><ul><li>Mama need not have worried, of course. I was doing well enough, subsisting on the College’s grants for excellent students. But I ought to have kept in touch, just the same. </li></ul><ul><li>It was just that, well, ever since...” </li></ul>
  124. 124. <ul><li>Jeanne had stopped talking. How would she be able to bring up that event that last transpired between both of them? If it were she in Artie’s place, Jeanne would not have sought her brethren out at all. </li></ul><ul><li>Some things are just too terrible to forgive, she thought. </li></ul>
  125. 125. <ul><li>But as if Arthur had divined his sister’s thoughts, he drew closer and said soothingly, “All those things matter not anymore, Jeanne. We are siblings – that is all that matters.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ But... I ought to have known better, Artie. And yet I have let the Heirship drive me mad.” </li></ul>
  126. 126. <ul><li>Arthur finally did what he had longed to do after all the long time. </li></ul><ul><li>“ What about all these not being the matter does not sink into your head, Jeannie?” he said in jest, tightly embracing his sister. </li></ul>
  127. 127. <ul><li>“ Hey, do not take my fire out, brother,” Jeanne snapped, if snapping one could call the low, contented tone she breathed. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Now, come, tell me how come you are here ,” Arthur asked. </li></ul>
  128. 128. <ul><li>Jeanne narrated once more. “Well, there I was, minding my own private business...” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Were you doing something particularly... you know...” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Hush, Artie! I was never once for romantic escapades, and you know and I swear it is true.” </li></ul>
  129. 129. <ul><li>“ As I was saying... there I was, making my bed and readying myself to sleep, when I felt a presence outside my little shack. At first I thought it was one of the Enemy’s minions... or worse, the Count himself, come to take vengeance for my little exploit. </li></ul><ul><li>I readied myself for the worst.” </li></ul>
  130. 130. <ul><li>“ But instead I saw a face that struck me as familiar, even despite the strangeness of, well, a white gypsy. – Say, is it just me, or is she not after the likenesses of... never mind . </li></ul><ul><li>In any case, I realized, at length, that it was one of Papa’s old friends. Jasmin did, after all, come by in our house quite some time ago... but I was a child then. Beats me how you even know her.” </li></ul>
  131. 131. <ul><li>“ Oh, she hardly spoke a word. In fact, I... I do not recall her having said any. But... it was strange. I thought that her coming was a sign I had waited for a long time. An answer to the question I ...nor any other power, I must say... have never been able to answer for me. I thought she had come to bring my queries of Heirship at a close.” </li></ul>
  132. 132. <ul><li>“ And as Jasmin walked away once more, I followed her. Even unto here. </li></ul><ul><li>And everything was clear to me ever since.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ But...” if anything, none of all these made things clear for Arthur. “How did you... well... how do you know... I mean... the Heirship...?” he sputtered. </li></ul>
  133. 133. <ul><li>It was Jasmin who answered the last question, however. “You forget, young Arthur. That is no ordinary sword,” she declared. </li></ul><ul><li>Accordingly she took hold of the Sword, which Arthur still held with his. She raised the sword for Arthur to see. </li></ul>
  134. 134. <ul><li>Arthur was surprised to see that the Sword was still glowing. </li></ul><ul><li>“ This Sword does not suffer itself to be taken so lightly by any agency, son of Damian. Graced as it was by the Elf-King’s hands, it shall rise again only to serve an equally fair and noble master.” </li></ul>
  135. 135. <ul><li>“ Yea,” Jeanne further supplied. “In case you failed to notice, brother, I tried to lift the sword while you were down. I guess it was my last vain attempt to win the Heirship. </li></ul><ul><li>But the sword did not rise an inch from its stone pedestal. It was not for me to take. </li></ul><ul><li>And, seeing that you ask, that was the time I fully knew.” </li></ul>
  136. 136. <ul><li>“ The Sword is yours, Arthur, just as the Heirship is yours – and yours alone,” Jasmin concluded. “And as for the power of that Sword... you have seen it for yourself. Long may that sword serve you!” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Elf-King’s Sword...” Arthur breathed in wonder. “What is its name?” he asked. </li></ul><ul><li>“ That is your Sword now, Arthur. What name do you see fit for it?” </li></ul>
  137. 137. <ul><li>Arthur glanced yet again at the Elf-King’s Sword... his Sword.... beautiful it was, its blade steel pure and shining, its hilt adorned with twin golden chimaeras. There was nothing like it. </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Sword Drawn, Once upon Stone... Excalibur. Yes.” He smiled in fierce joy. “Excalibur.” </li></ul><ul><li>And then he knew: there was only one thing left to do now. </li></ul>
  138. 138. <ul><li>“ Let us go home, Jeannie.” </li></ul>
  139. 139. <ul><li>“ We are back.” </li></ul><ul><li>Jeanne could not bring herself to speak. She was home. At long last she was home. But... would her home ever welcome her? True, Bel-bel and her Mama loved her still, and Arthur had put their differences aside, but what of Roland, Artie’s best friend? Or Robert, whom she yet had to meet? </li></ul><ul><li>What of her Papa? “I... I am not so sure with all these, Arthur.” </li></ul>
  140. 140. <ul><li>Laughing mildly, Arthur replied, “Jeanne. You scale high castles. You fight with monstrous vampires. Surely our own house does not scare you?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Actually... it does.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Oh, just knock.” And she did. </li></ul>
  141. 141. <ul><li>The door opened. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Now, who dares knock at such an untimely hour?” A familiar voice, and yet one that had turned gruff by a hundredfold, growled. “If you have come here only to–” </li></ul>
  142. 142. <ul><li>“ It is I, Papa.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Jeanne?” Something of the old sparkle returned in the old man’s eyes. “What is this?” mumbled he. “Mine senses deceive me at last. Or do I dream?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ No, Papa. I am home.” </li></ul>
  143. 143. <ul><li>Damian had to do it. He had to make sure that he was not dreaming. </li></ul><ul><li>And true enough, the weight pressing upon him, the arms going about him, were real. </li></ul>
  144. 144. <ul><li>“ Do not run away anymore like that, Jeanne! Do you hear me, child?” Damian spoke at length – but the temper that ought to have accompanied his warning was lost in the sea of his mirth. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes, Papa.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Now come inside. It is warm here, at home.” </li></ul>
  145. 145. <ul><li>And so, news were exchanged... </li></ul>
  146. 146. <ul><li>Siblings were finally acquainted... </li></ul>
  147. 147. <ul><li>And a family was at long last reunited. All was well... </li></ul>
  148. 148. <ul><li> for some persons. </li></ul>
  149. 149. <ul><li>... </li></ul>
  150. 150. <ul><li>“ Cecilia.” </li></ul>
  151. 151. <ul><li>“ You called, Papa?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Yes, daughter. I have only but received – personally from the Headmaster, of course – your report card.” </li></ul>
  152. 152. <ul><li>“ I am impressed, Cecilia. Much impressed. It seems that nothing has deterred you from your studies. I can only be very glad of that. </li></ul><ul><li>Verily, I myself am of the opinion that you are now ready for finishing school. What say you to College, dear child?” </li></ul>
  153. 153. <ul><li>“ Truly, Papa? I am glad!” </li></ul>
  154. 154. <ul><li>“ Yes, I did think you would be, Cecilia. And my darling deserves only the best College, of course. Would you not agree... Gavin?” </li></ul>
  155. 155. <ul><li>“ Of course, Master Goodytwoshoes, Sir. Only the best, Sir.” </li></ul>
  156. 156. <ul><li>“ Yes. Only the best. </li></ul><ul><li>Come, Cecilia. Make ready – the ship for Academie Le Tour leaves at the early morning light.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Academie... Le Tour? I... I do not understand, Papa.” </li></ul>
  157. 157. <ul><li>“ You will, child, in due time. You will understand.” </li></ul><ul><li>to be continued... </li></ul>
  158. 158. <ul><li>“ Secret Society? What kind of anachronistic rip-off is this!” </li></ul><ul><li>And there! I’m really sorry for taking forever to pop a new chapter out! But I do hope that this chapter will satisfy you all. It hasn’t been easy for me to wrap everything up in such a way that Jeanne re-enters the Legacy while developing Arthur at the same time. But I guess that it had to be done, putting Jeanne off for a time. Give Artie his chance and all that. </li></ul>
  159. 159. <ul><li>Yep, as you have noticed, this chapter was very much Arthur-centric. He is Heir, after all, and I just had to put him into the center of the Legacy. But boy it is sooo hard to set all these up! I do hope that I’ll be able to churn chapters quicker from now – and I guess I ought to lessen the plot for this. Which is fine for me, because these guys are fun enough to play in-game, anyway! Artie here is doing well enough in business, selling to River Bohemian and such. Now he’s getting all the Network stuff from his dad, so there. </li></ul>
  160. 160. <ul><li>“ Hiiiii!” </li></ul><ul><li>Oh, and the Adoption thing is actually not just for digression. Besides introducing Zane Devereaux, I have not-too-subtly hidden a character among the bunch of kids. This character will have a part to play in the Legacy later on, trust me. </li></ul><ul><li>Besides, having the Bohemians (Saffron and Dee here) showing up a lot crack me up. First Legacy I read and all that. </li></ul>
  161. 161. <ul><li>Gads, people! Didn’t I just condemn bubbles on my Boolprop Anniversary? Show some decency, darn it! </li></ul><ul><li>Credits: </li></ul><ul><li>Thanks to jamie/DocGirlP ( The Bohemian Legacy ) for allowing me to download her awesome Sims </li></ul><ul><li>Thanks to peasant007 ( The Devereaux Legacy ) for Lilian and Zane Devereaux </li></ul><ul><li>Special thanks to professorbutters ( The Squeaky Clean Legacy ) for allowing me to use Cecil and Cecilia Goodytwoshoes </li></ul>