Thursday, June 12, 2014
Chapter 3: Taste the Magic
Georgia gasps as they approach the duke’s manor, her eyes wide with amazement.
Noticing her awestruck expression, the duke chuckles. “This is our country estate,” he tells her quietly. “My wife decided that we should move out here while we renovate our house in the city.”
Georgia nods curtly, refusing to take her eyes off the magnificent structure in front of her. Lincolnshire Manor, as the property is known, has sat empty for as long as she can remember, but tonight the place bustles with life. Guardsmen greet them in stiff silence as they walk through the front gates, and servants scurry around the grounds ahead of them, tending to their various duties with seemingly fervent dedication. Georgia can’t help but notice, however, that they refuse to make eye contact with her or anyone else in their party, or if they do acknowledge them it’s merely to bow their heads and hurry away.
Once inside, a maid leads Georgia up to the duchess’s private chambers where she finds the woman lying on the bed in a cold, restless sleep. Sitting down beside her, George runs her hand across the woman’s sweaty forehead and murmurs a few words in ancient Simlish, and as her palms begin to burn with a soft golden light she traces a couple of symbols across the duchess’s clammy skin. The marks glow brightly for a moment before rapidly fading from sight.
“Just as I feared,” Georgia murmurs to herself. She can feel the woman’s pulse racing beneath her touch and the baby, barely a few months along, clinging to life in the womb.
On the other side of the manor, the duke sits in his study and waits, preparing once again to hear news of another miscarriage. His wife Cecily has yet to carry a single pregnancy to term, yet to bear him the son he so desperately desires, and her repeated failures make his skin boil with anger. When he married her almost two decades ago, he knew that his bride risked being afflicted with the curse of the Marsden family. The eldest daughter of the old king and sister to the current ruler of Merida, their union solidified the bond between their two families, but he often regrets the arrangement. Not that he had any choice in the matter, for it was settled years ago by his father when he was still a boy, but the duke despises his wife almost as much as she loathes him.
“I don’t like it!” Lord Draven, the duke’s half-brother and closest confidant, fumes. “The girl is nothing! A commoner with a dubious family past. Cecily comes from the oldest line of nobles in the kingdom. The blood of royalty runs through her veins, and with King Charles and his newest bride still failing to conceive Cecily’s child could very well become heir to the throne someday!”
“But you forget,” the duke hisses. “Cecily has yet to bear me any children, let alone a son, and I highly doubt this time will be any different. Besides,” he adds, lowering his voice to a chilly whisper, “the naiad spoke to me again when I visited her spring last month, and she repeated her prophecy. I slayed all three children, as the Gods demanded. I will have a son, and he will be a legendary warrior and carry on my legacy, whether he becomes king someday or not.”
The lord scowls at him. “But you could lose everything! If Cecily discovers that you are having an affair-”
“Let her find out,” the duke shrugs. “She means nothing to me now. The girl was led to me for a reason. It is a sign, Marcellus. Georgia will be the mother of my son. Mark my words.”
Both men jump as a quiet knock resonates from the door.
“Georgia!” The duke leaps to his feet and beckons her inside. “How is she?”
“Far worse than I had hoped,” Georgia replies somberly. “I fear she may lose more than just her pregnancy. She is fighting for her life right now, Your Grace. Her ailments are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s as though the baby is draining the life from her, consuming all the duchess’s strength in its effort to survive. I believe that we will know by morning whether or not she will pull through this, but I would like to stay with her tonight, if you will.”
The duke frowns. “What can you do for her?”
“We need to lower her fever, first of all, and I would like to get some fluids in her if at all possible. Once she seems a bit more stable, I want to try some cleansing rituals that I learned at the convent, and if all else fails I will use the one remedy that my mother always turned to as a last resort.”
“What is that?” he asks.
Georgia looks into his hazel eyes with unwavering determination and says, “Prayer.”
As promised, Georgia remains with the duchess all night, treating her with both physical medicines and healing spells. For a while, the duchess’s condition appears to improve, but in the dead of the morning, just hours before dawn, her body suddenly begins convulsing in a violent seizure.
In the heat of the moment, Georgia panics. She feels the duchess’s life rapidly slipping away from her, but she can’t move, can’t breathe, can’t think.
Mother help me, she cries silently as tears of desperation slip down her cheeks.
And with a jolt, she hears an answer to her plea.
Use your gift, a woman’s voice replies, and I will guide you.
Holding her hands above the dying woman, George turns her thoughts inward and calls upon her powers from deep within herself. It starts as a simple, flickering light in the back of her mind, but as she nudges it forward her magic flares to life beneath her skin with such ferocity that she struggles to contain it.
Now touch her, the voice calmly instructs.
And she does, laying her hands directly over the duchess’s swollen heart. Georgia can feel the woman’s anguish, sense the toxic disease poisoning her and her unborn child as though it were her own body battling for survival, and she screams out as the searing pain threatens to overcome her.
Focus! the woman commands. Use your gift to rid her body of the darkness.
“I can’t!” Georgia sobs, fighting the urge to succumb to the intense exhaustion and pain, but through it all she continues attacking the infection with every last glimmer of magic in her body.
“Awake yet, sleepyhead?” A cheery voice rouses Georgia from her slumber, and she blinks drowsily as her tired eyes adjust to the warm glare of the candlelit room.
“Where am I?” she moans.
“Lincolnshire Manor,” the young woman answers brightly. “You were tendin’ to Her Grace, remember?”
Georgia scowls as broken images of last night slowly filter back to her. “What happened?” she asks. “Is the duchess… Did she pull through?”
“Still feelin’ a bit tired and weak, but otherwise as lively as a bull in a field o’ heifers. When we found you, you was passed out cold, and we’s all thought you was dead. Luckily Her Grace insisted that you was still breathin’, and sure ‘nuff turns out the ol’ hag was right about somethin’ fer once.”
“I need to get home,” Georgia replies gruffly, biting back the urge to cry out at the sharp throbbing pang in her head. “Amara is probably worried sick about me.”
“But mistress, the duke wanted a word with ya! He told me-”
“I’m sorry, but I really must go,” she interrupts. “Please, if the duchess’s condition changes, she can send for me at my home in Lincolnshire. Anyone in the village can tell her where to find my place.”
When she returns home, Georgia discovers the house strangely deserted and the bed neatly made. Something feels wrong about the situation so she ventures further into town to try and find her friend, but Amara is nowhere in sight.
“Griffin!” Georgia calls out, noticing her friend’s old beau standing by the village temple.
Griffin glances over at her and waves, a large grin spreading across his face.
“Hi Georgia!” he beams.
“Have you seen Mara?” George cuts right to the chase.
Griffin grimaces. “You didn’t hear?”
“Hear what?” she frowns.
“Isolde…” he pauses and shifts uneasily. “Isolde died last night.”
Georgia gasps. “Oh Gods! But- I-”
“Amara went to visit her yesterday evening and found her dead in her chair. No one has seen her since.”
Georgia lets out a strangled sob, trying to hold back her tears.
“I knew she was getting older, but I didn’t even realize she was sick. And Amara! She must be a wreck. They didn’t always agree, but Amara loved that woman dearly. They were so close! I- I-” Georgia’s voice grows higher and more frantic as the words spill from her lips until finally she collapses into Griffin’s arms.
He looks surprised at the sudden contact but does not pull away from her.
“Shhh,” he soothes as he gently strokes her back. “Amara is a strong woman. She will need her friends to help her get through this, but eventually she will feel okay again.”
Georgia nods and rests her head on his chest, letting the tears stream down her face. “Will you help me find her?” she asks once she manages to regain her composure. “I’m really worried about her, Griffin. I have no idea where she might have gone.”
“Of course.” Griffin smiles at her and tenderly wipes a tear from her cheek, and all of a sudden Georgia becomes extremely aware of the proximity of their bodies.
“Let’s check my house again,” she decides, awkwardly backing away from him. “Amara might have returned while I was out searching for her.”
Indeed, they find Amara in a heap on the floor of Georgia’s kitchen, drunk and dirty from the night before. With Griffin’s help, Georgia half carries, half drags her friend over to the bed, where she tucks her in to sleep off the alcohol.
Weeks pass, and life returns to a quiet pace for Georgia. With autumn just around the corner, George spends much of her time tending to her garden and gathering herbs and other alchemy ingredients from around the islands. Once the first freeze sets in, she will have to rely upon her reserves to create new potions and elixirs for the villagers, and she frequently worries about running low on supplies.
Griffin gradually becomes a fixture around Georgia’s place. He often makes excuses for his visits, such as fetching a tonic for his elderly neighbor or bringing by a bone for her dog Sayer, but George sometimes wonders if he doesn’t drop by specifically to see her.
Just wishful thinking, she sighs after he bids her farewell one afternoon. Georgia can’t deny that she enjoys his company and longs for a more intimate relationship with him, but she refuses to let herself believe that Griffin feels the same way about her. He can, and if the rumors hold true often does, have his choice of any woman on the island. Handsome and charming, Griffin’s reputation as an incurable lady’s man is widely known, and while his source of income remains a vague mystery to most people in town the local gossip mill pins him as the single wealthiest (and thus most desirable) bachelor in the province.
After Isolde’s death, Amara abandons the small cottage she shared with her mother and moves in with Georgia for good. George feels uneasy about agreeing to the arrangement at first, but Amara proves far more considerate of her and their shared living space now. In fact, her friend stops bringing men home altogether and even begins taking on extra chores around the house. Georgia wonders about the change, but she simply attributes her roommate’s new attitude to the sudden death of her mother.
“A secret lover?” Georgia frowns at Josephine skeptically. “Amara hasn’t been serious about anyone since Griffin.”
“I think it started right after Isolde’s death,” Jo persists. “I’m guessing that he’s probably married or otherwise unavailable. How else can you explain her sudden disappearances and frequent trips to Sarlat? You know how she hates the city.”
“No! She would never keep something like that from me. She couldn’t-” Georgia freezes mid-sentence.
What if it’s Griffin? The thought hits her like a bucket of cold water. It would account for his constant presence at their house and new friendly attitude toward her. But why wouldn’t they tell me? she wonders angrily.
A few days later, Georgia receives word from Lincolnshire Manor that the duke has come down with a small cough and requires her services. He has business to attend to all day, the messenger boy explains, but would like to see her that evening, and so she hastily changes into her best dress and starts on her way. However, Georgia has barely just left when she runs into Griffin at the marketplace in town.
“You’ve been avoiding me,” the young man smirks, casually leaning his muscular frame up against a corner of the village well.
Georgia glares at him. “I have not. I’ve just been busy.”
“Then join me tonight,” Griffin requests. “There’s something I want to show you.”
“I can’t,” she frowns. “I have to deliver some elixirs.”
“Where? I’ll go with you.”
Georgia blushes and shyly tucks a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “Lincolnshire Manor. The duke has a cough.”
Griffin’s face hardens abruptly. “I heard you treated his wife a few weeks ago,” he comments in a cold, detached voice, “but I didn’t realize that you still associated with him.”
“I don’t!” she exclaims defensively. “He is ill, and I can help make him better. Why do you even care?” she pauses, scanning his face. “What do you have against him?”
Griffin shrugs and looks away. “Nothing.”
“Then you’ll come with me?” Georgia asks, eyeing him suspiciously.
“Not inside, but I’ll walk you there,” he offers in a somewhat reluctant tone.
As they stroll through the forest, Griffin casually puts his arm around Georgia’s shoulders. She tenses up at the touch of his skin against her bare back, but she tries her best to hide her discomfort.
“You should wear that dress more often,” he remarks as he flashes her his most irresistible smile. “You look beautiful today.”
“I wore it for the duke,” she blurts out, cringing inwardly at her own awkwardness. “I just mean, I wanted to look especially nice today. For him. To make a good impression. He is nobility, after all,” she adds feebly.
Griffin stiffens and pulls his hand away. “You like him.” He says it as a statement of fact, not a question or accusation.
“Yes,” she blushes. “He’s wonderful. A revered general and beloved leader, charismatic, good-looking, intelligent. And he’s done so much for our village and the islands. So much for the kingdom as a whole.”
Suddenly, Griffin stops and grabs her hand. “Can I show you something?” he asks in an eager tone, glancing back toward the setting sun. “Please?”
Georgia giggles and nods.
“Where are we going?” she laughs as Griffin leads her deep into the woods. She is acutely aware that he has yet to let go of her hand, but part of her irrationally hopes he never will.
“You’ll see,” he grins mischievously.
“Now turn around,” he whispers, slipping his arm around her shoulders once more.
Georgia inhales sharply. “The moon! I’ve never seen it so large before!” she exclaims. “How did you know it would look so full tonight?”
Griffin chuckles as the pair settles onto the ground to take in the sight. “Let’s just say I have an acquaintance who knows a thing or two about the lunar cycles.”
“What’s wrong?” he asks, noticing her sudden silence.
“Nothing.” She forces herself to smile at him, but it feels strained and unnatural. “Nothing at all. It’s perfect. You’re perfect,” she sighs.
“Georgia, are you ever going to trust me?” he demands as he scoots closer to her. “Please, talk to me.”
“Amara,” she mumbles after a moment’s hesitation. “I know about you two, Griffin. I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t tell me. I mean, if you think I will go behind my friend’s back and fool around with her man then I’m very sorry to disappoint you, but I would never hurt her. She’s the only family I have, really, and I care about her deeply. She and I-”
“Georgia!” Griffin cuts her off short. “What in the Goddess’s name are you talking about? I broke it off with Mara ages ago, and I have barely seen her since then. I don’t know who gave you the impression that there was something going on between the two of us, but the only woman I want is you.”
Leaning over, Griffin brushes the hair out of her eyes. “I really like you, Georgia. You’re so different than anyone else I’ve ever met. You care about people with such passion, such devotion, such sincerity, and yet you’re so strong and independent. I love that about you.”
He stops speaking, their faces just inches apart. “May I?” he breathes as he runs the tip of his thumb over her lips.
Georgia dares not reply for fear of losing her voice, so instead she answers him by leaning in and closing the gap between their lips.
And there under the soft shimmer of the pale moonlight, she tastes the magic of her very first kiss.
Yaaaay! I’m getting closer to where I am in game! =D
When I started this legacy, I had some vague ideas about my characters’ personalities and the setting as a whole, but I really did not know how I wanted my story to go, so I played fairly far ahead in game to get an idea of how things were going to work out. You see, I try really hard to fulfill as many of my sims’ wishes as I can, and I make a concerted effort to allow my sims at least a little bit of autonomy, especially when interacting with other sims. When I first began playing in this town, Amara, Griffin, and Georgia were all single and living on their own (although Amara and George were already friends, same as in the story). Story progression immediately hooked up Amara and Griffin despite several other singletons living in the village (and Amara’s commitment issues trait!), and once Isolde died (*cough* force killed… she refused to kick the bucket) I moved Amara in with Georgia for real. Shortly before this, however, Georgia and Griffin became friends on their own accord (well mostly... Griffin autonomously showed up on the same lot as Georgia, and I directed her to initiate a conversation with him, but after that the rest was all them), and Georgia rolled two wishes- to fall in love with him and to have her first kiss with him! I was quite surprised by this, as he was still attached to her best friend at this point, but I locked both wishes in anyway. A day later, I sent Georgia over to the duke’s manor to visit with him, and she rolled the same two wishes, but with the duke! Fickle girl, hehe. Nevertheless, once I moved Amara in with Georgia, I discovered that Amara’s relationship with Griffin was deep in the red, so I broke them up and allowed Georgia and Griffin to have their first kiss. <3
Meanwhile, Amara rolled a wish to write a love letter to Griffin (right after their breakup), so I obliged. And his response almost made me fall out of my chair from laughing.
You can click on the picture to make it bigger and I pasted in the original sized version of the text down at the bottom, but it reads, “Amara just got a letter in the mail from Griffin Everard! It’s covered in X’s and skulls and a little doodle of Amara lying on the ground with lots of arrows and daggers sticking out of her.” Surprisingly appropriate for the Middle Ages. XD But I really love the look on Georgia’s face, like maybe I won’t give this one to her. LOL!
Georgia wrote one to Griffin a few days later as well, and his reply was a lot sweeter.
Admittedly they were romantic interests at this point, but I d’awwwed when I read it. I think he likes her. <3
Anyway, I won’t tell you all the rest now, as I don’t want to spoil anything, but despite how staged my legacy appears I really am making an effort to base it off of actual gameplay. Also, the amount of staged scenes should go down significantly in a while once I get to where I am in game, as in the beginning I got so caught up in playing that I rarely stopped to snap screenshots.
Finally, I have posted two more of my rolls on the sidebar, Amara’s career (Fortune Teller) and my miscellaneous fun goal (A Sim for All Seasons). I will admit now that I forgot about my miscellaneous fun roll during the winter and spring seasons. (I told you I am ahead in game, haha!) Due to my medieval setting, I really struggled to find new seasonal outfits for her (and her pregnancy/-ies? ;) severely limited my options as well), and as I don’t envision her throwing up a Christmas tree or hanging lights on her house decorating for the winter proved quite challenging as well. She did, however, throw a party or visit the festival lot on each of the four seasons’ holidays, and I will definitely make sure to give her a special outfit and decorate the house next winter and spring. I did follow the rules in both summer and fall when the house was less crowded and I wasn't so busy, if that counts for anything. =)
By the way, here’s Georgia's summer “décor”. When I first chose her house, I added the grill, the pales, the scarecrow, the honey bees (for her alchemy as well), the horseshoe court, and the sleeping bag (so she could sleep outside under the stars), in addition to lots of landscaping. I couldn’t think of what else to do, so since it was for the summertime I just focused on the outdoors.