Echo in Time: Winter 1307-1309 Part 2

[This STILL doesn’t get us through the winter, so there will be a part 3. This whole idea of writing one post per season may not float. I don’t expect every season to be this eventful, though.]

As snow piled deeper outside the Howland house, Nash wrapped his children in thick blankets against the cold. Food was running thin, and so was firewood. Nash’s illness faded after the last chance at harvest was past. The cow was still giving milk, and the chickens still laid a few eggs huddled up in their henhouse, but it wouldn’t be enough. Nash had a decision to make, and it broke his heart.

He bundled up the children and walked them into Mahlsberg, trying to keep them warm. Ruby and Gerbald, to their credit, gave him no trouble when he asked if Alair and Emma could stay with them for a few days while he looked for work in Praaven City. It was understood that he need not come back for them, but nobody said that.

Thus found himself alone inside of the walls of the city after dark, walking through drifts of snow and thinking. The last seven years of his wife were wiped away. His family was gone. He couldn’t keep the farm alone, and he wasn’t sure he even wanted to try. He had rebuilt the place expecting to purge it of dark memories, and instead it had only gathered more. He wasn’t sure he ever wanted to return. Perhaps the place was cursed. Perhaps the Watcher considered it too tainted by blasphemy.

He could return to the workhouse. It wasn’t a joyful life, but they didn’t ask questions. He would have food and a bed, and he wouldn’t need to think for a while. It had worked for him as an orphaned teenager. It was familiar.

“You filthy whore!” A man’s shout cut through his attention. Around the corner, he saw a man and a woman in the middle of an argument.

“You are not going to hit me, Dagon,” the woman shouted back.

“Like hell I won’t! You deserve worse!”

“You want to be that kind of man? I thought you were better than that.” Then she dropped her voice and said, “It didn’t have to end like this.”

Her voice…. what was it about her voice?

Nash’s numbed mind was working again, and he was finally moving. He was not going to stand back while a woman was abused. He threw himself between them. “What in Watcher’s name are you doing?” he demanded.

“We’re fine,” the man, Dagon, growled. “This is none of your business.”

Nash turned on him. “Are you kidding me? You’re threatening this woman out in the middle of the street! This is everyone’s business!”

“You don’t know what she did!” Dagon shrieked.

“I don’t care what she did!” Nash said.

“Mess with me and I’ll make you regret it!” Dagon shouted.

“You want to try me?” Nash said.

“Dagon, go home,” the woman said.

Dagon looked up the hill at her, then back to Nash. Rage distorted his face… but also pain. He started to move, and Nash tensed for a fight.

Dagon only shook his fist. “You’re a whore, Jackie. You can dress yourself up nice, but you’ll always be a whore. You disgust me.” Then he turned and stalked away. Nash let out his breath.

“Hey,” she said. “I’m sorry you had to see that.”

Nash turned to look at her then, and suddenly his knees felt weak. “…Jacqueline?”

She frowned staring at him. “Nashie? Can that be you?”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Nash said. “I heard you’d gone someplace far from here.”

“I did,” she said. “Then I came back. Where are you living these days? I’m not going home, or not to that home anyway, and you and I need to have a long talk.”

“It’s out of town,” Nash stammered. “Actually, it’s the old Howland farm.”

“You went back there?” she asked with wide eyes.

“I fixed it up,” he said. “For my wife.”

“Oh,” Jacqueline said, nodding. “I bet she wouldn’t like to see some girl from your past turn up on her doorstep.”

Nash shook his head. “She’s gone,” he said, feeling his chest grow tight again. “Things didn’t… turn out like I planned.”

Jackie put her hands on her hips. “All right then. I have time. Show me what you did with the place.”

“It’s a long walk from here in the cold and snow,” Nash said.

Jacqueline shrugged. “It turns out I have plenty of time, and my plans canceled. Also, I have nowhere to stay at the moment, so unless you want to pay for an inn, your place is what we have.”

So he led her back to the farm. The snow was finished for the moment. The sky was clear, and the wind was low. Jacqueline told him her story in broad strokes — not long after the Howland fire, she joined up with a troupe of traveling minstrels to see the world. And she had seen some fascinating places, but the work was seasonal, and winter wasn’t the season. She and Dagon had been paramours for a while, but he’d gotten very possessive in recent months, and well, “We’d never had any expectation of being faithful,” she said, “And he certainly wasn’t.”

Nash listened in silence and grunted his sympathy. Then he let her draw out his story in bits and pieces until at last they were back at the farm house.

Jacqueline looked around appraisingly. “You built it back better,” she said. “I see that there’s only one bed, and I’m exhausted. I hope you don’t plan to be weird about it.

Nash was too exhausted himself to make any protest.

In the morning, they continued to talk over sandwiches.

“So, you have two small children and a farm to tend and no wife,” Jacqueline said. “Those are hard times.”

Nash just chewed and glared.

“I think I could be a help with this problem. Do you want my help?”

Nash dropped his sandwich back onto his plate and stared at her. “What exactly do you have in mind?”

“I grew up on a farm, Nashie, same as you. I know my way around cows and crops. I even like kids. You need a woman to run this place with you, and I happen to be one.”

Nash was dumbfounded. “Why would you do that?” he asked.

“Because I like you, Nashie, and you deserve better,” she said. “I never forgot all those plans that we made before everything went wrong.”

“I– don’t know what to say,” Nash said. And he didn’t say anything more as they gathered up the dishes.

“Think about it,” Jacqueline said. “And think about those babies. You sound like a great father. You should be taking care of them. I want to make that happen.”

She drew close then and caressed his cheek. “Do you remember all the hours under the apple trees, making plans? I remember how you looked at me then.” Nash looked into her eyes, and for a moment he was back there. It had been such a happy time, a world away — a time filled with all kinds of promise. Nothing had turned out the way they planned. It had been months before he could look for her after the fire, and by then she had already left.

She leaned in to kiss him, and that was enough to break the spell. He jerked back. “Jackie, I–”

“Oh,” Jacqueline said. “No is an acceptable answer. I just thought, well.”

“This is all so fast,” Nash said. “You can’t just move in here. I have to… I mean Emmaline was… I couldn’t be like you and Dagon. I need to stay right with the Watcher.”

Jacqueline let out a surprised bark of laughter. “Nash Howland found religion? I didn’t see that coming.”

Nash looked at the floor. “You wouldn’t have,” he said.

She cocked her head and gave him a long look. “So, let me get this straight. You want me stay, but only if we get married. Is that right?”

Nash looked at her helplessly, a dozen feelings tangled in his head. He nodded.

“All right then,” she said. “I guess we’ll have to get married.”

Then before Nash could really believe it was happening, it was over.

Jacqueline drew the line at a church wedding. They were married on the farm, on a hill overlooking Praaven City in the distance.

Ruby, Gerbald, and their eldest son attended, along with a minstrel friend of Jacqueline’s and, of course, Nash’s old friend Boggs.

As he slipped the ring on Jacqueline’s finger, hope swelled in Nash’s chest like pain. Those old teenager feelings came back, dusty and confused, the longer he spent time with Jackie. But neither of them were the same person they’d been back then. Was this the right decision?

He could only hope so.

After the ceremony, guests gathered in the house where it was warm to congratulate the new couple, drink mulled cider, and laugh.

“I will bring the children back in the morning” Ruby promised. “I assume you want a night to yourselves.”

“Of course we do,” Jacqueline said before Nash could respond. “You’ve been so kind. Thank you.”

Ruby’s disapproving scowl softened. “I wish you both the best,” she said.

At last, Jacqueline herded family and friends out of the house and waved them goodbye. She turned on Nash. “So are we good in the eyes of your Watcher now?” she demanded.

“Yes?” Nash said hesitantly.

She grabbed his arm and pulled him into a kiss.

“If you’ve done your duty, then let’s get to the good part,” she said.

And they did.

Jacqueline was the girlfriend that NRaas stuck Nash with while he was in the middle of courting Emmaline, because of course it did. He was definitely single when they started courting, but not when he joined the household. I had him send her a breakup text before he proposed to Emmaline, but their relationship stayed incredibly high.

I’d been scouting for single women Nash had chemistry with, or even some he didn’t, but NRaas had been thorough. I’d just concluded that I was going to have to break up a couple in order for Nash to have a shot at remarrying when he took an opportunity to deliver fish to a townie and there she was in that alarming argument with her romantic interest. Lo-and-behold, she was still single (if only technically — she’d clearly been having a good time). Their relationship and attraction scores were very high.

Jacqueline is almost Emmaline’s opposite — Brave, Lucky, Absent Minded, Virtuoso, and something else I can’t remember. I’ve decided that her health/death rolls will get a bonus due to the Lucky trait.

In conclusion, I offer a few wardrobe malfunctions:



The problem with loading up with cc is that some folks are going to screw it up. I’m still rooting out the bad stuff.

7.41 Mothers

The air turned colder, and Autumn eased into Winter.

Winston’s crowds at outdoor venues started to get thinner as it got colder. He’d performed in the snow before. He didn’t feel the chill when he was moving and playing with fire. But the park stage was probably not going to be the best way to draw an audience for a while.

He spent a lot of his personal time on dates with Emilie.

Andria decided to write her memoirs and began to fill spiral-bound notebooks cover-to-cover with pencil scratches. “Don’t tell me to put it on the computer,” she snapped when VIckie suggested just that. “I can’t stand computers. They make everything feel artificial. I guess they call it ‘virtual’ these days.”

Vickie didn’t argue with her.

On the other side of the tech divide, Jonah had just discovered computer video games and would disappear for hours.

They found other ways to have fun too.

That fun had the logical outcome. Vickie was delighted to be expecting another child.

So was Andria. She knew she was living on borrowed time. Every moment she spent with her family, especially her grandchildren, was a blessing.

When Caspian’s birthday rolled around, Vickie decided it was high time for a party. “I’ll invite the entire family, and anyone who can’t come losing the right to complain that I left them out,” she declared.

Jonah looked pensive.

Vickie, who had gotten a lot better at noticing everything he said without words, noticed immediately. “What’s wrong?”

“The Waves pod will be headed back in our direction toward our winter fishing grounds,” he said slowly. “I would like to invite my mother to this party. She hasn’t met her grandson.”

Vickie blinked. “I thought you said your clan disowned you… because of me,” she finished more quietly.

Jonah stared at his hands, “It wasn’t that simple,” he said. “I can’t be a part of the pod anymore, but if I could persuade her to visit, she might want to continue associating with us.” He sighed. “I would like to try.”

Vickie hugged him. “I still don’t understand why you were willing to give all that up to be with me,” she said. “I think she’s crazy to give you up completely. I support you. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”

Jonah kissed her instead. He was a merman of few words.

For Andria, the best part of any party was baking the cake.

Snow was falling when the time of the party rolled around. Vickie stood at the door to say hello to Edmund, Gamora and Emmett, Judith and Mason.

Last to arrive was a woman Vickie didn’t recognize but knew without asking.

“Um, you must be Joyelle,” Vickie stammered. She had an ageless face, a far-away look in her eye, and was wearing a completely inappropriate, gauzey dress in the middle of the snow. She didn’t even seem to be cold.

Joyelle of Waves rewarded Vickie with a piercing look. She nodded slowly.

“Jonah’s getting the baby up from his nap…” Vickie trailed off.

Joyelle looked past her and walked by.

Jonah brought Caspian downstairs, and it was time for the big moment.

Caspian grew into a little merman who looked a lot like his father.

But with Grandma Andria’s eyes.

She couldn’t have been more delighted.

Andria served up the cake. Jonah and Joyelle exchanged glances that Vickie couldn’t read, but they didn’t say much to each other. Vickie sat down to spend some time with Judith, which was a lot more comfortable.

Caspian, on the other hand, pondered how to pull the carving knives down off the counter.

“I have to ask,” Judith said. “You have always been such a free spirit. What do you think of motherhood? Doesn’t it tie you down?”

“I was afraid it would,” Vickie admitted. “But I had to try. It’s been crazy but wonderful. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And I guess I’m doing it again!” She looked down at her belly, which was barely showing her new pregnancy.

“Another baby already!” Judith said. “You didn’t waste any time!”

“I’m not getting any younger,” Vickie said. “I guess I thought it was now or never. Have you and Mason thought about kids at all?”

“We’re…. talking about it,” Judith said. “I think want to, but Mason isn’t so sure. He has such a disruptive job, you know. Would we really be able to raise a family with him working nights and disappearing at odd hours?”

Judith had made it clear that Vickie shouldn’t ask too much about what Mason did for a living, so she didn’t go there. “You always have me to help!” she said instead. “I don’t want to push you into anything, but wouldn’t it be amazing if we were moms with small kids together?”

[Mason James is in the Criminal career, but I realize that I don’t know what Judith does or if she has a job.]

After cake, Jonah started cleaning up, and Joyelle helped him. Vickie called the rest of the guests to come play with Caspian, who had crawled into the kitchen and was trying to pull the grating off the dishwasher. This kid was going to be a handful.

Vickie could hear her husband and mother-in-law speaking in low, singsong voices. She didn’t think it was in Simlish.

After a while, Caspian started throwing a tantrum, and Vickie bundled the overstimulated toddler upstairs to rock for a while in the rocking chair to try to calm him down. Jonah said goodbye to the guests.

“Did it go all right with your mom?” Vickie asked anxiously when he joined her upstairs.

“I… don’t know,” Jonah said. “She was interested in learning more about her grandson. She wants to know what my plans are for his ocean education. We can lose our tails, you know, if we don’t spend enough time in the sea.”

“I didn’t know!” Vickie said. “You haven’t been swimming since Caspian was born. Are you sure–?”

He took her hand. “I know my own body,” he said. “You don’t need to worry.”

Vickie would have said more, but downstairs something more important was happening.

When Grim came for Andria a second time, she didn’t have a flower for him. It seemed almost disappointed.

“Not now!” Andria begged. “I have another grandbaby on the way!”

“I granted you one favor,” Grim said in its deep, grating voice. “Most souls don’t get any. Don’t push your luck.”

Then they departed for the Netherworld together.

Vickie knew she should be grateful for the extra time she had with her mother, but it wasn’t enough. No time could ever be enough.

Not a lot of commentary here. There’s going to be baby and toddler spam for a while.

Joyelle was the original mermaid generated for the dive lots I created on this world. Since she was going to be donating genes to the legacy, though, I gave her a new face.

Echo in Time: Winter 1307-1309 Part 1

[Note: My intent was to tell each season, which spans three years, as its own post. But SO MUCH happened this winter that I decided to break it out into two parts.]

The first snow of the season began to fall outside the the Howland home. The sudden cold suited Nash Howland. He felt the chill in his heart.

Emmaline Weaver Howland was dead. Her life had been snatched away after only a few years of precious happiness.

She left behind a a newborn baby girl with Nash’s dark eyes and curling wisps of her own strawberry hair.

Nash laid his baby girl gently in the the cradle he’d lined with fresh straw. She cooed at him, and his heart broke all over again.

He could barely breathe. What would happen to them now?

He got word to Emmaline’s kin as quickly has he could, which was painfully slow. The newborn babe now had no mother to nurse, and Nash had to focus on getting cow’s milk into her, lest he lose them both. He flagged down a messenger going into town and paid the lad to deliver the message.

Ruby and Gerbald dropped everything as soon as they heard. They left their two young sons with neighbors and arrived laden with enough food to last Nash for weeks. The three of them put the children to bed and managed the dark task of burying Emmaline. Afterward, Nash could only sit at the table and stare straight ahead.

Ruby gave her husband an unreadable look. “Our home can hold two more, can’t it?” she said.

Gerbald’s brows knit. “Yes, but I don’t see–”

“Nash should leave the children with us,” Ruby said.

“You want me to abandon my children?” Nash asked.

“I know you’re grieving,” Ruby said. “But you have to think about this. You can’t possibly run this farm alone while raising a toddler and an infant. Your land is too far from town for us to be able to offer the kind of assistance you need. Your life is your own, but please think of your children.”

“I am not going to abandon my family,” Nash said.

Gerbald took a deep breath and looked at Nash with the eyes of someone who desperately wanted to be anywhere but here. “They are welcome with us, if you think it is best,” he said.

Nash just glowered down at his plate.

“Would you set your stubborn pride aside for just a moment?” Ruby demanded. “If you stay here with the children, the babe won’t make it through the winter.”

Nash stood up abruptly. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for Emmaline,” he growled. “But I can care for my own family, and I will.”

Ruby jumped to her feet and glared at him. “Emmaline chose you, and I will never understand why,” she said. “We loved her, and we love her children because they are hers. We can’t make you think. We can only hope you come to your senses while the children still have a chance.”

She swept out of the house.

Gerbald looked at Nash with sad eyes. “I’m sorry,” he said. He looked like he wanted to say more, but instead he just followed his wife out the door.

To her credit, Ruby did arrange for a town girl to watch the children during the funeral.

[Note: The babysitter did that thing that babysitters do — stood at the entrance of the room and did absolutely nothing the entire time.]

Nash arrived early to spend some time in the church alone.

His footsteps echoed on the stone as he walked past the pews to stare up at the towering altar of the Watcher.

Nash had never believed. He hadn’t believed even before the fire that had killed his family and left him alone as an orphan teenager in a workhouse, but that certainly sealed his skepticism. He’d taken pleasure out of making others uncomfortable with his irreverence.

Emmaline had been sure he would bring the Watcher’s wrath down on their family. Now she was dead. The Watcher had made his point.

He begged forgiveness and pledged to dedicate the rest of his life to the Watcher’s service. If only, please, the great deity would not make his children pay for his mistakes.

He stood by as Gerbald delivered the eulogy He wondered if the Watcher had heard his plea. Even if it was too late for him, what mattered now were Alair and Emma.

That night, alone in the house at last with his children, he put the little ones to bed and tried to quiet the shouting in his head. Was Ruby right? Was it just pride that led him to insist on raising them? Was he… putting them in danger? He couldn’t bear to think of sending them away.

Even anxiety couldn’t keep him awake after this day. He was so exhausted he could barely move. He collapsed into the empty bed and slept.

When he awoke, Alair was already up and happily making a mess all over the floor. And that was the first day of his new life.

Emma took well to cow’s milk and seemed to be growing well. That was one deadly danger Nash could worry less about.

Perhaps that was a first sign of the Watcher’s favor. He could only hope.

It’s not as if he was likely to run out of things to worry about.

As an extra blessing, the weather turned warmer, giving Nash a few extra days to prepare for the freeze as best he could. He needed to bring in the last of the harvest that Emmaline had left. They needed to be a stockpile of firewood, especially with two little ones less prepared to endure the cold. Soon, the ponds would freeze over, so the last catch had to be dried and smoked for storage.

The livestock still needed to be tended. Chickens fed. Cow milked. Their homes needed to be prepared for the winter.

[Note: These screenshots do occur in this place in the game chronology, after the first snows started. Temperatures swing up and and down in the transition between seasons, so that part is fine, but they look summertime green rather than autumnal. I have no memory as to why. It does look like the plants behind him might be evergreen?]

And in any spare moment, there was an endless supply of dirty nappies.

Alair was fascinated by sound and rhythm. They were the only things that could keep his attention for long. When Nash could hear him banging out rough tunes with a stick, he at least knew the kid wasn’t causing any trouble. The sound carried out into the barnyard and Nash could listen for it while he worked.

There was so much to do, he could seldom make time to feed his son himself. He filled bowls with food and left them within Alair’s reach. He was raising the poor boy to be a savage, but it was better that he be fed. Hopefully there would be time in the future to teach him proper manners.

Thoughts of Emmaline haunted him whenever he took a moment’s rest. He missed her so badly. He was desperately lonely on the farm with only two depended mouths to feed for company.

He saved his tears for when he was out of the house. Emma was too young to know, but he didn’t want Alair to see his father in such a state.

One afternoon, he choked on a sob, and he came back out in a fit of rattling cough.

The tightness in his chest was no longer just grief. He was getting sick.

He didn’t have time to be sick. The family’s fate this winter depended on what he could do right now. It would be his fault if the children went cold, or hungry, or worse.

He wiped his running nose and pushed on through a feverish haze.

Exhaustion was an endless cycle that never, ever stopped.

Ruby was right. He couldn’t give his children a real life by himself. He wanted to keep them with him, but if he couldn’t find a better way, they would face a much better future if he sent them away.

Oof. I hope this was kind of wrenching to read because it tore me up to play it. This whole segment was both frantic and tragic.

There wasn’t enough time in the day for Nash to do everything he needed to do on the farm and drop everything to feed the baby every few hours. Alair made constant messes with FloTheory’s Make a Mess — a mod that, I may add, makes playing with toddlers MUCH more realistic.

Nash then caught a cold (with my Symptoms for Seasons) that ran his energy down faster. With all the time it took to feed Emma, he couldn’t stop to also feed Alair (no bottles in normal situations — if there’s no one to breastfeed, a toddler must be fed baby food), I ended up feeding him with Zoeoe’s Toddler Bowls. But Nash couldn’t go into town to sell fish/produce to earn any money, and a mere §25 per meal was wiping out their savings.

So yeah, nothing manipulated for story purposes —  he really couldn’t do it alone.

7.40 Caspian

Vickie had to admit that being a pregnant newlywed wasn’t bad at all.

Morning sickness was light, and Jonah jumped to help whenever she seemed the slightest bit uncomfortable.

He was practically vibrating with anticipation of impending fatherhood, which certainly quelled her own nervousness. She had never felt so pampered in her life.

Days were spent preparing for the baby. And playing with Connery.

And learning about parenthood.

When Vickie couldn’t handle more attention, Jonah roamed in search of the herd of wild horses that wandered the coasts of Avalon Island.

They enchanted him. Every motion was a moment of vivid beauty bound to the world of dry land in which they lived.

They no longer spooked or ran when they saw him. He was beginning to earn trust.

The dreaded day arrived when they had to say goodbye to Connery.

Dis departure wasn’t a surprise. He was an incredibly elderly dog. Aunt Abby had adopted him into the family as a puppy.

It was still incredibly sad. He’d been there for Vickie in some of her darkest moments, and she took it really hard.

She inhaled suddenly from a sob. She felt something new that definitely had nothing to do with crying.

It hit her again. “Jonah,” she called. “I think it’s time.”

Jonah couldn’t drive her to the hospital. He’d never taken a driving lesson. But he was right there to offer support.

They arrived at the same time a Maya Ocean, looking fit and hale. “Hey! I’m getting a sparring injury checked out,” she said. “I guess I don’t need to ask why you’re here. Congratulations. Better you than me.”

It wasn’t Maya’s most supportive moment. Vickie managed not to snarl at her.

As births go, this was an easy one.

The birth announcement was in the newspaper the next day.

Andria cut the birth announcement out of the newspaper. “I’ll cherish this moment forever,” she said. “I got to meet my grandbaby!”

Vickie looked at the birth announcement and scowled. “The CHILD is resting comfortably? What about the mom?” It had been an easy birth, but not that easy.

Motherhood came naturally to Vickie.

She could rock endlessly with him in her arms and doze.

She even enjoyed the never-ending responsibility of keeping Caspian amused, fed, and clean.

Well, she enjoyed it most of the time. When she didn’t, her family was there to pick up the slack.

Winston already worked nights most of the time. It was easy for him to adjust his sleep schedule to accommodate early morning feedings.

And Andria was never far away. She sang lullabies to him when he fussed and kept a sharp eye on how much sleep the beleaguered parents were allowing themselves.

[Jonah did plenty of parenting. I just somehow failed to take pictures of him. Sorry to make you look like a deadbeat, Jonah.]

On Spooky Day, the new expanded family had their first outing.

Caspian laughed and gurgled all the way to the festival. He seemed thrilled to see all the new people. It didn’t hurt that adults compulsively make silly faces at babies.

“Hey,” Winston said. “Thanks for meeting me here. I thought it would be great to have a date at the Spooky Day festival, but I didn’t realize my sister was going to come along and bring the baby parade.”

“Oh, don’t say that!” Emilie said. “Your little nephew adorable. Don’t you think he’s adorable?”

“Yeah,” Winston admitted. “He really is great.”

“Have you ever thought of having kids of your own?” Emilie asked, avoiding his eyes.

“Yeah….” Winston admitted. “Some. Well, a lot more since Vickie got pregnant. It’s not so easy to have a family when you’re performing evening shows, but, well, yeah I think I want kids. Just not right now.”

Emilie beamed at him. “Of course not now, silly,” she said.

They stood around awkwardly for a long moment, searching for a way out of this topic of conversation.

“Hey!” Winston said. “It looks like they’re starting an apple bobbing contest!”

“Oh, great” Emilie said, her voice relieved. “I bet I can grab more apples than you!”

They both lost the contest.

A teen Victoria didn’t know walked up behind her. “Excuse me?” she demanded, “Did you just put your baby on the ground?”

“Well, just for a moment,” Vickie said, “while I–”

“That’s a horrifying way to treat an innocent baby!” the teen shouted. “What kind of parent are you? Have what for!”

“Aiee!” Vickie shrieked in surprise. “Did you–”

“Did you just slap me??”

The teen stuffed the glove back in her pocket. “It’s no worse than you deserve, ruffian!”

“How dare you!” Vickie growled. “I ought to–”

“I think it’s time to go home,” Jonah cut in. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of Caspian.”

[I think this is a Proper interaction “Give What For.” Awesome autonomous sims! I never noticed this with Dylan, and now I’m sorry.]

Vickie was just setting a sleeping Caspian back in his crib after a dawn feeding when she caught a flash of motion from her upstairs window.

Someone was fishing from the little beach of the property. In fact, just the place where Jonah had first stepped out of the ocean to meet her.

That in itself was unusual but no cause for alarm, but then she realized the fisherman was Edmund.

Vickie ran out to meet him. “What are you doing out here?” she cried. “You’ve never wanted to fish in your life!”

“Vickie!” Edmund whirled around, dropping his fishing pole. He looked almost guilty. “I didn’t expect to see anyone here.”

“I certainly didn’t expect to see you here,” Vickie said. “Why the sudden new hobby?”

“I just thought I should take some time alone to clear my head,” Edmund said, but the words came slower and more anxious as he spoke.

Then his face crumpled. “Joy left me,” he said.

“She what?” Vickie said. “Oh, Edmund. I’m so sorry. Do you know what happened?”

“She said she was wrong about me,” Edmund said. “She just didn’t feel for me what I felt for her.” He sighed. “I’d been talking about getting married. I guess she didn’t want to marry me.” A tear rolled down his cheek.

“If she didn’t want you as a husband, she’s the one with a problem,” Vickie said. “You would make a wonderful husband.”

Edmund smiled sadly. “Thanks for saying that,” he said. “We both know I’m an unusual guy with unusual interests. Not everyone is comfortable with fae magic. I thought Joy was, but I guess that wasn’t really what we had in common. I’m not sure I have any idea what I really need in a partner.”

Vickie threw her arms around her brother. “You’re right,” she said. “You’re not an ordinary guy. You’re romantic and brainy and old fashioned in a good way, not to mention mystical and mysterious. Joy may not appreciate that, but someone will. I know it.”

Generation 8 at last!

Spoilers: There are more kids coming, but Caspian is the heir unless something riveting happens with the others. He’s a fabulous counterpoint for rational, reserved Victoria. That is to say, he’s a hot mess.

NRaas StoryProgression broke up Edmund and Joy brutally. You could just see from the notifications that they had some ugly disagreement, she squashed his heart under her heel, and she immediately moved out and back in with her parents. Oooof. Joy was the simalike a fellow simmer build of her own teenage kid years ago, so, um, sorry it turned out like that.

Simantics: Bridezilla

Irresistible trait animations are never not horrible.

Yeah, this possible romance with the man you’re marrying at your own wedding might have promise…

I think this is because they went as a group to the wedding and then tried to get married.

Joy decides to sunbathe at the wedding. I suppose that’s no worse than playing in the water, considering. Maybe it should’ve been a swimwear wedding.

I just have no idea.

Well, that’s awkward.

This appears to be the pregnancy daily wear Vickie rolled.

And a few ghostly visitations.

Legacy co-founder Connor Frio Sample drops by for dinner.

Andria has a lovely chat with her dead husband.

7.39 Against the Waves

The morning of the wedding dawned gray and drizzly, leaving the beach sand a bit damp was the Samples set up for the event.

“Please don’t rain, please don’t rain, please don’t rain,” Victoria wished fiercely, decked out in her bridal sundress with her makeup just so.

And just like that, the sky cleared. She wondered if her mom had anything to do with it. She was pretty sure Andria was nowhere near that powerful.

Uncle Chaim was one of the first to arrive.

And he brought with him a surprise plus one, one Benjamin Mai, who he nervously introduced as his date.

Everyone still missed Aunt Abby, but it was good to know that Uncle Chaim was moving toward a life after her.

Uncle Sawyer arrived right on time with Gamora and her new husband Emmett in tow.

And Maya Ocean, who couldn’t hide her smirk at the whole event. “I told you so,” she whispered when she came close.

Edmund with Joy.

“It’s about tiiiime!” Vickie’s best friend Judith James cheered to anyone who would listen. “My girl is finally getting herself the right man!”

Jonah and Victoria walked together to the water’s edge. The guests gathered around and conversation slowed to a murmur. They could hear the rush of the gentle waves reaching up onto the shore and pulling back into the sea.

“I guess it’s time to do this thing,” Victoria whispered.

“Any time you’re ready,” Jonah agreed.

They exchanged rings on the sand, under the bright sun, with short, simple vows.

As they sealed their vows with a kiss, the guests erupted into cheers and throw confetti.

Uncle Sawyer really got into the confetti throwing.

“And not a moment too soon,” Victoria said.

“You’ve been living in the same house as that guy,” Edmund said. “What do you think of him? They had one quick courtship. That doesn’t really seem like Vickie’s style.”

“Well, he’s crazy about her,” Winston said. “That part’s pretty obvious. Maybe she just met the one and knew it.”

“We can hope so,” Edmund said.

“Trust you to see the dark side of things,” Winston said. “How are you and Joy, anyway? You thinking about tying the knot? I never thought of you as the kind of guy to live so long with a girlfriend before making yourselves an honest couple.”

“Um,” Edmund said. “Joy takes commitment slowly. I think it’s time to cut the cake.

Andria had really outdone herself on that baking.

Out of the corner of her eye, Vickie did notice that Joy always seemed to be on the opposite side of the beach from Edmund. She hoped everything was all right.

“Gamora Sample-Relevart?” Judith squealed. “The astrophysicist philanthropist? I just read about you in the Avalon Times! You built the new stellar observatory. Could I have your autograph?”

“Uncle Sawyer!” Vickie said. “It’s wonderful to see you! How is the new house and, um, new family?”

“We’re coexisting just fine,” Dr Sawyer Sample said. “It’s a big house. You should make an appointment with me for a pregnancy health check.”

“Oh! I never really thought about that,” Vickie said.

“You’d be surprised what modern medicine can tell us,” Sawyer said. “Your baby is a boy, by the way.”

“It’s, uh, thanks?” Vickie said. She wasn’t totally sure she wanted to know that.

“So there’s a little nephew in there?” said Edmund.

Jonah took a bit of a break from the press of the crowd to play catch in the surf with Connery.

Winston caught up with his cousin, who was certainly older and wiser and more content. He’d never been sure what she did in that lab she kept under Andria’s greenhouse, but apparently it was pretty lucrative.

A distant cousin, one of the Sample-Bookabets, captivated a crowd with some story about her travels.

Uncle Chaim took a moment to think about Abby.

“Take a look at that!” Gamora pointed. Judith had stripped to a swimsuit and was splashing in the surf.

She waved to Edmund. He took off his shoes, rolled up his pants, and started dancing with her.

Judith’s husband Mason didn’t seem particularly threatened.

“That’s a great idea! I’m in!” shouted Danial Ibari.

“I hear that it’s customary for the couple to dance together at their wedding,” Jonah said. “Would you join me?”

“I’d be delighted,” Vickie answered.

“Aren’t they adorable!” cried the cousin. “I’ll be sure to send them the pictures.”

Winston drifted over to Emilie. “Hey, do you like to dance? Would you like to dance with me?”

Emilie beamed at him. “Sure! I’m not a great dancer just to warn you.”

“It’ll be ok,” Winston said. He took her hand and pulled her close.

“Hey you’re not bad at this!” Emilie cried, laughing, as he twirled her.

“Quick moves are part of the job,” Winston said.

“Do you think your date can spare a dance for me?” Andria asked Chaim.

“Oh, of course!” Chaim said.

“Sometimes we geezers just have to stick together,” Andria said. And they were both Sample widows now, which went without saying.

Soon everyone was dancing together on the beach.

“I guess this is it,” Vickie whispered to Jonah. “Mister and Missus Sample. And soon baby makes three.”

Jonah smiled. “I think we’ll be ready,” he said.

One of my more successful wedding parties, if I do say so myself. Even if it did start out raining. I might have had someone back at the house use the weather machine before coming. I don’t actually remember.

Finding an even vaguely wedding-like dress that had a pregnancy morph was a huge pain. After this, went and downloaded a bunch of cc for future needs. Considering how much this game is about making babies, EA sure doesn’t think pregnant ladies need much to wear.


7.38 Pledge

The next few days brought difficult news.

Aunt Abby had passed on.

Uncle Chaim and little Hans spent the day with them after the funeral. Victoria still had no idea what possessed them to adopt a son so late in life. What would become of Hans if Uncle Chaim died and the poor kid was orphaned a second time?

Hans might have been thinking something like that himself. He was quiet and sullen for most of his visit. Not that you could blame him.

Victoria did her best to draw out her little cousin, and he did begin to loosen up. He told her about the new, smaller home that he and his father were planning to move to now that Abby’s celebrity lifestyle was behind them. He seemed to be excited about that part at least.

If something happened to Uncle Chaim, Hans would be welcome here, Vickie decided. Even though they hadn’t had nearly enough time so far to really get to know him, he was still family.

After the funeral reception, Vickie started feeling queasy.

A test quickly proved that the problem wasn’t something she ate.

She and Jonah hadn’t talked about children, but they hadn’t been terribly careful either. With her long unsuccessful love life, she hadn’t let her self think much about children. Making plans for them seemed like begging fate to crush them. She knew she wanted children, though hadn’t realized quite how much until she felt the surge of joy in discovering she was pregnant.

Whatever Jonah thought, she was ready to be a mom. More than ready, even.

So then she had to find out what Jonah thought.

“Have you ever thought about… having children?” she began nervously.

“I’ve thought of having them with you,” he admitted. “I hope that’s something you want when the time is right.”

“What if the right time was right now?”

“You’re pregnant!” he gasped.

“Is that good for you?” Vickie asked.

“Good? It’s wonderful! Um, that is if it’s good for you.”

He wrapped his arms around her and held her close, and Vickie decided to go all the way.

“If we’re going to have a baby together, would you like to do it as husband and wife?” she asked. It might not be the most romantic proposal, but she’d really always valued straightforward honesty more.

Jonah laughed. “I have already pledged myself to you in the strongest way of the merfolk,” he said, “but if it makes you happy, we’ll do it the landwalker way too.”

He let her take his hand and kneel to slip a ring on his finger.

Andria squealed with glee at the news.

“I gave up on hoping that I would life to see any of my kids get married or have my grandchildren. Now both at the same time!”

Vickie and Jonah decided on a small simple wedding, and Andria didn’t try to talk them out of it.

“Your father insisted on a big church wedding, and really one of those in a lifetime is more than enough,” she said. She did, however, insist on baking a big wedding cake.

Since there wasn’t a fancy dress, a gourmet reception, or even really a venue, plans came together quickly. It was a good thing too, since they were racing the clock against the baby.

Then, on the night before the wedding, Andria walked out to get the mail and started to feel light.

Vickie, Jonah, and Winston dashed outside as the Grim Reaper made its appearance.

“No no no no no!” Vickie shouted. “You can’t do this! You can’t take her now!”

Grim’s hood turned toward her for a moment and shrugged. Obviously, it could do anything it liked. Only Grim knew when Andria’s time was to go.

Andria, however, looked into the void of the Reaper’s face and grinned. “You’re just the fellow I wanted to see!” she said. “I picked this just for you!”

She reached out her hand, and in it was a hideous, spiny, black flower.

The Grim Reaper paused, then reached out with a bony hand to take it.

It stared at the blossom in silence, twirling it between two skeletal fingers. Then it made a sound, an inhuman grating sound, deep behind its hood. Vickie gasped and covered her mouth with her hand.

That sound turned out to be the Grim Reaper laughing with delight.

It raised its hands in a broad, sweeping gesture.

Andria rose into the air.

And when she fell back to earth, she was flesh and blood again.

Generation 8 finally on the way!
This was a perfect Sims moment. I had no idea Andria was carrying a death flower. I don’t know where she got it. Though, since was Green Thumb sim who was constantly gardening, she’d be the sim to have one. I’d completely forgotten about them. I was furious that Andria picked the eve of Vickie’s wedding to die, but then it all worked out.
Most of the action here was on a full moon night. I did my best to color correct away the color cast from Supernatural and finally looked up how to turn it off. I’m happy to use it in some saves, but zombies and stuff do not suit this one.

7.37 Somewhere in time

In the tech cave beneath the garden in the Sample house, the time machine exploded with light. Gamora emerged and landed lightly on her feet. Finally she could travel through that thing with style.

“Are you all right?” she asked Emmett. “Wait, where’s Fenton? Why is he on the floor?”

“Dunno,” Emmett answered, staring at the baby. “Time distortion? He’s fine, though. Didn’t even wake up.”

It was just minutes after she had left — over a year of subjective time ago. The paradox of time travel made her feel a little dizzy.

So much had happened since she last stood in this lab….

Oasis Landing erected a statue to commemorate her funding of generations of planetary conservationists.

(“I think I like it,” Gamora said.

“Somehow, I thought you would,” Emmett said.)

She filled her days cataloguing life forms that had evolved in this clean, safe, environmentally responsible timeline and comparing them to the flora and fauna of the less-hopeful timelines. She was in the unique position of being able to remember the branching of the timeline. Emit almost certainly could do this too, but they never spoke much after the Cloning Incident.

Here, there were luminescent caterpillars that chirped out encouraging messages when you picked them up.

And enormous flowers that gave off a nectar with amazing psychedelic effects. No wonder the people here seemed to be perpetually high.

In due time, Emmet proposed marriage at just the right moment.

And soon after they had a sunset wedding….

…at her absolute favorite place in the city.

Gamora’s new research direction in genetic splicing…

Resulted in little Fenton, a plantsim baby blended from genetic material she collected from herself and Emmett.

(“Are you using my genes or the Time Traveler’s?” Emmett demanded.

“You want the truth?” Gamora asked. “I don’t know, and I don’t really care. It’s all the same genes.”)

At first, she thought she would never return. Life could have been perfect in the future for the rest of their lives. But as time wore on, she thought about Sawyer more and more. She’d never told him goodbye. He didn’t know where she had gone. Without her, her dad would finish his life all alone. And… she missed him.

Emmett didn’t turn out to be as difficult to convince as she’d expected. “Life’s easy here,” he admitted. “I could use a challenge. Plus, everyone looks at me and thinks I’m that other Relevart guy.”

Gamora looked over the time machine one last time. “You sure you’re ready to do this?” she asked.

“I said I was ready,” Emmett said. “You don’t have to ask again.”

She took a deep breath and flipped the switch at the base of the time machine.

It erupted in a fountain of light that continued up into the heavens. Then it went dark forever.

“Here we go,” she said. “I hope you love my dad, because now we can’t go back. I did enough messing with downstream time by accident. The future’s in a good place. Let’s be sure it stays that way.”

Emmett shrugged. “I’m up with it. Let’s go meet this old man of yours.”

Gamora’s all-terrain hovercar was parked outside the Sample estate, just where she left it. The quick drive to her father’s new house on familiar Avalon roads finally made it feel real that she was finally home.

She burst through the door. “Dad! You won’t believe everything that’s happened since I last saw you. The whole family’s moving in with you, so get ready for company. And come meet your grandson!”


Ugh. I assembled this post about a dozen different ways, and this was the best I could come up with. The gameplay was fairly straightforward, but for some reason nothing I did made a coherent narrative.

So this is the best I can do, but I hope at least I’m out of writer’s purgatory.

This is Gamora’s farewell post. She has triumphantly left the active household.

Simantics: Falling in the deep end of the time pool

Sigh. The Samples have really been living in this town for too long.

I looked at their family tree, and Aunt is a bit of a stretch, but they do have a connection a couple of generations back. We’re going to forget we ever saw this.

I will say that the game DOES have incest checking, and it didn’t think they were closely enough related to avoid heart-farts.

This is definitely the best way to hate each other. I’m pretty sure there’s porn for the way Gamora and Jonah feel about each other. Lots of it.

Jonah went off to look at horses and came back by way of a LLAMA. The results were tragic.

Fortunately, Edmund was around to fix things up. I just now noticed Gamora playing on the computer behind them. Ha.

Also Vickie far behind, cooking. She took that up as a passionate new hobby when Jonah moved in, but you better look at it now because I later discovered that her ability to cook was borked. I I thought this might have been related to my Kelp Recipes, which I loaded into my game somwhere around then, and I was terrified that there was something weird about them that borked people’s sims. But, no, I have multiple reports that the recipes work fine for other people. Vickie just now takes about 4x times the time to cook a recipe as she’s supposed to. Like, literally most of a day to cook one dish. Each animation repeats over and over again. I have no idea.

I tried removing the Cooking skill using MasterController, but that doesn’t seem to reset a sim to the state of not having learned a skill. It just removes a pointer to something. When she learned to cook again, the problem resumed.

So she’s going to take up painting, I think, and Jonah can cook his own damn kelp.

At any rate, Jonah is ready for anything this weird landwalker magician might throw at him.

But it turned out all right.

Gamora discovers that she can’t avoid her high school graduation, even by jumping into a time machine and zapping herself hundreds of years into the future.

Graduation will always come for you.

Emit had to take a break from his important moment with Gamora.

OK, the special philanthropist’s money-donating animation is just completely bonkers. Can we just look at this again?

Oh, and after she gives the check, they both are showered in glitter.

Since I wanted to tie up this little loose end of Gamora’s life, I saved JC Sample’s family to the bin and placed him back in Utopia Oasis Landing. After all, nothing Gamora did should have affected the romantic choices of her immediate family, right? Right?

What I didn’t realize is that Dystopian and Utopian sims keep their timeline-related behaviors in a hidden trait. JC’s family immediately turned their lovely utopian home into a trash pile.

Emmett hugs himself. A lot of the Wonderland/Utopian sim idles are adorable, but the walk style is AWFUL. It’s the same as the Imaginary Friend walk, and it must DIE BY FIRE. I had to take the Wonderland trait off Emmett so that he could walk across the room in less than four hours. If there’s a way to just destroy the walk style and keep the rest of the cute stuff from that moodlet, please let me know.

Ah, the romances of our time are just part of a loop that repeats itself over and over through time.

Or maybe ITF doesn’t try very hard when it generates descendants….

Echo in Time: Year 1304 – 1306

Nash was was filled with wonder and delight by the news that he would finally be father.

He set about doing everything he could to make her pregnancy an easy one. In addition to his own work, he took on half of hers.

The proceeds from their last successful trips to the market were enough to buy a cow. (Imagine this is just one cow. I found CC later. They couldn’t have afforded THREE cows).

Babies needed milk, after all. What if there wasn’t enough milk?

In the meantime, Emmaline set about learning to make cheese. Milk itself was difficult to keep fresh to sell at the market, but cheese would bring a great price.

Emmaline had heard stories about pregnancy, but that wasn’t the same as living it. The persistent nausea and aches wore her down.

She was boundlessly grateful to Nash for all his help, both the big things and the little things, like a backrub when she felt achiest.

She tried to stay positive, but she knew that pregnancies were dangerous. She had been old enough to remember when her mother lost what would have been another baby brother, and a woman in her childhood village had died in childbirth.

There were so many things that could go wrong, and the fear struck her at odd moments when Nash was away fishing.

Still her pregnancy seemed to be progressing normally. When she was far enough along to share the news, they invited Aunt Ruby and Uncle Gerbald to see the farm. Emmaline was so proud of the little home they’d built for themselves.

Aunt Ruby had delivered a healthy little boy, and they named him Adam. He was old enough now to stay with neighbors for an afternoon while the Weavers went visiting.

They were thrilled to learn that Emmaline was expecting. Their children would be close together in age. Uncle Gerbald was especially delighted. Fatherhood was sitting well with him. He loved babies, and he thought everyone should have at least one.

Nash still hadn’t proven himself as a worthy husband in their eyes, however. One sarcastic remark about parenting life, and he found himself on the receiving end of a long lecture from Aunt Ruby. She knew what Emmaline was going through, she insisted, and she needed a husband who would take his responsibility seriously!

Nash just hung his head and didn’t even try to defend himself.

“She means well,” Emmaline said when they had gone.

“I know,” Nash said with a rueful grin. “I have a reputation. I understand that they want to protect you, but that’s my job now.”

Emmaline blushed.

At last, as they were settling down to bed one evening, the moment came that she’d been both anticipating and dreading. Contractions came, fast and painful.

Now was the time. Nash was helpless, and he hated being helpless. As the pain grew, Emmaline was struck by a sudden terror — could she handle childbirth? Was it too much for her?

It turned out she could after all. In due time, she delivered a baby boy, who they named Alair.

Time passed in an exhausted haze for a while. Tending to little Alair was the most challenging thing Emmaline had ever done. Nash built her a rocking chair so she could at least rest while she was feeding him.

And he took the next trip to the market because she couldn’t leave.

The air was growing colder. Winter was not too far away. They set about drying fish and storing all the food they could toward a time when the garden would go dormant and the ponds freeze over.

Alair continued to grow up healthy and strong. At last, Emmaline decided he was strong enough to leave home, and she insisted on presenting him to the Watcher at church on Sunday. Nash trailed along sullenly, thinking of other things.

The village blessed the littlest Howland and wished him long life.

All the women, her aunt in particular, were full of advice.

Nash caught up with his friend from his workhouse days.

Emmaline hurried to bring in the last harvest as frost loomed.

Then the pond froze over. There could expect no more fish until Spring.

The Harvest Fest came, and the entire village held a feast in the meeting hall above the market to celebrate the year’s bounty.

Little Alair slept in a makeshift bed of straw in the corner while everyone laughed and ate and visited around him.

Everyone brought something to share. They ate until they were almost too full to roll home.

They had cold and careful rationing to look forward to for a while now.

But there was a light in the long dark. There would be another baby soon.

Alair grew into a healthy and active toddler with his father’s hair and his mother’s eyes.

Nash jumped into the task of teaching his son his first words, which proved to be a frustrating job.

Before winter hit with full force, they were blessed with a bout of false summer. The pond thawed enough for Nash to catch a few more fish, and Emmaline was able to glean a bit more from the garden. She thanked the Watcher for their generosity. Her life was full of joy in ways she could never have imagined a few short years ago.

One the first day of winter, it was time for the baby to come.

This time Nash had an important role. He kept Alair out of her way as she did what was needed.

She delivered a beautiful baby girl who already had a shock of her mother’s hair.

This delivery left her much more drained than the last one.

And as much as she tried to soldier on, she was growing weaker.

As she readied herself to go out in the morning, she was struck by a wave of lightheadedness. She set down her little girl just in case.

And then she collapsed on the floor.

Nash came downstairs to the sound of the baby’s cries and found her. She was already gone. After six short, wonderful years of marriage, she had to leave her beloved family behind. Her only wish was that it could have been longer.

Numb with grief, he named the baby girl Emma after her mother.

I’m sorry guys! I was sitting there with my kid, who was having fun watching the challenge. And I said, “You have to roll to see if the baby survives, and there’s a very small chance of the mother dying in childbirth.” Then I rolled for the mom and got a 1 on a d20, which was the only roll that would have killed her.

And thus passes my founder. I was really attached to her. The challenge will have to take a different path from here. Nash will have to remarry. I’m going to take my cheat for this generation to try to keep one of Emmaline’s children alive to be heir, but I’ll have to decide whether Nash’s children or Ruby and Gerbald’s children are my backup heirs.

I guess this is what I signed up for.