“We have two tickets to Shang Simla,” Charles said as he hung up the phone.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Veronica asked. “Can the kids handle the house by themselves for a week?”
“The right time to ask that question we be before I gave them our credit card number,” Charles said.
“I did ask that question before.”
Charles shrugged. “It won’t be long before they’ll have to prove to themselves that they can handle it, whether or not we trust. We might as well give them a test run for being responsible.”
Veronica sighed. “I always was the one who cared about our material possessions.”
Charles grinned. “I’ll go break the news.”
Trepidation or no, travel was calling to Charles again, and if he didn’t answer it, he’d be climbing the walls. And Veronica wasn’t the type of woman to selflessly hold down the fort while her man went off to have fun. So they found themselves on their way to China.
“I know what we’re going to do first,” Veronica said with a sly smile.
Charles grinned. “Ready and willing.”
She laughed. “Oh, before that.” She took him by the hand and led him back toward town.
“But, wait,” Charles said. “I could have taught you a class in Sim Fu at the academy any time.”
“That’s not the way I wanted to learn,” Veronica replied in between breaths.
The experience wasn’t as peaceful and anonymous as they might have liked. Charles’s name preceded him these days in Shang Simla. It wasn’t every day that ghost men applied to the greatest Sim Fu masters for permission create their own branch of the art. In addition to photographing them for the local paper, Charles was asked several times to give interviews.
Still, the reporters were respectful, and they got enough space for Veronica to qualify for her first belt.
“Now is time for that other stuff,” Veronica said. “Let’s head back to the hotel.”
Charles looked at her wickedly. “Why go back to the hotel? I thought you were the exhibitionist.” He pulled her into the locker room.
They spent a lot of their vacation separating and meeting back up, which was the usual rhythm. Charles took long walks in the hills around Shang Simla.
And studied native flora and fauna.
While Charles was on some longer tomb exploring expeditions, Veronica dabbled in actual archaeology. The area was filled with sites of ancient pottery and artifacts that weren’t important enough for the history-rich local government to bother with.
On one expedition up a foothill to the local mountains, she came upon a breathtaking blue and white bird clawing amongst the grasses.
He was so wild he didn’t even know to be afraid of humans. Veronica was mesmerized.
After a gentle afternoon of sitting and talking to the bird and offering him tidbits from her pack, she persuaded him to perch on her arm.
“Shall I hug you and pet you and name you George?” she asked him quietly, her eyes twinkling. “No, I do think you’re the hugging type.”
She named him Aral after the mountain instead.
He turned out to be a rare Spotted Sixam, and the Shang Simla government wasn’t too keen to let Veronica return home with it. But Veronica was even more stubborn than the local government, and Aral stayed with her after all.
Charles had an animal encounter of a different kind. One morning, he discovered a stray cat was watching him while he slept.
He wasn’t sure how she’d crept in, but she seemed to have a thing for ghosts. She immediately let him pet her and followed him around the hotel.
Veronica took some time to do a few daredevlish things that she wouldn’t have wanted her kids to catch her at.
And she made a great friend of a fellow traveler from Egypt.
Unfortunately, he seemed to get the wrong idea and started calling her to flirt at all hours. She had to set him straight about her relationship status.
Charles explored some truly breathtaking tombs.
And found himself, against all expectation, in a real battle for his life.
Never before had his expertise in hand-to-hand combat been anything but a physical and mental exercise. Fighting in a genuinely life-threatening situation was something he had never expected to do and would never forget.
After he defeated his assailant, chest heaving and ghostly blood pumping, he was shocked to see the undead mummy shatter into a thousand shards and crumble to dust before his eyes.
Charles’s heart ached. The creature had been trying to protect his tomb. Charles couldn’t help but feel that somehow, in a different life, they should have been allies.
He returned to find the cat curled up inside his hotel room, waiting for him.
“You’re almost a ghost yourself,” Charles said as he cuddled the cat. “All fluff and no meat on your bones. If you came home with us, we could fix that. What do you say?”
Ghost didn’t say anything, but she made her approval known anyway. Charles headed into town to find a travel carrier for her to match the bird carrier Veronica had picked up a few days before.
“Still crazy after all these years,” Veronica said on their last night in China.
“May the next years be crazier,” Charles agreed.
“Now the truth will come out,” Veronica said as they boarded their flight back to Avalon. “Will the house still be standing when we get back? Will our kids be safely out of prison?”
“I vote yes for both things,” Charles said. “If our kids are going to screw up, they’ll be a lot more creative than that.”
And indeed the house was not only standing but surprisingly clean. “How were the wild parties?” Veronica asked Forest as they dragged their luggage in from the taxi. “Any dancing girls?”
“Do I look like I wold be hiring dancing girls?” Forest demanded. “Sheesh.”
“I told you everything would be fine,” Charles said.
“You were right,” Veronica said as she looked around.
“We didn’t do so badly as parents. Our kids are pretty responsible.”
Veronica smirked. “Responsible enough to bury the bodies before we get home,” she said.
This would have been a lot more entertaining if it had actually been posted back-to-back with the teen story the way I’d intended. But here it is, EXACTLY a month after the teen party post. I didn’t plan that. That’s awesome.
Charles FINALLY got to fight some mummies. Two, actually, though I didn’t post pictures of both. I always visualized him as being tomb fighter martial artist, but then he never got anything to fight. Watching him kick some mummy ass was very satisfying.
Veronica got a +20 Daredevil moodlet for Woohooing in public at the Sim Fu Academy, then a -20 moodlet for being publicly disgraced as a celebrity. Poor Charles was stuck with just the -20.
And we add our first pets to the household!
Last night, I actually played the triplets’ birthday, which marks the official change to Generation 5, almost exactly a year since the transition to Generation 4. This legacy is going to be the death of me. I’m not actually that far off of being caught up, though, so we’ll see that birthday in maybe 5 posts or so.