Thursday, November 16, 2017

Chapter 106: Warm



"Does Dad know you bought that bathing suit?"

"Nah, and what he doesn't know won't hurt him."


"I heard your grades have been in the toilet," Milo begins what he hopes won't be too painful of a conversation.

"Did my mother want you to talk to me about them?"

"No-"

"There's a reason for that."

Milo frowns deeply at the boy he thinks of as his nephew. "Your mother adores you and thinks you can do no wrong. I, on the other hand, worry about your future-"

"Why?"

"Acheron-"

"I don't need a job. All I have to do is take some of my mother's money, invest in whatever, and watch the simoleons roll in. All it takes to make money is money, and we have money, so who really cares?"

"...I see."

"Maybe I'll declare myself an artist and pretend I'm contributing to society."

Milo sighs. "Your mother would probably like that."


Ceth is impressed by how quickly Acheron picks up the driving skill. "It's like you've been driving your whole life."

Acheron rolls his eyes. "I thought you wouldn't want to be seen dead in this car."

"I make an exception when I need to teach you important life skills."

"Thanks," he says, though he can't keep from sounding insincere. This is a waste of time. He knows how to drive, he knows how to cast spells, he knows how to choke a bitch.

"So... how are things?" his mother asks. She's got him trapped in a car. No interruptions from the other six members of their household. Just the two of them.

Acheron's hands tighten on the wheel. "Y'know. Same."

"What is... 'same'?"

"Boring high school, idiot teenagers, just waiting for it all to end."

"Don't wait for other people to grow up," Ceth advises. "They never do."

Acheron smirks. You'd know, he thinks, though he doesn't muster the energy to say it. He's pretty sure his mother is perfectly self-aware.

"There's my boy's smile."

They ride in silence for a while. "It's stupid we don't have self driving cars here," Acheron speaks up.

"Milo said you were being snippy," Ceth changes the subject.

"He was on my case about my grades and my future."

"Uh huh. How do you see your future?"

Acheron chokes on a laugh.

Ceth frowns. "What?"

"Nothing. Nothing." He recovers. "I was thinking maybe musician."

"Awesome! I approve. I know you'll succeed at whatever you put your mind to." Ceth smiles again, content that this is true because she doesn't want to live in a world where it isn't.



Lela stares Emmy down, but her discomfort about the snake in her house does not diminish.



Milo isn't thrilled about the snake either apparently.



 Fairuza steals the last of her dad's nachos while he sleeps in. Fool shouldn't have slept in!



"You were sniffing my aunt's bedsheets, you creep." Fairuza is still mad at her friend Rock Woods.

"I'm sorry! I was high on bubbles. I just wanted her autograph. Her music inspires me."

Fairuza was ready to remove Rock Woods from her list of guys to potentially date, but they just have so many compatible traits, it's hard to cut him loose. One day she'll be leaning towards accepting Rock's advances, and the next she'll be be more for Rishi Best-Sagar, the boy she's liked since she was just a little girl.


"I'm really sorry, okay?" He presses her for a response, eyes wide and sad.

"Okay," she melts.



Athletic but directionless, Fairuza worries sometimes about her future. Nothing "speaks" to her. How is she supposed to know what to do with her life? There isn't enough time to do everything.


"Ack! Don't turn around 'Zia, the gnome's on your bed again."

Orazia narrows her eyes. "I hate that thing."

"The Rock Woods of gnomes," Fairuza jokes.

"You said it, not me."

"Oh don't shame me for being into him..."

"You said it, not me."


Feeling embarrassed about her crush on Rock Woods, Fairuza decides to make her move and call Rishi Best-Sagar. They'll go to the park, play some skeeball, roller skate, eat snow cones, romantically share a first kiss... but her grand plans are thwarted by Rishi's overzealous study habits and part time job work schedule. He can't ever make any time for her.


Rock, on the other hand, always has time for her.


Of course, there are other fish in the sea, other boys in the school, but Fairuza isn't interested in any of them.


"Why don't we go get coffee or something sometime?" Rock makes the first move, taking Fairuza completely by surprise.

"Are you asking me out, you nerd?"

"Well... yeah kinda... unless you're still mad at me about your aunt." He glances pointedly at Ceth's bedroom windows above them.

"A coffee shop, though..."

"Hey, I can be intellectual."

"I don't knooow..."


"The big game this Saturday, then."

Fairuza smirks. "You know my father plays for the-"

"I don't think he'd notice us in the stands."

"Okay. It's a date," Fairuza agrees.


She wonders if she's being a little too impulsive, a little too eager to not go through high school dateless... but at the same time, she can't deny how well they get along, even when they disagree.


Fairuza doesn't wait to see if their date on Saturday will go well. She wants her first kiss now.


"How was it?" Rock asks shyly.

"Warm," Fairuza giggles.


Orazia wanders into the back yard just in time to see her cute baby sister heavily making out with Rock Woods the creeper.


Ew, ew, ew! Orazia runs away before they see her.


"Dad is going to flip out," Orazia confides in Acheron.

Acheron rolls his eyes. Acheron does a lot of that. "Rock isn't so bad."

"He was perving on your mom!"

"He's a harmless idiot. His parents are, like, weird hippie types. They sold Uncle Carlos this house."

Orazia isn't sure how Acheron knows so much about people, considering he actively avoids them. "I don't see what that has to do with anything. Rock is still a creep."

"He cares about your sister at least."

Orazia shudders. "If you say so..."


When Dysen begged for a pet, Carlos had a feeling he'd be the only one cleaning up after it.


Dysen does nothing but screw up his chores, wallowing in ineptitude until his parents take over for him rather than fight him about it.


So cute, but so bad.


Dysen struts about the house confidently. There is no planned party, but he's still excited about his teen birthday.


"Yaaaaay!" Dysen screams.

"Meh," Acheron comments.


Dysen Whitfield become a teen werewolf.


Artistic friend Molly made him the bandanna. He wears it with pride.


Wait. Dysen Whitfield... Acheron La Mer... Orazia Giordano... Fairuza Law...


I don't actually have a Goldbeard kid. How will we know who the heir is?!?!


Ceth mixes some drinks to help Dysen and Molly celebrate their birthday.


"I had a feeling you'd grow up to be beautiful," Dysen purrs.

"I had my doubts about you," Molly teases.


Dysen finds himself blushing. "Are those doubts erased?"

"Hmmmm... I think so," she chuckles.


"Then we will go steady?" Dysen ventures.

"Obviously," Molly replies.


That's that, then. Despite the somewhat aloof responses, Dysen can't recall Molly ever looking happier than she looks right now. He wants to keep her smiling forever.




_________________________________________________
Etc.: It's Dysen. Dysen is the heir.

Fairuza was a strong contender. I love her face. I just didn't feel like she quite fit the roll for gen 5, so I'm grooming Dysen for it instead.

I was trying to set Fairuza up with Rishi, but the game wasn't having it. Rishi didn't even make it into any pictures. So when Rock Woods started following Fairuza home, I let her rolled wishes take over.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Chapter 105: Water Sound


Chair.


Key.


Kir.


Acheron struggles to remember these things.


"I hate you!" a teenager screams.


"Why are you doing this?" Acheron cries.

"I always liked you more than I liked me," Claire rasps.



"What are you doing in Hidden Springs?"

Harcourt shrugs. "Mab and her ghost hunting. I don't understand why you're so upset to see us. You can just leave and pretend it didn't happen."

"I didn't want to leave you, son. I wanted you to have a happier life. The things I knew I'd become involved in... this conspiracy... it ruins everyone it touches. It was better for you to be nowhere near me."


Harcourt glowers. "I guess there's no point asking what you are even talking about."




"Why are you doing this?!"



"I hate you!"


"What are you doing here?"



"What are you doing here?"



"What are you doing here?"


"Why have you come?"


Acheron wakes up drenched in a cold sweat. For a while he can still hear the rush of the river, but as he adjusts to reality, the hallucinated sound fades.



Well... who needs that last hour of sleep anyways...



Carlos and Lela are already at work before dawn, so Acheron decides their sonic shower is fair game.



"Listen, don't be mad, but I may have gotten up for a midnight snack and... eaten all of your favorite cereal," Fairuza preemptively begs for forgiveness.

The girls start their morning off with very different concerns than Acheron.


 "I was just stress eating, thinking today is the day I'm going to ask my crush out."

"Which boy is it, again?"

"That's just it," Fairuza giggles. "I can't decide."


Fairuza's plans to shower without getting her hair wet are thwarted. "What the hell?"



"I'm okay. This is fine."

"Are you just going to lay there?"

"So what if I am."

"I'm going to start kicking you, I swear."



Lela's early morning stakeout yields some VIOLENT CRIME.


Look at this actual cop in the background doing fuckall.



That's just the way things go in this town!



Dysen plays games on his mother's office computer. His parents have told him many times that is not what it is for, but he doesn't see the harm!


Yup. Broken again.


Lela visits her brother, Barry.


Barry is hosting a super lame party.


Lela tries to liven things up by daring Barry to do something inadvisable.


Barry is such a fool.


Ceth in concert.


Makin' dat money.


Ceth is pissed off to find this random teen fan laying on her bed when she gets home.

"GET LOST before I CALL THE COPS!"


Rock Woods, son of Stardust Woods, giggles before running away.


"Stupid brat," Ceth mutters. Celebrity status has never troubled her before, but tonight, as she prepares for bed, she feels incredibly unsafe.


Acheron senses his mother's distress. He lays awake long after she's gone to sleep. Eventually, he knows his consciousness will also slip away. No matter how much he'd like to hold onto one moment, it will always leave him.



She is here. She cries into his shoulder, choked sobs that feel like they'll shake her apart. He loves her, he would do anything for her... yet here she is crying, and it is his fault.

Acheron could fix it, but he doesn't. He lies to her: "There's nothing to find. He's gone."

"No! No, no, no..." she moans. She is the woman who steals either his soul or his heart. It's strange to see her like this, so vulnerable. "He can't be dead."

"I'm so sorry." Another lie. The words burn in Acheron's mouth. He should not lie to her. Yet there are thoughts he keeps from her, from everyone.

"Harcourt..." she cries a name, but it doesn't help.

"It's my fault." This one is not a lie.

"No..." she sits up straighter. "No, Acheron, I don't blame you. How could I?"

How could she? He doesn't see everything coming. He doesn't see most things coming.

But he saw this coming and he decided it would be best to let it happen.


Everything is burning. The ground is coated in ash.

"This is Firelight?" Acheron asks.

"What's left of it. Didn't used to be so literal." A man with a tail sniffs at Acheron suspiciously. "Don't know what you're looking for here, demon, but you best turn back. You don't want to find that girl."

"Tell me what happened."

"She came here. Called herself Eris. Said something about the rest of us supernatural creatures sitting by and letting her people be destroyed. I don't know where she came from, I don't know when she came from, but I swear she was an elf, I saw her with my own eyes. No one believes me."

"I believe you," Acheron says.










"What if I just try to end it?" Acheron gasps, choking for air.

"Stop Kir?" the cat questions.

"No. No, not like Loki wants to end it. I mean what if I just die. Today. Tomorrow. Before I meet Claire. How can the reincarnation cycle deal with that?"

The cat tilts its head. "You can't die, Selrandisra."

Acheron grits his teeth. "I'm not him, but fine, I'll play your game. Okay. What if this body dies?"

"Is there something wrong with your current form?"

"Suicide. What if I kill myself?"

"Now?"

"Yes, now!"


The cat sits, and thinks about it. "The universe," it finally says, "would try to stop you."

"How would it do that?"

"Any means necessary."

"Like having somebody interrupt? Well nobody can just watch me forever," Acheron sneers.

"I see you have been waiting to ask this question for a long time."

"Yeah," Acheron admits.

"I have seen one try. He failed, and subsequently, an accident caused him to lose his memory. He forgot who he was, and he forgot he wanted to die. So things continued as they were designed to."

Acheron stares out at the waves crashing against the beach. "So there's no early way out."

"Kir's spell will release its protection over your current form once you've done what it requires," the cat reminds him, its tone turning sad as it paws the sand.

"You mean after I make sure my descendants can exist." Acheron rolls his eyes, disgusted. "It'll be too late then."

"You should enjoy this life while you have it," the cat advises. "Do not reject it so easily."



 Here again. He couldn't die as a teen, but he can die outside this cell.



The pain subsides, but... everything is burning.


"Hey." Mab pokes him, laughing. "Grandpa, wake up. You're talking in your sleep again."


No. I'm not a senile old man...


...that would be ridiculous...

Sunlight pours in through the window. The birds chatter outside in Carlos's garden. The familiar noise of water splashing from the watering can onto the broad leaves of the flame fruit plants mixes with the whir of the sprinkler and Fairuza's laughter as she plays in it. Dysen's bed is made, Emmy's food dish is full. Acheron cannot remember getting up, but he must have, because he's sitting on his bedspread, shoes on.




________________________________________
Etc.: Acheron began to suspect the narrator was gaslighting him. It was only a matter of time before he'd turn on her, The Stanley Parable style.