Friday, February 17, 2012

Chapter 11: Thief-For-Hire

(Z: This chapter has a  bit of a longwinded explanation problem. Sorry. I promise it'll be more interesting next time.)

A filly is born in the middle of the night, and Altin names her Magnolia. He found himself regretting the delicate choice when she chases him out of the barn, having inherited her momma's aggressiveness.

(Z: Now who's got freakishly goodlooking babies, Klevkin?)

Elsie's birthday party was later that evening, but Altin and Spot had time for a lengthy ride first, and he took advantage of that chance to go exploring the areas of Grey Meadow he hadn't yet seen. Spot became more and more nervous as the day wore on, but he dismissed it as unease about being away from her foal until she bolted -- with him on her back, again -- and ran not towards home, but the farthest limits of the city. 

She came to a stop at an unlikely place: a lonely, dead field on an unihabited island just offshore.

He shifted in the saddle, not at all sure they were supposed to be there, but Spot was insistent.

She led him all the way to the back of the field, picking her way around brambles and thorny bushes, until she stopped in front of a massive statue of a mythical equine figure, clearly waiting for him to dismount.

"I guess there's no point arguing with you, is there?"

Spot didn't answer. He assumed that meant no.

The sculpture was impressive. Taller than a grown Sim, it alone was free from signs of age and decay, despite appearing to be the centerpoint to the dried foliage around it. Up close Altin noticed it was incomplete, with an empty display in front of it designed to hold an object the size of his hand, but he could see no visible signs of what that object was.

/You know what it is./ A voice sounded from everywhere and nowhere, somehow inside his head. /That is the rightful resting place of what your people call the Celestial Pink Diamond./

Altin turned at the sound of a crackling bramble behind him and came face to face with what could only be the speaker.

Even so, he hesitated. 

" do know horses can', don't you?" He laughed awkwardly. "You're not talking. I'm cracking up, right? Right?"

The creature -- the Unicorn -- snorted in disgust. /My kind are some of the most magical creatures in the mortal and magical realms combined. There are those who worship us as gods. I am not a horse./

It stopped in front of him. 

/You may, however, be "cracking up." That is indeed a possibility./

"Oh, I see," Altin muttered. "You're the reassuring kind of delusion."

/I did not come here to reassure, I came to solicit your help, jewel-thief. Do you see this place?/ It didn't wait for a response. /This was once one of the most beautiful places in the mortal realm. The wall between our realms is thinnest here, and the land around it flourished with the magic that bled through./

"Uh huh. Mortal realm. Magical boundaries. Got it. Makes perfect sense." The Unicorn gave him a look -- equine faces can do that? -- and he shut up quickly.

/But then the Diamond was taken,/ it continued. /Without the magic contained within it, the land withered and died, and the path back to the magical realm was locked to those beings on the wrong side of the boundaries at the time. Among Unicorns, I was the only one who frequented this place, and I found my way home impossible to cross. And so I am trapped, thanks to mortal thieves./

Altin blinked. "Hey, wait a minute, I didn't do that! When I stole--" He stopped and looked around nervously, then continued at a near whisper. "When I got ahold of the Diamond, it belonged to this rich old writer who used it as a paperweight in his office. I've never been here before in my life!"

The Unicorn "yelled" in frustration. Apparently that was the wrong thing to say.

/You aren't paying attention! The Diamond has been a legendary source of power since I first placed it here after crossing into this world. By your measurement of time, that was seven hundred years ago!/


/Yes. "Oh." Unicorns are immortal, and only mortal things can exist in the mortal realm. No matter how longliving they are, everything must in time be capable of death. To enter this world an immortal being must temporarily part from themselves that pure magical energy which gives them eternal life, and with it their powers, for as long as they remain here. Essentially, that Diamond contains my soul./ It lowered its head to look Altin in the eye. /And you are going to retrieve it for me./

"So wait, the Diamond grants immortality? Do you have to say the magic words or something, because I had it for a while, and I don't feel immortal..."

/It does not. You are mortal, and while there are ways to extend your lifetime and defy age, you will always be, in the end, capable of death. The value of the Diamond to a mortal is in the return of it. With or without the gem, I am trapped here, because whomever returns it binds me to them and their wellbeing. That is why it was stolen, and stolen from the original thief, and stolen again from that thief. You are all fighting with each other to be the one who places me in your debt. And if I must be enslaved to mortal blood, I will at least choose who it is./

"Oh, hey, you're talking about me? Me? Why? I'm just another thief."

/You are uniquely qualified. You possess a good heart...perhaps not the best, but a good one. And despite your nature, you belong to the underbelly of society, the very beings who stole my magic away to begin with. You understand evil and cruelty without being affected by it./

The Unicorn stepped back, having said what it came to say. 

/Find me that gem, jewel-thief, and you will have your payment. But fail and we will both be miserable for longer than either of us care to be./

Altin had been left with plenty to think about, but for now, he had a birthday party to attend back home.

Dawwh, baby horses are cute. And reassuringly non-magical.

The Snickerson-Ripley family celebrated Elsie's birthday by themselves. The only residents they were close to were mafia lords and Kylee, the babysitter, whose parents had refused to allow her to stay out late this night.

Elsie didn't mind. She knew it was cake time.

But she was still a toddler for now, so Altin helped blow out the candles on the cake. 

Yaaaay, time for cake!

But first...hey, that tickles.


Altin's cake-related impatience is unimpressed. Elsie knew just how to fix that.

Much better.

(Z: Artistic, Good, and Athletic. Faves are pink/kids music/parfait.)

Her father abandons his desperate attempt to cook something with whatever random products he grabbed from the fridge when Elsie points out that it is, in fact, cake time.

"Hey Dad, can I have a car for my birthday?"

"That depends, can I have a boatload of cash for my birthday?"

"I don't think so..."

"Then no."


Woohoo, age up!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chapter 10: When We Have Shuffled Off This Mortal Coil

(Z: That's right. Shakespeare. We just got classy all up in here, yo.)

Today was Altin's first day off since the move, and he was determined to spend it with Elsie. Time for some father-daughter bonding. Not that he knew anything about father-daughter bonding.

But hungry horses wait for no one, as Spot reminded him with an early morning bite. Huh. He hadn't gotten one of those in a while. In fact, there was something about her behavior this morning that seemed off, and yet somehow familiar. Something about how she carried herself, and how crotchety she was...

Oh. Oh. Well, that was what he got for letting her run around with a stallion all day.
More babies. Great.

Speaking of stallions...Altin had to admit, it was nice to be able to feed at least one member of his family without having to count his fingers afterwards.

And now, time to get down to business. Kids like books, right?

A book about counting was probably the wrong choice for someone that couldn't read. He was pretty sure Elsie didn't even know what some of these objects were.

"Then again, I don't know what any of these things are, either. Let's see, two green dead frogs, three balls of sparkly blue tinfoil?"

Okay, Plan B. Time to teach Elsie to walk. Altin could do this. His body was a finely honed athletic machine (or so he preferred to tell himself). He was the Grand High Master of walking.

" we go, three, two, and...walk."


Potty break.

"I think we're going about this the wrong way...

How about this. Three...two...and...walk, please? Pretty please?"

Elsie was pretty sure that wasn't going to help.

If Altin had taught her to talk yet, he was positive she'd be saying "I told you so." That, or cursing him out for suggesting this whole "standing" thing. One or the other.

But to both her and Altin's surprise, she regained her balance and half-stumbled the last few steps, falling into her daddy's arms.

"Holy cow, it worked--uh, I mean, I knew you could do it!"

Hmm. Altin was willing to concede there might be a bit of a family resemblance after all. He hadn't realized OMFGfaces were genetically inherited.

Grey Meadow got colder than Appaloosa, especially at night, so after getting the little champion settled in, Altin went out to make sure Spot came into the barn to sleep. He was determined to have everything go smoothly about this foaling, now that he knew what he was doing. In theory.

He got a bit distracted though. Seems like the Ripley family tradition of dropping in unannounced couldn't be stopped, even by the Grim Reaper.

Oh man, was she floating? WEIRD.

"I thought you were busy. You know, being...uh...well, dead."

"Yeah, apparently there's something to that whole 'unable to move on' thing. Who knew? Oh, Watcher, I'm a Patrick Swayze movie. That's just sad."

"Nahh. You don't have the cheekbones for it. Now, me, on the other hand..."

"If you make a joke about getting attached, I swear I'll possess your shower curtain."

"Not that this isn't nice and all, but what's the deal, here?" Altin asked later. "Are you sticking around? Should I go look up ghostbusters in the phonebook? Because you guys have that here. There's totally a 'ghostbusters' category. It's HUGE."

Kirk sighed (without needing to breath. Again, WEIRD.). "I'm probably supposed to be getting over my unresolved emotional issues or whatever." 

He turned at that. "You are? Did someone tell you that? Oh, man, is the Watcher real? Is it true bad Sims go to Error 12 Hell? Hold on, I should take notes."

"In reverse order, what?, I don't know, and yeah, my childhood shrink."

Altin leaned back down. "So what do you think it is, then? Elsie? She started walking today. Maybe she'll be a dancer or something when she grows up."

It was hard to tell through all the glowing, but Kirk's smile seemed more wistful than pleased. 

"Yeah...maybe..." She looked up. "It's almost full daylight and I'm feeling all tingly, so while we're both still here there's some things you need to know."

Altin listened as she pointed out the neighbors that were okay for toddler playdates, and the house with the massive dog Elsie was afraid of, and all sorts of other details he hadn't even begun to notice about his daughter. When Kirk broke off suddenly and looked around, as if someone had come up to them and interrupted, he knew something had. 

"You need to go, right? Got to go 'poof' and vanish?"

"I'm kind of hoping for more of a dramatic mist. Poof is so '80s stage magician." They stood up and looked at each other awkwardly for a moment before Kirk stepped in for an embrace.

"Look, I know I don't do serious well, but I'm being serious now. Don't worry. I'm not. Whatever fear is keeping me here, it's not over Elsie. You've got this. I know you do, and don't you dare argue that, because I'm always right."

Before Altin could argue it anyway, she faded away, and he was alone.

Dramatic mist. Damn it, she was always right.