Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Chapter 3.12 - Unwelcome

*Warning: As usual, rated for uncensored bad language.*
Sunset Valley still looked exactly the same as she remembered.
The waterfall still drummed into the lake beside the house, and the house was the same as in her memories. The trampoline she and her siblings had used as children still stood on the same place, and her mom’s garden with its garden gnomes still looked the same.
The lights in the house were turned on, and they were still as welcoming as always.
Everything were still the same, but she had changed. Tightly contained inside her, she could feel her magic burning, and her stomach turned a bit at the feel of the force that she was no longer accustomed to feeling. There was an incredible wrongness in the air that she only now could identify as the Balance that was out of sync.
This was most definitely not her home anymore.
She took a moment to study her childhood home before her feet started moving. 
Would her family listen to her? She knew how crazy it sounded. Different dimensions, magical worlds, supernatural beings…she would sound like someone speaking madness. Would they even be willing to hear her out? After all, she’d disappeared without warning. Turning up like this out of the blue…would they even believe it was her?
But there was no evading the task. Not if she wanted her family to live.
They looked just like in her dream. They were all there, sitting in the living room and talking. She couldn’t detect any tension. Did Arienne and Renard make up, after all?
She raised her hand to ring the doorbell, but her hand fell short. She didn’t know how to face them. How could she possibly explain why she'd disappeared so abruptly?
Inside the house, Renard turned ever-so-slightly, and Lyra saw the exact moment he noticed her standing there like a statue.
His eyes widened, and she saw him whisper a word. Impossible. Then he was out if his chair and he jerked open the door, staring at her with disbelief. Against her will, tears welled up in her eyes.
Keeper, she’d missed him.
“Lyra.” His voice was a reverent whisper, like he couldn’t believe she was really standing there, and he collapsed against the doorframe as relief sapped him of his strength. Behind him, the others had all left their chairs and they, too, stared at her with utter disbelief on their faces.
 “Renard,” she returned, giving him a feeble smile. As if the word released him from his stupor, Renard finally acted, throwing his arms around her and pulling her into a close embrace.
 “Dammit Lyra, where have you been?” he asked her, his voice filled with relief and desperation.
She snorted, suddenly aware again of just how absurd her story was, even though it was the truth.
“I don’t think you’d believe me if I told you,” she admitted quietly before pulling away and smiling apologetically at him. “May I come in?”
The question caused him to huff in amusement, and he gave her a soft smile before standing aside.
“As if you need to ask,” he scolded her lightly. “This is your home as much as it’s ours.”
Not anymore, she thought sadly, but how could she possibly explain that? Instead she merely smiled and entered the house. What followed was a flurry of hugs and emotions as everyone welcomed her back and rejoiced in their reunion.
 “So where have you been?” Arienne asked after things had calmed down, and they were all sitting with a cup of coffee around the dining table. “And why did you go off on your own without at least letting us know? We couldn’t even contact you – you left your phone behind.”
She left more than just her phone behind, but that wasn’t the point. Lyra played with her mug, wondering where to begin. How could she even begin to explain the unbelievable account of events that had happened to her?
 “I didn’t exactly have a choice,” she finally admitted. “It happened by accident, and by the time we realised…” She trailed off, remembering the events that had followed. That had been the first time she'd met Blaise.
Her family were still waiting for her to continue, so she took a deep breath and tried again.
“I heard Charlotte singing,” she explained, “and when I went to investigate, she had opened a Rift. It pulled us through, and…”
“You jumped worlds,” her mom completed the sentence for her, to Lyra’s utter surprise. “The way Charlotte’s brother had.”
 “Yes,” Lyra agreed bluntly. “We jumped worlds. I’ve been living there since then.”
It was clearly too far-fetched for Arienne to believe.
What are you talking about?” she demanded crossly. “’Jumped worlds’? ‘Rifts’? You’re talking science-fiction, Lyra.  If you don’t want to tell us what happened, then don’t, but don’t lie to us.”
“I’m not lying,” Lyra retorted, annoyed. “I know it sounds crazy, believe me, I know, but it is the truth.” She shook her head, ever aware of the task she had come to complete. “But that’s not why I’m here. I came to warn you.”
So she told them everything: about the Balance, the potion, the task the Keeper had given her, and what would happen if they didn’t agree. It was still not enough.
“Listen to yourself!” Arienne exploded once Lyra finished her explanation. “Do you really believe all that crap? You come waltzing in here after five years and expect us to drop everything we have to run off with you to some kind of weird place because something from a fairy-tale is going to kill us if we don’t? Get real.”
Keeper, her sister was stubborn. And yet, she could see Renard wasn’t convinced either.
It is the truth!” Lyra insisted again, and to her surprise, her mom spoke up.
“I believe you.” At Arienne’s disbelieving exclamation, she elaborated. “The Keeper is real. I’ve met him before. On…that night.” She didn’t elaborate on which night she meant, but she didn’t have to. In this family, there was only one night they ever referred to as that night. “He warned me then, that we’ve been meddling with things beyond our understanding, and that there was a price to be paid. I’m guessing this is that price.”
And wow, Lyra hadn’t known that. Or had she? She had a clear memory of the Keeper standing over her mom, warning her, and yet Lyra couldn't remember that ever happening. She must have witnessed it in a dream. The Keeper must have shown her in a dream.
“Are you serious, Mom?” Arienne asked disbelievingly.
“Dead serious,” Chantia confirmed. “So I am inclined to listen to Lyra, and leave. I don’t believe in coincidences, and for us to receive a warning so soon after Mia’s entire family line has been wiped out in that horrible fire…it might be better to give her the benefit of the doubt.”
It didn’t take much more than that to convince Arienne and Renard. Their mom had had a lot more experience with the unnatural and paranormal through her many years of being a ghost hunter. If she agreed with Lyra on something like that, it meant more than likely it was true.
Ingrid, Renard’s wife, took a lot more convincing than that, but in the end, she agreed. The safety of her daughter was more important to her than anything else, and if her husband believed their child might be in danger in they stayed, then she wasn’t going to argue. She trusted him more than that.
Arienne, Lyra discovered with shock, was no longer married. Despite trying for years, they had simply been unable to make it work. The last straw had been when they discovered Arienne was unable to have children, and not long after that, they filed the official divorce papers.
“It’s all ancient history,” Arienne easily assured Lyra. “It’s been several years, so it doesn’t bother me anymore. But it did help to remind me just how important family is. Renard…I was angry with Renard for so long, I never realised he was hurting as much as I was. But even though I was so horrible to him, he was still there for me when…things went bad. I guess despite everything that happens or have happened, we’ll always be family.”
Knowing they were running out of time, Arienne and Renard went back to their homes to pack the necessities while Lyra helped her mother pack. There were a lot of sentimental items and memorabilia that Chantia was unwilling to leave behind, and remembering how much she herself had missed her things those first couple of years, Lyra helped pack the items without complaint.
There were two items she grabbed for herself, and when she finally held them again, she couldn’t help the tears from welling up. They were safely packed into the chest her mom claimed once belonged to her grandmother.
One hour later, Lyra followed Alison’s instructions and attempted to open the Rift. She half-expected it to fail, but her relief the Rift immediately sprang into existence. Lyra gestured her family through and with one last look at her childhood home with all its precious memories, Lyra stepped through.
Sunset Valley would not see her again.
“Welcome back,” Alison greeted Lyra amicably the moment she stepped out of the Rift. Beside her, Lyra’s family was standing around, staring at their surroundings with wonder. Little Alexa had her face buried in Renard’s shoulder, clearly overwhelmed by everything she’d gone through. “You made good time, child. There’re still several hours before the Moon sets. I trust you’ve explained everything to your family?”
 “I have,” Lyra confirmed. “Well, everything that’s important in anyway.”
“Good,” Alison approved. “In that case, please show them to the guestrooms so they can get some rest for whatever’s left of the night. You’ll be leaving early tomorrow morning for Moonlight Falls. I dislike having a child that young on the island.” She turned to leave, but Lyra interrupted her.
“Wait, you don’t need to ‘vet and test’ them?” Lyra asked suspiciously. She had been forced to stay on the island for several years before being allowed to leave. Was it simply because they had a child with them that her family was permitted to leave?
 “Of course not,” Alison denied easily. “The Keeper personally granted them access to this world. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go. I’ll see you in the morning.” With that she swiftly turned around and left, leaving Lyra to guide her family through the base.
“What was that about?” Renard asked quietly, trying not to wake Alexa who had finally fallen asleep, but his eyes were worried. Probably because of that remark about Alison not liking having children on the island.
“Howell Island is a bit like…the gateway to the rest of this world,” Lyra tried to explain. “It’s fiercely protected, and it can be a bit dangerous, but you’ll be safe here, and we’re leaving early tomorrow, so you don’t have to worry about it.”
It was funny how much she looked forward to going home again. She’d only been gone for one night, but she found herself missing the routine of putting Reagan to bed and spending the rest of the evening just relaxing with Blaise. Funny how her life had fallen into a routine, and she loved it.
What happened to the girl who had hated routine with all her being? She didn’t know. But she couldn’t deny that she was genuinely happy with the way her life had turned out.
Renard still looked sceptical, but to Lyra’s relief, he didn’t push further, accepting her answer at face value.
The next day they took the ferry, and once again Lyra was forced to complete the tedious journey to Moonlight Falls.
There were a lot more talking than the previous time she did the journey, and by the time they pulled into the town, Lyra once again knew everything that had happened in her family’s lives, and they knew what had happened in hers. To find out that she was living with a man and raising a child with him, even though it wasn’t their child, was the most shocking thing that had been revealed. Her family had clearly not expected that.
Evening had once again fallen by the time they arrived, so Lyra took her family to a hotel and after promising to return in the morning, she returned home.
 “What’d the Keeper want?” Blaise asked in lieu of greeting her the moment she entered the house. His bluntness was comfortingly familiar to Lyra, and with a smile she picked up the toddler demanding for her attention, happy to be back home. It had been nice to see and catch up with her family, but this was home. This was where she was at her happiest.
Her family settled quickly and easily into Moonlight Falls. Renard, Arienne and Ingrid all managed to secure jobs easily, and although her mom decided not to return to ghost hunting, her years of experience were invaluable to the scientific community, so she occasionally helped out at the science centre in return for pay.  They would never again be as rich as they had been in Sunset Valley, but they would be able to live comfortably. Renard and Ingrid swiftly made friends with their neighbours, and Arienne even started dating again.
They all made sure to stay in contact and visit each other occasionally, but everyone had their own lives, so in general, Lyra’s livelihood hadn’t really changed. The only real difference was that she had her family back, and the precious camera her dad had given her had gained a place of honour on her bedside table, next to her favourite photo of her and her dad.
Winter eventually gave way to spring, and with it came a steady drizzle of rain that swiftly melted the snow. The thick layer of snow that had persisted through the winter had made sparring too difficult and dangerous, so with the arrival of spring came the return of Lyra and Blaise’s sparring sessions. Blaise trained a lot more than Lyra did, clearly restless and chafing at the fact that he couldn’t truly fight anymore, so it wasn’t an unusual sight to see him out in the yard, perfecting his technique as a way to keep active.
Lyra herself picked up jogging as a hobby, enjoying the more physical way of getting out and around in town, but one day she just could not drag herself out of bed for her daily jogging session.
Keeper, I feel terrible,” she moaned to herself, groaning at the sunlight streaming through the window. Blaise’s side of the bed was empty, so there was no one to hear her complaints. She felt like she was being sapped of all her energy, and her stomach kept churning around with nausea. She wanted nothing more than to stay in bed, but she had a photoshoot scheduled for the day, so there was no way she could stay home. They needed the money.
She felt a bit better after a shower, but half-way through the photoshoot, her stomach started churning again. It made her cranky and irritable, and her work wasn’t quite the same quality she normally turned out. She didn’t even make it home before her body rebelled and she had to empty her stomach of its contents. She felt better afterwards, so she blamed it on something she ate and vowed to double-check the ingredients in the fridge when she returned home.
The next morning, she felt well enough to go jogging again, but she kept feeling tired and halfway through her routine she gave it up. To top things off, the nausea of the previous morning made a return. She could not figure it out. Nothing in the fridge was spoiled, and neither Blaise nor Reagan were sick, so it couldn’t have been something she ate. It could be a stomach bug, but her magic was feeling all wonky, and she…didn’t…
Her thoughts trailed off as she remembered the last time she heard those words. Hadn’t Sionann used those exact words to describe how she knew she was…?
No. Oh no. It couldn’t be. No way. She and Blaise were careful. They never did anything without protection. It couldn’t be possible.
But there was that one time the…
Oh Keeper no.
There was only one way to know for sure.
 “Don’t change, don’t change, don’t change, don’t change,” she repeated over and over as she watched the pregnancy test, waiting for it to show a result, but her heart sank right to the bottom of her shoes when that dreaded second line appeared. She took another test to make sure, but the result stayed the same.
 She was pregnant. Despite all the promises she made to herself and all the precautions she took, she was pregnant. This could not be happening.
What the hell was she going to do?! She didn’t want to be pregnant. She wasn’t interested in having kids. Sure, they were already raising a kid together, and yes, she adored him to bits, but she did not want to give birth. She was going to become the size of a whale and pee like a horse and waddle like a duck and…
Why the hell did their contraception have to fail at such a crucial moment?!
She needed out. She was not ready to have that conversation with Blaise.
But he was in the living room with Reagan, being all encouraging and patient and daddy-like and her damn hormones were already cooing over how cute it was. It wasn’t cute. Blaise didn’t do cute. He was strong and gruff and blunt and definitely not cute. But try telling that to her hormones.
“I’m going out,” she informed him irritably before fleeing the house. She did not want to think about children or Blaise being all dad-like at the moment. There would be enough time for that later.
Right now, she needed something strong to drink, and since her preferred beverage was no longer an option, she’d settle for coffee. Strong, rich, bitter as hell coffee.
Half a cup of coffee later, she was a bit more ready to contemplate her condition, and what it would mean for the future. It wasn’t going to be that bad. They were already raising a child together – one more wouldn’t make such a big difference. Never mind the fact that it was going to destroy her body and mean several months of hell, followed by more pain and misery, but there was nothing she could do about it. As much as she didn’t want it to, it had happened, so the best she could do was accept it and move on.
She was going to become a mother. What an absolutely terrifying sentence.
 “Lyra? Can we talk?” She looked up, and met her sister’s eyes. Arienne had an absolutely blank expression on her face, but Lyra knew her well enough to read the shock in her eyes. Without a word she waved her sister towards the seat and took another long and deep sip of coffee. Arienne immediately sat down and wrapped her hands around her middle.
“Tell me your life is going better than mine currently is,” Lyra asked her sister, moodily staring at her coffee. “I need good news after the shitty morning I’ve had.”
Arienne pursed her lips, as if she, too, would like good news.
“I wish I could, but,” she exhaled nervously, “I’m having a bit of an issue that I don’t really know how to solve.”
“Welcome to the club,” Lyra muttered into her coffee, but she gestured at Arienne to continue. Arienne took a deep breath and said the last words Lyra had expected to hear.
“I’m pregnant.” Also the last ones Lyra wanted to hear.
 “I’m pregnant and I don’t know what to do,” Arienne pushed through, “because I’ve been told it’s impossible, but very clearly, something has changed, and I have no idea how to tell the dad. We’ve only been together three months.”
With a gesture at Arienne to wait for her, Lyra stood up without a word and walked over to the counter where she bought both of them big slices of dessert. They were going to need lots and lots of sugar to get through this.
“Eat up,” Lyra ordered her sister and placed the plate down in front of her before returning to her own seat. “Here’s to our lives being absolutely fucked up by babies.” She took a bite of her chocolate brownie and it was the most marvellous thing she had tasted in ages.
 “Wait, our lives?” Arienne asked in confusion before her eyes widened as she understood Lyra’s meaning. “You mean…?”
“Yep,” Lyra confirmed with a grin that was more grimace than smile. “We’re in the same boat. Admittedly, I’ve been with the dad for over three years, not three months, but details. Neither of us want to be pregnant right now.”
Arienne burst out laughing, and Lyra replied with an answering grin. The situation definitely wasn’t ideal, but it was a relief to know someone shared her feelings. Granted, she knew Arienne actually wanted to be a mother, just not yet, but it was still a relief being able to vent.
Several hours later, she was finally ready to inform Blaise about his impending status of fatherhood. She found him in the room he had set up as his working space, tinkering away on some of the hardware of the machine he used for the majority of his research. She had no idea what the machine did, only that it had cost them a hell of a lot of money, but that wasn’t why she was there.
“We need to talk,” she informed him, watching him changing the wiring on the machine.
“Then talk,” he ordered her, not looking up from his work. Lyra suppressed the tinge of irritation and tried again.
 “Blaise, we need to talk,” she repeated empathetically, “and I’m not going to talk to you while you’re trying to focus on not getting shocked. So put down that damn screwdriver, and look at me.” Something in her tone must’ve gotten through to him, as he sighed irritably and put the screwdriver down before straightening and turning to her.
“What is it?” he asked with a scowl, watching her with bored eyes, clearly waiting for her to finish so he could get back to his work.
“I’m pregnant.” She said it like ripping off a plaster, quickly and bluntly.
His eyebrows arched up. Whatever he had thought she wanted to talk about, it clearly wasn’t that.
“Okay,” he allowed flatly, “that hadn’t been planned.”
No,” she agreed venomously. “It definitely had not been planned. If it depended on me, it would never have happened. But it did, so now we have to bear the consequences.”
 “Right,” he agreed flatly, and she could see his thoughts turning as he tried to figure out what it would mean for their future. Their most immediate concern was money. They were already just getting by with their finances – another child would mean more expenses, and thus more hours worked, but even then, it might not be enough. Blaise got paid only per article of finished research, something that at times look a long time to complete, and Lyra’s job was purely driven by demand. They’d have to cut on their normal expenses.
Blaise tapped his fingers his arm as he calculated the effects and the cuts they would have to make, but his voice was still calm when he spoke again.
“Right,” he repeated. “We’ll make it. It’ll be okay. We’ll have to start growing our food, and delve into our savings, but we’ll be okay. We’ll make it. So, don’t worry about it.” He looked back at her and his eyes softened when he noticed the worry on her face. “Seriously, we’ll be fine. Just, take care of yourself, okay? I don’t want what happened to Sionann to happen to you.”
Her stomach turned at the thought. Pregnancy was already going to be hard enough without worrying about that.
“I will,” she promised earnestly. “I’ll do everything possible to make sure it doesn’t happen. It’ll be okay.”
“It’ll be okay,” he agreed with her, but he still pulled her into a hug, reminded of the fragility of life. His arms were warm and safe, and for the first time, Lyra allowed herself to be a little optimistic over the bundle of cells currently growing in her womb.
It wasn’t ideal, but they would be okay. They were going to have a child, and that scared the shit out of her, but they would be okay.
A/N: So, Renard and Arienne are finally also in the town, along with all my legacy photos and items (and graves, but I’m still trying to figure out how to fit that into the story) :D. And Lyra. *facepalm* She got pregnant literally the first time she used Risky. I have my Risky chance set a bit higher (30%), but normally it still takes a couple of tries before my sims get pregnant. But I guess Lyra lives to disappoint. XD Anyway, final child for this generation is on the way!
If anybody is wondering who Arienne’s mystery baby daddy is, it’s Cyrus Sixkiller, from Sunny’s legacy. :) I gave him a different hair and eye colour, but his features are still the same. Arienne also has some pretty strong features, so I’m quite interested to see how their child is going to turn out. :D

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Chapter 3.11 - White Picket Fence

*Warning: Bad uncensored language.*
They were leaving the island.
Lyra quietly gazed over the ocean, watching the waves crash against the ferry in an unending cadence, the view reminding her of the hours and hours she’d spent watching and surfing the ocean back in Sunset Valley. It was only two and a half years ago, but it felt like a lifetime. She honestly couldn’t imagine going back and living there anymore. She still missed her mother and siblings so much, but this was her home now.
Or at least, the town they were going to was going to be her home. She was leaving the island to live with Blaise, and between the two of them, they were going to have to raise a child. What did she know about raising children?
Nothing, that’s what. She never wanted to have anything to do with children, but now she was going to have to take care of one. She wasn’t really sure what to think of that.
When they arrived at the mainland, the wind was blistery and a sleety rain pelted down on them. The other travellers on the ferry quickly made themselves scarce, and before long, only Blaise and Lyra remained, Reagan safely clutched in Lyra’s arms. Blaise was muttering irritably to himself, but Lyra couldn’t hear his words through the steady drumming of the rain on the roof.
Reagan stirred, his brow drawn into a little frown, and Lyra sighed, knowing what was about to come. Sure enough, the baby started to mewl. She pulled the little boy close to her chest, comfortingly bouncing him up and down and wondered what the next step of their journey was going to be. She just wanted it to be over already.
Eight hours of driving later, they pulled into Moonlight Falls, the town they were supposed to be living in for the next who-knew-how-long. It was already dark, and the streets were deserted, the people of the town having already retreated inwards for the evening. The town was quiet and empty, but the lights shining from the houses were warm and welcoming, reminding Lyra a little of her childhood home back in Sunset Valley.
They finally arrived at Blaise’s sister’s house, bringing an end to their multi-hour journey. Blaise’s sister came out personally to greet them, and Lyra was a little surprised by the warm way the woman greeted Blaise, and the fact that he actually returned her hug.
Blaise’s relationship with his family honestly confused Lyra. He didn’t get along with his mother, and Lyra had already realised he didn’t have the best relationship with his father either, and he had never talked about his family before, but he clearly had a good relationship with his sister. It was quite puzzling.
 “It’s so good to see you again,” the woman enthused happily. “It’s horrible that it had to be under such circumstances, but I am glad to see you. It’s been far too long.”
“Yeah,” Blaise agreed gruffly, his mouth pulled into that familiar small smile. He pulled back from the hug and gave a step back, allowing his sister to turn her full attention to Lyra. “Raelene, Lyra,” Blaise introduced them with a bored tone. “Lyra, this is my sister, Raelene. She moved here with her husband, Felix, about five years ago. Their brat of a daughter should be running around here somewhere, too.”
 “Hi,” Raelene greeted Lyra friendly, her smile and handshake warm and welcoming. “Nice to meet you. Please, come in.” She ushered them inside, chatting happily the whole time, and Lyra couldn’t help but marvel at both the similarities and the differences between the two siblings.
Raelene had a friendly, easy way of talking and she seemed to be able to instantly alter the flow of a conversation. She carried herself with a light yet firm confidence, leaving Lyra with no doubts that she too, had once been a fighter, like her brother. She was clearly the ruler of her household, and much like Lyra’s own mother had done, she completely dominated her family. She laughed easily and openly, and before Lyra realised, she too was taking part in the conversation like she had always belonged. Raelene’s husband, Felix, was an easy-going man with a great sense of humour, and their four-year-old daughter, Lilianne, was an adorable bundle of energy who was constantly smiling and somehow, never failed to get one of those rare little smiles from her uncle.
Once Reagan and Lilianne had been put to bed, the adults retreated to the living room where Raelene served them all hot drinks before settling on the couch, snuggling up to her husband.
“So,” the woman started, an uncharacteristically serious expression on her face, “what are your plans? Do you what you’re going to do, or do I need to ask around and see if somebody would be willing to give you jobs?”
Blaise sighed at the question.
 “Don’t bother,” he rejected the offer. “I already have contacts at the Science Lab, and they’re willing to pay me for my research, so I’m set. Lyra…” He turned to her and quirked an eyebrow, indicating she should speak for herself. They had talked about it on the ferry, so Lyra already knew how to answer.
 “I used to be a photographer,” she admitted. “A good one, even if I am saying it myself. I was thinking of trying again, of going freelance and perhaps offering my services at City Hall, or school. I’d like to try, at least. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll try getting a more conventional job.” Even as she said it, she desperately hoped she’d be able to return to her previous job. She’d die if she had to follow a standard, 40-hour-a-week job.
 “It might work,” Raelene agreed easily. “Do you have somewhere to stay, or do you want to crash here until you find someplace? We can lend you some money, if you need any to get settled.”
“Thanks, but no thanks,” Blaise immediately refused, his jaw tense at the offer. “We’ll manage.”
Raelene gave a light shrug, clearly unconcerned by his swift refusal.
 “Alright, if you say so,” she agreed lightly. She stood up and walked over to the desk, rummaging through the contents of the drawer as she looked for something. “If you are interested though, there’s a house not far from here that’s currently available to rent at quite a decent price. The house-market is quite tight at the moment, so it might be your best shot.” She pulled out a business card from the drawer and offered it to Blaise, her lips quirking with an amused smile. “I don’t think the place is quite your style, but it’s cheap and available. You should check it out. You don’t have to stay there forever.”
Blaise took the business card from her hand.
 “Thanks Rae,” he offered, already studying the number on the card. “I’ll check it out.”
“Anytime,” she declared with a smile and a wink.
The next day was a busy one for Lyra and Blaise. Raelene had excused herself, stating she needed to go to work, but Felix was a stay-at-home dad and he generously offered to look after Reagan for the day, allowing the two adults to complete all the small and tedious arrangements involved in moving to a new town without interruption.
Blaise checked in at the science centre, confirming that yes, they were still interested in his research, and yes, they would still pay him for every article he published, before taking Lyra to the city hall to apply for her driver’s licence and register as a freelance photographer. The administration assured her they’d send any queries on to her, and suggested she offered her services to the school as well. They had no other photographers registered in the town, so the school would surely appreciate her services. She still didn’t have a decent camera, but with enough luck she’d be able to afford one soon. Until then, she’d have to settle with being paid less for her work.
After completing all the tedious paperwork and proving her driving skills, Lyra was once again legally allowed to drive on the road. By that time, it was already time to meet with the agent of the house Raelene had told them about, so they set off towards the address the agent had given them.
When they arrived at the address, Lyra couldn’t help but stare at the house with slight disbelief. It was a cute little cottage, complete with flower garden and white picket fence, but it was so not them. It was the type of house Sionann would’ve loved to live and raise her children in, but to Lyra, the house was just a little over-the-top.
She meant, white picket fence. Who still did that?
But the house was cosy, if a little small, and cheap enough to fit their budget. There was a kitchen and a bathroom, but none of the other rooms were furnished. They’d have to pay most of their next incoming money to buy furniture, but it was better than the alternative of freeloading at Raelene’s house, so they agreed to take the house. They managed to scrounge together enough money to buy a cheap bed that was surprisingly comfy, and after buying a cheap, DIY crib from the store and the cheapest bedcovers they could, they all had somewhere to sleep.
They moved in that very same day.
It was so damn bizarre. They didn’t even have chairs, and they were forced to eat dinner out of take-out containers while seated on the floor. They didn’t even have lights. They had to eat by candle-light. It would’ve been quite romantic even. All they needed was a picnic blanket and maybe some nectar, and they’d have the perfect setup for a date.
But there was no nectar and no picnic blanket, and they were both too tired by the events of the last couple of days to even think about romance.
“So, what happens now?” Lyra asked after dinner, watching the fire of the candle flicker in the hazy light and taking comfort from Blaise’s presence and proximity.
Blaise tiredly leaned back against the wall, the candlelight dancing over the features of his face.
 “Now?” he repeated, his eyes far and distant. “Now we get some sleep, I suppose. And after that, we go on with our lives. That’s all there is to it.”
He sounded so tired, so unlike himself, that Lyra couldn’t stop herself. She pushed him back against the floor and gave him a long, lingering kiss, wordlessly reminding him that he was not alone, that she was still there. He responded in kind, and it was nothing like their previous wild and passionate kisses had been. It meant more, and it was so much more precious for it.
That night, she gave herself to him completely.
Their days fell into routine; not quite the 40-hour-a-week routine Lyra had always been dreading, but a routine nonetheless. The first couple of weeks in their new home was incredibly difficult, both from a financial view and from an emotional one. It was difficult to adjust to the absence of Sionann and Adrian, but as time went by and other problems started to occupy their time, it got easier to forget.
Money was incredibly scarce, so the first several weeks were spent working, trying to buy enough furniture for the house, but it was difficult. The science centre would only pay Blaise for published articles, which took a long time to complete, and there wasn’t a big enough demand for a photographer for Lyra to make more than a modest amount of money. To top it off, most of the money Lyra received for her work went to developing the photos.
It was a difficult time, but both of them were too stubborn to give up, and they tried their best to make it work.
Raelene and Felix were a big help during those first couple of weeks. They invited the two of them over for dinner almost every day, which helped to keep the grocery bill low, and Felix was always more than willing to look over Reagan for a couple of hours whenever Lyra and Blaise both needed to be out of the house at the same time. It was also through Raelene that they managed to get out and meet some of the other people living in the town.
Suddenly released from the restrictions that forbade her to leave the house, Lyra tried to spend time out and about in the town as often as possible. Moonlight Falls was unlike either of the two places she’d lived in so far, but she had to admit, she rather liked the town. The temperature was much colder than Sunset Valley had been, but the constant snowfall reminded Lyra of all those cosy evenings spent with her family in their home by the lake, surrounded protectively by the mountains.
Here, the entire town was surrounded by mountains. It was nostalgic, and something Lyra would always associate with safety. But it did make her miss her family so much more.
She found herself thinking about them more and more lately. Have Arienne and Renard made up after she disappeared, or were they still feuding? Was her mother still healthy? She must’ve gotten quite old by now. Did Renard ever become a dad, like they’d discussed when they met at their dad’s grave during the anniversary? She didn’t know. She didn’t know if she’d ever know those answers.
It was during one of their shut-in evenings, snowed in by the latest blizzard, when Lyra finally asked Blaise about his family.
 “You don’t really get along with your parents, do you?” she asked curiously. As expected, he immediately scowled at the mention of his parents.
“No,” he answered bluntly. “They’re damn hypocrites. Always forming rules and regulations and telling others what to do, but then it come to them they never obey the rules themselves. They claim to know what’s best for everyone, but refuse to do those same things. I’m sick and tired of their two-faced ways.”
“I take it you’re referring to something specific?” Lyra asked, lifting an eyebrow at his harsh tone.
 “Pretty much,” he replied glumly, staring sullenly out of the window. “My sister and I…for all that Alison’s so adamant people should leave the island when a child is involved, she certainly never did it herself. Raelene and I both grew up on the Island. It wouldn’t even have been so bad if they were more involved, but they weren’t. We barely ever saw them, except when it was time for our lessons. Then they would push us until we gave nothing but perfection.” He gave a shrug. “Which isn’t that bad, I suppose. It helped a lot during the Hunt. But I can’t stand hypocrites, and Alison is the very definition of one.”
He shook his head in disgust.
 “But enough of that,” he declared, changing the subject. “What about your parents? I’ve never heard you talk about your family either.”
She hummed noncommittally. “Well, it’s not like it matters anymore – I doubt I’m going to see them again. But my family…I guess it would be easiest to say they’re a bit... broken.” So she told him the whole sordid affair – how close they once were, the whole story behind her dad’s death and the way her sister tore the family apart.
He listened patiently to the whole story, only speaking to clarify something. It was incredibly liberating to talk about it, and for the first time Lyra realised just how heavy her baggage had been.
They talked until late at night, sharing tales of their childhood, and when Lyra went to sleep that night, she felt so much closer to him.
Time continued passing, Reagan continued growing, and before they realised, the little boy started crawling. He was an adorable toddler who looked so much like his parents. He’d inherited his father’s hair colour and his mother’s eye colour, but there was no sign of wings. He had clearly not inherited his mother’s magic.
He was a very curious boy and very easy to entertain, as he seemed to be delighted by absolutely everything. Lyra wasn’t sure if maybe that was a trait of all toddlers, but whenever his face lit up in delight, she couldn’t help but realise just how damn much she loved that little boy.
She’d never thought she’d ever feel that way over a child.
Now that Reagan was mobile, Lyra and Blaise’s time got even more limited, as the boy was always either looking for attention or getting into trouble. To Lyra’s amusement and Blaise’s exasperation, Reagan’s most common partner in crime was Blaise’s dragon, Ignis. Ignis had formed a connection of some kind to the boy, as he was always somewhere close by, following the boy or joining him in causing trouble. It drove Blaise nuts.
“He’s a dragon, not a damn toy or pet,” Blaise muttered irritably after he found the two of them curled up together, exhausted after hours of playing and horsing around. “He’s going to forget he’s a dragon if this continues.”
Even as he complained, he gently picked up the sleeping boy and carried him to his crib. Reagan didn’t stir even once during the process. Blaise was remarkably good at being a dad to Reagan.
It made Lyra wonder, sometimes, what he would be like with his own children. It made her wonder what it would be like to be the mother of his children. But she wasn’t going to mention it, as she did not want children, and even if she did, she didn’t know if he wanted any. She wasn’t going to ask. 
But it did make her realise that once again, there was a status quo in her relationship that at some stage or another, was going to be challenged. There were no way things would be able to stay the same.
 “Where are we going?” she asked one night while they were lying in bed. “I mean…this thing, relationship, whatever you want to call it, that’s between us…where is it going?”
He propped himself onto his elbows, staring at her with his brows lowered over his eyes in a puzzled frown.
“You mean like…”
“I mean, are we heading towards the whole marriage and kids and white picket fence thing?” It was terribly ironic, she knew, to say that when they were already living in a house with a white picket fence, but she knew he’d understand what she was trying to say.
He shrugged, unconcerned. “Does it matter?” he asked, bored. “To be honest, I don’t care either way. Is putting a ring on your finger really going to make that big a difference?”
She was flabbergasted by his answer. Wasn’t that what all relationships headed towards?
He sighed, a little impatient. “Look, Lyra,” he said. “I care for you. But if, say, we decide in ten years we aren’t compatible after all, will a ring really make you stay? Or is it going to tie you down and make you miserable?”
She loved him. Plumbob, she loved him. How was it possible that he could understand her so well?
“And children?” she asked, struggling to believe it could be that easy. “Do you want any?”
He sighed and let his head lean back. “Don’t care,” he declared. “I don’t have the big drive to reproduce so my genes can carry on, but if it does happen, I won’t mind either. If you care about these things, we can look at it. If you don’t, then that’s fine too.”
“I don’t,” she admitted with a big smile, absolutely relieved. “I don’t care. I absolutely don’t. What we have right now is more than enough for me.”
What would come would come. There was no rush. Things were perfect as they were.
She was dreaming. She knew she was dreaming. But even though she knew she was only dreaming, she couldn’t tear her eyes away. It had been so long since she last saw her family.
Her mom had gotten old – older than her age dictated. She could see it in the tired slant of her mom’s eyes, and the slight tremble in her hands. It was a relief seeing Arienne there – even though she and her sister had never really seen eye to eye, they both loved their mom equally as much.
Renard was also there, and so was Ingrid, his wife. There was a little girl playing by her feet, with Renard’s eyes and hair colour. Arienne was alone, and she was very carefully avoiding looking at the little girl, but she wasn’t avoiding Renard and she was talking to him without any of that resentment that used to colour their relationship.
The scene shifted. A house burned, flames shooting high up into the sky, and people walked by without paying it any attention, even though screams were coming from the inside. It wasn’t right, and even through the dream Lyra could feel that familiar sense of wrongness.
Someone stood behind her. It was a familiar presence; one Lyra had known her entire life. It had always been there, watching her. She knew that, even though she’d never met whoever it was before. She turned around and finally knew the identity of her silent watcher.
 “You’re the Keeper,” she stated calmly, somehow not surprised at all. As familiar as it was, it was still incredibly frightening to stand in its presence, and for the first time Lyra understood why everybody always swore by the Keeper. She’d probably start doing it herself.
“This world’s Balance is in danger,” the being declared in lieu of answering her statement, its voice deep and dark. “Direct intervention is required. The decay has been temporarily slowed with the removal of the Anomaly, but it’s not enough. This world will Fall unless all external influences are removed.” It turned directly to her and raised its hand to her chin, skeletal fingers brushing her skin. “In Howell Island, my agent awaits. When the Moon rises, go to her. A dragon will take you. Fail this, and your kin will bear the consequences. Balance must be kept.”
She abruptly woke up. Blaise was deeply asleep beside her, and the glare of the almost-Full Moon shone through the window, casting the room in light. Tomorrow it would be Full Moon – five years since she arrived in this world. That dream could not have been a coincidence.
Blaise was in full agreement the next morning when she told him about it.
“There’s no question about it,” he declared firmly. “If you say you met the Keeper, then you met the Keeper. It’s not a meeting that can be forgotten. Go to Alison tonight. If a dragon doesn’t appear like the Keeper promised, take Ignis with you. He’ll keep you safe.”
But a dragon did appear. The moment the Moon rose in the sky, a purple dragon burst out of nothing, chirping happily at Ignis and making a massive racket. It settled on Lyra’s shoulder and gave her a look, and in her mind, Lyra vaguely got the feel of a question. Without question, Lyra knew the dragon was waiting on her to decide whether they would be going or not. She nodded at the dragon, and with a flash of light, the dragon transported them to the base on Howell Island. The place was a hive of activity as everyone prepared for the Hunt, but Lyra didn’t have time to do more than gain her bearings before Alison appeared by her side.
 “Quickly now, we don’t have much time,” the woman murmured urgently. “We only have until Moonset to do this. Do you know what you have to do?”
No,” Lyra replied emphatically. “I’ve only been told to come here. And something about the Balance being in danger on the world I grew up in.”
Alison pursed her lips in displeasure over the fact that she had to waste time by explaining.
 “Alright,” she accepted. “Do you remember the first time we met, I explained to you how vital it is that the Balance never gets disrupted? And that the Balance will automatically try to correct itself unless the distortion is so bad, it’s not possible?”
Lyra crossed her arms, a little annoyed by the reminder. Of course she remembered. It was the reason she had to stay in this world, after all.
 “Yes,” she confirmed simply, waiting for Alison to continue.
“And do you also remember what I said about that potion your aunt created, the one that enabled your father to see ghosts?” Alison continued.
“Vaguely,” Lyra admitted. She remembered the gist of the conversation, but not all the details. It had been five years, after all.
“The point is, that potion is the reason the Sunset Valley Balance is disrupted,” Alison declared. “For as long as there are people affected by that potion, the Balance will be distorted. The only thing that’ll enable the Balance to be corrected again is if those people are removed from that world.”
“But the only people who ever drank that potion was my aunt and dad,” Lyra pointed out sceptically. “Two people, of which one is already dead. Are you seriously telling me that two people can have such a big effect on the world?”
“But it’s not just two people, child,” Alison declared firmly. “The effects of the potion are inheritable. Your aunt’s children and their children would also be under the effects. Your siblings and any children they might have will also be affected. With any additional children born the effects increase, and the Balance is distorted further.”
Lyra felt the blood drain from her face as the implications hit her. The Keeper had also mentioned the influences had to be removed. What, exactly did they mean by that?
“So what the hell do you mean when you say they have to be removed?” she demanded vehemently. “Is this some messed up way of saying you’re gonna kill them?”
“If needs be, yes,” Alison confirmed callously, “but the Keeper isn’t without mercy. He’ll be content if they simply leave that world. You came to this world out of your own free will, so the Keeper considers you one of his. Yes, we made you stay, but you accepted it. You embraced living in this world. Given the chance, would you return to your world?”
No, she wouldn’t. Sunset Valley had never really been her home. She’d never felt like she belonged there – not the way she belonged in Moonlight Falls. She didn’t even have to answer Alison’s question, because she knew Alison knew her answer.
“Because of that,” Alison continued, “the Keeper is willing to give you a chance. He is busy clearing out the influences, but if you can convince your family to leave before he reaches them, he will spare them.”
 “But where will they go?” Lyra asked. “This is a Magical World, right? None of them are magical. They won’t be able to stay here.”
Alison smiled amusedly at her.
“Normally, you would be right,” Alison agreed easily, “but this isn’t a Magical world. It’s a Mixed World. The forces here are in perfect balance, which means that both Energetic and Magical creatures can live here. There’s no reason your family can’t stay.”
“So that’s it?” Lyra asked. “I just have to convince my family to leave? That’s all? They’ll be safe?”
“Yes,” Alison confirmed. “Bring them here, and I promise, they will be safe. Now, go. There’s no time to waste. You have until Moonset. When you’re ready to come back, simply focus your magic and think of coming here. I’ll do the rest.”
She clicked her fingers, and a Rift tore open in front of her.
No time to waste.
Lyra took a deep breath and for the first time in five years, returned to the world of her birth.
A/N: Deus Ex Machina? Perhaps, but I don’t care. I want Renard and Arienne in my town. XD
So, town explanations. I struggled quite a bit to decide on which town to move them to, but in the end Moonlight Falls won. I’ve only played a little with MF, but I think it fits the feel of this legacy the best, so I’m hoping I’ll grow to love it as much as I love SV or DV. I’ve deleted all the premade townies and filled the town with some of my own families and some families from other Random Legacies. I love playing with genetics and watching the genetics change through the generations, so I’ll be running a closed town, but I might add other families into the fold in the future. The families I’ve included in the town are the following ones:
-          Matthews (Belle, Ashton, Melody, Nathaniel)
-          Diffy (CB, Emily)
-          Mattell (Shaena, Winter, Kaity)
-          Sixkiller (Cyrus, Phedra)
-          Sleitinn (Odin, Lucrecia)
-          Kahekili (Colin)
-          Sabo (Raindrop)
-          Bee (Zenith, Solaris)
-          Love (Alexis)
-          5 families from my own games
If your sim is on the list, thanks so much for making them available for download! I’ve changed the hair colour of one or two sims just to add a little bit more diversity, and I’ve changed the occults of some of them, but since I play with a mod that makes all occults (except vamps – can’t get that one to work) live the same length of time as humans, it’s just to add another dimension to the genetics. :)
So far, it’s been quite an interesting mash-up. Winter is the Gigolo, Solaris the Nerd, Colin the Magnate, Raindrop the Casanova, and Melody the Loon. The other Personalities are filled by my own sims.