Saturday, 18 May 2013

Chapter 1.9 - Attention

All too soon, Gustave’s visit came to an end. Even though she knew the day would come, Evelyn was loath to let him return to his home.
“Do you really have to go?” Evelyn asked sadly. Gustave tightened his arms around her, wordlessly trying to reassure her.

“You know I have to,” he gently reminded her. “Believe me, I would like nothing more than to stay here with you and the kids, but I have responsibilities back in Champs Les Sims.” He pulled away and took her hand in his, staring deeply into her eyes. “Right now, I simply cannot abandon those responsibilities.”
Evelyn sighed and dropped his hand. “I know,” she admitted softly before giving him a wan little smile. “Promise you’ll stay in contact though?”
Gustave pulled her into his arms again. “Always,” he promised with conviction in his voice. With that and another tender kiss, he left, leaving Evelyn behind with the two children.
Evelyn was saddened by his departure, but at least she still had something of him. As always, their child managed to cheer her up simply by being her normal, cheerful self.
Not long after Gustave left, Evelyn received another temporary guest. Ariko had finally graduated from High School and returned to Evelyn’s house for the day to spend some time with her sister and thank her once again for supporting her. With a slightly more mature look, Ariko looked ready to step into the world of adulthood. Her time at Fort Starch Military School appeared to have done a lot of good in helping the slightly irresponsible teen to mature.
“Ariko!” Evelyn exclaimed and pulled her youngest sister into a hug. “How have you been?”
Ariko smiled happily in response to the question. “Good! Fort Starch was…amazing. It was very tough and hard, but still really amazing. I’m really glad you sent me there,” the younger woman enthused.
Evelyn smiled at her sister, glad that things had managed to turn out so well. Her thoughts turned to the baby still sleeping peacefully in her crib in the children’s room.
“I suppose you want to see Mia?” Evelyn suggested, indicating towards the direction of the children’s room. A complicated expression settled onto Ariko’s face as she stared silently at Evelyn for a couple of seconds.
“Not particularly, no,” Ariko confessed uncomfortably. Evelyn raised her eyebrows, slightly surprised at the woman’s confession.
“Why not?” Evelyn questioned curiously. Ariko hesitated slightly before she answered.
“You were right, you know,” she admitted. “Back when I gave her to you, you told me that she’s not my child anymore. You were right. She’s not mine anymore, and I don’t want to needlessly complicate her life. You’re her mother, not me.”
Evelyn frowned slightly. “Are you sure?” Evelyn questioned, slightly hesitant. Ariko gave her a small smile and a decisive nod.
“Let her believe that you are her mother,” Ariko pleaded. “I don’t want her to grow up with the knowledge that her mother didn’t want her.”
Evelyn shook her head, refusing the request. “I can’t do that, Ariko,” she refused. “It wouldn’t be fair towards either her or my own child. I adopted her, so she is my daughter now, but I will not raise her to think that I am her biological mother.”
Ariko sighed and nodded, accepting Evelyn’s choice. “Then, at the very least, don’t tell her that I am her mother,” she requested. “I don’t want her to see anybody but you as her mother.”
Evelyn studied the woman in front of her before nodding slightly, wordlessly agreeing to Ariko’s request.
They spent the rest of the day discussing Ariko’s plans for the future and the next day, the younger woman departed for the small community where they both grew up in. Evelyn was still not convinced that Ariko’s decision was the best for little Mia, but she promised not to tell the girl about her real mother, not unless the girl had a genuine interest in meeting her. Evelyn just hoped that the decision wouldn’t come back to bite them one day.
Soon enough, it was Mia’s birthday. She aged into a pretty little toddler with her biological mother’s hair and eyes, but her face resembled her unknown father’s features more than her mother’s. Even so, she was still a beautiful little girl.
Evelyn soon discovered that Mia was completely different than Chantia. While Chantia was enraptured with the xylophone, Mia preferred the blocks. She loved playing with it, shaking her hands excitedly and smiling brightly whenever she managed to get another block inside the little wooden box.
Another difference was the girl’s temper and attention span.  Teaching Chantia her essential skills had been a joy to Evelyn, but with Mia is was incredibly difficult, as the girl usually either lost attention or threw a huge fit.
Still, Evelyn tried her best to remain patient and eventually Mia had learned her words and how to use the potty. While Evelyn was incredibly glad about it, Chantia was a little less impressed. She didn’t like that her mommy spent more time with the girl she said was Chantia’s sister than with her.
She pulled on her mother’s shirt. “Mommy, can you read to me?” Chantia begged, clumsily offering her mother the book. Evelyn glanced at her.
“Not now, sweetie. I’m a bit busy right now.” With that the woman returned her attention to the girl sitting in front of her. Chantia’s bottom lip trembled slightly, but instead of crying she just sat down beside her mother. Her mommy wouldn’t ignore her if she sat beside her, like her little sister was. Her mommy would praise her when she noticed Chantia reading the difficult book on her own.
She didn’t. Her mommy didn’t even look at her, not once! A frown creased Chantia’s brow before she stood up and angrily stomped away from her mother. Maybe if she hid away from her, her mommy would come to find her! Convinced that the idea would work, Chantia walked away, deciding to hide in her mother’s room.
Unfortunately for her, her plan never got that far. Once she entered the room and noticed the basket standing in the corner, she forgot completely about her plan. Fascinated, she walked over to it with wide eyes. Was it the laundry basket her mommy told her about? Would it attack her? She stared at it for a long time before she decided that no, it wouldn’t.
Her eyes widened as a thought occurred to her. Maybe there were other things in the house to see! Excited, she left the room, eager to see what other mysteries the house held.
She saw something moving in the kitchen. Curious, she decided to follow it, trying to find out exactly what it was. It passed through the kitchen door. Chantia reached up to the handle and turned it, opening the door and eagerly followed the moving thing out of the house.
The moving thing kept remaining slightly in front of her, keeping Chantia’s attention. She followed it all the way to the chess table, but when she finally reached it, it disappeared. Chantia remained standing in front of the chess table, waiting for the strange thing to reappear with the steadily falling snow slowly settling onto her shoulders.
She remained standing in the cold until her mother frantically found her and swept her up into her arms, but Chantia paid no attention to her mother. Somehow, she knew it was not the last she had seen of the strange moving thing.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Chapter 1.8 - Magical Moments

The following couple of days, Evelyn tried to find out what was wrong with her child. She went to the library to research similar events, but couldn’t find anything. Neither books nor the internet managed to provide her with answers.
 Eventually, she called Gustave, trying to get his opinion. With the studies he had done on old fairy-tales and fables, Evelyn hoped that perhaps he had managed to come across similar events in the past.
“I’m telling you Gustave, it just wasn’t normal! She was literally just sitting there, staring at the moon. What possible reasons could a toddler have for staring at the moon?” Evelyn asked worriedly. A brief silence followed her question before Gustave answered her.
“Are you sure she was staring at the moon?” Gustave replied. Evelyn sighed wearily.
“That’s what it seemed like,” Evelyn answered and turned around, looking at Chantia. “She wasn’t looking around or smiling or anything like that. She just sat there; staring at the moon like it was the most fascinating thing in the world.”
Gustave hummed in reply. “I’ve never heard of anything like that,” he confessed. “I’ve heard a couple of tales talking about the Full Moon, but never anything that could explain this.”
Evelyn’s eyebrows lifted slightly with curiosity. “Tell me,” she requested. Gustave laughed over the phone, his rich voice calming Evelyn’s fears slightly.
“They’re hardly the kind of stories one can tell over the phone,” he replied, his voice coloured with amusement. “It takes away the magic.” Evelyn pouted slightly. Almost as if Gustave could see her, he immediately continued. “But I’ll tell them to you when I come to visit,” he promised.
Evelyn smiled slightly, giving in. “I’ll hold you to that,” she promised. “I’ll be waiting.”
True to her word, Evelyn waited patiently for Gustave’s visit. Winter soon fell over Sunset Valley completely, covering the town in a beautiful layer of snow. Evelyn spent her days teaching Chantia different words,
and taking care of Mia whenever the baby needed her. To be perfectly honest, she didn’t love the baby quite as much as she loved her own child, but she did love the child enough to be happy whenever she took care of the little girl.
Before long, Gustave finally visited Evelyn and the children. When he saw how big Chantia had gotten, he couldn’t stop staring. Chantia stared right back, unsure what to do with the strange man that looked at her.
A couple of seconds of staring passed before Gustave appeared to realise what he was doing. He shook himself out of his stupor and leaned forward to fawn over his child.
“She’s grown so much!” Gustave exclaimed with awe in his voice before taking Chantia from her mother. The girl was a bit hesitant, but immediately became her normal laughing self when her father played with her, throwing her into the air.
Due to the large amount of snow and the bitterly cold temperatures outside, Gustave spent most of his visit staying at home with Evelyn, or with Chantia whenever Evelyn had to work. He made the most of his visit, playing with his daughter and telling her fairy-tales about nobles, dragons and fairies.
In the evenings after Chantia and Mia had been taken care of and put to bed, the couple spent time with each other, merely enjoying the other’s presence.
One night, Evelyn remembered Gustave’s promise to her. In the chaos and contentment surrounding his visit, she had completely forgotten about the phone call she had made previously.
“You promised me tales,” she reminded him playfully. Gustave laughed at the reminder before smiling gently at her.
“That I did,” he agreed and pressed a gentle kiss onto her lips before sitting on the couch, gesturing at her to join him. She did, cuddling into his side and making herself comfortable.
A comfortable silence settled on them as Gustave thought of the best way to start. Finally, after a couple of minutes, his voice filled the air.
“The tale I’m about to tell you isn’t a very happy one,” he warned her. “It’s actually a rather morbid one, but it is the one I remember the best,” he explained. Evelyn nodded and snuggled deeper into his side.
“Okay,” she agreed. Gustave smiled at her and settled into a more comfortable position before starting his tale.
‘When night falls and the foreboding Full Moon rises, bolt the doors, secure the shutters and no matter what, do not step outside. When the Full Moon rises, the night belongs to the Wilds.’ This is the warning that eons of generations have passed on, from mother to child, from master to apprentice.
On the night of the Full Moon, the borders between our world and the next are linked. On this one special night, the wild magic of our world’s sister crosses onto our own and saturates the very air itself. Only denizens of that world can survive the magic.
In the early hours of the moonrise, the night belongs to the Wilds. The Wilds – denizens of a world so close to our own, yet always foreign – prey on the living, leaving behind mere husks of ash when they’re done feeding.
Those caught without shelter when the Full Moon rises are forever damned; never seen, never heard, they drift alone, belonging neither to this world nor the next. The Damned envy the living and resent them.
For eons the cycle has continued, until at last the Damned totalled more than the living. They mimicked the Wilds and preyed on the living, even when the Full Moon has long since passed beyond the horizon. The Keeper of Souls and Balance witnessed the senseless hunts and felt sorrow, for he lacked the magic to free the Damned from their curse; except on the nights when the Full Moon rises. And thus, just like the early hours of the moonrise belong to the Wilds, the later hours belong to the Keeper.
When the Full Moon reaches its zenith, the Wilds and the Damned start running. The Wilds return to their own world, but the Damned has nowhere to return to, and thus they run until finally the Keeper is upon them. When the Keeper is hunting, he spares none: Wild, Living or Damned, all fall before his blade. There is no escape. So, when the foreboding Full Moon reaches its zenith, bolt the doors, secure the shutters and no matter what, do not step outside. When the Full Moon reaches its zenith, the Keeper begins his hunt.
But when the Full Moon passes beyond the horizon and the magic fades from the air, the Keeper’s Hunt comes to an end. The Hunted Damned are finally relieved of their curse and with gratitude in their colourless eyes, they thank the Keeper and move on to a world of their own, never to be seen by the Living again.
Silence. The snow drifted down to the white-clad soil in a cold, silent dance, but inside the house Evelyn was warm and comfortable. Gustave’s chest rose gently with each breath; his presence and the warmth he radiated was enough to envelop her in a sensation of safety.
It was a beautiful tale. Solemn and definitely slightly morbid, but even so, it was beautiful. She could almost see the scenes in her mind: the Wilds, the Damned and the Keeper. It brought an ache to her heart.
“That’s beautiful,” she murmured softly, still enchanted by the spell of the tale. She turned her head, looking up at Gustave. “Do you think any of that is real?”
Gustave laughed, his head thrown back. His rich laughter sounded through the room, filling Evelyn with warmth. She really did love spending time with him. She so desperately wished he could stay with her, but she knew it wasn’t possible. Not at the current stage of their lives.
“Of course not!” Gustave stated with laughter in his eyes, pulling Evelyn out of her thoughts and back into the conversation. “It’s just a tale I heard many years ago. The woman who told it to me wove it in such a magical way that I simply couldn’t forget it,” he confessed. “You must agree, there is a certain type of magic in the story.”
Evelyn smiled and leaned in, planting a soft kiss on his lips. “There is,” she agreed softly, her lips moving against his.
Her hands moved automatically to his face in a gentle caress and she smiled when she felt his hand slip around her waist, pulling her slightly closer to him. The moment was absolutely magic, with the snow continuing to fall in a slow, unending dance in rhythm to the soft music playing from the stereo and the way Gustave’s lips moved lovingly with hers. To Evelyn, the moment was absolutely perfect. She never wanted it to stop.
I really enjoyed writing this chapter. Getting the shots for the story was somewhat of a challenge, but overall I'm quite happy about it. Oh, and in the last two scenes the icicles are missing, because I had to go back to shoot those scenes and my game decided that I wasn't allowed to have icicles in my shots -_-. Still, it was a rather fun chapter to write.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Chapter 1.7: Chantia

Not long after Ariko left, Chantia reached her first milestone in life.

She aged into a beautiful little toddler with her mother’s rich hair and her father’s brown eyes. In Evelyn’s eyes, she was the prettiest child that has ever been born. Of course, she knew she was a little biased, but she didn’t care. Chantia was her and Gustave’s child and she had gotten the best of both parents’ genes.
From the very first day, Chantia never ceased to amaze Evelyn. She was a bundle of energy, always trying to investigate the world. Evelyn wanted the absolute best for her toddler, so she bought educational toys for Chantia, hoping that it might help with Chantia’s development. It turned out to be a very good idea, as Chantia loved playing with the blocks. At first, she was a bit confused about it, but eventually figured out how to play correctly with it.

Playing with blocks was a serious business.

Although she loved the playing with the blocks, Evelyn’s best gift to Chantia was the toy xylophone she had bought the little girl. Chantia took to it like a fish to water.
Until she discovered it made music when she hit it. Then she was completely and utterly hooked. It came as no surprise to Evelyn that the girl loved the xylophone so much. From the very first time Evelyn brought the girl home, music had always fascinated the girl.
In Evelyn’s eyes, Chantia was definitely the best thing to have ever happened to her. The girl was always laughing and it cheered Evelyn immensely to return home to her laughing bundle of joy.

She would’ve loved to stay at home and spent the entire day playing with her daughter, but she had to work in order to care for her children. With her recent promotion to High School Teacher, Evelyn often had to work until late in the evenings as her boss often assigned her extra tasks to complete, like organising a money increase to the school from the City Hall, or welcoming any new co-workers to town.

Usually by the time she returned home from work, Evelyn was exhausted, but she always made time to spend time with her child, teaching the girl her essential skills; like potty training.

Still, Evelyn was really glad that the two children in her house were so well-mannered. Both Chantia and Mia never cried unnecessarily. Even when she was waiting for her food, Chantia never cried. She was always so delighted to receive her food, no matter how much time it took Evelyn to give it to the little girl.
After feeding Chantia and making sure the girl was safely tucked in in her crib, snuggling with her fairy teddy bear, Evelyn took care of Mia. By the time she finished taking care of both girls, Evelyn was always glad to crawl into bed, falling asleep the minute her head hit the pillow. Her life was incredibly busy, but she wouldn’t exchange it for anything. She loved her life.
As the two girls grew older, Evelyn’s life settled into a contented rhythm. In the mornings, after she woke she took care of her children, followed by waiting for the babysitter and going to work. After she returned home and thanked the babysitter in the evenings, Evelyn made some effort to spend time with Chantia. The girl was reaching the age where books fascinated her, so Evelyn took the time to read with the girl, teaching her the meaning of the pictures inside the books.
After that, it was very difficult to tear the girl away from books. She even left her precious xylophone alone to page through the books and laugh delightedly at the stories and pictures contained within.

All in all, Evelyn was happy with her life and her children. Both girls were wonderfully healthy and happy. It wasn’t until the first Full Moon after Chantia’s birth that Evelyn realised something might be wrong with her daughter.
The evening started off normally enough. She had spent the evening teaching the girl to walk. Chantia was her normal exquisite, happy self; hesitantly taking wobbly steps, but still happily cheerful the entire time.

It wasn’t until a little bit later that Evelyn got her first major fright. She had left the girl playing with her blocks to wash her hands. When she turned around after finishing, her child was gone.

Evelyn searched fervently around the room, calling her child’s name.
“Chantia? Chantia, where are you?” There was no answer; not even the slightest giggle to indicate that a little girl was supposed to be in the room. It was as if the child had simply just disappeared.
With her heart in her throat, Evelyn ran outside, hoping to find her child there. She wasn’t in front of the house either. Evelyn ran around the corner and to her immense relief, she found her child sitting on the grass, staring avidly at the full moon. There was no sign of a smile on the girl’s face.

“Chantia!” Evelyn exclaimed and rushed over to her child. The girl gave no indication that she noticed her mother. Even when Evelyn reached out to pick the girl up, the girl just continued to stare avidly at the moon, even going as far as to try to push her mother away when the woman obscured her view of the moon.

It wasn’t until they were safely back in the house that Chantia started to respond to Evelyn again. She buried her head in her mother’s shoulder and started crying. Evelyn immediately tried to comfort the girl, but nothing seemed to help. The girl just kept crying until she finally cried herself to sleep.

Evelyn continued holding her child, afraid to let go. It had frightened her immensely to find her child missing, only to find her staring so avidly at the moon. She knew it wasn’t normal. Children didn’t do that. It scared her that something about Chantia might not be normal.
What was wrong with her child?

And so the first child is a toddler! Personally, I LOVE Chantia. She definitely got her mother's good looks and she's just so adorable!