View Full Version : Tales of Alaethes: Katya's Tale (Updated 03/12/09. Chapter 23 is up!)
26th Dec 2008, 6:37 PM
My son, there is so much I wish I could tell you, so much I'd say, but time and distance seem to have formed an impenetrable gulf between us. I can only hope that you have accomplished what you left home to do, that you've found your father and that you are safe, far from our war-torn land.
I wanted to tell you the truth about your father long before you discovered it for yourself. Sadly, my tongue remained stubbornly frozen until it was too late. I feared—oh, I feared so many things, but you have to understand that every decision I made from the moment I knew I was pregnant with you was for you. Your safety. Your reputation. Your life. Nothing is more important to me.
I regret much, but my darling Ivan, I've never regretted you. I'd give everything to see your sweet face again, to have your forgiveness. This journal is a poor substitute. Such are the times that poor substitutes are counted riches in a world filled with nothing. No food. Such little warmth and such mean shelter.
I beg forgiveness once again, for I am jumping ahead. You deserve it all from the beginning. You deserve a more skillful telling. Alas, you will have to do with what I can provide, and if fortune smiles just once upon me in these black times, one day this poor book will make it into your hands, and you will judge me less harshly than I have judged myself.
Where to begin? I never spoke to you of my childhood. It pained me to look back and think of those times, so much hardship and loss. We lived in a hovel that made your stepfather Matthjes' farmstead seem a palace. My parents buried five babies. Only Donik, Laszlo, and I survived beyond infancy.
And yet, now I see those times through a different lens. Despite the cold, the damp of the canal, and the frequent hunger, I knew love. Your grandfather Sergei was a wonderful father to me. Papa called me his little jewel and made up for much of Mama's coldness.
I know you became close to your grandmother, your “Ba Griet” as you called her. I never begrudged you that closeness, Ivan, and I know you never understood the strain between her and me. She gave me very little save grief and criticism in my childhood. She only ever had love for Laszlo, and even in that she was grudging and careful.
I used to think it was because of the babies she lost, but as you well know, I've lost children of my own. Never did it make me withhold from any of you. If anything, it made me love you all the more. For all of my many flaws, you can never accuse me of lack of love. No, whatever character defect that made my mother incapable of nurturing her children, it had nothing to do with my dead siblings. I think you knew her better than I. Perhaps you have the answer to that.
I could tell you of fishing at the canal with Papa, the countless trips there and back for water, the rare times I was able to stay the night with my best friend Helene Drussel at her family's dairy, or the countless ways Laszlo found to torment Donik and me when Papa wasn't looking, but it would do little to help you to understand why I made the decisions I did, why our lives became what they were.
I know those are the answers you always most desperately wanted, especially once you knew the truth. For that, I must return to the winter I met your father, the winter my life changed drastically and irrevocably.
Katya's twin toddlers crawled into the room, tugging and nudging at her. She shifted her position to make room for them, but they began to cry. “Hush, my darlings, there,” she said. “I know you're hungry. I'll go get you the milk rag.” Putting aside the journal, she rose to head into the kitchen.
She dipped a clean rag in the milk pail and offered it first to her daughter, Donika, and then to her son, Laszlo. It wasn't much, and neither of them had their fill. However, they were accustomed to little food these days and eventually stopped their fussing.
As she put them to bed, her five year old son Bertrand came into the room. “Mama, can I have a milk rag, too?” he asked.
“You're too old for the milk rag. You must eat your big boy food, or you'll never grow strong and tall like your older brothers,” she said patiently.
“But I don't want turnip porridge! I want a milk rag, and I want my big brothers,” Bert protested. “Where are they? When will I see them again?”
Katya sighed. “If we're lucky, you'll see them again soon. We've spoken of this before, many times.”
Bert wound himself up for a major tantrum, but before he could deliver it, seven year old Gemma skipped into the room. Glancing at her mother in a way that was older than her years, she put on a cheerful smile for her brother. “Would you like to play a game?” she asked.
Katya shot her a grateful glance and finished tucking in the twins. By the time she left the room, the two children were seated on the floor playing quietly. She didn't know what she'd do without Gemma.
As she put her journal away, she thought, I wish I could answer your questions, Bert, but I honestly don't know. No one does.
27th Dec 2008, 4:48 PM
I'm really excited to be posting my first ever Sims 2 story! I intend to stick to a regular update schedule of Mondays and Thursdays. The "Tales of Alaethes" discussion board contains extra information on the world, a dramatis personae, and pronunciation guide. As time goes on, more content will be added, as well as a section for blooper pics. I already have some doozies!
I hope you guys enjoy the story as much as I'm enjoying creating it. :)
27th Dec 2008, 9:40 PM
It looks very interesting and i will continue reading cant wait to see more.
27th Dec 2008, 9:48 PM
Very good so far, i look forward to reading more. Keep up the good work :howdy:
28th Dec 2008, 5:16 PM
Sweetsweetie85 and Chowgilly, thanks so much for the feedback and encouragement! I really appreciate it. Expect an update on Monday!
29th Dec 2008, 6:10 PM
They look so peaceful. I wish there were more for them to eat. My babies. My twins. When Evan was born with his still twin, Archer, but no. I'm not ready to think of that yet. I'll get to it soon enough in the journal.
I'm just glad Ivan left before we came to this. He has been through enough, Katya thought. She walked to the desk and sat, taking only a moment to gather her thoughts before resuming her account.
Coming to these pages gives me more respite from my troubles than you know, Ivan. In a small way, it brings me close to you again. For that short time, I feel as though my fragmented life is once more whole.
I remember now, I was telling you of your father, the first time I met him. That day started like so many days before. I had no reason to believe my life would ever change.
The canal was frozen solid. It always was by January, which meant every morning I had to get the hatchet from the barn and break the ice for water, even on the Sabbath. The only thing I had to look forward to that day was taking a ride in Heer van Seelen's sled for church.
We were lucky to be tenants of a generous man. When the snow was too deep to trek into Blauvelt, he would pick up the families farthest out on his land from the village and take us all to the kirke: our family, the Drussels, and the Rekts.
We were always first. I loved to feel the cold rush of the wind on my cheeks and hear the jingling of the harness. It seemed the sled went so fast! The light through the trees turned the snow to a glittering gem field. On those days, we all felt rich.
I loved those rides. Helene and I would stand on the back runner together and giggle so much that even patient Donik would shoot us sharp glances. We'd tumble off the back right at the kirke doorstep, red cheeked and high spirited. It was at that very door that I met him. I literally fell right at his feet thanks to a sudden lurch of the sled and a patch of ice.
You know I'm not dramatic, but I swear to you it was love at first sight. He had the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen, a most unusual gray. I don't have to describe them to you. You see them every day you look in the mirror. Yes, you inherited your father's beautiful eyes. I'm just sorry our fellow countrymen never saw them the way I did. I'm sorry they gave you so much grief over your Ansalan looks.
When he helped me up, his hand was warm. I felt that warmth all throughout the church service, just as I felt his eyes upon me the entire time from behind. My mind raced with questions. Who was that boy? Where had he come from? Why was he dressed so strangely? Why had I never seen him before? I'm afraid I didn't hear much of Father Augustin's service and rather uncharitably hoped it would soon come to an end.
I hoped to be able to speak to the boy after the service, but the fat Father and that fawning wretch of an altar boy Greb snapped him and the man he was with up like a Sabbath roast as soon as they got out the door. Heer van Seelen was ready to leave, and I was in no position to delay him. As we climbed onto the back runner of the sled, Helene gave me a secretive smile. She was the first to notice how I felt and one of the few who ever truly understood.
Back at the house, there was too much to do for me to moon about and daydream, but it didn't stop me from wondering. Although we limited our work on the Sabbath, we couldn't stop it altogether. The chickens still had to be fed and put up at night, the hogs slopped, the horses tended.
At dinner I brought up the strangers, careful to show little more than idle curiosity. I still recall the conversation vividly, despite the fact that it was over twenty years ago. “Papa, who were those people at the kirke today? The ones who looked so different?”
“They're Ansalan mercenaries, Katya,” Papa answered. “Leave them be.”
“What're Ansalans?” Las cut in. I was glad he did since it took the attention off of me.
“Didn't your mother give you geography lessons?” Papa asked, frowning.
“Ansala,” Donik said, “that kingdom to the north, the one where Grandpa fought in the war?”
“Yes, son,” Papa said. “We may be at peace now, but no one in this family should forget their treachery, not just against our kingdom, but against my people, the Rathmurtha. They drove us from our ancestral home, scattered our clans, and stole our most precious treasure.”
“The Rathminna horses,” I said. I knew that story well. All three of us siblings did.
“But you never called the raiders in the story Ansalans. You called them--” Las began, but Papa interrupted.
“Tiktorra, yes, I know. There's no stronger curse in my language,” he said. He fixed all of us with a stern gaze. “No more talk of these barbarians under our roof. I won't sully this holy day any further.”
“Stay away from them,” Mama added. “They're trouble. Understood?”
“Yes, Mama,” we all said, but in my heart I already had other plans. Where love is kindled, it takes more than cold water to put out the fire.
I lay awake a long time that night in my little loft. The wind whistled forlornly about the eaves, but for once I didn't feel the cold through the chinks in the wall. I remembered a warm, callused hand, storm cloud eyes, and golden hair that shone like the sun itself. “I want his name,” I whispered to the wind and fell asleep at last.
Speaking of sleep, I need some. Your brothers and sisters still with me awaken early and take much of my energy. Gemma tries hard to be of help, but she's no bigger than Bertrand despite their age difference. I wish you could meet the twins. They're small and dear. I named them for my brothers, using the feminine version of Donik's name for the girl.
Sleep sweetly wherever you are. Ivan. Your mother loves you well.
29th Dec 2008, 10:42 PM
Im really liking the way you write. Its getting more interesting now and im looking even more forward to the next chapter...please continue :D
31st Dec 2008, 7:56 AM
Thanks so much, Sweetsweetie85! I'm starting to figure out how to improve the pics, too, so after chapter 8, the pic quality/resolution starts to improve. I'm glad you're enjoying it, because I'm having a blast making it. :D
1st Jan 2009, 8:47 AM
Katya nearly started out of her skin at the unexpected sound of a loud rapping at the door. She looked out the dirty window only to see a soldier awaiting her answer. Trying not to panic, she opened the door and eyed the man warily. “Yes?”
“Frauen Krieg?” he said a little awkwardly, “you probably don't remember me. I'm—I'm an old friend of Ivan's, Amon Zimmermann.”
“Oh, Amon, of course I remember you,” she said, although in truth the memory was a vague one. “I didn't recognize you in the crown uniform,” she added. Her heart raced in her chest, but she managed a polite smile for him nonetheless. “Won't you come in? My hospitality is a bit bare.”
Not so bitter, Katya, she thought with an inward wince.
If the soldier noticed her sharp tone, he gave no outward sign of it. “Thank you,” he said and stepped inside.
She indicated that he should take a seat on a pile of cushions, some of the few belongings still in her possession from before the revolution. She sat on a pile of rugs, the other holdouts from the family home in Kolnenberg. It was hard to hold back all of the questions racing through her mind. She toyed nervously with her coarsely woven skirt.
Amon watched the twins play, smiling faintly, then raised his gaze to Katya. “I'm not here in an official capacity, so please don't worry, Frauen Krieg. The crown has lost interest in your family since you agreed to the terms of exile from the capitol.”
“Such a relief,” Katya said dryly and arched a brow. She couldn't help herself. Her opinion of Amon raised a tad when he had the decency to color and look away.
“I--” he began, then paused, clearly at a loss for words. “Look,” he switched tacks, “Ivan did something for me a few years ago, something tremendous. I owe him, and since he is no longer here to collect the debt and likely won't be returning—I'm sorry, Frauen Krieg, I'm just speaking the truth as I see it—I'm transferring that debt to you and your family.”
“Young man, I can tell you have a good heart, but what is it you think you can do for us? We may have little, and my husband may be dead, but I am still a Krieg,” she said, lifting her chin. “I won't accept charity.”
“No, nothing like that,” Amon said quickly. He frowned. “What if—what if your husband isn't dead?”
“If you're toying with me, I'll never forgive you,” she whispered.
“I'd never do that. I respect Ivan far too much ever to do such a thing to his mother. I don't know it for certain, but I believe it strongly enough that I felt I should tell you and ask your permission to look into this further,” Amon said with conviction.
“Why ask me? I have no power. I'm nobody to you, just a criminal so reviled even some of my children were taken from me,” she said, no longer bothering to hide her bitterness.
“If I'm discovered, my investigation could have repercussions for your family. There is some risk to you, though I could probably protect your youngest children,” he said.
Katya thought about it. “You truly think Matthjes is alive?”
“I do,” he answered. “I can't tell you how or why without betraying my own cause, but I do believe it, strongly enough that I rode here straight from Kolnenberg to tell you so. Will you accept payment of my debt in Ivan's stead, Frauen Krieg? Will you take the risk?”
“He's my husband, Amon. Of course I'll risk it. Just do what you can to keep my children out of this, please,” she said.
“You have my word,” he said, shaking her hand and turning to leave. He stopped at the door and looked back at her. “I may also be able to track down the location of one of your daughters. I can't promise her return, but I may be able to get word of her for you.”
Katya felt her heart skip a beat and gasped aloud. “If you can do that,” she said softly, “then I will owe you.”
“No,” he said. “I'll tell you when I think I've paid my debt. Sound fair?” He didn't wait for her answer.
Katya stared for some time at the door after he closed it behind himself, her mind reeling. Matthjes alive? Word of Magritte or Skyla? It was almost too much to dare to hope, and yet she did. Something in Amon's eyes told her he was sincere. She wished that she knew his history with Ivan, but like so many things regarding her oldest son, she felt that knowledge would remain beyond her grasp.
Laszlo's insistent whine brought her back to the present. “Read, Mama?” the toddler asked.
“Of course I'll read to you, my dove,” Katya said with a smile. “Let's find Bert and Gemma first, hmm?”
1st Jan 2009, 5:22 PM
Love the update! I am very much looking forward to seeing how this turns out. Happy new years by the way!
5th Jan 2009, 2:00 AM
Thanks! I hope you had a great New Year celebration. Next update tomorrow!
5th Jan 2009, 8:30 PM
I was miserable the rest of that winter into spring. It was torture to see that boy at the kirke every Sabbath and be unable to speak to him or even look at him without getting into more trouble than I wanted to handle. I barely saw Helene while we were snow bound, so I had no one to confide in. I thought I'd burst.
Spring finally arrived, late and wet. Because of the mud, some of my seasonal chores like sweeping the chicken yard and cleaning out the hog pen had to wait. I convinced Mama I'd be of more use to the family as a temporary hire at the Drussel's dairy. I could bring in extra coin and fresh butter and cream.
Of course it was really because I missed Helene and desperately needed her advice, but I knew better than to breathe even a hint of that to Mama. She allowed me to go only if I promised that as soon as it was dry enough I'd quit and expend all of my efforts at home.
Work at the dairy was hard, but Helene and I managed to steal some moments alone. I poured out my heart to her, holding nothing back. She was a good friend, the best sort, for she listened well and promised me she'd find out what she could of the Ansalans. She had a secret weapon, something I longed for, but would never have, an older sister.
Silke often went to Blauvelt Market. She was popular in the village and an object of great admiration and envy for her beauty. The only reason she wasn't yet betrothed was because she had so many suitors that her parents couldn't decide who would be the best for her and the dairy. As they had no living sons, Silke would be the heiress to the business.
Within a week, Silke had my answer for me. The boy's name was Roland St. Clair. He was a squire to the mercenary knight Sir Edmund Raleigh, and they were in Blauvelt because bad storms had delayed the rest of their company in Ossen, somewhere further east on the coast of the inland sea.
You've always taken education for granted, Ivan, because of the generosity of your great uncle, but where I am from, the ability to read and write is a rarity. Mama could, but Papa couldn't. He insisted we children attend her lessons closely. He even took on extra farm work and house chores to give us time for our books. Had he known the reason for my sudden interest in history and geography, I'm sure he would've skinned me.
As it was, he indulged me. I filled my head with exotic sounding names and daydreamed of faraway places. Even then I had it in my head that one day I'd travel to those distant lands with Roland, perhaps when he was a knight. Mama had but one book with maps, and I poured over it greedily. I was determined to get to know this Roland St. Clair and even more determined not to seem like an ignorant bumpkin when I did.
Helene and Silke both approved of my desire, but neither of them could think of a way around my parents. In kirke they were too watchful. At home they kept me too busy for me to be able to go to town without their noticing I was missing.
It was Donik who provided the means, much to my surprise. Mama wanted him to take one of our brood hens and some money to market and bring back some piglets since our sow's breeding didn't seem to take. He said he'd need my help managing the animals. She reluctantly agreed. Almost as soon as we set off, it started to rain, which meant we'd arrive in Blauvelt cold and wet. I wouldn't have agreed to go except that there was something odd in my brother's demeanor.
Soon enough I found out why. He spoke to me in a way he never had before, as though we were equals, as though I were an adult. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised. Only 3˝ years separated us. “I know you've had your eye on that Ansalan,” he said abruptly.
I was so taken aback, I stammered, “I—I have no idea what you mean!”
He shot me an amused look. “Don't play games, Katya. I wouldn't have asked Mama to let you come along if I didn't know you wanted this as much as I do.”
“You want to meet Roland?” I blurted then slapped my hands over my mouth. I didn't mean to let on that I knew the boy's name!
He just smirked and shook his head, saying, “No, my interest is in the older one.” He paused and looked at me for a long time. It was a very serious look. It scared me a little, because Donik was usually so easygoing and even tempered. Finally he spoke again, and what he said scared me even more. “I want to be a mercenary.”
“You can't!” I cried. “You can't leave, Doni. You can't leave me!”
His smile was sad when he touched my cheek and said, “You're almost a grown woman, Katskya, and I am a grown man. You'll be married within the year if Mama has her way, and I'd probably be married too by now if Papa didn't need me so badly on the farm.”
“That's different,” I said. He irritated me with that talk of marriage. I knew very well who Mama had in mind for me, and I wanted no part of it, not since meeting Roland, at least. “If I married, we'd still be in walking distance. The cottage rent will pass to you. You know that! Lissa Roth has her eye on you, and--”
“I hate farming!” he snapped. He so rarely raised his voice that the rest of my objection died on my lips. I realized for the first time that I didn't know my big brother nearly as well as I thought I did.
“Las takes to it like a fish to water. Las can assume the rent,” he said more quietly. He shot me a pleading look that made my heart ache. “I want more out of life, Katya,” he said. “This is the first time I've ever felt like I have a chance for more. Can't you understand? Will you keep my secret?”
“Of course I understand,” I told him. How could I not given my thoughts over those past few months? “We'll both keep quiet about today. I promise.”
My heart nearly hammered out of my chest the rest of the way to Blauvelt. I barely even felt the rain, and I couldn't believe I was finally going to meet Roland for real. I didn't want to think about what my brother just confided. I'm ashamed of it now, but such was my preoccupation with Roland that it wasn't hard to put it out of my mind.
That's enough writing for now. My hand is cramping, and what happened next is emotional for me. I had forgotten just how emotional until now. Speaking of emotional, a mysterious friend of yours came by yesterday. I dare not get my hopes too high yet. However, he could discover something very important to me.
I know talk of Matthjes upsets you with good reason. I also know what you think of religion, but if you were here right now, I'd ask you to pray for Matthjes and me nonetheless. I hope you understand why one day, if not now.
5th Jan 2009, 10:04 PM
This story is amazing, and I love the scenery and theme of the story. Very creative indeed :)
5th Jan 2009, 10:10 PM
As always the update is still great. Curious to see what this emotional thing is :smash: looking forward to next one.
7th Jan 2009, 9:39 PM
Dreamydre15, thanks so much! The artists, modders, and meshers who worked on "The Dark Project" over on MtS2, the creative minds behind the Parsimonious website, Simages, and many more are all to thank for the look of this story. If there weren't custom content creators out there interested in historical sets, furniture, and costuming, Tales of Alaethes would never have been possible to depict with the Sims 2. I'm so grateful for all their hard work and just hope the story can do it justice.
Sweetsweetie85, thank you. Your continued feedback and encouragement never fail to make my day. :) Update tomorrow, and now I had best stop procrastinating and get to taking more pics.
8th Jan 2009, 6:51 PM
Katya had become a master of conserving and scrounging. The smallest scrap of trash could become fuel to heat the dirt floored cottage. Proper use of the vent insured that the children would have a bit of warmth when they awakened to eat their thin gruel.
She could do nothing about the milk turning sour save hope that the soldier responsible for their ration didn't forget that her toddlers had little else to eat. Her own milk had dried months ago from inadequate nourishment.
With the kitchen no longer freezing cold, she turned to her greatest solace, her journal. In the dark silence of predawn, she had time to write and reflect. She needed that time in a house full of small children with nothing to divert them but her and each other.
I had never been allowed to go to market without Mama or Papa before. It felt so different. I felt different, grown up. Donik smiled at me and led me to the livery stable. We needed directions to the mercenaries' quarters.
I felt like I was walking in a dream. I pinched myself twice just to be sure I really was there. As we made our way through the crowd, I wondered if people could tell we were up to something. I worried someone would recognize us and tell our parents. It seems silly now, the thought of village folk paying attention to two farm brats, but at the time my fear was almost palpable.
Street addresses in Blauvelt are very confusing. There's no real rhyme or reason to them, no order like you're used to in Kolnenberg. We passed the place three times before we realized we had found it. By then our brood hen was getting a little impatient.
I waited in the street while Donik approached the house. A most disagreeable housekeeper answered the door. She looked at both of us as though we were something she found stuck to the bottom of her shoe. “Yes?” she asked sharply.
“We'd like to see Sir Edmund and Squire Roland,” Donik said. I'm sure he sounded polite to her, but I could hear the strain in his voice. He always hated snobs.
“They're out. Do you have an appointment?” she asked.
Donik and I glanced at each other. “No,” he said. I was so anxious by this time I wanted to slap the woman and scream.
“Then you can't see the soldiers,” she said and started to close the door.
“We want to make an appointment!” I shouted, desperate not to be turned away and at my wit's end with the hag.
“You'd have to see Sir Edmund about that,” she said with a sneer and shut the door in our faces.
“We can't see them without making an appointment, and we can't make an appointment without seeing them?” Donik growled. He was in a right rage, and even though I was every bit as angry, I knew one of us had to keep a clear head or we could be arrested for causing a scene. We were very much out of our league in that part of town.
“Calm down,” I said as soothingly as possible, given the circumstance. “Let's sit down over there and think about this a minute.”
“Maybe they won't be gone for long. We can wait a while,” I suggested.
“Maybe they will. We can't wait long. We've already been longer than Mama will expect. Much longer, and we'll never hear the end of the questions,” he said.
“We'll say the piglets got loose and we had to catch them,” I reasoned. “We can wait, Doni, at least for a little while. If they don't come today, we'll try again in a couple of weeks.”
“We might not have a couple of weeks. The weather is getting better every day. They could be gone by then,” he retorted.
His words were ice water down my spine. It never occurred to me that they could leave before I even got the chance to speak to Roland. My expression must have given me away. “We'll find a way,” he reassured me. “We're both clever and determined.” He gave me a searching look. “Katya, do you actually have feelings for that boy?”
I knew it had to sound crazy to him. It sounded crazy to me, and I had lived with the feeling for four months. “I love him, Doni. I don't know how or why. I just do.”
I'll never know what he intended to say to that, because at that moment the mercenaries came into view. I never thought to ask him about it later. Too much happened, although I like to think that he understood. Donik was good in that way. I was fortunate to have him close to me for the short time that I did.
My, but the time has flown. I had best get the gruel started. Your brother and sister will be awakening soon and ravenous. We have little enough that making them wait seems a cruelty beyond measure.
Katya stood and went to busy herself in the kitchen. Soon enough, Gemma and Bert burst into the room crying, “Mama, we're hungry!”
“Well, it's a very good thing that the pot is on the stove, isn't it?” Katya asked with forced cheer. There'd be time for the tears she felt threatening to come later, when the children went down for their naps.
10th Jan 2009, 10:21 PM
Very nice! Its so good i wish it were finished already and yet its just started.
12th Jan 2009, 7:39 AM
Thanks, Sweetsweetie85! Yes, it has just started. There's quite a way to go, and I hope you enjoy the twists and turns I have planned along the way. I'm not one for hints, but I think it's already pretty obvious Katya is in for a bumpy ride. :)
12th Jan 2009, 9:04 PM
“But I'm not sleepy!” Bert protested with the logic of a five year old.
“You always say that and fall fast asleep within a few minutes of your head hitting the pillow,” Katya countered.
“Not this time,” Bert said, skipping a circle around her merrily and easily avoiding her attempts to snag him.
Give me patience, she prayed silently. “Try, darling. If you really can't sleep, I'll let you get up in ten minutes.”
“You promise?” he asked, wide eyed.
“Promise,” she said with a smile. One day this won't work anymore, she thought. Thank the Lord it does now. They wear me out.
Katya waited just five minutes before going in to check on Bert. Smiling to herself at what she saw, she left him sleeping and returned to her journal. She had kept her past secret for so long from everyone, even her husband, that it felt good finally to get it out, even if it was just on parchment.
It was worth the wait just to see the sour look on the housekeeper's face when Sir Edmund graciously agreed to admit us to the house. Donik and the knight went into another room to talk in private, leaving me with Roland and the odious housekeeper.
“Make us some tea,” he said to her and turned his full attention to me.
You would've laughed at your poor mother, Ivan. For all of my plans not to be a complete bumpkin, I found myself so tongue tied I could barely squeak out two words. I had never been in such a fine home before, never drunk real tea, never sat across from such a devastatingly gorgeous boy, and never heard a more captivating accent. He turned our harsh language to music. I sat there like a lump and felt like nothing else in the world existed, except us.
To this day I can't tell you a thing he said to me save two things that gave me such joy I thought I'd faint. He thought I was interesting, and he wanted to get to know me better. I was so captivated by the flow of his words, I found myself listening more to how he said things than what he said, but I latched onto those two statements as though my life depended on them. I thought then that if I died suddenly, I'd die the happiest girl on earth.
I didn't have time to make specific plans to see him again. Donik's conversation with Sir Edmund didn't last nearly long enough. I could tell by the fake smile Doni gave that something was wrong. He gave me no time to question him, saying abruptly, “Time to go, Katya.”
“I'll talk to you again soon,” Roland said with such promise in his eyes that I flushed to the roots of my hair without even knowing why.
I'm sure I stammered something inane. Doni hurried me out so quickly and so roughly I hardly had time to think and barely managed to grab the chicken's basket in time.
He outpaced me once we were outside. I had to shout to him to get him to slow down. The warmth I felt from Roland and the tea was starting to give way to a cold, hard knot. Something was obviously very wrong.
He refused to answer any of my questions in the street. I finally left him alone. It wasn't like him to be mean to me or to ignore me. That was always Las. I figured if I gave him space, he'd tell me when he could. It wasn't until we bought the piglets and were well out of Blauvelt on the way home that he told me what was wrong.
It was terrible. Even now, it brings me to tears to recall his utter despair.
He cried silently, but the sobs wracked his body so hard that I feared for a moment he was in apoplexy. I tried to comfort him. I knelt beside him and held him to me, rocking him as though he were a child. It was a long time before he spoke to me. When he did, he sounded dead inside. “I'm a fool,” he said, “an ignorant fool of a moon calf.”
I stood and demanded, “Did that Ansalan knight call you that?” Roland or no, if Sir Edmund had done this to my brother by making fun of him, I intended to march back to Blauvelt and tear that house down to its foundations to get at him if necessary.
“No,” Donik said. “No, he was very polite and very matter-of-fact. I'm too old, too old to train for their order. Had I come to them four years ago....” he trailed off.
“Oh, Doni,” I said. I felt so helpless. I could see that the heart had been ripped right out of him. “Is there no way?”
He didn't answer me. He just stood up and grabbed me in his arms, crying again. This time it was bitter and hopeless, unrestrained. For the first time ever, I felt older than him, and I felt very alone. It was awful, because I knew no matter what I did or what I said I couldn't fix this for him. I couldn't give him back his dream. I couldn't give him the life he wanted, the one he deserved.
All I could do was to be there and pray that somehow that would be enough. I was still naďve enough then to believe that was possible, that you could love someone enough to mend a broken life. I know better now.
I'm sorry, my son. I can't write about this anymore. You saw your Uncle Donik at your grandparents' funerals. You know what the coal mine has done to him. That was the day my brother started to die inside, the day he settled for something much less than his dream. I refuse to devote one more word to it.
12th Jan 2009, 9:15 PM
Yes you can definatly tell shes in for a bumpy one. Thats so sad about donik
13th Jan 2009, 4:42 AM
This is so intense! :x
Can't wait for an updatee~
15th Jan 2009, 5:28 AM
Sweetsweetie85, yeah, poor Donik hasn't had a very good life.
Nanakon, I'm glad you're enjoying the story. Thanks for the feedback! :) Update tomorrow!
15th Jan 2009, 9:56 PM
It had been nearly two weeks since Katya wrote in the journal, two weeks of thinking of all that her writing had stirred and feeling emotions she thought she had buried forever.
Not that she showed it outwardly, for Katya had the children to consider. For them she came alive, laughing, singing, and playing games between the grueling housework. She was determined they would never know how dire and fragile their situation truly was.
Regardless of Amon's assurance that the crown had lost interest, she knew something that perhaps he did not. She knew her second-born yet lived and even now was responsible for the crown forces' hardest struggles in the capitol, Kolnenberg.
If they knew you were the Street Fox, our lives wouldn't be worth a half bibbin, Alaris, she thought. Keep to the ways of your furry namesake, or it's all over for us.
She felt a sense of quiet pride in her son. Not only had he taken Matthjes' place in the revolution when Matthjes was captured, he had become thrice the leader his father had been. He possessed all of Matthjes' strength and none of his idealism. Fortunately, Katya thought grimly. That idealism was his downfall.
As she became aware of what she saw through the window, Katya gave a cry that was half laugh, half sob. She rushed out the door, heedless of Gemma's and Bert's worried questions. She had eyes for one person only, her bruised, cut, and emaciated daughter, Skyla.
They squeezed one another tightly enough to make their ribs creak, and Katya covered the twelve year old girl's face with kisses until the girl finally laughingly protested, “You'll take my very skin off, Mama!”
Only then did Katya turn to Amon. “Words can't express what you've done for us,” she said, her voice thick with emotion.
“I pay my debts, Frauen Krieg. In this case, I have but started,” he said.
Katya narrowed her eyes in thought, the excited chatter of her other children greeting Skyla only in her peripheral awareness. “Amon Zimmermann,” she murmured. Her eyes widened suddenly in realization. “You're the van Hausen imposter!”
Amon colored deeply, but he didn't look away. “Yes. It was only thanks to Ivan and Beemer that I avoided a terrible fate.”
He sighed deeply and shook his head. “Perhaps I'll tell you that story one day, but not today.” He glanced over her shoulder at the children. “You'll want time with your family, and I have work to do,” he said. He paused and eyed her very intently. “I have a message for your son.”
“I'm sorry, but I have no idea how to get in touch with Ivan,” she said. “He left rather angry, I'm afraid.”
“I'm aware of the circumstances of Ivan's departure,” he said a bit dryly. “That's not the son I mean.”
Katya grew very still, her mouth suddenly dry. “Oh?” she asked with as much nonchalance as she could muster.
“Tell your son we're close, that if he knows what's good for him, and you, he'll get out of Kolnenberg and lie low for a while.”
“You're a crown soldier,” Katya said. “Why are you telling me this? Not only could it get you dishonorably discharged from service, it could get you hanged as a traitor. Why?”
“Yes, I'm the king's man,” he said. “But before that, I was Ivan's friend and Alaris', too. That's the trouble with civil war, Frauen Krieg. Not only is it never civil, but it's also nearly impossible to maintain pure loyalties.”
“If I catch him, I'll turn him over to King Naar. Tell him what I told you, Frauen, and you'll spare all of us that grief. Good day,” he said.
"What makes you so certain I'm in contact with my son?" she asked, holding her breath and praying she didn't just push him too far.
He quirked a wry smile and said, "The crown may have lost interest in you Kriegs. I haven't." With that he turned swiftly on his heel and walked away.
Katya and Skyla walked around the cottage together, watching Amon's back as he walked back to his horse, concealed well in the forest. “We can trust him, I think,” Skyla said softly. “He's not like the others. He never hurt me, and the only time he touched me was to keep me from falling off his horse.”
“Plus, he spoke very highly of Ivan. Is there any food? I'm starving!”
16th Jan 2009, 7:38 PM
Yay her daughter is back! Very nice update, as always cant wait for next one.
17th Jan 2009, 1:56 AM
Thanks, Sweetsweetie85! Yep, Skyla has been returned. Amon is just full of surprises.
17th Jan 2009, 4:32 AM
Thanks, Sweetsweetie85! Yep, Skyla has been returned. Amon is just full of surprises.
Yea i noticed that sometimes he seems not so sincere and other times he seems like the nicest guy around im very curious about him.
17th Jan 2009, 9:36 PM
Mollypog: I'm really enjoying your story and wanted to tell you that I think that your writing is very well structured. I also think that your regular posting is great. The pronunciation guide is very helpful and I would like to know more about the world around the characters.
Keep it up!
18th Jan 2009, 1:25 AM
Sweetsweetie85, I'll just say that Amon is a complex individual with complex motives and leave it at that. :D His involvement in the story is nowhere near at an end.
Griphon: Thanks so much for the constructive feedback! So far I'm keeping myself to a schedule of having a few chapters done in advance, so if something does come up offline, people don't have to wait for updates.
I'm also glad to hear you visited the message board. In addition to the pronunciation guide, there is also some basic info on Alaethes, stuff that I knew I'd probably not cover in any stories. The good news is that Katya's Tale is just the first of several planned stories in the world of Alaethes. The bad news is that I'm not even halfway through this first story!
18th Jan 2009, 12:25 PM
After your lovely comment you left in my fic, I thought I'd come and have a read of yours!
And it is great. It looks like you've put tons of work into it and it's very captivating, though I find it a bit confusing occasionally. I would do a medieval/royal kingdom story myself, but I can't be bothered downloading all those medieval clothes...
What time are the Alaethes stories actually set in? I'm guessing this is 1500s, but I could be wrong! I'm just curious about stuff like that...
18th Jan 2009, 7:45 PM
Thanks, meggie272! I do go back and forth in time in the story a lot. I thought about how to indicate that I was doing such and decided against messing with the pics to indicate flashback. If the text is italic, it is being written in Katya's journal. The one pic that does look different at the very beginning was to indicate she felt a special sense of nostalgia about that moment. I dunno if that was successful or not, but it was the intent. Hopefully, as the story progresses, things will get less confusing. If they don't, please let me know so I can figure out a way to make it all more clear. Sometimes it's hard to view a story from a reader's perspective.
Katya's kingdom, Duteschenlanden, is somewhat equivalent in time and setting to the Northern European Renaissance, particularly in Flanders and the cities of Bruges and Antwerp, which would be mid to late 15th century and early 16th, so yeah, 1450-mid 1500's. There are certain technological anomalies, which will be explained in future Tales of Alaethes stories, and there are other kingdoms which are more and less advanced. I also have my own "rules" about the clothing, so you will see some styles that seem anachronistic to the time period, something I would not do had I set this on Earth.
For example, the place Roland comes from, Ansala, has a government form people of England in the 1200's would be very familiar with, yet the clothing and cultural scene are more like the courts of Louis XIV. Being a parallel universe of sorts, there are certain things about Alaethes that are completely alien to earth, and I do have a future story planned to explain why there are odd similarities.
Thanks again for the constructive feedback, because I can't improve the story if I don't know where I'm falling short. If there's anything in particular you just don't get in the story, feel free to PM me or ask it here. I'm more than happy to help.
18th Jan 2009, 8:16 PM
Hi! I just read your story and I am really liking it so far, especially since it is set in a Medieval type world. So I look forward to seeing where you take this :D Good job so far!
18th Jan 2009, 10:11 PM
How funny, QueenRebecca! I think I was reading your story at the same time you were reading mine. I just commented over there only to find your comment here afterwards. I'm glad you're enjoying the story so far. I'm having such a good time writing it, even if my Sims sometimes infuriate me being uncooperative.
18th Jan 2009, 10:22 PM
Heh heh, I just commented your comment on my story and now I am commenting your comment on your story! What a fun game!
I completely know what you mean about those little devils being infuriatingly uncooperative. I just wrote a new chapter and now must force myself to go in game to wring out the pictures that I need from those frequently uncooperative little sims. Ugh :\
Anyways, I just read that other comment about how you have set up the clothing system so that each separate group of people gets its own style and I think that is a terrific idea. It bothers me so much to see my own sims running around in clothing that is completely period inappropriate, but eh.. it is too late now! X_X
So anyways, I'm looking forward to reading your next chapter!
19th Jan 2009, 11:13 AM
Don't sweat it too much, QueenRebecca. Your sims look beautiful!
19th Jan 2009, 11:31 AM
Katya looked long at her two older sleeping daughters before turning away. Skyla had been back for over a week, and it still didn't seem real. Katya often awoke in a cold sweat with her heart pounding, convinced the girl's return was nothing more than a cruel dream and unable to believe otherwise until she touched her. She sat before her journal feeling guilty for having neglected it for so long. It felt like neglecting Ivan.
As it turns out, I didn't need to plot directly with Roland in order to figure out how to see him again. Silke was happy to serve as our liaison, and Helene was full of cunning and plots to get us together alone.
I burn with shame to think now of what I did, using a boy who loved me to be with the boy I loved. In my youth and impetuousness, I simply thought myself terribly clever, and I suffered terribly for it, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
His name was Bim. He was a goat herder, as was his father before him. His father died of exposure trying to find two missing goats during a late spring snowstorm when Bim was barely out of swaddling. Bim's mother was too old to remarry and stuck taking care of her dead husband's ill and elderly mother. She thrust a great deal of responsibility onto Bim at an early age. In some ways, I don't think he was ever allowed to be a child.
I knew him from church and of course from the sled rides, the Rekt family I mentioned earlier. They lived about five miles down the canal from us at the top of a hill. I wasn't aware of it, but Helene swore to me that Bim was wildly in love with me and had been for years. I suppose to some degree it explains why my mother considered him as a marriage prospect for me. I don't doubt that his mother Lara spoke to her of me on his behalf.
It was Helene's idea, but I can hardly blame Helene, for I went along with it wholeheartedly. One Sabbath after we got back from the kirke, I asked Mama if I could take the Rekts some of the cookies she made for market.
She was all too pleased with the idea and even helped me to arrange a nice little basket with some spring flowers for Bim's Gran. I realized that Papa was in on Mama's plot to pair me with Bim because he suggested I stay for dinner, if they invited me, of course.
Las was a beast about it, coming at me and taunting me until Papa had enough and yelled at him to stop. I couldn't bring myself to look at Donik at all. I was afraid he'd read in my eyes my devious intent. Of all of them, he knew me best, always.
I hurried away with no intention of hurrying to the Rekts' house. Thanks to Silke, Roland knew where and when to meet me at the canal about halfway between. Back then, the population still had not recovered from the terrible plague of 3108. There were several ruins and half-rotted houses on the way to the Rekts'. The chance of our being spotted was very small.
I don't know what I thought our first meeting alone would be like. Oh, I had fantasized several things. No, Ivan, I won't embarrass you by going into detail. I'm aware I'm still your mother.
Nothing I thought prepared me for the reality. No, we didn't fall straight into each others' arms and get right to the business of making you, as I'm sure you're relieved to hear, but we were very excited to see each other and to have the gift of uninterrupted time together alone.
We talked, always keeping an eye to the sun. I would have to go to the Rekts' at some point, but oh, how I wished otherwise!
He was nothing like any of the farm or village boys. He had seen and done so much in his life already. He had been to five different kingdoms, not counting Ansala, was well on his way to mastering the sword and the violin, and spoke four languages fluently. At first I simply wondered what on Alaethes it was that he saw in me. He was just a year and a half older than me, yet it seemed like so much more. He was so mature, and he was kind. Do you know how rare true kindness is?
Before long, I felt beautiful and interesting. No one had ever bothered to ask me what I thought about things except Helene and Donik, and of course, that was different. I found myself telling him things I didn't even know about myself until asked to articulate them, thoughts, feelings, dreams. And then it was already time to go. I thought my heart would break in two. I thought I'd die if he kissed me, and I was sure I'd die if he didn't.
My mere words, even from the vantage of years more of experience and wisdom, can't tell you what it was like. I can only hope that your first kiss, whoever she was, left you with a similar warm feeling you can access even years down the line. Truly, nothing ever compares, and perhaps that's as it should be.
Of course I didn't die, or even faint, but I did know I'd never be able to look at Bim again without wanting to gag. He was so coarse, common, and ignorant, and he always reeked of goats, even after a bath. I felt as though I had lived my whole life encased in ice, and Roland was the sun that brought on the thaw. I knew I'd never be the same. I didn't want to be.
19th Jan 2009, 1:13 PM
Oh, that's gorgeous!
But poor Bim :(
Still, that's lovely...
19th Jan 2009, 5:01 PM
Aw, poor Bim! :\
Great update! I love the joke to her son about how they didn't get busy making him right away! And the words she wrote about her first kiss are so touching. <3
19th Jan 2009, 10:13 PM
Meggie272, thanks! Those last two pics were sheer luck. The first kiss animation started, and I just kept pressing the F10 key to get as many screen shots as I could. I had no idea they'd position themselves so well right in front of the arches or that I'd get lucky enough to catch some really pretty shots. I was very pleased!
QueenRebecca, it's fun to torture the characters isn't it? Muahaha! Actually, I like Bim. He got the short end of the stick on a lot of things in life, unfortunately.
When I was writing that scene, I started thinking how I'd feel reading something like that written by my Mom, and yeah. Awkward! So she's doing her best to be truthful without icking her poor kid out in the process and hoping that humor helps.
(I have images of Ivan reading those parts and actually squinting and turning away, saying, "Moo-ooo-oooom, groooooossssss!" hehe)
20th Jan 2009, 12:37 AM
Love the update im such a mushy person i love the whole kissy stuff. haha. Poor Bim but hey you cant help who you love. Does suck that he doesnt have such a great life though.
20th Jan 2009, 6:28 PM
Sweetsweetie85, I have a secret mushy side, too. Shhhhhhhh..... If my friends found out, I'd never hear the end of it! I'm glad you enjoyed the update, and what you said is so true. You can't help who you love.
20th Jan 2009, 8:09 PM
Sweetsweetie85, I have a secret mushy side, too. Shhhhhhhh..... If my friends found out, I'd never hear the end of it! I'm glad you enjoyed the update, and what you said is so true. You can't help who you love.
Haha thats to funny. I promise i wont tell anyone. Everyone knows im mushy so :D
22nd Jan 2009, 8:10 PM
If I didn't tell you, you'd never know, but every omission these days feels like a lie. I never want to lie to you again in any way, Ivan, neither by omission nor commission. It has been almost a month since I've written here, a month of Hell for our poor Skyla.
So much happened after you left. I'll get to it all in time. It doesn't belong here. However, I can't say what I wish to speak of now without first speaking of Skyla. The worst has come to pass. No, not death. Truly, there are fates worse. I was fifteen when I nearly met mine. Your poor sister is coping with it as best she can at twelve. I have yet to get from her the whole of it. I think I'm a little afraid to know the whole of it. Does that make me a bad mother? Soldiers can be cruel.
I see in her the same emptiness I felt, the same sorrow and rage. All I can do is what Mama could never do for me, care for her and let her know that I love her. I know your grandmother cared for me in her own way. This book isn't even in your hands, and yet I can feel your bristling and leaping to your Ba Griet's defense. Her own way, however, sometimes fell far short. I'm determined not to make that mistake with my own children.
I told you I suffered for using Bim. I've never been able to speak of it until now, never been able to hate him for what he did, just myself for hurting someone who didn't deserve it. All that long summer I visited the Rekts, using my trips as an excuse to spend time with Roland. Every stolen moment was precious to me. I'm ashamed to admit I didn't give a single thought to how the Rekts, any of them, would feel if I failed to follow through with the promise each of my visits seemed to make.
Oh, yes, I knew what they thought, knew fully how deeply in counsel my parents and Bim's mother and gran were to arrange our marriage. I was so in love I didn't care or give much thought to how to get out of the arrangement. I believed a way would be made. Isn't that what they say of true love, that it finds a way? Platitudes, I came to learn, are the things people tell their children to spare them the knowledge that the world is not and never has been a fair place. I sometimes wonder if sparing them is cruelty or kindness.
It's not even that Bim couldn't be charming or sweet at times. He was in his own way. I thought of him as a friend of sorts, although I don't know what that says about the sort of friend I was. I accepted his kindness as it came, all the while pitying him for being so easily fooled.
It was the third Sabbath of the month, three weeks before the first harvest festival. I was irritated, because I had to cut my visit with Roland short. Bim's mother told me earlier that day at the kirke to come over early, that there would be a surprise.
As soon as I arrived, she shooed Bim and me from the run down hovel they called home out into the hot summer sun. We meandered down the hill to the canal in the hopes that it would be cooler there. It wasn't. It reeked of dried mud and dead fish, and sweat had soaked clean through my dress, making it cling to me and rub under my arms uncomfortably.
To keep the peace, I sometimes allowed Bim to hold my hand when we walked, but not that day. I was in no mood to be touched by sweaty hands or to have “Goat Boy” close enough for me to smell his goat reek. I made no pretense otherwise. My attitude had Bim acting sullen and childish. Yes, I thought of him that day and many others as “Goat Boy”. No, I'm not proud of it.
“I thought you liked me, Katya,” he said when I jerked away.
Inwardly I rolled my eyes. I was sick to death of having to pretend and starting to get a headache from the glare of the sun on the water. “I do,” I said through gritted teeth. “I'm just very hot and tired from the walk over here.”
“I've told you before I'd come to your place if you want,” he said. “You always say no. Are you ashamed of me?”
I wanted to scream in frustration. Instead, I tried to soften my tone. “As I've said many times before, Laszlo would drive both of us crazy.”
“I can handle Laszlo,” he snapped.
“Maybe you can,” I retorted, “but I'm the one who has to live with him. You don't.”
He sighed and muttered, “This is all wrong.” Then he smiled at me in a hopeful way I didn't like at all. “I didn't invite you here to fight with you,” he said.
“You didn't invite me here at all. Your mother did,” I said. Just because he didn't want to fight didn't mean I wasn't in the mood for it. I felt months of pent frustration bubbling just beneath the surface. He was very close to setting it all off.
He ignored my jab and continued in that same hopeful way I was resenting more and more with each passing moment. “I want to ask you something important. I was supposed to wait until we were all at the table, but I don't want to wait.” He paused, as though waiting for me to ask him what he was talking about. When I didn't, he went on exactly as if I had.
“Katya, I want to officially court you," he said. "I want to marry you come spring. I've already asked your father, and he said--”
I interrupted him. I was suddenly very frightened. I didn't expect to be confronted with a proposal so soon. I thought I had more time. I covered it all with anger. “You went behind my back to my father before talking to me?” I demanded.
He blinked in surprise. “Well, yes,” he said, “I couldn't surprise you if I told you first.”
“Told me? Told me!” My voice rose a whole octave. “Don't you mean asked me? You don't tell me anything, Bim Rekt, not about my own marriage!”
“Why are you so mad? I thought you'd be happy,” he said, looking genuinely shocked.
“Happy?” I couldn't believe my ears. “Happy to be engaged to a stinking goat herder with no money, a half-crippled grandmother, a busybody mother who is a terrible housekeeper, and a hovel falling down around their collective ears? Why yes, Bim, I'd be ecstatic,” I blurted with every ounce of sarcasm and venom in me, venom of my own doing, of course. It wasn't Bim's fault I had been feigning affection for months, but in that moment, I didn't see my part in my anger at all. I was just ready to vent it.
His eyes changed. He changed. The bumbling, shy boy I had known almost my whole life disappeared in an instant, replaced by a gimlet eyed stranger.
He struck me so hard across the face that at first I didn't even know what had happened. My ears rang, and I saw stars. Through the rush of blood in my ears, I dimly heard him screaming at me, terrible things that were all the more terrible for the ring of truth in them.
“Leading me on, is that it? Having a big laugh with Helene and that slut sister of hers who thinks she's too good for everybody? Do you think I'm stupid?” He hit me again and again, so many times I lost count. Never in my life had I experienced such pain. I realized for the first time, though only in a vague way, that Laszlo never truly hurt me in all our many fights, not if this was what a boy could do.
The blows stopped, but what he did next was far worse. I had never kissed anyone but Roland. Your father made me feel warm and safe. I knew that no matter how heated our kisses became, he'd never hurt me. Bim turned a kiss into a weapon. He crushed my lips with his teeth then bit me hard enough to make me bleed.
God help me, Ivan, but I wanted to die, just so it would end. Then I felt him pulling at my skirt, and I went completely wild trying to stop him. As we fell to the ground, I scrabbled for a rock, anything to hit him with.
I heard a loud sound. At first I thought it was one of my bones breaking. I realized I wasn't that hurt, and Bim had suddenly stopped. He was trying to get up and looking at someone. It was his grandmother, holding a fire poker in her gnarled hand. I have no idea how she made it down the hill on her own, but she must have heard me screaming.
Without taking her eyes off of him, she said to me, “Go home, child.”
I picked myself up and ran blindly. I didn't get far. At the first abandoned shack I came to I crept inside and cried so hard I threw up over and over. I felt like Bim had put a poison in me, and I'd never be free of it. I suppose I passed out, because the next thing I remember it was pitch black.
Ah, Ivan, my hand is shaking. I'm sorry. I have to stop. I'll tell you the rest, I promise, just not now.
22nd Jan 2009, 9:37 PM
Eeeek! Ok. I don't feel bad for Bim at all now!
What an intense chapter...
22nd Jan 2009, 11:28 PM
Oh my gosh, I love this story.
23rd Jan 2009, 1:11 AM
OK, I hate Bim now.
Oh, poor Katya :( Poor poor Katya.
EDIT: But go Grandma!
23rd Jan 2009, 1:56 AM
At first i felt bad for Bim because she was being a little mean but wow that was intense poor poor Katya
23rd Jan 2009, 4:08 AM
Wow! Just Wow. That was hardcore.
23rd Jan 2009, 9:05 PM
Wow, comments galore! Thank you all for letting me know what you think. Getting feedback is always very helpful and appreciated.
QueenRebecca: I definitely couldn't say anything much about Bim before this chapter without giving anything away. To a degree, I feel sorry for the boy, living his life mostly just with goats and two people who nag him and complain all the time. It doesn't in any way justify what he did, but goats really aren't the best role models.
Tree4me: I'm so glad you love the story! I hope I'm able to continue to keep it entertaining in the chapters to come.
Meggie272: I love Bim's grandma. She's a tough lady. :)
Sweetsweetie85: Katya was being very mean, and as I said above, although it doesn't justify what Bim did in any way, she did play a part in what happened to her. She learned a lesson from it, or did she? Dun dun duunnnnnn....
Griphon: Thanks for letting me know the chapter had the impact I was going for. I detest violence, and to me what is way more important than the act itself is the effect it has on its victims. It still upsets Katya to think about it over 20 years after the fact. Such things never fully go away.
26th Jan 2009, 2:25 AM
I hate to be a nag, but I do this because I love the story, but when will the next chapter come out? I can't wait for it!
26th Jan 2009, 2:51 AM
I hate to be a nag, but I do this because I love the story, but when will the next chapter come out? I can't wait for it!
You're not nagging at all. I have a regular update schedule of every Monday and Thursday, so a new update will be up tomorrow!
26th Jan 2009, 6:44 AM
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY UPDATE TOMOZ!
What, I'm feeling hyper...
Really though, I'm looking forward to it.
26th Jan 2009, 7:32 AM
Yay! I can't wait! :)
26th Jan 2009, 11:17 PM
The Kriegs in exile fared better than many during the Blood Revolution, as some had taken to calling it. Too politically symbolic to execute and turn into martyrs and famous enough potentially to be useful yet, they existed on the outskirts of the small hamlet of Vissche, less than a full day's fast ride from the capitol. The crown provided them a ration barely generous enough to keep them alive and forbade the townsfolk, loyalists all, from either harassing or trading with them.
So this is limbo, Katya often thought. She never strayed far from the house or allowed the children long from her sight. She trusted the loyalists about as much as she did the crown, which was not at all.
Having Skyla back was equal parts help and burden, a burden Katya gladly bore. The girl had strength, an inner mettle Katya believed may have been battered and bent but thankfully wasn't broken. Each day she improved little by little. Her nightmares eased in frequency as well.
The twins adored her. Katya wasn't sure they remembered her from before the time the family was forced apart. At least they were bonding strongly with her now. Gemma, too, took pleasure in trying to emulate the older girl. Only one member of the family seemed more despondent.
Katya watched Bert's rough play with the only toy he and Gemma had between them. “What did Heer Bear do?” she asked lightly as she stepped into the room.
“He ran away,” Bert answered without hesitation.
“That was naughty of him,” Katya said. “But he came back?”
“No,” he said. “I had to go find him.”
“What was he doing when you found him?” she asked.
Hugging the bear close, he said, “Making people mad. Making them want to fight.”
Katya sat on the bed and smiled faintly. “Like you?” she asked.
He frowned and set the bear aside, standing up to face her. “No, I don't want to fight. I don't want him to get hurt. If he makes people mad, they'll hurt him.”
“You miss your brothers and your oldest sister,” Katya said, this time not asking.
He nodded. “Skyla came back. Why not Alaris, Evan, and Magritte?”
“They might yet, darling. We have to be patient.” She reached to smooth his hair. “What about Ivan? Don't you miss Ivan?”
He pursed his lips thoughtfully, then shook his head. “I don't remember Ivan,” he said and turned his focus back to the stuffed toy.
Katya quickly left the room before he could see her tears. For the first time she felt a stab of anger at her firstborn for leaving the way he did. You had your reasons, she thought, good ones, but we're still your family, damn it. Don't you care?
Katya started toward her journal and stopped short, frowning and thinking, No. You aren't talking to me, so today I'm not talking to you. She passed it by, instead heading into the kitchen.
She smiled at the sight that greeted her. “You'll make a good mother one day,” she said.
“Maybe,” Skyla shrugged and gave a wan smile. “Hopefully not for a long time.” She stopped suddenly and looked stricken. “Oh, Mama, I didn't mean--”
Katya shook her head. “I know that. Believe me. I'll be very happy if you're not a mother as early as I was.”
Skyla smiled in grateful relief and turned her attention back to the twins.
Katya glanced around the kitchen and asked, “Have you seen Gemma?”
“Not for a while. These two have been keeping me busy all day. You want me to look for her?”
“No, you're doing fine. I'll look,” Katya said. She all too quickly covered every part of the house with no sign of the girl.
Outside, she called loudly then listened, hoping to hear the thudding of little feet or perhaps the familiar bell-like chirp, “Coming, Mama!”
Instead, she heard a male voice coming from the copse of trees about twenty feet from the house and her daughter's high pitched peal of laughter. Shoving down her panic, she marched toward the sounds with a very stern look. I'm going to save her, then I'm going to kill her, she thought.
She burst into the clearing and stopped cold in her tracks at the sight that greeted her. “Alaris!” she cried. “Oh, Alaris!”
“I found him, Mama,” Gemma crowed happily. “I found Alaris!”
Nodding, laughing, and crying all at the same time Katya raced forward and pulled her son close, showering him with kisses.
To his credit, the 18 year old bore it with good grace until she finally got it out of her system. “I got your message,” he said once she allowed him room to speak.
Her joy shifted to concern, and she poked him, saying, “So you thought to come here of all places?”
“Ow,” he said with a wincing laugh. “You have to admit, Mama, here is the very last place they'd think to look.”
“Only you would have the brass enough to waltz right into a loyalist hotbed with nothing but the clothes on your back and an eye patch,” she scoffed, but secretly she felt both pride and pleasure at his audacity.
“He also has a sister,” Gemma said so fiercely both Katya and Alaris had to cover their laughter with coughing.
“Think this one's adopted?” Katya asked.
“Not a chance!” he said with a laugh. He tugged Gemma's braid. “C'mon, Tigress. Show your big brother around the homestead, and tell me you have something to eat.”
“Just gruel and turnip porridge,” she said sadly.
“Hnh. Looks like I have to feed you, then. Some way to treat a guest.” He lifted his gaze to his mother. “Mama, can you help me with that sack behind the tree?”
Looking where he pointed, Katya gasped, “That looks like enough to feed us close to a month!” She fought back the lump in her throat with difficulty, the thought of the children finally having the chance to be full almost too good to bear.
“And some people wonder why we fight the crown,” he said lightly, but she saw the underlying anger in his eye and knew he had seen all too clearly how much weight both she and Gemma had lost.
We'll talk soon, she thought, lifting her side of the sack. Tonight.
27th Jan 2009, 3:35 AM
You know, I am really getting interested in the political backdrop that you have going on here... You keep adding in these tantalizing little details, and I am looking forward to finding out more about the politics that are going on and Katya's place in all of it...
And on another note, she really seems like a great mom :)
And on yet another note, kudos on editing the pictures, especially the one where Alaris is swinging Gemma around. I like the "woooooh I'm moving through the aiirrrrr" effect. I never have the patience for editing! For me, if it can't be done in game... then it can't be done!
27th Jan 2009, 4:32 AM
Oooh! Still loving it! I can't wait for the next chapter! :)
To be honest, this is the only story I have ever been so interested in! Amazing job!
27th Jan 2009, 4:45 AM
Love the update it had some happy and sad moments but it was really good. Looking forward to next one.
27th Jan 2009, 5:51 AM
This is my number one fic at the moment, and yay for Katya! Another one of her older children has returned...
We don't know why they disappeared though, do we, or have I missed something? I'm great at missing important details...
27th Jan 2009, 6:04 AM
QueenRebecca: I'm really glad you're noticing the little political details. Without giving anything away, I can say that more will be revealed in time, in subtle and not so subtle ways. :O Katya loves her kids. No matter how much she thinks she's a bad mother, I think she's way too hard on herself on that front. Most good parents are. And thanks about the pics! I've finally started playing around with them a little. That one with Gemma and Alaris was a happy little moment of, "What does this setting do? Oooh, I like!" Usually I prefer to do minimal editing and effects because of time constraints, but occasionally I like to throw in something special.
Tree4me, I'm really glad you liked it! Next chapter's just a couple of days away. I wish I could do them faster, but this schedule seems to be best for now. If I added a third per week, I'd really be pushing it to get them out on time, and the quality would suffer.
Sweetsweetie85, thank you! I figured the middle kids deserved a little showcasing. They've been so much in the background so far, particularly Gemma. Like most kids from time to time, they were clamoring for a chance in the spotlight. :D
EDIT: Hey, Meggie! You posted while I was posting! hehe I decided to edit so I could catch you, too. Thanks so much for the huge compliment. I'm glad you're enjoying, and I hope I can keep up the excitement.
I've hinted here and there that the older kids were removed from Katya for political reasons, but I haven't gone into detail on that. And her oldest son, Ivan, left to find his father under less than ideal circumstances before the war, at least according to Katya's perception. Alaris has been fighting in the war, but he was already old enough to be on his own, so he wasn't removed. I hope that clears things up. Currently, the only two kids still missing are Evan and Magritte.
27th Jan 2009, 10:43 AM
Lol Evan and Ivan
Thanks for clearing things up. I only started seriously reading this a few chapters ago which meant I kinda whizzed through the first few, which was probably a big mistake with this kind of story.
28th Jan 2009, 6:30 AM
You're welcome! Glad I could help. Yeah, the first few chapters have a lot of tiny details. I try hard not to include purely extraneous information. If something gets mentioned that isn't directly part of the scene in progress, it almost always builds to something later. I'm sneaky like that. ;)
29th Jan 2009, 5:26 AM
im addicted to this story!
29th Jan 2009, 10:36 AM
Ooh! The next chapter is out really soon! I can't wait! YIPEE!
29th Jan 2009, 8:15 PM
Lisang, thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you're reading and enjoying. There's lots more to come. :)
Tree4me, yep! As a matter of fact, it will probably be in 10-15 minutes, as long as my internet connection is feeling cooperative.
29th Jan 2009, 8:42 PM
Having Alaris in the house is like hosting a whirlwind. You wouldn't recognize him, Ivan. I don't mean just the physical changes—he lost an eye in the war early on—but mental as well. Oh, he's as headstrong as ever. It's just that now he has found a purpose. It has made him formidable. I think you'd be proud.
He insisted I take some time to myself while he watches the children. There's a switch! So I've had a long, “glorious” nap, as Evan would say, and I have some time to write before Alaris and I talk tonight. As much as I love him, I also know him. He didn't come here just because of Amon's warning. He has dozens of places to hide. No, he wants something. Getting to see me and the children is only a small part of it.
It's not easy returning to this. I still blame myself for so much of what happened. I feel in many ways I deserved every blow. I don't know if you know this about me or not, but I'm terrified of the dark.
When I awoke in that wrecked cottage, I imagined all manner of dread things closing in on me. You know what sort of world we live in. It may not have been just my imagination. Plague houses have a way of clinging to bad memories, and—ugh! Enough of that talk, or I'll scare myself all over again.
I heard whispering and stealthy scrabbling. I imagined I could see things coming for me in the darkness. I was afraid to stay in the cottage and equally afraid to leave. It was so dark, I could easily fall into the canal and drown. I was also worried that Bim could be waiting out there to finish what he started.
Have you ever been paralyzed with fear? Given what Matthjes put you through, I have no right to ask that. I'm sorry. I know you don't believe me, but there was so much I didn't know. I'm aware that now isn't the time to discuss such things. We may never get such a time. I just hope that one day you realize that's the truth.
I was paralyzed. I thought some plague spirit would take me in the night, or one of the dark spirits of the canal-drowned. I thought I could feel their icy fingers in my hair and smell their bloat stench.
Then I heard Papa and Las calling for me. I wanted to shout out, “I'm here! Over here!” Shame silenced my voice. If they found me, they'd see me. They'd know what Bim did and why. They'd denounce and revile me, and rightly so, I thought.
I pressed my hands to my bruised mouth and closed my eyes. I didn't think I deserved to be found. I choked back my cries and trembled in the darkness until their voices faded. I don't know how much longer I sat there.
I had the strangest sensation that I had always been there. I always would be. Maybe I was a plague spirit, and all that was good and real in my life was a forlorn dream.
Light blinded me suddenly. When my eyes adjusted, I saw it was Mama with a lantern. I hung my head and braced myself for a beating and a lecture. I had never been out alone after dark, had never failed to return home when I was expected. I imagined my mother's fury.
That time I was wrong. Mama spoke to me kindly, at least for her. “Look at me, Katya,” she said. “Come on, now, raise your chin. I need to see your face.”
When I did as she asked, she took a deep breath and let it out slowly.”Where else are you hurt?” she asked me. “Can you get up?”
I hurt all over, and I was stiff from sitting all balled up. I needed her help to stand. “It hurts, Mama,” I cried out. “It hurts so bad!” I was ashamed of my tears. Mama despised crying and was usually cruel in the face of it.
“What did that boy do to you?” she asked.
I searched her eyes for the reproach I felt had to be there. There was hardness, yes, but I sensed that for once it wasn't meant for me. I almost didn't know how to handle this mother, the one who wasn't blaming me or berating me. I opened my mouth, but I couldn't force the words to come.
“Katya, this is important,” she said more forcefully. “What did he do?”
It all came out in a terrible rush of sobs and tears, everything about what happened except for one vital detail, Roland, the reason I would never, could never love Bim or be his wife. Although I understand her reaction now, it puzzled me at the time. Underneath her perfunctory concern, she seemed relieved.
She led me home then. It took a long time, for I was weak from my ordeal and all the vomiting. I kept waiting for the lecture, the accusations of how I was such a fool. They never came. Every time I stumbled, Mama caught me. When we finally reached home, she helped me undress and ushered me into her and Papa's bed. I felt guilty that everyone else was still out looking for me, but I was also relieved. I felt if I had to face Papa, Donik, or Laszlo, I'd die of shame.
They let me sleep for a long time. When I awoke, I could tell it was late in the afternoon. I jumped up in a panic, thinking of all the chores I had missed, and was instantly sorry for it. I hurt all over. I could barely turn my head, and my face felt weird.
I recoiled from my reflection in the polished metal disc we used for a mirror. Even as anger welled, self loathing had its say. Good, it said. Now you look as ugly as you are inside for what you've done. Now nobody will want you, least of all Roland.
That thought cut deepest of all. I looked around the empty cottage and thought suddenly and irrationally that my family must have left me. I ran from the house and almost sobbed in relief to see Mama just a few feet away weeding the herb bed, Las in the vegetable patch, and Papa and Donik in the distance working in the hay field.
As soon as Las saw me, he dropped his hoe and ran over. “Are you ok?” he asked.
If I thought it felt strange having Mama be somewhat supportive, it was nothing compared to how I felt seeing real emotion in Laszlo's eyes, emotion for me that wasn't jeering or contempt.
“I'm ok,” I wanted to say, but my voice came out as a croak. I wondered if I'd ever stop wanting to cry again.
“Get your sister a ladle of water,” Mama said to Las. “Her mouth is dry.” She added to me, “Sit down, Katya. Sit in the shade there.”
It was then, with Mama weeding close by and Las holding a ladle of cool water to my lips, that I realized how stupid I had been in thinking they had left me. I still felt hurt and confused, but I knew that my family was there for me. It was one of the most comforting things I've ever felt.
30th Jan 2009, 3:53 AM
It's nice to see her mother and Lazlo being good to her...
And I wonder wat Alaris is up to. Good that the kids are getting fed tho.
30th Jan 2009, 4:30 AM
Very good update as always!!! I agree with Meggie it was really nice seeing her family being good to her. Looking forward to next update.
30th Jan 2009, 8:32 PM
Thank you Meggie and Sweetsweetie! Her family seems to have their moments. :)
The kids are very glad to be eating something that isn't milk or turnips. Milk and turnips. Bleh. *shudder*
As for Alaris...hmmmmm. We'll just have to see!
31st Jan 2009, 12:22 AM
Wow, again. An amazing job!
I can't wait for the next chapter, the suspense is killing me! :) I would be scared if I were Katya at the moment. Great work!
31st Jan 2009, 6:43 AM
I can't wait to see what happens next!
1st Feb 2009, 7:00 PM
Woo! Upload today! I will have to read it as soon as I get home! I am still feeling the suspense, I am tapping my toes just typing! Woo!
1st Feb 2009, 11:42 PM
Tree4me, your enthusiasm is catching! Now I'm all excited about the next update, and I already know what's happening. hehe Thanks for the great feedback! It means a lot.
BonnyLove, it's always fun hearing from a new reader. Thanks so much for letting me know you're out there and following!
I have been having some modem issues off and on today, so if there's not an update tomorrow, it's a technical difficulty. My ISP is already aware, and we're getting tech help. It shouldn't be long if there is a delay, but as of now, we think it's fixed. Just wanted to give everybody a heads up.
2nd Feb 2009, 1:36 AM
WHAT!? I have to wait longer?
Well, fair enough, my modem and main server keep on crashing. We found out we had a trojan on my dad's computer, and it spread through the network into our computers. Good thing we fixed it! :)
Thanks for the heads up. :up:
2nd Feb 2009, 6:12 AM
I have a good connection at the moment. Technically, it's the 2nd, so here goes nothing. *crosses fingers*
I'm sorry you guys had a trojan horse, Tree4me, but I'm glad you got it resolved. Our modem issue seems like a hardware problem. If worse comes to worst, we'll just replace the thing. It's getting old, anyway.
2nd Feb 2009, 6:36 AM
Katya smiled at her son, thinking not for the first time how like and yet unlike his father he was. “Come sit by your mother,” she said, patting the seat beside her. “It has been too long since I've seen your handsome face.”
He grimaced and did as she asked. “Hardly handsome these days. I'm collecting scars like some men collect rare coins,” he said.
“Some women like that sort of thing,” she said, amused. “So, Alaris, to what do I really owe the pleasure of your company, and dare I ask for how long it is to be this time? Bert has missed you horribly.”
He eyed her askance and asked, “What, I can't just visit my mother and siblings because I miss them?”
“With half of Duteschenlanden burning down around you and many of those fires your doing? Of course you can, but it's not like you,” she said bluntly.
“Such faith you have in your son!” After a moment, he dropped his mock outrage. “I suppose I should be grateful there's someone still alive who knows me so well and loves me in spite of it. Before we get into why I'm here, tell me how you are, how you really are.”
Katya waved off the concern. “You know fully well what our position is here. Like it or not, we're pawns of the crown. Ever since King Naar consolidated the loyalty of the nobles, we haven't had much chance to do aught but as he bids, sit here conspicuously doing nothing save existing at his pleasure. It's not ideal, but it could be worse.”
“You know, it truly pleases me to hear you speak in such a way,” he said.
“Well, I'm glad one of us can smile,” Katya snapped sourly. “Perhaps you failed to notice how thin your siblings are. Had I not been fat from the twins when all of this started, there'd be a great deal less of me here, too.”
“You misunderstand me,” he said, sobering at once. “My heart burns with rage at what the crown has done to our family. I intend to see King Naar swing from a gibbet for all of his wrongs when all is said and done. What I meant is that I'm glad this mockery of an exile hasn't cracked your spirit, Mother.”
“I've buried three children and have three missing. This is nothing,” she said dismissively. “Now, enough stalling. What do you want? Let me warn you now that I'll drive you from this house myself before I'll see you endanger the children.”
He narrowed his eye, his voice low, but heated. “They are in danger already, like it or not. One disloyal loyalist, one disgruntled crown soldier, one idiot with more fire in his belly than sense, and you and everyone in this house will be up in flames. I can't control that, and neither can you.”
When she stayed silent, he continued. “My question to you is do you want to be passive for the rest of the revolution, a pretty little jewel in King Naar's oppressive crown, or do you want your power back?”
“I'm listening,” Katya said.
“Nils has become a problem,” he said flatly.
Katya sighed. “The bottle?” she asked, although she really didn't need to. She knew. She had seen that problem coming for a very long time.
“Yes, the bottle,” Alaris said and stood to pace. “I can't keep him out of trouble anymore. Alcohol is too accessible in Kolnenberg, but out here--” he let it hang, watching his mother closely.
“What about you?” she retorted, choosing not to answer just yet so that she could consider it.
“You know I kicked that habit the day they took Father away,” he answered evenly. “Please don't insult my intelligence by trying to put me on the defensive. I'm all too aware of my past sins. Will you let Nils stay here or no?”
“You're asking a lot,” Katya snapped. “How can I be sure he won't hurt the children? How far gone is he? Don't paint me a pretty picture, Alaris. If you want me to do this, I deserve to know exactly what I'm getting into.”
“I wouldn't have it any other way. It's bad, but Nils loves our family. He always has. He'd sooner cut off his own arm than hurt the children. You know that. No matter what Nils is, he's not violent, and he's not a letch. He hasn't been the same since Ivan left. The strain of all the fighting has taken a bad toll.”
Katya thought of the impish little boy she once knew, Ivan's pale shadow ever since the two met in first year school. Damn Alaris, she thought in amused consternation, he has to know I've always felt maternal toward the boy. “If I do this, how good is it for the cause?” she asked finally. “Don't you dare look smug. I haven't said yes yet.”
“It gets him out of my hair, and it keeps me safer. He is getting careless. Twice last week he almost gave our company's position away. If Amon Zimmermann was getting close as he claimed, you can bet it was partly because of Nils.
“Mama, my only other alternatives are to have him killed and make it look like an accident or let the crown take him. Given the fact he knows too much about us and would never withstand torture, the latter isn't much of an option. Please,” he said, the plea naked in his eye.
Suddenly, Katya saw before her not the battle hardened “Street Fox” she had come to know since the war started, but simply her boy Alaris, her and Matthjes' first-born, begging her for the chance to hold to what youth and humanity he had left. How could she possibly refuse that? “I'll do this,” she said, “but you'll have to provide for him. We have no food to spare.”
“Thank you, Mama. I'll make the necessary arrangements,” he said, immediately moving toward the door.
“You're leaving now?” Katya asked, startled. “You just got here! It will devastate Bert to awaken and find you gone.”
“I have to get Nils before he compromises my men. If I'm not back in two days, something has happened. I've already told Beemer to get word to you if the worst happens. You won't be in the dark like you are with Ivan, Evan, and Magritte. I won't do that to you.”
She nodded and watched him leave with the curious mixture of pride and anxiety she had come to associate with her second-born. Theirs was never an easy relationship, for nothing was ever easy with Alaris, but there was no shortage of love and respect on either side. She hoped he'd be back soon and set herself to the task of making an inconspicuous place for their impending house guest.
2nd Feb 2009, 7:18 AM
Gosh, Alaris doesn't seem like the cheery type. Considering that the place is war-torn, there is no real reason to be cheery.
Again, magnificent job, and I can't wait to here more!
2nd Feb 2009, 7:35 PM
All i can say is wow, update is really good. Looking forward to the next one.
2nd Feb 2009, 9:21 PM
Ooh, I just got caught up and I have to say that those zombie creatures were quite disturbing (*yuck*)! I am glad that Katya's family didn't make her experience worse for her. :)
And in Chapter 12... I'm interested to see this new character who's about to enter the story...
Great updates, as always!
3rd Feb 2009, 9:23 PM
Tree4Me, good read on Alaris. No, he's not the cheery type, but more of his character will be revealed in time. I'm glad you enjoyed the update!
Sweetsweetie, thanks for the feedback! I always enjoy hearing from you.
QueenRebecca, I have a funny story about the zombie/plague spirit Sims. I pulled in some extras to get them in the proper make up. Every one of them cheered enthusiastically when I changed their appearance. It had me laughing. "Woo! Yeah, I look AWESOME!" Ummm, no, you don't. You look gross! Katya's mom even had attraction toward the one with the gray face in the background. I wish I had thought to take a picture just then.
As for the new character, the wait shouldn't be too long. Glad you enjoyed!
3rd Feb 2009, 10:46 PM
..That's hilarious! I can imagine her doing the little *fans self* at the zombie. Blech!
5th Feb 2009, 2:15 AM
"lol. That's funny. I needed that." Liz laughs, whilst eagerly awaiting the update of Katya's Tale.
5th Feb 2009, 8:35 PM
Your brother is gone again. In typical Alaris fashion, he has turned things upside down then left so that he doesn't have to see the consequences. That's not totally fair. He has experienced more turmoil than most men have in a lifetime. It's so easy for me to forget that he's just eighteen.
I lied to Roland about my injuries. It's the only lie I ever told your father, unlike poor Matthjes who has had little else but lies from me. I told him I took a bad tumble from horseback, because I knew if I told him the truth, he'd kill Bim and then be executed for murder. I couldn't take the thought of that.
I told Helene and Silke the same tale. For all of the sisters' virtues, I feared the ability to keep quiet in that circumstance might not be one. No, they'd never have spread malicious tales to hurt me, but they would have wanted to see Bim punished and might have told Roland. I couldn't risk it.
Mama and I agreed also to limit knowledge with Papa and my brothers of what Bim had tried to do to me. As angry as they were about his beating me, we both feared what they would do if they heard the rest. You may despise lies, Ivan, but there are times they truly do protect the ones we love.
With my loved ones protected, I did my best to put the attack behind me and move forward. Even if I wanted to mope, I couldn't have. There was no time with harvest upon us. You spent much of your youth on Matthjes' farm, unlike many of your younger siblings, so you understand to some extent our urgency. Slacking at harvest meant starving come winter.
On top of that was the harvest festival. I had extra reason to be excited that year, even beyond Roland. Mama bought new cloth and was helping to make me a new dress for the festival. “I intended this to celebrate your engagement,” she said, “but there's no reason you can't simply shine at the festival.”
I loved her so much in that moment. We never spoke of what happened to me, but for many weeks afterward, Mama was less acerbic than usual. It's probably the closest we ever were in my life. Sometimes I still miss that.
Time flew those three weeks. Mama wasn't the only one with a surprise. Helene and Silke worked out a plan with Roland to allow him and me time alone during the festival. When they told me, I could hardly contain myself.
At last the day arrived, perfect weather, crisp and cool, breezy and dry. Like everyone else in the district, we were up before dawn, but this time not for work. Excitement made the air electric. We hurried to the green and found it set with games and tables, bonfires waiting to be lit, a dais for musicians, and a dance square laid down.
Donik and Laszlo sized up their competition for the games. Mama and Papa wanted to see the livestock, and of course, I had to find Helene and Silke.
“Here's a little money,” Mama said, giving coins to Donik, Las, and me. “Once it's gone, it's gone. Don't expect more, and don't drink so much you make fools of yourselves. There will still be work to do tomorrow. Now, be off, and don't come bothering your Papa and me unless it's an emergency.”
I couldn't believe it. I'd be left to my own devices without even having to have them distracted? I realized then that my parents really did see me as nearly grown. I was elated and set to making the most of my time.
Finding Silke and Helene was easy. All I had to do was look for a crowd of men acting like absolute idiots. Before meeting Roland, I had been a little jealous of Silke. I wondered how it would feel to have so many boys falling all over themselves to make me happy.
Now I was happy to have just the one and wanted the eye of no one else. I did get a few stares, but I reasoned it was more due to my healing bruises than to my new dress, no matter how nice it was.
Helene was happy to see me and glad of the excuse to get away from Silke's admirers. “They're so stupid,” she said when we were out of their earshot. “Silke uses them shamelessly, and they just pant after her for more.”
“Have your parents decided on a marriage prospect?” I asked, even though I really just wanted to talk about Roland.
“Yes, but she wanted them to wait on announcing it until after the festival. I think she just wanted one more time to dance and have fun flirting. She'll have to stop all that once the engagement is declared.”
“Do you think she can stop?” I asked. I had my doubts.
“Let's hope so,” Helene said. “It won't go well for her if she can't.”
I had done my duty as a friend. I couldn't hold back any longer. “Do you think Roland will like my dress?”
Helene smirked. “I think Roland would like you in a potato sack. Silke says he has it for you bad.”
“Does it look like a potato sack?” I asked, horrified.
“You're so funny sometimes,” she said. “Of course not. Now, will you stop obsessing about your dress already? We'll be there soon, and you still haven't told me what you plan to do.”
I told her in detail I'll spare you. I had Silke to thank for my newly acquired knowledge of what to say and do to make a boy crazy. I was nervous but at the same time excited. Despite my terrible experience with Bim, I wasn't afraid.
Roland was the one I loved, the one I wanted to be with forever. In my naiveté, I fully believed I would be, despite the complexity of our situation. I think I'll end this entry on the bliss of ignorance. There are worse places I've been as you'll see all too soon.
5th Feb 2009, 10:07 PM
You described here so well that excited feeling that makes girls want to gab to their friends all about the boys they like <3 ! I'm glad that Katya and everyone else has the fair to look forward too, but my, my what is coming next? You left off on such a discordant note... And btw, I think that the last paragraph is particularly beautiful...
5th Feb 2009, 10:26 PM
Very nice update indeed. I thought it was cute the way she was so anxious to see him. Here i am getting mushy again :D
5th Feb 2009, 11:33 PM
That's adorable how Katya really wanted to see Roland.
I have honestly never said this about anybody's work before, this is outstanding work! The words used really make an impact on the story, and the pictures are the best I have ever seen! This is amazing, I can't wait to see Chapter 14! :)
6th Feb 2009, 8:40 AM
I love this story SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much.
And it's funny, it's not the type of story I normally read, I don't normally read stories with zombie plague spirits in them :P But you do it so well, I can't help myself! :D
6th Feb 2009, 9:24 PM
QueenRebecca, thank you for the kind feedback. I remember feeling that way, when all you can think about is THAT BOY, but you feel guilty talking about him all the time because you know your friends still have lives, too.
Sweetsweetie, I love mushy. Up with mushy! It would be fun to do the whole story that way, but sadly, I can't. Still, rest assured, there is more mush to come. Katya has a little cute left in her somewhere.
Tree4me, thank you so much! That totally made my day. I'm always a little worried about the pics, wondering if I had just spent a little more time on them if I couldn't have gotten something better. Every time I do it, it's a learning process, so hopefully they'll improve more as time goes on. Knowing that you really like them helps a lot!
Meggie, thank you soooooooooooooooooooo oooooooooooooooo *takes a huge breath* ooooooooooo much! And aw, man! That totally puts a damper on my planned sequel about the zombie plague spirits and how they just wanted to be understood. You didn't see it, but after Katya and Grieta left, they cried themselves to sleep because Katya thought they were gross. I was gonna call it "Tales of Alaethes: Zombie Plague Spirits Are People, Too". Guess it's back to the drawing board. ;)
7th Feb 2009, 8:38 AM
Aww... that would've been a good sequel! :lol:
(Dum, dee dum...) :lol: Sorry, I am an impatient person...
9th Feb 2009, 8:39 PM
Two days. It has been two days, and it's past midnight, Katya thought worriedly as she paced the kitchen. She didn't need anyone to tell her how horribly and suddenly things could go wrong. She remembered Matthjes' capture all too vividly.
Her son's code knock drew her from her dire imagining. She rushed to douse the lights in the main room and opened the door, admitting him and his companion in the cover of darkness. “You're late,” she hissed.
“Someone kept getting sick,” Alaris said with thinly veiled contempt aimed at the towhead behind him.
“Not my fault,” Nils slurred. “I'wazzat nag you put me on. Gait of a goat in heat.”
Alaris pursed his lips. “Be glad I didn't simply tie you over the rump of my mount and bring you that way,” he said then looked to Katya. “I told him not to get drunk before we left.”
“Yes, because that always worked so well with you,” Katya teased him gently. “Have some compassion for Nils.”
“I've always loved you, Frauen Krieg,” Nils said, suddenly tearful.
“I love you, too, Nils, but please keep your voice down. My children are asleep in the next rooms. Ah, no hugs tonight, sweetie. You're a tad ripe,” she said, pushing him back firmly. “I know you've had a long journey. Let me show you to your bed. It doesn't look like much, but it's warm.”
Nils staggered down the hallway after Katya. She worried he might not make it up the ladder to the cramped attic space, but he managed. After more drunken thanks and tears, he pulled off his outerwear, burrowed into the hay, and fell almost instantly into a deep sleep.
Poor boy, she thought sadly. You wanted so desperately not to be like your parents, and yet here you are, drunk as sin. What happened to you?
She climbed back down the ladder, half expecting to find Alaris already gone. To her relief, she found him bringing several sacks of food into the house. There was just enough moonlight to see by. “Can I help?” she asked.
“This is the last of it,” he said.
“Come into the kitchen. I'll put the kettle on,” she offered.
“You look dead on your feet,” she said now that she could see him better. “Have a seat and tell me what happened. I take it getting here was a trial?”
“You see how drunk he is now. We've been riding since before dawn, so you can imagine,” he answered. “God, was I that bad?” he asked abruptly.
“Worse sometimes,” she said.
“I suppose I deserve him then,” Alaris sighed, his brow furrowing.
“Maybe he deserves you, someone who can understand,” she said, turning to give him his tea. “Your drinking was a trial, yes. There were times I feared I'd bury yet another son prematurely. What's important is that you've turned all of that around. You've found strength from your weakness.”
“Maybe,” Alaris murmured, staring morosely into his teacup. “It's going badly for us, Mama. Everywhere we turn the crown forces are there to harry us. We get no rest. Some people just slink off into the night never to be seen again. Others—I fear others may be selling us out.”
“You suspect Nils,” she said softly.
“I don't want to,” he said. It clearly pained him. “I really want to be wrong. You read people so well, I was hoping maybe you could tell.”
“If he is working for the crown, I'll discover it,” she assured him.
“What will you do if he is?” he asked.
“If he has betrayed us, I'll kill him,” she said flatly. “It would be far too devastating for the others to ever know the truth if that's the case. I won't have all we've worked so hard for destroyed, not even by someone I love. If it comes to it, I'll make it quick. I promise you that.”
“Just when I think I really know you, you say something that completely surprises me,” he said with quiet admiration.
His words stung her, but she managed a genuine smile. “What you don't know about me could fill a book, son. Now, get some sleep. I insist.”
9th Feb 2009, 10:43 PM
Great update as always. That would be a hard thought to think you might have to kill someone you love.
9th Feb 2009, 10:47 PM
:lol: She is actually filling a book with things that Alaris doesn't know.
The updates just keep getting better and better! I can't wait for the next! :)
10th Feb 2009, 9:55 PM
Wow, I just read the rest of the whole story and I enjoyed it very much! You truly are a good writer and you take great screen shots. Thank you for sharing! It now makes me want to continue writing more Sims stories like in the past. :)
By the way... what happened to chapter 13? Was it intentionally skipped or was it just an error?
10th Feb 2009, 10:27 PM
Sweetsweetie, I'm glad you enjoyed, and yeah, that is a tough thing for Katya to have to consider, definitely not something she takes lightly or easily.
Tree4me, the irony of what Katya said to Alaris didn't escape her. *grins* Who knows who will get to read her journal when all is said and done, or if anyone will?? I'm happy you liked the update!
Frankie, thanks so much! You should do more stories. I like your writing!
Chapter 13 is actually in the thread. I was just a goober and forgot to title it when I posted it. Thanks for drawing my attention to that. It's fixed so it'll show in the index now and is readable. :)
11th Feb 2009, 1:19 AM
Yay, I read it! It was actually very cool, almost like a high school-ish type but in the olden times since of all the chapters it seemed to have dealt more with the teens this time. Too bad Katya is jealous of Silke since she is pretty, too. But I guess she doesn't have the self-confidence it takes and she seems a bit more on the moralistic side, yet not completely because I totally see the rebellion in her just waiting to be unleashed. She's still a bit too innocent right now. ;)
Thanks for liking my writing. I just may do some Sims stories after all. Reading more and more of them from other people just make me want to create some. However, I don't think I could ever do an "olden times" style like yours because it seems way too complex for me. But you did a very good job with it. And on top of that, finding all those custom content downloads must have been time-consuming! But in the end, it was definitely worth it with a great story like this one. Keep it up! :)
11th Feb 2009, 5:48 AM
:lol: Goober is a funny word. :P
11th Feb 2009, 9:02 AM
I have too much of a headache right now to properly process that chapter, but I'm sure it was good :P
11th Feb 2009, 4:24 PM
Frankie, thanks for the really helpful feedback. It means a lot! Yeah, it is a shame Katya isn't aware that she's pretty, too, but that's something so many teens deal with, that sense of self consciousness. It's not even so much that she was jealous of Silke, herself, since Silke was nice to her, but that she was jealous of all the attention Silke got. Most people in Blauvelt have pretty strict moral standards, so Katya is just a product of that environment. Who knows how much she'll rebel? Well, I do, but I'm not telling yet. :D
The custom content took a very long time to find and download. That was very much a labor of love. Since I was pretty much house bound recovering from the dog mauling I told you about, I had time on my hands and a need for a good distraction. It fit the bill nicely.
Tree4me, I love the word goober. I wish I had the chance to use it more often. hehe
Meggie, sorry you had a headache. :( I hope you're feeling better now. Thanks for the feedback on the update!
EDIT: I'm doing an early update today, because tomorrow is going to be so busy for me, I won't have time to be at my computer. Better early than late, right?!
11th Feb 2009, 4:44 PM
Nils reminded Katya of Alaris at his worst with his drinking: the shakes, the moans, the vomiting and cold sweats. She told the children the same thing she had said of Alaris during the many times he tried to quit the bottle before, that Nils was very ill and needed peace and quiet.
Alaris stayed for five more days, growing increasingly edgy and short tempered. She knew he itched to get back to the battle front and wondered if that was his new addiction. When the fighting ended, for good or ill, would she lose her son to something else if he survived the war?
Katya shelved those disturbing thoughts for another time. On the fifth day she allowed Alaris to leave with a clear conscience, assuring him she could handle Nils from there. Skyla was a huge help, taking up the necessary slack left in the child care because of their guest.
On the seventh day, Nils hit a turning point. He awoke with clear eyes. Even though his face would always bear the telltale burst capillaries of the chronic alcoholic, his body was flushed of toxicity. His state of mind was another matter entirely.
“Admit it. He dumped me here because I was in the way,” Nils accused yet again, a point he had been raising for days now and that Katya had ignored due to his poor health. “I was a liability in his precious revolution!”
“Keep your voice down. You'll awaken the children,” Katya said.
“That's all I hear from you,” he complained, “never the truth!”
“You want the truth? Fine, Nils,” she said, never raising her voice but speaking with quiet vehemence. “The truth is that for all you protested to me when you were growing up that you never wanted to be like your parents who let their home and their lives rot around them just so they could drink, who neglected their only child and sometimes fed him rotten food, who had money but more often than not let him dress in tatters, who allowed another woman, a stranger, to all but raise him, just so they could drink—the truth is you're just like them.”
“Of course you were in the way!” she continued. “You endangered him and your other friends. They had to spend as much time looking after you as they did themselves. Do you know what that means, Nils?” she asked.
He shook his head slowly, his sapphire eyes fixed widely upon her.
“That means dead friends,” she said without mercy. “And now you're here. Now you're my problem.”
Nils started to speak, subsiding at her look. “You eat the food we cook, sleep on a bed I made you, benefit from the warmth of what little fuel I can scrounge, and you have the nerve to demand my truth when your truth is so debased you can hardly live with yourself? What gives you that right?” she demanded.
Nils' cheeks flamed red, and he dropped his gaze. “I'm sorry, Frauen Krieg,” he said in a broken voice.
“I'm sure that's nothing you haven't said before,” she dismissed the apology. “I'm not impressed, and I don't believe it. Unfortunately for you, I've walked this road before with someone more stubborn than you ever dreamed to be.”
She paused to take a breath and warned him silent with a glare. “This is how it will be. Remain sober and do as you're told, and you'll have a relatively safe place to stay and get your head back on straight. Leave this house without my express permission, drink, or endanger me and my children in any way and I'll turn you over to the loyalist mob of Vissche. They have instructions to leave me and mine alone. They have no such instructions for you.”
“How you must hate me,” he said miserably. “Not that I blame you. Alaris should never have brought me here. I'm too much of a burden.”
Katya tilted her head and regarded him coolly. “Not that you'll listen to me yet, but I love you, Nils. I feel like I raised you along with my Ivan. Self pity really doesn't suit you. It never has. You asked me for the truth. Well, here's a bit more. Deep down, I don't think you care that you're a burden to me. I think you're worried you've finally landed somewhere you'll have to stop running from yourself. No, don't say a word more. Just clean the counter, and go to bed. I'm exhausted, and I'm done fighting with you tonight.”
Katya watched him work, satisfied that at least for that night, she wouldn't have to worry about him doing something stupid. No, that will come when he gets more energy, she thought. She reminded herself to smack Alaris on the back of the head the next time she saw him and headed to her room for the night.
11th Feb 2009, 7:49 PM
Whoo! Early chapter! Exactly what I needed to start the day off with! I wish I was up at 2:00am to read it earlier (GMT +11), because I can't read it at school. Damn filters.
I don't know if I am right, but something seems up with Alaris, since he was so edgy.
Great update again! :)
11th Feb 2009, 11:41 PM
Great update! And boy do I know about drinking, lol. He definitely seems like an alcoholic and sadly at that time AA never existed. They just wasted away instead. :(
By the way, you said it was early this update. Are you actually doing this on a schedule like posting it on a certain day of the week?
Goober sounds like a brand of candy if it had an "s" at the end, but I guess I'm thinking of Gobstoppers.
12th Feb 2009, 1:46 AM
I hope that Nils really does straighten up, but I don't trust him yet *shifty eyes*
It's good to see that Katya doesn't either.
12th Feb 2009, 4:02 AM
Sad that Nils is such a drinker after experiencing everything with his parents. Great update.
12th Feb 2009, 7:28 AM
Uh... what's a gobstopper?
13th Feb 2009, 6:50 AM
Gobstoppers are these small fruity jawbreaker type of candies where the candy shell is one flavor and the inside is another. They're popular in the U.S. and I am not sure if we have all of the same candies as elsewhere.
13th Feb 2009, 6:52 AM
I thought those were Jawbreakers. :wtf:
14th Feb 2009, 5:02 AM
They are but Gobstoppers are also the brand name of this specific kind of jawbreaker. It's different than other jawbreakers in that the outside shell is one color/flavor while the inside is another color/flavor and they dissolve very slowly and last a long time in your mouth.
Okay, this is getting out of topic but I just wanted to clear this up. I can't wait for more chapters! :)
15th Feb 2009, 8:24 AM
Tree4me, who can tell what Alaris may or may not be up to? Only time will tell. ;)
Frankie, yes, sadly, Nils is an alcoholic. At least Katya doesn't keep liquor in the house. And yes, I do update on a regular schedule, every Monday and Thursday. If I ever know I'll be busy, I'll always try to update early rather than late. My schedule varies a lot being self-employed.
QueenRebecca, it's probably a very good thing for a lot of reasons that Katya isn't a blindly trusting soul.
Sweetsweetie, I agree. His substance abuse given his past is sad, but also understandable. My Dad is an alcoholic, but he quit drinking when I was a little girl. It's a dynamic I'm familiar with, and I feel fortunate that he stopped when I was so young. It probably kept me from having a lot of problems later in life.
Gobstoppers are delicious! They are a type of jawbreaker made by the Willy Wonka brand. New chapter on Monday!
15th Feb 2009, 8:32 AM
Well, I guess I should find my way around my parents' sugar restriction and get myself some.
Woo! New chapter!!!! I can't stand the time zones!!!! Bugah!
16th Feb 2009, 8:38 PM
I'm glad that you can't tell how long it takes me to get to these pages. You'd get quite impatient with me. Your brother Alaris has seen fit to bring me a problem child in much the same fashion as you did so many years ago. Nils is in a bad way, but I'm hoping we can help him turn it around.
Reading back a bit, I see I was telling you of the harvest festival. Helene and I stood in the empty street. All of Blauvelt, at least anyone physically able, was at the festival green. I could hear their voices and the music in the distance. It was nothing to the drumming of my heart.
I think Helene was as excited as I was. She knocked on the door for me and giggled when Roland answered. To be honest, I have no idea what Helene said or did after that.
The next thing I knew, I was in the tea room alone with Roland, and he was kissing me. It was different than all those times by the canal. We knew no one would find us, no stray walker or rider. We felt more free together than ever we had before.
He led me upstairs to the bedroom he shared with Sir Edmund. I'll never forget the scent of it, a combination of beeswax candles and the metal polish they used for their armor. I felt suddenly very shy. He mattered so much to me that I wanted to be perfect. Everything Silke had told me seemed to run from me like water. I tried to tell him, but all that came out was a squeak.
“Katya,” he said, “we don't have to do anything. I'm just happy you're here.”
I don't know how or why, but his words stole away all of my anxiety. I knew in that moment that he accepted me no matter what. I smiled at him then and lay down on the bed. “I know we don't have to,” I said. “I want to. I want this—you.”
In some ways, time seemed to stop, yet in others it flew far too quickly. It didn't matter to me that I was going against everything I'd been brought up to believe. From the first time Roland touched my hand, something in his touch called to me. I was finally able to answer everything in that call with everything I had.
If you don't understand already, one day you will. One day a woman will look into your eyes, and you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she has claimed an essential part of you. Hopefully, you will be able to be with her for the rest of your life. If you aren't, you will spend the rest of your life missing the part of you she took. I was lucky in one respect. You were the ultimate result of our love. As long as I have you, I can bear any other loss.
They say a parent should never show favoritism. I tried so hard to love all of Matthjes' and my children the same way that I love you, and I'm afraid I failed. I know why Alaris drank and why Magritte started starving herself. I know, and it kills me to think they sensed what I always knew in the depths of my soul. I loved you best because I loved your father more than I could ever love Matthjes.
I stayed with him until nightfall. I dared not risk a longer tryst than that. As it was, I'd be making my way through not entirely familiar streets by very little light. We couldn't take the chance of being seen together.
We parted reluctantly and uncertain of how we'd arrange to see one another again. With Bim out of the picture, I couldn't promise regular trips to our spot by the canal. I decided I'd have to rely on Helene and Silke yet again to find the way, for being devious had never been my strength. That came later.
Helene nearly scared the life out of me, the mean thing. She had found a place to wait for me and ambush me after dark. She told me how she and Silke had covered for me when my brothers questioned them about my whereabouts. I was grateful, and even though I hated leaving Roland, I was looking forward to dancing.
We passed several groups of dancers and revelers before we finally found my family. Helene squeezed my hand and left me then to find hers. It was so strange seeing my parents laughing and dancing together. Mama's face was transformed when she let herself go like that. I could almost see why Papa had fallen in love with her.
I joined in a dance with my brothers. It felt good to see Donik enjoying himself and smiling. I suspect both of them were pretty well into their cups. Las was being far too nice. I would soon learn the real reason behind that.
I was a little sore, so I was fine with letting Las drape an arm over my shoulders and lead me to a resting spot by the fire. As we looked up at the stars, he said, “Katya, can you keep a secret?”
“That depends,” I said. I didn't trust him very much and thought he might be playing a trick on me.
“I'm serious,” he said.
Something in his voice got my attention. “I'm listening,” I said warily.
“You've got to promise first. Not a word to anyone,” he whispered.
By that point, I was worried. “Fine, I promise,” I said.
After the festival I'm leaving,” he said. “Not just home, but Blauvelt.”
“What?” I blurted. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. “Wh-when? How?”
“Not so loud,” he said. “Tomorrow morning. I'm catching a ride with one of the caravans to Nikol. I'm going to work the reed beds there for a thatcher.”
I jumped to my feet. “But Mama and Papa,” I cried.
He suddenly got irritated. “It's a done deal,” he snapped. “I've left them a note. I just—I just didn't want to leave without saying good-bye to anyone.”
“Does Donik know?” I asked with a sinking feeling.
He looked away, confirming my fears before saying a word. “Just tell him I'm sorry, OK? I'm not as strong as he is. I never have been.”
Everything I thought to say seemed inadequate. Finally, I just hugged him. I'll probably never know what demons plagued Las in his life with us. We were never that close, but despite that, I knew I would miss him. I still do.
17th Feb 2009, 12:20 AM
Awww such a touching moment with her and Las. Great update. The time with Roland was great too.
17th Feb 2009, 6:05 AM
I agree, it was touching. :)
Great update, and I am anxiously awaiting the next. :D
17th Feb 2009, 9:23 PM
Aw, what a sweet chapter. It is so sad about Katya not being able to love her other children as much as Roland's son, though. :( But, I definitely see where she is coming from...
18th Feb 2009, 4:48 AM
My insides went mellow reading this chapter. Aww.
19th Feb 2009, 8:52 PM
Sweetsweetie and Tree4me, thanks! I'm happy to hear you both enjoyed the update. I had fun with this one.
QueenRebecca, I think it's sad, too, and I think it happens more than a lot of parents are willing to admit. They don't want to play favorites, but they do.
Lisang, thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you liked it. :)
19th Feb 2009, 9:08 PM
Papa, Mama, and Donik slept in the morning after the festival. Despite Mama's admonition to all of us, she and Papa had overindulged in cider, and Donik had as well. Thanks to Las, I couldn't sleep a wink. He had already packed his things and taken them to the caravanserie. There was no talking him out of his plan. I could see the determination in his pale eyes, and I knew that look well enough to leave well enough alone. I watched him make a final round of the land and cottage. Neither of us could bring ourselves to say good-bye. He left in silence.
I suppose he has done alright for himself. The only times I've seen him since he left were at our parents' funerals. As you know, we didn't have much chance to speak either time. I wish I had the chance to know his children. With the revolution, I don't even know if any of them are still alive. Sometimes I feel that's the greatest hardship in all of this. There are so many whom I love and don't know what has become of them, family and friends alike.
It didn't take long for Papa and Mama to find Las' note once they awoke. It was one of the only times I've ever seen Papa cry. I couldn't bear to watch or to tell them that I had known Las was leaving. I made myself scarce, heading to the stable to muck our plow horse's stall.
I was angry at Las, but at the same time I understood. Men and women in the countryside have it hard, each in different ways. Las and Donik both toiled so hard alongside Papa, yet we always seemed just on the verge of starvation every winter. Who wouldn't jump at the chance for more if it presented itself? Wasn't I doing the same thing with Roland?
The sound of the barn door opening told me I was no longer alone. I wasn't surprised to see Donik. “The selfish little git,” he said, each word spat like spoiled turnip, sour and hard.
“How's Papa?” I asked as neutrally as possible. I didn't want to be dragged into vilifying Las for doing what all three of us had wished we could do.
“How do you think, Katya?” he snapped. “There is still a lot of work left to do pulling in the last of the crops, and thanks to our late start this year with the weather, we don't have anything to spare.”
“I can help,” I said.
“You don't even know what you're talking about,” he scoffed. “You've never worked the fields. It's harder than it looks. It's no place for a woman.”
His words goaded me, and some of the anger I felt for Las spilled into my words for Donik. “Don't tell me my place when I'm one of the ones who'll starve,” I spat. “I'll do whatever I can, and I know Mama will, too. If you think women's work is easy, spend just one day with us boiling the bedclothes! We're not weak, delicate flowers, no matter how much you idiot men want to believe it!”
He sagged against the barn door and folded his arms defensively. “I'm sorry, Katskya,” he said. “I shouldn't take it out on you. I know you'll help. It was just so sudden.”
“Don't call me that,” I said, still irritable. “I'm not a little girl anymore, and you're right. You shouldn't take it out on me. Besides, as cold as it sounds, with Las gone, we'll have more food. He eats like a horse.”
He was quiet for a few minutes before asking, “Did he say anything to you before he left?” It was the question I had been dreading.
I covered my discomfort with more irritation. “When did Las ever say anything to me that wasn't spiteful or nasty?” I snapped.
“True,” he sighed. “I truly am sorry for snapping at you, Katya. Please stop being angry. You know, I never considered what it would be like for the rest of you had I succeeded in becoming a mercenary, with Ansalans at that. Seeing Papa in tears, well, I don't ever want to do that to him. I was being selfish.”
I felt my anger melt then and drew him further into the barn. “You can't live your whole life for us,” I said. “Sooner or later, you're going to have to live for yourself. Las was a selfish ass for doing it the way he did,” I added, “but the reality is that one day, Mama and Papa will be on their own, and so will we.”
“You're right,” he said without looking at me. Abruptly, he said, “I'll finish mucking the stall. I think it would do Papa some good to see your face right now.”
I knew he was through talking to me by the look in his eyes, whether I liked it or not. I didn't like what I saw in his face, but Donik could be every bit as stubborn as Las, just in a different way. Papa was the last person I wanted to see with guilt gnawing my belly. The longer I put it off, the worse it would be. I trudged back to the house with my feet feeling like lead and my stomach performing fish flops.
Papa was sitting at the table, looking lost and tired. Mama bustled about cleaning, the same as she always did. I couldn't read anything unusual in her face at all. It didn't surprise me. Unless it was anger or irritation, Mama never showed upset, and I had never seen her cry, even when her babies died.
“I mucked the stall,” I told Papa as cheerfully as I could. “I can do a lot of the things Las did. You'll see. It won't be so bad. Just think how much quieter it will be without Las and me always fighting. You won't have to yell so much, and--”
I probably would've babbled on incessantly if Papa hadn't pulled me into his arms and pressed my face to his shoulder. “Hush, Katskya, just hush now,” he said, his voice still husky from tears. “Of course we'll be fine.”
I couldn't tell who he was trying to comfort more, himself or me, so I gave him what I thought he needed most. For the last time in my life, I was simply his little girl.
20th Feb 2009, 12:05 AM
Thats sad that her daddy cried. And im sure her mother is trying to be strong for the family but it almost makes her seem heartless that she doesnt show any emotion even when her babies died. Its a great update anyways. :D
20th Feb 2009, 12:07 AM
I lifke Katya's daddy. He seems a nice dude.
And I like Donik too, despite his before-the-suffragettes-women-are-cooks-and-nothing-else attitude.
20th Feb 2009, 4:28 AM
Sweetsweetie, a lot of the dynamics of Katya's family are cultural. Sergei comes from an emotionally demonstrative people, so he's not ashamed to cry. Grieta's people are a lot more stoic, and I won't say more about that just yet, except that her composure will make a lot more sense later in the story. :) Thanks for the feedback!
Meggie, Sergei is a nice person, and so is Donik. Sadly, he's also a product of his culture, so yeah. Women's lib is a few centuries away, at least where he's from.
I've noticed that there's a "center" tag showing in front of the second pic. I've tried to fix it three times now, and I can only conclude that there's some sort of glitch going on with that. I'll try to fix it again in the next few days.
20th Feb 2009, 5:51 AM
Again, great update! :D I tried the furniture that's used in the story, but it kept screwing up my uploads, even when I didn't use it, so...
20th Feb 2009, 7:13 AM
Thanks, Tree4me! Hmm, I'm sorry about the furniture issue. If you can tell me specifically what you were trying to use, I may be able to tell you specifically where I got it from. It could be an expansion pack issue or something, though, and I'd hate for you to bork your game, so maybe best to leave it alone. Feel free to PM me about that if you want. I don't want to wind up posting WCIF stuff in the story section.
20th Feb 2009, 9:16 AM
ZOMG! I just realised!
They totally had sex!
Doh, stupid meggie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wowsers, that's a big move...
20th Feb 2009, 9:22 AM
:lol: That was completely random.
Well, I guess I was kinda stupid too. I was gonna wait, but yeah. I am still not quite sure whether it's right or not. I agree, it is a big move.
It was sad to hear about dad crying.
21st Feb 2009, 7:04 PM
i just started reading and it got me hooked lol this is so cool. The characters name (katya) is my name too! ^.^
23rd Feb 2009, 5:26 AM
Meggie and Tree4me, yes, Katya and Roland had sex. I didn't really want to make it super obvious, because this isn't that kind of story, but yes. It was a huge deal for her, as it goes against her culture. I won't say more, because I think in time, if it isn't already, it will be obvious that the decision isn't without consequence.
xzkiskazx2, it's great to hear from a new reader! :) I'm glad you're enjoying, and I love the name Katya. (Obviously, or I wouldn't have given the main character the lovely name.) Thanks for the feedback!
23rd Feb 2009, 9:05 PM
Katya awoke to the sound of glass shattering somewhere in the cottage. She felt Skyla's warm weight behind her in the bed, the girl still sleeping peacefully. Sitting up, still groggy, she wondered if she had dreamed the sound when another noise intruded on her awareness, a dull, crackling roar. She frowned, wondering why that noise struck her as so terribly unpleasant, and then it hit her.
“Fire!” she shrieked, awakening Skyla in a startled yelp.
“Go get Nils!” she yelled at the confused girl. “Wake him up and get to the hallway, now!”
Skyla raced from the room in one direction, Katya in the other. Katya wasted no time, running straight for the nursery and bellowing, “Gemma! Bert! Get out here now!”
She snatched both toddlers from their cribs, heedless of their frightened screams, and raced back into the hall. Gemma and Bert peered at her in wide-eyed, uncomprehending shock, and Skyla and Nils raced to her side. Tendrils of smoke billowed into the hallway.
Handing a squirming child to Skyla, she told Nils, “I don't know how bad it is, but there's only one way out of here.”
Wordlessly, the young man rushed toward the sound of the flames. His voice came back to her, vying with the ever increasing volume of the inferno, “The kitchen is engulfed! We have to run for it!”
For several terrible moments, confusion reigned. Katya's only concern was getting the children out safely. They dodged flames through choking black smoke, at last finding themselves outside and taking in huge gulps of fresh, cold air.
23rd Feb 2009, 9:41 PM
Oh no there house how terrible. They sure do have it tough dont they.
24th Feb 2009, 7:22 AM
Oh no! I lost the home I used to live in at the Victorian Bushfires, and the bushfires down here burned my other old home.
Great update! :D
24th Feb 2009, 7:45 PM
No, they really don't have it easy, Sweetsweetie, but I don't think the story would be too much fun if they did. :)
Tree4me, I'm really sorry to hear that. I still have very fond feelings for the home I grew up in, and I'd be very sad if anything ever happened to it. Fires are awful. I don't live in an area very prone to them, but during a severe drought year, one got fairly close to here. The smoke was horrible.
I'm glad you liked the update!
24th Feb 2009, 11:01 PM
That is true it makes the story all the more interesting when people have hard lives (wow that sounds terrible lol)
25th Feb 2009, 4:48 AM
Gosh, that sounds bad.
Off topic: Love the new avatar! :D
26th Feb 2009, 9:25 PM
Off topic: Love the new avatar! :D
Thanks! Spring is coming to this hemisphere, and I'm in a hurry for it to get here. lol Tired of the cold weather!
26th Feb 2009, 9:43 PM
As the family and Nils stared in numb disbelief at the smoldering ruins of what had been their home of sorts they heard the rapid thudding of footsteps approaching in a run. Katya tried to process what she saw, but it seemed almost as though she were locked in a dream. Amon? What was Amon doing there, and why now? She shook her head and waited for him to speak, the sun finally cresting the horizon and bathing them all in a gentle glow that belied the terror of the night.
Amon stared at the motley group of survivors, his expression difficult to read. He turned toward Nils with his eyes narrowed. “You!” he said. “What are you doing here?”
“Me?” Nils asked, clearly outraged. “I could ask the same of you! Convenient that you show up just as the house burns to the ground.”
“If you're implying I had anything to do with this--” Amon snarled.
Katya quickly put Laszlo down so she wouldn't yell into his ear. “Stop it both of you!” she snapped, her voice whipcord taut. “My children are in their night clothes, it's cold, and we have nowhere to go. You can beat each other senseless later if you want to. Right now we need to do something.”
Amon bowed stiffly and straightened. “You're right, of course, Frauen. Are any of you too hurt to walk?”
“No, we're all OK, thank the Lord,” Katya said, “just very shaken.”
“Good, then our first order of business is getting as far away from this place as possible. If you keep moving, you won't be cold while the sun is out.” He looked at Bert and asked, “Can you be very brave now and walk very fast?”
“I—I think so,” Bert said in a wavering voice.
“Good man,” Amon said and clapped him on the shoulder. “Let's go.” With that he turned, leading them beneath the thick evergreens.
Katya snapped out of the daze that kept threatening to overwhelm her enough to see that Gemma had her journal. “What are you doing with that?” she demanded.
Gemma blinked, her expression crumpling to uncertainty. “It was right there on the table,” she said. “I knew you wouldn't want to lose it.”
Katya instantly regretted her sharpness and softened her tone. “That was a very brave and a very foolish thing to do,” she said. “In a fire, every second counts. I'm grateful, but if anything like this ever happens again, the only thing I want you to keep safe is yourself. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Mama,” Gemma sniffled.
“I'm not fussing at you, darling,” Katya added. “I just don't ever want to lose you. You're far too important to me.”
The girl nodded and seemed to feel a little better. After just a few minutes of walking, they all reached a small clearing where Amon's horse stood waiting.
“I've got a few supplies that will help us,” Amon said, “and I'll send my horse back to Kolnenberg with a note. We'll have some help soon enough if we're lucky.”
“We?” Skyla ventured timidly. “You're not going back to Kolnenberg?”
“And leave the rest of you to fend for yourselves when--” he stopped suddenly, seeming to change at the last minute what he intended to say, “when your house just burned down? What kind of gentleman would I be if I did that?”
Nils snorted, earning sharp glares from Amon and Katya.
“You have something to say?” Amon asked.
“What kind of gentleman would I be if I did?” Nils asked mockingly. “There will be time for words between us, Lieutenant,” he added, “when civilized people are sleeping.”
“Lieutenant?” Katya yelped, looking between the two.
Nils smirked. “Our friendly officer neglected to tell you his rank? Now I wonder why he'd do that?”
Katya shot Amon an even look as though to ask the same thing.
“You've trusted me this far, Frauen Krieg, and I've not played you false. Will you trust me a little further?”
Katya looked around at the worried faces of her children and made a gut decision she hoped fervently she wouldn't regret. “You're the only thing standing between us and utter ruin at the moment, Amon. What choice do I really have?”
27th Feb 2009, 8:04 AM
I don't trust Amon. He looks like an iffy character to me.
Loved the update! :D:D:D
27th Feb 2009, 11:07 AM
I like Amon but everyone has difference in opinions lol. Great great update. :D
28th Feb 2009, 3:40 AM
I like Amon, he's cuuuuuuute :P
But of course I may have to wait before his character fully develops to its full potential and every little secret about him unfolds to make my proper and final judgement on the man.
But, still, he's hot :D
Great chapter. LOLS at Nil's trousers, they're a bit tight.
1st Mar 2009, 12:25 AM
:lol: The trousers rule!!! :D
1st Mar 2009, 1:43 AM
Looks like Amon stirred a little controversy. :D Trustworthy soldier of the crown? Plotter and traitor of the Kriegs? Something else entirely? Answers will come in time. I promise! I'm glad to hear what each of you thinks of him. It lets me know I'm striking the tone I'm going for, and I'm really glad you all liked the update.
I'm never telling him anyone thinks he's hot again. It totally went to his head.
As for poor Nils' underpants, I guess they're the historical equivalent of tighty whities. Have to have a smooth line under those tights men used to wear. On the bright side, at least I didn't stick him in a loin cloth!
1st Mar 2009, 1:50 AM
Oh geez. :fight: :rolleyes:
2nd Mar 2009, 8:11 PM
“The children are asleep,” Katya said. “Now I want some answers.”
“Fair enough,” Amon said with a curt nod. “Then I'll want some answers, too.” He shot a significant look at Nils.
“If your information amounts to more than a knee high pile of cow patties, I'm game,” Nils said and shrugged.
“Classy as ever,” Amon said dryly before turning his attention to Katya. “Your son is infuriatingly clever, Frauen Krieg. Just four days ago, he managed somehow to claim one of our redoubts and blow up a large stockpile of munitions. It was quite a blow, and thanks to the network of runners manned by both sides, word spread quickly.”
“That's an interesting tale,” she said. “What does it have to do with how you happened to show up right after our house burned down?”
“Quite simply I feared that despite crown orders, someone in Vissche might try to retaliate by coming after you, a fear that I now know was justified. I'd have arrived sooner had I not been delayed in a street skirmish. Kolnenberg is completely destabilized. Not even the Canal District is entirely safe anymore.”
“Convenient, yes, but how do we know it's the truth? How do we know you didn't set the fire so you could play hero?” Nils asked.
Amon rolled his eyes. “To what end? Listen to yourself. If I couldn't see you with my own eyes, I'd say you were drunk. Since we're playing conspiracy theory, how do you know you weren't the target of arson, Nils? I've seen you sink low before, but hiding behind a woman and her children?”
“Hush, Amon,” Katya said gently. “I made the decision to have Nils come stay with us. Nils had little to do with it.”
“Why?” Amon asked. “In doing so, you had to have known you were violating the terms of your exile. If someone in Vissche has discovered him, all of your lives will be forfeit the instant word gets to the wrong people. I won't be able to protect you then.”
Katya sighed. “Do you have children, Amon?”
“Yes, I have a young daughter and another child on the way,” he answered. “I don't understand what that has to do with Nils.”
Katya glanced a bit sadly at the tow headed man. “Before I ever married Matthjes, Nils was part of my life. He and Ivan were inseparable. I may not have given birth to him, but that makes him no less a son in my eyes.”
After Katya's revelation, the three sat in uncomfortable silence broken only by the crackling of the fire. Katya watched the sparks spiraling up to kiss the dark cave ceiling and extinguish in the dampness there. As much as she had hated the prison of their exile, memories of the hovel seemed homey compared to the cold, dank cavern.
Amon broke the silence. “If my men get my orders, we won't be here for long,” he said as though reading her mind. “I know some people who may be willing to take in your children, Frauen, but not you or Nils.”
Katya's heart sank. The thought of being separated from all of her children weighed so heavily upon her she thought for a moment she couldn't breathe. Although she tried to shield her reaction from the two men, she couldn't hide everything. Amon's regretful tone did nothing to assuage her sorrow.
“There's no way I can just let any of you go,” he said. “You're too dangerous. Consider your options carefully. You could probably overpower me in my sleep, only to run around deep in unfamiliar enemy territory until you starve, freeze, are captured, or are killed.
“You can demand I take the lot of you to Kolnenberg, which I would do if you insisted, where you and Nils would be hanged and the children imprisoned, or you can continue to trust me as you have thus far. Your children have a chance at safety, and you can be of use to me.
“You have until morning to think about it. I'm going to sleep now. I highly recommend at least one of you keeps watch,” he finished, getting up to head toward his blanket.
Nils watched him go to the back of the cave where the children were sleeping and edged closer to Katya. “Frauen,” he whispered, “just say the word and I'll bash his head in with a rock.”
Katya sighed. “You'll do no such thing. You and I both know what our only real choice in this is.”
Nils frowned. “If it's our only course of action, it's not much of a choice, is it?” He poked bitterly at the fire with a stick, sending sparks showering and snapping. “Get some sleep. I'll keep watch. Not much bloody chance of me grabbing any shut eye after that talk,” he grumped.
Katya privately thought the same as Nils, but as soon as she lay down, exhaustion completely overcame her. She knew nothing more until morning.
3rd Mar 2009, 4:00 AM
just say the word and I'll bash his head in with a rock. That was funny :D great update.
3rd Mar 2009, 5:49 AM
I loved that too. Great update. :)
EDIT: Okay, I give in. He is kinda cute, but I still don't trust him.
3rd Mar 2009, 11:54 AM
Hmmmm. I shall have to make a self-sim of me and move him in with Amon :P Nah, only joking...
Thank god you DIDN'T put Nils in a loincloth. *lolz*
5th Mar 2009, 7:53 PM
Sweetsweetie and Tree4me, you maybe get the sense Nils doesn't exactly like Amon? hehe Seems the feeling is mutual, too.
Tree4me, I don't dare pass that on to Amon. Too much ego could explode my whole game, and it's already teetering on the edge of disaster between him and Alaris.
Meggie, that's hilarious. I wonder how Amon would handle self sim bliss? As for Nils, there are some things even I don't need to see, ever!
5th Mar 2009, 8:04 PM
Nils waited until he heard Amon snoring gently and Katya's breath even out. Grabbing a brand from the fire, he scurried out of the cave, climbed the tall hill above it, and waved the makeshift torch. It wasn't long before two men emerged from the darkness beneath the trees.
“We were starting to think you didn't make it,” the older of the two said.
“Such a tragedy,” the younger added in a silken tone of blatant insincerity.
“You have a lot of explaining to do,” Nils demanded in a low voice.
Both men laughed, not very pleasantly. “You hear that, Spiegel? We have to explain!” the bearded one guffawed.
“Yeah,” Spiegel snickered. “I bet next he's going to ask us if we'd pretty please with a pickle on top let his mother go.”
Both men abruptly quit laughing. “You're forgetting your place, cur,” the older man sneered. “We ask the questions; you give us answers. That way, your mother keeps that wrinkled head on her bony shoulders, and you keep breathing through your mouth instead of a slit in your throat. Got it?”
“You don't have to threaten me,” Nils said sourly. “I just don't understand why you had to send Amon after me. I thought I was supposed to remain a free agent.”
The two soldiers exchanged secretive glances and Spiegel said, “Change of plans, and unless you want your beloved substitute mommie to know what a weasel you are, you won't ask Zimmermann any untoward questions.”
“What has Zimmermann told you?”
“Precious little,” Nils said with a scowl. “He's taking us somewhere to put the children for safe keeping. He hasn't told us where we're going after that. Why ask me? He's your comrade.”
The bearded man smacked him open handed, careful not to leave a mark. “How about you don't make assumptions and don't get smart with us? Just answer the questions, or I'll have a lot more of what I just gave you for your mother, and I won't be nearly as gentle.”
“I don't know anything else,” Nils said quickly, “I swear!”
Spiegel addressed his companion. “Are you sure he's still useful to us? Since the Street Fox put him to pasture, I don't see why we don't just put him out of our misery.”
The bearded man scowled. “That's why I'm an officer and you're not. You're a short sighted lout.”
“Stood up for you there, I did, Toosleider. You saw that, right?”
“Er, yes,” Nils said uncomfortably. “Thank you?”
“I've always said you're smarter than you look,” the officer said, patting his shoulder with feigned affection. “Don't prove me wrong in these next few days, and don't make yourself too hard to find, eh?”
“Of course not,” Nils agreed quickly.
“Want a nip?” Spiegel asked. He held a small flask out to Nils.
Nils' mouth watered, and he swallowed heavily. “No,” he said with great difficulty. “They'd smell it on me, and that would lead to too many questions.”
“Maybe you're right, Tarn,” Spiegel said with a laugh. “Our boy is smarter than he looks, not that it's difficult.”
“You stay in touch now,” Tarn said, tipping Nils a wink. “Your poor mother couldn't take it if we had to come looking for you too hard.”
Nils watched the two men melt into tree shadow with his fists clenched at his sides. When he could no longer hear them, he whispered, “I'll kill you for this one day. I'll kill you both.”
He didn't relax even after he made it back to the cave to find everyone else still asleep. Not for the first time since coming to stay with Frauen Krieg, he wished desperately that he could drink.
6th Mar 2009, 8:30 AM
Well that was unexpected im not even sure what to say about it lol :shrug: great update as always
6th Mar 2009, 8:44 AM
What's going on here? Who are those two? I want answers! I'm waiting, Nils!
Great update. :)
9th Mar 2009, 4:43 AM
The big, wide world is starting to intrude on Katya and Co. They couldn't stay safe in the house forever. As for who those two are...well, that remains to be seen. Muahahahaha--*cough*wheeze*
9th Mar 2009, 11:59 PM
Nearly five days passed before anyone responded to Amon's summons for help, five days of drinking bark tea and eating insects and the one rangy rabbit Amon managed to snare. All of them were cold, hungry and out of sorts, but even the toddlers grew quiet at the sound of muffled hooves on spruce needles.
Amon set his finger to his lips and slipped from the cave opening, the others watching anxiously from the shadows. When he saw who it was, he straightened and greeted the soldier. “Are you a sight for sore eyes, van Buren! Were you able to get everything I requested?”
“Yes, sir,” the soldier crisply replied. “Will you need anything else, sir?”
“No, this will do. Return to Kolnenberg and tell Captain Meer I have to settle some things in Vissche before I can return, myself. I regret I can't offer you accommodations, but I've already lost too much time.”
“I understand, sir,” van Buren said. “I'll see you back at the capitol when you arrive.” He mounted his horse and swung it round, heading away through the trees.
Amon waited until he could no longer hear the horse before calling the Kriegs and Nils out of hiding. “I have clothing for all of you. It may not fit perfectly, but you'll be warmer.” He searched the saddlebags and pulled the garments out.
“But those are all boy clothes,” Gemma said when she saw them.
“That's because you'd have a hard time riding out here in a dress,” Amon said.
“No,” Katya interjected sharply. “My children will not be riding horses, and neither will I.”
“Frauen Krieg, truly cold weather is not far away. If we intend to get them to safety before the snow sets in, you must all ride.”
“I said no,” Katya snapped, steel in her voice.
“Mama, please,” Skyla tugged at Katya's sleeve, “we have to! All horses aren't bad. Thobias' horse wasn't bad. He just--”
“Don't Skyla,” Katya said. “Not another word about that horse.” Shoring up her inner courage and taking a deep breath, she looked Amon squarely in the eyes and said, “We're not riding unless you force us, and I am telling you right now I won't make that easy for you. Skyla and I can carry the twins. We'll be fine.”
He didn't seem to like what he was hearing even slightly; however, the officer gave her a curt nod. “Get dressed,” he snapped. “We have no time to waste.”
The Kriegs and Nils put on the clothing he provided while he selected two horses to find their way back to the capitol and transferred needed supplies from their saddlebags. After a good deal more fusssing from Gemma about the boy clothes, the group got underway. Katya and the children kept a brisk pace. All of them were glad to be leaving the uncomfortable cave behind and to have the chance to breathe fresh air.
The toddlers were quickly lulled by the steady pace. The middle children seemed to think they were having an adventure, but Skyla remained very quiet and withdrawn. No attempt on the part of any of the adults brought her out of it.
They passed through deep evergreen woodland and broad meadows of dun colored grass, ripe with late autumn seed heads. The sky arched overhead in unbroken, aching blue. Katya privately thought such beauty wasted on a journey soon to end in sorrow and separation. She drank in each utterance of the children, the soft weight of Donika against her side, and the sweet scent of the little girl's hair, wondering how old she would be when she saw her again, if she saw her again at all.
A question from Amon drew her from her sad musing. “Why do you fear the horses, Frauen?”
“Leave her alone!” Nils growled at him over his shoulder. “Isn't what you're doing bad enough?”
“Peace, Nils,” Katya said gently. “There's no malice in Amon's actions. He has treated us better than most crown soldiers would.” She took several more paces in silence then came to a decision. “I'll tell you,” she said to Amon, “but it's not an easy tale, either to tell or to hear, I would wager.”
“Bert was a newborn then and Gemma no older than the twins are now. I've never gone into detail with them about what happened to their brother Thobias. Perhaps I should before—well, just perhaps I should.”
The children dropped back and drew closer, the better to hear the tale. Katya glanced at each of them, drawing strength from Skyla's silent encouragement. Yes, she thought, it's time to tell this. I don't know when or if I'll get another chance.
10th Mar 2009, 6:44 AM
Ooh! I wanna know what she has to say! Tell me! :D
Impatience got the better of me. :P Great update again. :)
10th Mar 2009, 12:32 PM
I wanna know too. Hurry up with that update lol. Great update.
10th Mar 2009, 3:42 PM
LOL Tree4me and sweetsweetie! I'm glad you enjoyed, and the update is just two days away! Not loooong at alllllll.
11th Mar 2009, 7:44 AM
Yes it is... :(
12th Mar 2009, 9:25 PM
“It was Thobias' eleventh birthday,” Katya began. “He was small for his age, but it worked to his advantage in dressage. Matthjes and I had been blessed not just with many children but with talented children. Thobias had already surpassed many competitors far older and with years more training than he. What I didn't know was that both Matthjes and Horse Master Olsen, Thobias' riding instructor, believed he would go no further with his current mare, as she was aging past her prime.”
Katya sighed and pressed her lips together, then continued, “The party was well underway. Thobias was disappointed, because Matthjes told him that morning he'd not be able to take off work for the party. Oh, he did his best to appear happy for his guests, but I could tell he didn't have that sparkle in his eyes I knew so well.
“Somebody rang our front bell. All of our expected guests were already in the house. Thobias was so excited he didn't wait for our housekeeper Bekka to answer. He opened the door himself. All of us were drawn by his squeal of excitement, and I was as in the dark about the surprise as Thobias.
“By the time I reached the front door, my son was leaping to street level toward a monstrous black stallion held on a lead by Horse Master Olsen. Matthjes stood at the door beaming. 'Is he really mine?' Thobias asked.
'He's all yours,' Matthjes said. Even though the brute wasn't saddled or bridled, he suggested, 'Why don't you have a quick ride?'”
Katya frowned and shook her head at the memory. “Of course, Matthjes saw nothing wrong with the fact that he bought our son a new horse without consulting me. He smiled at me as though he had just won a father of the year award. 'Isn't he magnificent?' he asked.
“'Magnificent, yes,' I said, fury thrumming in my veins and only my son's birthday guests standing between Matthjes and a very angry tirade on my part. Even so, I couldn't hold it all back. I was pregnant with Bert, about five months along and already emotionally volatile. 'I would add enormous, dangerous, and too much horse for my little boy, but no one asked me,' I hissed at him so that only he would hear it.
“If I looked at Horse Master Olsen in that moment, I feared I would lose my temper entirely, so I told Bekka to keep our party guests refreshed and entertained and retreated to the rear of the house to compose myself. It took some time. For all of our marriage, our children and the household affairs had been my primary responsibilities and concern. Being an artisan, Matthjes had to work hard and constantly. You know what the guilds were like in Kolnenberg. I don't need to tell you how competitive it was then. I couldn't understand why he chose something he knew would be so clearly against my wishes for our son.
“In time I returned to the party. I played with the children and entertained them. Horse Master Olsen had the intelligence not to come into the house. Matthjes stayed out of my way in his study.
“Thobias finally returned from his ride brimming with excitement and enthusiasm. He rushed straight to Matthjes with pure worship and adoration for the gift. In some ways, that made me even angrier. Certainly, Matthjes had given him his heart's desire. He practically ate, drank, and slept horses and dressage. It was left to me to be the practical one, to worry, and if I spoke a word against the horse in Thobias' earshot, I'd be the villain.
“Matthjes was clever enough to know that. I have no doubt it's why he didn't discuss the gift with me ahead of time. He knew what I'd say. I don't want you children thinking I'm speaking ill of your father. I'm not. This was one of the few times we ever sharply disagreed, and that happens in all marriages. I'm sure when you're married one day, it will happen to you, too, and you'll learn to cope with it, just as we did.
“Once you children were in bed and we were alone, I let him have it. It was one of the worst arguments I recall ever having with him, and I'm not going to repeat what either of us said. Suffice it to say we did not come to an agreement that night, nor did we ever in regard to that horse. I did, however, eventually let it drop. Matthjes was stubborn, and once he made a decision, he rarely retracted it.
“No, I had no choice but to accept that the large black was with us to stay. Of course, Thobias was thrilled. We saw even less of him at home than we did before. The only area in which I refused to budge was his education. I insisted he give full attention to his tutors, and if his studies slipped, there would be no more dressage. Matthjes knew better than to argue with me about that.”
Katya glanced up at Amon. “I wish I had been far more stubborn on a lot of fronts,” she said quietly, “but hindsight is the sharpest, is it not?”
12th Mar 2009, 9:34 PM
Yay! Update! And just before school too!
I loved the clothes, and the horse! The horse is awesomousezness!
Anyway, great update. :)
13th Mar 2009, 1:28 AM
Great update. Cant wait for the rest of the story.
15th Mar 2009, 5:31 AM
Tree4me, I was so excited when I found horses for download. They're all beautiful, and there are so many great recolors, too. It has been fun getting to deal with a part of Katya's past where they had more money. The house and clothing are both way nicer and more colorful than what they've had to deal with in the present and her distant past. Thanks for the feedback!
Sweetsweetie, thanks! I'm enjoying the sideline from the main action. Katya can't journal on the road, but she can still talk about her past.
17th Mar 2009, 8:01 AM
Due to a family illness, Katya's Tale will be on a one week break. I wanted to avoid this happening, but I can't guarantee being near or on my computer this coming week. I'm sorry to disappoint those of you enjoying the story, and I promise I will be back next week. Thanks for understanding.
17th Mar 2009, 9:35 AM
Take all the time you need we can wait. Hope everything is ok with your family
18th Mar 2009, 8:23 AM
It's okay, we will be able to wait. (As painstakingly horrible waiting is. :P) Don't worry about it, and I hope the family gets better soon, Mollypog. :)
20th Mar 2009, 5:15 AM
Wow Molly the story is just getting better and better, now i know why it usually takes u a while to write chapters, since i started a story of my own it sure takes a lot of time for those perfect screen shots! lol keep it up!
Wow and I really hope that family illness ends well, it's ok take your time, so sorry to hear that.
vBulletin v3.0.14, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.