2.14 The Pendulum Swings

October 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

Shortly after the family returned to Sunset Valley, it was Monte’s birthday. It hadn’t been forgotten, but when the children checked the calendar one morning before breakfast, they were surprised. Where had the time gone? There wasn’t enough time to plan a party, so Cora picked up a birthday cake for Monte on the way home from work. Charles wasn’t able to show up, as he worked at the grocery store after school everyday and couldn’t take a night off on such late notice, but the rest of the family enjoyed the evening together.

Monte felt like life kept handing him lemons, especially as he aged with the Loser trait. Though he frequently skipped school, he knew he’d have to take high school a little more seriously, and was dreading having to go. To forget his troubles, Monte went right back to his video games. Cora was just relieved that his hair was starting to grow, even if it had more of a purple tinge than it should.

Since Monte was just starting high school, Charles decided to try and help his younger brother out. On his first day, he took Monte on a tour of the school, showing him the ropes, and even introduced him to his crew, knowing that his insane brother could scare his friends off completely. Monte took in everything quite well, though, even if he was quiet most of the day. Charles decided to invite his best and most understanding friend, Demarcus Harden, over for a night over the weekend to play games with Monte, hoping that he might make a new friend. Charles was actually surprised to see how well Demarcus and Monte got along, and that Demarcus was actually almost as good at these games as Monte was. For the first time since his childhood, Charles was beginning to feel left out. He almost felt regretted inviting Demarcus over, fearing he’d lose his friendship.
Though Monte was finally being accepted, Madeleine was still having troubles at school. After having to deal with Monte, teachers weren’t too keen on Madeleine either. The children in her class weren’t too friendly either; their friends or siblings had told them stories about the pale family on the hill, how they were all insane, and how the ghosts of their ancestors walked with them in the daylight. The stories were all greatly exaggerated, but there was nothing that Madeleine could do about them. Every day, after school, a boy named Duncan Preston would mock her about about her insane family, and how even she didn’t fit in with them, with her brown hair and blue eyes.

She pushed aside her problems and focused on her baking, seeming untroubled to the rest of the world. But inside, she was hurting, and only her grandmother’s ghost could comfort her. Evelyn told her that she would survive her tough childhood, like her mother and grandmother had, and she would be a strong woman in the end. Madeleine loved hearing her grandmother’s advice, but she realized that their conversations were just confirming the stories that people told about their family. But there was nothing that she, or anyone, could do.

Madeleine found herself surrounded by family friends at her birthday. Her peers didn’t get along with her, but Charles’s friends and her parents’ friends and co-workers loved her. They knew the real Madeleine, and her peers didn’t. As she stood before her cake at 10:00 at night, with people who loved her yelling her name, their bright faces illuminated by torchlight, Madeleine knew that she would survive, just like Evelyn had told her.

Cora and Brant had always received praise and compliments for their children’s appearances, and it seemed that with every birthday they became even more beautiful. But people were shocked to see how beautiful and mature Madeleine had become. Her parents knew that they would be having trouble with boys soon, especially since Madeleine was now a Hopeless Romantic. At first, her peers at school didn’t recognize her. But once they did, no one said a single, negative word. They expected her to be outgoing and confident now, but she was still shy and outspoken.

Every night before bed, Maddie, as her peers now called her, would read a chapter or two of a cheesy romance novel. She was loathe to admit that she did, but deep down she envied the lucky girls in her books. She now knew that she was the heiress to the legacy, and knew what was expected of her as an adult. She just hoped that she would find her own handsome prince; a boy who would dote on her endlessly, too.

But every time that a boy would try to talk to her, she always encountered the same problem: Duncan Preston. No matter where she and her boy would meet up, Duncan would always show up, angrily storm over to them, and tell the boy to leave. Duncan was the leader of the pack of children who had mocked young Madeleine, and even now he wouldn’t leave her alone. While she found it annoying and frustrating, she couldn’t help but like the attention that she was getting from him. He and his twin brother, Travis, were the ‘hotties’ of her grade, and Duncan was always following her. But why was this sandy-haired, dark green eyed boy always focusing on Maddie? And why was he the last thing she thought of before she went to sleep?

2.13 Big Fish

October 10, 2010 § 2 Comments

When he was a young boy, Charles was a little fish in a big pond. He had pale grey skin, and unique features. He was different, and so he was isolated. But he was also outgoing and friendly, and that’s what made the children of Sunset Valley afraid of him. Gradually, his peers had gotten to know and like him, and soon he had risen up to be a big fish in a little pond. When he reached high school, he became the big fish in a big pond. And he was happy.

Now, teenaged Charles almost wished that he was unliked and isolated again. After school, he had a job at the Grocery Store. He now had multiple friends and acquaintances, all wanting his attention. And in his free time, all he wanted to do was work out, practice the guitar, or read. But since his mother had gotten promoted and his father was always out fishing, hoping to accomplish his lifelong dream before he died, Charles found himself looking after Monte and Madeleine too. During the week, Charles would deal with the tasks given to him – school work and his job, and dealing with his peers and younger siblings – but on the weekends he was locked away in his bedroom, working out or playing the guitar, indie music blaring either way.

After seeing the success that her oldest brother had become, Madeleine decided that she wanted to be something special. Though clumsy and unlucky, she tried her hardest to make friends and a reputation for herself. Charles’s friends loved her – she was their Chieftan’s adorable little sister – but she wanted kids her age to love her. She wanted to become a big fish in a big pond, too.

Everything in the Hallovin household seemed to revolve around fish; every day, the children would come home to find more unique, perfect species of fish and sea creatures floating around in the aquariums. Brant was  getting closer and closer to achieving his goal, and the family was proud. Cora became concerned, though, about their family. Brant was usually gone by seven in the morning, and she left for work at around eight. She came home at at 4:00 in the afternoon every work day, and Monte was always parked comfortably in front of his laptop in only his swim suit, and Cora began to suspect that he didn’t go to school every day. Like with the birthday situation, Cora felt a bit of dèja-vu; as the Hallovin children grew up, the order kept in the family was falling apart. She knew that dealing with teenagers and children was difficult for most parents, but she felt that in her family it was something a little deeper than that.

Cora decided to try and fix the family difficulties the same way that her mother had: by taking the family on a trip. But instead of taking them to an exotic land, the Hallovins visited France again. When Madeleine was told that she had French heritage, she became very excited to go visit her ancestors’ home town. She and Charles went to the Nectary and she watched Charles make his own bottle of nectar with the fruits that grew outside. Since she was underaged, she wasn’t allowed to drink any, but the kind folks who ran the Nectary gave her some fruit juice.

Brant tried to take Monte to one of the Art Museums in Champs Les Sims, but Monte would hear nothing of it. He preferred to stay at the base camp, walking around the building and amusing himself with the plants and stairways.

Cora decided that since they were in Champs Les Sims anyways, she should see if Jean Luc Beaumont, her niece’s father, was still alive. He was, and he was still living in the same house, behind his old shop. He had retired, but he was still the old, arrogant, smooth talker that Cora remembered Rayna telling her about. Cora and Jean Luc had never met, but they recognized each other; Cora could see some of Sarah’s features in his face, and he hadn’t forgotten the smooth, pale Hallovin skin. Cora griped about how his seducing her sister, so shortly after they had become young women, had caused the family so much grief, with Rayna’s freedom as a young person cut short and their mother nearly disowning her. Jean Luc blamed her, saying that it was her fault that Rayna was unhappy and came and saw him. In the end, Cora left, declaring Jean Luc an enemy of the Hallovins, whether he and the Sekemotos made up or not.

On the second day of the trip, at the base camp, Charles learned that Berthe Girard was looking for an adventurer to find something in the Chateau Landgraab. Charles was curious, especially since he was half Landgraab, Charles wanted to explore this mansion for Berthe. But when he asked his parents, they wouldn’t let him go. Cora said that they were just vacationing in town for a few days, and that he should leave that job to the professional explorers. While Charles was usually a good, obedient kid, he was very curious about this likely relative, and what secrets his home contained. His father had never mentioned an Admiral Landgraab, and he wanted to learn more about his roots. At 11:00 pm when everyone had gone to bed, Charles snuck out of his bedroom and went to see Berthe Girard and to get his instructions. Charles got to the mansion a little after midnight. He went to climb the stone steps and try and open the front door, but when he stepped on a particular tile, it sunk down, and fire burst into life just in front of him at the tope of the steps. A fire trap. Berthe had warned him about traps, but she said she was confident that a smart boy like him would figure out how to get in.

Once he got in, Charles spent three hours carefully exploring the main floor of the mansion. It was a large home, and there were many traps, and Charles knew that when he left there would still be much left to discover. He saw the documents he was looking for on a desk inside a sitting room, and ran to get them. After three careful hours, Charles made his first mistake: halfway across the room to the desk, there was a powerful electricity trap. Charles’s heart stopped for a scary second, and he was burned. When he realized he was okay, he grabbed the documents and bolted, being careful to retrace his steps through the safe path he had created. He gave the documents to Berthe, who said she’d look at them that night, and contact Charles if she needed his help further. Exhausted, hungry, and burnt, Charles returned to the base camp. He felt awful, and he was miserable. But deep down, he still felt the adrenalin. He had had fun exploring the house and disarming traps, and he hoped that Berthe would call on him again, especially if the next mission involved the Chateau Landgraab. 

On the third and final day of the trip, Brant, who had been fishing most of the time, caught a perfect snail and a perfect frog. The Hallovins had left eleven perfect sea creatures at home, and now Brant knew that he had enough to say that he had the perfect private aquarium. He was eager to return home, and so were Monte, Madeleine, and Cora. Charles would have liked to stay longer to explore more tombs, but after his late night/early morning excursion, he wasn’t up to any more exploring this trip. The family made a quick trip up to the old Hallovin Castle, and both Charles and Madeleine agreed to try and repossess the castle for the family. With this new goal, the family returned home. Brant carefully put the snail and the frog in the aquarium with the other unique, perfect fish, and felt pride wash over him. When he was a young boy, Brant was a little fish in a big pond. He was the younger Landgraab son, always in his older brother’s, Malcolm, shadow. He had always wanted to do something with his life, and be different, instead of being like the rest of his family.  And now he was; now he was the big fish.

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