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#1 15th Nov 2013 at 5:37 AM
Juniata Shallows AcademyPreface: In the beginning there was the evil Athis Empire that attacked, layed siege on and eventually annected the peaceful City State of Juniata (which Desiderata Valley and Bluewater Ville are part of). Only later I gave the Athispeople more depth, so that they are now a desperate people whose homeland suffers from a terrible curse. Some of them rebelled against their leaders and helped the Juniatans regain their freedom. The empire recently crumbled, it´s provinces became independant and one got swallowed by Juniata.
During the occupation the empire founded a university in the colony. Now, about 20-30 years after the, the university is run by Trent Traveller, who is trying his best to keep the mix of human cultures, nonhuman ones and supernaturals together.
Note: I chose "Fantasy" because deitys, magic and the afterlife are part of the story, but the setting is present time, so there will be stereos, computers and even more advanced technology.
City State of Juniata
Province Juniata Shallows
Juniata Shallows Academy
Left (southern) side of the river
It was the newest and largest dormitory, three floors, a flat roof and sixteen rooms in all. Sixteen faces, male and female, light and dark, fit and… not so fit. Sharla could not connect names and faces of her fifteen fellow students she was sharing the dorm with. Heck, she wouldn´t even recognize face OR names. The second eldest Ottomas-child was living in absolute anonymity.
And that was just as the girl prefered it! Sharlas was having the time of her life in the dorms. Finally she could do whatever she wanted whenever she wanted without interference. It was as cramped as at home, but whenever she stumbled over some other human being, she´d just mumble something non-commitional and walk away. And if she ever felt the need to socialize, she could always call her parents and siblings on the phone. Though Sharla was a loner, she wasn´t at odds with her family. No two Ottomai were alike, but everybody accepted everybody else just the way they were. So she´d probably call her family rather often, like – gulp! – once per semester!
In the few days since coming here Sharla had discovered unexpected talents in herself, mainly thieving skills. A little tinkering in the middle of the night ensured that the right wing bathroom downstairs was only useable by her. She had also scrounged an armful of books from the second floor, probably doing the community a large favour in doing so. Nobody ever put a book back on the shelfs. They seemed to be considered a sort of floor covering by the students, like carpet.
The majority of the books Sharla had taken dealt with advanced mechanics, which would come up only in the later years of study. But is was never too early to be prepared, right? Sharla wasn´t a genius, she would not breeze through college. She was more studious than gifted and generally scored B+ or A-. The micro climate here at Juniata Shallows with it´s long autumn and no real winter would help a lot. Climate and weather were of utmost interest to Sharla. Though she was dreaming of becoming Poseidon´s right hand woman, she would just as happily settle as a weathermachine engeneer or curse breaker.
The institute for meteorology was part of the physics faculty, so Sharla´s major would be physics. She´d meet students from the military school branch of the college as well as those from the „septem artes liberales“ civillian branch. Meet them and forget them. Yay!
Pic: Teenage Sharla in one of her "No spaaaace! Wanna out of heeeere!"-poses
Meanwhile Abhijeet Turner got his first lesson of college live in the dormitory for young gentlemen. The children of the aristocracy lived here, as did the offspring of extremely wealthy families or those individuals that were neither of noble birth nor rich, but so popular, renowned, exotic or whatnot that their heritage didn´t matter. Abhijeet briefly wondered what category he belonged in. Certainly not the middle one… the furnishing in his student room was worth more than all of the Turner family estate.
The dormie who was giving Abe his tour was of Athis-stock, too. You couldn´t tell by the look of him, as the Athis empire had swallowed so many countries in the past, that nearly every color of skin and bodybuilt was present. Neither gave his accent away the student´s place of origin. The City State of Juniata and the Athis Empire shared the same language and especially Athiskids growing up in proximity to the frontiers pretty much sounded like Juniatans, give or take some unique words that rarely came up in everyday conversation. Even the fashion didn´t differ so much, thanks to the nomad clans that were constantly crossing borders, mingling and melting with the two larger nations. Nevertheless Abe could tell he was talking to a fellow countryman. Somehow every Athisborn carried himself with an air of someone who expected the worst imaginable calamity to befall him the next second, as well as an expression of wonder why it had taken the catastrophe so long to happen and whether he was still alive or only imagining it.
But even so, Abe would not have expected the advice he got from his new aquantaince:
„Keep your head down, do not draw attention and try not to anger the House of Glory, especially not Isaiah Gavigan. Better don´t dare f****** breath without his say-so.“
Abe stared. „Say again…?“
„I´m sorry if that´s not what you were expecting to hear.“ The sophomore student shrugged. „But that´s what it´s like here. House of Glory pretty much controls this side of the river and this is where we live, after all. Over on the other side the professors are firm with rowdys, but they have a life, too, and cannot babysit us after class. People like us… Athispeople… gotta maintain a low profile.“
„I will not cower in fear…“ Abhijeet ventured. „Especially not in fear of some para-militaristic goons who have never been in a real combat situation! House of Glory? I´ve heard of them, they are all jerks. Insult them back, if they get sassy and you´ll get along fine.“
„Insults?“ The student laughed bitter. „Emma´s magic lamp was stolen. Club Autumn Crocus is missing it´s miniture golf equipment. Gallagher got his nose broken – and HE´s juniatan. Only not patriotic enough for their taste. So if a Newson didn´t stand the chance of a snowball in hell, what could we hope for?“
Abe clenched his teeth. „Let hell freeze over!“ he hissed. „Juniatan freedom has been bought with Athisblood, too! My father…“
„Yeah. Bore them to death with your family history. For my part, I´d rather survive the next four years.“
Abhijeet retorted with the worst insult he knew: „You talk like a bloody npc!“
A little later, alone in his room, Abhijeet´s head sank into his palms. So the war wasn´t over. Not here. Some halfgrown kids that had never experienced battle and bloodshed firsthand found it funny to re-enact it. He himself was nothing more than a halfgrown kid either, but he felt much older. The war had take away Abe´s innocence. He knew how to fight, to manipulate, to spy and to survive.
Abhijeet sighed. Then the erstwhile child soldier sent a prayer to all Jumboks (except the malign fourth!), thanking them for the precious few years he had been allowed to be an ordinary teenager and mentally prepared himself for his next campaign. House of Glory wanted war? They would not know what hit them!
Pic: Rather boring shot of Abe Turner and his sis Margaret (tourists from the BV expansion, may have other names in your game)
The next day Sharla awoke in her comfortable bed with the cloud-white ceiling. She spent a few minutes contemplating the watcher before getting up. The supreme being didn´t like to be worshipped, and had made that unmistakeably clear at the end of medieval times, too. But she did not mind people pondering her nature.
After breakfast Sharla stepped out of the door. The lane beginning right here led through the forest past the dormitory for young gentlemen and the greek house House of Glory to the Florence-Landgraab-Workshop-for Self-Sufficient-Living for those who did not want to pursue a traditional career after college. Sonja found the naming of the greek house touching. The Newson-kids had named it after their adoptive mother, Gloria, who had died in the war. Hadn´t Gloria Newson lived here all by herself? Back then, when the province had been little more than forest and meadows? Who had this woman been, anyway? A forrester in the service of an extinct noble house or something? Sharla did not know.
She had to follow the other road, that went west along the river and then turned north to the faculties. Sharla was just about to take take this route, when a girl her age walked up to her. She was a blonde, wearing a bright green long shirt, pink leggins and lots of beads. Somehow the vibrant coloring complimented her tan skin instead of making into her a real-life Luna Lovegood.
„Hi!“ the girl (No! Woman! We are adults now!) said. „You are new here, too, right? Shall we walk together?“
Sharla´s response of „No, thanks, I have things to, er think about“ came out weaker than she had planned. Why did others never stopp her having to hurt them? Should she just wear a sign „INTP-personality, only talk to in emergencies, engage in smalltalk at your own risk“?
Sharla started to run. She enjoyed exercise in general, but this time she ran to get away from the stranger. She felt so bad for being rude, that she did not notice much of her surroundings.
The road went past the Juniata Blue Barracks, where officer cadets studied and trained. Across the street was a low security prison, the dormitory for criminal youths on their way back into society. Then came the Campus Mall which doubled as faculty for Business Major students, the only faculty this side of the river.
Finally there was the small grove where Club Autumn Crocus had build it´s greek house.
The members were all nature fanciers. They grew their own food, maintained a fishing pool and spent most of their time outside. Sharla found the concept interesting, but participating in club activities just wasn´t her style. She paused to watch, though.
Two students, boy and girl, erected a fence around the lot. It looked defensive, but was also adorned with flowers and vines. One of the students Sharla knew from the newspapers: Princess Brandi Stompel, daughter of the richest nomad merchant, future queen of the City State. Boy and girl waved to the passer-by and Sharla felt her social bar max out for today when she returned the gesture.
She crossed the bridge to the northern shore, walking normally again. There a young man walked straight towards Sharla. He wore white trousers, heavy military boots, a tank top and a padded vest in Juniata´s national color, dark blue. „Hey there!“ the student greeted Sharla. „The name´s Gavigan, Isaiah Gavigan. I couldn´t help but notice how you rebuffed the Athis-trash back at the dorm. Good job!“
Sharla paused. The man was cute, even though was talking nonsence. Talking nonsense was what made him cute. Had he just kept his trap shut, he would have to be considered handsome. „Gee, like I´m one to judge this“, Sharla thought. „I must count myself lucky that people do not attempt to bring me home from vacation for thinking I´m a monster.“
Her looks had always been working for Sharla: they were more than suitable to keep others at bay. But this Isaiah suddenly made her wish she´d look more like the pretty girls. There was something in the air, call it chemistry, call it attraction… Perhaps it was the man´s voice, which was very soft for a male. It made her dreamy… Sharla suddenly knew, this was a man she´d like to take to the cinema once or even twice a year! Every year!
„Your thoughts seem elsewhere.“ Isaiah smiled. „That´s okay. Everything must be new and overwhelming to you.“ He turned around, took a few steps, turned back and waved, all the time smiling warmly. „See you on campus!“
„Waaaatcheeeer…?“ Sharla whispered. „Do not attempt anything stupid, now, please!“
Pic: House of Glory members marching up, looking to cause trouble
Gabriella Newson, Isaiah Gavigan, Georgia Newson
#2 16th Nov 2013 at 9:08 PM
Chapter 2I tried to do a picture story this time. This is how events played out in my game. I´m going to write a story based on the events shown here next week and you´ll notice that it´ll read a little different from what actually happened.
So, short reminder: Freshmen Abhijeet and Margaret Turner live in the Dormitory for Young Gentlemen in the Juniata Shallows Academy. The are the scions of a minor noble family. He is studying the custom major "Self Sufficient Living", she wanted to study Mathemathics and I allowed it. Maggie wants to become a teacher, Abe is only interested in women.
When I noticed that widower Trent Traveller had three attraction bolts with Margaret, I decided to pair them. Margaret stands almost frozen when her new friend lands, accompanied by a flutter of butterflys. It´s sooo romantic (though I´d wager the poor girl is not getting the broom´s symbolism...)!
Margaret hastily clambers the stairs and changes into something more formal. She´s seeing the principal of her school, after all! And her heart is racing now. What will the people they? The magazines?! Of course there are political issues with them coming from formerly warring nations, but that´s not the true problem. She´s so much younger and he´s her teacher, in the watcher´s name! What will they think... what will they... Margaret´s legs fail her. She has to take a seat. Looking up longingly - will Trent sit with her?
Not on his own, but gladly once she´s asked him to. What a gentleman!
The two of them are alone. Abe knows his sister has a date today and keeps the other students occupied downstairs. It´s snuggle time!
"I did not realize how lonely I was", Trent sighs. "With my daughter, son-in-law and their roommate around me, grandkid underway... But this is what I´ve been missing."
Margaret caresses her lover´s skin. It´s wrinkled in some places, but it doesn not appall her. How could anything about this man not be perfect? She´s breathing more steadily now, slowly, taking in his... smell? There is a whiff of sulphur in the air and it makes the young woman curious. There´s still so much they do not know about each other! So much to explore...
Margaret: "Mhm..." But suddenly she notices her love is holding back. "What is ist? Am I... do you not...?"
"No, it´s not about you." Trent doesn´t break the embrace. "I just remembered the last time like this... with Trisha..."
"Oh... oh!" Margaret straightens.
"Bad manners, ey?" Trent smiles, but it is a sad smile. "Thinking of another woman on our first date!"
"No! Don´t blame yourself! I understand! It´s okay!"
Would it be silly of her telling him now how much she missed her mother? Was it any difference, loosing a mom or a lifemate?
"Your life hasn´t been any easier than mine, has it?" Trent ventures.
"Right. But I´m here now. It´s where I want t be and whenever I feel sad I conjure this simple feeling: Here. Now. I mean, yes, I have dreams of my future like any student, but often the now is enough. Being able to do what I always wanted, learning, not as a means to reach an end, but for it´s own sake."
Picture: Two knowledge sims having a great time together (it was the only want I could fulfill at that time, so they spent a chunk of their date going over Mag's homework)
After the date Abhijeet congratulates his sister. "Dating the principal was a great move! It´ll help help your grades along and the family has gained a powerful new contact!"
Mag: "Er, thank you, bother, but this is not why I did it. I love Trent!"
Abe: "Say again...?!"
"I truly, truly love him!" his sister cheers as she´s dancing away, towards her room.
Abe: "Ugh! But he´s, like, ANCIENT!"
A little while later Abhijeet walks down the hall absent minded. He stumbles into another student. She raises he head and spontanously hugs the freshman. (A quick glance into the relationship panel reveals another three-bolt-candidate, which was probably what triggered the embrace in the first place.)
The female student giggles. "You seemed so far away I feared your soul would loose control of your body - and I was so glad we had the zombies out of the dorm finally! So I had to bring you back."
Abhijeet likes her attitude. She has spark, that one! He tests the waters, carefully. The last thing he wants is someone who might grow too attached to him. His life experience has made him independant, not a loner, but too much of a free spirit to even follow a traditional career, let alone a lifelong partnership. He´s at ease with boy and girl, but prefers what the women have. Every woman. But it would take a direct order from his head of clan to make him commit himself to anything serious and long lasting.
"Sooo, what´s in your mind, right now?" he asks.
"Why, you of course! Since you were so obviously out ouf yours, you had to be somewhere else!"
"And you think you captured me?" Abe´s flirting experience doesn´t measure up to much, but it does not matter. The truly important stuff happens in some unseen ether. He could recite last year´s business reports and the girl would still not be able to stopp looking into his eyes. As he into hers. He doesn´t even notice what color they are.
The two of them set down for a quick meal. It turns out the girl´s name is Natasha Meurer and that she is into dancing.
"Isn´t it hot in here?" Before he knows what´s going on Tasha and Abe have slipped into date-mode.
But suddenly she jumps, turns on the spot and makes haste for class
Abhijeet is furious! How can she? How can any woman, any human being? Playing with his feelings like this! "That hurt, you b... female dog!"
When Natasha returns, there´s one last chance to salvage the date. It ends not in complete desaster, but could have gone better.
"I wasn´t 'playing', I really find you attractive..."
"So YOU say! But you played me for a fool right in front of the whole dorm!!!"
"Oh, come on, calm down. If it means that much to you, I´ll do better next time. There will be a next time, won´t there?"
Abhijeet points toward the shrubs. They are in dire need of trimming.
Tasha: "Huh? What´s that supposed to mean, now?"
Abe: "Well, yeah, I´m sorry. Classes are important, too. Let´s finish this together."
Tasha: "We could do a lot of things together..."
Epilogue: Natasha will be Abhijeet´s college sweetheart (or he hers, I suppose), so I wish to customize her a bit. And what better way to prove to your man that you really trust him, then having him perform his first haircut on you? In this game it can end... ugly.
Still a bit desorientated after all the scissor swirling Natasha blinks.
"I like my new look. You seem to know me a lot already. But now you must go downstairs. I may have a surprise for you, too!"
Natasha´s new outfit as a mix of her taste, mine and Abe´s.
The poor guy doesn´t get much sleep this night (all innocent, though) and this is how he walks to class the next day:
Needless to say, the day´s lesson is "How to sew your own clothing in case you should ever wander outside in your pajamas"...
#3 20th Nov 2013 at 9:18 PM
Chapter 3(I promised a story version of the photos in chapter 2, but this scene happens before the date chronologically)
City State of Juniata
At the end of the week what was bound to happen, had happened: Isaiah asked Sharla for a date. It seemed the natural thing to do for him if one saw a girl one felt attracted to but knew next to nothing about. But how to entertain a woman on the knowledge track (wasnt´that what psychology students called people like Sharla? And he was what? A "romance man"?)? All the usual options like rock concerts or dining were most certainly ruled out.
„Do you want to see dead people or migratory birds?“ Isaiah had asked her and Sharla had opted for the birds. Bird watching was both relaxing and educational, time well spent, regardless of the date´s success. She certainly did not want to hear Isaiah rattle endlessly about this or that fallen war hero. It was depressing enough as it was, and Sharla wanted to remember all the lost people the way they had been in life, not during their final miserable moments. She wasn´t prepared fort the trap her date partner had set for her…
Pic: And this is how the scene looked in my game. Oh, boy. Please, LOOK SOMWEHRE ELSE! She´s got eyes, too!!!
„You clever rogue!“ Sharla exclaimed. She nearly had to shout to make herself understood against the background music. The two of them were standing in one of the front rows, surrounded by a mass of bodies in a perfectly ordinary crowd of concert goers. And now Sharla remembered that this was the name Tina Traveller´s nameless band had decided on: Desiderata Migratory Birds.
Isaiah flashed Sharla a wide grin.
„So! What! Would! The Dead! People! Have! Been!“ Sharla had to shout now. Up there on the stage Edda Sveinsson was torturing her guitar. For the standards of her species she was doing well, but somehow an Annunaki would never really get the hang of music. Nevertheless the fellow college student had achieved the pinnacle of what her alien genetics allowed her and that´s why people were cheering her today, especially those who had grown up during the war. Always giving 100% was more important than being the best in something in the mind of the young generation.
Pic: Edda´s album. Song lyrics obviously by Ea games. Another song is "Photoshop no friend of mine"
Isaiah leaned closer to Sharla, using the background noise as an excuse to directly whisper into her ear: „The museum of arts. Cave paintings, long dead celebrities, early works of Julius Antonini…“
Sharla chuckled. „All his works are ‚early’, he´s a high schooler, in the watcher´s name!“
„He´s very good…“
Sharla did not object. Isaiah was obviously feeling inadequate, though Sharla suspected the only reason his paintings did not hang for display was because he had never submitted one. She did not tell him so, for the more miserable an artist felt, the better the outcome of his work.
On the stage Edda had finally managed to finish her song without breaking the guitar or summoning something evil with numerous tentacles from the ground. She bowed and made room for the real stars of this night.
„That´s my brother up there!“ Sharla cheered. „At the guitar!“
David Ottomas was playing the guitar,
Tina Traveller the percussions
and her husband Jay was the lead singer.
An unearthly glow seemed to surround the man every time he sang with a microphone in his hand.
Isaiah frowned. „He should not be up there…“
„Jay has redeemed himself. Corrected every wrong he´s done and did so much more!“
„That´s why I begrudge him neither his freedom nor his marriage“, Isaiah explained. „But he really should not enjoy celebrity status. None of THEM should. Period.“
The argument was interrupted by the arrival of a real celebrity. Beams of light were facing the keyboard now, illuminating the empty fourth spot of the band. Tina beat the drums. In a flash of colors, acoompanied by the slight smell of sulphur, an elderly man appeared seemingly out of thin air. Shouts of „Ohh!“ and „Ahh!“ erupted from everywhere.
„Is this… the principal?“ Sharla gasped.
„Yes. Usually he travels by broomstick, but for the concert he went for something more stylish I notice.“
„Is it true that he has mastered every skill known to mankind?“
„Only the theory. But he could master the practical applications in almost no time now because of his knowledge. He´s great!“
„Trent! Trent! Trent!“ the spectators chanted. „Trent Traveller!“
Standing with his beloved in the last row, John Una joined in the chorus, but secretly the man thought: „There must have been a reason he had to quit his job as a high ranking policeman. Everybody contributes it to the war, but this just isn´t the case. Trent quit several month before the invasion, claiming he wanted to see the world or something similarily silly. I may not be a special agent anymore, but I´m watching you, Trent… Be assured of this!“
„Oh! Oh! Listen!“ Natasha jumped up and down like a little girl in exitement. „They are doing their version of ‚Unthinkable’!“
Now the crowd went wild. It was THEIR song, everybody´s. The song that perfectly captured the feelings of Juniatans and Athispeople alike. It told them they had been through a lot of shit, but it was over now and they could get a life.
Even the newest arrivals, like Polly Champion the elf-alien-crossbreed, were swept along with the music. It was akin to magic, Polly thought. Though she could not understand more than a handful of the words, she felt strangely elated. And then she stopped thinking about it, giving herself over to the feeling, becoming one with the crowd and the humans, finally… home.
I´m a something…
Someday… coming full alive…
Hey baby, I don´t know…
We needn´t… back… to think about…
Don´t weep anymore.“
Gallaghar could not take it anymore. The student slipped away, unnoticed, as he thought. He had been a loner as a kid and his playfully aquired stealth skills had come in handy during war and enslavement. But Gallaghar had not taken into account the abilty of a Newson to sense when one of their own was in need. Gavin had broken from the crowd, too and was standing right next this his younger brother now, a silent, towering, protective figure. It was dark over here, but the Migratory Birds´ chirping could not be escaped from.
„Maybe time does heal all wounds, as the saying goes“, Gallagher commented the song, sniffing. „But it leaves nasty scars.“
Gavin leaned against a tree. Grinning he pointed at Gallagher´s bandaged nose. „Refering to this, little bro? Reminds me of all the silly stunts Ginny and me pulled at college…“
„You!“ Gallaghar shot forth! He grabbed the brother by his expensive one-of-a-kind shirt and hammered him against the tree several times.
„You call stealing a genie lamp ‚a stand?’ And my broken nose is funny to you, yes?“
„Oh, come on“, Gavin ventured. „It was not like Emma was doing anything with it. She´s from the Empire, and one of those diehard magic-haters they´ve got there. I know. She and I talked about it a lot before my little prank. We were in the same dorm, for heaven´s sake!“
Gallagher let go of his brother. The older Newson straightened his clothing, then he went on, almost in a whisper, as if to cover up a secret shame: „But you know how Ginger was like back then. All Athispeople-are-hellspawn – like. I needed to prove myself a true Newson to her. I never beat up people. I only stole things others would not miss… not much, anyway.“
Gavin´s voice trailed off. „It´s over now“, he said firmly. „We changed and so will you. Your little college wars won´t carry over to the real world, trust me. Ginny and Angelo are happily engaged now. She´s even living in the trailer park, jobbing as a waitress, because she doesn´t know what to do with her life while her athisborn sweetheart´s still at college!“
When Gallaghar kept his silence, Gavin sighed. „Get into the fun! Enjoy your youth! Play a prank on Gabriella!“ he suggested. „And if it gets to you too much, there´s always a place for you at Tricou manor. Unlike somebody I could name, you are not under arrest at your college. Call a cab and come visit us as often as you like!“
„But don´t you understand?“ Gallaghar answered. „That´s what House of Glory wants! They want the Athis-kids take this route! Drop out of college, miss their chance of a higher education, so they can stay second-rate citizens forever!“
„Just like we were treated under Athis-rule…“
„Yes. But was it right? How can it be wrong when they do it to us, but right if we do to them?“
„I was handed from prison camp to prison camp for rebelling against our masters! I nearly froze to death at night and worked all day under the searing desert sun in province Oasis! You, in comparison, had it almost cosy in your slave school with the clean beds and full plates! You had a roof over your head and built snowmen in the schoolyard. You did not experience how they tightened their grip on the remaining provinces after your idyllic Desiderata Valley was freed – I did, so do not you lecture me about our enemies!!! And do not think I have forgotten how all of you mobbed me out of the house for dating Amaya Wilson! But revenge leads us nowhere.“
„Sooo… speaking of dating, I hear you and Edda are a hot item now?“
Gallaghar snorted and walked away. Gavin had some growing up to do and he did not want to be in his way.
Shoohoo, shoohoo, shoohy, the Migratory Birds rejoiced.