August 30, 2014

In Which Yvanette Is Unsuited

January 23, 1187

Yvanette hated being invited for dinner.

Her parents both had friends--her mother had friends, her father had friends, and then they had couple friends that they visited together--but most of their visits did not require Yvanette's involvement. If one of them called in the afternoon, the other was still at home. And if both of them called somewhere at the same time--or even went to an adults-only dinner!--Yvanette and her siblings had Winter.

But Sir Lonriad had invited the whole family for dinner. Not just her father, not just her mother... Yvanette, and her brothers and sister. It would have been rude not to go, her mother had said, but the only comfort Yvanette found in the thought of going out at all was that not doing so every once in a while looked suspicious. Though, she found she cared less and less about that each day.

And she couldn't have stayed home anyway, because it was Winter's day off! And Winter had already made afternoon and dinner plans with Sevvie's uncle--though, Sevvie's uncle did live in Veldorashire, so she'd agreed to come by after the dinner hour and take Yvanette home a little earlier than her parents had planned.

But for now, Yvanette was stuck taking refuge in Sevvie's room. She hadn't managed to look Sevvie in the eye since--that--but the damage was done there. He already knew. It didn't matter if he saw again. His siblings didn't know, and she wanted to keep it that way.

If only Sevvie himself could un-know. "You sure you don't want to join the snowball fight?"

"I'm sure." After that incident with the well, she was pretty sure she never wanted to even think about snowball fights again. "But if you want to go, I won't stop you."

"I don't want to go if you don't want to go." He was probably lying. She knew he just wanted to be nice, but she wished he'd just leave her alone. Ought to have faked sick, if she hadn't thought her parents would see through it. "I see my siblings all the time, and Aspen and Dally aren't old enough to be much fun yet. If you're not there, I'd just be joining for Darry--and Darry's not fun enough on his own."

Then how did she meet his standard of 'fun'? "Then you're either mad or mean, because I haven't been fun in years."

"But that's not your fault. And you could be--if we could get past this. Er, if you want to, that is," he added, eyes to the floor for a second. "I don't want to push you if you're not ready, but I want you to feel better eventually."

"I'll get better when I can stop it from happening." If she could ever stop it from happening. Years later, she was no more in control of it than she'd been when Deian had told her father she eventually would be. By the time she had a grasp on it, she'd probably be a hundred and everyone she knew would be dead and there'd be no time to enjoy her new-found freedom before she joined them.

"Yvanette..." Sevvie sighed, trailing off. She hated doing this to him. Her gloom didn't suit him well.


"Sorry. Just... you don't have to live like this."

And his optimism suited her worse. "Yes, I do."


August 28, 2014

In Which Rina Is an Insufficient Exception

January 5, 1187

It had taken Rina until halfway up the school's stairs to realize just how pointless coming in early had been.

The fall term had been Severin's last at the school, and Rina had known that. She knew very well--too well--that he would not be joining her in the sixteen-year-olds' self-guided university preparations any more, that he would spend January writing diagnostic exams and comparing course syllabi and otherwise charge ahead with the practical side of readiness, even moving himself into one of the student houses near the end of the month so he was settled in for his first classes in February. She knew that.

And yet, she'd left early anyway, as if she'd meet him in the library well before anyone else like they'd done before. Habit, she guessed. That or sheer stupidity. Either way, it was an embarrassment she wasn't quite sure how to handle, and didn't much care to with her cornucopia of pre-existing problems.

But with the mistake came the kick-in-the-gut re-realization that her only friend was gone. She was past the point of disliking her other classmates, even if she wasn't fond of them, but... just that. She hadn't managed to forge a connection with any of her other peers. She might have been close with Alina, maybe--Alina had always been nice, and Alina was popular enough that her approval of Rina had brought with it a number of allowances from others--but of course it would be that Alina was Severin's twin, and was therefore on the same timeline as he was.

Rina wasn't due to start at the university until October. She had little overall cause to wish for a hastened rate of time, but the prospect of nine lonely months was even less promising than what she could gather of the rest of her life. The only upside she could see was that this particular misery, at least, had a concrete end date.

"You're here early."

Roddie--one of only three others currently working on their university preparations. He also had the distinction of being the only student Rina knew who'd be starting university in the same term she did, what with Farilon and Mernolt leaving them in the summer. She supposed she had no problem with him, or hadn't in the past. He'd been friendly on the off-chance they'd talked, but aside from that, he'd been rather skilled at leaving her alone, which she appreciated more than he or any of the others could have known.

But he wasn't leaving her alone just now, probably for the sheer convenience of talking to her. As if sitting in silence hadn't been an option. "I'm usually here at this time. You're early."

"I need to brush up on my biology--and I figured you'd start showing up at a normal time now that Severin's gone."

"Well, I haven't, have I?" she snapped, no thought required or considered. Might not have been the way to discourage him. "Besides, where you're weak in biology, I'm weak in history."

"I don't see a history text."

"And I don't see a biology one."

"Because I just got here?" Was that meant to be spiteful? He didn't sound spiteful, though the words could have been so. He did sit down beside her, as someone who liked her would--or as someone who obsessively loathed her would. If he did mean to be spiteful, she'd leave.

"It's all right to miss him, you know. You seem like the type who'd rather not miss people, if you don't mind me saying."

What the hell did that mean? "You think people are supposed to go out of their way to miss each other?"

"No. You just... you seem like someone who'd find it easier to keep everyone else at arm's length. Not that I think there's anything inherently wrong with that, but... you know. Everyone deserves a few welcome exceptions."

No, not spiteful. Just a little presumptuous. "It's not as if I'll never see him again. We still do things outside of school."

"Severin does things outside of school?" His head turned, blinking the information in like most did when she said almost anything about Severin. Apparently the Severin she knew was hers and hers alone. "Huh. Maybe you don't want him to be your exception, but you'd definitely be his."

Eh? "Severin could find a much better exception than me."

"Are you sure? I mean, you wouldn't be my first pick--no offense--but there's nothing outright wrong with you."

Rina's gut tied itself in a knot and tugged. If he'd known a damn thing... then yes, that would have been spiteful. "There are a lot of things outright wrong with me."

"Maybe." But he shrugged, as if he didn't really care either way. Good. Rina preferred it if he didn't care. If he cared, then she would have had to care, and she didn't have much capacity for that. She'd already given the bulk of it to Severin. "But I think he sees those outright wrongs as something else entirely."


August 10, 2014

Naroni Will Return Soon

I'm going on vacation! And I can't decide whether it's good timing or terrible. Possibly good because quite a few people seem to be busy at the moment, and possibly bad for the exact same reason. But the fact remains that I'm going on vacation. I will be leaving this Tuesday.

Now, I know in the past that I've gone on vacations with a few photoshoots done in advance and I've managed to post despite being on vacation, but that's not going to happen this time because it's more of a productive vacation than a relaxing vacation and I'm just not going to have enough spare time. I will have some degree of access to wi-fi, but I'm not sure how much just yet. If the hotels I'm staying at have free wi-fi, then great... but if not, then I'm not paying for it and will instead have to duck into coffee shops from time to time. So I'll be able to read other people's updates and hopefully comment, but any long-form messaging/discussions will have to wait until I get back.

I return on August 28th. I don't know if I'll be able to get the next post up on that date, or if it will have to wait one or two days. Depends on the jetlag, plus a few other things I need to do fairly soon after I get back. But if nothing else, I should be able to post before September rolls around.

In the mean time, I've compiled a list of some other Medieval/fantasy Sims stories that you can check out while Naroni takes its hiatus. Not all of them update frequently (and alas, some may never update again), but there should be more than enough reading material here to last until I get back (and beyond). Note that these ones are specifically Medieval or fantasy; I do recommend everything on my blog roll, and there are plenty of stories and challenges out there just waiting to be discovered.

Boy of Summer by Andavri
Set in the same universe as The Chronicles of Albion, where the descendants of the Orkneys and the Gwynedds and the du Lacs live lives no less hectic than those of their ancestors in Albion-Renaissance Lothianshire. Darin, a teenage boy from the wrong side of the river, befriends Joshua, heir to River Sulis's sinister and amoral baron. Meanwhile, Josh's sister Elizabet and her friends Vivienne and Marianne each deal with the ills of their respective families. Appearing in Boys of Summer is none other than Ietrin as Masen Cox, a man of no principles and unsavory appetites who more than meets his match in his unbreakable and just wife, Annette.

Dragging Blue Lake by Penelope
Not Medieval, but fantasy--and beautiful! Seamless union of modern and historical elements in a future Pleasantview, set just after the death of Don Lothario, where the oppressive caste system is god. Well, the caste system and Kvornan Tricou--court artist, divine being, and brooding vampire sociopath. A daughter of Mortimer Goth is approached with an otherworldly task. A vineyard may contain the key to an immortal life. A young girl named Elise is more than she seems. And teenagers Laurie and Cully, in spite of everything crumbling around them, embark on a love story.

In Verona by Winter
Veronaville meets Shakespeare meets Pride and Prejudice! The duchy of Verona is ruled by four governing families, including the feuding Capulets and Montagues. Both families are in states of uncertainty as aunts and uncles hold the governing seats meant for younger niblings. Goneril's days are numbered as Juliette approaches the date of her inheritance--despite Juliette being the child of Goneril's younger sister. Mercutio yearns in frustration for his rightful seat as his uncle devotes himself more faithfully to the bottle. Juliette's marriage to Fitzwilliam Darcy outrages the Montagues, who wanted him for Beatrice--who, more than anything, just wants to find herself. Lady Catherine causes grief for everybody. Also, my Self-Sim plays an aspiring brothel owner.

Kingdom of Marlowe by EkhoGirl
An interesting take on society's potential for toxicity, demonstrated by a world where women are bought and sold like livestock. Having no legitimate sons, King Conri has implemented new laws that will give him a male heir and push his daughters aside. The new status quo brings out the worst in many, but some are brave enough to fight against it, and hope remains for future generations. Of particular note are the stories of the three princesses: Rei, who has survived being her father's daughter and has made a good life for herself and her family apart from him; Nyssa, the broken bird whose spirit died long ago and who lives more or less as a puppet; and Eirian, whose story is just beginning.

The Chronicles of Albion by Morgaine2005
Creations of the Lord Wright now in the care of the Demigoddess, the citizens of Albion live under the rule of the good King Arthur, but even the best of kings cannot guarantee that all is right in any kingdom. Arthur's half-sister Morgause lurks about in her vapid and self-absorbed existence, outwardly shallow but secretly more bark than bite, and her daughter Garnet suffers under her shadow. Morgause's son, Mordred, enters an arranged marriage with the studious Lady Dindrane while keeping his lowborn mistress Rosette on the side and in the dark, loving only one woman but respecting neither. Leona, the assertive and adventurous daughter of Sir Lancelot and Lady Guinevere, suffers through an unsatisfactory betrothal to the boorish Elyan, son of the even less bearable Sir Bors. Later on, chaos lurks as a man past the point of sanity plots revenge on a global scale for slights against his family. The Crown Princess, her self-esteem shattered by her misogynistic father, must overcome her upbringing and realize that she is more than a son-making machine. A young noblewoman is alerted to a devastating complication and must make for herself a new future in spite of the wishes and thoughts of others, all while the mysterious Fae watch from near and far at once.

The Kingdom of Lothere by Lothere
I almost hesitate to post this one, because A) it's officially been discontinued, though some storylines were wrapped up on the author's blog and B) it is just so damn mind-blowingly awesome that it's entirely possible no Sims 2 story will ever be good enough again after reading it. It's a new story bracket (I tried to find the Corner Gas clip. YouTube did not have the Corner Gas clip). So, read at your own risk, but know that it may never be enough. One of the original RKC stories, inspiration to both Naroni and Mhalwae and probably a hell of a lot more, and possibly the longest Sims story in existence (longer than War and Peace). Lothere is a mysterious, beautiful, arguably sinister valley in the north of England. Sigefrith, a lord of Danish descent and supporter of King Harold, claims the valley for his own as he dodges the clutches of William the Conqueror. He titles allies Alred and Cenwulf, and builds his kingdom with Alred's money and pioneering peasantfolk (the most notable of which is Egelric Wodehead, who could have a book series of his own) and his own wit and charisma. However, it is not long before other, more ancient beings make it known that the newcomers are not the only inhabitants of Lothere...

The Kingdom of Mhalwae by Verity
Hasn't been updated in a while, but I know the author travels quite a bit and is generally busy. In any case, I've yet to see an official cancellation notice, so here's hoping it returns at some point. After a ferocious assault that shatters Branwhuld's ruling class and devastates the populace, the youngest and only surviving prince, Eallair, flees to the island of Mhalwae with his savvy wife Madlenka, a number of his noble cousins, and a handful of escaping commoners. There, they must form a new kingdom, but little do they suspect the nature of the island and the forces that dwell there--not all of them benevolent. And as it turns out, they only know part of the story of the fate of the continent they left behind...

WITCH by Katdelval
Also hasn't been updated in a while, due to the stress and complications of real life. But again, I've yet to see any official cancellation, so like with all of the above, I'm hoping to see this at the top of my blog roll again eventually. Corynne is a witch and potion-maker who, unbeknownst to her, possesses a dangerous and uncontrollable power. She falls in love with Lothar, the Crown Prince of Lyvenia, a taboo on the parts of both of their people. Under the iron fist of Galaea, the Sisterhood of Witches fights to keep Corynne and Lothar apart, in service of Galaea's agenda and that of her cruel daughter, Ivaine. But the future Galaea champions may not be the true destiny of the Sisterhood--and if a pawn crosses the board intact, she may become a Queen.

So, here's hoping that you'll enjoy the above stories as much as I do, and know that Naroni will be back soon, hopefully before the end of the month. Don't worry if I take a while to respond to anything while I'm away, as it will most likely be an access issue and not anything more serious.

Also--a little ways away, but Naroni is getting fairly close to the 1000 post mark, and I'm not sure what sort of extras I should post to celebrate, so if anyone has any ideas, feel free to send me a message at the Keep (Van), on Tumblr, or at my Sims email:

Thanks, everyone, and enjoy the rest of your summer!

In Which Searle Is Gnawed

December 9, 1186

"It's kind of nice--you turning up unexpected." Nice... but out of the ordinary. Sparron was quite possibly the least spontaneous person Searle knew, and he'd long ago figured something a change there would require something monumental. So, much as he appreciated the visit, the question of just what monumental event had occurred gnawed at the back of his brain like a dog with a bone.

"Camaline said something that made me want to see you."

That seemed a bit weak. "That's all?"

"All that matters."

All that I'll say, Searle translated in his head. Damn it, Sparron.

"Just sit with me, all right?"

Searle put down the poker and made for the couch. Sparron may have needed a 'why', but not all people did. Searle himself didn't, not usually--unless it was where Sparron was concerned. But sometimes, Sparron needed Searle to just go along with it, and Searle guessed it was the least he could do. "I can't object to that."

"I hope tonight wasn't inconvenient."

Why would it have been inconvenient? "It isn't. The kids are in bed, and Lettie doesn't mind."

"If only everyone was like Lettie." Sparron's right hand reached across his lap and took Searle's. His palm was rough and raw from too many white knuckle nights of mental assaults, but Searle thought it fine as silk. When he was an old man, he'd take to grasping at any new material he came across, in continued vain attempts to recapture the feel of Sparron's touch.

He'd never managed to picture Sparron as an old man.

"Well... not quite like her. But I know what you mean." He thought he did, anyway. If there were lives after this one, he hoped Lettie found a better lover than him in the next. Someone who loved her properly, like Searle had always loved somebody else. "What did Camaline say to you?"

Sparron shrugged. "It's not important."

It was. But Searle let it go. "Well, I'm glad you're here."

Sparron's hand left his and instead flew to his side, guiding Searle's legs atop his own. Searle's head spun as he was dipped to the arm of the couch. Spun, but not alarmed.

"I'm glad I'm here too."

Spun, but still gnawed.



August 8, 2014

In Which Octavius Is Concerned Regardless

December 9, 1186

"Sparron?" Octavius shut the door behind him just as his son turned around. Florian had come up to announce that he was leaving for the night, and he said he'd past Sparron on the way, coat in hand. Sure enough, his son and heir was prepared to depart. "A little late for going out, don't you think?"

"Uh... yes, I guess so." Sparron shrugged. He intended to go out anyway--and, him being an adult, there was little Octavius could do to stop him. All the same... "I just got the urge to go for a ride. It's been a while since I had a nice long one.

"And it's not too cold out tonight, nor is it dark yet. And I've been fine the past few weeks."

"I suppose." And if the patterns held true, then nothing would hit tonight. Regardless, it was a concern. It would always be a concern. "But what if you get... caught out after dark?"

"I can stop at an inn, or someone's castle. If the need arises, I can send someone with a message."

"Don't stop at an inn. Stop at a castle with a reliable steward." Who knew if just any old slob at an inn would be trustworthy. Odd of Sparron not to have considered that. "But if possible, do try to get home before I turn in."

"I can't guarantee that."

"Try anyway."

Sparron nodded--but one hand retreated behind his back, as some hands did with crossed fingers. "I'll try."


August 5, 2014

In Which Camaline Defines the Inappropriate

December 9, 1186

The realization that she wanted a more monogamous relationship may have constituted personal growth, but the lack of casual sex left Camaline's bed cold and large and lonely. Her maid was a wild one who'd try anything once and would probably go to bed with her if she'd asked, but the idea felt perilously close to coercion. She had half a mind to take Sparron to bed. A woman may have preferred apples, but if she was starving, why turn down a perfectly good potato?

But who knew if Sparron would take pity on her, now that he finally seemed to be in a decent place with Searle.

And who knew if even someone she found attractive would do, now that she had her eye on someone. Of course, that someone had her own someone. And stupid as it may have been, Camaline cared about that first someone too much to risk jeopardizing things between her and that second someone, for all she doubted that second someone would mind if his wife had a fling with a woman. Perhaps that was all the more reason to keep away. She doubted she'd be much in the mood if Jadin of Veldora insisted on watching.

"Are you all right?"

Sparron. She hadn't even heard him come in. "As all right as I ever am, I suppose."

"I noticed that Xeta just left."

"Minding your own business isn't your strong suit, is it?" It was. But their relationship worked best without secrets. "She's wondering if she might chance trying for another baby. Her youngest will be five in April, after all. She misses having a little one in her arms."

"I don't think Jadin will object. He told me a while back that he wouldn't mind a red-haired baby girl to name for his mother." He sat down on the empty side of the bed and slung his legs atop it. She supposed she was grateful for the company. "That discussion couldn't have made you happy, though."

"No, but it's a fitting punishment for lusting after my married friend." She sighed. She couldn't imagine cutting Xeta out entirely--Xeta was too good a friend to dismiss merely for not being more--but it grew more difficult by the day, seeing her at work, the way she somehow gave their formless-by-design school robes a tantalizing curve, that charming smile and its slight overbite. A visible pregnancy might dispel that. Though, Camaline had never found pregnant women particularly repulsive. In fact, rather the opposite. "Is there something wrong with me? Something in my brain that keeps from falling for anyone even remotely appropriate?"

He snorted. "If either of us could fall for anyone appropriate, we'd only have eyes for each other."

"I suppose so. Anyone who isn't the person your parents have been telling you you'd marry for as long as you can remember is by default inappropriate. And all things considered, if I had to marry a man, best it was you."

"The sentiment is mutual."

"But all the same, I do envy you." In so much as she envied anyone. She ran her hand down the velvet of her gown, though she was certain Xeta's flesh would be softer. "At least you have Searle."

Sparron leaned back, the side of his head grazing the carvings on the headboard. "I guess I do."


August 3, 2014

In Which Prior Fakes a Misunderstanding

November 28, 1186

"Did you have fun with Alina and her siblings?"

Prior nodded. He was old enough now that his parents let him go to friends' houses after school as long as he sent word home with one of his uncles or his cousin, but for friends outside of the shire, he still had to be accompanied on the walk home. Usually, his friends' parents would send a guard or the steward with them, or the father would take him if the family didn't have guards and stewards.

With Alina, though, her mother liked to walk him home herself--and if possible, she liked to bring Alina along too. Sometimes Arkon or Severin would tag along of their own accord, but she only ever asked Alina. Doubly strangely, it was only when Prior had been at Alina's that his father met them at the gate instead of inside. Sure, Prior's father and Alina's mother were friends, but Prior's father was friends with Wolf's father too--and he didn't think his father disliked any of his other friends' parents, and Alina said her mother didn't make a point to walk anyone else home. Plus Prior's mother was also friends with Alina's mother, and she didn't make a point to come down to meet her.

But the couple times he'd asked about it, he hadn't received more than a shrug, and Alina had had no more success with her mother. Florian thought that Prior's father and Alina's mother were having an affair, but Prior couldn't see it--and didn't want to, even though his own parents were more like friends than anything else and he didn't think his mother would mind much. So he'd go with the other question that tugged at his mind every time he played with Alina and her brothers. "Why don't I have siblings?"

His father stopped just short of the chapel door. For a second, Prior feared he'd 'blanked' like he did sometimes when he was sick--but he just sighed. "Some people have an easier time having children than others."

"They do?" He knew desire differed, but he'd figured ability to be more or less around the same level. "Why?"

"Many possible reasons. But it's no measure of anyone's worth, whether they have a new baby each year or die without a single one. And your mother and I love you as much as we'd love ten other children anyway."

"I know." But he wasn't sure what to do with the new knowledge. What if he and Neva couldn't have children when they grew up? He would be baron after his father and grandfather; he was supposed to have at least one kid. "Do those reasons run in families?"

"Some, probably. But you're certainly not at risk for your mother's reasons, and I don't think you are for mine either."

Still--his father frowned. "At least, I hope you're not."

"What do you mean?"

"My illness." That had something to do with it? But his grandfather said it was an illness of the mind, not... other parts. "My mother had it. Her mother too. Much as I wanted and needed you, I... I feared it might be cruel, putting a child in the world just to have him suffer that. That's partly why your mother and I were married so long before we had you. I hope that didn't sound harsh; I don't expect you to understand, and I hope you never will."

"No. I think I see what you mean." But he didn't want to think about it, and his father probably didn't either. Maybe honesty hadn't been the best idea. He could fake a misunderstanding, maybe. "Aunt Lettie said she didn't want to have kids because she was afraid they'd all get her freckles."

Sure enough--a laugh. Innocent enough. Happy enough. "And they all did. But those kids do wear their freckles well."

"Do I wear mine well?" Prior's father didn't have a freckle on him, so he figured he got his from his mother. But his mother didn't have as many as he did.

"Very well." His father ruffled his hair, then kissed him on the forehead. "But I hope your freckles are the most worrisome of your ailments."


August 2, 2014

In Which Mona Is Again

November 17, 1186

She knew she ought to have been on the floor playing with her daughter instead of sitting to the side merely watching, but it was all Mona could do to keep breathing. If the projections based on villagers' words were correct, then her mother would arrive today. Her mother. Her queenly, vapid, status-driven mother.

Her mother who, until today, had believed Mona to be Queen of Carvallon.

Maybe she'd changed. Ietrin had thrown her out when he'd become king, and she'd relocated to Dovia. She had a nice house, but it was in fact a house, and not a castle--and for the time being, it was her own to run. She'd learned to be more practical, to do away with her gaudy statues and hundreds of dresses in favor of basic necessities. And--from what Mona could gleam from Searle's letters, Searle of all people--she even gardened! And enjoyed it!

Surely, she knew now that there were more important things than titles?

That had to have been too much to hope for.

"Mama?" Lara dropped her doll and looked up at her, forest green eyes focused and concerned. "You all right?"

"I'm fine, sweetie." God, lying to her daughter left a bitter taste in her mouth. "Just keep playing."



Mona's spine snapped on reflex to forced princess posture. "Mother?"

Her mother shut the door behind her, time slowing as it met the frame. Each second stretched tenfold, Mona stood, gracefully as she could muster, half as gracefully as her sister Riona on her worst of days, and approached with leaden feet. She was five again, trailing in mud on the hem of her dress. She was ten, presenting her inadequate samplers, running in late for dress fittings. She was thirteen, shaking in shock as the blood kept spilling from her legs, her mother's voice droning on about how she was a woman now and that she would tolerate no more childish behavior.

She was fourteen and a half, her mother kissing her goodbye the evening of her departure.

And now here she was, twenty-two, having let her mother down. "Mama--"


Arms? Around her? That couldn't have been right.

"It's all right, baby. It's all right."