Aouregan put on her finest dress, one she almost never wears, glad that it hides her growing belly well. No one could tell she was pregnant just by looking at her.
"I don't like sending you into their lair alone," Evenfall says. Since her wedding night, the blue fairy has been something of a recent visitor, and Aouregan can't help but wonder if, like Moth, she'd been assigned to watch over her.
"I don't like it either," Aouregan admits, "But my brother will be with me." She and Kaourantin have had their differences, but they are family. And since he has become engaged to Annalise Landgraab, soon their enemies would be family as well. Aouregan can't find it in her to be happy about that, nor will she ever bend knee to their Watcher, but for his sake she will pay them the visit they requested in their castle.
"I'd feel better if I could go with you," Evenfall says.
"Visiing the castle with a fairy at my side would cause a panic. And even if you were to wear mortal disguise, they know I have no servants, and the Landgraabs wouldn't permit me to include a friend," Aouregan says.
"I willgo," Moth says, smiling proudly, "Ican be abutterfly."
"That would be very helpful," Evenfall says, the doubt evident in her voice. She reminds herself that while Moth spends most of him time fluttering about flowers, concerning himself primarily with simple pleasures, he is fae, and a very ancient one at that, and behind his childish facade hides great power.
If only Farrell were here, Aouregan thinks, biting her lip. It's been longer than he said it would be,and if he doesn't come soon, he will miss the birth of their child.
By the time Kaourantin arrives to escort her to the castle, Evenfall has disappeared and Moth has taken his insect form.
"I am pleased that you have accepted my Lady's invitation," he says.
"How can you marry the woman who killed our parents?" Aouregan asks, taking her last opportunity to dissuade him from this path.
"Annalise was but a child then," Kaourantin says, "As was the Lord Malcolm. It was their father who lead that battle. Annalise and her brother are trying to mend the wounds left by the previous generation. Let go of the past, sister, and embrace our future. When I'm married to my lady, I'll be able to help you, to get you away from this exile, buy you a house in the village, and see you respected by all."
"I am not an exile," Aouregan says, "I am here by my own choice."
"As you will," Kaourantin says with a smile, "Let us depart; my Lady waits for us."
Moth hides in the folds of her skirt, unseen by her brother.
Inside the castle, the siblings are brought before the Lord Malcolm and his sister, seated on their thrones. At the Lord's side stand his guard, some say his assassin, a woman whose name is not known outside the castle, who is never seen anywhere but by the side of her master.
The Landgraabs are beautiful to look on, Aouregan has no doubts as to why her brother is so smitten by the Lady Annalise, but they are by reputation cold and cruel, and she can only hope for Kaourantin's sake that the reality is warmer than the popular perception.
The Landgraabs rise to close the distance between them, and their smiles do warm the room. They are human, and not monsters, Aouregan reminds herself, trying to see them as her brother does. Perhaps he is right, perhaps it is time to make peace and let the old wounds close.
Still, as she watches her brother take Annalise's hand, Aouregan can't help but wonder what this fine lady sees in the humble priest. Could it truly be love, or does she have some other purpose?
Annalise leads her fiance off to find some privacy, and before the couple is even out of the room, Malcolm's assassin springs into action.
Aouregan tries to struggle, to call out to her brother, but the assassin's hand is clasped tight to her mouth. In her hand is a wad of damp fabric, soaked in something Aouregan cannot identify, but the odor makes her dizzy, unable to think
As she falls to the ground, the last thing she feels is Lord Malcolm's arms catching her, and the last words she hears are, "Quick, Lunaria, catch the fairy before it gets away."
"Pretty fairy," the assassin says with a cruel smile as she wraps her fingers around Moth, "Are you having trouble with your magic?"
Aouregan's house is empty when Farrell arrives. It's not like her to be out of the house after nightfall, but Farrell tells himself there could have been an emergency that called her away, like the night Treveur Brannon came begging for her help. That hope keeps him calm in the face of his worst fear, that MorcuCorp had somehow gotten to her before he did.
He's not alone long; Ametair and the fairy Evenfall come in shortly after his own arrival.
"I had begun to fear you'd abandoned her," Evenfall chides him as soon she enters.
"But, I only left this morning," Farrell says. He's sure he set his time machine to send him to the evening of the same day he'd left.
"It's been longer than that," Ametair growls.
"Long enough that she's begun to worry that you wouldn't be in time to see your child born," Evenfall says, her voice pointed with accusation.
The calendar shift, Farrell thinks, was it this year? He'd only just been reading about it in his research of her brother Kaourantin. When they readjusted the calendar to more accurately reflect the true length of a year, several days were lost. But for that to have affected his own time travel, the shift would have had to have happened on the day he left. Could that be a coincidence? Not likely, Farrell thinks, frowning as he realizes that her brother has either betrayed Aouregan or is being used by MorcuCorp to get to her. "Where is she?" he demands, looking from the fairy to the werewolf.
"She went with her brother to visit the Landgraabs in their castle," Evenfall tells him, "Moth went with her, hidden in her skirts. We have seen neither of them for days."
"I was going to go in myself, tear them all apart, to find Moth and the girl," Ametair says, "But I couldn't get as far as the gate. Some magic surrounds the walls, it forced me out of my wolfen form, and made me...weak," he admits reluctantly.
"I have felt the weakening magic myself, " Evenfall says, "I tried to fly in from above, but there is an aura around the castle, if I get too close, I fall to the ground, unable to fly. And my magic is lost, I cannot cast spells. None of our kind can get in. And poor Moth, trapped inside, unable to use his magic..."
"We were waiting for you," Ametair continues, "You are mortal, you have no magic to lose."
Only my wits, Farrell thinks, forcing himself to hold panic at bay, He can only help Aouregan if he keeps his wits about him, think clearly and plans well.
"I did what I could for her, from a distance," Evenfall says, catching Farrell's attention before he gets lost in his planning, "I put a spell on her, to protect her from harm. I put her in a charmed sleep. She cannot be wakened, and while she sleeps, she cannot be harmed in any way."
"Some form of stasis?" Farrell asks.
Evenfall's brow wrinkles, "I suppose that word would fit. She sleeps, and does not age. Whatever harm the Landgraab's mean to do to her, the sleep will prevent it. She can only be awakened by true love's kiss."
"True love's kiss? How do you measure something like that?" Farrell asks.
"Measure?" Evenfall asks, puzzled, "The spell is simple, and can only be broken if one who loves her truly kisses her. You do love her, Farrell?"
"Yes," he answers firmly. But how would this spell, this stasis, recognize that and react to it just from one kiss? Farrell shakes his head, giving up on trying to apply logic to magic. The important thing is infiltrating the castle and finding Aouregan; he'll worry about the magic stasis spell once he's found her. Suddenly, he remembers the holes in the walls of the church the Landgraabs hadbuilt. He had wondered when he saw them if they had hidden triggers inside them that would unlock hidden doors. Could they have built a secret entrance to their castle from their church? Trying that would be less suicidal than attempting to take the front gate, guarded by armored knights.
Before setting off, Farrell changes into medieval clothing. Though it's unlikely they will run into any villagers so late at night, the disguise will be useful on the chance that they do. And he rummages through Aouregan's elixirs, tinctures and raw ingredients, happy to find that, like many alchemists, she experiments with sulfur and saltpeter. He gathers up whatever he thinks might prove useful, and he and Ametair hurry off to the church.
Farrell closes his eyes as he thrusts him arm into the hole, feeling around for some kind of lever...his hand finds the hidden trigger, and pulls.
"Something outside," Ametair says, his keen wolfen hearing picking up the slightest sound, "A cracking, of stone pushed against stone."
Out in the churchyard, they the sealed front of the mausoleum has a new crack. With a little pushing, the door gives. Inside they find no urns, just a staircase deep into the ground.
The long passage leads them down into a dungeon which Farrell assumes is directly beneath the castle itself. Ahead, they hear the faint tinkling sound of a fairy's wings.
They find Moth sitting dejected on the floor of his cell.
"These bars are hardly medieval," Farrell notes, not able to identify the shiny alloy, obviously not the simple iron or steel commonly smelted in this era. Not to mention the odd panels against the dingeon's walls. While Farrell's own time travel may have caused ripples in the time stream, what MorcuCorp is doing here could cause a tsunami.
Moth rises from the floor. "Theytook Aouregan," he says,"Shewas inthe cell next to me. Thenthey tookher away. Thisplace is bad. Nomagic."
Farrell remembers coming across some conspiracy theories about MorcuCorp when he started researching them after his first meeting with his mother, that they had held fairies prisoner, to conduct secret experiments. It was said thay had developed some kind of alloy that inhibited a fairy's magical powers. At the time, Farrell had thought it was one of the craziest, least believable conspiracy theories about MorcuCorp, but now...well, Farrell has seen too many unbelievable things to discount anything, and something here is inhibiting Moth's abilities.
The cell has no door, Farrell notices. "Get under the bed," he advises, "I'm going to blow this thing open." When Moth is safely tucked under the bed, Farrell places the sulfur and saltpeter he took from Aouregan's stash by the cell's bars.
It's a much cruder explosive than he's used to working with, but it does the job.
Inside the cell, Farrell inspects the strange panels on the wall, the thin metal pressed against the medieval stone walls. It hums faintly, radiates a kind of energy, something that makes him feel tired, sapped. If this alloy inhibits fairy magic, perhaps that small part of him that is fae also reacts to it as well.
Farrell shakes his head, saving these thoughts for another time. "We must find Aouregan," he says grimly.
All the other cells in the dungeon are empty, and at the far end of it they find a set of stairs leading up to thenext level
At the top of the stairs they find an office, its walls adorned with strange symbolic images, and furnsied with an ornate desk and chair, and little else.
"It's a dragon's tooth," Ametair growls, identifying the relic laid out on the desk.
"Dragon, or dinosaur?" Farrell wonders out loud.
"I know a dragon's tooth when I see one," Ametair growls, "These mortals have taken too many of our kind."
Standing in the presence of a werewolf and a fairy, Farrell can only accept the reality of dragons as well. "Are dragons common in this time?" he asks.
"Theyare hunted," Moth says in a whisper.
"Aouregan has been here," Ametair says, "Her smell lingers, here. But, it doesn't continue up the next stairs."
Farrell turns to the bookcase against the wall of the office, the only room on this floor. The hidden passage behind a bookcase it such a cliche, it even has its own page on the TV tropes wiki, but Farrell is willing to try anything to find Aouregan, even the stupidly obvious. He scans the titles of the books, all of them appropriate to the time, until he finds a copy of Wane McMottder's Traps and Triggers, a modern title, a guide for tomb raiders which Farrell read before his trip to France. He gives an experimental push on the book's spine.
With a click, half of the bookcase splits away to reveal the hidden room behind it. Farrell gasps, not surprised by the secret door, but by what is in the next room, the accoutrements of modern medicine in a medieval dungeon.
"It's her blood," Ametair says, his voice both gentle and growling at the same time.
Anger grips him, rage and fear like he's never experienced before. What did they do to her here? And where did they take her from here?
"It's not fresh," Ametair adds, "It's possible that this is the blood of childbirth, they've held her here long enough for that. She lives, Farrell, Evenfall would have known if she didn't; her spell wouldn't have worked if she were not still alive."
"I'm supposed to believe that?" Farrel groans, his voice breaking over his sorrow, "That magic is keeping her alive and safe somewhere? That I'll be able to find her and wake her with a kiss?"
"What other choice do you have?" Ametair asks.
Having faith in magic is a hard sell for Farrell, but Ametair is right, he has no other choice. Beside the bloody hospital table stands a time machine, just like his own.
"They must have taken her to the future," he decides, "Her and our children." The children that his mother rescued and brought to him. He meant to get here before they were born, to stop MorcuCorp from getting their hands on them, but they were one step ahead of him, they always have been.
"She's not here. I have to go back to my time to continue this search, and protect our children," Farrell says, setting the time machine to take him back, careful to choose a moment only minutes after he left, hoping that MorcuCorp won't have the time to snatch the twins away while he's here.
I meant to have Evenfall ready to share along with this update, but I forgot to package her up. I'll do that soon.
I'm usually pretty vague about the length of Sim pregnancy in my legacies, sometimes writing it as though it takes more than the thee days of an actual Sim pregnancy, without actually defining it as a 9 month human pregnancy. This sequence plays out as though a sim pregnancy is really just a matter of days, for Farrell to be able to cut it so close. With Seasons coming out, pretending a pregnancy takes much longer than that is going to be more difficult anyway, as it will all occur in the same season.
The TSM conversion dresses really do hide pregnancies; Aouregan was very far into term when I shot the throne room scene, but the dress doesn't show it at all. I guess that though it's available as maternity wear, it doesn't have a real pregnant morph or something.