Saturday, June 22, 2013

Chapter 56: Relics of the Past

Delaney and Jillyan camped out together on their first night in Shang Simla. As they roast some breakfast over their campfire the next morning they discuss their plans for the day.

"I'm meeting with Liang Yat Sen at the martial arts academy," Delaney tells her daughter, "You can come along if you're  really serious about wanting to learn Sim Fu."

They arrive at the academy early, giving Delaney time to give Jilly some pointers on using the training dummy.

Jilly soon has the basics down and has earned her first belt.

Liang finally arrives and Delaney leaves Jilly to train on her own while she goes inside the academy building to speak with him. 

He greets her with a formal bow, "Welcome to our village, dragon's daughter. Our mutual friend Rory has told me you've been training on your own. Would you care to spar with me?"

Rory had told her she would be tested before he'd be accepted into the community of dragon descendants who lived here, so she came prepared. Confident in her abilities, she believed her superior level skill would give her an easy win, but, despite only wearing a green bely, Liang moved faster than she could imagine, blocking each of her hits and managing to get past her own blocks, and bested her in two out of three rounds.

"You did better than I expected," he says with a smile after the final bow.

Delaney frowns, "I expected to do much better."

"Your skill surpasses ordinary humans," Liang says, "But you and I are both not just human, after all. We are descended from dragons. While you have only recently learned of your heritage and are learning to tap into your power, I have been raised since birth in a community that honors our ancestry with vigorous training."

Liang invited Delaney and Jillyan to spend the night in the Yat Sen's guest room. After a family dinner, Liang takes Delaney aside for a private conversation.

"We are alike, in that we are the descendants of dragons who mated with mortals. But we are also different. My dragon ancestor is a mighty Shenlong, a spirit dragon who gives us the rains that sustain our village. His mortal descendants, my family, live in service to him so that he might continue to bless us with good weather and fertile fields. I understand that your kind have no such relationship with your ancestors."

"I couldn't even tell you tell the name of the dragon in my ancestry," Delaney says with a wry smile, refraining from adding that she still has a hard time even accepting Rory's story as actual fact, "I didn't even know about any of this until Rory told me about it."

Liang proudly shows Delaney the history of his family, their long geneaology stretching back into a distant past, the stories all of his ancestors and extended family who served the dragon who protect has village.

"I showed all this to Rory, too," Liang finishes,  "And I told him how he might speak with Shenlong. I could do the same for you, if you wish to meet the dragon."

Shit is getting real, Delaney thinks. At least, Liang seems very serious about all this. "I guess that's what I came for," Delaney answers hesitantly, finding that she doesn't really know why she took this trip, and just wishing she was back home with Jack, living some kind of normal life. At least, normal by the standards she and Jack were used to.

Sensing her hesitation, Liang frowns slightly and says, "The Shenlong will see into your soul and the reflection his mirror shows might surprise you. You should be sure you are ready to see it."

"I am sure," Delaney says with more confidence this time, an instinctive response to the challenge Liang presented. She didn't come all this way just to back out now.

After Liang gives her careful instructions about how to meet Shenlong, Delaney joins Jilly, already asleep, in the guest room. So far, she's told her daughter nothing of this dragon business, not sure how to go about it. It would only be right for her to know, but until she can get a better grasp on what it all means, there's not much Delaney ca say that would make any sense.

At dawn, Jilly's mother leaves her to her own devices while she goes on some sort for pilgrimage, something to do with the Academy as far as she can tell. Jilly happily takes the opportunity to do some excavating in the hills, something she's sure her mother would have no patience to join her in, carefully digging, searching for interesting bits of history, relics of the past.

Wandering the outskirts of the village, Jilly also finds bits of jade and lapis lazuli to take home with her. While she out in the hills, she also takes several photographs of the beautiful scenery.

As instructed, Delaney makes the long climb to the highest spot in the village, on the mountain peak above the Temple of Heaven. Liang told he she would find a platform there, a place to practice her skill in martial arts. She must do this until she is too fatigued to continue.

When she became too fatigued to practice any further, she must hike down to the place the locals call the Pearl of the Dragon, the place where Liang told her the Shenlong first appeared to the mortal who he'd made his wife, and who was Liang's distant ancestor, the foundress of this village.

The people had erected a fountain there in honor of Shenlong, and Delaney must sit in meditation in front of it, until Shenlong would deign to speak to her.

"He will not speak to just anyone," Liang had explained, "But you bear the blood of dragons, even if it is not of his family, Shenlong will wish to speak to you."

In truth, Delaney didn't hold much faith in this story, or believe she was actually going to meet a dragon. But she still welcomed the opportunity for some peaceful meditation. As skilled as she had become in martial arts, she had yet to master the art of stilling her mind. Up here, far from the flow of the village, there were no distractions to vie for her attention, and after some hours of meditation, Delaney suddenly felt herself being lifted from the ground.

She opened her eyes in surprise, and saw that the color of the stone fountain had changed to a blue, watery hue.

"No distractions," she said to herself, and closed her eyes, refusing to think about what was happening to her body, to the stone.

She couldn't say how long she sat there, because time had ceased to exist.

He promised to protect her, always. Her father's embrace had made her feel safe, even when imaginary monsters threatened.

In his eyes, Jack was a monster that she needed to be protected from. In his eyes, he'd failed her when she, a pregnant teenager, ran off with the father of her child.

"I only wanted to protect you," he had said, when he tried to kick Jack out out of her life, out of their son's life. But the innocence he'd been trying to protect was long gone, and he'd been blind to the real monster, the one inside herself. No matter what she did, what trouble she got into, her father never saw it, shielding his eyes from the truth even as he'd cover for her, using his money and influence to spare her from the school's disciplinary actions. He had protected her, not from monsters, but from the consequences of her own actions.

"Because I love you and would do anything to protect you," Jack had said, when he let himself get expelled for her crime. 

"Everything will be okay, as long as we're together," he'd promised when she told him she was pregnant.

After he got out of jail, all he wanted was to get himself out of the criminal life, and take care of his family. But she craved the excitement, and she held him there, where he didn't want to be.

He would do anything for her, and she knew it, used it to her advantage.

"I should have protected you," she says out loud, "I was the strong one, I was the leader. And I made such a mess of your life."

She realizes as she opens her eyes that she's sitting on the ground, not floating above it, and the fountain is the same color it was when she arrived. The sun has moved along in the sky, but the world itself is still the same as it ever was, and yet somehow, everything seems different.

Delaney walks out to the old monastery where she was to meet up with Jilly in the evening to spend the night. Still in a daze, she wonders, did she truly meet Shenlong on the mountain? Or was it all only in her mind?

Jilly, who'd arrived earlier and was waiting for her, excitedly tells her about her finds, digging in the old ruins in the hills. "I showed some vases  found to the relics merchant in the village, and he said my estimates for their age and value were right on. I think I might want to study art, at university," she concludes, breathless after her long story about her day.

"I talked to Liang, too," she continues on after a nod and smile of encouragement from her slightly overwhelmed mother, "He says I can enter the Academy officially and take lessons. While we're here at least. Then maybe I can come back and compete in the tournament when I'm good enough."

Delaney chuckles, "You want to be an art historian and a martial artist, too?"

"Sure, why not?" Jilly answers, "I can be more than one thing, can't I?"

"You can be anything you want to be," Delaney answers, proud of her daughter, and more than a little amazed that she and Jack had produced this brilliant, beautiful young woman together, "And you'll be awesome at anything you choose to do."

Despite the strong hail the next morning, Liang insisted Jilly take her first lesson with him outdoors.

"You must be able to ignore everything but your opponent, even the weather," Liang instructs her.

Delaney spends her day relaxing in the spa with some of the locals.

For her second day of instruction, Liang sends Jillyan to the Scholar' garden to meditate.

At sunset, she goes back to the Academy to meet with Li Yuan, who gives her her assignment for the next day.

He told her she'd need to retrieve some documents for study from a chamber beneath the old monastery. What Li didn't tell her was that she'd literally have to go through fire to get to them. With some experimenting Jilly discovers the secret to the puzzle, and finds the triggers to disarm the fire traps in the first passage easily enough.

Delaney spends her day in the spa again.

The next passage has no convenient triggers to disarm the blazing traps.

Jillyan is undaunted, and times her jumps to avoid the flames.

Obstacles are only difficult if you let them get in your way, and Jilly has no intention of failing this test. She finds the documents she was instructed to retrieve, and brings them up to the Academy for study.

The manuscript she was sent to find detailed the history of the monastic order founded, so their legends said, by the son of a dragon by a mortal woman. Jilly spends her evening, their last in Shang Simla, reading these tales, and the images follow her into her dreams.

Bake in Drake's Hollow, Delaney peruses the collection of gems Jillyan has displayed in her bedroom. The moonstone was a birthday gift from Shadow, and the rest were found in China.

Jilly's bedroom has become almost a museum exhibit, showcasing the collection of vases she brought home, as well as her photographs and other relics.

Jillyan happily distributes some of the excess bounty she brought home to her various family members. To Shadow and Iola she gives books she she picked up in the village bookstore, to Aouregan she gives some unidentified seeds she picked up, as well as a fossilized apple. Her cousins all get pieces from her relics collection. To Farrell she gives samples of metal she picked up, mercury and platinum.

Jilly doesn't know what her great-uncle is doing up in the attic, but he's always looking for metal samples to analyze.

Pleased with her find, Farrell extracts a sample to experiment with.

Delaney had cut off most ties with her father after he moved out and married Claire. That stunt he pulled, getting Jack arrested, had pretty much killed their father-daughter bond. Whatever it was that she experienced in China, Delaney hates to call it a vision, because that's so Shadow and definitely not her, it left her with a desire to reconnect with Elliot, and put all the animosity behind them.

"I just wanted to tell you, when Jack gets backs from his latest deployment, we're going to get married," she tells him as soon as he lets her in the door. Delaney doesn't mean to be confrontational, but, as much as she longs for reunion, it will only happen if he can accept her choices.

"Congratulations, Laney," Elliot says, "I'm happy for you."

"Really?" Delaney asks, dropping the defensive stance she'd unconsciously been building up as she prepared for argument with him.

Eliot gestures for his daughter to take a seat beside him. "Really," he answers once they are both seated,  "He was never my first choice for you," he continues, smiling at the understatement, "Maybe not even my last choice. But he was your choice, and you've had two children with him. He didn't turn out half as bad as I expected. It's about time you finally settled down."

"Dad, Jack is a much better man than you give him credit for," Delaney says, "All you ever saw was a juvenile delinquent. But even then, he wasn't what you thought. He acted out a bit, yeah, but when you blamed him for the stuff I wasn't him. It was me. I'm the one that stole those test papers. He took the blame to cover for me, and he got expelled for it. For me," Delaney sighs in relief at finally making her confession, even though, now, it hardly matters anymore.

"I...don't remember test papers being stolen," Elliot admits. 

All the fire of what she was burning to say to him went out as Delaney realizes that none of it matters anymore, the past is water under the bridge, gone.

"I love you, Daddy," she whispers as she hugs him goodbye, "I hope you'll come to my wedding."

"Of course I will, sweetheart," Elliot promises, " I wouldn't miss it for anything."

Delaney is waylaid by her half-sister Danica before she can get to the door.

Elliot's daughters forget what they were tking abut as their father begins to glow.

"What's--what's happening?" Danica whispers.

Delaney knows, but she doesn't have to answer.

After grieving with her sisters and step=mother, Delaney reluctantly gets on her bike, knowing she's going to have to be the one that brings this sad news to her uncle Farrell, and to her sister Cassidy.


  1. Aww, poor Elliot. I'm going to be very sad when Farrell goes.

    It was good to see Delaney finally gain some real clarity on this trip. I can only hope now that what she does moving forward helps and doesn't harm Jack.

    1. Thanks, Karri!
      I'm going to be sad when Farrell dies too.
      Delaney did get her eyes opened a bit on this trip.

  2. That was everso interesting, especially the look at a different dragonic history.

    I'm glad that Delaney was able to mend her relationship with Elliot before he died :)

    1. Thanks, Ali!
      It was kind of difficult to create a separate history for western and eastern dragons, especially because I did kind of take a lot more influence from Asian dragons in creating dragon lore for Summerdream, giving them elemental affinities and the ability to to take human form.

      Getting the notice about Elliot's death really had an impact on how the trip went.

  3. NO! :O
    I saw the sparkles in that first picture, and I didn't dare scroll down!
    So glad Laney got to make up with him before he went, though. That was really sweet. She'd be a mess if she hadn't.
    That means Farrell isn't far behind! :'( NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    LOVED the vision, oh... "because that's so Shadow and definitely not her" Yeah, uh... Not vision, then. I loved that, whatever it was. Really touched my heart :')
    So, did Delaney learn much about dragons, then? She did that meditation and stuff, then just relaxed while Jilly ran everywhere.

    I've never seen a relic vase (I know, I know... I'll explore all that stuff one day. I really need to roll 'advnturer'...) they're really detailed! Very pretty :)

    Just.... NO! :(
    Have a good 'vacation' :)

    1. Yeah, I think Elliot's death would have haunted Laney more if she hadn't made peace with him before he died.
      I know, I'm dreading losing Farrell. =(

      Thanks, I got all nostalgic reading the earlier chapters again while picking the pictures to use for Delaney's not-vision. Delaney didn't really learn much about dragons, she mostly learned about herself. Which I think is enough for her.

      Those vases are a special collection of Chinese vases, there are 8 total. Jilly found all 8, but only 6 are on that display. There are also plainer vases you can find in all 3 countries, called 'common relics' They have the same shapes but are one color, they come in gold, bronze, stone and red pottery.
      Adventurer is fun, especially if you haven't done it. I like having some of the special collections, like the Chinese vases and zodiac symbols collections. Jilly found the Tiger, but not the Dragon, sadly, lol. Egypt has some really nice statues you can find.

      Thanks! I'm flying out tonight. I'm kind of nervous, I hate crowds and airports. But I'm looking forward to seeing my sister and her kids.

  4. Granted, I don't think Elliot made all the right choices when it came to Delaney and Jack and it was sad to see their relationship deteriorate because of those decisions but I am really glad that they were able to come to terms and be in a happy place before he died. If only that time had come a bit sooner.

    1. Elliot did end up trashing their relationship because of the way he chose to try to protect his daughter. But they were able to mend it before he died (just!). It is too bad it couldn't happen sooner.

  5. RIP Elliot. I'm really happy Delaney went and made her peace with her dad before he passed on too. She needs that closure.

    I loved The Collection of things Jilly brought back! So neat and fun to see it all together in her room.

    Uh, I had kind of been hoping to see Delaney connect a little more with Jilly, but it didn't look like they spent too much time together at all. Will Delaney ever tell her kids about what she really is? Will we get to see her wedding soon?

    1. Getting the notice about Elliot dying right before the trip did kind of change the focus of the trip. I wanted to get Delaney her closure with her father before he died, and wanted the trip to be the catalyst for that.
      And I also wanted to have Jilly develop her passions in life on this trip, which took up a lot of time. So in the end, there was not the mother-daughter bonding that I maybe intended to get from this. Maybe after Elliot's funeral, Delaney will be up for a heart-to-heart with her daughter.
      I am kind of hoping I can push through to gen 4 within a few chapters, by rushing through the teen stuff, so hopefully I can get Jack and Laney married within two chapters (not sure if I want both a funeral and wedding in the same chapter.) And the funeral is actually a good reason for putting the wedding off until the rules allow it. Jilly & Weylin just turned teen, and I have to wait until they are halfway through that stage.
      Just, ugh, I hope Farrell doesn't die in that time. But he could. =(

  6. Okay... finally getting to this. :)

    A reflection mirror? Ever see The Neverending Story? Like the mirror in the second test.

    Awesome 'dream sequence'. She did meet her true self, and she didn't run away screaming! Good job, Delaney!
    Great that shot of her thinking about a dragon. Sweet!
    Another great dragon thought shot with Jilly.

    OH NO!!!!! ELLIOT!!!! Adorable Elliot!
    Not Elliot-too-good-for-Shelly-Elliot! :(

    Start with something happier next time. :|

    Still, fantastic update!

    1. I saw the Neverending Story a really long time ago, but the only thing I remember about it was a giant flying dog puppet thing?
      The mirror for me was more inspired by Buddhist sutras that use the 'bright mirror' as a metaphor for the mind. And so Delaney's 'vision' was her own encounter with the 'bright mirror', a look into herself.
      Laney has the childish trait, so he thinks about dragons (and unicorns and yetis, lol) all the time. It was pure luck that Jilly dreamed about one, though, because she doesn't have that trait.

      I know, losing Elliot was hard. I'm glad we get the pop ups a day ahead of time, so we have time to prepare. Though it's creepy, I had to send Delaney to his house on a death watch that day so she could be there when he died.

    2. huh, never noticed that childish sims will think about that kind of stuff, need to pay more attention. And possibly have more childish sims.

      I hope Farell doesn't die too soon, I love Farell.

    3. I play a lot of childish Sims for some reason, and they are obsessed with dragons.
      I really hope Farrell doesn't die soon, too.

  7. Going down memory lane, it's good that Laney does have some good memories of her father. It's funny, but when you are angry with someone, you tend to forget the good times, and focus mainly on the bad. It's good that she has done some self-reflection, that is always good for the soul and I'm glad that she was able to reconnect with her father before he died. It seems Laney is finally maturing (at least a little, lol!)

    It was neat to see an adventurous Jilly, and get to know her a little better.

    Farrell. <3

    1. Elliot was really close to his kids growing up, and Laney does have a lot of good memories from that. It went bad when he tried to get between her and Jack. I am glad she was able to reconnect with him before he died. It would have been sad if he died while that wound was still unhealed.
      Laney is maturing, a little at least, and right up on her adult birthday which is just a day away.

      This trip did end up being a lot about Jilly, too, which is why I brought her along.

      I'm glad Farrell got to play so much with the science research thingy. It's too bad they didn't have those when he was young, lol.

  8. Delaney and Jilly both had enlightenment on their trip. I am glad that Delaney and Elliot made up. I am sure she would have regretted a lot had she not talked to him and felt everything was forgiven. Sad to see Elliot gone. :(

    1. It was a good trip for both Delaney and Jilly.
      Laney would have had a lot of regrets if she hadn't been able to connect to her father one last time.
      I'm really glad we get those notices that someone is going to die ahead of time, so I could have Laney there when it happened.
      It was sad to see Elliot die though.

  9. I wasn't going to comment until I got caught up, but I really, really loved this chapter and there's a few things I want to say about it while they're still fresh in my mind.

    Delaney's journey has been such a roller coaster ride, but I have to admit that she's completely won me over. She was so selfish and impulsive as a teenager and young adult, and I found her personality totally exasperating at times, but she's come a long, long ways since then. Her awakening in China was absolutely brilliant and wonderfully written, and her flashbacks really tugged at my heartstrings. But, it was the scene at the end with Elliot that honestly made me cry.

    I have a very, uh, spotty relationship with my own father. Similar to Laney, I was extremely close with him growing up, closer to him probably than anybody else in my family, but after he divorced my mom and remarried my "stepmother" (a woman twenty years his junior who has never wasted an opportunity to advertise her very adamant distaste for me and my life choices) I stopped speaking with him for well over a year. Recently, we started trying to get to know each other again, but it's been a very rough road so far. Anyway, to make a long story short, I am so, so glad that Laney worked it out with her dad, and however silly this sounds, it does sincerely give me hope that someday all this shit in my own family really will be water under the bridge.

    So, anyway, thanks for writing another legacy, Melissa. I'm kind of addicted to it right now, and I cannot wait to see what happens with Jilly and Fergus. I am going to be a little sad though when I do finally catch up, cause that means I'll have to wait for updates like everybody else! :D

    1. Thanks,Colleen!
      I've had a difficult relationship with my father as well, and I do think I tend to work that out a lot in my stories. I'm glad you are reconnecting with your Dad. =D

      It took her a long time, but Delaney did finally evolve somewhat out of her childish bubble. I enjoyed having er for that generation, she always gave me something to write about.
      Jilly and Fergus have been a lot of fun as well...Jilly has some of her mother's impulsive temperament, which can make for all kinds of drama.