"You're the last one in then, " one of his new roommates observes as Fergus interrupts their TV watching to introduce himself. "I'm Chadrick. I just moved in yesterday. And that's Cosette and Niles."
Fergus had spoken with both Cosette Hillman and Niles Dean on the phone a few days ago; they were the ones who advertised for roommates.
"Welcome to the warehouse," Niles greets him, "The finest in urban off-campus housing. We like to keep things very communal here. The space kind of demands it, everything is out in the open here. But you do have your own room to retreat to."
"Julian just stepped out," Cosette adds, "And that's all of us. It's great to meet you in person Fergus. Your room is up the stairs to the right. Next to yours is Julian's. He just stepped out but you'll get to meet him soon enough. Do you want me to show you to room?"
"I can find it," Fergus answers, and takes his bags upstairs.
The old wharf district in Evansdale was struggling to make a comeback, and aggressive measures by the city council were pushing beautification projects all over the docks. Old abandoned warehouses were being rezoned into residential lots and commercial spaces, attracting mostly the artsy bohemian set of students from nearby Evansdale College to take up residence here. Cosette and Niles had taken this warehouse with some friends back when they were freshman. When their former roommates moved on to more traditional, suburban lifestyles after graduation, the couple started advertising for new roommates.
His room is large and, for now, sparsely furnished. His windows afford views of the glitzy new theater that opened recently across from Evansdale's film studio, and of the small cafe and comic shop built out of container stacks next to it. Fergus had never been out of Drake's in his life, except through the memories he'd absorbed from contact with things from other parts of the world. It's a strange feeling, being so far from home, surrounded by new things and new people.
"There's Julian now," Cosette says, gesturing toward the blond making drinks at the bar when Fergus rejoins the group back downstairs, "Julian, this is Fergus."
"Making drinks is like chemistry," Julian informs him, not looking up from his endeavors, "You have to be precise, or it all goes to shit."
His face. Fergus has seen it too many times to mistake it for anything else. "You're a Landraab," he says, spitting it out like an accusation.
"Julian Landgraab," he answers, putting the unfinished drink down to meet Fergus' gaze. "Obviously you've heard of my family. Whatever it is you know about them, it has nothing to do with me. My side of the family is only distantly related the 'the' Landgraabs, and our wealth is at least half as filthy."
Fergus makes a read of Julian's history and finds nothing suspicious. Still, the resemblance is so uncanny..."Does the name Reinier Landgraab mean anything to you?" Fergus asks.
"Reinier. Sure, I had a great uncle Reinier. You couldn't possibly have heard of him though," Julian answers, "So I assume you're talking about the great dragonslayer. I don't know any more about him than you could find in the library, though. Family history has never been my thing."
He has an accent, Fergus notices, so slight that he almost didn't catch it, just a subtle rounding of his vowels.
"Wow, this place really is an old warehouse," Jilly says, interrupting the conversation, "The door was open, I hope it's okay that I let myself in."
"Of course, it's fine," Fergus answers as she leans him to kiss him on the cheek, "Are you all settled into your place?"
"You should see it, Fergus," Jilly enthuses, "I'm right on the beach."
"This is my roommate, Julian Landgraab," Fergus reluctantly introdices her, "This is my cousin, Jillyan."
"Landgraab?" Jilly asks, taking his offered hand, "As in the laptop?"
"Yes, the laptop, among other things. Landgraab industries has it's hands in everything," Juilan answers with a smile, holding onto her hand for longer than is necessary, "But as I was just explaining to your cousin," he nods towards Fergus, "I'm only distantly related to those Landgraabs."
"Jilly, let's go get a coffee," Fergus says, nearly having to pry his cousin away from the Landgraab.
"Why are you in such a hurry?" Jilly ask as Fergus rushes her out of the warehouse to the cafe across the street
"I just wanted to talk to you. I have a Landgraab for a roommate."
"Mmm, I noticed," Jilly answers, "So what's the big deal?"
"Only that Landgraabs have been dogging our family since before we were born," Fergus answers, "You know this, Jilly!"
"Yes, and Julian says he's a distant relative. Is he lying?" Jilly asks, knowing that Fergus would have already taken in his roommate's personal history with his abilities.
"No, he's not lying. As far as I can tell," Fergus admits, grudgingly.
"Okay, then. It's just a coincidence," Jilly says, her voice taking the tone of finality.
"There's no such thing as coincidence," Fergus protests, "That's what my father always said."
"Do you want to go back to Drake's Hollow and hide forever?" Jilly counters, "We came out here to get away from that. C'mon, finish your latte. I want to show you my place."
Fergus was not able to convince Jillyan to join him in taking a room in the warehouse. When he suggested it, before they moved out here and were still looking for accommodations for themselves, she just laughed and 'I'm pretty much done with 'communal living'. I want to be in a place where I'm not tripping over a dozen people every time I leave my room.' And she made good on her intentions, taking a house by herself on the beach, away from the community of students, across the bridge from the campus.
"So, is it awesome or what?" Jilly asks, flopping down on her sofa after giving him a quick tour of her house.
"Mmm," Fergus answers absently.
"Are you absorbing memories from the sofa?" she teases, kicking his leg to get his attention.
"Jilly, I saw the way Julian was looking at you," he warns.
"You'd have to be blind not to," Jilly laughs.
"I can take care of myself," Jilly assures him, "I'm a Sim Fu master, remember?"
"You're a green belt," Fergus points out, "That's, what, halfway to master?"
Jilly rolls her eyes, "Okay. If you want to get technical. But you don't have to worry about me, okay? I think you're making a way bigger deal of the Landgraab thing than you need to. It's a huge family, right? They can't all be evil corporate drones..."
"I guess," Fergus sighs, "But, Jilly, his face. He's identical to Reinier Landgraab. My great-grandfather."
"So it's a strong family resemblance," Jilly reasons "Didn't you tell me that our great-grandfather Heath was nearly identical to some ancient dragon in our lineage? But he never had a clue about any of that. He was just a singer."
Fergus nods, giving up the argument. His apprehension is just a feeling, and he can't defend it with words, not in any way that Jillyan would accept.
The Hawksquill ability to read the histories of other people should be enough to assure him that Julian's story about being some distant relative of the famous Landgraabs was as true as he says, but it doesn't quel his uneasiness. As soon as he gets back to his room, Fergus looks up everything he can find about Julian Landgraab, including hacking into government records to find his birth certificate. It's all there, the documented, ordinary, non-corporate drone life of Julian Landgraab. Why does it all still feel wrong?
MorcuCorp could easily fabricate all these records, Fergus thinks. But could they fabricate the memories?
Am I being paranoid?
Trust your gut, a voice inside him insists. The fact that it's the voice of Reinier Landgraab makes Fergus smile. "I suppose you would know best," Fergus whispers, "About how little to trust a Landgraab."
Jilly feels a light tap on her shoulder as she's walking to class.
"You know, you shouldn't go sneaking up on girl's like that," she says playfully, turning to face Julian, "I could have had you on your ass before you knew what hit you."
"You make getting beat up on sound oddly pleasurable," Julian answers, making Jillyan giggle in response.
"You have an interesting accent," she observes, "Where are you from?"
"Outside Aurora Skies," he answers, "Can I walk you to class."
It turns out that she and Julian were heading to the same class in advanced mathematics.
"Fergus mentioned that your grandfather was some kind of genius," Julian says, watching as she solves her problem.
"That's his grandfather, my great-uncle Farrell," Jilly corrects him, "My grandfather was a jock."
"Still, it's obvious that intelligence runs in your family," Julian caries on, "You're very good at this."
"Being a total badass also runs in my family," Jilly answers, "Don't you have your own problem to solve?"
Julian stops his hovering over Jilly and picks up a marker to work on the board beside hers.
"The problem I need to solve is how to ask out such a badass and brilliant girl as yourself without making a fool of myself. Or getting my ass kicked," he says.
"You are a complete dork, you know that?" Jilly laughs, "Lucky for you, I think your dorkiness is kind of cute. You can walk me to class again tomorrow. Maybe after a night of practicing lines in front of the mirror, you'll have figured something out."
The next morning, Jilly rises at dawn and enjoys her pancakes on her deck.
It's too beautiful a day to waste inside a classroom she decides, and blows off school to enjoy watersports instead, completely forgetting about her offhand promise to meet Julian.
She'd taken a few lessons in scuba diving back in Drake's Hollow, but there was never anything under the local waters really worth exploring.
The more tropical climes of Evansdale make diving a much more interesting, and profitable, enterprise. What can college possibly offer her that would reap better rewards?
Okay, so, I was not lying and trying to trick you all when I declared Fergus for heir way back when he was born. I really did think that was what I wanted. But as time passed I discovered that Jillyan actually fit my roll better, and the Fergus' story was not so much an heir's story as it was something that would be happening alongside my heir's story, part of it but not the main focus.
I moved Fergus and Jilly to Evansdale together. Then Fergus was immediately moved out to the warehouse, paid for from the huge family funds they brought with them. The other roommates were merged in later. Cosette Hillman and Niles Dean are courtesy of Giga's Dean Legacy. I have an alternate save where I can get pictures of Fergus in his new home.
The whole college thing is a fake. I did consider at first actually sending Fergus and Jilly to 'real' uni together, but I just didn't want to spend the time on it. Evansdale does have an in world university that I'm using for sets, but I've decided against actually bothering with really pursuing degrees. Because, bleh. But since going to uni was a big part of my story, I'm faking it with pictures.
The original career roll was collector, and I was kind of 'grooming' Jilly for that, as much one can groom a collector. The stuff she was doing in China, collecting relics and gems, was part of that. Because the family is so rich, collecting was going to be more of her lifestyle than actual income. Since her misc fun is 'My Precious', most of her collection was going to be kept and displayed, anyway. I had also planned on doing a certain amount of travel and adventuring with her generation. So when the group decided to add scuba diving to the adventurer career, I decided to take the expansion gift and change Jilly's career to that. She hadn't sold anything she'd collected previously.
Now, for some outtakes:
"I haven't had my first psych class, so I will refrain from remarking on the Freudian implications of you spitting your drink out all over my crotch."
Jilly's living room and bedroom. I love ocean views and beach houses more than anything. =D
It's not shown in pics, but I did bring her vases and jewel collection, and they are all on display here. Her interpretation of 'My Precious' is going to include a wide variety of collectibles.
The warehouse loft thing. I used that empty warehouse in Riverview as the base for this.
I always wanted a cool loft like this when I was an art student.