Gertrude Wise worked in her herb garden, pulling weeds and harvesting early flowering pennyroyal, St John’s Wort, and valerian. This felt like a stolen moment, with the rest of the noisy family gone to the village green to fetch water. She could hear her twin brothers’ shouts and laughter, at times, floating over the willow fence that separated their cottage from the green. It sounded like Bentley and Haylan were playing tag with Gervase, Ralf’s little brother. Then she heard a little girl yell, and thought, they must have included little Cassie or Esmerelda in their game, too.
But while the children were playing and the adults were chatting, Gertrude’s cousin, Marigold, had attracted the interest of one of the men-at-arms, Cadby. She had met him a few times before.
Marigold, who was shy, surprised herself and jumped up from the swing to give Cadby a hug.
But when Cadby reciprocated her hug with a saucy suggestion, she drew back in anger, indignation lighting her whole face on fire. Cadby’s pride was injured by her anger, and he drew back and glared.
Gertrude heard someone call to her over the fence behind her herb garden, and she looked up. It was Ralf Forrester, one of the woodcutters who lived at the edge of the village.
She left her herb basket, and went to see why he was calling to her. Ralf must have been in a mean-spirited mood, because he had evidently called her over to the fence to insult her, saying that her family better watch out, or be sued for witchcraft.
Gertrude walked away without retorting. She wondered if Ralf really thought the village’s midwife would be jailed or fined after half the population had died in the plague. They needed their healer.
Gertrude’s family had returned to the cottage and it was time to wash faces and hands, and prepare to open shop. The family had three sources of a living: sales of hay, sale of herbs, potions, and reagents, and midwifery and healing practice, which brought them bartered goods and favors repaid.
It was a little surprising to see that Gertrude’s first customer of the day was Ralf. His mother, Eva, had sent him and his little brother, Gervase, on an errand to pick up some St. John’s Wort.
Gertrude was a professional, and she put her anger with Ralf aside to make sure she was able to make as much out of the sale as possible.
When she was done selling the herbs to Ralf, she turned her attention to his little brother, Gervase, who had watched the whole transaction with interest. She didn’t see that a new customer had come.
When she looked up she saw Giles Porter standing there, examining her wares. Her heart skipped a beat but she quickly calmed herself.
“Is it true valerian tea will help with insomnia?” he asked her. Evidently, he’d been having trouble sleeping, with trying to run the Hefty Hedgehog and make enough to pay his rent and taxes.
That evening Gertrude checked their sales and savings. They had made enough to pay most of their rent for the season.
Gertrude slept in the nook in the main room, and after she’d gone to bed she heard her mother confront her aunt, Ella. Apparently Ella had been flirting with Rhett Forrester, and a traveller who wore a tall hat, and people were gossiping about it. Ella didn’t answer. She was frustrated; she missed her husband, and she was lonely. Rhett and she had hit it off from their first conversation and she didn’t see any reason she should change her behavior. Mildred knew it was hard, she said, but she worried that their family would fall on hard times if they lost their neighbors’ respect. Especially as practitioners of magic, they relied on good reputation to protect them from court suits and punishments should someone fall sick or die.
Late that night, Gertrude heard crying, and peeking out of the nook, she saw her cousin sobbing. It had been hard on everyone, knowing their fathers and husbands were dead and wouldn’t be coming home from battle alive.
Days passed, and the hay grew, and the family worked and lived. At night, they mourned, sometimes in their beds, and sometimes at the grave markers they had to commemorate their fathers.
At night, usually, when everyone was asleep and no one needed her, Mildred would brew potions and reagents that she needed to help and heal. She could improve someone’s mood, or dispel filth or vermin, or make a person more fit with her spells.
One morning at the well, Ella suddenly noticed that Seth Bailey, the prison warden, was holding her sister-in-law’s hand. Looking closer, she saw that Mildred was smiling and looking into his eyes.
She saw Lady Elizabeth, the squire’s mother, chide Seth, but he just looked at her and then turned back to Mildred.
Apparently Mildred wanted company more than approval now, too.
Meanwhile, Ella saw Cadby, and told him to leave her daughter, Marigold, alone. Unless he was interested in a suitable match. The hay needed harvesting and she didn’t have time for drifters.
While Ella and Marigold harvested hay, Gertrude was running their cottage industry, selling more herbs. One customer, a woman named Ada from another village, was quite distressed that Gertrude was selling herbs outside, in the yard, with the sound of goats bleating next door and the laborers cutting hay in the field.
Other customers were more curious about how to use the herbs to best effect.
When they finished cutting the hay, Ella played with her nephews among the stacks. The next day was Sunday, and the family would take a day from work to go to the Glen and worship the goddess. Everyone was relieved to have the harvest in, and hoped for some good, dry days as the hay dried. Red skies at sunset bade well.
Although perhaps, not well for suitors.
Gertrude, who was always full of energy, rose early, to find special herbs and roots and berries that could only be found at the Glen. The old forager, Zelda Berry, had promised to show her some of the best spots. Later in the day, other followers of the goddess started to arrive. Gertrude and Hadley Gothard sat and listened, enraptured, to tales of women who had led the followers in the past, with bravery, and powers of healing.
Late in the afternoon, the family was surprised to see Aunt Millicent, their mother’s eldest sister. Millicent had converted to the Allfather’s church, but at least in her heart, was still a follower of the goddess. All those conversations at the well must have changed her heart. Or perhaps it was the gossip among the gentry that she was beset by a dryad.
As the magic hour of twilight settled on the Glen, Rhett Forrester joined the worshippers. Among the worshippers of the goddess, some of society’s rigid rules controlling love and passion lifted, just while they gathered in the Glen. The Glen and the Goddess were much older than the new Allfather with his worries about propriety and property.
Without apology, he and Ella danced and embraced and flirted. Mildred looked around, but did not see his wife, Eva, at first. Then, just before the darkness fell, Eva appeared.
Rhett did not see her at first; his eyes were on Ella.
But very quickly, Ella saw her, and smiled at her, still flushed with excitement. Eva didn’t confront Ella or her husband, although she saw what was happening.
Little Cassie Berry, and Bentley, who had made friends at the Green, played tag along the silver creek in the moonlight, until it was time to go home.
Seth was not a follower of the goddess, but when they returned to their cottage, he was waiting for Mildred in the fields. He had waited to say goodnight in peace after their lover’s spat. They kissed, and he returned to the Dark Tower.
Their hearts were lighter than they had been for a long time. They had what they needed to pay the Steward. They had each other, and their way of life.
But the future was not clear. Mildred’s modest uses of her powers to heal and help, and her faithful following of the goddess for wholeness, were not Ella’s way. Ella liked to push the boundaries of propriety, whether to change things for the better, or just to get away with them for herself at others’ expense, no one was sure yet, not even Ella.
- Ella became a witch in gameplay right at the end of the round. She’s a romance sim and I love her new saucy attitude but there’s almost sure to be push back in the village. Mildred has a want for Ella to be cured of witchcraft.
- She and Rhett actually hit it off when I moved his family in to their woodcutter’s cottage, and Ella walked by. They are both romance sims. Since I almost always play with headlines off for picturing taking, I don’t know what Ralf and Gertrude’s disagreement was about, so I imagined he was upset over her aunt flirting with his dad. Witchcraft is a finable offense in the Medieval Charter Challenge.
- At the end of the round, Mildred learned the Remedis Simae (heal sim) spell, so she is ready to heal anyone who needs it! Her current healer skill level by the Warwickshire stats is 3, which is Dangerous, since she doesn’t have any education or skill outside of witchcraft and being able to make Grandma’s Comfort Soup. For now, story canon is going to trump the Warwickshire rating, since it’s not realistic (to me) that a sim with her personality wouldn’t have accumulated skill in her lifetime.
- When I saw Mildred at the well holding hands with Seth Bailey I was shocked and surprised. I never expected him to fall in love with someone quickly and certainly not Mildred. They are definitely opposites – she’s a family sim and very nice, and he is has 0 nice points. She follows the goddess; he follows the Reaper. However, when I thought about it, he’s a Knowledge sim and a Scorpio so I guess they would have three bolts. I made him knowledge so he’d be content to stay alone in the Dark Tower but instead he was milling around the well! Mildred is an elder, a widow, and the head of her household, so after I thought about it, I decided it doesn’t hurt for her to have her romance. But it was funny to see Lady Rosalind and Lady Elizabeth gaping at them.
- This family had a fortunate round, as far as paying the Steward. They made $425 on the very first day of herb sales. I wonder if the margin is better than berries and maybe also because Gertrude is an active, outgoing fortune sim she was able to learn sales quicker and sell more effectively. They ended the round with $3903 in income, $2450 paid to the Steward, and $1456 in reserve. They bought investment silver for both the girls for their dowries.
- When I set up Ayre, I thought you could have as many religious lots as you wanted per religion, so I set the well, the Glen, and the Henge as the sites for followers of the Goddess. However, when they arrived at the Glen on Sunday morning, I noticed that sims who weren’t followers of the goddess appeared so I thought I’d forgotten to set it up. I realized a few minutes later that when I made the Henge a sacred spot, it made the Glen, or the village green, a regular community lot. I should have noticed that sims who don’t follow the goddess were at the well, but I had not. Anyway, I corrected it and sent the family back, and only followers appeared, including Millicent! I was happy to see her there; all her chats and hugs with family must have made her convert back to the goddess. When I play the Henge for the solstices, I’ll definitely make it a sacred spot, but I may leave the village green secular. On the other hand, it was nice when it was really just the villagers appearing there.