Deirdre Berry’s last thought was that Zelda had been right. The bee venom, originally a sharp pain on her neck, had flooded into her heart and lungs and now she was gasping for air. Hearing the boys’ laughter on the wind, she dropped to the ground, a little stunned that her life was ending so abruptly.
Zelda had told her to stay nearer to the hovel and collect berries, but she had insisted on going into the forest to collect raw honey. It looked to be a clear summer morning, and the boys had been begging to go fishing. The berries would still be there later.
And so, Deirdre defied Zelda, and prepared to set out to the forest with Harold and Alfred. Harold, who was a demonstrative emotional child, hugged Esmerelda and Cassie before leaving. Mari wouldn’t have it, or he’d have hugged her too.
Deirdre and the boys trekked up the hills into the pine forest. The boys had run off to fish, while Deirdre listened for the buzz of bees. She tasted the sweetness of some honey that she found in an old hive in a log, and had begun to reach into a second hive when she received the fateful sting.
Meanwhile, Alfred, the older of the two boys, fixed a worm to a bit of thread he’d saved, on a long willow branch. Harold was not having any luck, though, and even slipped on the rocky bank, ending up a little stunned, on his seat. He decided to go cool off in the waterfall instead.
As he shook the water out of his ears, Harold wondered where Deirdre was. He put his tunic and tights back on and scrambled up the rocks to the forest above. It didn’t take long to find her, motionless on the pine needles, near the woodcutters’ camp.
Back at home, Zelda had opened shop and was facing a displeased Lady Joslyn. Lady Joslyn had been kind to the Berry family, looking out for the orphans, and hiring Hildra as a healer at the Almshouse, but today Zelda had raised her prices, and Lady Joslyn felt she should still get the old prices.
Zelda, who was not in a mood to be ingratiating, refused to lower the price for Lady Joslyn, who left without making a purchase. The next customers, Mildred Wise and her daughter, were on the receiving end of Zelda’s frustration.
Hilda, who had been Mildred’s apprentice midwife, stepped in to make peace, and was able to make an equitable agreement in exchange for some herbs that Hilda needed.
But Deirdre wasn’t finished dishing out unhappiness, and she harshly lectured little Cassie, who had clogged up the latrine and not told anyone about it.
Just after dark, Harold and Alfred finally made their way home, and told Zelda and Hilda what had happened. Everyone was heartbroken. Deirdre was the most generous of the three sisters, and although they had often bemoaned her lack of focus, they all relied on her sense of joy and fun to lighten the mood. Early the next morning, a messenger came from the Squire’s household with their respects.
Zelda went into the woods with the squire’s messenger to find Deirdre’s body and bring it home. When she reached the spot where her sister had taken her last breaths, she almost felt her presence there, forgiving her last, harsh words to her. The sweet forgiveness pierced her heart and she fell to the ground, sobbing.
Back home, Mari took out her pain with the sword, but her game was off, and Harold ended up getting in a rare defeat against her.
That evening, Hilda, who was a healer and familiar with a few spells, wondered aloud if there was any magic that might bring their sister back; it had only been a day, and she could just be in a deep sleep. Zelda vehemently rejected the idea of trying to resurrect Deirdre, saying that there would be none of that kind of evil magic used under her roof. “Deirdre would be a twisted, evil shadow of herself, and I won’t even speak of it,” she told Hilda. What she didn’t say to Hilda was, that she had the same thoughts and desires, just tempered by fear.
Hilda needed to clear her head, so she went to the Hefty Hedgehog. Although she really wanted to play cards, she didn’t have the coin, so she joined a game of darts with Cadby, which had the advantage of costing her absolutely nothing.
Mid-summer had come, and the followers of the Goddess would gather at the henge tonight to dance away the shortest night of the year, and greet the dawn, which would soon usher in harvest. It was a brief respite from summer’s work to celebrate this season of warm days, full stomachs, and relative ease, with the knowledge that this time was soon to be followed soon by the death of the lush summer world around them.
At breakfast, Harold said he was going to run naked at the henge, because he could. Mari thought he was crazy, but Cassie said she would too. “You always follow Harold,” Mari said, and it was true; Cassie followed him like a puppy.
It was time for chores, and the children, with the promise of staying up all night and playing and eating to their hearts’ content, gathered berries with gusto.
This left Zelda and Hilda more free to sell, and, perhaps because of the festival, they were able to make more profit than they ever had before. In addition, the Steward himself visited their berry market and gave them extra gold coins for having such succulent berries and such excellent service.
With light hearts, the Berry family hiked out to the bluffs overlooking the sea, where fires were burning brightly, and music and laughter rose to the stars like smoke.
Hilda joined in dancing, but a flood of memories, and a new wave of grief, washed over her. Little Cassie felt it too; and she wandered out to the bluffs to look over the sea, where it was quieter. “Harold’s running naked,” Mari told her, “and you’re missing it.”
Harold felt alive, the sea air rushing about him; more alive than he had since he found Deirdre. He ran for hours, like his life depended on it, feeling his blood coursing through his limbs and strengthening him.
The followers of the Goddess danced. The Gothards, the Wises, the Foresters, and the Berrys, danced with all feuds and affairs forgotten, with the expanse of sea and sky around them. Then the first light crept into the sky, and the revelers began to keep a watch for the first rays of the sun.
The first rays of the sun evaporated the grief that pulled Hilda down into a murky, dark underworld.
Harold, who had not donned his clothing again, wanted to reach out and grab the light as it pierced the sky.
First light’s spell did not last. Harold felt emboldened to speak with Marigold, who he had a bit of a crush on. But instead of smiling back at him, she looked at him quizzically. The next thing he knew, she had Hilda in a headlock. Everyone was stunned, and didn’t even know what had come over her. Marigold’s aunt Millicent, always a peacemaker, pulled her away from her friend and co-worker, Hilda.
Later that summer, Marigold came by, and seemed penitent, although she wouldn’t speak to Hilda. Zelda, with a bit of Deirdre now part of her perhaps, helped make peace.
Deirdre’s death seemed to have the opposite effect on Hilda, though, and she began to work more feverishly at her reagents and spells, wanting to have more skill next time a need arose.
Summer days passed quickly, and soon Autumn was palpable, whether the cool breezes in the middle of the day, or the tops of the trees starting to change color. The Berry family was at peace, with high hopes that they had stashed enough dried berries, fish, and mushrooms, and even, some gold coins buried in the floor, to sustain them through the hard half of the year that was coming.
- The Berrys started with $482 and ended with an amazing $8491, after paying the Steward $5880! They got two business perk awards, the second of which is worth $10,000. The treasury balance is now $20,795, so we can now add a merchant household, a yeoman household, the foundling home, and a mid-summer faire!
- I was shocked when Deirdre died. She doesn’t have mechanical skill though, so in retrospect I should not have allowed her to look for raw honey. I thought the odds were low, but she was definitely unlucky. The boys couldn’t move her grave; as soon as the reaper came, they were sent home by the game, so Zelda had to come back and move it the next day. Harold, who has a 85 LTR with Deirdre, tried to plead but was not able to.
- Hilda and Zelda wanted to resurrect Deirdre, but Zelda was afraid of her being a zombie (Hilda is a knowledge sim so she was completely for it). Since they had some sort of argument I figured that was a good way to weave that into the story.
- Zelda is, as you could see, an opinionated sim who is often unhappy with others. Add to that a low aspiration for some of the time, and she was quite bitter at times.
- Next rotation I need to include more about Esmerelda and Alfred into the story. After finishing I realized I really didn’t get many pictures of them. Esmerelda helped quite a bit with the business by entertaining the customers while Zelda was busy, but I didn’t get any pictures!
This odd thing happened – evidently someone stole the woodpile from the shed but Cassie stole it back!