Wednesday, August 16, 2017

3.4 - ... and make it double!

"This is the happiest day in my life...", Mauricio says while trying to hold some manly tears back. He holds the baby blue bundle with the snowflake print tightly in his arms.

"Well, of course, because you didn't have to squeeze them out of you!", Celestine answers with a pained smile, half-serious and half-joking.

It turned out that Mauricio was wrong after all: Celestine didn't give birth to a boy... No, she had two boys instead!

Each of them chose a name for one brother. The baby in the green blanket was named Falstad by Celestine, and his twin brother in the blue blanket got the name Muradin from Mauricio.
The boys are quite big for newborn twins and healthy. Looks like the apple diet has worked!

And so it doesn't surprise Mauricio that the mother of his children feels so tired lately and uses every opportunity to take a quick nap. Having twins is hard: whenever one starts crying, the other one wakes up as well.

But Celestine thinks there might be more to her lack of energy than that. Something feels off. She felt that way before...

It was many years ago in her childhood, but around the same time of the year, just before Snowflake Day.

This night she's having vivid dreams...

Or maybe it wasn't just a dream. As she wakes up she can see some colorful lights dancing outside through the window, so she quickly puts on her coat and runs outside. Maybe it is some kind of rare astronomical phenomenon?

Celestine looks up to the sky but whatever she had seen seconds ago is gone now. She's almost about to head back home when she suddenly hears a whisper from somewhere.
... waited 20 years ...
The voice is very quiet and hard to understand.

"Hello? Did someone say something?", Celestine yells at the empty street in front of her.
... not much power ... drained your energy ... to be able ... to talk ... 
"What? Where are you? That's not funny, show yourself!"

Celestine looks around frantically. The voice sounds like it belongs to an old woman and it sounds weak, almost like someone trying to say their last words on their deathbed.

... listen ... humans gave up their magic ... in exchange for cold logic ... return to nature ... potential in every human ... 
There is no doubt. The voice comes from inside her. It becomes even weaker, impossible to understand now. And then it stops.

Celestine is shaking. What on earth was that?!


During the next weeks Celestine can't stop thinking about the incident. She is scared and worried about her mental state and gets lost in her thoughts frequently, which doesn't go unnoticed by Mauricio.

"Are you sure everything is alright? Maybe we should talk to your doctor after all, just to be on the safe side. You could have PPD. It's treatable!"

"That's sweet of you but you don't have to worry about me", Celestine assures him. "The twins are just a big change in our lives, but I'm fine."

"Fine, I take your word for it. But please do tell me if there is anything on your mind. And if it helps you to go back to your old job you can do this too of course, I will stay at home and take care of the boys.", Mauricio offers. 

But everything is not alright. Celestine needs some time for herself. How could she tell Mauricio about what happened? What if she developed schizophrenia? She heard that usually happens at around her age. That would be terrible, now that she has to take care of two newborns.

Or did she, a woman who pretends to be a fortune teller, have an actual prophecy after all, just like this one crazy professor in Harry Potter?

"I'm not losing my mind. It's just been a stressful time.", she says out loud, trying to convince herself.

There's just a little bit of snow coming down still, but most of it has melted away by now and she can tell spring is approaching quickly. Soon she will be able to work in her garden again, she will go back to work, and the old routine will surely calm her mind. 
... right?

Oblivious to Celestine's thoughts, Mauricio checks back on the babies before heading to bed himself. He really loves those little bundles.

And so does Celestine. Good night, boys!


If the names ring a bell for you, that's because Muradin (Bronzebeard) and Falstad (Wildhammer) are dwarf characters from WoW!

And that was totes a ghost encounter, not an alien encounter, ok?

Monday, August 14, 2017

3.3 - Prepare for trouble...

Celestine takes the pregnancy quite well. She isn't freaked out at all that there's a living person growing inside her; she's just admiring the little miracle and continues being the calm person she always was.

Mauricio on the other hand is ecstatic."So what should we name him? Brann would be a nice name! Or no, what about Magni? Even better!"

"Wait, wait, wait... How come you are so certain that it will be a boy? Have you joined me in the fortune telling business?"

Mauricio shrugs. "Somehow it always turned out to be a boy in our paternal family line. You know I have a brother, my father only had brothers, my grandfather... Oh and here, eat this", he grabs an apple out of the fruit bowl and hands it to Celestine, "Apples are good for pregnant women!"

"Really? I never heard of that. More family wisdom passed down from generation to generation?"

"Exactly! Three apples a day keep birth complications away, or something like that."

"If you say so!", she smiles and takes a big bite.

During the first weeks after the pregnancy announcement Celestine spends a lot of time outside studying the local wildlife. It is not quite winter yet, but frost is already creeping up on the windows early in the morning and she won't be able to watch all these critters for much longer.

"Wow, these water bugs are giants! You must like the current weather, don't you?"
Sometimes she takes a few specimen back home if she knows they can live healthily and happily in a proper terrarium, but sometimes - like in the case of this beautiful falcon - she respects that not every animal makes a good pet and simply enjoys observing them in their natural habitat.

But as her belly grows bigger and the temperatures fall she eventually has to stop exploring outside and spends her time at home with Mauricio, talking about their future or just dancing to their favourite music.

"Tell me about your adventures.", she says one day. Celestine loves exploring the outdoors around her hometown, but she never travelled much further than Appaloosa Plains.

"Hmm... have I told you about that expedition into an old celtic tomb in France yet?", Mauricio asks.

"No, you haven't! Celtic tomb, you say? I was interested in celtic druids as a child. Didn't find out a lot to be honest."

"No wonder, sources are scarce about them. They preferred oral teaching over writing, which makes work for us historians that much harder. What we do know about them is that they mainly acted as priests and teachers, they had a strong bond to nature - the word 'druid' means 'wisdom/knowledge of the oak tree' - and they studied the movement of the stars. Much like you do", he adds teasingly.

"Wow, sounds like I could have saved myself a lot of research if I had met you earlier!", Celestine laughs.

"We could explore these ruins together one day, if you want to?"

"No, thanks, that was a long time ago! I was a curious child but I'm no longer interested in - ahh!", Celestine lets go of Mauricio's hands and feels her forehead.

"Something wrong, honey?"

"No, no... just a headache, probably another pregnancy symptom. I just need some rest."
Mauricio nods and brings Celestine to their bedroom where she quickly lies down and tucks herself in. 

"Okay, good night then. If you need anything to feel better, just tell me. Or if you change your mind about exploring some ruins together", he adds with a wink.

Hmpf. Travelling is an important part of Mauricio's life but he never managed to convince her to come with him... Of course with a baby underway travelling won't be possible for a while, and he is okay with that, he always wanted to be a father! But he does want to continue travelling once the kid grows older... And Celestine simply doesn't seem very interested in that unfortunately.


Time goes by fast and soon Celestine goes from "barely showing" to a large, round baby belly.

"I never thought I'd see the day when your belly is bigger than mine", Mauricio jokes while trying to feel for any movement of his unborn son (he is still 100% sure it'll be a boy). "You think it's that bad yet?", she teases him back.

In the last weeks before the due date Celestine and Mauricio are so excited about becoming a real little family that they feel a great urge to fill their house with babies (or grown-ups) of other species: a nuthatch, a tortoise, various insects... "It is good for kids to grow up with pets", is their excuse when asked. 

Soon their house will turn into a zoo but that's okay since Mauricio doesn't have much work to do when he's not out on an expedition and Celestine is her own boss who can set her working times however she wants to.


The next morning in the kids and critters room...

"Daaang, have you seen that tasty looking bird in that cage there?", Hanzo chatters while focusing on the cage.
"Hanzo, I'm not sure if the humans approve of this., Katerchen purrs with a mouth full of toy bird. "We have enough of these training dummies, why don't you practice your hunting skills with those?"*

"Why else would they put it in there? Think about it, winter is coming and our humans now provide us with life prey inside so we don't have to get our paws wet in the snow!
Speaking of our humans, have you caught the scent of the female recently? Oh boy, is she pregnant! Her litter must be due, like, any minute or so!"

"What about your litter by the way?", Katerchen meows. "I can't wait to have great-great-great-grandchildren!"

Amy growls quietly. "Great-great...-great? Are we really that old already?"

"We will have our litter when we're ready, no pressure please!", Nele answers while Hanzo is busy climbing up the cage.

There are celtic ruins in Champs les Sims! One of the first tombs you explore there, actually. I thought that was a nice coincidence because I only found out about it after I already had the story in mind. I sent Mauricio to France because of his adventurer roll and there it was! I couldn't *not* include it here!

[*real life Katerchen would never say this. He surprised me with a panicked living bird in his mouth once. He's an indoors cat...
No birds were harmed in the making of this chapter. Well, harmed maybe, but not killed. Just a few lost feathers.]

Monday, August 7, 2017

3.2 - Sari Moon

„Cel? What's this dress?“, Mauricio laughs, „Is it carnival already?“

„I have to talk to you. When I told you I earn my money as a waitress in that bistro... I didn't tell the truth."

Mauricio raises an eyebrow. „You lied to me?“

„Yes. And I'm sorry about that. I was afraid of how you'd react when I tell you what my job really is. The truth is... You've seen that gypsy wagon next to the graveyard. I work there. As a fortune teller."

Mauricio bursts out in laughter. „Is this some kind of late april's fools prank?“

"No, I'm serious...", Celestine sighs then points at the bed. This will be a longer conversation. "Sit down, I guess I owe you an explanation.“

„You definitely do!“, Mauricio exclaims while he makes himself comfortable on the bed, "Why didn't you tell me earlier?"

"I was afraid you'd think badly of me because I...", Celestine pauses, struggling to find the right words.

„Because you're a scammer? You earn your living by lying to naive or crazy people.“, he completes her sentence without showing any emotion on his face. He isn't sure what to think of this yet and wants to hear the whole story. „Or are you trying to tell me that you actually believe in this stuff and you're some kind of medium?

„That's … no! It's not like this.“ Celestine sighs once more. This is exactly why she hasn't told him for so long. „I'm not a scammer and I like my clients. I like my job. Yes, most of my clients are rather naive and yes, I don't really have any supernatural powers. But I genuinely want to help them. I listen to them, talk to them, I'm their advisor and counselor.“

„Look, as long as you don't do anything illegal I don't really care but... It's an odd profession to say the least. How did you get into it?“

"Hmm...", Celestine thinks and decides that telling half the story will be enough for now, „simply put my first client had me mixed up with a lady who used to do readings. I played along, pretending to be said lady, and got some money for it.

[Are you Madame Sari? I imagined you older...]

And since I was a teenager with little money I continued doing it... It was just something I did occasionally besides school to earn some pocket money, like babysitting or delivering newspapers or something like that. I didn't have a lot of customers. But whenever a client was convinced by my readings they would spread the word and that's how I got more and more clients. At this point I couldn't stop anymore of course, and it somehow became my... job.

"What are these clients like? What kind of people come to you?"

"The majority are middle-aged to elderly women. The younger ones are usually concerned about love, relationships, family, finances and career – the most common topics. Older people ask more health related questions. Most are regulars, walk-in customers are rare; except for the summer months when tourists sometimes walk by and want to give it a try. These are typically younger than my regular clients and often don't really believe in fortune telling; they just do it out of curiosity. I put a bit of a show on for them and alllow myself to go a little crazy with my readings."

[Celestine puts her hand on the woman's face and speaks in an overly dramatic voice. „Be very quiet now, please. I need full concentration to communicate with the universe! Let us see what the stars have destined you to be!“]

„And how do you... do it? I mean, how does a reading look like? Do you just make up stuff and hope they believe you?“

"When I meet them for the first time I normally start by making guesses based on my first impression of them or what they told me before if they called for an appointment. This is to gain their trust and have a starting point for my reading. Some are easily impressed, others are sceptical and harder to work with.

["I can sense you have a conflict with a friend or relative.", Celestine chants in a soft voice. "Oh really?! Who doesn't?", the woman scoffs angrily, "I don't need a fortune teller for this!"] 

Cooperation is the basis. But most people that come to me are ready to believe what I tell them. They tend to quickly forget the parts of the reading they couldn't identify with and are deeply impressed with what they think is right - even if it's a vague statement or something that applies to most people's lives.

When I feel like I have them on my side, got some crucial information, and asked them what they want to know, the actual reading begins. I'm mostly doing horoscopes, which are very complicated and therefore the most expensive option, but other methods are popular too: tarot cards, palm readings, crystal ball. 

Regardless of the method, most of the information comes from the client, not me, even though I do the most talking. I make guesses based on their age, gender, appearance, or what we have talked about so far and then have to quickly pick up on subtle cues and body language to see if what I'm saying makes sense to them or not.

I always try to make my reading a positive and uplifting experience for my client and avoid negative predictions." Celestine pauses briefly. "Well, unless they are really, really rude. In that case I might foresee death and despair."

„So you just tell them what they want to hear.“, Mauricio sums up, ignoring the last part.

"You say that like it's a bad thing! More often than not this is all they really need. I'm sure you heard about self-fulfilling prophecies? I work with this concept a lot. Convince them they can do it, and all of a sudden they can."

["I will find... my love?That's what it says?", the shy man asks with disbelief. "Yes, I can see it very clearly. You will notice that she's the one when you see her. And you will gather all your confidence and ask her out."]

"What are the hardest clients for you?"

"Sometimes people will ask me to contact their deceased husbands, children, or other loved ones that passed away too early. These are cases that I take very seriously, I do a lot of comforting, let them cry and listen patiently. And no matter what the client told me before, I always make sure to tell them that the deceased one holds no grudge against them. It is always their biggest fear; they feel guilty about an arguement they had before the death or think they could have prevented it, especially if it was a suicide. If the deceased person is buried on the graveyard nearby I offer them to visit the grave together.

[Close your eyes. Do you feel her presence? Do you hear her voice? Listen to the wind... hear her whispers... She will always be your daughter, always love you. And she wants you to know that nothing you could have done would have prevented this. She wants you to move on and be happy. You still have your life. Live it.]

Some people suffer from mental health issues like depression and anxiety... These can be tough cases too, and again I make sure to take them seriously. That's when I have to play the therapist."

"But why do these people not just consult a real therapist?"

"There are many reasons. Some are too proud to admit they are the ones who have a problem, and prefer to see their issues as something outside of their responsibility. Some want a quick solution – magic! - rather than having to work on themselves for months or even years. For others it is a cost issue. I'm much cheaper than a therapist!", Celestine laughs.

For a while Mauricio and Celestine just lie on their bed, not saying a word, staring ahead and processing everything they just talked about.

„My girlfriend, the fortune teller...“, Mauricio finally breaks the silence with a little laugh. „That's crazy. Can you see my future too?“, he asks jokingly.

Celestine looks away. Just say it. It's already confession time, isn't it? If you don't say it now, how long will you wait this time? You can't wait forever.

„Can you?“, he repeats, interrupting Celestine's inner monologue.

She takes a deep breath. „Yes, actually. Yes, I can.“ She laughs nervously and does some cliché magical fortune telling gestures to give herself time to think about the right words. She giggles for a few seconds, partially due to the absurdity of the situation but mainly out of nervousness, before she finally manages to pull herself together:

„The stars have told me...

… that in about 7 months from now... you will become a father.“

For a few seconds Mauricio just sits there with his eyes and mouth wide open. Then his eyes become watery, and a wide grin appears on his face.


AN: Wow, this chapter was so much fun to write! I love the fortune teller roll.
If you're wondering about the title, that's her fortune teller alias. Sari is of course the old lady that she "inherited" the gypsy wagon from and then she added 'Moon' to it as a last name to make it her name and make it sound cool and mysterious and because I like anagrams.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

3.1 - Foul water

It's been a while since Feli and half of the cat posse moved out and Mauricio moved in, and Celestine has accustomed well to her new living situation.

The only stain in her new harmonious life is that she still hasn't told her boyfriend the truth about her unusual job because she worried she would sound crazy.

But there is no doubt anymore that this relationship is a serious one and she would have to tell it sooner rather than later.

But somehow there are always more important topics coming up that distract Celestine from what she actually wanted to say...

"Is that a giant garden gnome on your back?", Celestine asks at the breakfast table.


"But why?"

"Why not?"

"Mhh.", Celestine nods it off without further comments, "The weather will be beautiful today."

Mauricio laughs heartily in response. "Wow, has our life gotten so boring already that we're having weather conversations?"

"I only wanted to ask you if you're up for a walk today!"

"I'd love to! Where do you want to go?"


"Not here, that's for sure."

The couple stares at an old abandoned water treatment plant.

It hasn't been in use for many years and nobody bothered to care for the land around it since then. And it shows: the water is dirty, most likely contaminated with plumbob-knows-what, the plants and trees around it are dying, the facility itself is rusty and useless.

Celestine, who has always cared greatly for her environment, is repulsed by the sight, and yet she wants to see more and drags Mauricio towards it.

"Um, we could also go to the park or the beach or something, that might be nicer...", Mauricio suggests.

But Celestine is too upset to listen. "I can't believe whoever was in charge of it just let everything rot here when they left! And look at these ponds, I bet people are using them to illegally dispose of all their hazardous trash!"

She storms ahead, then goes through an unlocked door that leads inside the building.

"Cel, I'm not sure we are even allowed here... this is trespassing."

"Hey, you're the archaeologist who never stops talking about his adventures in abandoned ruins! Shouldn't you be thrilled to explore one right in your neighbourhood?", Celestine teases him and laughs, running further ahead.
There's a minute of silence between them before Celestine continues, now with determination in her voice: "And it's not trespassing if it's our lot..."

"What? What are you talking about?"

"Think about it... Nobody actually uses this plant. We could buy and restore it or turn it into a nature reserve or something."

Mauricio stays behind, now looking at his spouse like she spontaneuosly lost her mind.

"And how do you plan to finance this well-thought-out project? Rob a bank?", he remarks sarcastically, "You're not going to be able to afford this with your waitress earnings."

Ouch. She almost forgot about that again. The waitress thing was a little lie Celestine had told Mauricio to avoid having to tell him about how she's really earning her money.

But this is neither the right time nor place for these kind of conversations. And it is time for them to go home anyway: thick, dark grey rain clouds appeared out of nowhere as if in response to Celestine's mood change.

"Is everything alright with you?", Mauricio asks concerned.

"I feel a bit dizzy...", Celestine says and feels her forehead with one hand. "And my head hurts."

"Oh, that must be the sudden weather change!"

"No, I think... I'm sure it's this water treatment plant, probably some poisonous gases or... I don't even want to know..."

Mauricio sighs. Is she really serious about this?


Lately Mauricio and Celestine had some conversations about the
lack of cats in their home. With only Hanzo, Amy & Katerchen it just felt too quiet in the household! And besides, Celestine had promised her mom to find a mate for Hanzo and keep breeding cats when she moved out.

So one day...

… Mauricio came home with a little brown kitten. Her name is Nele and she is about 5 months old. 
Say hi to Nele!

Another family adopted her only recently – without realizing that their child is allergic to cats... And that's why Nele had to go into a new home quickly, which the Koyangis are more than happy to provide!

„I can't wait until Nele is old enough to have her litter!“, Mauricio says excitedly. While he has always lived with pets, he's new to breeding and never witnessed a cat giving birth.

"Do you like your new little friend, Hanzo?", he asks as Hanzo jumps on his lap and purrs happily in response.


It is fall and Thanksgiving is approaching. Celestine still has fond memories of when she was a little kid and her mom celebrated it with some of her friends. She remembers the vibrant colors and intense smells of all the fresh harvest. These days the food comes out of her own garden – which makes it even better. 

Thanksgiving is the time when she thanks mother nature for supplying her with all that she needs. Fruits, vegetables, fish – and most importantly: clean water. 
If only everyone cared as much about their environment as Celestine does the world could be a more beautiful place.

This year she will celebrate it together with Mauricio, only the two of them. 
The food, the colors, the music... and the person she loves. Celestine feels at peace with herself and the world. And she is certain now: this is the man she wants to grow old with.

Now there's only one little problem left: when will she tell him that she earns her money by lying to people and pretending to be able to see the future?


The Appaloosa County Water Treatment is a fishing spot in AP. The reason why I showed it here is that this is the lot the Koyangis will want to buy and improve as part of the 'Living Green' goal (create or significantly improve a nature-themed lot).

It will take a while to save up for it though, since it costs about 40k and I currently have about 15k (I'm roughly 4 chapters ahead of the story in-game); so don't expect that to happen anytime soon!