Chapter 4: Council Counsel


Dig piles go faster with two, and contain more prizes.


And royal baths are considerably more exciting.


But then, eventually, inevitably, the day comes that I must face reality. I will age. But not today. I am allowed to turn back the clock once, and so I do, but mentally I turn a page. My first young adulthood was for me to find my own way. The second will be to clear the path for the generations to come. This will be my last trip to the jungle. The time has come to plant my roots.


Daniel and I celebrate my un-birthday in a style befitting the jungle.


One last time, we face the dangers of the temple together.


And reach the end together, to find that I have been granted the blessing of a sun . . . which is to say, a son.


Or perhaps two. Either way, my pregnancy is confirmed, and it’s time to go home and ready ourselves for parenthood.


After a brief trip to the vet, of course. Gizmo can’t seem to tear himself away from those Selvadoradean squirrels. Chasing things we know are impractical and will only cause us harm is something Gizmo and I have in common. Fortunately, his jungle days are as over as mine.


We make enough from selling our treasures to put up almost all of the walls on our house’s first floor.


And Daniel finally gets his coveted stove.


I’m suddenly desperate to make some accomplishments and tick some things off the incredibly long list I’ve been handed, so I decide to embark upon a career. Scanning the available possibilities for something that will provide quick promotions and be at least a semi-good fit for my presently-held skills of archaeology and fishing, I come to the only possible conclusion: I must become a scientist.


Something seems inevitable about this. Like the lot, and some precious few other decisions I’ve made, it somehow seems as if it could never have been any other way. Flap their wings as they might, the butterflies would never have buffeted me towards any other line of work. I was born to be a scientist. On my second day of work, my child would be born into the world.


Only time and the butterflies know what destiny awaits him.


By which, of course, I mean them. Myron and Andres. My sons on this earth, and my suns in the sky. I face a moment of panic when it come to naming them and even comb my memory for some scientific bear nomenclature that might bear some passing resemblance to a human name, but Daniel fulfills his husbandly duties admirably and simply touches my arm and says, “Why not leave it to chance? So many other things in their lives will be handled that way. It seems to fit.”


And so it does. Their names are as perfect as their tiny faces, and even if I didn’t choose them, I know that they are right.


Daniel takes up a new hobby, and Gizmo perfects his favorite hobby of being loyal and close at hand.


Perfection achieved, he decides not to get up from that position ever again. He has done his duty, and reached the pinnacle of doghood. There is nothing left to do but move on.


He did so with ease, but I don’t have any idea how the rest of us are going to manage.


I fish all night after Gizmo leaves us. It seems wrong without him periodically checking up on me and dropping mysterious gifts at my feet, but I honestly can’t think what else to do. Nothing is clear, anymore. No gentle, wet nose is prodding me in the right direction. No one licks my hand to assure me that this is all fine.


Fishing was the right thing to do yesterday, so perhaps it will also work for today. I’m level 9 fishing now. Heaven only knows what will happen when I max it. Then we’ll really be at sea.

And then, after countless hours, days, and concerned pedestrians pass, after Daniel has finally given up begging me to come home and hold my sons . . . the phone booth appears.


One: Ah, there’s our girl! I was afraid for a minute I used the wrong power cord for that thing.


Two: Oooh! Are those cupcakes?

One: Yes! I decided since I’m hosting this time there ought to be snacks. Help yourself!


Three: Um, I don’t want to seem inquisitive, but wasn’t I a cool guy with a beard last time?

One: Yes, but I decided it’s funnier if you’re a hobbit, so . . .

Three: You don’t think that makes me look a touch out of place with you two in your futuristic anime garb?

One: Sure it does! That’s the point!

Three: So I’m essentially a sight gag is what you’re saying?

One: Yup! I downloaded a height mod and everything! I couldn’t find any hairy hobbit feet cc, though. I was shocked and deeply disappointed.

Three: All right, then. Just checking.

Two: Now, now. You’re not just a sight gag. You’re a sight gag and also an indispensable member of the council.

One: Yes. That, too.

Three: Oh. Thanks.


Cherie: *clears throat*

One: Oh, hello, sweetheart! Lovely to see you. How are you, dear?

Council 13

Cherie: Well, . . . my dog died . . .

One: Yes, and you’ve wasted a really impressive amount of time being sad about that. I’m sure he’s very flattered, but here the thing: you have an insane quantity of things to accomplish (I should know! I have a whole spreadsheet about it!) and I’m going to need you to get back to it.

Cherie: So you called me here for a pep talk?

One: No, no. I’m terrible at those.

Two: We noticed.

Three: I didn’t want to say anything, but wow! Yeah! You’re awful.

One: I called you here to tell you it’s fully in line with the rules to invite ghosts back into the household, so if Gizmo is what you need to keep your spirits up and your engines revved, then go ahead and invite him next time you see him. He can stick around and advise the entire legacy if you want!

Cherie: Oh, well . . . that’s okay, then. I’ll do that.

One: Marvelous! And then if you could just get your portraits done, increase your home value to about $400,000, max 16 skills, complete 4 aspirations, 2 collections, 2 career branches, all the emotional paintings, buy 9 potions of youth and all the consumable rewards, kill two people in interesting ways, and throw 37 gold parties we’ll be in excellent shape! Off you go, kiddo! And don’t forget to have fun!

Two: *sighs* We really, really need to work on your pep talks.

Cherie: Can I have a cupcake before I go?

One: Eh . . .

Three: Yes! You poor, neglected redhead. Here you go! *tosses*

Cherie: Ooh! It’s got bacon!

One: That’s my favorite, too! Bye, now!

And that is how I meet the people in charge.

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