Chapter 30: Hospitality

NOTE: This chapter contains more gratuitous poetry in Finnish. The translation to the poem is again found in the Author’s Notes at the end, and in this chapter the characters do translate the main points of the poem in-story as well. 🙂

Gaius Deacon tried his best to get excited and go along with his father and sister’s enthusiasm. But he had a very bad feeling about the whole plan. Sure, his father – and his grandparents back when they had been alive – had talked about how proper sorcerers should always strive to bend the laws of nature, but they had also always stressed the importance of being responsible and smart about it.

Gaius was starting to think that his father had at some point let the stress of being the head of the Deacon family – not to mention the death of mum – to break something in him. And Gaius was afraid that Lydia may have broken something too.

Still, he wanted to trust her. Lydia was so much smarter than him. And she had always kept him company when mum and dad had been too busy with work. She had done it even though she had been struggling with the lack of acceptance from their parents. Gaius had always thought it was unfair. It wasn’t Lydia’s fault that she didn’t have magic. But dad had always stressed how the Deacons were supposed to be an old, competent family of sorcerers and sorceresses. And those of them who weren’t had often turned out… not very formidable – such as Cousin Helen, who had descended into alcoholism, or Great Uncle Aris, who had become a car mechanic. Though as far as Gaius knew, at least Great Uncle Aris had been perfectly happy as a car mechanic. Still, Gaius had a feeling that maybe dad was being so harsh on Lydia partly because he wanted to challenge her. Because he knew that Lydia could become greater than any of them.

At least Gaius liked to think that. And he wanted to support his sister with her dreams of accomplishing even more in life. That was why he pretended to smile when dad dug out some more old tomes and started browsing through one.

“Okay, I’m sure it’s somewhere in here…” he said.

“You said that about the last five books too,” Lydia said a bit snippily.

“But this time I’m very sure about it.”

“What are you even looking for? I doubt there’s a ‘how to beat death’ spell in any of those. I mean, sure, those spells are all over the market, but they’re all either hoaxes or just don’t work because they’re idiotic.”

“I’m looking for a binding ritual,” father said after a slightly grumpy pause.

“Oh. Well, that’s actually kind of perfect. Are you sure it’ll work?”

“It has been used before successfully, at least according to some records. It’s not permanent, of course. And you need to figure out a more lasting way if you really want to impress me. And of course to make sure to shield your brother and yourself from possible repercussions.”

Lydia crossed her arms.

“Oh, I will.”

“What are you going to do, Sis’?” Gaius asked cautiously, “I mean… you’re not going to just kill Death, right? How would that even work?”

Not to mention what kind of chaos it would cause if it somehow worked. Sure, Gaius wasn’t really a fan of Death either. That son of a bitch had taken too many of his relatives, and had attacked dad and killed their precious zombies. Those last two were especially enraging. There were three things Gaius Deacon loved more than anything in this world: his sister, his parents, and his work with raising the dead.

“No, of course I’m not talking about killing or simply imprisoning Death!” Lydia said at once, “Those are such short-sighted goals! And something’s bound to go wrong when an integral part of reality is even temporarily incapacitated. No, I plan to bend Death to my will.”

Gaius stared at Lydia. Yes, that sounded a lot like what many Deacons had tried. And what Gaius in a sense also wanted. But he had always just been more interested in the mechanics of zombie-making. Of giving new life to those poor old corpses and teaching them to live again. It was cheating and bending the rules of Death, but not in a way Lydia or father wanted. What his sister was trying was… big. Too big. Why couldn’t Lydia or dad see that?

“Ah, here we go!” dad said suddenly, “This is about cosmic beings in general, but here’s some specifics about Death too.”

He showed the book to Gaius first. Gaius curled up to be more comfortable on the couch he was sitting on, and started reading.

“Oh, it’s in the ancient language… hold on.”

He cleared his throat.

”Käypä kuolon kohtaajaksi,
Tuonen herran voittajaksi.

Ensin etsi elon viljaa,
hedelmä kultainen poimi…”

He paused for a moment.

“So we have to find a… I think that’s talking about a life fruit. And it needs to be… hang on… that’s a lot of poetic filler… ah, here we go: Kuolon kuussa kerättävä/revittävä routamaasta… So we need to pick the life fruit during the month of death.”

Lydia frowned.

“November. So we need to wait. And we need to find a place where life fruit still grows around that time. That won’t be easy; that fruit is rare as it is… and most of them are grown just so some idiots could eat it to extend their life by a few months… Buuut I have some connections that could help.”

“Right,” father said, “Now, read on, son.”

“Um… okay…

Hae vettä mustan joen,
Luovi läpi liekkimeren.
Sillä piirrät taikamerkin,
loitsuriimut raapustelet.”

”The binding circle needs to be drawn with black water,” Lydia translated quickly, ”It could mean literal water that’s black because of some magic, or some kind of water from Death’s realm – I hope it’s not that one – or even some other liquid that’s not water at all.”

“It’s talking about tar,” dad corrected a bit smugly, “And it needs to be gathered from somewhere where there’s fire nearby. But at least the rest of the ingredients are simpler. There’s some ash, and a bit of blood. And then you need to figure out what you’re going to do after the binding.”

Lydia looked a bit hatefully at their father, but then her face twisted into a smirk that usually meant she had a plan.

“I told you; I will.”

Gaius still had a bad feeling about it all. But he wanted to trust Lydia. She was usually right, after all.


The house felt emptier. Maybe even emptier than before Tad had showed up. Amelia wasn’t sure. It felt so long ago, even though this strange adventure had only lasted for a few months. She remembered the time she had wanted breaks from her strange tenant. But now… Amelia noticed that she was sometimes watching out the windows as if hoping to catch a glimpse of the skinny, pale young man. She kept making vegetarian meals as if waiting for Tad to show up for dinner. It was silly, she knew. Tad had promised that he’d be back soon. It wasn’t the time to start acting like he was completely gone.

Too bad having mum around meant that she had to think about it, because Julia liked to bring Tad up in conversations. Amelia figured mum missed having a fellow gardener around. Or then she just wanted to make sure Tad wasn’t getting into trouble.

“So, where did you say Tad went?” she asked about a day after Tad had gone.

“I didn’t say…” Amelia said, and then realised with horror that they hadn’t agreed on a cover story for Tad’s absence, “He uh… went to see his family.”

“Really? In the middle of his summer studies?”

“Right… uh… he didn’t have that many courses. And his umm… uncle was injured,” Amelia stammered.

“Really? Oh no! I hope it’s nothing too bad!”

“It’s… probably not,” Amelia smiled nervously, “He said he’d be back in a few weeks.”

“Oh, okay. Hey, maybe we could get him something nice for when he returns! To take his mind off injured relatives.”

Amelia looked at her mother for a long while. She thought about Death Flowers and bribes and Tad’s sadness about never getting real gifts.

“Yeah,” she said, “Maybe.”

She put the possibility of presents on her to-do list, but otherwise she tried her best to go back to normal. She went to work, took walks, visited dad’s grave, and tried to spend time with mum. Mum was still painting a lot and enjoying her stay at home, but sometimes she made offhand comments about missing Champs Les Sims. This time she wouldn’t be running, though, just chasing after a life she had grown to like during her escape.

“You know when something becomes like home so quickly?” she said when Amelia asked her about it, “Something that takes a bit of your heart right away and never lets go… that’s Champs Les Sims for me.”

Amelia didn’t know what exactly that felt like. She fell in love with places easily, but they didn’t really take parts of her with them. She liked coming back home too much. Riverview was where she’d grown up in and where she wanted to be. But she understood that France had become important for mum, and she also knew she wasn’t going to stop her from returning there. She just hoped mum would stop busying herself with paintings and Philippe at least for a moment so Amelia could really talk to her for more than a few minutes before mum started being almost unrealistically cheerful again.

For a while, Amelia busied herself with being a good hostess to Novak, who to be fair seemed more annoyed than anything by her helpfulness. He insisted that he could take care of himself, and Amelia didn’t doubt that. But she figured she could at least try to form some kind of connection to him. He still made her nervous, but he seemed to have a good heart – despite the bad things he obviously did.

“There’s no need to bother with the friendliness,” he said one evening after Amelia had brought him some refreshments, “I’ll be gone soon. After I get my connections checked and figured out a place to go.”

“Really?” Amelia asked, “You can still stay.”

“Nah,” Novak shrugged, “You guys are too decent people for me to risk your safety by staying for too long. This has been a good place to hide in, but if I stay much longer, someone’s going to figure out where I am.”

He smirked.

“So don’t worry, I’ll be out of your way in no time.”

Amelia gave him an unsure smile. Novak looked almost relaxed that evening. He stopped using his laptop for a moment and went to sit on the guest room’s sofa. He could have easily passed for the normal university student he claimed to be whenever Julia or Philippe asked. Maybe that was what prompted Amelia to ask:

“So, you steal stuff, huh?”

Wow, what an awkward way to start a conversation, Amelia, she scolded herself immediately. Novak didn’t seem to mind, however. He actually laughed a little.

“Oh, wow, you actually wanna talk about it?”

“I… yeah. Maybe?”

“Okay. Sure.”

Amelia blinked.

“Really?”

“I just said I’m okay with it. Except… are your folks around? I’d rather not advertise it to everyone.”

“They’re out on a date,” Amelia said, glancing around as if there could be someone eavesdropping on them, “Philippe isn’t actually ‘my folks’, though.”

“Right. He’s just your mum’s rebound. Gotcha.”

“He’s not-“ Amelia sighed, “I don’t need to explain this to you, right?”

“Nope. I honestly don’t even care,” Novak raised his legs onto the couch, and Amelia decided not to say anything about putting shoes on the furniture, “So… yeah, I steal stuff. And hack stuff. Usually when someone pays me to do it.”

“Right,” Amelia sighed, “And that doesn’t bother you?”

“Nope. I’m good at it. And it has its charm. Adrenaline rushes, choosing my own work hours, challenges… occasional death threat and a much higher possibility of totally ruining my life and/or ending up dismembered in a ditch if I screw up too badly. What’s not to love?”

Amelia shifted nervously. A lot of the times it was difficult to tell whether Novak was joking, lying, or telling the truth.

“You’re good at it?” she repeated, “That’s it?”

Novak leaned back in his seat.

“What? Do you want a sob story about how my parents were drunks who beat me until I ran away and joined a travelling circus where one of the mimes taught me how to pick locks, and how they forgot about me when we were touring in Europe and I stayed there and ended up in crime so I wouldn’t starve?”

Amelia stared. Novak started laughing.

“You’re kidding now, right?” Amelia guessed.

“Maybe.”

Amelia made slightly disgruntled face.

“Maybe the clowns at the circus could have taught you better jokes, then.”

“Ooh, sass… kind of. I like that. You know, you’re tougher than you look.”

“Um… thanks?”

“I’m not just saying that because of you putting up with me, really,” Novak said, and he seemed to get almost serious, “You’ve been getting a lifetime’s worth of weirdness lately, I’d guess, and you’re toughing it out, getting in danger and hiding criminals and being Death’s landlady like it’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing,” Amelia said.

“Exactly. It’s not,” Novak spread his arms, “But here we are.”

He let his arms fall to his sides.

“But you know, you’re not really cut out for all this. This crime and magical intrigue -stuff. You’ve done well so far, but at some point, it’s gonna come back to bite you. Maybe all of us.”

“I’m not trying to be cut out for this,” Amelia said, “I just want to help.”

Novak nodded thoughtfully.

“Like I said: tougher than you look.”

Amelia smiled.

“You know, you’re pretty nice for a thief.”

“Thanks, I guess,” Novak said, “Just don’t get too comfortable around criminals because of me.”

“I won’t.”

Amelia shifted her weight.

“So, you said you’d be leaving soon? What are you going to do then?”

Novak shrugged his shoulders again.

“Survive, pretty much.”

“Right. What did you do to make those people… that man… so angry at you?”

Novak laughed. This time the laugh was somewhat bitter and almost hysterical.

“Funny story, that. I was hired by that guy to do some stealing, but then I realised I was getting in too deep… his gang isn’t the worst ever, but it’s pretty awful. I had to get away, but I figured I’d do it in style.”

He grinned a bit apologetically.

“Long story short, aside from doing some burglary, I ended up having to drive a truck full of money – Beagle’s money of course – as a part of some gig. You know, real movie-like. Big money, secrets, guns, maybe a police chase, even, if things went wrong. I had picked that time to quit the gang, and decided to mess up the gig just a bit as a last secret screw you to the guy. He wasn’t the nicest employer. Anyway, I kinda overdid it, and somehow the truck ended up in the ocean.”

He sighed.

“That wasn’t my brightest moment. I almost drowned. Even saw your tenant. All black cloaks and empty hoods. He just watched me flail underwater as I tried to fight unconsciousness and get out of the truck… It was pretty screwed up, really. And when I did manage to get to the surface, I realised that I had to get out of the town really frickin’ fast if I didn’t want to end up drilled in the eye sockets or something.”

Amelia realised that she was staring again. Novak tilted his head and grimaced at the memory.

“Yeah, like I said, not my brightest moment. But I got away… And this conversation never leaves this room.”

“Of course not.”

“Good. And thanks for the soda.”

Amelia figured that was the end of the conversation. She left the room.


Amelia realised quite quickly that she had perhaps neglected her old friends during her adventure on the supernatural side. She tried her best to make up for that by meeting with Katie and Sandra and sometimes even Jon for something fun, like a couple of hours in a café or a walk by the river. It was nice, a step back to “normal”, though at this point Amelia wasn’t sure what normal was anymore. And in a way she didn’t even mind not knowing. Perhaps normal didn’t even matter that much especially when it came to fantastical adventures and meeting new people.

Still, it was nice to invest into friendships with slightly different complications and responsibilities. Instead of trying to teach humanity and figuring out how a person-shaped concept saw the world, it was more about just worrying about being on time for friendly dinner-dates or – in the case of Jon Lessen – trying to figure out whether one was a friend or a date. So far Jon and Amelia seemed to have settled for a purely platonic relationship. Amelia wouldn’t have minded if they had actually talked about it instead of just assuming and carrying on in a slightly awkward place between friendship and dating. Still, it was genuine, even though Amelia didn’t know what it really was, and at the moment, she didn’t even care that much. She felt happy.

That didn’t mean she didn’t miss Tad, though.

To be fair, she and Tad hadn’t even known each other for that long. They had first met around six months ago. And the first few months Amelia had spent afraid and confused. But after that, Amelia had started to care very deeply about the shy, friendly young man who wasn’t really young… or a man. It was the kind of caring that came from truly trying to understand, and from true compassion and fondness, and all that being returned. It was the kind of caring that didn’t even need that long a time to form. Sometimes things just clicked. And now Amelia was already feeling a void where Tad should have been.

Sometimes Amelia knocked on Tad’s door, wondering if he’d maybe appeared back into the house. His room remained empty, and for the first time Amelia truly realised how barren it looked. She didn’t really want to start criticising Tad’s taste in décor, but the simple, quite impersonal black and white furniture and the lack of anything on the walls didn’t really make the room look like a home. Compared to the gorgeous, lush garden that seemed to be Tad’s real home, it was about as inviting as a wet cardboard box.

Amelia thought about her mum’s suggestion of getting Tad a gift. A real gift. Something to maybe make him feel even more welcome and at home even at the Spriggs’ house. Amelia felt excitement in her veins now that she spared a longer time for the thought. It would be fun! Finding something Tad might like, surprising him and…

Amelia frowned when she again remembered the Death Flowers and Tad’s sadness about bribes. She remembered what she’d felt back then. Mostly she thought about the pity.

Was she planning a pity-gift to her friend?

No. Of course she wasn’t. She was just trying to do something nice! Why did even niceness have to be so difficult now?!

She felt like she needed something to clear her thoughts. So when Brigitte Hewitt called her and asked if she wanted to join the Ley Line Nexus for what could be the last barbeque of the summer, Amelia again took a moment to berate herself for not thinking of calling Brigitte right away. If there was someone who seemed natural at being nice and helping people clear their thoughts, it was Brigitte Hewitt. And seeing Brigitte and Basil – and Mimosa and Dewey too – again sounded lovely. Her last visit hadn’t been very pleasant, and after that she’d been busy with work and with trying to figure out the Deacons, so she had only called the Ley Line Nexus a few times. That needed to be fixed, too.

So the next Saturday, when around a week had passed since Tad had left, Amelia made her way to the Ley Line Nexus and enjoyed some of the last rays of summer that year.

“It’s so great to have you here!” Brigitte said as a greeting. She looked sunny, and Amelia had a hard time connecting her to the scary, out-of-control werewolf she had seen her as the last time she’d been there.

“It’s nice to be here again,” Amelia said, “We should really meet more often.”

“Definitely! I’m hoping this will be a start of something like that.”

“That sounds nice,” Amelia smiled, and then pointed to the backpack she had with her, “I brought some potato salad. I made it vegan, since you mentioned Basil and Dewey have been going vegan lately.”

“Oh, how considerate of you!” Brigitte beamed at her, “Thank you! And come on in! Everyone wants to meet you!”

Brigitte led Amelia to the Nexus’s lovely living room. Dewey, the dark-skinned, pointy-eared sculptor Amelia didn’t really know much about yet was sitting on the sofa there, and he greeted Amelia with a small grunt when she waved at him. Amelia noted that he was wearing a T-shirt with a Freezer Bunny and a rainbow on it. She remembered her dad having a shirt like that.

“Oh, you’ve finally come out of your room!” Brigitte said cheerfully when she saw Dewey.

“Yep,” said Dewey, “I made that ice tea too. It’s cooling in the fridge.”

“Wonderful! And just in time too! Amelia, Dewey can keep you company while I help Basil with the barbeque. Mimosa is in the kitchen, making salad. It’s going to be delicious! And I can take your potato salad to the kitchen too!”

“I can help in the kitchen, if you want,” Amelia offered, but Brigitte shook her head.

“Nonsense! You’re a guest! You just relax. The food’s almost done anyway!”

With that, she left Amelia in the living room. Amelia hesitated for a moment before she put her now potato salad -less backpack next to the front door and sat down on an armchair in the living room. She smiled a bit nervously at Dewey. She didn’t really know what to make of him. So far she’d only seen him yelling and refusing to tell about himself, and later cutting werewolf-Brigitte with a knife. He seemed like the quiet, serious type who didn’t want to let people in easily. But Amelia was ready to find out more about him, now that she had the chance.

“Hi,” she said, “We haven’t really talked much before.”

“No,” said Dewey.

“Do you like it here?”

“Yes.”

“Um… well, I hope you don’t mind Brigitte inviting me to your barbeque.”

“No.”

“My dad used to have a T-shirt like that.”

“Well, it is retro and somehow turned into a meme later.”

“It did, didn’t it? Funny how that works.”

“Hm.”

Well, this wasn’t going quite so well. Dewey certainly wasn’t the most talkative of people. Amelia settled better into her seat.

“Um… do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” she asked, “About this… commune and you people.”

Dewey shrugged. Amelia took that as an invitation to continue.

“Right, so, I know you guys are a supernatural commune and such… what made you settle here in Riverview? It’s not very supernatural, at least that’s what I’ve gathered.”

At first, Dewey didn’t answer. Amelia hoped she hadn’t said anything inappropriate. Then, finally, Dewey shrugged again.

“It’s peaceful and quiet,” he said in his slightly gravelly yet oddly melodious voice, “Brigitte is a member of this larger facility that takes care of wayward, troubled supernaturals. It’s in a larger city, and Brigitte says she wanted to move to the country so she started this.”

He tilted his head.

“Works for me, really. I like the peace. And the fresh air.”

“It is nice. I love it too.”

Dewey grunted.

“So… what kind of supernatural are you?” Amelia asked, “I mean, Mimosa is a vampire, Brigitte is a werewolf, and Basil is a sorcerer…”

“Witch,” Dewey said.

“You’re a witch?”

“No. Basil. He prefers to be called a witch. Sorcerers and sorceresses are what the academically trained witches call themselves. Basil thinks it’s elitist, and he likes how witch is a gender-neutral term.”

“It is?”

“In their culture.”

“That’s neat,” Amelia smiled, “And uh… if you don’t want to tell me about yourself, it’s fine. I don’t want to pry.”

“Right,” Dewey sighed, “I guess there’s no harm. If Bridge trusts you enough to tell you all about us, then I guess I’ll trust you too… I’m mostly here because of my old profession, really. I was a monster hunter, and no, I still don’t want to talk too much about it. Let’s just say I got tired of having to fight a bunch of frenzied creatures who could potentially still have been saved. As for what I am… well, I’m part fairy.”

“Wow. Like… wings and magic and all?” Amelia asked in amazement. She loved fairy stories. They were full of the sparkly kind of magic.

“Yes. Though in my case, all I got to show for that bloodline is purely… cosmetic, I guess. Ears, eyes, that sort of thing. I can’t actually do any kind of magic. Or get wings.”

“Oh. But your ears do look really nice.”

“Sure. They do let me hear things better,” Dewey gave her a ghost of a smile, “And thanks.”

He leaned back in his seat.

“So, what are you, then?”

“Me? I’m just a human.”

“No one’s just anything.”

Amelia hummed thoughtfully.

“Well, I’m a native of this town. I live in an old house that has belonged to the Spriggs for generations. I work in insurance, and I like making friends and I’m still a little lost in this new supernatural world.”

She paused, and then added a meek:

“Well, it’s new to me, anyway.”

“That’s no surprise; we’re pretty secretive,” Dewey said, “But I think the fear of becoming an oppressed minority or just being taken advantage of justifies that. Though of course there are also places where the non-supernaturals are the minority, and they’re pretty secretive in return, so I guess it all balances out.”

“Huh… I guess so,” Amelia frowned, “It would be nicer if we could all just live together and be nice to each other.”

“Sure. But we sentient beings tend to usually end up messing that up.”

“Right… well, maybe someday.”

“Maybe. Up until then, well, it’s not a perfect setup, but it’s… something.”

Amelia nodded and paused for a moment to think of what to say next.

“So… you like sculpting, right?”

Dewey seemed to immediately perk up.

“Yeah,” he said almost fondly, “I figured I’d want to use my skills with sharp objects to create something for a change.”

“Are you thinking of becoming a professional?” Amelia asked.

“Maybe a freelancer of some kind. I also paint, but that’s way more difficult for me. Still, I like it, and I’m learning.”

“Um… Dewey?” the timid voice of Mimosa said from the dining room, “I’m done with the salad, and Brigitte told me I could go in the living room. Are the blinds closed?”

“No,” Dewey said back, “Want me to close them for you?”

“Yes, please.”

“Sure. Hold on.”

Dewey stood up and then went to the nearest window, where he pulled down the white curtains above them. Amelia watched with interest as the man moved from window to window until the living room was protected from sunlight. Dewey spared a glance at the lit lamp on an end table near Amelia.

“Could you switch that off too?” he said and pointed to the lamp, “It’s not dangerous, but it hurts Mimosa’s eyes.”

“Of course,” Amelia said and reached out to switch the light off.

“Thanks. Hey, Mimi! It’s safe to come in!”

Amelia turned to look at Mimosa, whose bare feet tapped against the floorboards when she approached. She smiled shyly at Amelia, and they both quickly settled into the uncomfortable silence of two people whose last meeting had been a mess of awkwardness and attempted blackmail. But Mimosa at least didn’t seem skittish or freaked out by Amelia’s thoughts – which Amelia tried her best to keep as quiet as possible – and she actually dared to approach Amelia and sit down on the vacant armchair next to her. Dewey sat back down on the couch and stretched his toned arms.

“Is everything set?” he asked.

Mimosa nodded.

“Brigitte and Basil are still outside,” she whispered, “Soon we can eat. Before that we should apparently chat…”

“Wow, we’re not the best people to do that,” Dewey laughed a bit nervously.

“I think we’re doing well, actually,” Amelia smiled, “Don’t worry about it.”

“Oh, good,” Mimosa laughed a very fragile laugh, “Um… I hope you’re doing okay.”

“I am,” Amelia said, because it was the easiest answer, “It’s lovely to see you guys again.”

“Oh… thank you. Even though we haven’t probably made the best first impression…”

“Well, neither did I, I think,” Amelia smiled, “But I hope we’re all past those now.”

Both Mimosa and Dewey smiled back at her. Amelia felt like she was really getting somewhere with these new friendships.

Her feeling was also helped by the fact that they were then called for dinner and gathered around a dining room table, where Brigitte and Basil served some tofu hot dogs and green salad, as well as Amelia’s potato salad. There was also a porcelain teapot filled with ice tea, and in front of Mimosa there was a juice box full of blood – Amelia tried her best not to think about that last one. They chatted about nice, everyday things like Basil’s school projects involving goldfish. Then they talked about the weather and how it would soon be time to do some harvesting in the vegetable gardens, then about their jobs and even about tedious, work-related paperwork – though that last part was mostly glossed over. Brigitte talked about her latest visit to her workplace out of town, and even mentioned curtly how Basil’s dad had been there. That subject was dropped even quicker than the paperwork, so Amelia figured there wasn’t a very loving relationship there. She remembered Basil mentioning at some point that his dad was never around. She didn’t have time to dwell on it that much, though, since the conversation quickly moved on to more light-hearted subjects that everyone wanted to talk about more.

It was a lovely dinner. Good food, nice conversation and great company. It took several hours, and when they were done, Brigitte rolled up the curtains and they all saw that it was already dark out.

Mimosa suggested that they should all go outside, so they did. The sky was full of stars, and the evening and slowly approaching autumn were turning the weather fresh and comfortably cool. Amelia breathed in deep and saw most of the others do the same. They didn’t talk in a long while. They just enjoyed the air and sat down on the lawn next to the Nexus’s house. Basil started at some point muttering spells, and light and intricate, glowing designs soon surrounded him. Amelia stared at the display in wonderment. Basil smiled at her.

“This is mostly just fancy lights… but it’s good practise,” he said, “And maybe a little something to make this a bit more festive.”

“It’s lovely,” Amelia said.

“I’m glad you like it,” Basil said, “And I hope you liked this evening in general.”

“I did. Very much.”

“That’s great to hear. Mum loves it when she manages to make people feel like they’re at home.”

Amelia glanced at Brigitte, who sat next to Mimosa and who seemed to be lost in the stars for the moment.

“She definitely succeeded,” she said.

And she realised that she and Brigitte had even more in common than she had thought.

She too wanted people to feel at home.

She made her decision, then. She wouldn’t care about pity or bribes and she would get something nice for Tad. Something to welcome him back home.

Author’s Note: Happy New Year to those who celebrate it around now!

Here’s the clunky translation to my newest crappy poem that’s not actually a spell but rather just instructions on preparing the actual spell:

Käypä kuolon kohtaajaksi,                          Go forth against death,
Tuonen herran voittajaksi.                          become the victor over the lord of the Underworld.

Ensin etsi elon viljaa,                                    First, look for the crop of life,
hedelmä kultainen poimi.                           pick the golden fruit.

…                                                                         …

Kuolon kuussa kerättävä,                            [It] must be picked in the month of death,
revittävä routamaasta.                                 [It] must be ripped from the frosted ground.

…                                                                         …

Hae vettä mustan joen,                                Get some water from a black river,
Luovi läpi liekkimeren.                                wade through the sea of flames.
Sillä piirrät taikamerkin,                             With it you shall draw the magic mark,
loitsuriimut raapustelet.                             scribble the runes for the spell.

Also November is the month of death here because the Finnish word for November, Marraskuu, has the word ‘marras’ in it, which apparently means either an omen of death or a dying person… though it also refers to the ground being frozen. I don’t know. I’ve never heard the word ‘marras’ being used outside of the month’s name.

Also Dewey’s Nyan Freezer Bunny shirt is now apparently retro… because I realised after taking those Amelia’s childhood pics in Ch. 6 that Amelia’s dad wears too… 2000s clothes in some of them. So here’s me clumsily making them ‘retro’. Hey, it’s the Sims universe… and my Sims universe at that, so I can do that. Muahahahaha. Also Dewey is probably the fastest ice tea -maker ever and he must have sneaked right past Brigitte and Amelia while Brigitte was welcoming Amelia at the door…

Have a lovely time, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this. I should get the next chapter out pretty soon, since that just needs a little bit of editing. Until then, I’ll see you in the comments and in the Sims forums! 🙂

PREVIOUS Chapter: Paying Debts, Saying Goodbye

NEXT Chapter: Break. Connection.

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10 thoughts on “Chapter 30: Hospitality

  1. I love this chapter very much ! When I first saw and read the first scene with Amelia , it very much did feel like coming home , especially after that brief stint with the scary Deacons ! (And don’t you feel that in the right circumstances Gaius could be good friends with Amelia and the ley line crew ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!

      Also yeah, Gaius is actually kind of a sweetheart… especially considering his upbringing hasn’t been very focused on kindness etc. So yeah, I could see him befriending Amelia and Co. in some circumstances.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I like the Nexus too, and I was glad for a chance to bring them back again. I’m sure they’ll show up in the future too. They are indeed very good company for Amelia now that they’ve got over the slightly creepy first impressions.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Woot Nexus folks! And a not really bbq picnic-y thing. What a lovely way to help Amelia figure out her mind and her place. Tad was right – knowing your place (and not in the condescending way) is very much a good way towards happiness.

    There’s still plenty of threads to pick at for this story – and some that might unroll completely away from Amelia and Death. (although in the end lead to Death again). So I’m excited to see which threads we’ll be following.

    I’m pretty sure half the time Novak is lying and half the time he’s completely honest knowing everyone will know he’s lying. He strikes me as the type to sometimes actually say the truth but throw in a few lies until you’re not entirely sure which of the items is truth and which are lies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do want to explore plenty of subplots before we get to the big finale of this story… and maybe even after that because I keep thinking of this as a sort of TV series where there can be multiple seasons with multiple bigger plots. I hope I won’t disappoint with the plot threads.

      You have Novak figured out really well! Mixing lies with truth is exactly what he does so he can safely sometimes talk honestly about himself without people actually realising he’s being honest.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yay for poetry! I don’t even mind if it’s in Finnish and you think it’s gratuitous.

    I had to smile when I read the name Aris. When I was a kid, my cousin and I wrote a story with a character named Aris, female though.

    “How to beat a death spell” made me smile too.

    I love Lydia’s outfit. That green jacket with silver buttons is pretty. (Random fashion moment here!)
    Ah and life fruit! Things are going to get complicated, aren’t they?

    Amelia trying to come up with excuses for Tad’s disappearance was amusing. She’s a bad liar, but then again, that’s not a bad thing. The gift idea was nice.

    I miss Tad. 😦

    Haha. Amelia is so awkward with Novak too. It’s a bit adorable though. I love his nonchalant attitude toward life.

    I like Dewey too. His eyes are gorgeous.

    And yay! Mimosa. I liked her character before too. All the Ley Line Nexus supernaturals are intriguing.

    The barbecue was lovely. I am happy Amelia got back in touch with the Ley Line peeps. Finally had a moment to pick back up where I left off. Yay!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay, you’re back! Your comments are always so nice! 🙂

      I’m glad you like my sorry excuse for poetry. When I read the poem now I’m cringing a bit because I’m terrible at poetry. Yikes. 😀

      Amelia does get surprisingly socially awkward when she’s uncomfortable, even though she’s normally a social butterfly. Writing her and Novak’s conversation was a lot of fun. Novak’s dialogue often seems to write itself somehow.

      I’m glad you like the Nexus people. It was about time to give them more screentime, especially Dewey, whom we haven’t got to know that well yet. They’ll have a much more important role later in the story, and in future arcs as well.

      Tad will be back in the next chapter. 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Like

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