Wednesday, July 11, 2018

1.34 Ancient Chinese Dragons

Every time Meghan goes to swim she regrets it. The water's cold, she doesn't want to get pneumonia, even though it looked good because the air is so hot, it does not make her feel any better.

Sometimes it's worth the discomfort to stay in shape though.

“Alright Miura, it was lovely to see you, you have to go on home now.”

Miura: 'It's like she knows I was gonna take a dump in the agave plant.'


Everet and Mercutio stay for a bit longer.

Mercutio is told to walk the plank, apparently. Love the dive shoes. He's truly a force to be reckoned with.


Lookin good.

Everet also helps him with a research project. The equipment is right here in plain sight, for goodness sake! May as well use it, repurpose it for their own ends, potato potahto.

By the end of the week though, Dustin and Meghan reveal a surprise for the kids; finally a whole-family vacation!

Of course, Dustin will be making some money along the way, but as Meghan decided that her goal is life is to be healthy as well as clever, Jyoti can't seem to get enough of any sport, and Jet... complains when he doesn't get to go somewhere, that China is the best choice for the next major vacation.

Dustin has to stay in shape to keep on top of his game as an illusionist as well, no new young magician is going to come knock him off stage at the peak of his career!

The Crypt Moth.

Meghan's priority one.

Jyoti's always been one to want to feel the burning and stretching of her muscles. Daily, in fact she always seem to be doing something. There's no sport she won't play after school, or in a club, and no matter how much homework she's assigned, she manages a quick session in front of the stereo before bed as the perfect way to end the day. There are mornings where, additionally, she's working out before school starts. It's more than a habit, it's become a way of life.

Her dad's intuition about China being a good place for her to learn new things is spot on.

This place is gorgeous, she wants to run forever.

Jet, for his part, doesn't make it that far from base camp.

He drops his things in his room upstairs, and immediately finds a shady tree to sketch under.

He doesn't have to sight see to imagine what ancient Chinese dragons used to look like.

The books here are full of awesome reference material too.

Meghan is really grateful the guide to local creatures she purchased from a vendor in town was accurate. This is a red assassin beetle, the rarest species in China! It's really too bad all she can do in the field is take samples, this little guy will have to make it home, smuggled in some creative luggage assortment. She wants to ask for permission to remove the insect, but even as famous as her research is back home she's not confident that the Chinese government would take kindly to her collection of it.

It's not expressly forbidden, but... sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission, right?

The rare yellow band dart butterfly is another species she has a map to sightings of, so that will be another goal for later.

Dustin is used to his wife's need to collect samples of anything she can get her hands on, so he gathers some cherries at the Scholar's Garden when he discovers the trees are ready for harvest.

Jyo just took off running and has yet to look back.

Meghan heads past the town center a few times in her quest to check all the reported insect sightings locations, finally avoiding her dreaded nemesis the sun. She can meet townspeople later.


Dustin invites his wife to play a game of skill with him, but she doesn't answer the phone. She must have found something awesome to collect.

It's nice (and kind of weird) that the city has no problem with crime and the whole family can basically run all over the place. Starlight Shores mayor Roland should visit and takes notes.

Normally a dark cave like the Dragon's Maw would hold a lot of interest for a researcher like Meghan, but the kind of things that hold her interest right now come out in broad daylight.

Jyoti did answer the phone, and by the time she's made her way to the city's martial arts training grounds her father is already engrossed in using his own training dummy.

There's not a lot of sports where bruising your bones to harden them over time is a part of the point of the craft. But, this counts as a sport right?

Meghan seems to run longer than everyone, her determination knows no limits and she doesn't once stop to enjoy the scenery. Her goal is to fall exhausted into bed at the end of the day, celebrating her progress and accomplishments. Then again, that's how she spends most of her days. Working hard so she can have no regrets in old age.

There are several camp sights scattered around the foothills, many hidden by natural formations and not marked on any map.

It's doubtless that there are many secrets in ancient places like this.

Maybe the Sparrow family is smart to avoid downtown on their first day; there's something generic and modern about places that tourists are told they should go.

(By the way the NRAAS Traveler mod does this, seasons, zombies and even the ice cream truck can show up in vacation towns because your sims could basically choose to live there so they get the 'full game' treatment.)

Meghan sees more of China in the first few hours than any other tourist, probably ever. She's on the outskirts of a far mountain village before late afternoon. Not a single bicycle or tourist has crossed her path since she left the bustling town center behind.

The sense that something amazing is just over the horizon, right around the next bend drives her forward.

It's hard work but she is rewarded well for it. A green swallowtail! A green swallowtail! To think some people come to this camp to fish for the Koi, how silly! Everyone has studied Koi already. But these uncommon beauties are the diamond in the rough around here. They definitely chose the right time of the year to visit China.

“Many people will have better lives because you exist,” She tells the little insect happily.

* Smoosh *

Dustin plays to the locals by sunset. He can't stay away from the work that he loves so much, and there's something magical about this place as it is...

Though the locals are convinced that what he's doing is nothing more than a new, westernized form of martial art.

Having gone to every insect nest she can manage during the daylight, Meghan decides to bring a few Koi home too. Who would leave them there if they had the time to catch a few? These things are expensive!

Iris Swift is here in town as a visitor too. She seems to fit in better in China, honestly. Maybe it's a connection to nature that I'm racistly assuming all fairies have.

She has many features that I was hoping would be passed on to her kids, but both Darla and Kevin are clones of their father Dannigan, down to the eye color.

Later that day, as if it was inevitable, Dustin is greeted by the local tourism associate and their need to provide him with complimentary transportation due to his fame.

It's been a long day in the sun and he appreciates it. Probably shouldn't have been out doing magic tricks in public places if you didn't want to be recognized, Dustin...

But no matter how tired he is he makes time to play a game of soccer with his daughter as a cool down from the rigors of their martial arts training.

Sports are something they can bond over, and there just seems to be an understanding between them that she's never had with another person. Her dad is special. He gets her. So many people think she's weird for wanting to always be active, her love of working out is practically an addiction after all, but her father is someone who realizes the value in this. For all his innovation in sleight of hand, he would be worthless as a magician if he couldn't carefully control every muscle in his body without fatigue.

Day two is about just enjoying the journey. Dustin enjoys camping, so he heads off on his own for a bit.

Seriously, seriously tempting.

Did Meghan make it back in time to sleep? She can barely recall that herself.

Jyo can't stay away from martial arts now that she's discovered them, so Li Zhau is her training partner today. Also, she graduated from the school of peace and love, so that's cool. Able to kick ass, but a peace-loving woman at heart.

She's everything the young martial artist could hope for in a mentor.

The real Chinese Dragons are the sims of the Martial Arts temple. Nothing is more convincing than facing one in actual combat.

Jyo gives it everything...

But is blocked handily at ever turn.

Dustin doesn't brag, but the meals he makes are always delicious. He's been the primary chef in the home since settling in Starlight after college, even during college he dabbled.

These pancakes are a master craft.

Jyo looses all rounds of sparring, and is back to the beginner's dummy, undaunted.

One of the local women is here as well, I can only assume there's a sad breakup story behind her appearance. That, or she's a celebrity preparing to film a romantic comedy about the woman who can kick anyone's ass in a prom dress after being fished out of a seaweed-tangled ocean. She'll aiming to be more of a Lake Dragon.

Meghan is the first family member to actually do any sightseeing.

It really was worth the journey up this sequestered mountain to see the waterfalls all the way across the vibrant fall landscape.

And she stops everything to talk to herself for a while. Maybe go hang out with your family for once?

Jet seems to be absorbing the local cultures in his own way, as usual. It takes him three times longer than a 'normal' person to eat his pancakes with chopsticks, but it's the principle of the thing that counts.

And Dustin comes home just in time to nap.

It's not really bonding time with his son, but it's something.

And he's woken up by the squabbling of two very obnoxious tour guides. Is it a territorial thing, like one was here first before the other?

“Hey people are trying to sleep over here!” He wakes up to hear himself yelling.

And essentially he's awake enough to realize how he sounded.

Am I really getting to be that old?

(You're not, I extended the lifespan for the challenge because I love you people – I'ma leave it long though, it's not a cheaty change I just can't let go so soon!!)

On the way home Meghan gets a creepy feeling that she can't place. Like, is barometric pressure low or something that she's feeling so unsettled?

She didn't realize it at the time during the daylight hours, but that night a full moon settles in the sky behind a shield of murky mountain mist. Dustin gets to spend some time with his son after all, who loves the moon being a little bit crazy and wants to stay up late to observe it,

And when on the way home she spots another red assassin beetle that's not too far out of her way, she can't be blamed for stooping to study it.

She's just so oblivious to anything else happening nearby.

No matter how alarming, or deadly.

As if by some miracle, they've timed their vacation to coincide with the night the ancestors return to their earthly bodies and all the locals stay inside, for fear that they will anger the faintly-tethered walking shades.

Meghan remains oblivious to the malevolent creatures that seem to seep from the ground closely behind her as she runs. It's almost as if some silent protection resides nearby, keeping her feet moving forward and her mind focused on her task at hand which fortunately this time, is the journey back to base camp.

The creepy feeling that she'd felt in her heart is gone for the moments in which she jogs casually back to basecamp.

She cannot possibly know her good fortune as she never manages to perceive that the threat she felt is nearly surrounding her.

For Dustin and Jet, so close to camp, they are safely within ancient wards that cannot be seen. Nothing supernatural will trouble them here. Nothing was said to the visitors about the night, usually people get a feeling and stay in without knowing why (this too is the result of wards placed on the basecamp and relevant areas trafficked by travelers). It's not something that is verbally spoken aloud.

Jyoti too has some feeling driving her back home, and she quickly borrows a cycle from the academy to get back as swiftly as possible. The town is empty of people and doors are locked up tight. Something must be going on.

Until she too is within the protective wards at the campgrounds, at which point she forgets the feeling. This parrot keeps her company on the journey back, but she doesn't try to keep it. Nobody played with the last bird all that much.

Meghan finally is the last to be safe inside. She climbs the stairs warily, not understanding the power that she manifested in the last half hour that gave her the final push to get home. Not aware fully of the danger she was in or the narrowness of her escape in outrunning it.

By the next morning, the cold, cloudy night is over and the family is exhausted. Perhaps they'll stay in?


Meghan greets Iris and compliments her on her wing color, only to be given a magical air conditioning treatment to 'help with the heat'. “Th-THankkssSS” She rasps at the woman.

She was doing something nice for me, so why do I feel so irritated right now? Meghan thinks to herself.

Dustin makes amazing burgers, craving food from home, and asks his daughter about her daily routine here. He's worried (with good reason) that she'll push herself and get injured.

“We can bring some equipment back home,” He reasons. “Then you won't feel so rushed while we're here.”

Jyoti smiles. “I can't take my sparring partner home with me though, can I dad?”

“You'll have to make do with me then kid, I'll spar with you. That way you won't overexert yourself”

Burgers are Meghan's favorite food.

“Don't go today, you have to let your body recover.”
Jyoti agrees with her father to keep him off her back, but by the time he gets up to wash the plates she's having second thoughts.

I wanna go meet Li...

“I mean, I'm a little sore, but we have a limited time here, I want more instruciton.”

“Rome wasn't built-”

“We're not in Rome!!” She exclaims.

“Fine, fine.” He says. “But we're going together. I want to meet Li and see who this new 'mentor' of yours is.”

Ugh! Martial arts, supervised? Didn't he get to meet Li before, is he just playing around?

“You both have fun, I think I'm going back to bed.” Meghan announces. For some reason yesterday took a toll on her physically and mentally.

Meanwhile, Jet left early and totally unsupervised, before anyone else was awake. The family seems to think he was still in bed. This sculpture rock gets the approval of his critical and artistic eye.

“Thanks for the ride!” Dustin calls to the chauffeur. We can make our own way back.”

“Sounds good, Mister Suspicious.”

Jet also finally found a beautiful scene that he has to paint on sight. Or at least, he's going to blend some colors and see if he has any chance at competing with nature in the first place.

“How are you feeling?”

Li isn't back yet, the workout room is empty, and all Jyo can say is that she's feeling pumped. “I feel like was born to be here.” Are her exact words.

“Alright then kid, I'll test you today.” He offers.

Who could say no to that? She knows her dad outranks her, so it's obvious that she's going to get a decent lesson out of it. As long as they can mange to spar without cracking any jokes.

But he looks pretty serious, so that's a good sign.

And his stance is solid.

Not only is he proficient in blocking her offenses, but he redirects her energy deftly. Not what one might expect of a bespectacled combatant!

If he's angry that she tries to kick him straight across the temple...

It doesn't manifest directly, just in the solid snap of his muscles, solidly in place to block the next strike too.

Ultimately, she can't touch him.

And he gives as good as he gets.

Dad wins!

And Jet stays focused on his goal at the Sculpture Park.

While his sibling and father go several more rounds next door. Both have excellent endurance and Dustin knows how to push her without letting her overwork herself. They both improve as a result.

When the sun goes down that day, Jet grabs another thick historic tome and digs into it.

Vacations are the best.

“You did very well today, I'm proud of you.”

“Thanks.” She grins. “Too bad there's no place like this back home, huh? It kind of puts soccer and softball to shame.”

“You prefer to challenge yourself more than others, is that why?”

He can be so astute sometimes. “Yeah,” she admits, “but I really like the teamwork aspect of sports too. I don't know what it is, I'm naturally good at it. But sometimes I think that I won't be able to leave much of a legacy behind. I'm not creating art or writing stories like my brother is, not that I want to do that, but shouldn't I try to make a mark on the world?”

Dustin laughs. “That's the kind of thing you don't have to worry about for a long time.”

“I guess...”

And then he heads next door to spend some quality time with his son.

Turns out there are a lot of local fables that Jet's been digging into, so they share stories for a while.

And Jyo tries her hand at something completely different. For some reason science outside of school is wholly acceptable, but it's a snoozefest in the corporate and controlled setting of a classroom back home.

Some secrets are only between fathers and sons.

“You know we can go into town together if you want? As long as you stay within eyesight. Your sister's older so she can be off on her own, but I'm here for you.”

But Jet's happy doing whatever suits his fancy so far and hasn't wandered off anywhere yet. Except this morning, which maybe the old man already forgot about? Jet smirks.

“I see that smirk kid, don't think you got past me this morning. It was just an absolute breeze to know you were going to go to the sculpture park and that I'd find you here. Don't run off like that again.”

Jet promises, and as he's otherwise been behaving, so it's the perfect time to give him some local books that Dustin found at the market this afternoon.

Meghan's off exploring on her own, just a tiny shack in appearance but there are unclaimed treasures hidden below ground!

Another great day out and Jyo heads back to base.

Thankfully, this place is so safe, but it's empty too. There aren't many locals on the trails at dusk.

At times she feels alone in a vast and curious place, and at other times she feels safe, as if protected by something she can't explain. Maybe it's just the magic of being on vacation. Maybe it's the budding confidence she's developing as a martial artist. Maybe it doesn't need to be put into words.

The next several days are a flurry of exploration, adventure, daring and delicious food.

Old habits, Dustin?

Don't sleep in the common room naked!

One of the tour guides approaches him, convinced she can take him places he's never gone before. He declines, bored.

(somewhere around now I deinstall decensor, no thank you my sims don't have that many epiphanies in the bath or knock down drag out fights)

And before anyone can say 'unfair', vacation is over.

Which is good really, Leila really missed them, even with Everet being willing to watch the house while they were gone.

All the puppy learned to do while they were gone was irreverently destroy things.

And it's kind of good to be home. Food from home tastes better at home after all. Jyoti resolves to go back at some point and learn more from her master. Or possibly, actually eat the local food next time. She had just been so excited to learn that the days passed by so quickly.

Also Dustin managed to pick up another useless thing that he will never remember to use; a fortune cookie machine.

All he does is fill the cookies with fart jokes. Off to a good start, he thinks.

Oh and Eugene finally comes to visit! Sweee~t.


One of Jyoti's rolls is to live her trait (I know she's not an adult yet, but I'm just applying it to her now as it just fits her to work out everyday). Also the generation goal for her will be perfectionist, to max out all challenges and her LTW is the dual max athletic and martial arts.

The Deathnote is a mod :>