Welcome back to another chapter of Random Branches! In the last chapter the war with the SUA ended. Many died during the final battle, including Eleanor Stevens of the Immortal Council. And Terena and James finally realized they had a crush on each other. And now on with the story.
A few years passed. James graduated with honors as did Terena. The pair were madly in love and once they graduated the pair married. In as quiet of a ceremony as they could pull off. Neither talked much about that final battle or much of the war. At least not to anyone but each other and the others on their team, and even then, not much.
Terena had left the military when the war was over as all drafted were allowed to do. She had gone to college to be a veterinarian and that was what she had begun to do.
James had been stationed in Midnight Hollow. It was a town that resided in an area of the nation that was darker on average. It made it easier for celebrities to just blend in. And James welcomed that. It was hard always being recognized as the son of Maximus Zenteri and Leia Rand.
So he painted the inside of the house brighter colors and left the outside normal. He didn’t want to stick out. And his parents and uncle tagged along. Obi didn’t want to live alone and Max and Leia wanted to get away. Plus it gave James a bigger budget to work with when looking for a house.
And he occasionally visited his cousin and best friend Albus in Bridgeport and had made friends with his band, when he wasn’t too busy with work. He also learned that Albus and fellow band member Cassie Williams had fallen in love and had had a child of their own, Kaylee. Cassie also had a son from a previous relationship named Kyle.
James woke with a start. He had had nightmares of the final battle of the war since the day the war ended. He knew Terena did as well as she was talking with others about it more and had mentioned the nightmares to him. James hadn’t started talking really. He got out of the bed quietly and walked outside.
“You know talking about the nightmares or what caused them would help, right?”
James jumped and looked around to see who said that. He relaxed when he saw it was just Uncle Obi. “How would you know?”
“I was pretty good at not screaming too loudly when my nightmares woke me up. I know you remember seeing me passed out on the couch. Why do you think I was passed out, dead to the world?”
“Oh. The terrorist attack?”
“Yea. For a while, I kept it bottled up. Leia kept trying to get me to talk and I know she does the same to you.”
“So if you kept it bottled up, how do you know that talking about it will help?”
“One day Mission showed up out of the blue. I was shocked it was Mission. Usually Leia called in Wolfgang, but maybe she felt I needed a motherly figure. Well, she had only called Wolfgang in once, but I didn’t figure on Mission being called in. Or maybe Leia didn’t call her in directly, but Mission inferred Leia’s method may not be working.” Obi Wan shrugged and sat down on a chair before continuing. “Anyway, Mission just offers to be a shoulder to cry on. Didn’t pressure me or anything to talk. One day, I decided I wanted to talk. And I told Mission. To this day, Mission’s the only one who I’ve told.”
“Leia didn’t try to get you to talk to her?”
“No, she just wanted me to talk. She didn’t care to whom I talked. I could have bought a dog and talked to a dog and she probably would have been fine as long as the nightmares didn’t happen as frequently.”
“So they’ll never go away?”
“I can’t say if yours will or will not go away over time. Mine haven’t. I wouldn’t be up if they had. But they are infrequent enough that I can live with it. Now I’m not saying you need to talk now or tell me, but I’m here if you want. Even if it’s just a shoulder to cry on.”
“Thanks, Uncle Obi. I think for now, I’m going to try to get some sleep.”
“We know what you did. Get it undone or else!” a voice said over the phone.
“What the fuck, I’ve done a lot of stuff over the years that can be undone. What have I done?!” James yelled. This was the fifth time the caller has called in two days talking about something he’s done.
“You’re too happy!” the voice said and hung up.
“Too happy?” James said.
“Too happy what?” Max said.
“That damn caller called again. This time he said I was too happy.” James said and frowned, “What’s wrong, Dad? Why have you gone pale?”
“I suppose I should have told you and your sister about something. Let me see if she’s able to come down this weekend.”
“Tell us what, Dad?”
“It’s complicated, so I’d like to only do it once if I can help it.”
The weekend didn’t come soon enough for James. Hermione had agreed to come and Max had even called over one of the Immortal Council from Moonlight Falls, Nicholai Tritten. James didn’t know what he had to do with any of this.
“Before I start, Hermione, have you been receiving any strange phone calls?” Max asked.
“Yea, I figured they were prank calls, but now that you’ve called me here and asked that, I don’t know anymore. They said they know what I did.”
“You didn’t do anything. Neither did you, James,” Max said, “Nicholai did.”
“What the fuck did he do that’s causing this?” James said.
“I lessened a curse,” Nicholai said, “Centuries ago the Zenteri clan and the Agosti clan started a feud. Zenteris were witches, Agostis were vampires. Back then, interspecie relationships were highly frowned upon. One of the female Zenteris was in a relationship with one of the male Agostis. Eleanor Zenteri, one of the elders discovered the relationship and killed the male Agosti. She then stripped the female Zenteri of her witch powers and cursed her and her decedents to never be happy. Among other things.”
“Other things?” Hermione asked.
“Well, your paternal grandmother is well on her way to having a lot of kids. She has urges to have kids and have kids. Previous mothers who had stopped trying to have babies have ended up killing themselves. We don’t know if her daughters aren’t having the same urges because she’s still alive or who would get those urges if she did. Could be the oldest female Zenteri or the youngest.”
“I’m the youngest aren’t I?” Hermione asked.
“Probably not if my mother’s still having kids. Not to mention who knows how many cousins you guys have,” Max said, “It’s why we’ve kept away from them. My mother doesn’t need the publicity and you guys didn’t need the hounding. And we didn’t want to bring the attention of those watching to see if my mother was successful or not and wanting her to fail. Not to mention we kept waiting for the best time to tell you two, but they just never came. And we didn’t think anyone would call.”
“So there are a bunch of other kids out there with your hair color?” James asked.
“No. I get my hair color from my father. My mother never had the urge to get pregnant by the same guy twice.”
“Oh, so our grandmother’s a…” Hermione started.
“Don’t say it, Hermione. She’s not doing what she’s doing by choice. She did fall in love with one of the father’s of one her kids. No, not my father. But due to the curse, he’s temporarily taken away from her. She can’t be with him until the curse is lifted. And if she stops having kids by different men…”
“She’ll feel compelled to commit suicide, which would separate her from her love,” James said, “Damn. Did you ever get to meet your dad? I’ve got a feeling that her life means she doesn’t keep in contact.”
“Yea, by total coincidence. I took up martial arts as a teen and he happened to be my instructor. Not often you meet others with my hair color.”
“But let’s not bore Nicholai with our family history any longer. Shortly after Obi married Mindy, I told Leia this. And she mentioned going to Nicholai to see what could be done about the curse. He’s a wizard after all.”
Nicholai then took over. “I knew enough about the curse to lessen the effects on Max and his decedents. I did say there was a risk as in my research of the situation, I discovered a group bent on making sure the curse does not get lifted. I knew there was a risk of the group catching on and trying something and I told Max and Leia about it. I’m shocked this conversation hasn’t already happened.”
They talked for a bit and eventually Nicholai left after placing a few spells around the house. He said they would let him know if a witch or fairy crossed the border.
“Were you ever going to tell us about the curse if the lessening of effects hadn’t gotten noticed?” Hermione yelled.
“Like I said earlier, we were waiting for the right moment.” Max rubbed his temple, feeling a fight coming on.
“When was the right moment going to happen? When I get pregnant? When James gets someone pregnant? They would be decedents of that female Zenteri. And subject to the curse. I should have the right to be able to tell a future spouse and a future father of my kids what the risks are. Before I have a daughter who ends up being the youngest female Zenteri should your mother fail and it fall to the youngest female Zenteri to follow in her footsteps. Where I would have to watch my own daughter have to whore herself out or commit suicide!”
“Mione, I’m sure they would have said something if they knew you were in a serious committed relationship,” James said.
“Did they tell you when you told them about Terena, James?” Hermione said.
“No, but I also didn’t give them much of a chance to before I married her. And they did keep mentioning they wanted to talk to me, but I pushed them away every time thinking they were going to get on me to talk,” James countered, “And once I was married, they were probably trying to find out how to word what they were saying so as to not drive Terena away. To not break my heart.”
“I’m sorry, Hermione. We should have told you and James sooner,” Max said.
Terena popped her head out and said, “Is everything ok?”
“Yea, everything’s fine,” Leia said.
“Are you guys done talking, I need to talk to James,” Terena said.
“Yea, we’re done, you can have him,” Max said.
“I’ve got something to talk to you about as well,” James said when they were alone in their bedroom, “But you go first, mine is liable to take some time.”
“Alright. I’m pregnant. We’re going to be parents,” Terena said, smile plastered on her face.
“Really?! You’re pregnant?!” James said, the discussion he wanted to talk to Terena about completely disappearing from his mind.
“Really. Do you want a boy or a girl?”
“Either. I’d love one of both at some point. But I guess boy for our first. That way our daughter has an older brother to protect her.”
“That’s what I was thinking as well. But I won’t be disappointed if it’s the other way around either.”
“What did you want to talk to me about?” Terena asked.
“Huh? Oh. Yea. Shit.”
James explained to Terena what Max and Nicholai had just told him.
“Damn,” Terena said, “Well, we’ll continue to be ‘too happy’ in our lives. I don’t see a reason to let them win.”
Time went on and the calls kept coming. It was late in the afternoon when his phone rang again.
“Who is this and how did you get this number? I’m sick…” James yelled.
“Marco Jefferson. One of Albus’ band mates, remember,”
“Oh, hey, Marco. Why are you calling me?”
“Albus is too much at a loss for words right now. I’m not dealing much better myself. Cassie was in a car accident today. She died on scene from what the police say.”
James froze. Albus had to be heartbroken. “So Albus is fine. Are Kyle and Kaylee safe?” James said when he could find words.
“Yea, they were here. They were finally showing Kaylee off to us. Cassie was coming in later since she had a song to finish up. It was her fucking ex who hit her. Police didn’t say if it was an accident or not, but I would be shocked if it was one.”
“Well, Terena’s been bugging me to leave the house, one minute,” James said, noticing that his Uncle Obi was giving him a look.
“Is that Albus wanting to know if you want to come over? I’d like to come, too. Meet my granddaughter.”
“No, it’s Marco. One of Albus’s band mates. Cassie’s been in a car accident. She didn’t make it. Kyle and Kaylee are safe.”
“Is Albus ok?” Obi asked.
“Yea. I was going to head over, I take it you want to come, too?”
“Sorry about that. Albus’ father came into the room and asked who I was talking to. We’ll be there in a few hours. Are you at the house or the recording studio?”
“Recording studio. Their house is too small for a get together,” Marco said.
“Alright. I’ll call when I get to town if I need directions.”
And that’s it for this chapter. Will the phone calls stop or will they turn into something more sinister? Find out in chapters to come.
Progress towards Obi’s Goals:
- Become Private Investigator – Achieved Chapter 2.19
- Complete 30 cases – Completed about 21 cases
- Snoop 10 locations – Snooped 5 locations
- Write 5 papers on findings – Wrote 1 paper
- Reach level ten of Private Investigator Career – He’s at level 7
- Go through 5 garbages and 5 mailboxes – Gone through 4 of each
Progress towards Leia’s Goals:
- Master Painting Skill – She’s at level 9
- Master Writing Skill – She’s at level 10 – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
- Paint 20 paintings – Painted 16 paintings
- Be friends with parents – Completed Chapter 3.7 behind the scenes.
- Get 5,000 in royalties (or sell 15,000 from paintings) – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.13 at $6,828
- Paint family pictures (spouse, kids, parents if alive) – Painted Max’s, behind the scenes Chapter 3.14, painted Hermione’s behind the scenes Chapter 3.15
- Join book club (if applicable) – Joined book club Chapter 3.10 behind the scenes
Progress towards Max’s goals:
- Join Film career (Plumbob Pictures Backlot, may need to place it) – Achieved behind the scenes Chapter 3.1
- Max writing – Level 3
- Max charisma – Level 10 – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
- Become level 5 celebrity – 5 stars – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.13
- Have kid – Achieved Chapter 3.10 with the birth of Hermione
- Reach Level 10 of the Actor branch – Level 10 – Superstar Actor – Completed Chapter 3.13 behind the scenes
Progress towards James’ goals:
- Join Military Career – Completed Chapter 4.0
- Level Ten Military Career – Level 5
- Max Athletic skill – He’s at level 6
- Max Hardiness skill – He’s at level 3
- Buy out a business
Progress toward’s LTW’s
- Obi Wan – Perfect Mind, Perfect Body: Level 10 Logic, Level 10 Athletic – Logic is at 9, Athletic is at 10
- Leia – Professional Author: Earn $4000 a week in royalties – currently earning $4000+ a week – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
- Maximus – Superstar Actor – Superstar Actor – Level 10 – Completed Chapter 3.13 behind the scenes
- James – Become Astronaut – Level 5
Author’s note: And back from the long hiatus! With the help of Nevermore from Boolprop, I was able to get the gears moving again on the plot for both this story and the off shoot Random Paths. And my game stopped crashing when entering build/buy while I’m in my main save for this challenge.