Wow. It's so ...open and sprawling. There's so much walking space...I'm going to cover every inch I can while I'm here. I can't wait, but first I have business the Astros want me to complete.
According to the map and data the Astros loaded to my phone, I was supposed to meet to meet their Representative, Wu Xio, in the Plum Blossom corner of the market district an hour ago. I should go.
"Good morning Miss Williams, I am Representative Wu Xio. Allow me to be the first to congratulate you on your upcoming nuptials. The name of your Intended is Bao Louie, he will bring you an estimated $35,000 to your household. Today is his birthday, so he is now an Adult, however he is in excellent physical condition. I anticipate a long marriage for you both. Also, as an extra incentive, he will take your name. If you choose him, he will become Bao Williams."
I'm a little surprised at the last sentence. "That's an unusual concession," I say, "every male sim I've ever known wants the opposite." Bao Louie taking my name also legally makes me Head of Household, the Liaison between my family and the Astros. I'm the only one allowed to conduct any financial and legal business we may have with them. I'm a bit suspicious about this. "Why would he do something like that?"
"He is past his prime after all," Representative Wu shrugs, "and while his Package is decent, it is a little low for someone like you, a new Landholder looking to build. Our Lords will not be offended if you decide to choose someone else, someone younger, stronger, or with more finances. We do have such young men here in Shang Simla. You would be obliged to become involved in a Bidding, but the prospect of a young man having his own land to control would bring you a lot of power...well, you're required to meet Bao Louie 6pm tonight at the Plum Blossoms Club. After that, you can make your decision."
"I see, can I ask you what he looks like?" If he couldn't find a mate as a Young Adult, then he's most likely aesthetically challenged.
"No." Representative Wu states flatly.
"Ok, if can't ask how Bao Louie looks specifically, can I ask how the men around here look in
Great. I guess I'll have to pray very hard for good looking kids. This may be shallow of me, but un-cute kids tend to equal un-cute grandchildren, and I do not want to die surrounded by faces that would scare the teeth from a shark. If that's all the information I can get out of her, its onto the clothing shop next.
Am I in the right place?
This looks like more like a museum than a dress shop. I'll ask the woman at the counter for the correct address.
" Good Afternoon, I am Sima Zhi .Yes Miss Williams, this is the correct place. Our Glorious Lords informed us of your arrival and we've prepared everything according to their direction. We have one outfit here for you, the rest were moved to your room at the Campgrounds this morning. The shower and dressing room upstairs are free for your use. Please take your time, enjoy yourself and remember to report to our Lords about your treatment today."
This is the best I've felt in a long time. I've forgotten what its like to have clothes without holes in them. Then I think on what Rep. Wu told me, and my mood plummets. I only have six days here, and not only is Bao Louie old, he's most likely less than average looking. I'm forced to spend this one day on him, which leaves me only five days to find someone else, win a Bid, and harvest all the fruits and vegetables I can. All of those things take time, and how am I supposed to prioritize a good mate over a good food supply? I don't think that's possible. I may have to take this Bao after all. I don't like that at all. I need to think.
I rent a bike and pay for lessons, and soon I'm riding around enjoying the scenery.
I end up here, and I have to admit its beautiful. I wonder what this place is?
While I'm here, I harvest the cherries from the tree. I'm taking every fruit and vegetable I can get. I'll figure out how to raise crops when I get back home.
I love it here. Everything is so green and peaceful.
Ah, someone besides the merchants to talk to! I'll see what kind of info I can get out of him.
"Hi, may I join you? I play a decent game of chess."
"Gladly, " the stranger says without looking up, "It will be wonderful to play someone I don't know."
"It's nice to meet you, my name is Tasha." I hold out my hand, and then he looks up. And he stares, his mouth open. He continues to look at me without blinking for a full minute.
"Excuse me, but did you hear me? Is there something on my face?"
"......I apologize. It's not often a man is allowed a glimpse of the road he did not take. Forgive me for being so brazen, but I find you to be very beautiful. My name is Li Yuan, and I....."
"I can't believe how jealous I am. The person standing behind you, who will leave now, is my bride, Xi. If you only understood the irony of this moment...but you did not come here to talk about me. I assume you want a little information on Bao. We've known each other all our lives, I'm sure I can answer at least some of the questions you have."
"Yes, what can you tell me about the man the Astros picked? I appreciate anything you can give me. No piece of information is too insignificant."
"You call them Astros and not Lords. Can I assume you don't worship them as the caring and benevolent leaders they are?"
Is Li very astute, or have I been deprived of social contact so long I've forgotten how to hide myself? Either way my disadvantage has forced me into a corner. "Maybe." I hedge, hoping my answer doesn't blow up in my face.
"Be careful that you do not show such an attitude around Bao. His faith in our Lords is deep rooted and strong. He goes out of his way to prove he is not weak in his faith, like his parents. He learned from their mistakes so he will not be punished as they were. He is very Traditionalist. He is honest and will always do the right thing. He will report you if he feels you take your misguided attitude to our Great Lords go too far."
I see. Of course the Astros would stick me with someone rigid, inflexible, and thoroughly brainwashed. It would take more days than I have left on this planet to deprogram someone like that. I'll probably have my hands full making sure he doesn't pass his "deep rooted and strong faith" onto any child we have. If I decide not to go through with the marriage and fail to win a Bid, the Astros will simply Annihilate me and snatch some other seafaring sim to produce things for them on that miserable speck of sand.
But, I have a theory forming in my mind, and I'm willing to test it out. "So, Bao's parents. What are they like? What can I do to impress them? Will I be able to meet them today?"
Theory confirmed. I fight to keep stone-faced. I wondered why there seemed to be so few people in Shang Simla when they have so much land to be farmed. If the Astros are kidnapping sims to farm minuscule patches of land for any food that can be had, then why aren't these mountains razed to the ground and every inch bursting with crops? Low population + deep secrets = Big Ass Rebellion. The type of rebellion that involves multiple generations and wipes out entire bloodlines.
They teleported me away from Li for asking normal questions about an Intendeds' parents. Bao's parents were not simply punished, they were executed, along with so many others that they've destroyed the genetic base here. Inbreeding will be a problem very soon if it isn't already, and when the population shows abnormalities, the Astro's will flood this place with sims loyal to them. All well and good, but who wants to breed with malformed sims? No one, and so the indigenous population will pass away.
That's why it's so cheap to come here. They consider these sims to be inferior, worthless, and problematic. Ha! One sims' trash is another sims' treasure. My offspring will come from a people who'd rather die than live under the Astros. These sims have great spirit and tenaciousness. If I have any spares, I'll send them here just so I can try to delay their fate for another generation. If I can, I'll convince my offspring to send their spare children too.
I think that was good enough.
Victory may be in the cards for us after all.
*step* *step* *step*
"I'm sorry I won't be able to visit anymore. I failed. Mom, Dad, she choose Li. She choose Li and I.....I was so arrogant and stupid, and now.......now the Louie name....... Xiyi is mine but.......she won't......"
"Mom, Dad, I beg for your forgiveness. I was supposed to redeem our name, but instead I've destroyed it completely. And despite that ....I'd do it all again for the chance to be with her. I'm so sorry Mom and Dad, I'm so sorry for failing you this badly. I'm a poor excuse for a son."
"Please allow me to read your favorite poem to you one last time."
"I want to be your love for ever and ever,
Without break or decay.
When the hills are all flat,
The rivers are all dry.
When it thunders in winter,
When it snows in summer
When heaven and earth mingle,
Not till then will I part from you."
"Good Morning Xi, how are you?"
"Oh, she's here?................ You've seen her?.................. Her name is Tasha?............. Sounds pretty."
Goodbye Mom, Dad. I love you. Pray to our Lords I can convince this burnt Tasha stick to take me when the woman I love will not. If I can't, who knows what will happen to me. Our great Lords do not like useless sims.
Tasha. It is a very pretty name. I wonder what she's doing right now?
So, I said I'd update every week, and that was in June. I'm sorry, RL got in the way. If you were checking for an update that often, thank you! I still want to do this challenge, but I'm going to try once a month this time. If I can do more than that if I can, but once a month is what will be most likely. Thank you again for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!