Fickle Fortunes

“Ye did what?!”

“Aw, Simon, it ain’t no big deal, I jest need–”

“What ye need is ter have yer head examined! Wright! Did yer ma drop ye on yer head when ye were a baby?”

Clarence narrowed his eyes. “Hey, now, don’t be callin’ me dumb fer pointin’ out the obvious.”

Simon sighed. If he were to be completely and totally honest with all parties involved, he had no idea if Joyce Pelles was a slut or not. She’d never put out for him, and he’d never seen her put out for anyone else, but who knew what she might or might not be doing behind closed doors? After all, she was a dancer, women didn’t take those kinds of jobs unless they had a certain sensuality about them, and a certain brassy boldness to carry off wearing those light skirts that floated upward whenever they kicked or turned.

But none of that was the point.

“Clarence, did ye ever see her with a man?”

“Eh, she’s always hangin’ on Berach –”

Simon slapped his own forehead, since he had learned from bitter experience that you only hit Clarence if you were willing to back up the smack with a full-fledged knife fight. And unfortunately, his good knife was on the table, where he had been sharpening it. “I don’t mean with a man like talkin’ ter a man! I mean with a man like sleepin’ with one!”

Clarence leered. “Oh, I wish.”

If Roma hadn’t told him, so shyly and sweetly, that she liked the way his hair felt, how thick and smooth it was, Simon would have torn whole fistfuls out. “You idiot! Then ye don’t go callin’ her a slut in front o’ Berach!”

“I was jest tryin’ ter warn –”

Simon smacked his forehead again. “Clarence, shut up! Unless ye saw her with her legs wide open and some man in between ’em, ye ain’t warnin’ the man!”

“Then what I am I doin’?”

“Insultin’ his sweetheart, and therefore insultin’ him!”

“… I don’t follow.”

“Fer Wright’s sake! How would ye feel if someone called yer girl a slut? An’ ye … ye were certain-sure she weren’t?”

“… Simon, I only sleep with whores.”

Aye, because the only way a woman will put up with you is if you cross her palm with silver! Simon sighed and passed his hands before his eyes. This was not a conversation he wanted to be having with Clarence at any time — never mind after a week of nights spent either house-breaking or lying in bed, staring at the ceiling.

“All right. All right. Clarence, ye ever have a sister?”

A shadow crossed Clarence’s face. “Aye …”

“How would you feel if someone called her a slut?”

Clarence lunged for him and Simon had to jump out of the way. “Who ye callin’ a slut?!”

“Nobody! Nobody! By the Blessed St. Brandi, I ain’t ever met yer sister! How the hell would I know,” or care, Simon thought, “if she was a slut?!”

“She’s married, she is! Married with three — maybe more, now –”

“Clarence! Shut up! I don’t care about yer sister! I’m tryin’ ter make ye think!”

“Think about what?”

“Think about how mad ye’d be if someone — which I’m not — called yer sister a slut!”

“Oh, I’d split him from his dick ter his throat! I’d gut him so his guts fell out on the floor! I’d –”

“Yes, Clarence, that’s very nice. An’ that’s what a man would do to ye if ye called his sweetheart a slut without cold hard proof that she is one.”

“… Berach only punched me in the nose.”

Simon knew that, for now his dish-cleaning rag was ruined, since Clarence had grabbed the first rag that came to hand in order to stop the bleeding.

“That’s because Berach is a mighty patient man, an’ even once he’s provoked, he ain’t too violent.” Most folks aren’t as violent as ye are, Clarence.

“Ye mean he’s weak.”

That too. Not that he would tell Clarence that — Simon still liked Berach, and he would prefer not to see the other man murdered by Clarence. Besides, if he was murdered, and Joyce ever found out about Simon’s connection to Clarence, she would probably come after him with her famous sheep-shears. And she’d be aiming them for the jugular.

“I mean he fights with his fist before he fights with his knife, because unlike you, he don’t want ter get into trouble with the guards!”

“I can’t get into trouble with the guards! That’s why I run away!”

“I know, Clarence, I know.”

“So ye’ll let me stay here, then?”

Simon blinked. He stared. He blinked again.

“I’ll what?”

“Let me stay here! I can’t go nowhere else. An’ if ye go ter pick up me things, Berach won’t be callin’ the town guards on ye,” Clarence pointed out. That was all true enough. “Plus I know ye’ve got room up in the loft. Two whole beds! I only need one!”

“Clarence, I don’t –”

“An’ it’ll be nice an’ convenient-like! If ye need ter plan or something, boom! I’m right there!”

“Very convenient for me. And very convenient for the town guards, too, if they find out where ye’re hidin’ — or just who I am, fer that matter.”

Clarence’s jaw snapped shut.

“Gettin’ caught livin’ in the same house could get both of our heads stuck through a noose — ye ever think o’ that?”

Clarence gulped and rubbed his neck. “But, Simon,” he whispered, “I ain’t got nowhere else ter go.”

“Ye know I’m gettin’ married in about a year or so — don’t ye?”

“A year! I won’t stay around that long!”

“But my girl comes around from time to time — cleanin’ up, bless her soul — I don’t want ye meetin’ her!”

“We’re gonna have ter meet after ye get married,” Clarence pointed out.

Simon had already thought that out. “No, ye ain’t gonna have ter meet ‘er, because before then, we’re gonna find someplace else ter meet — the less she knows, the safer we all are.” Clarence couldn’t, he thought, argue with that.

“But Simon … I ain’t got nowhere else ter go.”

Simon groaned and smacked his forehead, again. They kept coming up against the blank wall. A homeless Clarence was a dangerous Clarence; he might start frequenting inns and pubs for a room for the night. Simon didn’t give a damn how much of his savings the thief spent — if Clarence even had any savings — but the more time Clarence spent in public and out of Simon’s sight, the more likely something would happen that would bring him to the attention of the guards. And if that happened, who knew whom Clarence might turn in an attempt to save his own skin?

Better to keep him in sight until Simon found a safe place for him to live.

“Fine! Ye can stay here! But only–”

“Aw, thanks Simon! Ye’re the best!” And before Simon could lay down any more ground rules, Clarence had already scurried up the ladder and into the loft.

“Wright damn it, Clarence — wait up!”

Once Simon made his way up the ladder, he found Clarence already seated on one of the beds. “This is nice!” he said, bouncing a bit. “I only had a pallet on the floor at Berach’s place!”

Simon wondered if there was any way he could get the bed frames down the ladder before Clarence decided to stay.

“So did Berach,” Simon muttered.

“Aye, but he had a bigger one.”

And I care? “It’s his place, Clarence.”

“Still! It was bigger! And the little brat had the best bed in the house!”

“A crib?”

“It were off the floor!”

Simon sighed and rolled his eyes. “Listen, Clarence — before ye get too comfortable, let’s get a few things straight. There are gonna be rules if ye want ter stay here.”

“Rules?” Clarence pouted. Simon was pretty sure Berach’s three-year-old would have reacted to the word better.

“Yes. Rules!” Simon took a deep breath. “First of all, ye’re ter stay away from Roma. Ye got that?”

“Who’s Roma?”

“The –” Simon hesitated. “She’s the girl I’m marrying. If ye see her comin’ down the road –”

“What’s she look like?”

Simon hesitated, not sure he even wanted Clarence knowing this … but if he didn’t give this much information, how would Clarence know her if he saw her? “She’s got black hair. Kinda curly. She usually keeps it tied back with a red ribbon. Fair skin –”

“She pretty?”

None o’ yer damn business! “If I didn’t think she were pretty, would I be marryin’ her?”

“Ye might, if ye thought she were worth yer while in other ways.”

Simon sighed and rolled his eyes. “She’s pretty enough ter me, all right?”

“Oh, good, we’ll see jest how bad yer taste is!”

“Clarence, shut up! She’s pretty, all right! She’s damn pretty!” Simon swallowed. “Now listen to me! If ye see her comin’ an’ I ain’t around, ye go out the back an’ hang out somewhere else until she leaves! Got it?”

“Aye, aye, I got it.”

“And except fer that, ye don’t leave this house unless I’m with ye or the guards are attackin’ it!”

“What? Why?”

“Because I can’t trust ye, Clarence!” Simon snapped. “Ye got Berach Brogan angry ter the point where he punched ye! Ye were this close ter havin’ the town guards haulin’ ye off in chains!”

“They wouldn’t haul off a man in chains fer callin’ a slut a slut.”

Simon rolled his eyes heavenward, even though he probably wasn’t worth to be calling down heavenly assistance. “They wouldn’t haul off a man fer that, but they might haul ye off if they got a good look at yer ugly mug!”

Clarence grunted.

“An’ that’s why ye ain’t goin’ nowhere unless I’m with ye,” Simon said. “Now about food an’ such …”

Clarence sighed and leaned his head against the wall, but Simon didn’t give a damn. As long as Clarence didn’t leave without Simon accompanying him and keeping him out of trouble, they would be golden.

An’ as long as I keep him from snoopin’ around, Simon thought with a grimace, I’ll be in silver.


Hours later, the sky was dark, the candles doused, and the gang had no plans to rob anyone. There was no whore in Simon’s bed. Hell, there was no one in Simon’s bed but himself — even the cats had found other sleeping places. The only sound to be had was that of the crickets singing through the open window, and Clarence’s snoring in the loft above.

But Simon could not sleep.

The snoring should have been a lullaby to him. It should have been reassurance. It should have told Simon that he was safe, safe from Clarence’s stupidity and his nosiness.

Instead, it kept him awake in fear — for would he still be safe if the snoring stopped?

His heart pounded, and despite the cool night air, he felt slick sweat pouring out from him, dirtying the sheets. Simon finally sighed and tossed the blankets back. He got up and padded on silent footsteps to the door.

He would not feel safe until he had checked. Maybe then he could sleep.

The steps still bore faint traces of the sun’s heat, but the dewy grass clung to and soaked his feet — it was almost like sticking your feet into a cool stream on a warm summer’s day, but the air around carried as much of a chill. Simon cursed himself. He should have brought a cloak before he went out.

But if he put on a cloak, he would have that much more to explain if Clarence should catch him outside. If he caught him now …

I’ll say I heard one of the cats tryin’ ter get in. Clarence already hated the cats, and the feeling was mutual — he’d snort and pout, but he would accept the excuse.

His foots let him without hesitation around the side of the house, under the flowering apple and orange trees, to the small wooden shelter he had built for the cats for those nights when he didn’t get back home at a decent hour in order to let them inside. On the way, he grabbed the shovel he always left “carelessly” leaning against the wall of the cottage.

The spot was three paces behind the cat-shelter. Even in the dim light of the moon, he could see the thin line of dirt, where he had carefully cut the sod and grass before he buried the evidence. If you didn’t know it was there, you would never notice it — but Simon knew it was there, and he noticed.

He removed the sod and cast a glance at Clarence’s window. No pale face stared down on him. Still, his paranoia whispered, What if Clarence see ye diggin’?

I’ll tell ‘im one o’ the cats died.

He began to dig.

As he dug, he thought of how he had gotten himself into this predicament.

It hadn’t seen like a predicament at the time. Hell, at the time it had seemed like a wonderful opportunity. He had been walking in the market, trying to select some foods for supper, when a hush descended over the marketplace. The only sound was that of a creaky wagon. Simon turned around to look.

The tax wagon.

Simon was sure that his eyes had lit up with anticipation and greed. The tax wagon! He couldn’t believe his luck! Oh, true, there were half-a-dozen burly guards surrounding it. Oh, sure, it was driven by the strange creature who was the King’s steward, the creature that looked no more frightening than a knight in armor but was actually a ghost or demon who only wore the armor to make him less frightening to ordinary folk. Yes, it was in fact a capital crime to be caught stealing from the tax wagon, since that money was not, the King insisted, the King’s but the kingdom’s.

But all that copper and silver, just sitting there … what kind of thief would want to pass that up?

But Simon wasn’t stupid. So he didn’t go near the wagon. He didn’t so much as look at the guards. He just continued to shop, or pretend to shop, and to watch the wagon from the corner of his eye.

When it stopped at a house and the demon-knight knocked at the door, Simon took his chance. He still didn’t touch the wagon.

But he did shy a stone at the horse.

As he remembered, Simon heard his stone scrape something that wasn’t dirt or stone. He knelt to brush the crumbs of dirt away.

That day, he had thought the worst-case scenario would be if the horse didn’t do anything. He was wrong.

The horse did do something — it reared, it whinnied, and it broke into a canter. The guards stood in shock, then followed horse and wagon, waving their weapons in the air like so many fools. The horse was faster than they, though, and as it ran, one of the wagon wheels hit a stone, and one of the bags of money went flying from the wagon and landed by the side of the road.

Simon waited ten seconds to see if one of the guards would turn back to get it, but none did. He swooped in.

But he wasn’t stupid. If he were seen walking away with the bag, even if it was full of farthings and clipped coppers, it would be over with him. So he was sure to wave the bag high in the air, run after the guards, and shout as loud as he dared, “Hey! Ye lost this!”

It was a risk, but it was a necessary one. And it paid off. None of the guards even turned around. Simon continued to run after them, calling but never so loud that they could hear him. And he was sure not to run at his top speed. Finally he supposed he had run far enough, and stopped, panting theatrically for all who cared to watch. Then, with the bag in full view, he walked into the nearby church.

When he walked out again, the bag was no longer in sight — but that didn’t mean he had explained the situation and given the money into a monk’s good keeping, as any honest citizen of Albion would.

When he finally got home, and the doors were barred and windows covered with curtains, only then did he survey his prize — just as, now, he brushed the last few specks of dirt away from the treasure buried beneath his lawn.

Silver shone in the moonlight.

Simon stared at the pile and sighed.

He had counted it once, twice, three times. He had scarcely believed his luck when he saw the pile of silver the first time. Now, though, he could believe his luck, for its full implications had sunk in.

Simon was the richest peasant in Albion. He had enough money to, even if he paid his taxes in full like an honest man, buy his and Roma’s freedom the day after the wedding — assuming Sir Bors didn’t up the price.

Or rather, assuming Sir Bors didn’t leap to the right conclusion and have him arrested and hanged.

He had more money sitting in his backyard than most men of his class saw in their entire lives. He had the way to make his dreams come true sitting right in front of him.

And if he tried to spend it — or if he was caught with it — he was a dead man.

What the hell, Simon wondered, am I going to do now?


17 thoughts on “Fickle Fortunes

  1. So yeah, that silver in Simon’s backyard? In game terms, it’s a chance-card bonus. A BIG chance-card bonus. $60,000, to be precise. Which, with his peasant tax rate and the general rate for buying your freedom, happens to be exactly the right amount for Simon to buy his and Roma’s freedom as soon as they get married.

    Except, of course, if he walked into Bors’s office with that kind of money, Bors would be calling for the guards and having him locked up as a thief. (I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day!)

    So what do you guys think I should do? 🙂

  2. Um, That’s a toughie, on the whole whether to have him try and buy his way out or not. I dunno…

    The post sounds good, I like that Clarence gets all upset about Simon “insulting” his sister. It was funny, I mean I know it probably wasn’t 100% intended to be funny in the way it was, but it was funny.

    I like that Simon’s stuck with Clarence, after all he’s the one who dropped Clarence in Berach’s lap.

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens. Oh and I liked the explanation of how Simon got the cash.

    One last thing, just cause I can. 😛 A very happy birthday to the Demi-Goddess Morgaine!

    • Well, intense stupidity sometimes can be funny. And I’ll admit I was going for a smirk with Clarence’s reaction to Simon “insulting” his sister — so we’ll just say I got more than I was expecting, in a good way!

      I like to think that my explanation makes more sense than the game’s — Simon successfully built his Domesday Device and was able to blackmail the city’s leaders into giving him wads-o-cash. But it was really the only option on the chance card — I mean, the other one was to build a complicated way to kill the hero, and everyone who’s ever watched a superhero movie knows that THAT never works out. 😉

      Thanks for the birthday wishes!!

  3. Hmmm… would it perhaps look a little less suspicious if he bought out his own indenture some months before the wedding, then bought out Roma’s later? I mean… a free man can marry who he wants out of anyone his class or lower, right? Or even if he bought out hers just before the wedding…

    I have to commend Simon on how he got the silver, though. Sure, definitely dishonest, but… damn, he is clever. If only he could put that mind of his to better use…

    Oh my God, is it your birthday? Happy birthday! With any luck, there will be a chapter up for you some time soon 😉

    • The only “problem” with Simon buying out his indenture before he marries is that indentured men and women need to go to their lord for permission to marry. Generally this is a rubber-stamp approval. In Glasonland almost all of the people in a village who are indentured would be indentured to the same person, so the lord doesn’t much care who marries who as long as most of the fertile women get married and pop out a few indentured babies for him. In Albion, the lords are approving marriages between people indentured to different lords because, well, if they didn’t, nobody would be getting married and making babies.

      However, if an indentured woman wants to marry a freeman, you’re likely to run into problems because the lord will (generally) demand some sort of financial recompense for her (or else he’ll allow the freeman to indenture himself to the lord, if the freeman is so poor that he can’t afford to do anything else). Generally, this will be the full adult price ($20,000/20 silver coins) vs. the lower “married couple” rate ($30,000/30 silver coins for two people). So by waiting until after he’s married, Simon saves a rather hefty chunk of change.

      Of course, none of this is taking into account the fact that, Lancelot being Lancelot would probably let Roma go at a rather low price — “Aw, they’re young and in love, who am I to stand in the way?” — and Bors being Bors will jack the price up as much as possible — “They’re MY peasants and they should stay that way until they die!”

      But I don’t think Simon is canny enough, daring enough, or knows Lancelot well enough to realize he’d probably save money if he bought out his indenture and Roma’s before they married.

      I’m glad you think he’s clever, though! Clever thieves make for fun stories, even when their creators have to tie themselves into knots to explain the chance cards away!

      Yes, it is my birthday. Thank you, thank you! 😀 I can’t wait to read the chapter, whatever story it’s in!

  4. oooh toughie, i alway’s let my sims keep thier windfalls (well except in Fransis and Katherines case but $100,000,000 was abit much to be fair, stupid custom career)

    Hmmm Simon needs to think up a clever reason for having the money so suddenly, or perhaps he should be abit clever about it, perhaps wait for a few years extra before buying his freedom when bor’s has well and truely forgotten about it.

    in the mean time he could start making some small investments i don’t know what rules you use for the pesant class but perhaps he could use a small amount of the money to create a fictional explination as to were it came from, perhaps invest in a caravan, so when it returns he can say it was more profitable than it actually was.. do that a few times and perhaps that would “explain the money”

    • $100,000,000 is DEFINITELY excessive. I think that’s more than is in the whole Albionese GDP right now! 😉

      Waiting is definitely his best bet, I would think — if he just walked into Bors’s office with all that cash and no convincing explanation, I think Bors would be suspicious. Hell, LANCELOT would be suspicious, and we all know he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed!

      Oh, I like the investment idea! Game-wise I don’t have very many financial rules for the peasant class, other than how much they’re taxed. Oh, and I try to put as many of them into OFB businesses as possible, to keep their earnings low. But there would certainly be nothing in either the game or the story to prevent Simon from investing in a business venture, especially if he started with small amounts that he could explain away (as per Hat’s suggestion) as winnings from playing cards or a bet.

      And once the money is explained, he can buy out his freedom and even Bors won’t be too suspicious.

  5. If I were a thief who had a windfall like that and had a purchase just the right size for it…

    … I would definitely not use the windfall for that purchase. Oh hell no. No, I’d set… most of it aside, and slowly and obviously spend some of it while slowly and obviously saving up enough to make up the difference. You can get lucky at cards with a fictional someone, you can find a lost coin in the street, win a bet, do someone a favor. Little things that add up to a new tunic for Sundays, a new comb for your girl (who already knows you aren’t a miller’s apprentice– combs were a very traditional courtship gift, too, because they were moderately expensive and you’d think of the giver every time you combed your hair), on and on. Little things. Make a show of every single “windfall.” Get married, and make it a nice wedding. Pay for the full church ceremony, not just the church’s blessing.

    Look prosperous, but not TOO prosperous, and let that go on for as long as it took to top up the savings again. THEN when Bors is used to it seeming like everything Simon touches turns to gold, it’s time to buy out the indenture.

    And for the love of little green apples, don’t keep looking at it. Leave it alone, it’s not going to grow legs, and you’re just going to draw attention if you keep traipsing outside in your underwear to poke it.

    • You don’t like the shots of Simon traipsing outside in his underwear? I took them for everyone’s viewing pleasure! 😉

      And I do like your idea of becoming slowly more prosperous! I love the comb tidbit, too. I think I will have Simon definitely get something nice for Roma from the money, even though I’m not sure how I’d do a comb in pics. But I can have her primping in front of the mirror and thinking of Simon and leave the rest to the readers’ imagination. 😉

      Another good thing, now that I think about it, for him to invest in would be livestock. If he has some pigs and some cows, he can easily explain away his income as being bigger than a miller’s apprentice because, you know, he’s selling off his excess livestock. (It also gives me an excuse to use more of the SimMyFarm animals — I tried out the chickens on the Porters’ lot, which is too small and weirdly built for me to use any bigger animals, and they are AWESOME.) And if Roma set up a little market stall in the front of the house as a home business, that could explain away a lot of money. 😀

      Thanks for the suggestions, guys! Simon, you might end up looking more respectable than you ever bargained for! 😉

      • Now, I didn’t say I didn’t like them, but really– a healthy young man running around in his braises of a night is liable to catch someone’s attention, even if all they do is go “Mm, nice.”

        Livestock is a great idea! If you have chickens, you can sell a) eggs and b) chickens, live or slaughtered. If you have a cow and have or know someone who has a bull (in story terms), you can sell milk and, story-wise use the cow to pull a plough to till your fields. If you have a cow AND a bull (in game terms), not only can you sell milk and till your fields, you can sell calves… and a bull is better than a guard dog for keeping people out of your yard. If you have pigs… well, you can sell piglets, pigs, or pork, but pigs put a ridiculous amount of the energy they get from food into making more pig, at least in reality– if what you’re after is meat, pigs are producers.

        • *imagines bull running after robber* Simon needs a bull! Though I think I’ll have to put the bull behind a fence. You know. Just in case. 😉

          Seriously though, I can’t wait to do these animals justice. Within a couple of rounds, the Porters will be moving, so they can get more livestock — I’ll have real farmers in-game, and not just little veggie plots! This is going to be AWESOME! 😀

          Thanks again for pointing those out, Hat!

  6. Clarence really is dumb as bread. And the worst part is that he’s still calling Joyce a slut… I really hope he’ll get caught by the townguards or loose a knife-fight or something. I just can’t stand that guy…

    As for all the money… He may be the richest peasant in the whole Kingdom but what good will it do? The money isn’t worth a thing if he can’t use it!

    How’s the rest of the ‘gang’ doing? Like Andrea(?!)… Have they been arrested?

    • We haven’t recently from Andrea because she’s the most cautious one in the gang — meaning that she’s kicking back, sneaking into people’s houses and walking away with their portable property, but staying out of trouble otherwise. Unlike Clarence, who finds trouble whenever he finds someone with two X chromosomes. That’s why we don’t hear from her — successful housebreaking and intelligent under-the-radar living don’t always make for fun and interesting stories.

      Of course, in terms of the game, she’s broken into a couple houses and keeps trying to call Heloise (whose house she broke into a couple rounds ago) so that they can solidify their 100/100 relationship with little green smiley faces. :mrgreen:

      EXACTLY on the money not being worth anything if it can’t be spent. I mean, really, if Simon can’t figure out a way to spend it, he’s just got a big shiny rock buried in his backyard. Pretty, but of limited utility.

      Clarence ought to get what’s coming to him very soon. Don’t worry about that. I haven’t determined exactly what I’m going to do with him yet, but it won’t be pleasant.

    • Don’t bother with the SimMyFarm animals. They’re exactly the same as Rebecah’s animals. Rebecah made them first, then SimMyFarm improved them (and set them for sale without her permission), then Rebecah found out, took the animals back, and offered them for download at Affinity Sims.

      And because she’s such a nice person, she’s giving the thieves partial credit!

  7. Oh them! I tried both out. At first I thought the other was better, but after I found out that Rebecah uses all their improvements and then added more – well no reason to not use Rebecah’s now!

    I also love to use simslice animals. I use swans, ducks and crocodiles because Rebecah doesn’t make them. I use the horses with her horses. They don’t conflict. They reproduce, Rebecah’s don’t. But Rebecah’s horses have some actions the other’s don’t. The 2 types of horses look good on the same lot.

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