The Real Reapers of the Wages of Sin

“Well?” the woman demanded. “I’m here. What do ye want?”

How had he ever been taken in by her?

Brother Tuck took a deep breath as he took stock of the woman standing before him. He looked over her “fine” clothing (as fine as she could afford), her carefully braided hair, the gold earrings that might have been her dowry, had she not sold her virtue to some random passer-by, so many years ago. Or at least that was how Brother Tuck imagined it had happened. She was so depraved now, surely in her youth she had been no different.

He imagined how she looked to innocent, virtuous Sims who may decide to walk into the Church. They would think she was some prosperous peasant’s wife, or perhaps even a merchant’s wife. They would assume that she had children at home; they would think she worked hard all day and slept at night, except when husband or child or housework might require her tender care. Those Sims might smile at her, they might nod, they might even say “Good morning,” or “How are you?” They would think she was virtuous! They would think she was just like them! Brother Tuck’s stomach churned.

But this, all of this was a good sign. He had been tempted once, he had even succumbed to temptation — as all Sims did — but he would not be tempted again. Not by this she-devil, at any rate. For now he knew just what lurked beneath the smooth and silky-soft surface. Now he knew that she was not, as she claimed, who sold her body to get her bread because she had nothing else to sell. Perhaps, somewhere, there were women who could truly claim that. But not this one, or, even if she had begun her journey into sin that way — he doubted it, but it was possible — not now. For no woman who was merely desperate and at her wits’ end to keep body and soul together would do to him, and to an innocent child, what this woman had done to him and to that child.

So Brother Tuck took a deep breath, fixed the woman with his most icy glare, and demanded in a sort of razor-edged whisper, “Tara Abbot?”

He watched the woman’s face, but she barely blinked. “What about ‘er?” she asked.

“She’s yours, is she not?”

The woman eyed her fingernails. Brother Tuck wondered what might lurk beneath them. An honest woman got all sort of things under her fingernails in the course of an honest day’s work — bread crumbs, dirt from scrubbing her tables or her children, plant sap from her work in the fields. But this woman? What could possibly be beneath her nails? Nothing.

How odd, that the jobs that were most filthy left so little dirt on the surface … but only on the surface, Brother Tuck reminded himself. Beneath the skin, who knew what festering diseases might be making their way through her, even now?

“She’s in the nuns’ care now,” the woman replied, shrugging.

“You are her — no, like you said, she is in the nuns’ care now. So you are not her mother. But you gave birth to her, did you not?”

“What makes ye say that?”

He had looked over the records at the orphanage, though he had not had time to copy them, so he knew that young Tara was the offspring — Wright help that poor child — of the woman who stood before him. But he would not admit that. “She’s dark, like you.”

The woman snorted. “I’d say she’s nearer ter yer complexion.”

If he were not a man of Wright, he would have hauled the bitch off and slapped her! But he was a man of Wright, so he restrained himself to taking a step nearer to her and hissing, “I am not here to discuss that child’s resemblance to her — her father, whomever –”

“Since she’s in the care o’ the nuns now, an’ ye ain’t gonna say I’m her mother, I guess that means she don’t have no father, either, don’t it? Since he’s done even less fer that girl than I have.”

“So you admit that the child is yours!”

The woman shrugged. “I gave birth ter her. An’ then I gave her over ter the nuns.” The woman glared at him. “Because even if I’d been able ter be a proper mother ter her, ye wouldn’t have let me keep her, would ye have?”

“If you had been willing to forsake your sinful ways to care for the child properly, you would have had all of the support of the Church!”

Why did that make the woman smile? It was a cruel smile, the kind of smile the cat might give before it pounced on the mouse. Then it disappeared. “I wish I had a witness fer that.”

What the hell is that supposed to mean? But what did it matter; he had more important things with which to tax this woman. “You need not have a witness. Tell any of your — of your — of your fellow sinners what I said. Should they see the light of redemption shining from their child’s eyes, tell them to take the child and come directly to me, and I shall see to it that both mother and child are well cared for!”

“How? By makin’ her yer own private whore?”

“You dare!”

“I dare? I dare? Let me tell ye somethin’, mister, I ain’t never broke no vows I swore ter anyone! I ain’t never promised I’d do one thing an’ then gone and done the opposite! And what’s more, I ain’t never gone up in front o’ hundreds an’ hundreds o’ people, pretendin’ I’m one thing, an’ all the while knowin’ I’m jest the opposite!”

She looked so vicious when she yelled! Her mouth was open, roaring, a tigress’s; her eyes narrowed and small, snake’s eyes. The way her nostrils flared, an angry bull beginning its charge … except, of course, if she were some bovine species, she would be a cow, not a bull. And cows did not charge.

A cow indeed she is. A cow demon. Brother Tuck had wondered, when he was a child, why it was that the most deadly enemy of the Lord Wright’s followers was called a cow demon, and not a bull demon. For were it now bulls that were the deadly half of the bovine species? Were it not bulls who charged and mauled and stomped upon the innocent Sims that crossed their paths? But now Brother Tuck understood. The demons were called cow demons simply because cows were female, and the female — no matter how winsome and innocent she may seem — was always deadlier than the male.

Look how this woman had nearly destroyed his soul!

“I do not pretend to be anything I am not,” Brother Tuck replied. “I am a sinner, just as any of them are, and I say as such.” He had spoken on the topic only this past Sunday. He had also spoken on the subject of judgment, and from that, blackmail had seemed to be an obvious corollary.

“So ye’re jest as bad as any of our johns are, eh?”

“If you ever bothered to care for your soul, and attend holy service, you would find that I am quite sympathetic to those poor, unfortunate Sims who are tempted once, or perhaps twice –”

“Or perhaps every frickin’ week until I start showin’ that I’m pregnant, an’ I ain’t attractive ter ye no more!”

“That — that had nothing to do with it!”

“Aw, don’t lie ter me. As if I care why ye decided ter stop takin’ the only goods I had fer sale without even payin’ — not payin’ in any way, I might add!”

“And how, pray tell, was I supposed to ‘repay’ you?”

“Ye were supposed ter get off me an’ my sisters’ backs! Ye were supposed ter let us earn our bread in peace!”

Earn your bread? Are you mad? Every mouthful of bread you took was stolen from the mouths of virtuous wives and their legitimate children!”

“Stolen? Stolen? What in the nine level o’ hell–”

“Where do you think that money you say you ‘earned’ comes from? It comes from poor men who take money from their families in order to –”

“In order get their lusts out o’ their system. Theirs! Theirs! Listen ‘ere, it ain’t like we go an’ hold no knives to these men’s throats an’ say, ‘Ye must have sex with us an’ pay us an’ not give that money ter yer wives an’ kids who need it more!’ They come ter us, ye here? They decide ter pay us! Ye think they’re starvin’ their wives an’ children, ye talk ter them, not us!”

“I speak every Sunday from the pulpit –”

“Ye liar! Ye talk an’ talk an’ talk about us, an’ ye mention sympathy — sympathy! — fer our johns! Fer our johns! Ye want ter know who caused these problems? Those johns!”

“How did they have anything to with your descent into sin?” Brother Tuck scoffed.

“Because if they’d be willin’ ter hire girls like us, an’ give us honest work, instead o’ jest hirin’ men, we wouldn’t be in this position!” she replied.

“Ha! If you were actually willing to put in an honest day’s work –”

“Shut up! Ye think we don’t work? We have ter be pleasant, an’ we have ter be charmin’, an’ we have ter get ye all hot an’ bothered without ye knowin’ it! An’ then we have ter lie there an’ let ye do what ye like ter us! You think that ain’t work? It’s work!”

“It is not honest –”

“No, because men like ye say it ain’t!” the woman retorted. “Ye want ter know why there are women like me an’ me sisters? Because men like you want there to be!”

“You lie!”

“I don’t lie! I tell the truth ye don’t want ter hear! Men like ye, ye need us! Ye need us ter keep yer womenfolk in line! ‘Oh, don’t ye give me any lip, or smile at too many men, or try ter think or do fer yerself, or else ye’ll end up like those women!’ An’ ye know what else? Ye need us ter make little children fer yer orphanages, so ye can indenture them ter the lord that bids highest an’ raise money fer yer Church!”

“That is not why –”

“Oh, really?” the woman hissed. “Then tell me — what’s gonna happen ter Miss Tara Abbot once –”

“THAT is why I called you here!” Brother Tuck interrupted. “How did you dare? How did you dare to cast aspersion on our good Father Hugh’s name –”

“On Father Hugh’s name?”

“– by claiming he was the father of your child?!”

“Er — whose child am I supposed to have fathered?”

Brother Tuck froze, and the woman across from him froze as well.

Brother Tuck was the first to turn to face the good Father, who was smiling at them a little sheepishly — as if he had done anything wrong! The woman, on the other hand, looked ready to bolt, but a quick hand on her arm kept her in place. And so what if he squeezed that arm. He was only giving her the penance she deserved, one way or another. If her heart did not give her pain, to see the man she had wronged, then her arm would give her pain.

“You haven’t fathered any children, that I know of, Father Hugh,” Brother Tuck replied. “However, this — this whore –”

“Brother Tuck! Bite your tongue! We do not insult good Wrightian women in that way!” Father Hugh gasped. He looked at the woman. “I apologize for this good Brother, madam. I had no idea –”

“Father Hugh, with all due respect, I am not — I do not give this woman that name in order to insult her. I merely state her — profession,” Brother Tuck spat.

“Even if that is the case, we do not insult good Wrightian women in that way,” Father Hugh replied. “May I ask your name, daughter? I thought I knew all of the members of this flock, but apparently I am mistaken.”

Was she blushing? No, it was impossible. And even if it wasn’t impossible, per se, it was impossible to tell on her complexion. “Me name is Tambu, sir.”

“Tambu? What a pretty name!” Father Hugh replied. Brother Tuck scowled. “Now, may I ask you something, Tambu?”

“What’s — what’s that, sir?”

“Let me rephrase that. Let me ask you two things. The first — please, do not call me ‘sir.’ Call me Father.” He smiled. “We are all children of Wright, after all. I would not wish to pretend I was any higher or lower in His — or anyone else’s — estimation, by taking any false honorifics.”

The woman wrinkled her forehead, as if she didn’t quite understand what was being said, but she replied, “I can do that, Father.”

“Thank you, daughter. Now, the second thing — how is it that Brother Tuck here has managed to get the impression that you are naming me as the father of a child of yours?”

She looked away. “Mistress Tambu?” Father Hugh asked.

“I bore a child, s–Father, about a year ago. She’s with the nuns now.”

“Well, I certainly didn’t father her!” Father Hugh chuckled.

“No, Father, ye — ye didn’t. But I gave her the last name o’ Abbot, jest the same.”

“You — what? Oh! Oh, I see.” Father Hugh stroked his chin. “I see. You were hoping that people would see the child’s surname and think I was the father?”

She swallowed and kept her gaze on the floor. “F-father, I didn’t care whether people thought ye, personally, were her father or no — what I wanted people ter, ter do was … think.”

“Think?”

“Think — think about the folks they’re listenin’ ter. Ter — ter remember that ye an’ Brother Tuck, an’ all the other Church folks, are Sims jest like the rest of us. That ye ain’t perfect. An’ that …”

“And that what?”

“Ye — ye won’t get me into no trouble fer sayin’ this?”

“I assure you, you are free to say what you please.”

“Father! You mustn’t –”

“Hush, Brother.”

The woman, meanwhile, turned a grin full of unnecessarily sharp teeth to him. Then she looked again at Father Hugh. “I wanted ter show — ter show everyone, that they should think twice before listenin’ ter everythin’ ye an’ Brother Tuck — but mostly Brother Tuck — says at the pulpit, especially if those things will hurt some other Sim!”

Father Hugh blinked. “You — you think it likely that listening to Brother Tuck and me will result in some Sim being hurt?”

“Maybe not directly, Father, but — aye. Sinful as what me an’ me sisters do is, if we don’t do it, we don’t eat.”

“But surely you know that the doors of the Holy Mother Church are open to you? That you can come in at any time, ask for help, and we will give it to you?”

“Father, maybe me an’ me sisters might’ve thought o’ that three, four, five years ago — but since Brother Tuck started preachin’ his sermons, we’ve learned that we ain’t welcome in no church.”

Father Hugh’s jaw fell. Brother Tuck began to step forward. “Father, don’t listen to her — she speaks with the voice of temptation! She’s only saying that to –”

“No, Brother Tuck. She does not speak as a temptress. I think I know in whose name she speaks — and it is not the Grim Reaper, it is not the cow demons, it is not …” He sighed. “Daughter, I am sorry, but have you need of any further counsel today? I fear I must have a long — and earnest — talk with my fellow monk, and I belive that I need to have that talk soon.”

“No, Father. I wouldn’t have come here at, ‘cept Brother Tuck sent fer me.”

“Then go with the Lord Wright, daughter.” Father Hugh performed the sign of the plumbob over her. “And remember — the doors of the Holy Mother Church are always open to you. We will find a way to help you obtain honest work, if honest work is what you want.”

“Thank ye, Father.”

The woman walked out, and Father Hugh followed her — and Brother Tuck followed Father Hugh. The good Father sighed as she walked down the steps. “That woman was sent here, Brother. She was sent here as warning against temptation.”

“Temptation to what, Father?”

“Pride, my son,” Father Hugh answered. “And we have both been over-guilty of pride in these past years. Come, Tuck. We must speak. We must speak now, if we hope to root out the sin at all — before it is too late.”

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15 thoughts on “The Real Reapers of the Wages of Sin

  1. Yes! Brother Tuck is getting tugged down a notch, not as far as he deserves, but he’s going down a bit and that’s a victory.

    I’m sorry that Tara is set up to be a battleground between her parents. That’s never fun. But it’s leading to something different.

    And Brother Tuck, the nerve! Oooh, I want to hit him, badly. 😛 Tambu is not responsible for him not being able to keep it in his pants–or robe, whatev.

    I still hope he craps himself when Erin gets Wulf back! Losing two battles to whores will be quite the blow to his huge ego.

    • Observe, the slow descent of Brother Tuck to the depths at which he belongs. 😉 We’re talking baby steps here, Andavri, baby steps.

      I don’t know how much Tara is going to be an actual battleground between her parents — I think the idea of Tara is serving as a battleground, but her, personally? Tambu already gave her up and is cutting all emotional ties in order to preserve her own sanity. And Brother Tuck would be paranoid about getting close to the kid, in case somebody guesses that she’s his.

      Nope, Tambu isn’t responsible for his actions, but Eve didn’t exactly hold a knife to Adam’s throat and force him to chomp down on that apple, so … yeah. Somehow I’m not seeing this chop-logic, blame-the-victim approach to guilt distribution as at all foreign to church folks! 😉

      I can’t wait to see the look on his face once Erin gets Wulf back. I’m going to have to have fun with that modeling hack to get a good one. 😉

  2. You tell him, Tambu! 😀

    Seriously, she was awesome here, just letting Tuck have it. And Hugh was also great–he actually heard her out and came to a lot of important realizations. Tuck definitely needed that lashing, and the talk that’s about to come too 🙂

    Quick question. It might have come up already, but off the top of my head I can’t remember: does Hugh know that Tuck is his child? Or does Tuck know?

    • Yeah, I’m glad you liked Tambu! I wasn’t quite expecting her to go off on him like that. (Well, I expected an argument, but I wasn’t expecting her to go for the jugular.) Nor was I expecting Father Hugh to come charging in and save the day, or at least take steps to see that the day was saved eventually …

      Honestly, I still haven’t decided whether Tuck is Hugh’s biological child, or whether they simply share a very close father-son relationship — so I think it’s safe to say at this point that nobody knows anything for certain! Tuck is Hugh’s son in the game because of CAS rules (all teens must be the child of an adult in the household), but like I said, I haven’t decided just how this is going to play out in the story.

      However, I really don’t think it would be at all likely that Tuck would have any idea that the two of them are biologically related, if I decide to go that route. I might decide that Hugh knows (and explain his closeness to Tuck that way), but, yeah. I’m still not sure.

  3. Finally! I hope the talk with Father Hugh will let Brother Tuck see how bad he reacted. Although, he’d probably be too stubborn and, how Father Hugh already said, proud. But, at this point I’m willing to be an optimist and hope for the best! 🙂

    • Eternal optimists of the world unite! 😉 Come hang out at my blog. I cannot promise your optimism will always be rewarded, but darn it, I can try for those happy endings!

      Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how Brother Tuck reacts to the dressing-down he’s due to get from Father Hugh … it’ll be interesting to do a photoshoot for that dressing-down, should I chose to do it on camera, so to speak … hmm, I have a lot to think about over the next couple of days, don’t I? 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed it, though!

        • I’d be crazy if I wasn’t at least curious about it! And thanks for the link. I’d heard rumors about this game, so it’s nice to see that EA’s finaly confirmed it.

          But I’d need to find out more about it before I decide if I wanted to spring for it. Plus I doubt I’d try to switch this blog over to TS3 or something … I’m still working on getting this neighborhood the way I want it, the last thing I need to be doing is fighting with a whole new game! 😉

          I’m holding out hope for awesome conversions, though. *crosses fingers* Other stuff has been converted, why not this stuff? 😉

  4. Is Tambu Wrightian? I wouldn’t have assumed so, but then I know Wei Li isn’t. Hard to insult her as a good Wrightian woman if she’s a pagan.

    This has been a long time building. Long overdue, too. (Although I admit I half expected some young mother to complain about having to explain to a six year old what a whore was.) It’d be nice if the demonization of prostitutes surprised me, but I have gotten the feeling that… well, as well as some parishoners disapproving, or seeing through Brother Tuck’s sermons (hello Galahad), a lot of them are just going because you go, and since the sermons never really change, they’ve… stopped hearing them. I mean, how long can you hear WHORES WHORES WHORES WHORES without tuning out Frank Miller Brother Tuck? (I had to go dig up that comic. I think of it pretty much every time Tuck goes off on one of his tears. And I giggle.)

    This also? Totally brings something to light. Who has Brother Tuck been confessing to? Hard to be forgiven for your tresspasses if only you and Wright know where you’ve walked…

    • Tambu actually is a Wrightian: she’s from Reme, which is pretty much all Wrightian except for some rather stubborn rural pockets (they still worship the pagan gods/goddesses of their ancestors, plus there’s a few remote northern hinterlands who know that the Demigoddess Morgaine is actually running the show around these parts ;)). But Tambu is from an urban area, so that’s out. However, she’s never been particularly religious, and she’s spent too much of her life in hard poverty to care too much about what the religious authorities say about her way of keeping body and soul together.

      THAT would have been funny! I should have had Toinette go after Brother Tuck for that! “Wright damn it, me kids learn enough bad words from me father-in-law, I do NOT want to have ter be explainin’ naughty words that they pick up in church!” I still might do that if the situation warrants it on down the line.

      Very good point about the parishioners tuning out. I hadn’t properly considered that. It might explain why the whorehouse’s business hasn’t slowed too much, or dried up entirely. And, um … the link didn’t quite work, but I think I found the comic you were referring to. It was pretty funny! 😀

      And that is a very good question. So far, he hasn’t been confessing this particular sin to anybody … but soon enough, there will be a new monk in Albion (Brother Andy) who Brother Tuck can confess to. It’ll be interesting to see his perspective on things. 😉

      • That makes sense. She just… doesn’t have the same italianate look to her that Nicole has, so I didn’t pick up on where she was from. Still, hey, good to know there are still pagans around. Fictional pagan faiths are fun to come up with.

        That’s pretty much the mental image I had, although it was just Some Anonymous Mother complaining that yes, all right, selling your body like that is a bad thing, but she’d rather wait until her son is old enough to know why he shouldn’t call his sister a naughty whore when she takes his blocks away to explain it… (“Mommy, what’s a whore?” “… Um, a very bad girl, just like Brother Tuck says.”)

        Dangit, the link works for me. Shortpacked reorganized recently and it’s really frustrating trying to find anything. Anyway, yeah, it’s… it’d almost have to be that the people who took the early sermons to heart have stopped going and the rest wouldn’t change their minds anyway, and everybody else just comes away with the ‘don’t be or visit whores and you’re okay’ lesson and focuses on sitting still or keeping the kids quiet or counting the stones behind the pulpit.

        Went soft enough on Andy to bring him into the main cast, huh?

        (Oh, also? I found out that cows can and will charge, but it takes extreme circumstances, like her calf being threatened. Which is why you should always, always be nice to animals who are bigger than you, and their offspring.)

        • Reme is a bit of melting pot — they’ve conquered so many areas that they have a lot of ethnicities knocking around. Er, so far as the Sims even have ethnicities. Nicole’s from the old blue-blooded stock, though.

          Hmm, the link didn’t return a 404 error or anything like that for me, it just turned up a green background. Maybe they were too busy at the time to process it … I’ll try again later. 🙂

          Lol, I always planned to bring Andy in sooner or later. I’ve just moved things up to sooner because a) Albion needs more doctors! and b) eh, he’s sat in that house all by his lonesome long enough. 😉

          That’s a very good rule for dealing with animals bigger than you are. With babies. Because any animal gets twice as dangerous if you get its baby involved. 😉

          • Well, they’ve sort of got some ethnicities if you have Bon Voyage (and of course, you do), but other than that it can be hard to work other cultures into your game except as a roleplaying thing.

            Weird. It’s entirely possible it only works for me because I still have the page cached in my history, so there’s that, too.

            Albion really does need more doctors. More of everything, really, but then it’s something of a frontier town.

            The second most dangerous animal in the world is an animal in pain; the most dangerous animal in the world is a mother. … Or sometimes just one who thinks it’s a mother. This one time my brother brought home a kitten, and to stop the dog from being too rough or stealing kitten-food, we for some reason managed to say things like, “be nice to your kitty!” or “that’s your kitty’s food.” Now, being a dog, she has a limited vocabulary, but ‘your’ and ‘kitty’ are concepts she understands… so nobody but family was allowed to touch HER kitty.

            • Yeah, cultures are completely in the player’s imagination, except for in the BV destinations. But on the other hand, that’s one of the nice things about the game. No racism, no discrimination, no culture clashes … yeah, maybe it’d be boring in real life, but it’s kind of nice as an escape. 🙂

              Yes, Albion is still a bit of a frontier town. But they’re growing. Slowly but surely, they’re growing and getting more people into those oh-so-important positions and places! 😉

              LOL! about your dog. I can imagine that would be a bit of a pain while trying to care for the kitty … but on the other hand, that’s sweet to see an animal being so maternal and protective of an animal of another species. 🙂

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