Chapter 4.15 – Fortune

Mark sits alone at the park while Mei works her shift at the police station.
 
After quitting his job as an international undercover intelligence agent, he has little else to do. Although he has finally made it home, he feels as though he has jumped from one raging, whitewater torrent into another. Time had not stood still while he was gone, and Sunset Valley feels like a completely different place as a result. There is no better evidence of this than from within his own family.  Hope has become a beautiful young woman, and Dara threatens to be just as gorgeous as both her sister and mother.
 
Mark had not expected his father to be gone, either. He had never thought of his father as old. Though in reality, David had lived longer than most sims dream to. This loss had definitely affected him, but it was not a terrible shock. It was news of Deirdre and Claire that has left him feeling sick. His sisters had been his best friends, even through his most difficult days growing up. What bothers him most, is that Deirdre had tried to warn him about something while he was undercover. The accidents that claimed their lives had not been properly investigated, and screamed of foul play. Could he have protected them if he had returned home rather than pursuing Ali with blinded vengeance?
Mark realizes the futility of wondering what could have been done differently. They are gone. What remains, is the fact that his family has been through a lot of pain while he was away, and there has been no chance for any of them to properly mend. They need time away from the daily grind to reestablish relationships, be parents, and fall in love again. China has always been the place where Mark and Mei feel most connected. Mark knows immediately what he has to do.
 
The Barimen fortune has grown considerably. Although they still barely register on the scale used for the Landgraabs and Altos, theirs has become a name spoken within those same circles. Mark recalls how his father talked about living in a tiny cabin, and dreaming of one day building a home that would dwarf its neighbors. He resolves to honor the memory of his father by realizing this dream.
Driven with a new purpose, Mark secures the services of one of the world’s most recognised architectural firms to design and build the Barimen Estate. It will be a veritable palace, and will come to be recognised as a Sunset Valley landmark. Over the next few days, he contacts the builders, architects, and suppliers while picking out the marble, tile, and fixtures that will fill this immense home.
 
Then, on the eve of the groundbreaking, they return with their family to Mei’s home village, where the eminently wise Jiang Xi first recognised the unlikely match. Mei’s parents have grown very old, and express their joy of being able to see Hope and Dara another time before going to sit with their ancestors. So while their children enjoy the company of their doting grandparents, Mei and Mark use this time to reconnect; visiting the places where they fell in love as teens.
 
Hope spends time with her grandfather, Ho Chung Wu, who attempts to train her using the methods taught to him by Jiang Xi. The late master believed that balance in all aspects of one’s life is the key to being at peace. To achieve balance, one must give and take equally. The elder Wu does his best to focus the young and excitable teen. But her continuous interruptions and questions make for very difficult teaching.
 
Hope is likewise frustrated by these lessons. She has so many questions that her grandfather cannot answer. He just repeats that the answers will come when she has found her own balance. Truthfully, the whole thing seems pretty silly. Her life is too much like a race car to be a seesaw. What does balance have to do with Michael Nava? Is she supposed to balance him with Eugene Lum, the super-geek? Not that Gene isn’t nice and all… but seriously. She senses that the questions are beginning to frustrate her elderly grandfather. So as the days progress, he spends more time fishing with his granddaughter than training her.
 
Grandpa Wu is a sweet old man. And though he had tried earnestly to teach Hope using the old ways, he just does not possess the tools needed for such a challenging job. The effort is not a total loss, however. Not only have he and Hope grown much closer through the many hours spent fishing together, but she also has found a new hobby. Her grandparent’s house is always filled with amazing smells, rendered from her grandmother’s unmatched cooking skills. Every day finds some new and mouth-watering aroma. Be it ginger, or sesame, or some kind of exotic mustard; she always produces an insanely delicious dish using the day’s catch of fresh fish and ingredients from the garden.
 
She starts to learn some of these techniques, (using the excuse of having monopolized Grandpa Wu’s time to spend the latter part of the visit in the kitchen) absorbing the smells, flavors, names, and uses for an entire spectrum of spices and flavors. It comes almost naturally to her, and the praise she gets from her aged grandmother seems to build a confidence in her ability to actually be good at something. It is something Hope has never experienced before, having always concealed her lack of acuity with a flood of words.
 
After two weeks in China, her parents have grown together and seem like the amazingly perfect couple she had always remembered. They took nearly five days on some crazy excursion to explore the countryside with little more than a tent and some dried food. It doesn’t seem all that romantic to her, but appearances suggest that her parents had really enjoyed it. They return, loaded down with artifacts and ancient coins from the dig sites they found along the way. But it is the flirty smiles they share with each other that lets Hope know the trip was a good one for both of them.
 
They spend time together as a family on a backbacking and sight-seeing excursion. Truthfully, there is a lot more hiking than sight-seeing, as Dara is quick to point out. She gripes that taxis had been invented quite some time ago; and roads too. But her complaints are quieted when they reach the site of their vacation home in the mountains. This is where they spend their last week fishing near the waterfalls and relaxing in the crisp mountain air.
 
Hope continues to learn with her grandmother while staying at the huge vacation home. The highlight of the trip (for Hope), occurs one evening while preparing dinner for the family. The ingredients have come together perfectly as her grandmother stands by, proudly smiling at Hope’s accomplishments. It is a focused feeling of confidence in herself, accompanied by a sense of peace and tranquility. It is the classic “Aha!” moment. And although it not required for Hope to understand what has happened; Meiko Wu, daughter of Jiang Xi, kisses her granddaughter on the forehead and just simply speaks the word her father had spoken so many times during his life – balance.
 
This visit to China rivals any of the others in the past. Hope has gained vital new understanding about herself. Mark and Mei both feel recharged and refocused. But more importantly, they have fallen in love all over again. With a heavy weight shrugged off of their shoulders, the family bids a tearful goodbye to Mei’s parents and begins the long fight home. And upon returning, they are welcomed back to a sight that is beyond anything they could have imagined…
Author’s note – Yep, this is one big house. The tiny figure on the top catwalk connecting two of the “towers” is Hope.
I was thinking of something along the lines of a modern-day castle. There are four “towers” (one at each corner) connected by “parapets”. It has a four-story parking garage, room for at least nine bedrooms, a four-story activity wing (reading room, gym, winery, and art loft), and some really nifty connecting breezeways. Some folks may not like all the windows, but I thought it looked pretty darned cool.
Mary has become a favorite character of mine, but sadly, it is time to let her grow up and move out. She has become Assistant Fire Chief, and has married her architect boyfriend. They were evidently pretty anxious to get “busy”, because they had a little girl within the span of only a sim-week of moving them out.
The Barimen family now owns much of Sunset Valley. The only rabbit-hole they do not own is the warehouse (for obvious reasons). They also own a few other venues around town. Mark quit his job as “International Super Spy” and joined the investigator profession to kill time. Aside from a loose end or two, I believe I am finished telling Mark’s story. I will focus pretty much exclusively on Hope for the rest of Chapter 4, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
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7 thoughts on “Chapter 4.15 – Fortune

  1. FortA says:

    Wow! The house is beyond amazing! I don’t know how you did it! I’m just not that skilled with the Sims 3 building. I love building small cottages/starter homes on a tight budget, but when I have THAT much money, I just can’t get it done 🙂 Great job, though. And personally, I love all the windows. The large ones (such as the ones you used) are some of my favorite, especially for Sims that love the outdoors.

    It’s kinda bittersweet when you finish a Sims’ part in the story, don’t you think? Almost like they’re real 🙂

    Keep on doing a fantastic job,

    FortA

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    • Thanks! It is such an awesome view from that plot of land, that I could not resist using those huge windows as backdrops for future shots. I think this will be the last major revision of the home, though. But I still have four layers of basement to “explore” 😉

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  2. Wonderful to see the family together again and regaining balance. The ‘house’ is huge! I can’t wait to see Hope’s story play out in that resort of a home.

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    • I wanted to make a statement with the estate and have the Barimens put their “stamp” on the town. Plus it was kind of cool to have that much money to get crazy-big with the architecture. I definitely wanted it to look like a kind of fortress, and I think it came through pretty well.
      It’s funny, because the family is filthy, stinking rich at this point. Mark’s very favorite thing to do is bust space rocks on the board breaker. Some days he can earn many thousands of simoleons with the gems from the broken space rocks. I have six spire cut tiberium, each worth at least 40k.

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  3. The reconnection of the family is so beautiful. I loved the trip to China, it opened everyones eyes to new things and old problems in the past forgotten as they pave towards the future.

    The house is absolutely gorgeous! It does remind me of a castle, I love the way you pulled it off, amazing work!

    Glad to hear Mary doing so well and being happy too. This Barimen generation needed love and happiness after all the deaths that passed.
    Cant wait to hear Hopes point of view and story play out. :3

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  4. yet another gem of a post Zoxell I really like the story thus far and I know I clearly suffer from an addiction to this blog keep it up mate 🙂

    ps. the house is gorgeous any chance of us getting to download it?

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    • I have been meaning to get some of the legacy sims and the house up to the exchange. What I have found with the house is that it has so many objects, that I believe it pushes the limit of what a lot can handle. Sometimes the house takes more than 30 seocnds to render.
      Thanks again for your very kind feedback. I try to pull my RPG chops into the storytelling. I would love to somehow do an Amber (Roger Zelazny) story using the Sims 3… If only I could figure out how to pull it off.

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