Chapter 7.23 – Iniquity

Had there been any doubts the stakes were high, and this was for real, they have been soberly dispelled by evidence of two dispatched thugs across the room.
 
This is not simply a matter of some fictional sleuth awaiting the outcome of her fate at the hands of an omnipotent author. It is survival; kill or be killed. When bullets started flying, Ricky was prepared, focused, accurate, and deadly. And it was over before Wendell even knew what had happened. Ricky grabs Wendell by the shirt collar in anger and warns him again to focus. Had those thugs been good shots, he’d already be a dead man.
 
Ricky sprints across the room, then gestures Wendell to follow. He attempts to run, but is immediately tripped up by a the corner of a flagstone raised slightly higher than the others. He manages to avoid a painful face plant, but not humiliation. If it weren’t such an ominous situation, it would be funny. Collecting himself, he joins Ricky next to the dead gunman. Ricky inspects a discarded gun then hands it to Wendell. He looks the publisher square in the eye and warns him not to shoot the good guys, or himself. Wendell’s shoulders sag, and he breathes a heavy sigh. The irony is sickening.
 
Under normal circumstances, Wendell would retreat into himself and begin to ponder his own misery. But these are not normal circumstances. A chilling scream of desperation resonates from behind a door atop a flight of stairs, and on the far side of the room. It was Amber, and she was calling Wendell’s name. Even before the echoes finish bouncing off of the ancient stone walls, Ricky has already sprung into action.
 
He sprints across a long dining hall, then bounds up the staircase to a balcony overhead; leaving Wendell scrambling to catch up. Wendell is only half way up the stairs when a pair of gunshots leaves Ricky staggering on the balcony.
 
A third gunshot sends him over the rail’s edge, landing with a hard thud onto the floor below.
 
Wendell stares in horror at Ricky’s unmoving body, and then at the spatters of his friend’s blood that have settled on his own face, hands, and clothes. He hesitates for what feels like hours, though in reality it is barely a second. He eyes the open door from where both Amber’s screams and Ricky’s death had originated. He is motivated by the knowledge that unless he reacts immediately, Amber will be next.
 
In his brain, his legs move fluidly up the stairs, where he then dives behind a sofa visible through the open door. But reality is not nearly so kind to Wendell. He trips up over the top step and bangs his forehead on the door frame. Then he spills into the room, momentarily delirious from the sharp blow to his head.
 
Of all the things he might have expected to happen next, being laughed at was not among them. He does not know the man pointing a gun at him, nor does he care. Wendell has been a joke his entire life, and he is thoroughly fed up with being a laughingstock. Seeing Amber lying on the floor causes something in his head to click. He did not come here to fail. He watched helplessly while Ricky was murdered. It is a gruesome vision that has already burned itself into his mind and will likely haunt him for the remaining years of his life. He must prevent the same thing from happening to Amber, or he must die trying.
 
Unsure of whether it is just simply the fight or flight instinct, or something else that empowers him, Wendell grabs the first thing he can get his hands onto and throws it with surprising accuracy; hitting the killer square in the face. It buys Wendell enough time to get to his feet. Gunshots fire harmlessly while Wendell struggles with his unnamed foe. When the gun is finally emptied, his opponent growls and comes on with the strength of twenty sims.
 
Wendell knows he cannot possibly fight against such unusual power. But he may not have to. For the most part, Wendell had always considered his time spent in the military to be a total loss. He had never successfully performed any of the hand-to-hand combat maneuvers they taught him, but he still remembers the techniques. Using his opponent’s unnatural strength against him, Wendell rolls smoothly along with his attacker’s momentum, then executes a perfect throw.
 
Glass and wood explode as though a mortar shell had struck the ancient window. Wendell simply stands in shock as the unusual man continues sailing through the window pane, into the open air, then onto the rocky ground, several stories below.
 
Tragic and heartbreaking. They are the only words that come close to describing the funeral for Richard Nava III. His widow, Sarah, is inconsolable. And, as depressing as it may be, she appears to also be pregnant.
 
Both Ricky and Amber had been rushed to the hospital when the local emergency crews arrived. But the owner of the manor, a Brandon Logrus, did not receive the same kind of urgent care. There was hardly any questioning on the part of the police. In fact, there was an odd sense of relief accompanying the fact that Brand lay broken on the rocks below the manor. It was disturbing and unsettling.
 
Nothing could be done for Ricky. He had likely been killed by the first gunshot, and was declared dead at the scene. His heroics afforded Amber the mere few moments that ultimately saved her life. She had suffered severe dehydration, and was debilitated from an extreme dose of some exotic neurotoxin. The poison Brand used on Amber was not intended to kill her. Rather, it was intended to induce terrible pain and paralysis. Amazingly, she will suffer no permanent physical damage.
 
The minor, physical wounds Amber suffered were negligible. But her emotional trauma is severe. It is inconceivable, how close she came to death.  Added to the ponderous thought of her own mortality, is the knowledge of what she has caused. And the guilt of knowing consumes her spirit. Too many sims have suffered or died as a result of her selfish pursuit of “the mystery”. The irony, as it turns out, is that she’d always possessed the clues necessary to solve it from the beginning. But she stubbornly refused to consider the fact that the solution was, in fact, herself. In her mind, there is no way to atone for her recklessness impudence. There are some who may never forgive her. And that is a burden she will eventually carry alone to her grave.
 
Yet, Wendell still stays with her, ever loyal and patient; while she tearfully purges herself of the iniquity that has all but destroyed her family and kept her apart from the man she loves for far too long.
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3 thoughts on “Chapter 7.23 – Iniquity

  1. I have to say what a great writer you are, this story is so well written I could be reading a new best-seller if the pictures of sim’s weren’t in the middle. 😛

    I feel so sorry for Ricky, and poor Sarah carrying a child that will never know it’s father. I’m glad Amber is finally free but it’s going to be hard to forget the terror of her time with Brand. Can’t wait to see how you handle it.

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    • Thank you for the kind compliment!
      Amber’s story is just about finished, now. A few loose ends to tie up and a new heir to introduce should take care of chapter 7. I’m really looking forward to chapter 8! I think a lot of folks who have been following will find it to be the “Aha!” chapter.

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  2. Brand really creeped me out, I was glad that Wendell found that inner strength to do something, act. I couldnt help but laugh at his clumsiness though. XD The image in my head was too funny to ignore.

    I was hoping that Ricky would not die, I feel awfully sorry for Sarah and their unborn child.

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