Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Forty Four

Previous chapter: After the Library.

Chapter Forty Four: Wisdom and Toothache.

It was one cold night, as it had rained earlier. Francesca was curled up in her bed, tossing and turning.

"Go away, I don't need your hugs, your orders, and not your demands of me!" Francesca suddenly yelled in her sleep. "Leave me alone and don't come back!"

It seemed that the chill left her room right at that moment. Francesca woke up, shivering. She pulled the blankets around herself and tried to sleep.


Francesca groaned as she typed an email to her parents and brother again. She wondered if she should mention the nagging pain in the back of her mouth. Knowing her mother though, Mrs. Takahashi was likely to rush up to Willow Creek, get her checked, then complain about her fashion choices.

She decided not to mention the toothache for now, and sent the email. She wrote a short one to her British cousin as well. Francesca then went downstairs and prepared some spaghetti for herself, as her teeth hurt too much to eat harder food.
"Oh, ouch!" thought Francesca when she accidentally bit on her sore gum instead of a noodle. "My poor mouth."

"I'll have better luck asking Hera for advice," thought Francesca. "I've seen Doctor Richardson, her mother before, and Hera's got a bit of medical knowledge."

Just then, Hera came out of her room. She noticed Francesca's discomfort. So Hera sat in front of Francesca, who complained, "My mouth hurts."

"You have a pain in your mouth?" Hera asked. "But your lips are fine. Have you been brushing your teeth lately?"

Francesca stared gloomily at her plate of spaghetti. "It's a big itch at the back of my mouth," she said. "Started this morning, and I do brush my teeth, thank you very much."
"Wait, you turned nineteen last December," Hera said. "Did you know that wisdom teeth come out around that time?"

"Not until you mentioned it," Francesca said. "Does it mean anything?"

"It's the average age of people who first get wisdom teeth. The Lion Twins got them two years ago, only two apiece. Did you feel any bits of bone sticking out from your jaw recently?"

"I think all of them have random bits of teeth except the upper left corner, which is now itching."

"Well, give that tooth a rest. If it gets any worse I'll get you to the dentist. It's lucky that you have small sharp teeth rather than huge sharp ones. Or else you'd have to see a dentist and get them pulled."

It was then that Francesca blurted, "I've got more ideas for the Mechanical Armageddon! Might be painful."
Hera gave Francesca some feedback.
"Let's hear them," Hera said, moving to the chair beside Francesca.

"So I have this idea, our characters are getting the artifact back, but your character and the Twins' don't really have confidence in me because my character Demoliri lost the artifact long ago. Nobody else trusts Liri either. It's a long hard path." When Hera didn't answer, Francesca went on, "I'm trying to explain why our roleplaying group broke up."

Hera remarked, "Everyone hates you? Bah! Rubbish! Not everyone does. You should change that around. The Twins aren't as harshly judgmental as the roleplayers in our old group. Just because the admins gave up after your character was defeated doesn't mean you were the sole cause of that breakup."

"What else happened?" Francesca asked, surprised. "I thought people hated Demoliri for her failure, the players all said they'd rather support the supervillains if my character was such a bad representative of the heroes. Then the Twins withdrew from the game because their characters were constantly attacked."

"The rest of the group was stupid," Hera said. "Giving up at the first sign of challenge. I noticed that the supervillain players were always making things go in their favor despite the game masters' efforts to stop that."

Hera then continued, "In fact, the masters were trying to make a redemption arc for the heroes, but as nobody wanted to play through that, they gave up. That's why the group broke up, a serious lack of competition. The Twins' leaving was the last straw for the masters."

"Is it too late to post the Mechanical Armageddon then?" Francesca asked. "The admins of SuperHeroQuest have decided to act as if the game never existed."

"You never know, it could spark interest in remaking the game if your story's good enough. I'll teach you some programming to get started. These days, you've got to do your own grunt work. Even the indie game companies can throw away so-called failures like SuperHeroQuest once they get big enough."

Francesca considered the offer, then said, "Thanks a lot. Maybe I just worry too much."

"Better to be an empathic person rather than a bitter old crone like your aunt Lion," Hera said. "The Twins' mother might have been trusting when she was young, but now she thinks the worst of almost everything."

"I hope I don't become a mean old person when I grow up."

"Then again, you can't be Peter Pan forever. You've got to strike a balance, and we'll help you," Hera said. She got up and brought the plates to the sink. "You've come quite far already, you've got a steady job. We all have. Life isn't just about money though, no idea is worth discarding just because it's unprofitable in the short term. It's flights of fancy that can inspire the next big thing."

Hera continued washing the plates and sighed, "Pity that all the big and small companies have forgotten how to catch flights of fancy, they rely on the same formula and superstars to promote them."

Next chapter: Bringing Up Old Times.

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