II.V.I An Era of Virtue and Loyalty

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Little Edie returned from Smuggsworth Prep School, she had certainly grown into an accomplished young lady. She was charismatic, perfectionist and artistic, everything a young lady ought to be. Her flirty nature could be a problem if not held in check, but it could also be favourable to secure a good marriage. How odd her life had turned out, she thought, when returning to The Royal Castle. It seemed like a dream to be under the wing of The Royal Family after growing up in the most humble situation a sim of Castle Keep could grow up in. She was the protegée of The King Father to whom she was for ever greatful, and The Queen Mother had secured her that she would help her in arranging a good marriage for her. Her future looked bright.

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The youngest of the royal children, Prince Lucius, soon also returned to The Royal Castle from his studies. As the youngest son his future was not so decided upon as his older brother’s. His father wished him to go into the clergy, but he wasn’t sure the monk life was something that suited him. He was an ambitious sim with high expectations on himself, he might pursuit business or politics, he could become an adviser to the King. Either way he wished for his own bit of land and home, and a wife and children, of course.

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The Reaper came for The King Father, he had lived a long and fulfilling life, he was praised and loved by his subjects and although it mostly had been good, he had made some mistakes. He had long been retired from his position as king, leaving it to his son and heir, King Edmund II, but he had been part of his advisary board. The last years of his life had been a bit rough, his mistakes had alienated him from the love of his family. King Edmund II had distanced himself from him, the son was disappointed and hurt by how The King Father had treated The Queen Mother and all his children. They all played along for the gallery, but behind closed doors they never forgave him. It was a sad ending and when the reaper had taken Edmund I with him, King Edmund II made a promise to himself, that his reign would be one of virtue and loyalty, may he never bring such distress to The Royal Family as his father had done. He intended to be a great king, but also a great husband and father.

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Although The Queen Mother had been quite unhappy in the last years together with The King Father, now that he was gone, she could not help but feel a slight emptiness. He had deceived her and broken her trust, but he had also been her life partner and they had had some good times together. She only let herself feel sorry very shortly, now she would dedicate herself to her children and their families. There was still important things to be done for The Royal Family, and she would continue to be of use to them all.

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With The King Father dead Edie felt that her situation might no longer be as good as she thought. She watched all the contrived emotions the family went through from the sidelines and hoped that The Queen Mother would honor her promise. Although nobody ever said it to her face, she was well aware that she was the cause for the sadness and distress The Royal Family felt. She knew, that she was the bastard child of The King Father. Withought knowing how to act Edie immersed herself in the activities of a young lady, she painted, whe wrote and played music, all in the wait for her future to be decided for her.

II.IV.X A Descent Business

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When Byram started spending the evenings at Ye Olde Seedy Tavern, his parents became a bit concerned regarding the type of company he might get himself acquainted with there. He assured them, however, that the owner ran a good business, apparently they had some kind of warehouse. Byram got an employment there and was bringing in a descent amount of simoleons. He seemed happy, had made friends and finally it seemed that he was on a good track in life. Maybe his parents had underestimated him, now that he had active employment his character appeared to improve.

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What his family was not aware of, was that Byram’s seductive ambitions made him capable of risking everything. He would bring friends home from time to time, collegues, business partners of Ye Old Seedy Tavern’s lucrative warehouse business. Faye would throw together something simple but delicious to eat, and then Byram would take them out to look at the farm. That the scheme involved he seducing them with his charms, was not something that his family knew anything of. He was not doing it for the money, he told himself, it just was his seductive nature, he would meet a sim and fall over heals for them and then he would just not give up until he had woohooed with them.

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Unfortunately for Byram, sims were jealous, if it was the monogamous norm of their world or the will of The Watcher, he did not know. It was only a matter of time until a lovers quarrel errupted. This time it was Orion Lawless, an influential sim that Byram had been in love with, a short while, he sought him out at his parents home. There was a commotion and a fire started. It was all accidental, Byram assured his parents, and with the help of his brother, they managed to put it out.

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Faye and Nigel were not so sure that whatever Byram was working with was a descent and clean business. The amount of simoleons he was bringing in was too good to be true. But after years of concerns with simoleons, it was a nice change to just go about their business and not ask too many questions. Faye was occupied with her culinary ambitions and Nigel wanted to join the monastery when he became a young adult. If Byram would take over the household and support their parents, it was all good with them.

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William had been able to pay his landlord, Lord Vaughan, in time this week. He had also been able to pay his debts to him, something he never thought would be possible, ever. It was all thanks to Byram and his success in business. To feel this content in life as William felt right now, was really a treasure, he continued with his fishing and pursuit of the perfect aquarium with ease.

II.IV.IX Leaving the Nest

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“Let us go back. Let us work together and be together as husband and wife again,” Mary asked Mark one afternoon after the market closed and they stopped at a bench to rest.

Not many words had passed between the two after it had come to Mark’s knowledge that the child he raised as his own was not his. That his wife had been in the arms of another sim. Now, Edie had been sent away to a fancy school and life went on as if nothing had happened. But the two were not as they had always been, the coldness was icing and the distance abismal. Neither of them wanted what had happened, but still things were as they were.

“It will be alright,” Mark said and kissed his wife on her forehead before he got up to head back to their house. When she didn’t get up to follow him, he stopped and turned to her:

“Are you coming?”

And she did.

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Loreena had been working a lot to gain skills in both cooking, handiness and gardening. She would soon go to the White Castle to be a servant to the d’Angerville family. The sudden passing of Thomas de Servant forced the family to find new help quickly, and now she was called to the White Castle in a few days. Lady Arabella d’Angerville had told her to learn how to cook and she intended to become the best cook who ever worked at the White Castle. She was quite content with the idea of becoming a servant, the solitude suited her and her neat trait gave her great satisfaction from cleaning. She was also quite curious about how life was at a noble castle and longed to see the ladies beautiful dresses and the castle’s great interiors.

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“Now Loreena, when you go to the White Castle, make sure to be polite. Do not speak without being asked and always bow and if possible do not look them in the eyes,” instructed Mary while they were eating breakfast the day of her departure. “Be careful about the master or any other noble man, they are used to take whatever they want, and if he takes a fancy to you it will all go very bad for you. Do not invite them to converse, do not smile too much at them and for The Watcher’s sake, make sure never to be left alone with them. ”

“Yes mother,” Loreena said dutifully.

“Girls can never be careful enough, the loss of virtue in a girl is irretrievable, one false step will involve her in endless ruin. A girl cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex,” Mary continued.

“Learn from your mother’s mistake,” she sighed after a short pause.

“Yes mother.”

“You are a good girl,” Mary smiled at her daughter. “You are very fortunate and you will have a good life as a servant.”

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After Loreena was sent away as a servant to the noble house of d’Angerville, Desirae put a lot of thought into her own future. She realized she wasn’t a common sim and she would most probably be a nuisance for her family all her life. The pursuit of her life time wish had already risen a lot of talk in the neighborhood. The next morning she took Pino out for the morning ride and went straight to the Aspen Woods Monastery. She asked to speak to her brother Burleigh, who had taken vows and become a monk recently. She told him about her thoughts and asked if maybe the monastery was a suitable place for her.

“You are always welcome here, sister,” he answered her. “But remember, the Aspen Woods Monastery is to follow the path of The Watcher and that path may not coincide with your own life time wish.”

“That is well by me,” she told him. “I would like to join.”

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All the changes at home had suddenly made Sedgewick to start thinking about his own future, he would soon be a young sim and he had been left to care for the farm. His older siblings were leaving the nest. Mary and Mark were still in good health but it would soon be up to him to run the farm. He wanted to meet a nice girl and make a family, he had taken a fancy to the neighbor’s daughter, Juana, but she was still very young. Either way, he ought to marry soon.

II.IV.VIII Love and Companionship

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The life of a merchant’s wife was quite different from the life of a daughter of the nobility. There were many things that Velma had taken for granted while growing up that she now had to master on her own. With Tilton working long hours curing the sick of Castle Keep, she had to manage the household with only the help of a maid. It meant cooking the meals, managing the purse, going to the market and instructing the maid in the cleaning. While other ladies would have objected to such a life, Velma felt both useful and independent in a way she had never felt before.

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The love and passion between Velma and Tilton was very strong and although their financial situation was not very stable it didn’t seem to concern the young sims. They were careless and happy, completely submerged in the clouds of a newly married couple. They would talk endlessly of their future and all the adventures they would conquer together.

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It wasn’t all peaches though, Velma was a virtuouso and charismatic sim and her life time wish was to master the guitarr and charisma skills. She would mostly spend time at home practicing her skills for herself, but her ambitious trait was giving her trouble, she would sometimes feel anxious about not achieveing enough in life. As a married woman she was excluded from pursuing a career at the musical academy, maybe there was another way to become accomplished.

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The companionship between Tilton and Velma was also very strong and they would spend endless hours in each others company without feeling the need of meeting anybody else. Velma, who had received a formal education, enjoyed reading the books her mother had left her, once in a while her father would also stop by and give her some new interesting volume he wished her to read. Surely it was also an excuse for him to stop by and see how life was at the Potters. Tilton had been deprived of the luxury of an education and had to resort to other measures to pursuit the improvement of his mind.

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Finally Tilton and Velma felt they had enough simoleons that they could care for a horse and it seemed they were in luck since the local pet shelter had a beautiful horse named Manzanita that didn’t cost a simoleon to purchase. She was brave, which wasn’t a bad trait at all. It was a true gift to be able to keep a horse, it made Velmas life much easier, since she now could ride to the market and save a lot of time and effort.

II.IV.VII What Would the Watcher do?

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Business at Elmer’s private investigation bureau was thriving, he was always very discreet, and although the high society of Castle Keep loved gossip, no details regarding his cases came out, ever. It just couldn’t be otherwise, his discretion was the reason why the nobility kept coming back and asking for help in cases small and large. Was something to slip out, his reputation would be tarnished forever.

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While Randall, the heir and only son to the Wall family, could focus on his career and making connections around society, it was a different story for his sisters, Ermengard and Bega. The subject of their marriages was a common topic at the dinner table. Ermengard’s future marriage seemed secured, she had been introduced to Rudd Potter and the two got along very well, it would be a good match and only natural for two merchant families to make such a connection. For Bega it was a whole other story, she just wasn’t interested in getting married, if her family would only leave her alone to her Sim Fu practice.

“Every sim must marry Bega, it’s the natural way of a sim life, it’s what The Watcher wants”, her father told her at dinner one evening while discussing the subject. “Do not fight The Watcher.”

“What about what I want? If The Watcher wanted me to marry and make sims children, why did The Watcher give me the traits of disciplined and athletic? Why was I made this way? Maybe it was something completely different that The Watcher wanted from me. I’d rather join the monastery papa”, she angrily replied.

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Although Randall did not concern himself with his marriage, his mother did. Everybody in Castle Keep knew it was the mother’s concern to get their children married, although nobody ever mentioned as much. It was all about the connections, the friendships and social contracts made over a cup of tea between the women of the different families. The Walls had a good reputation and Lecie had the Queen Mother’s ear, so she enquiered about their adopted child, Edie, could she be Randall’s future wife? Sure, she was a bastard, but if she was the King Father’s bastard, it wouldn’t be a bad match for her Randall, and she had a conciderable dowry.

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Ermengard was quite happy to have met Rudd Potter, he was an amiable, gentlemanlike sim and they shared a passion for art. It seemed that Mrs. Potter approved of the match and so did her own parents. She felt she would fit very well in the family and she did like Rudd Potter very much. It felt unreal to think that their match would bring so much happiness to her parents, his family and to themselves. She only wished that her sister Bega, would be as lucky and find someone to share her life with.

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It was not a bad idea, thought Bega to herself while reading some passages of The Watcher’s scriptures. She had said it without giving it much thought, but it could be an alternative for her. Joining the Aspen Woods Monastery would mean she could focus on her learning, on discipline and contemplation, and she would be able to practice Sim Fu, which was the only thing she wished in life. She had never been a great believer though, could a nun’s life really suit her?

II.IV.VI A Good Alliance

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The Potters were a thriving merchant family of Castle Keep. Especially in the material sense. Their artistic, sculpting and designing skills had made a name of them. They had commissions coming in from far and wide and although they did not have noble titles or were great property owners, they had accumulated a good sum of simoleons that surely opened some doors for them. Osmond had almost reached the journalism career and Winifred had mastered both the painting and sculpting skills and was now contemplating to explore the inventing skill.

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Rudd was well on his way to maximize his artistic skill, he had decided to build on his skills before going out and taking architectural design jobs from clients. He felt it was important to give clients the best of his abilities and he realized that to be able to achieve his lifetime wish he needed top scores on his reviews. This did not stop him from doing some decoration at home where he introduced new colors, drapes and furniture to the otherwise very simple Potter household.

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It seemed that Winifred Potter’s attempts to network in the Castle Keep society had given some results. Winifred had quickly become a good friend of Mrs. Wall, and now, they had arranged for Ermengard Wall, the youngest of the Wall daughters, to meet Rudd. Mrs. Wall and Winifred did not want to push the match, if the two young sims met and took like for each other, who knew, maybe they would agree to marry. Rudd was the heir of the Potter family and a very eligible bachelor. Ermengard was an accomplished young sim and a very good match for Rudd. It was a good alliance for both the families.

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Norma grew up into a teenager and gained the ambitious trait, Winifred and Osmond had made the right decision in paying the extra fee to give her an education. For her birthday Norma was allowed to return home briefly from boarding school, something that made her endlessly happy. She was her parents favorite and very close to her brother Rudd. During her stay at Smuggsworth Prep School she had missed her loving family enourmously, she did not feel at home in the snobbish school amongst all the nobel and royal children. In fact, she didn’t want to go back.

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Although Norma was going to continue her education at Smuggsworth Prep School as a teenager and there receive the greatest education available in Castle Keep, it did not mean that her future was secure. She was a merchant’s daughter after all, it was up to her parents to make a good match for her. The family’s position in Castle Keep had improved and the chances looked good, but the Potters were not the most sociably apt sims of Castle Keep, and getting a good match for marriage was all about the social skills.

II.IV.V The d’Angervilles of Warburton

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Warburton Castle was an old decayed castle situated by the river close to the Aspen Woods Monastery. Before the 50 years war it had been inhabited by a noble family, but several sims from their dynasty had died in the war and the house was abandoned and stripped of it’s contents by looters. This was to Jamie d’Angervilles advantage, since he had just enough simoleons to purchase it and move in to settle his line of the d’Angerville dynasty.

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There was much to do at Warburton, not only was there almost no furniture, a lot of the comforts of a noble house were missing. Shortly after he settled in his new home, he realized he needed help. He could barely cook a meal of his own and cleaning, well, that was just something that a lord did not do. He decided to immediately find some good help, maybe a butler or even a maid.

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While his late father, lord Francis d’Angerville, had chosen a military career, Jamie was of the opinion that in times of peace the most sensible thing to do was to join the law enforcement career if one wanted to bring order and discipline to Castle Keep. This was exactly what lord Jamie wanted, and did.

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While he was quite busy with his work and the refurbishing of the great Warburton Castle, he soon felt a bit lonely in the big castle. He realized that he should marry, the quicker the better. So he visited his mother to make the match, she was the greatest lady of Castle Keep and she would find him a good wife.

“Son,” she told him. “I’m afraid it is a bit too early for you to marry. You have to raise more money and certainly you have to fully furnish Warburton Castle with all the comforts, if you are to bring a wife there.”

“But mother…” he protested.

“Now do as I tell you, go home and work hard and in the meantime I will find you a suitable wife.”

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Lord Jamie could not complain, although Warburton was still a bit lonley and empty, his future looked bright. He would work hard and excell in his career, he would raise his fortune and put things in order at Warburton, he would be the most eligible bachelor of Castle Keep. And the business of finding him a suitable sim to marry, well, it was taken cared of, by his mother.

II.IV.IV Matters of Love and Marriage

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When Thea de Servant married lord Harald she became what sims of Castle Keep would call, a lady. She rose in rank. She would no longer be called Miss de Servant, but lady Thea Vaughan. She knew all this when she decided to marry him, but it was not until it happened that she fully understood what it implied. She was now invited to great balls and celebrations around town. People would bow to her when she came. Other ladies suddenly noticed her and would stop to talk to her. However, although for most sims she was completely changed, to her, everything felt the same. She continued dressing in a simple manner, she still looked over the household at the Dark Castle and made sure all the Vaughans had what they needed. She was still as caring and friendly as she always had been. She was still Thea.

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Life at the Dark Castle continued quietly as always. The Vaughans had never beend very extravagant and they enjoyed the quiet of their home and the application of their mind, either by playing instruments, chess or reading. Velma had married Mr. Potter and moved out and Heathcliff worked late hours at his business, so the Dark Castle was uncommonly quiet.

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Although Heathcliff was an ambitious and genius sim that spent extensive hours devoted to his work, he did find time for his best friend, King Edmund II. Not only did they work together, they shared several traits and hobbies.

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Thea and Harald married for love and were very happy together. There was quite a difference in age between the two, not something that was uncommon in Castle Keep, but sometimes Thea would worry that their happiness would be short lived. She didn’t dare to think how life would be without Harald, but she was sensible enough to realise that it was most likely that the reaper would come for him before he came for her.

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After talks between lady Thea Vaughan and lady Arabella d’Angerville, the match betwen Heathcliff Vaughan and Katelyn d’Angerville was settled. The couple married in a small ceremony at the Dark Castle. The Vaughans, who were not very fond of great celebrations, still held a ball to the honour of the marriage, as the social rules of Castle Keep dictated.

II.IV.III Shift in Power

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Suddenly life appeared unfair and tough for Cedrica d’Angerville. As the eldest daugther of the most powerful noble family of Castle Keep, she had grown up with all the privileges, all the pamperings and pleasures a sim could imagine, she just wasn’t used to setbacks. Her mother had intended her to marry the crown prince, it was still a posiblity, since the prince was still unmarried, but the queen mother had strong feelings against the match. It was a true dream to become the next queen, but if that wasn’t possible, marrying the heir to the Vaughan dynasty would suit her well enough. However, it seemed the Vaughan’s prefered Katelyn to her as a wife. Suddenly the future seemed so uncertain and the cruel posibility that she would never marry well, planted a seed in her head. She was inconsolable.

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As a grumpy, clumsy and loser sim, Katelyn didn’t find much pleasure in anything else but painting. She didn’t expect much of life and felt adversity to every change that appeared before her. She was sure she would be miserable either path she took in life. That was just the way of the sim world. Certainly she was content that she had charmed the heir of the Vaughan family and would be very comfortably married. She felt even more content knowing that she had done so in competition with her sister Cedrica, her good and beautiful sister, that everybody adored. Who was the loser now?

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In the midst of all the drama and controversy at the d’Angerville family, Francis passed on. The sims of Castle Keep would say that he had done great things for the d’Angerville famliy, risen like a phoenix bird from the ashes that the war had left them in. What very few would remember, and even fewer would dare to mention, was that he had been but a silly puppet, the true master-mind of the success of the d’Angerville house, was lady Arabella. However, she would not correct them, it was better this way.

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Always in the shadow of the great family he had serverd, Thomas de Servant passed on shortly after his master. The d’Angervilles only noticed the inconvenience they now found themselves in without a live-in servant. The matter of recruiting someone to take his place became very important. Until then they would have to manage with only the butler and the maid.

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The day came for a great celebration. Princess Catherine of Castle Keep and Badrick d’Angerville married and a new chapter in the dynasty of the d’Angervilles started. All the great sims of Castle Keep attended the ceremony. Apart from commenting on the fantastic food, the great decorations and lively entertainment, everybody whispered about the shift of power. Was lady Arabella to continue ruling the great house as she pleased? Was Catherine strong enough to take control of the household, and especially her mother-in-law? She was a princess, after all.

II.IV.II The Legacy of The Monastery

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As a natural cook Burleigh quickly became in charge of cooking all the meals at the monastery and in this way he found his place easily. Peter was delighted that the monastery was finally growing, with Helena and Burleigh it would really stand a chance of surviving and even thriving. Together he was sure they would recruit more monks and nuns to join them and the word of The Watcher would be heard by every sim of Castle Keep.

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With more monks taking care of the day to day at the monastery, Peter found more time to fulfill his duties as a spiritual guide to the sims of Castle Keep. His visits around Castle Keep could take more time and thus be of better quality for the sims that sought his wisdom. He realized that he also had time to visit more households and expanded his route. It was all for the better, with more time for the sims of Castle Keep, the more popular the monastery became, and the more interested sims became of picking the way of The Watcher for their children.

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Helena, who also did visits around Castle Keep to help wherever she could, found herself spending most of her time visiting the households that kept dogs. As a dog sim she just found it so fulfilling to cuddle and play with all the dogs she met, she just prefered their company over any sim. Still, she had to check herself, there were more needy sims in Castle Keep than those who were dog owners.

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Suddenly a devastating day arrived, the day when the reaper came for Peter. The monastery was in turmoil and Helena was particularly devastated. He had been like a father to her and she was eternally endebted to him. And to the monastery. Now it was her turn to take over and lead the monastery forward. Being the head nun was a great responsability.

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Death was a natural part of every sims life, and as a monk or nun, one was particularly aware of it. Life at the Aspen Woods Monastery had to go on, even without Peter. Burleigh and Helena did what they knew best and got to work. There was no better gift for Peter than maintaining the monastery that he so proudly founded all those years ago.