There have been no more nightmares.
Though Acheron still doubts his sanity.
Claire dances along to the piano tune. "And what's this one called?"
Acheron glances at the title on the sheet music, "Don't Steal My Things."
"Inspired by Fairuza?"
"Uh, no, I had no idea."
Dysen's howl cannot interrupt Claire's zen... or even scare a kitten.
Ambiance is a little leery of the claws, though.
Early morning pajama bubble party.
"I don't know how I feel about this strawberry," Acheron yawns.
"That is like me and the pineapple," Dysen comments. "I wasn't sure why I went with pineapple."
Claire hiccups, amusing herself with different shaped bubbles. "If my Babushka knew about this... this... drugs with the enemy... ohhh I am so bad."
"She's making hearts at you, Acheron."
Acheron pops another strawberry bubble on his tongue. "Maybe a past you hates pineapple."
Dysen stares through him for a moment. "What's a babushka?"
"A granny," Acheron answers. "A nonna. A mormor. An obaasan."
"You... you made one of those up."
"What did I tell you little assholes about staying out of my stash?!"
Dysen gets to start his day with a stern talking-to from his father.
"...And I can't even ground you! Ugh! No cake."
"He's in there getting yelled at!" Acheron laughs hysterically.
"Happy birthday to us! ♪" Claire sing-songs.
"Oh, that's not the reason Mom isn't punishing me."
"She said that's the reason."
"She just never punishes me."
"I want your life."
"I want you in my life, so it works out."
"That's the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me," Claire breathes out another bubble, staring at it as she does so, as if it's a miraculous event.
Acheron is already over the moment, though. "Pffff he doesn't get any cake!"
"Well this was his idea," Claire points out.
The two age up later into slightly taller versions of themselves and smile uncomfortably for the pictures Ceth wants to take.
Acheron glances at the gift box Orazia holds out to him. "Potions for the road?"
"All carefully labeled," she says. "Don't elope too far, okay?"
Carlos shows up to advance the plot by telling us Starlight Shores is done 'assessing the problem' and has decided to order everybody out, just as Acheron predicted, though nobody seems to be listening to Carlos aside from Ceth.
"How can they do this to us?!" she complains. "What about your job?"
"I can't work if we're all dead because of a hardware malfunction."
"Well, when can we come back?"
"Dunno yet. When everything is repaired. Soon I guess."
Ceth frowns harder. "Where will they send Fairuza?"
"Nowhere," Orazia interjects. "If they've lifted curfew so we can get out, this is when I make my move."
Ceth blinks. "Wow, you're really going through with this. That is so metal."
Shockingly, Carlos has nothing to say.
It's so easy for a portal-making, potion-crafting mage to break someone out of a low security jailhouse, the narrator completely skips all the action and gets to the part where Fairuza is happy to be back in her own clothes again. Jail clothes are awful!
"So everyone really has to leave the city?"
"I'm afraid so," Milo grumbles.
"The chaos will make out escape easier if we hurry up," Orazia says, as she rips a packed bag out from under her frilly childhood bed.
"I can't believe I got Orazia dragged into this with me. I'm so sorry, Dad. I hope you don't think less of me..."
"I feel like I failed you as a parent, Fairuza."
Fairuza hangs her head. "Orazia says you can't come with us. You're too high profile."
"I don't know about that, but there will be an investigation, and it's better if... you know..."
"If we don't have contact for a while?"
"Yeah. Shit, this sounds like a movie. Not real life."
"I'm sorry, Daddy."
"Just be careful and look out for each other. Take anything from the house you need. Or want."
Every hug and goodbye is given, twice and three times over. Orazia stands on the porch, the very edge of leaving home. She looks at her fellow mage, then down at her hands, as she traces three of her black claws along her arm, testing their smoothness. "I have this feeling I won't see you again."
"We'll see each other again," Acheron says, with flat certainty.
"Hmm. Does your mother know what you're planning to do yet?"
"No. Not yet."
"You're going to break her heart."
"Better than breaking her skull."
Orazia leans over the porch fence to sniff at the eternally-blooming sunflowers. "Is it?"
He smiles at her. "It'll be fine. You'll see."
Orazia tilts her head. He seems different to her somehow. "...Thank you."
Before leaving town, Fairuza wants to have some closure with her boyfriend. She convinces Orazia to stop by the Woods house so she can explain what happened in detail. She expected this to be the end of their relationship, but Rock aged up with the Hopeless Romantic trait, and surprises Fairuza by wanting to run away with her.
Starlight Shores is his home, but if he can't live here, anywhere with Fairuza sounds alright.
A super futuristic train! ...With an old timey skin?
"Do you think where we're going will pan out?" Fairuza whines.
"Don't talk about it, and act natural," Orazia replies, sinking into one of the plush seats.
"Isn't it natural for everyone to be worried right now?"
"Don't draw attention to us, I'm serious."
"They have free peppermints!" Rock calls from the hallway.
It's back to Monte Vista for me! Ceth posts on her social media pages, adding to the chaos of the local network. She makes sure to include several shots of sports legend Milo getting bubble high over there, stealthily preparing for when everyone becomes a suspect in the mystery of Fairuza Law's disappearance.
"Are you going to help us pack?!" Lela yells.
Local PI on my case, Ceth adds an audio clip of the yelling to her blog.
And we have to leave my poor baby's piano behind!
Acheron will not miss being the subject of his mother's posts.
"Leaving me?" Kay doesn't see the necessity of this.
Acheron strokes the cat's ears. "Mags is Dysen's kitty. Not mine."
"I prefer watching you."
"Maggie won't be around long enough for me to make you useful. You'll be a whole new cat by then."
"Such a bother. Wait, have you seen something?"
"Wait and see, why don't you?"
The train station is busy all day. The evacuation has been careful and orderly.
Bridgeport, Twinbrook, Lucky Palms... it doesn't matter where people want to go, they have been given permission to go there. They just can't stay here.
Poor garden, Lela thinks. Carlos worked so hard on it. Now they leave it behind.
Lela takes deep breaths.
Ceth parts ways with her friend here. Egg Man is returning to Barnacle Bay.
Dysen's uncle Barry, aunt Becky and cousin Lysander are going to some weird place called Appaloosa Plains???
"Do you think rural people will be creepy?" Lysander dramatizes. "I think they'll be creepy. I'm scared."
Luckily, Molly was able to sway her parents into choosing Monte Vista.
Though her parents can't agree on literally anything else.
The moon is a very contentious subject.
Ceth whips out her guitar to play 'It Ends Now'.
Becky can't resist joining in.
Many of Ceth's younger fans have adopted double bun hairstyles as the height of fashion.
"Those pictures you posted of Monte Vista are amaaaazing," Angelita Lee gushes. "I'm definitely using my free ticket out to go there."
Becky has moved on to playing 'Pa Fights the Bear'.
"Your coven will be trying to track you down now," Acheron reminds Claire. "And the 'demon' you didn't kill. We can run away or we can run towards them. Either or. As long as it's away from my mom and the others."
"I won't let them hurt you. I promise. You're going to be an asset to us."
"Or I'm going to be a divisive element that tears your cult apart? I don't care. But you do."
He's a psychic, and she let him in her head. Sometimes she regrets that, but mostly not.
Acheron waits for the last moment to tell Ceth he'll be boarding a different train.
He frames it as wanting to make sure Claire gets back to her family OK, and wanting see more of the world, making it seem like a temporary arrangement.
"I left home at your age. I'd be a hypocrite if I pitched a fit and tried to stop you! You'd better write often, though. And tell me where you are so I can visit you."
"You're going to take the world by storm!" Ceth masks her tears with a silly cliche and a tight hug.
"Where the hell is Acheron?" The train is about to be on its way, and Carlos is having a hard enough time corralling his wife, son and brother. He's in no mood to deal with more shit.
Ceth stares blankly him. "Acheron left with Claire to find her parents. They're going to some place I've never even heard of."
Carlos winces. "Well that's sudden. Are you alright?"
"It's a lot better than what happened with Milo's daughters, wouldn't you say?"
"Milo is not in a very good mood."
"Yeah, that's just how it goes I guess."
"I'll try not to be offended he didn't say goodbye."
"I think it was very last minute. They had to run to catch their train."
The view outside the train car begins to move, though from inside the passengers feel no disturbance. Ceth gets motion sick just looking at it. She reaches to pull the curtain closed.
Etc.: Bleh, not the easiest thing to set up. I had to ship off all my spares and also invent a reason to drag some families back to Monte Vista. At least that's done! Gen5 can probably begin next chapter... ish... we'll see. Dysen has several days left on the clock before he can age up.