Year One, Autumn: The Rhett Forester Family

Previous Post / Next Post

Previous Forester / Next Rhett Forester

Trigger Warning: Attack on a person of color by a white person, with a delay before the white person is jailed due to a game mechanic, although they are arrested and given some consequences immediately. Although it is not a racially motivated attack in the context of the story, it is too close to real life to leave out this warning.

Rhett Forester pruned the fruit trees at the Almshouse as the sun set. There was still much work assigned to him before he would be allowed to sleep. Of course, he could leave anytime he wanted, he told himself. Any time now, his wife, Eva, would beg to have him back. If Dame Chevalier would allow him to talk to her, that would speed things up. Ayre’s knight had forbidden him to go to the house anymore and granted a divorce to Eva. It was unheard of! He knew Eva had a soft spot for him. She would take him back; he knew it. She must take him back before winter came, with its scarcity and the fear of rogue soldiers.

When Eva kicked him out, he went to his wood cutting camp. Alone in the forest, with no children or neighbors to check his individualistic impulses, his rage began to overflow. The Knight could not keep him from his family when they most needed him, with winter coming! Then, he remembered someone in Ayre who had helped him before. When his heart was crushed by his wife’s anger, in the spring, Giles the taverner had helped him. Giles had let him stay the whole night at the Hefty Hedgehog, and made sure he was safely home in the morning, since he was completely inebriated and unable to walk on his own.

So one evening in Autumn, he went to the tavern to ask Giles to help him get Eva back. But once he arrived at the tavern and began asking Giles about Eva, he could see that Giles wasn’t going to help him. He even seemed leery of Rhett and refused to get involved!

The Captain of the Guard was at the Hefty Hedgehog that night and later testified that Rhett suddenly, without provocation, attacked Giles. He said Rhett tried to choke Giles, and continued hitting him, at least ten times in all until Henri pulled him off of Giles. There had been talk that Rhett was acting insane, and this confirmed it. Even though Rhett’s blows were ineffective and Giles was not seriously, physically injured, Rhett was charged with the a level of assault, violent attack with bare hands. The attack may not have physically harmed Giles, but everyone in Ayre was shaken up by it, including Giles. Justice would be necessary; it also must be determined whether he was culpable by reason of insanity.

Dame Chevalier commanded the men at arms to convey him to the Almshouse. He was forbidden to leave until she was able to determine the extent and nature of this insanity and what was the appropriate consequence or action. Oakes was stationed at the Almshouse to make sure Rhett did not leave.

While at the Almshouse, Rhett was ordered to obey Lady Joslyn. Knowing he needed to learn to manage his quick temper, and gain more acceptance of the ebb and flow of the river of life, she mainly assigned him to weed and prune, although she also had him regularly scrub any area that needed it, and some that did not, to keep his hands busy from before dawn till long after sunset.

Rhett could handle gardening well enough, but scrubbing the toilets and lugging water for the bathhouse frustrated him immensely.

Lady Joslyn mulled over Rhett’s situation as she harvested fruit. What prompted his attack on Giles? Was he insane? What was the appropriate action?

Lady Joslyn used mealtimes to try to talk with Rhett. She needed to understand his story and tried to draw him out. But Rhett maintained a stony silence. For his part, Rhett had no memory of attacking Giles. He remembered the astonished and alarmed looks of others as he was marched from the tavern by the guard.

One evening at dusk, Rhett had a visitor. Idonae, his youngest daughter, had slipped away for a few stolen moments while collecting water at the well in the village green, which was a stone’s throw from the Almshouse back gate. He was so happy to see her, and quickly gave her some nuts and wood he had gathered, to take with her. He wished he had more to give her, but hugged her close and told her he would be home soon.

She told him that she loved him, and they missed him. She told him about Gervase and Ralf trying to do the wood cutting on their own. They were doing ok, but they missed him too. She said their mother said he could not come home. They talked as darkness fell, and then she had to go. But as she went she asked suddenly, “Daddy, what does Insanity mean? Everyone says you have the disease of Insanity.”

It was as if a veil that had separated him from reality suddenly dropped. Rhett realized that although he could see the community of Ayre just beyond the borders of the Almshouse, he was virtually powerless to be part of it, at this moment. The irony was, he had always had a level of contempt for the mores of the community, and now that his decisions had caused him to be removed from it, he realized some of the connection he had sneered at, or taken for granted, and lost.

As Rhett got into bed that night, a sense of acceptance, that there was only so much he could do to stop his fears from happening, washed over him. With it, the fear he had buried so deep became much more palpable than it had been since those first moments when the soldiers had burst into their home in the cold of winter.

After long hours wrestling with painful memories through the night, Rhett told Lady Joslyn about that dark day in winter when he could do nothing to save himself or his family from the soldiers. Lady Joslyn listened. It was the first time Rhett had spoken of what happened. His anger, confusion, and fear came out at first in a trickle, but then, a flood was let loose.

From that day, throughout the rest of Autumn, Rhett and Lady Joslyn talked at each meal. Lady Joslyn came to understand that Rhett had buried painful helplessness and sadness under a fiery pit of anger. And the pain was fed continuously by springs of fear, confusion and memories of the soldiers’ raid last winter. Rhett gained a level of respect for Lady Joslyn, for whom he had previously had nothing but contempt.

The Harvest Moon shone bright over Ayre. Rhett’s time at the Almshouse was coming to an end.

Lady Elizabeth came to the Almshouse to hear Lady Joslyn’s final assessment of Rhett’s disease. She listened as her sister told her that the prognosis was much better now. In her estimation, he had gained some acceptance of his place in the community (and some appreciation for the community) and learned that he could control his anger. While at the Almshouse, he had surprisingly followed the rules and expectations without any problems. Rhett had helped save the Almshouse’s harvest that Millicent Wise had planted and nurtured. Ayre’s citizens could enjoy bountiful fruit, vegetables, and herbs this winter thanks in part to him. Although he had abstained from his regular philandering ways, she expected he had not changed in that regard.

After Lady Joslyn’s report, Lady Elizabeth spoke. Her daughter had determined that if Rhett completed his time at the Almshouse as ordered, his work there would suffice to clear much of the monetary fine for assault. However, he would still have to serve nearly half a season in the Tower since he couldn’t pay his fine. In addition, he would be required to pay damages to Giles Porter amounting to nearly half a season’s average income for the tavern, or 1800 coins. After serving his sentence and paying his debt to Giles, his name would be cleared. He was an able man, motivated to contribute to the community’s survival, and Ayre needed every able bodied person to have both good will towards the community and the will to work.

And so, as Autumn ended, Rhett was taken to the Tower and given to the bailiff under watch of Oakes. As he lay in the cold cell, he thought of what he would do when released early in winter. The thought of running away to Killshaw Heath and taking up with outlaws was extremely appealing, but he didn’t want to be far from his children. He wanted to return to the familiar forest where he could work his trade with relative personal freedom. He would try to make the money to pay Giles as soon as possible so his name would be free and clear. He was not interested in joining the men-at-arms, who would expect him to conform constantly to their rules.

Gameplay Notes

  1. Even though Ayre has not been written as a place where sims of color are discriminated against, it was too close to real life that Rhett, a white sim, beat up Giles, a man of color. To add insult to injury, making it seem even less fair, the Random Occurrence Scenario of the disease of insanity said that Rhett had to go to the Almshouse for the season, which is a pretty cushy place. So I wanted Rhett to still have some stiff consequences, once he was determined sane, for the assault on Giles. The Medieval Charter Challenge only requires a 5000 fine for assault, but I added the jail time (3 days in game) and the damages payable to Giles to try to make it more fair.
  2. Since Rhett is a peasant, he is not supposed to be able to read, but the Random Occurrence Scenario said he must go to the Almshouse to learn anger management and lifetime happiness. So I had him read those skill books while he was there, but for story purposes, he had to develop those skills through other means like work and counseling with Lady Joslyn.
  3. It was hard to decide how to explain his temporary insanity, and I thought of possibilities like a fit of rage, or ingesting hallucinogenic mushrooms. I eventually decided to go with PTSD because Rhett had described symptoms of PTSD when he was thinking about why he stole the Gothard’s goat, and anxiety disorders can be treated effectively. If Rhett were a person in real life, or even in this story, I expect he would still struggle with anxiety at times, but perhaps it will no longer be as disabling to him.
  4. I used the Warwickshire rolls for violent attack to determine the severity and outcome of Rhett’s assault on Giles. (page 140) It was a bare hand beating with only had 4 hit points, since Rhett’s body skill is only 4. His mechanical skill was 0, so his strikes were ineffective. By random roll, he made 10 strikes, but the severity, also a random roll, was only 4, which is mild. The outcome was that Rhett attacked Giles with his bare hands ineffectively but continued to hit him 10 times.
  5. Rhett is a radical, and has an ethical alignment of -2. I’m not taking away more ethical alignment for the assault since he presumably was insane when he attacked Giles. Anyway, at -2 he is an ethically neutral radical according to the Warwickshire. Neutral radicals “resent tradition and have only contempt for social customs” as “obstacles to personal freedom.” (Warwickshire, page 87). That seems to fit Rhett pretty well. He’s also an Aries, pretty quick to anger, and a romance aspiration sim.
  6. Mid-winter, when Rhett is released, I am thinking of building a small (residential lot) camp near the forest for him because he would not have money for a house and the woodcutter’s forest is a community lot so he can’t really live there. Although, I could have him go there and stay for three days but I don’t use the community time project mod, so he’d still have to live somewhere eventually.

Published by Shannon SimsFan

Author of Simdale Valley Post

Join the Conversation


Leave a comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: