You always knew this day would come.
They never believed you, of course. Not Mother, not the icy-skinned priest she'd married after Father left, and not even the few of their children who were kind enough to listen.
But even when you were a child, young enough to cry in the woodshed at night after Stepfather beat you, you had hope. You believed that if you were good enough, brave enough, patient enough, he would come. He would come and he would take you away and you would never be lonely again.
The years only strengthened your resolve. You learned not to cry. You learned to bear it in silence, to never mention Father's name to Mother or Stepfather, or even to the children.
And then today: [[this|The Kitchen]].
(set: $readletter to false)
(set: $askedforprivacy to false)
(set: $shownmotherletter to false)
You are standing in your favorite part of the house. Usually this is Mother's domain, but late at night, the kitchen is empty and the hearth is cold. And even in daylight, it is the one place your stepfather will never enter.(if: $readletter is false)[
On the table is a [[letter from Father|Opening Letter]].]
A [[door leads to the living room|Kitchen Door]].
(set: $currentroom to "Kitchen")
If you are reading this, I'm afraid it can mean only one thing. Events have run their course in a way I had not hoped for, and there is nothing I can do to change them.
In short, I am dead. I will not see you again in this lifetime.//
(link:"Read more")[//I cannot make things right now, and I am sorry.
I am sorry for not being a better father, the sort of father you deserved. The only comfort I can offer is that I did have my reasons, and one day I hope you will learn of them. But your mother and I fought this battle before I left, and she was the winner.//
(link:"Read More")[//I know that by now I have been gone many years from your life, and you have every reason to hate and resent me. And I myself have no means of knowing what sort of adult you grew into. My imagination shows me a younger version of myself in many ways, and I know that is foolish, but I have little else to go on.
Whoever you have become, however, I love you, and I hope you can find it in yourself to forgive me.//
(link:"Read More")[//Enclosed in this envelope is the key to my residence. It is located at #11 Crescent Street in the Student's Ward of Thera, the City of Glass. It is my wish to give everything I own to you: my possessions, my fortune, my citizenship.
(if: (history:) contains "Search envelope")[(display: "Continue")](else:)[[[Search envelope]]]
You break open the seal on the envelope.
Inside is a folded sheet of paper, [[a long message|Letter From Father]] written upon it in black ink.
This is where your family its eats meals and says its prayers. Stairs lead up into the attic, where you and the other children sleep. The bedroom your Mother shares with your stepfather is in the back, close to the kitchen. [[The front door leads south|Exit Living Room]].
It's sparse. Cold. The furniture is functional but stark, and there's little in the way of texture. No rugs, so your feet freeze against the hard wood in winter. You'll be glad to be gone.
Your [[mother|Mother]] is here, seated on the couch. Her hands are folded in her lap.
Your [[stepfather|Stepfather]] is seated next to her. He does not look happy to see you.
(if: $readletter is false)[You think about leaving, but no. Not without reading the letter from Father first. If you leave now, you might not get another chance to be alone.
[[Continue|The Kitchen]]](else:)[It's time to get out of here. But first, you have to say your goodbyes.
(display: "The Living Room")]
(set: $currentroom to "Living Room")
She looks the same as always: pale and perfect, like a doll. You aren't sure you ever want to be like her when you grow up.
You could [[talk to her|Talk to Mother]], or [[do something else|The Living Room]].
"Mother," you say, ignoring your stepfather. "We should talk."
She looks up at you. "I assume this is about the letter. Isn't it?"
(display: "Mother Choices")
This man scares you.
He's never liked you. You don't look like his children. You don't act like your mother. Girls aren't supposed to behave so sullenly and insolently.
He doesn't usually look this angry, though.
You could [[talk to him|Talk to Stepfather]], or [[do something else|The Living Room]].
You think better of it. He won't know anything that will help you.
You can [[try something else|The Living Room]].
(if: $shownmotherletter is false)[You show Mother the letter from Father, seal broken. She takes it out of the envelope and begins to read.
"Here," interrupts your stepfather, moving closer towards her. "Let me see too."
Do you [[stop him]] from reading the letter, or [[do nothing]]?
(set: $shownmotherletter to true)](else:)[
You've already shown here the letter once. You don't need to show it to her again.
(display: "Mother Choices")]
You glance at your stepfather, looming beside both of you.
"Could we talk somewhere more private?" you ask. "I'm not sure that we want him..."
"Absolutely not," your stepfather cuts in. "If you have anything to say to her, you can say it in front of me."
(set: $askedforprivacy to true)(display: "Mother Choices")
You meet his eyes, and nod. You will not be intimidated; not this time.
"Very well," he say to you. "Best that you go get your things, then. You leave tonight."
[[Continue.|The Living Room]]
* [[kiss her|Kiss Mother]]
* [[show her the letter|Show Letter To Mother]]
* [[ask to talk to her privately|Ask Mother For Privacy]]
* [[say goodbye|Say Goodbye]]
"That's not for you to read," you cut in, giving your stepfather a cold look.
He glares black at you, and seems on the verge of an outburst.
(display: "do nothing")
To your surprise, Mother doesn't let him. "Not now. Please."
He grunts, but does not come any closer.
(display: "Mother Reads Letter")
You watch your mother read the letter in silence. She is even more visibly whitened, but she is not crying, not yet at least.
"What does he want from us?" demands your stepfather.
"Nothing," your mother says. "He's dead. I'm sorry, Saren."
This time, your stepfather does not wait for permission; he simply snatches the letter from your mother's hands.
[[Wait.|Stepfather Reads Letter]].
He scans through it quickly, before thrusting it back towards you. "So this is it, then?" he asks you. "You're off to find whatever Daddy left you?"
"Don't, Faldon!" says your mother.
Your stepfather pays no attention to her. "If you leave this house, girl, you are not going to come crawling back tomorrow when you find that there was nothing for you there, either. Do you understand me now?"
You [[nod your head|Say Yes]].
(if: $readletter is false)[
Tucked inside the folded paper are two small objects. One is a small brass key, the other is a [[small metal card|Visa]].
You pocket them both carefully.
(display: "Current Room")
(set: $readletter to true)
You are carrying (if: $readletter is true)[a [[letter from your father|Letter From Father]], a brass key, and a [[visa|Visa]]](else:)[nothing].
This card is metallic. There's an engraving with a stylized woman's eye on the base of a pyramid. There is some writing on the front.
//"The bearer of this visa, Aramon Atreyades, is by the Grace of the Emperor and Our Lady a citizen of Thera, and has the right to free entry and passage throughout the City."//
There are several signatures following; you recognize your father's, but cannot make out the others.
(display: "Current Room")
(if: $currentroom is "Living Room")[[[Continue|The Living Room]]](else:)[[[Continue|The Kitchen]]]
You give her a quick peck on the cheek. She looks at you in surprise. "Saren, child, is everything all right?"
(display: "Mother Choices")
(if: $shownmotherletter is false)[You could just walk out the front door...
...but not yet. You haven't said goodbye to your mother.
[[Continue|The Living Room]]](else:)[You leave the house. You do not look back.
"Mother, I'm about to be going on a trip..." you begin.
(if: $shownmotherletter is false)["I want to see the letter," she says.](else:)["I know," she says. "Why be cruel?"]
(display: "Mother Choices")