Gen. 22 – Taytum: The Farewell of an Heiress

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I am the last of my line, at least the last of my line that will bear the burden this family’s placed upon us. After all the history our family has been through, I never thought I would say those words, but it’s the situation I’m faced with. My line will go on, but the history of the family will continue without me. However, before I get to that, let me go back a ways so that anyone who reads this may understand the decision I had to make.

My name is Taytum Evelyn Day-Eastwood, heiress to this, the twenty-second generation of our family. I was given these journals by my mother shortly after my grandmother’s funeral, when my family was already complete and my children near-grown. Regardless of my intentions for my future and that of my descendants, I was named heiress by my mother all those years ago, so I will record my story in these pages alongside all the others, though what happens after that is someone else’s tale to tell.

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After moving to Bridgeport as a teenager to live with my grandparents, I had a fateful encounter that would lead me to the man I now call my husband, James Eastwood. The son of Senator Chuck Eastwood, we met in the middle of the red carpet during a movie premiere when I, quite literally, fell into his arms. I didn’t know any more than his name at the time, but a woman, Kat, gave me an offer afterward to contact her if I wanted to meet with him again, and something about him just drew me back. Even from that first glance, I knew there was something there.

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So against all better judgement, I did call her. She set up a date between us, just like she’d said she would—a romantic, candle-lit restaurant roof all to ourselves. Apparently, he’d been asking around about me, as well, and who the mystery girl was that had fallen into him. From the moment we met, we knew there was a spark between us, and it grew every moment that we were together, but just as my mother had suspected at the time, Kat had an agenda of her own for getting him and I together.

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We had one peaceful year together, one year where everything went perfect. Our love blossomed; we were married in a small ceremony with his family and mine, and we were trying to have a baby, but then Kat went public. The tabloids, the press… she went to anyone that would listen and created a huge, false scandal against us. For the sake of preserving his father’s political career, him and I left the city and moved to Moonlight Falls, a small town up the coast and out of state.

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By this point, my grandfather, Jacob, had passed on, and Grandma Emily came with us when we moved. I knew a part of her didn’t want to leave the house in Bridgeport behind; it was her dream house, always had been. It had been built for her, but she said that it was time for us to go, that she’d already known we would have to leave it when this day came. She told us that the house wasn’t her home—that her home was wherever her family was, and that was all I needed to hear to know she was confident in her decision.

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Moonlight Falls wasn’t your typical town by any normal standards. Given our family’s own magical background, of which my grandmother had told me the history not long after I moved in with her, we were aware of its differences from the start, saw the supernatural where normal, human families wouldn’t have noticed, but as witches, we did. And that’s truly what we were: witches. I hadn’t ever put the name to it, nor had my grandmother for a long time, but though our gifts descended from gypsies, those, like us, that truly had the gift, were more than just that; we were witches in our own rights. Right away, we took notice of the clear split across the town, the line that separated the territory of the vampires from the werewolves. Dispersed amongst the two sides were both faeries and other practicing witches of other bloodlines. It was a magical Mecca we’d stumbled into, though if I know anything about my grandmother and her visions, we didn’t truly stumble into it at all. She knew we’d always end up here.

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We settled into a small, three bedroom house in the center of town—not big enough to last us forever, but it was enough for the time. A year passed… and then two, and still, Eric and I couldn’t seem to conceive. The worry that I possibly wouldn’t be able to have children of my own was constantly present, but Grandma reassured me that she saw a powerful magical line in my future, and that I just needed to have faith that things would turn out the way they were supposed to.

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At first, I thought they had when a magical gift came our way—a spirit reaching out to our family from the other side, a link we were more sensitive to than any normal human.  The spirit was a woman, and she was family to us, blood—a cousin of mine by the name of Myra Panos in life, granddaughter of my grandmother’s brother, Gilbert, and his wife, Kenyatta. Myra had been killed by the strength of the half-vampiric child in her womb, inflicted upon her during a night she couldn’t remember, a night that had been wiped from her mind, though the eyes of the man who’d done this to her, she could never forget. The child, though, she still carried its small spirit with her, even in death, and she couldn’t blame the innocent life for taking her own. It wasn’t the child’s fault it had been given to her, and she was unable to be at peace until she child was no longer sentenced to the fate that she had been. Even if her life was over, she wanted her child to have a chance. Reaching out to us, her blood family and witches, at that, was her strongest chance at that wish.

As practiced as my grandmother was with the magical arts, we set about designing a way to make this last wish a reality, reaching into alchemical spells and rituals to bring a spirit back from the dead. It didn’t sit right with me, tampering with forces that shouldn’t be meddled with, but it would only be temporary; her spirit would return to the other side once the child was delivered, and I could only hope at the time that repercussions wouldn’t come to us as a result of upsetting the balance.

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Our efforts weren’t in vain, and their spirits came across the veil together long enough for her to deliver the infant into our arms before departing again herself, knowing that the child would be cared for as only family could. We named the little girl Temperance, knowing that she would need all the moderation, self-control, and patience that she had in her as she grew to resist the vampiric half of her and stay true to the magic of our family that would run in her veins just as it did in ours.

As Temperance grew, we experienced all the joys of parenthood and raised her as though she was our own, but with her unique circumstances came additional trials, as well. Through a bit of research and digging, we discovered through reports of attacks that our little girl was descended from a prominent—and vicious—line of vampires in the area. In competition with the other clans for territory, the alpha of the clan had inflicted this fate upon more than just Myra.

Knowing that something needed to be done about the alpha, or risk him coming someday for his daughter, my grandmother and I tracked him and the rest of his clan down and ensured they’d never bring harm to anyone else again. The clan was wiped out, leaving both the town, and our daughter, much safer.

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Without threat of harm looming over her, she grew up safe and happy as any normal little girl would, and we never let her condition affect the way we treated her; whomever her father had been, she was still our blood, as well. To add to the peace of mind our family was experiencing finally, within days of our defeat of the alpha’s clan, Eric and I received the news we’d been waiting on for years, that I was pregnant, and we were soon going to have a child of our own. I, for one, took it as a sign that we’d done as we were intended to do, and that in some way the fates were rewarding our family for our actions, telling us that we were on the right path.

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Soon thereafter, our first boy, Christian James Eastwood, joined the family, the spitting image of my father, his namesake, but showing a bit of Eric in his face. With another little one on hand, having my grandmother around was the greatest gift I could have asked for, and she seemed to relish every moment with her great-grandchildren, since she’d missed out on the years of her own children growing up.

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As Temperance grew older, her vampiric side reared its head time and again, and each time between my mother’s alchemy and my own, we managed to suppress it, but we didn’t know if we’d be able to keep it at bay forever, or if Temperance’s own magic from our side of the family would ever be strong enough to overcome it. It often left Tempy feeling isolated from her classmates, hiding this huge secret that she didn’t know how to control. My grandmother was the only one would could get down to her level well and relate to her, and she was often the biggest source of comfort Temperance found in the family. As much as I tried to be there for her, she had a bond with her great-great-aunt that I could never come between, nor would I ever want to, even as her mother. Looking back now, and even at the time, I understand that my grandmother’s own past with her gift gave her a unique perspective that I never experienced, and I know she saw some of herself in Temperance.

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Before long we we welcomed yet another bundle of joy into our lives: our second son, Wyatt Matthew Eastwood, born with Eric’s mother’s auburn hair and Eric’s blue eyes, though his face showed more of my features. Wyatt was a hard pregnancy on me—feisty and energetic even before he was born, but no matter how hard the pregnancy is, it’s always worth it in the end.

Both our boys showed from their earliest days that they’d have even greater gifts with magic than my grandmother or I ever did, if they only learned to develop it, but we’d be there to help and teach them along the way.

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Wyatt would be the last of our biological children born, but he wouldn’t be the last addition to our household. We heard word from my mother back in Hidden Springs that there’d been an accident. My family had been in their cars traveling back from having dinner for my sister’s birthday when one of their vehicles had been hit head on, killing my sister Sienna, her husband, and their two daughters, as well as my brother Emerson and his wife.

I was crushed. To even comprehend such a huge loss all at once… so much of my family gone in one moment, my mind didn’t know how to process it. However, it left my sister’s son, Elijah, and my brother’s daughter, Brienne, orphaned, and someone in our family needed to open their home to them. Without even taking a breath to think about it, I volunteered to have them come live with us. I might not have been able to bring my siblings back, but I could make sure that their surviving children were cared for. It was the least I could do, and it was something tangible that I could focus on with the gravity of the loss weighing on me.

We threw a somewhat subdued birthday party for Temperance, Christian, and Wyatt all at once as a welcoming event for my niece and nephew arriving. Nothing I could do was going to ease their hurt of losing their parents and their family, as we were all feeling, but we could at least help them to feel at home with us.

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Christian was what you could call the odd duck of the family. He almost never socialized with the other kids, preferring to play by himself, and he had serious problems in school from his first day on, needing help from Eric and me on a nightly basis to make sure everything got done. He was easily distracted, talking to people who weren’t there, insisting to his father and me that his friends were there and that he’d do his school work or chores later. His insistence that his imaginary friends were real frustrated us to no end, and we nearly reached our wits’ end by the time he reached his teen years.

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He did excel at chemistry, though, even from an early age, almost to a savant-level. We might not have been able to get him focused on anything else, but if it was related to chemistry, he was the first one paying attention. While all the other kids would be playing outside together, he’d be shut up in his room, tinkering away with one compound or another. I fussed at first that he was too young to be tampering with chemicals, but he very quickly proved me wrong, and only once did he accidentally set something on fire.

Temperance was great with her little brothers. If she didn’t like them tagging along, it never showed. She let them come with her everywhere without a single complaint, taking them ice skating or to the seasonal festivals. Even though there was a dramatic age gap between them, I think a part of her liked having them along. Her brothers were the only people she didn’t have to hide who she was from—whom she could completely be herself with, and who didn’t judge her for how she was. She did take a few, brief tries at dating, but given that she could never be open and honest with any of them, none of them ever stuck. I know Christian enjoyed his time with her and Wyatt, too, because although his classmates considered him odd, and he really didn’t have any friends at school, his siblings were always there and would be the first ones to stand up for him, no matter how he behaved, simply because he was their brother.

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It was during these years that we realized the small house we were still living in was simply not big enough for eight people. We were crammed in as tightly as we could be into the bedrooms, the three boys sharing a room, and the two girls sharing a room with Grandma, so we started looking around for somewhere to move to; not far, though. The last thing we wanted to do at the time after all they’d been through was uproot the kids again, so we stayed within the same area, finding a five bedroom house across town that was perfect for us. The timing of tragedy seemed to have it out for us, though, for right when we were about to finalize the move, Grandma Emily passed away. She died in her sleep at nearly ninety years of age, a nice, long life, but with so much loss, the news was devastating. My grandmother had become everything to me, and I didn’t know what I was going to do without her to give me advice and guide me. Even years after, whenever I’d have a problem, my first instinct would be to ask her, and then the hard realization and memory would hit, reminding me that she was gone.

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We still moved, though, even with the loss. If there’s one thing our family seemed to be capable of doing, it was bouncing back and remaining standing despite everything thrown at us. All of the kids, even Elijah and Brienne, seemed to be adjusting to school. Christian’s performance dramatically improved as he entered his teen years, buckling down on his schoolwork and participating in after school study groups and music classes.

With our already large brood, you’d think we couldn’t take on any more children, but we did. We got word that my cousin Sean and his wife Jeanine had been lost in a boating accident, leaving their teenage daughter, Alice, without parents, so of course, we opened our home to her, as well, giving us a round total of six children: three boys, three girls, all teens or close to it.

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Alice, Elijah, and Wyatt were all extremely close in age and stuck together from the time they met, thick as thieves. It was together that they presented Eric and me with the brochure for the Dribbledine Sports Academy, all asking us to be able to attend. It was a hefty bill, having three children at boarding school at the same time, and we wanted them to know that they were always welcome at home, no matter how many kids were there, but they were all insistent that was what they wanted, so we agreed, and all three of them left for school that fall, coming home for holiday break and summer vacation, but otherwise staying at school year-round.

Christian, Temperance, and Brienne stayed at home, finishing out their education at Par Excellence Preparatory School, our local high school, Brienne and Temperance already in their senior year with Christian only in his second year.

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Temperance excelled at art and decorated the house with her paintings and sketches. It was something to provide her solitude to escape the chaos of the rest of the household, and it was also something she could do to focus her emotions and keep herself steady. Her vampirism had never truly receded, and was only kept at bay now by my own magic and alchemy skills. The reserve of solutions left behind by my grandmother for her was quickly dwindling, and we didn’t know what we’d do when it ran out, that is until we reached the bottom of the supply, and in the back of the cabinet we found a priceless gift from my grandmother to Temperance.

My grandmother had broken off a shard of her own magic and encased its essence inside of a crystal, the power contained and separated from herself, so that in the case of her death, the magic sealed inside would live on. With her visions, she was someone to always know what was coming for her or for the family, and while it didn’t surprise me that she’d known her time was at a close and left an insurance policy for Temperance, it did touch me deeply that she went to such lengths for a child that was not even directly hers, showing just how much her family had meant to her, no matter the tightness of their blood.

Imbuing the crystal with a tonic Grandma had left the instructions for in her grimoire allowed Temperance to take the magic into herself, raising her latent magical capabilities to their maximum capability and permanently suppressing her vampiric nature. She, in essence, inherited the potential of my grandmother’s magic, since its prior vessel had passed from the world.

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Most of us were ecstatic for her; it was the chance we’d always tried to give her, but were never able to, until then. Brienne, though, was furious, and her jealousy clearly showed and never ebbed, even as time went on.

Brienne was the descendant of not just our magical line, but her mother’s magical line, as well. The Crumplebottoms were the most esteemed witches the town had seen before we arrived, and her mother was one of their three most powerful sisters. Somehow, though, despite the strength of her lineage, the gene had skipped her, leaving her with no expressed abilities whatsoever. She’d long felt herself a failure, that somehow she’d let her parents and ancestors down as the sole surviving descendant of the Crumplebottom sisters.

Temperance receiving the gift that she had only fueled that resentment. Not only had Brienne not inherited the magic she believed she was entitled to, but someone she considered tainted and unworthy had received the gift over her. To add to that, the girls were the same age and departing for university at the same time, graduating the same year. In retrospect, it’s clear that Brienne believed that everything she did and tried to excel at, Temperance seemed to do better, and Brienne let her envy get the better of her, but at the time, I was just doing my best as a mother to keep the peace between a brood of very diverse, hormonal teenagers.

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The two of them seemed to put aside their differences as they packed up and left for university, Brienne pursuing a Communications degree while Temperance majored in Fine Arts, and they did room together in their dorm while they were at college, but I have no doubt that their rivalry continued, even if it was slightly more amicable. Competition like that doesn’t just disappear, even with age, and they both still had a lot of growing to do. Temperance, though, was showing just how much progress she could make with the right potential, spending every waking moment when she wasn’t studying honing her magic and alchemy to do Grandma Emily proud with the gift that had been given to her.

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The only child at home now, Christian had no distractions from focusing entirely on his chemistry, quickly finishing his schoolwork during study hall after school, then coming home each evening and delving into his chemist set upstairs. he was brilliant at what he did, and while I did worry about the time spent alone, he was passionate about what he was doing, so I couldn’t bring myself to discourage him from it, after seeing him go so long without being able to find focus in anything.

Imagine Eric’s and my surprise, though, when he came downstairs one day with a girl he hadn’t come home with. He introduced her as Vicky, and said that she’d been the friend we’d thought to be imaginary all these years.

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We didn’t believe him at first, but after talking with her, it was hard to not accept it as truth with the almost childlike innocence she had, despite her grown appearance. The two remained as close as, I’d guess, they’d ever been when Christian was young, but as most children do, he eventually grew out of his favorite toy, even if that toy happened to be a person now, and when high school ended, Vicky and Christian went their separate ways, Vicky finding somewhere else to move to while Christian stayed at home. I don’t know what happened to her, or if they ever kept in touch.

When that school year came to a close, Christian’s graduation coincided with Wyatt, Alice, and Elijah returning from their final year at boarding school, giving us the chance to have the four youngest all in one place at the same time, all grown into outstanding adults in their own right. I wish my parents had lived to see their youngest grandchildren graduate, but that just wasn’t to be the case. Only weeks before graduation, we lost my mother and then my father, one after the other. They’d always been so close—soulmates, even—that I think his heart just couldn’t take losing her.

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With Wyatt’s dreams lying outside the family, Eric and I had long decided that the legacy and inheritance would pass to Christian. Although the tradition in the family had always been that the legacy passes to a female heiress, we didn’t have any biological daughters, and that one of our direct descendants received the mantle mattered more than what gender they were. Speaking to Christian about the matter, however, garnered a less than enthusiastic response.

He didn’t want the mantle, or the responsibility that went with it. His purviews fell with science, not with family, but as the eldest son, and with Wyatt already out of the house and on his own, we heavily encouraged Christian to take his place as heir. Reluctantly accepting, he trudged off to the basement, which he’d taken over as his lab for his projects.

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When we didn’t hear from him for a day and didn’t receive a response at the door, Eric and I pulled out the spare key and went down to find out what was wrong, only to discover to discover an empty basement with no trace of Christian. In the primary place in his lab stood an oddly shaped, metallic device, scrawling equations still panning across the screen of his computer nearby. To the best of our ability to decipher his notes, the device was a gateway or portal to somewhere, but to where, we have no idea. Even for Eric, an esteemed scientist in his own right, it’s too much. Christian had just that perfect mix of madness and genius that only the most brilliant individuals possess. Since taking him, the gateway doesn’t seem to work anymore. I can only hope that wherever he is now, he’s happy, since it’s clear that it was here and the responsibilities we were forcing on him that he was trying to escape from.

With Wyatt and Christian both abdicating their responsibilities, that leaves our family without an heir to pass the legacy to, but knowing the importance of this history, and not only that these tomes stay in our bloodline, but that they stay with the inheritors of the magic in our bloodline, I’ve contacted my older sister, River, in Willow Creek, and asked that she take them on, because while not as strong a carrier as me, she did inherit the latent magic capability of our line as well, and other than my eldest brother, Jamie, we’re the only surviving siblings left. Without my grandmother or mother around to say otherwise, I’ll be sending them to her, and I hope her son is more receptive to the mantle than mine are.

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