“I did get caught once,” William said, as he climbed to his feet. “I fell asleep in Tobias’s bed and was running late for morning drills. I put on my full armor to climb out the window and my culross got caught on a tree.”
He reached down to help Vlad up. “Your mother, the Queen, found me hanging there when she was out for her morning walk and oh, the lecture she gave me!”
His admission broke the tension. They both began to laugh. Nodding in unspoken agreement, they started gathering supplies for a fire. It was an old tradition, one they had kept from their days on the march when King Josef sent them out to conquer distant and foreign lands. It was an easier tradition as vampires, given their supernatural strength and speed. William pulled two old stumps out of the ground with ease while Vlad gathered firewood and laid out a set of heavy stones.
They reminisced about everything from the time Vlad stole away to the cellar of a noble in Champs Les Sims and got rip-roaring drunk on his collection of nectar, to the time William and Tobias tried to hide a dog they were training from King Josef’s advisors.
Vlad laughed and wiped tears from his eyes, “…but you insisted that dog could fetch on command! Lord and Lady Sibley spent weeks trying but the mutt wouldn’t bring them so much as a boot!”
William chuckled and shook his head. “Tobias was convinced that dog would buy us enough favor with the Sibleys that we would be dismissed from royal service and get a cushy job doing personal protection.”
His tone turned wistful, “He had all these plans for building a wee cottage on the edge of their property, growing vegetables, running off the occasional bandit. It would have been a good life.”
Vlad always wondered how William could speak of losing Tobias and maintain his composure. How could he even think of his husband—his one true love—gone and buried for centuries?
How did it not kill him?
Vlad tried to give order to his memories, to consider William’s loss without thinking of his own. When they were first turned, it had been…difficult. They camped in the woods, sleeping in caves by day and hunting llama-herders and farmers at night to keep from starving. Vlad understood his…mistakes…but William had taken on vampirism nearly effortlessly.
He saw Tobias, could have turned him at anytime, but William chose not to. Why?
William pulled Vlad out of his reverie. “You went out hunting with Anastasia.”
It wasn’t a question. William knew and he didn’t approve. He had never approved of Miss Hell.
Vlad kept his tone light. “I don’t think she’d appreciate the cavalier use of her first name.”
No one called Miss Hell by her first name, not even Vlad. It unleashed something terrible in her. He asked her about it once and she gave him a look that was so bereft, so unhinged in its grief, that it took his breath away.
“Anastasia is dead and buried,” she told him, and never said anything more about it.
He knew she was from a small village in Glimmerbrook but she never told him how she was turned or by whom. And Vlad, despite all of his considerable efforts, had never been able to discover the answer.
William would not be deterred. “It makes you sick, feeding without permission. And yet, you terrorized those sims tonight. To what end?”
“It didn’t bother me,” Vlad sniffed.
Lie, his conscience hissed.
“Even Caleb could hear you hurling your guts out for hours and he’s not yet 300. Why not embrace this change? Toss Bloodvein and Anastasia out. Many would stand with you, and the rest I would gladly help get in line.” William gave him a gleeful smile as he said the last part.
Vlad shook his head. “They are important allies. And I have no desire to remain in this state.”
Lie. Lie. Lie, his conscience repeated. But his conscience was wrong. He didn’t want to change. Had absolutely no interest in it.
“Is this about Atorn and Kaylynn?” William’s voice was low, nearly a whisper.
Vlad’s throat closed up. At one time they had been everything to him. They had been…the rest of the words died in his brain. Sometimes he couldn’t bear the thought of it—a wife and a son dead and buried for ages now. Like Tobias. Like his mother. Like his sister.
“Absolutely not. This about a king needing his strength.” But the words sounded hollow even to Vlad’s ears.
“Vladislaus, brutality is—“
“Part of the job,” Vlad finished, cutting him off. “Brutality is what saved our lives. A kind king is a dead king.”
And he knew then that he was shouting, showing weakness. Protesting too much, his conscience added.
“Your father certainly thought that and look where he ended up,” William challenged.
If it were anyone else, Vlad might have ended them. William’s insinuation was an insult. His father had people thrown into a pond of sharks for less. Vlad bought loyalty so that it was his to discard when it no longer suited him. For situations like this.
But he didn’t buy William’s loyalty. He earned it long ago and for whatever reason, he could not bring himself to toss it away.
He meant to make his voice cold, but instead it came out haunted. “You’re right. A king grants favors at his discretion. Get rid of the television.”
He got up and walked towards the front of the house. William’s words were already doing their work, skittering through his conscience. Vlad paused. “And the electricity.”
Test time! Is the curse he wants to lift:
(a) his vampirism
(b) his conscience
(c) his daddy issues
LOL Imagine what he could do with a little therapy hahaha
William seems like auite the character. I’m liking him so far (especially the line “I wasn’t talking about life, I was talking about sneaking out of a lover’s room!” made me lol. A smooth charmer with layers of hidden complexity underneath, sign me up).
It’s interesting to see Vlad vulnerable, and spending time with friends. I never really saw him that way, needing others, but you’re doing a great job humanising him. And of course, it makes sense that somebody his age has a lot of preexisting relationships. I’m a huge fan of the Vampire Chronicles, and one of my favourite things about those vampires was the complexity of their relationships caused by their lengthy lifespans – they have enough lifetimes to go from love to hate and back to love again.
It’s fun to see how our protagonists are slowly getting down the path towards each other. I wonder how the show ended up in posession of such an important relic. Are they aware of its power? They might be oblivious… though of course, perhaps they know exactly what they’re doing here and are hoping to draw in exactly the kinds of people that they are, for some higher reason. Hmm… (This is pure speculation, I don’t actually want to know! 😊)
William is my absolute favorite! I love all my characters and I’m not supposed to play favorites, I know, but he just is. I can’t wait until you learn more about him, you’ve definitely picked up on something significant about his character – he is a charmer but that’s just the surface, a very deliberate mask.
I’m such a paranormal romance/paranormal nerd I definitely got some of inspiration there. I figure long-lived creatures of any type would have messy relationships. On the one hand, they are incredibly strong connections just by virtue of time, on the other hand, they really fragile because of all the ups and downs they suffer. There’s another series I love – Immortals After Dark – that asks some similarly questions about immortality, relationships, and madness.
I’m so glad he does come off vulnerable and almost human. I don’t like a one-dimensional villain and I certainly don’t think they make for a good love interest 🙂
I love that you’re asking the question about how the show got The Owl so early in the story. There is an answer, but its a while before the characters even begin to get into it because they are all so focused on their goal, they haven’t really stopped to ask a lot of questions…
That may come back to bite them…
Your speculation is very interesting…
Haha I think it’s pretty natural to have favourites, even in your own story – we all do it. Question is, are you the kind that treats their favourites better, or the kind that makes things tougher for them than for anyone else? 😁
Hmmm, I do like out my characters through the ringer in general. I just have a weak spot William that makes it hard for me to hurt him…
Hard, but not impossible 😉
I wonder what happened to Miss Hell that she responds to the use of her name like that. It can’t have been good.
LOL, oh gods, Vlad is going to participate in the baking show too, isn’t he? xD So that’s where the title of the story came from, haha. He’s trying so hard to end his curse that he doesn’t realize he’s gained his humanity through it. Or maybe he does realize, but just doesn’t want to acknowledge it.
Miss Hell has been through some things, let me tell you!
Haha, yes Vlad is desperate to undo this curse, but you’re right, he hasn’t even thought much about what he could be losing. What a journey of self-discovery our resident sociopathic mass murderer vampire love interest has ahead of him 😉
Let out some tension with a swordfight *snort* oh gooooooodness. I know you didn’t know me yet, but I feel like that section was meant for me regardless. Yeah, that’s all I can think of at this time.
I love William and his smug face already. Also, having a gay man challenge another man to a sword-fight to release tension just makes my dirty mind read this very differently.
“It was a wonder they hadn’t broken the blades with both of them now going at full strength” *snort*
That being said, I do love their dynamic. I think William could be would be good for Vlad if he’d let him.
“drawing his long gray coat around him as if it were some sort of talisman.” Vlad confirmed for autistic. Because 14-year-old me said so, while wearing my black jeans, black turtleneck sweater, and black combat boots in the middle of a July heatwave back in 1999.
Nicolai Flamellius – did he also make a philosopher’s stone? 😛
I am giggling like a lunatic at “ye olde simlish rather than just olde simlish”. Must be the lack of sleep.
B’Ollathirnon (some long forgotten god of death or agriculture or some such activity).
No! Ben is the God of Death AND resurrection AND agriculture AND fertility AND nectar! Get it together, Vlad!