Chapter 21, Part 2: King’s Gambit

Content Warning: Although it’s not explicit, there are references to domestic violence and child abuse. Basically, this chapter gets a little dark, but the comedy returns soon, I promise!

Windenburg Woods

VLAD

STRAUD FAMILY HUNTING COTTAGE, MARCH 1507

“Never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep…”

John Milton, Paradise Lost

Vlad stared at the stranger standing outside of his house. His…ears…

“Whoa there, not here to cause you any harm,” the man said, holding up his hands to show he had no weapons. 

“My home does not receive visitors. What brings you?” Vlad snarled, but a small voice in his head urged him to let the stranger inside. 

“Aren’t you the Prince of Windenburg?” the man replied, and for a moment his smile looked almost mocking. 

Vlad, who had not thought of himself as a prince in eight long years, felt panic crawling up his throat at the idea of sending the stranger on his way. He readjusted his grip and struggled to make his voice a warning. “Call upon my mother or sister if its royal favors you seek.”

The man spread his arms wide again, emphasizing that there was nothing to fear, even as Vlad’s pulse beat out a jagged rhythm. 

“Listen here, Prince, my name is Akira Kibo and I didn’t not come here to barter with you. I came to warn you.” 


Straud Castle, April 1507

VLAD

DUNGEON, APRIL 1507

I have come to be your salvation. 

Kaylnn and Atorn weren’t dead, Vlad could at least be happy about that. If they were, his father would be gloating. 

“How was your visit with William? Full of sage advice I hope,” Josef wondered aloud, tone disinterested. 

“William gave me wise counsel,” Vlad replied flatly. 

“You must be starving,”Josef continued, his voice honeyed and dangerous. “And you need your wounds treated, is that not true?” 

The monk on the left cleared his throat and whispered in Josef’s ear. Vlad strained to make out the words.

His father nodded. “Food or treatment. Pick one.”

Vlad choked down a laugh. Nothing was ever freely given, not when his father took orders from a bunch of heretical monks who thought they had the power to call on the God of Death. His eye, the one that wasn’t swollen shut, darted back and forth between the two monks as he considered his options. 

His shoulder was dislocated, the gash across his eye was almost certainly infected and he had three broken fingers that would heal crooked if they weren’t set. Pain tore through his chest whenever he breathed so he must have a broken rib…or four. 

But the food.

Oh, the food.

Vlad tilted his head, signaling to the monk with bowl of stew who merely smiled as he set it on the ground and watched Vlad struggle to pick it up. 

Once it was in his hands, Vlad fell upon the bowl, gulping down the stew in ravenous bites, shoveling the meat and vegetables into his mouth with his fingers. He glanced up to see his father’s look of disgust and paid it no mind. Starving, Vlad had discovered, reordered your priorities. Pride was useless. You couldn’t eat pride.

With the small weight of food in his belly, Vladislaus could make better sense of the situation. 

“May we discuss them now?” he paused at his father’s raised eyebrow, forming his mouth around that painful word. “Please.”

    6 comments
  • Dolly Llama
    February 11, 2020

    Oof oof oof oof oof oof oof. I can’t see where this is going. He obviously ends up as a vampire, but it isn’t clear how. I’m going to hazard a guess that he does the white-hair-evil-thing-possession stuff to retaliate against his father—which as someone with terrible parents, I totally get.

    • feroshgirl
      February 12, 2020

      Yeah, writing this chapter was…an experience. To be a parent is to hold a lot of power. I mean my own relationship with my dad was…complicated. But I guess I really like the idea of exploring how trauma reverberates through generations. And Vlad’s dad is a straight up monster.

      Mmmm your guess is close, but not quite.

      All will be revealed, I promise!

  • theplumbob
    July 8, 2020

    Elf Akira? I can be into that 😆

    As for Vlad’s father, the only thing that pleases me is that by now, he’s most definitely dead, several times over, hopefully.

  • Yimiki
    February 15, 2021

    Oh gods. That was such an intense, heavy, ominously foreboding chapter. I loved it. I have some free time today so I’m going to binge-read and catch up on as much as possible so you won’t get a comment on every chapter but I am loving your writing! <3

    • feroshgirl
      February 15, 2021

      Thank you!! Enjoy the binge and the ominously foreboding stuff 🙂

      (Really though, thank you!!)

      • Yimiki
        February 15, 2021

        Yeeeeeees! I’m at chapter 25 now and having a blast 😁

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