Chapter 22, Part 1: For All the Marbles

Granite Falls Train Station

William

Present Day, Granite Falls Train Station

William was used to repeating himself with Vladislaus. It was hard for Windenburg’s Vampire King to hear something for the first time and truly listen. Stubborn. Arrogant. Obstinate. Even before Vladislaus became a vampire, these were words William would have used to describe his friend. 

“You want to get back into the black with dear old Alice and you cannot have a hope if you’re three train cars away,” he said calmly, handing the clerk a ticket to scan their luggage. 

It was surprising how cheap the Baking Show production company actually was. They flew the contestants only as far as Granite Falls and then booked them on a ten-hour train ride the rest of the way. William figured it worked to his advantage, though. He already made note of Dylan’s seat number and planned to charm the bookish baker the whole ride to Windenburg.

Should he make dinner reservations? That might be too much, too soon. He’d play it by ear—

“I want to never be on one of those sage forsaken airplanes again. I would prefer to travel no farther than I can mist and barring that, I want…” Vladislaus trailed off as he watched Alice struggling to lift her suitcases onto the luggage scale. 

They could hear her arguing with herself about “over-packing” and “not needing any of this shit for a temporary trip.”

William saw the tick in Vladislaus’s jaw just before the vampire rushed over, too quickly for any mortal, and lifted the suitcase onto the scale. 

Alice folded her arms and eyed him suspiciously, but at least she didn’t give him the finger.

“You think riding coach is going to make good old King Vlad-y into a better vampire?” Caleb sneered, tracking the same scene.

William smiled amiably. Caleb always expected the worst. Whatever Vladislaus was now, it was better than before. The witch who cursed him was worth her weight in gold, which, coincidentally, was the exact amount William paid her.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. He hadn’t stuck around for 500 years just to see Vladislaus destroy himself. What the vampire and his new conscience would do, well, that William could not predict. But at least he had given him the tools. Albeit, in a way that Vladislaus despised and would consider to be a betrayal.

He told no one that he was the one who cursed Vladislaus, not even Caleb. Some secrets were worth taking into eternity.

He clapped Caleb on the back with a laugh. Vladislaus was at his most insufferable when he was in love, but William welcomed the change.

“Oh ye of little faith. An old dog can learn new tricks. He just needs proper motivation.”


SimNation Rail Express to Landgraab Station

Alice

Vladislaus Straud did not travel coach, of that, Alice was certain. If you could afford to stay in a hotel suite the size of a penthouse apartment (and Alice knew, because she checked), you did not, for the love of llamas, ride coach.

And yet, here he was: sitting across from her, making it hard for her to think or keep her pulse from racing, which she realized—embarrassingly—he could sense. She spent the first two hours of the ride ignoring him, a feat she achieved with approximately 5% success. Every time she read or played on her phone, she found herself unconsciously stealing a peek at him.

And he was always looking back at her. 

Finally, he spoke, his tone smug. A challenge.

“That was a curious poem you recited during your audition.”

Statements, her father always said, did not require a response. 

Remember you don’t care about him, Alice told herself. 

Be cool, she instructed. 

And when that failed, she reminded herself that he had been staring at her for two hours and that was weird. In fact, if she was going to open her mouth and say anything in response, it was going to be that he was weird.

    9 comments
  • Dolly Llama
    February 22, 2020

    Love a good long-train-ride episode. When Alice gestures to the suitcase, is that the sim “screw you god, this is in the way!” gesture? I don’t know. I don’t actually open the game that much.

    I did like a middle-school-type “ooOOoooOoooOOOH” at the news that William hired the witch.

    Oh hey, a bantering scene with a bunch of one-liners in quick succession! That’s my favorite way to deliver one-liners! Though I’m not sure why Ben is complaining about Alice not being attracted to him. If she were, that would be a dumpster fire. Dumpster. Fire.

    Btw, I respect the effort you put into formatting and credits. At some point I have to go back and binge this to catch all the foreshadowing.

    • feroshgirl
      February 23, 2020

      Haha I wanted this to be airplane scene so badly but I could not get it to work visually. I needed a lot of extras to make it feel like a plane which meant typing a lot of animation codes and inevitably I’d screw up and type the wrong thing and then no one would stay seated and I’d have to start typing codes all over again. It was a nightmare. Making it a train was MUCH easier. I tried to imagine what Alice looks like yelling at Ben to other people and it turns out, when your sims are angry with you and gesture towards the sky, it works LOL.

      Ahhh thank you for catching it! Yes, William set this whole thing in motion. Everybody in this story has got secrets 🙂

      Lol Ben does not want Alice to be attracted to him, but he is vain as hell and loves all attention. Oh god, I can’t even imagine a story where they were attracted to each other. I think it’s a bit much even for me, and I have a dark little heart.

      Thank you so much for noticing! I just know so many simmers make such amazing stuff and I want to make sure I give them credit because the community of creators makes it possible to do stuff like write this story. I’ve gotten better at tracking as I go, but it’s still painstaking and sometimes tracking down a link makes me want to scream.

      I’ve been working hard to foreshadow all the crazy that I drop in, I don’t want any plot twist to feel like it wasn’t earned. I think eventually, I might go back and put in reference links whenever I’m calling back to something specific. This is a long ass story and I want people to be able to enjoy it even if they can’t go back and read everything 🙂

      • Dolly Llama
        February 25, 2020

        … what are these animation codes of which you speak?

        Oh. Shoot.

        Ok, my life’s about to get a tiny bit easier. Now to figure out camera and reshade mods.

        The reference links scream empathy for the reader. It’s just not something you can do in a novel, y’know? That, and rolling copy edits. I’m ready for that crazy; shipping Ben/Jimena in advance.

      • feroshgirl
        February 28, 2020

        I looked at reshade for five minutes but I’m afraid my little iMac can’t handle it, so like a fool, I just edit in Affinity Pro on my ipad if the image requires it and I’m not feeling too lazy.

        Ohhh yes, so there is an option on pose player called “pose by name.” When you choose that, it brings up a little text box where you can type in the animation codes from the game (facial reactions, conversations, crying, interacting with objects, etc. etc.) to make your sims perform them on a loop. It’s what I use to do almost everything that isn’t a downloaded pose.

        There are like a kajillion codes but there’s a list here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwHtyZbaDeV3cVNKNUJicjRmajQ/view?usp=drivesdk

        If you ever want to get into it, let me know. I made a friend write me a little code in google sheets to separate everything out by category so it’s easy to search and find the animation I’m looking for because omg I am such a goddamned nerd.

        Also, it was serendipitous that you asked this. While I was searching for the link to the codes, I found something else called “effects player” which I didn’t even KNOW existed but apparently it’s like pose player but just for game effects (like making lightning strike or an explosion of fire).

        brb totally wasting a bunch of time learning how to use it lol.

  • theplumbob
    July 8, 2020

    Oof, the dialogue in this chapter was on fire, so sharp! I just adore how Alice and Vlad are trying to keep it cool in front of each other and fail miserably, heh.

    That train set was amazing!

    And aww, the ending was sweet. I would have never thought that I’d feel happy about good old Vlad feeling content, sigh. What have you done to me? 😊

  • Yimiki
    February 15, 2021

    I just said I’d wait with commenting and binge-read but oh my gods, William paid the witch to curse him?! =O He better hope that Vlad never finds out, or does not find out until after he’s accepted this better version of himself. Yikes. Yes, take that one to the gr… err, into eternity indeed.

    ““It was about sex!” she blurted out instead.”
    Bwahahahahahaha xD Oh, Alice 😂Omg and Ben is pissy over not getting complimented the same way gah my sides 🤣🤣

    Naww, that ending. They both have it bad <3

    • feroshgirl
      February 15, 2021

      Oh gosh they do, they are two lovesick idiots. Perfect for each other because neither has any chill.

      Oh yeah…that’s ummm…you know what? It’s fine. I like your solution for the best time to confess!

  • Ninja Pink Sex
    September 6, 2022

    This baking show does not seem legit. Its budget is QUESTIONABLE. There was this old movie that my parents used to watch (Hot Stuff) and (from the few brief scenes that I was allowed to see) I believe the premises was a group of cops go undercover at a pawn shop and end up arresting all the crooks that are known to bring in stolen merchandise. N.E.Ways, my point is, that’s what I think this Owl of Undoing baking show stunt might be. Lure the Supes – Gather up all the questionable Supes that want a piece of ol’ Owly here and …. (well I don’t know… genocide them, mark them with tags to track them, who knows, have a freaky supernatural orgy?) whatever endgame direction it goes. Theorizing.

    That look from Caleb as he questions Vlad riding in coach made me parched.

    “He told no one that he was the one who cursed Vladislaus, not even Caleb. Some secrets were worth taking into eternity.” I’m sure William THINKS he has/had Vlad’s best interest at heart, but pulling shit like this is severely wrong. I think William will have to die now. Whatever rational reasoning William had to give himself to have Vlad cursed, he did so without Vlad’s consent, and TO Vlad’s body. Bruh, you’re not better than a rapist…. or at least someone who funds a rapist to rape. I realize that this might be a hard judgment against William, but this is the hill I’m willing to die on. Maybe the real reason he’s searching out intelligent love interests is because William actually lacks intelligence. BOOM.

    Okay, I was a little disturbed at times that Vlad was touching Alice while she slept. Sure, it wasn’t like he was sexually violating her, or (benefit of the doubt) touching her because it got him off, but he certainly crossed a line. His touching her felt intimate and if any of my guy friends did that to me as I slept they’d regret it, but Vlad isn’t even a friend, he’s an acquaintance that Alice is getting to know. I don’t know what is going through his head (what century thinking he has that allows him to behave as though she’s property).

    Other than Vlad taking liberties…. er, BEFORE Alice fell asleep against him… Their banter was adorable. Alice screaming that the poem was about sex made me cheer. I could see myself in that moment. When Alice said that it was also about disappointing sex (eating the heart) I was like OH SHIT. Things were getting pretty heated. Part of me hoped, after Vlad told Alice that he could destroy her (all sexy like) in his DARK DARK form that she would tell him that she could in fact destroy him, but harder. But, I get it, she has to play it cool and not show him all her cards.

    Ben sulking because he’s used “riveted” before was hilarious.

    “Just as she was on the verge of becoming normal, she was falling for a stupid vampire.” lol conundrum. Well, even if Alice does “go back to normal,” she has learned to navigate the waters of strange, so if anyone is well equipped to handle a bazar supernatural beau, it’s her. The Owl of Undoing Alice’s dryspell. WOOOZZZZAAAAA.

    • feroshgirl
      September 7, 2022

      Oh gosh, yeah, this baking show is 1000% not legit. My god, you’ve sussed it out so early tho! HAHAHA!

      Thank you for peeping my banter, I feel like this when I started to get half-way decent at it. And dude, neither Alice nor Vlad has ANY chill, but it is fun watching them pretend to have it.

      I told you before but I’m so, so thrilled by this comment. I’m trying to sort out my thoughts into some sort of coherent response, so here goes:

      William/Vlad and the curse: There are so many things going on with this and you’ve definitely honed in on some of the discomfort and conflict. Yes, from William’s perspective he’s done the right thing even though he knows he hasn’t—hence the guilt. This hasn’t quite played out yet in the story (it comes) but one of the things William is struggling with is Vlad’s completely self-destructive nature. And not just that, but he has the power to do a lot of damage in his self-destructiveness. I think what William does is wrong and desperate and comes from a place of love. I think he feels trapped by caring for Vlad and he does something awful. Maybe unforgivable. But William does not know how to sit back and watch Vlad destroy himself. It’s a really messy, awful, codependent relationship.

      Now, Vlad touching Alice on the train. Whew. Yeah. On the one hand, I think this is partially me at the beginning of my writing journey. I wanted Vlad to have room to grow and so I was always trying to balance how toxic he should be starting out. And you’re right, when I go back it reads as this moment where I’m like: ughhh, why ferosh, why?

      I do know there is a really good consent moment between Vlad and Alice that I wrote explicitly in this story and I hope it shows how far I’ve come from baby ferosh!!!

      As always, your comments are <3 <3 <3

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