Chapter 28, Part 2: The Wings Are A Lot


Author notes

Part two of this chapter was a lot. I’ve been dreading it (and thus delaying it and rewriting it forever), but also laying the groundwork for it since the beginning so I’m kind of excited that I just took the plunge (?). I may have been a smidge ambitious and had to jettison a few things to a later chapter, but overall I’m happy (and also sad lol this chapter was an attack on myself).

Halfway through editing, I got a new computer so the quality of images on the last page is greatly improved.

Oh and I’m experimenting with footnotes because this story is dense and my world-building is dense (overzealous?). Hopefully, this will help when I’m doing call backs to past information. But who knows? This is an ever-evolving project 🙂


Laurel and Hodges Cemetery Crypts

Vlad

Vlad did not look up when William came into the tomb. This is who I am. William had always known, and Vlad had wanted Alice to know too.

“I’m not used to receiving phone calls from you wanting to talk. Usually, I happen upon the destruction and force you.”

“There’s no destruction,” Vlad replied, unable to keep the petulant tone out of his voice. Ego and arrogance demanded he make calling William seem like a favor, rather than a need.

“Right,” William observed wryly, picking his way past a few stones and the coffins Vlad had tossed into the center of the room.

“Fine, there was a little destruction,” Vlad grumbled, ignoring the non-committal sound William made in response.

“I don’t understand any of this!” he continued, agitation causing him to pace. “All of this feeling is killing me. And to what purpose? There’s no rhyme or reason to it!”

“There’s no rhyme or…Vladislaus, do you not see that you’re a—”

“Monster,” Vlad finished, pinching the bridge of his nose. Talking was a bad idea. He already disliked it.

William sighed, casting his eyes heavenward as if to ask for patience. “Do you remember when we died?”

Of course he remembered. It was not a thing to forget. Vlad’s father had demanded they go and clear Forgotten Hollow. It was the price of getting back his wife and son.1 It seemed an insurmountable task but when they rode up with their small contingent and saw only a few half-starved looking soldiers, Vlad was sure his father had truly gone mad. 

“I told you that we were lucky,” Vlad recounted, his voice tinged with bitterness. “That the Villain King had lost his bite and his mind and we would do this small task and be home before a fortnight.”

But the small half-starved army had turned out to be half-starved vampires. They made mince-meat of nearly everyone but William and Vlad. 

“Your father, the King, knew exactly what early grave he sent us to.”

“Dying was not the worst of it,” Vlad croaked, voice thick with the emotion the memory summoned up. “The waking up was…brutal. But you were determined—”

“No,” William interjected. “You were determined. I was the last Great Knight of Windenburg,” he mocked, his head tilted in disgust. “Trained under Fatima Simovitch herself, and what did it buy me? A desire to meet the sun. But not you, crowned prince. You refused to grant me leave. A great big pain in my ass. Savior of my undead life.”

The olive branch hung in the air, but Vlad could not make himself reach for it. “I don’t remember that version of myself,” he said instead.

“You didn’t forget it by accident, Vladislaus. Josef ensured you would be so broken, so lost, that you would step into the mouth of that cave and let that darkness scrape out your insides and take up residence.” 2

Even as William laid the blame at his father’s feet, it scalded Vlad like an accusation. He could not stop experiencing his trauma as something he had somehow caused.

“My pain—”

“Was excruciating,” William countered angrily. “But not singular! You cannot carry it with you the whole of your immortal life. You won’t just be nothing, you’ll have nothing.”

William rubbed his eyes, “You can have your misery or you can have Alice, but mark my words, you cannot have both.”

Alice wasn’t just Alice. For Vlad, she had come to represent a purpose outside of just existing, a possible version of a life where he could pine for something other than how things used to be.

“Why would you tell me this?” he rasped. “To remind me that I have a beast within me? That it pushed her away?”

“Yes,” William declared firmly. “To remind you that you are this creature, but you are Vladislaus too. You called me here because you did something dramatic. That’s not the actions of some monster, that’s just the same soft-hearted fool I’ve known most of my life. So you went too far this time and didn’t go far enough before? Go and find some middle ground.”

Middle ground? Vlad often felt he was all one thing or all the other, nothing in between. But he could try, couldn’t he?

“Any other wisdom?” he retorted, but there was no heat in it.

“Yes, since you asked. Stop bloody blindsiding her! It’s a wonder she didn’t try to stake you. I’ve been a vampire for nearly 600 years and even I find the sight of those eyes and those wings unsettling.” 

    4 comments
  • Dolly Llama
    May 18, 2020

    No objections to the footnotes here. But my favorite book is Infinite Jest (WHICH SHOULD EXPLAIN A LOT), so take that with a grain of salt. Props for making it easy to keep track of things.

    “He could not stop experiencing his trauma as something he had somehow caused.” That how it be like. And who could come up with a more awkward and confusing way to start a conversation than saying “I don’t do it”? I buy that him interrupting her before she can word-vomit her important exposition (after the actual vomit) is a Hanlon’s razor thing and am slightly amused that the murder came out of nowhere. Waiting to see if it’s a theme that the elimination process involves actual elimination. Of life.

    Ooh, are we supposed to realize there are six bakers and five breads? Trying to figure it out but haven’t gotten there yet. Let me get out my Pepe Silvia corkboard.

    God, you don’t even have to say that’s Bloodvein. Everyone just knows it’s him. Burning our retinas. As Bernard S.-L. would say, he’s outing himself as a vampire because he clearly can’t see himself in the mirror. AND I SEE YOU INTENTIONALLY FRAMING THAT BERNARD PAINTING. No pun intended.

    Tryna figure out how you undo mortality. I’d buy that that’s Ben’s intention, but by Alice continuing to insist the undoing-Owl is going to return her to normal, what the hey does that word mean to her? And why do the voices in your head only pick the most dramatic moments to leave? Lots of emotions in that last section.

    • feroshgirl
      May 20, 2020

      – If you did not say Infinite Jest, I would have guessed it LOL! Yeah, I am trying to keep things straight (hell, even for myself). I mean, my introduction to a good footnote was The Discworld Series but I don’t think I can EVER achieve that level of perfection so I won’t even try.

      – Whew boy, Vlad has got some things going on. I’m interested in the idea of how we internalize trauma (I can *feel* my therapist peering over her eyeglasses at me) and I always thought it’d be fun to do with vampires because…well…you got like hundreds of years worth of stuff to work through. That said, I’m enjoying taking the “smooth and sexy vampire” trope and making him actually be an awkward murder-happy weirdo.

      -Cheat sheet: if happens between Vlad and Alice, it’s probably Hanlon’s razor. If it happens between Vlad and someone else, it’s probably malice.

      -Will* all of the contestants be murdered in horrifying ways as a backdrop to a budding romance? What kind of insane person would write something like that?

      -*And by will, I mean “can” they? We’ll see…

      – Dressing [clap] Bloodvein [clap] is [clap] my [clap] favorite [clap] pastime [clap]

      – You are, and I cannot stress this enough, going to hate Bernard. Chapter 29, Part 2: In Which I Write a Bernard So Awful I Almost Regret It.

      – Alice hasn’t done much by the way of investigation either of herself (what does normal even mean, Alice?) or The Owl (how DOES The Owl work Alice? You ain’t want to check that our BEFORE the contest?). She’s going to have to work through that without Ben as her crutch.

      -When is the right time to leave when you’re a non-corporeal ancient god who is trying desperately to save the conflict-averse mortal body you’ve been traveling around in for nearly 30 years?

      -I was debating whether I was going to make this scene quiet and agonizing or big and dramatic, but I decided I wanted it to be THE MOST. In part because I feel like female characters aren’t allowed to rage and have giant emotions without being crazy but also because I think we have a tradition of making big expressions of grief and emotion unseemly. Like you can get on your knees and wail at a funeral (it would probably feel good) but its frowned upon. Also, as someone who intellectually understands emotions but has a very hard time understanding them IRL, this was a really cathartic scene to write.

      • Dolly Llama
        May 22, 2020

        I know you’re saying it kind of in jest (finite jest), but, goodness, of course you’re capable of achieving that level of perfection! If I had a quarter for every time I had to reassure a writer friend that admiring someone else’s talents doesn’t diminish theirs, I could do so much laundry. So much. Funny, I think I compared your style to Terry Pratchett early on.

        Yes—I love the That-Boy-Needs-Therapy approach to vamps. People don’t automatically get better over time and if they’ve been heading down the wrong path for 500 years, that’s gonna take a shitload of therapists to reverse. And I don’t know when the right time is for a deity to un-possess a badass lady, but that ain’t it.

        There’s always something driving this story forward and it’s hard to guess what it’ll be next! Highly support having a character do stuff to flip the double bird at toxic societal expectations; totally okay with Bernard being awful. We know how dope his AU self is.

  • theplumbob
    July 9, 2020

    I don’t know that the footnotes are necessary, but I have had the luxury of reading all of this within less than a week 😊 Still, I think you’ve done a good job establishing everything and while perhaps noone will catch every reference, I don’t think it’s necessarily needed!

    I loved Vlad in this chapter. He’s really gone above and beyond entirely giving his all to Alice. He will be there for her in any way she needs. That is so tomantic *sniff*

    Yeah, I never thought the way Alice pictured it would, her suddenly being “normal” and Ben getting a body out of nowhere – but it’s cute she still has that hopeful side to her. I hope the news it may not be exactly like that did not break her beyond repair. Speaking of Ben, he’s been very quiet in the last few chapters.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: