Chapter 29, Part 2: Life After Death

Before we dive into this chapter, I just want to say a few things because I’m black and it’s been a hell of a week(s). Writing makes me feel good. Escaping to fantasy worlds is my way of practicing self-care and I’m prioritizing that because the trauma is real. I’m tired, exhausted even, but it’s not because I have work to do. I do not, point in fact, have any work to do.

You (not you, per se, but the “royal you”) might be wondering what I mean by that. You might even be squaring yourself up to list the myriad of things you think I need to do. You may be using words like “we” and phrases like “stand together” and lord help me, you may even think this is the moment when I, a black person, am going to illuminate for you a nuanced description of what happened in a way that takes into account your discomfort or feelings.

This is not that party, and I am not sorry. My father had that party once in the 40s when he had to swallow down his panic at being followed in a car by a group of white men who called him “boy” and asked him where he thought he was going. We learn from our past mistakes, don’t we?

Yes, you might be thinking that with all the things going on the world, I’ve got plenty to “do.” But I am about full up of all the ways I am supposed to contort my black body to survive in a world that does not value it.

You should know that I have perfect clarity on this situation. The color of my skin is not a problem that needs to be fixed. My existence is not wrong in any way, shape, or form. There is no better way I’m supposed to be doing anything because this is not a “me” problem.

I’m not really in the mood to educate anyone. Bless my lovely white husband who was wise enough to say to me this morning, “I love you and I’m not behind you, I’m in front of you.” It reminded me of that time we went to a restaurant that wouldn’t serve us (because racism) and the slow, agonizing seconds that ticked by while he absorbed their anger too. Weird how racism keeps popping up even though we wrote some articles about how it was gone when Obama got elected.

But if you are confused, may I suggest a “Timeline of Events That Led to the 2020 ‘Fed-Up’-rising“? It starts in 1619, in case you were wondering what kind of article it is. If, like me, you’re tired of “educating” this one does a good job of explaining the problem’s size and scope. You know. For people who aren’t tuned in to what’s be going on the last 400 years or so.

That’s about all I have to say for now. CW for this chapter for reference to sexual assault. I’m not sure what time I’m posting this because time is pretend and I have not been sleeping due to ::gestures around at everything::

Other than that, read on and enjoy. I finally got some zombies up in here so I’m really happy.

Oh and due the world being really racist, I didn’t feel like going back and fixing Vlad’s hair in his dark form. I didn’t notice it until I was already done with all the screenshots and I figure if there’s any week that I can let a small detail go, it’s this one.


Straud Manor

Miss Hell

Werewolves were overzealous by nature. Perfect for a fight with a powerful vampire. Hell on the furniture. She said as much in a dry quip to Bloodvein that did not communicate her profound concern over being wrong. Vladislaus had not been to the manor in at least a day and now they’d lost the element of surprise. Failure when she could least afford it. 

Centuries ago, when she sat at her vanity, covering her bruises for the umpteenth time, she’d prayed for deliverance. When it didn’t come, she prayed instead for revenge and the God of Sleep slid into her dreams like a soothing balm. 

“They call me Somnus, and I will deliver your vengeance. All I ask is for this one little thing…” 

It was never just “one little thing,” Miss Hell thought bitterly, as the flames licked higher and one of the tower gargoyles crashed to the ground.

“I wish for the Underworld,” Somnus told her, “I dream of Gods and steel and heaps of dead.” 1

She’d always meant to deliver the wish, but not the dream. The dream was a dangerous thing—sims waking up with “dust in their eyes and gods in their mouths.” 2 Miss Hell could not let it come to pass. Her freedom meant nothing if this world were reduced to a pile of ash and rubble. 

Taking a cleansing breath, she drew closer to the smoldering mass of gargoyle, dropping a pair of cufflinks that matched a blue silk suit.3 Failure was too strong a word. This was a setback. A setback that could be overcome just by pointing Vladislaus in the right direction to obtain his retribution.

Or die trying, motherfucker.

Miss Hell saluted the flames as she scanned the property line for any observers. Somnus’s greatest wish was to rule the Underworld. If she accomplished that, he’d have no reason to make his way to this realm. The Sages wanted Vladislaus in exchange for disposing of the God of Death, but things changed, alliances shifted, and Miss Hell had learned that if you wanted something done right—you had to do it yourself. 

Taking on bat form, she caught a wind current and steered herself towards the Von Haunt Estate.

Windenburg Woods

Caleb

“The body is disposed of and William is at the manor procuring supplies,” Caleb explained, brushing some dirt off his shirt. “It would be easier if we had electricity.”

“If you need it,” Vlad shrugged with a nonchalance that made Caleb see red. Now that Alice held his heart in a vice, Vladislaus was open to change?

“Is that how you feel about it?” Caleb said with humorless laugh. He crossed his arms. “No comments on how you can hear the energy waves? Just install it? In this cottage you’ve kept as a virtual mausoleum?” 

Vlad finally looked at him, eyes flashing, a tick in his jaw. “Would you like me to have comments?” he ground out.

“What is going on?” Alice complained as she came up behind him. Vlad shot him a dirty look before turning on a smile and crossing the room to see if she had slept okay. Caleb eyed them both with disgust. Did she think she was special because Vladislaus was making a show of good behavior?

“Well, it’s good you’re up,” Caleb snapped. “How much training did you get in before B’Ollithiranon gave up his godhood? Is it just additional power he gave you or was he able to extend your life?”

Alice fumbled around for words but Caleb cut her off. “Alice, we don’t have time for you to wallow. B’Ollithiranon is gone. Count your blessings he had the decency to make you a god five times over before he departed.”

He’s missing,” Alice enunciated. “And I’m going to need more than five fucking seconds to process what’s going on.”

“You have time,” Vlad said mildly.

“She does not!” Caleb shouted, anger or something like it roiling in his gut. Now, Vladislaus had patience? Where was that patience when Lilith struggled to embrace life as a vampire? Fuming, he revealed his dark form and Vlad, perceiving his action as a threat, turned too.

Alice was undaunted. “Yeah, I’m going to need you to get off my case. My life was just turned upside down. I’m alone—”

“Are you?” Caleb glowered.

“Am I what?” 

“Alone.” He didn’t make it a question because he knew the answer. 

“I’m…” Alice trailed off, suddenly on her guard.

“Perhaps I should rephrase the question. How are you alone, Alice Martin, eldest daughter of Valeria and Cyrus, who paid for her to travel to Windenburg for this contest? Sister to Maverick who loans her bail money, and to Mayra, who painted her trailer which is parked, incidentally, in her parents’ backyard?”

She stared at him, jaw clenched, but Caleb pressed on.

“Were you about to say I don’t understand?” he spat. “Because your life has been so hard? Because in 1759 Vladislaus made you play a game for your sister’s mortality and you lost?”

“Caleb!” Vlad shouted. His tone was a warning but Caleb could not stop himself. If Alice thought Vladislaus would get better just because she snapped her fingers, she had another thing coming. Caleb had been at this for two hundred years, William even longer.

“No, that can’t be it. Maybe your father was a sociopath who imprisoned you and held your family hostage until you agreed to fight a battle that he rigged in some nefarious plot to turn you into a weapon? He didn’t say that part did he?” Caleb challenged. “That he fought and died for a family he never had any chance of getting back at all? That he wanted The Owl to burn the world because he never recovered?”

“She knows,” Vlad roared, but didn’t approach. Caleb reeled back, not from fear but from shock.

“Just the other day, I had to put a sword through your femoral artery because you threw a violent tantrum over a haircut. And now you’re holding back?”

“Oh, I don’t have to,” Vlad threatened before Alice smacked—smacked!—him in the arm. “What the hell is wrong with you?” she hissed. Chastised, he dispelled his dark form.  

“And you?” she cried, gesturing at Caleb. “If you hate him so much, why are you still here?”

A question that had preoccupied him for most of the last hundred years. “It’s complicated,” he scoffed. 

Before he could elaborate, William burst through the front door and skidded to a halt, eyes focused on the suit of armor behind the chair. “I haven’t been here in an age,” he breathed. “I was wondering where that got to. You really are quite the hoarder, Vladislaus, worse than I thought.”

He chuckled as he took in Caleb’s furious look. “What’s going on here? You all look half a tick away from killing each other…”

“A small disagreement,” Vlad bit out and Caleb was pleased to see he wasn’t the only one affected.

Right. Well, we have a problem. Straud Manor has been compromised.”

Alice scrunched up her face. “Like by spies?”

“Worse,” Wiliam said solemnly. “Werewolves.”

    7 comments
  • Mags
    May 31, 2020

    A few week ago I found this site when searching for sims 4 stories. Took me a week catch up on what happening.

    I have to say when I got the email saying there a new chapter I jump for joy.

    Caleb little bit of back story… I want to know more!! Love the drama want to know more about the sages.

    • feroshgirl
      May 31, 2020

      Welcome! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it and getting caught up 🙂 I do live for the drama and none of my character is…er…well-balanced. Caleb especially! More of his story is going to start coming out but suffice it to say, his relationship with Vlad is complicated. I think in part because they are so similar (even if they go around insisting that they’re not).

      The Sages…mercurial, all powerful magical beings who wield a lot of influence but its hard to tell what side they are even on. I think upcoming chapters are going to answer that question 🙂

  • Dolly Llama
    May 31, 2020

    Ok. Ok ok ok ok ok. So much to say, I’ll try to remember it all, but am going to disappear to do something and probably post it on the forums later, idk.

    That is a *hell* of an opening. At first I didn’t get the “you have work to do” comment because it didn’t even occur to me, idiot that I am, that people would somehow think racism is your problem to solve. And now I’m incensed. What the fucking actual fuck. What the fuck world would someone live in where it’s the oppressed’s job to convince their oppressor to stop abusing their power? That’s a goddamn classic abuser move: not only asking that the people with the goddamn boot on their neck be civil and empathetic and go through the proper channels while no such restrictions apply to them, but ensuring that the “proper channels” they have to go through are a game they can’t win because they’re under the abuser’s control. I hate that the only people who understand this had to learn by trial-by-fire. Hate, hate, hate it.

    Absolutely fucking enraged that so many white people have this knee-jerk reaction to try and rationalize away any shitty behavior that they may have engaged in. Because that is absolutely the problem, white people who intellectually understand Racism is Bad but think that because they intellectually understand that, they don’t need to examine their own problematic tendencies. Oh, so someone is a victim of systemic oppression but you were *accused* of contributing to systemic oppression? Poor you. Like those are comparable. It’s totally irrational because they think THEY get to control what counts as injustice and what doesn’t and they’re not going to classify anything they contribute to as injustice.

    And while we’re on the topic of irrationality, LORD NO people do not get to conflate rationalism with rationalization and use it to defend their bigotry. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a scientist it’s that the next brilliant idea can come from anyone. If people are unwilling to listen to ideas because they’re coming out of the mouth of a young/poor/black/female/neuroatypical/etc. person, they’re not only falling into an ad hominem trap, they’re holding back humanity’s progress based on the unfalsifiable—one more time for the people in the front, UNFALSIFIABLE—belief that a young/poor/black/female/neuroatypical/etc. person couldn’t possibly say anything of value. I’m going to say something that might potentially uniquely identify me later, but I firmly believe that if someone is bigoted, they should not be allowed to be a scientist until they’ve learned to address that illogical way of thinking. (You know what, fuck it. Personal salty time for one sentence. I could invent a new branch of mathematics and still the only way I’d be in the papers would be as an evil mean radfem (!!!!) prof who kicks innocent male students out of class for talking over their black female classmates.)

    Ugh. Epistemology is the only thing that gets me through the day sometimes—and it’s not going to do much against a bullet. If you want, please feel free to rant back at me because this is just such, such extreme deadly bullshit. You are awesome, you deserve the world, and I hope you get some sleep.

    Ok! Now the story!

    Bernard Shallot-Liu, he who is fresh out of fucks to give except to rescue his husband’s friend from domestic abuse, will directly respond to BbD!Bernard, he who gives all the wrong fucks, in a future comment. Yes, you were right, he is awful and I hate him.

    The tension centering around Alice is almost unbearable. But I’m still going with the golden rule of not underestimating her, specifically not underestimating her cunning and problem-solving ability even though she pulled a shiny. The “You all need therapy”/“I‘m in therapy!” dialogue is the thing that finally got me to see things out of Caleb’s eyes—how relatable is that? And Deacon is simply the best. Just—can’t even start on it. The best. Zombie goals. That is a level of chill the living could only aspire to. There’s just too much to like here.

    Goddess of the Hunt!! Badass. Ultimate super badass. Now I won’t say I’m on either of their sides, but Jimena and Miss Hell are extreme badasses and I love them. And I think I’m picking up what you’re putting down and… I ship.

    • Dolly Llama
      May 31, 2020

      Shit, just realized that “unfalsifiable” is actually “very very easily falsifiable unless the person is neck-deep in cognitive dissonance and ignores almost all evidence.” My bad.

    • feroshgirl
      June 4, 2020

      I took a long time to reply to this message because this was a hard week and periodically, I needed it for strength. I struggle to identify and describe my emotions, most of them are like a flurry of signals that either overwhelm or mystify me and in times of trauma, I have had years of training to make me feel nothing at all. So this week, when I got those flashes it was really helpful to read someone being good and goddamned mad. It made me feel less bereft and less alone and then a little bit of something could break through the numbness.

      Science is such a strange place for this thought process to live and yet, it makes complete sense. Now, I’m going to potentially identify myself — I’m in the field of science history/communication and on the podcast I host we are constantly yelling (in slightly “nicer” words): science is done by humans and we bring all our fucked up bullshit too it. Oooohhhhh the yelling I could to over all the ways we think knowledge should come in a package that looks white, male, and preferably of a certain age (“certain” age, please, any age). Fucking bravo for kicking them out, my god, how grateful I would have been is more professors would have done that for me—would have said: this is unacceptable, and I’m not going to reward you for it.

      Believe me, I love the humanities and I love my work, I ended up in the right place. But I also know that every message telegraphed to me was: this space is not for you.

      I intellectually understand emotions even if they remain a mystery to my body. I understand righteous anger and indignation and marching in the streets. I also understand that science is a place where the language for oppression is codified and given data to back its approach. Yeah, yeah, yeah we talk about the “purity” of research and numbers but if we still let in the bigots and the misogynists then who the hell are we kidding?

      As a final note: People understanding Racism is Bad but also feeling like they don’t have work to do is a whole mood. I’ve come to realize (as the meme says) I’m a lot of people’s one black friend. I’ve also been asked to do emotional labor in this moment that leaves me speechless and astounds me.

      NOW ONTO THE STORY. I’m actually planning a response to your Bernard from my Bernard. But also, I would appreciate if Bernard Shallot-Liu did 100% kick my Bernard’s ass. He was awful. Painful to write. A total monster, and like I don’t even mean that in a good way.

      Goddess of the Hunt – I SAT ON THAT INFORMATION FOR SO LONG. I mean, she and Miss Hell are up to no good but like, I’m here for it. They don’t give a fuck. Whew. Yes. I know its probably crazy for me to say I ship them too because I wrote them but yassssss.

      Caleb is like: I AM DOING THE WORK WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME? but also I wanted to deal with that difficult/uncomfortable space where you want someone to get better/be better but you’re also kind of resentful when it doesn’t come from something you did.

      Deacon. My shining light. I feel like I’ve reached a point where the world-building is strong enough and I can just send them on crazy adventures. Deacon is goals.

      • Dolly Llama
        June 7, 2020

        Glad to offer what I can as an internet stranger but honestly, I haven’t done enough. I’ve only recently felt stable enough to go from emotionally supporting victims of racism to actually calling out the perps. I don’t have to tell you, bigotry in my field is the sneaky kind where they think they can get away with it because they’re not *technically* saying “white men are smartur lol” but are so hostile to the one black grad student that she can’t show up to discussion groups anymore. Ugh. That happened in my grad program and it broke my heart she was never around. I did eventually yell at the department head/some professors/some grad students for clearly valuing some people over others, but only after they got sloppy while bullying me out of the same groups and I could prove what they were doing beyond a shadow of a doubt. At that point it was too late for either of us.

        Gotta say a lot of the epistemology themes in my… existence… come from shutting down scientists who are so desperate to believe someone else is wrong that they kick reasoning to the curb and start making up BS. Including policing my own behavior, dammit. We’re supposed to serve objective truth. Not ourselves. And I’ll admit I have not once seen a woman of color pull that crap. It’s infuriating because ‘everything you know is wrong’ is freaking day one, step one shit in my field and if you’ve already spent your entire life being told you’re wrong and you’re an idiot and this space isn’t for you at every conceivable turn, you’re so phenomenally far ahead of the people who think their ideas are better than the ideas other people come up with. That’s who we need in charge! And we’re shutting out the people who have to be reminded that *not* having selfless desires is okay in favor of, what, timed tests? Seriously hate this shit, it goes beyond ad hominem nonsense and (oh no salt!!) forces tens of thousands of brilliant scientists to waste time explaining to mediocre scientists that you can’t prove you’re not racist by starting with the assumption that you’re not racist, that’s circular, like coooome onnnnnn it’s like the epistemological version of shooting fish in a barrel.

        The codified language, the statistics thing? For the love of—I saw someone pull up crime statistics a week ago and still can’t control my rage at too many damn people who don’t understand how statistics work thinking they’ve made a Logical Science Argument. This is why we can’t have nice things. This is why we have evopsych. Screw it, the current system isn’t conducive to science. I’m done playing a game that’s impossible to win. There shouldn’t be a game in the first place.

        Dear lord I’m sorry about the one-black-friend thing. Just. What the hell garbage logic is that—how the hell does using black people as props make someone not racist. “Look! I can’t be a misogynist, I’m married to a woman!” How the hell. God I’m so sorry. And I hope you can get some of that strength soon from processing your emotions. Hey, you’re allowed to feel emotions now!! Wooo!! Therapy!!!

        (and while I need more Deacon, the Bernard Fight is giving me waaaaay more joy than it should)

        (also I see that additional ‘not fancy’)

        (and can I just also say the podcast thing is SO COOL, like I’m still trying to figure out how to talk to the public and that’s your whole job)

  • theplumbob
    July 9, 2020

    Regarding your introduction, I am a very white person so I don’t have any authority to say much on the topic or pretend to understand, I can’t, but I am deeply sorry. It is no accident that these are the times when I have chosen to pick up simlit again, and more specifically, the supernatural, the otherworldly. I’ve always found imaginary worlds my way of coping in the past. I can only read the world through my personal letnse as an Eastern European living in a country that does not want the likes of me, but I realise that’s nowhere near close, since I can have “passing” priviledges as long as I keep my mouth shut so that people don’t hear my accent. I have no answers. I want to do better. I feel like I have very little to offer. I’m sorry.

    Ok, on to the story, as weird as it feels to comment on anything else now! I understand Caleb’s frustration – well, I don’t, because I haven’t lived a several hundred hears, but I get why he’d feel the way he does after spending centuries with Vlad and suddenly seeing him go all soft, when that’s not the kindness he’d shown him. That’s got to be tough. Whatever did happen with Lilith in your universe, anyway?

    I actually kind of felt bad for Ms Hell here. She’s no less of a puppet than anyone else. Bernard is, err, interesting. I’ve not messed with the Von Haunt ghosts, didn’t realise he was so menacing haha.

    Well, if you divide people into the glass half full and glass half empty kind, Deacon sure is the former 😂 I can only hope that if I ever become a zombie, I will embrace it with the same enthusiasm!

    Ha, I knew Jimena wasn’t your average Joe! No idea what the godess of the hunt entails beyond some vague Skyrim lore, but colour me intrigued!

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