Chapter 31, Part 1: The Will of a God is a Heck of a Thing

Baking By Death is back baby! And before we get into it, I just want to yell about EA skin tones for five seconds.

You’ve probably heard/read about this, but in the year our lord 2020, its bananas that this game lacks skin tone swatches for darker skin colors that don’t look straight up wild. Listen, the lovely and genius Xmiramira put out the Melanin pack and it adds like 50 swatches, but 1) it’s custom content when it should really be included in the game, and 2) she put the first one out in 2016.

Let that sink in.

And do not get me started on the make-up. I love having a diverse cast of characters in my story, but I’ve got a pretty narrow set of “lewks” to work with because the options for darker skin tones are frankly, atrocious. I know people complain about that MAC update, and a lot of the options are insane, but I was glad to at least have a “blush” option that didn’t look like clown make-up on brown skin.

I want to see myself reflected in a game I spend so much time (AND MONEY) on. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. I see the statement about Black Lives Matter, EA, but now I’m going to need to see some action.

Alright, rant over. Let’s get to the insane romantic and supernatural adventures of gods and monsters…

Britechester University

Alice

Vlad clenched and unclenched a few fingers, but otherwise did not move. “I thought I would begin surveying my internal injuries, but I find they are too great in number.”

Alice tried to shift onto her side but couldn’t quite do it. She draped her arm over Vlad’s shoulder. It hurt…everything hurt. She was desperate for water but the kitchen was so far away.

“Can you…?” she moaned, unable to finish. 

“Doubtful,” Caleb sighed from the other couch. He propped himself up on one elbow and heaved into a trash can. “Not doubtful. Impossible,” he croaked, bringing up a shaking hand to wipe his mouth.

Not only was his body still trying to purge the venom, his clothes were damp with basilisk viscera. The smell was atrocious.

Deacon made no comment. His head finally stitched back on, he commenced with snoring—a testament to his exhaustion since zombies generally did not require sleep.

Alice grimaced as she finally managed to turn onto her side. “You’re Fear itself,” she groaned. “I didn’t think anything could actually hurt you.”

Vlad sat up, gingerly touching his forehead. He leaned back, staring at his hand as if he half-expected it to be covered in plasma. “I heal,” he rasped, “That doesn’t mean I can’t get hurt. Particularly when god-like powers are involved.

“Clearly,” Alice replied, not bothering to keep the sarcasm out of her voice. 

“The next time you tell me that you have a plan, you’ll excuse me if I question you in more detail,” he snapped, and then frowned as if talking so forcefully hurt him.

The front door creaked open. William sauntered into the room and then froze. Alice felt a little flutter of hope. Maybe he could bring her some water, or painkillers…ice for the bruises?

His voice seemed loud. Too loud. The volume someone spoke when they had not just killed four basilisks. “Mother of llamas,” he gasped. “What the hell happened to all of you?” 


SIx Hours Earlier…

“Does no one in college wear black?” Vlad thundered, tearing a drawer out so hard he snapped the wood.

Alice stretched and rolled onto her stomach. Still completely blissed out from her hours of…what had he called it? 

Worship.

“What is your problem?” she yawned. “Who cares?”

“I care. I will suffer many indiginities but hunting basilisks wearing neon green is not one of them!” he ranted, tossing a brightly colored sweatshirt over his head. 

Alice swallowed a laugh. She knew Vlad’s relaxed attitude towards his clothing options was only going to last so long. It actually ended quicker than she thought. She owed William twenty simoleons.

“Try the bottom drawer with the workout clothes. I’m sure there’s something black in there…” she trailed off at Vlad’s disapproving look. “What?”

“Are you not planning to wear clothing on this particular adventure?”

Alice sat up. She hadn’t intended to go on this little adventure at all. She might be the God of Death…technically, but she was sporting a very mortal body. Vlad didn’t actually believe he could keep her from getting hurt in the middle of a supernatural fight. Right? 

“It sounds dangerous,” she hedged.

“That’s why you won’t be alone,” Vlad replied, raising an eyebrow.

Yep. He totally thought he could keep her from getting hurt. Hubris was a word they were going to need to have a talk about.

“This seems like a…you know…a you guys sort of thing,” she tried again.

“Who guys?”

You know, like vampire supernatural zombie fighter types,” Alice maintained. “I thought I’d…you know, focus on the baking…”

“Deacon had his head ripped off,” Vlad replied evenly, but there was an edge to his voice. 

“I mean yeah, but it wasn’t attached right to begin with!” Alice laughed and then snapped her mouth shut at his dark look.

She was slowly adjusting to a lot of things: no Ben, vampire/demigod lover…boyfriend (?), the existence of basilisks. She wanted The Owl because she wanted to live but as far as Alice was concerned, the jury was still out on the actual job of being a god.

But if she said that out loud, she’d have to talk about all her feelings and confusion to someone who had the last 600 years to get used to their identity. She doubted Vlad would be sympathetic. Heck, sometimes she struggled to be sympathetic with herself.

Sighing, Alice snatched her shorts and kitty cat sweater from the laundry pile. If she was going to go into some kind of supernatural battle, she at least wanted to feel like herself.

    15 comments
  • theplumbob
    August 9, 2020

    Yay! I can’t tell you how excited I’ve been for this to make a return! Almost like waiting for a new season of a TV show 😊 I wasn’t sure when you were posting today but I’d hoped it would still happen early enough for the update to still be published on actually Sunday in my timezone (not that there’s anything wrong with Mondays, but… I’m kidding, I hate Mondays) and it was woo!

    So things are off to a great start already 😂 At least everyone’s still alive. Well, minus Deacon, I guess, but he’s a chirper! Vlad wondering if he’s a fuckboy is exactly the kind of thing I have missed haha!

    L Faba and Morgyn – interesting, looks like L Faba is more sentimental than I thought. I would have thought she’d know one or the other would have always had to betray the other one anyway, the owl doesn’t sound like something you can easily share.

    The part with Caleb and decapitated Deacon was sich a highlight, had me in stitches. Poor Caleb. I don’t blame him for wanting to get away from all this mess.

    Alice and Vlad continue to misunderstand each other. It’s so tough with their life experience beeing so different, and them being centuries apart. At the moment neither of them is really trying to compromise very much either, just expecting the other to somehow miraculously adjust to the way they view the world. They’re going to have to find a common language if they hope for their relationship to actually work.

    • feroshgirl
      August 9, 2020

      Ah yes! I’m glad it worked out. I was agonizing over the time to schedule posts (I’m about a month ahead right now) but realized that timezones were going to throw a wrench in whatever plan I came up with. I laugh because sometimes I’m reading your chapters at like 2 in the morning (I’m a night owl) and I always laugh at how insane the time stamps on the comments must be.

      LOL thank you for enjoying Vlad pondering being a fuckboy as much as I do. I try to keep the levity even as things go dark. Deacon is a level of chill that I aspire to. I was playing with the “how we got here” tv trope for this chapter and I was a bit nervous because I still wanted it to be interesting even if you ultimately knew everyone makes it.

      I’ve been trying to create this vibe that L. Faba and Morgyn are like BFFs (mainly because I don’t really like Simeon). They are both born of magic, whereas Simeon is a witch so they certainly set themselves apart from him. You are right about The Owl and its going to be very interesting given the real problem facing L. Faba right now…

      I don’t know why I decided Caleb and Deacon needed to go on adventures but I’m glad I did and that you’re enjoying it. I just knew I wanted to make Deacon headless, and I was cackling the whole time I wrote it.

      I cannot even respond to the last part of your comment because I’m so afraid of giving away spoilers so I’m going to wait until part two of this chapter posts to get into it. But…YES. 100% you get it.

  • theplumbob
    August 9, 2020

    Haha works out since it means I get them in the morning 😀

    Yes, I totally want to be as chill as Deacon! 😀 And the headless Deacon and Caleb adventure was definitely a sheer stroke of brilliance!

    Poor Simeon, nobody cares about him lol. I blame EA for making him so uninteresting. I only like my own version, but let’s be honest, even he doesn’t get anywhere near as much attention as the other sages haha.

  • Dolly Llama
    August 9, 2020

    Alright—okay, okay. First things first. Xmiramira deserves the best this world has to offer and she may be the only reason I’d ever even consider watching that show, but did EA really just highlight that their darker skintones are so crap that a fan had to go out of her way to make her own? Really? And then they did nothing about it? Do they not see what that implies? And those freaking makeup options; they’re too light even for Kendra, and that chick wears a green-and-purple lip to the DMV.

    But the story: I can’t freaking deal with Deacon and Caleb here; I wouldn’t be disappointed if this whole thing turned into a buddy-cop—uh, basilisk-hunter?—comedy and it just never ended ’cause they’re either immortal or already dead. Looking through my chapter notes and half of them are just how great these two are. By the “Have you ever used a sword?”/”Nah, I play soccer, though” exchange, I was metaphorically pounding on the table and chanting “spinoff, spinoff.” It’s like the “okay, whose turn is it for the brain cell?” Tumblr posts but it’s never Deacon’s turn. Inb4 Caleb counters one of Deacon’s batshit ideas with “My therapist says…”

    Went back to the Princess Cordelia thing. Vlad, I got bad news for you, buddy. Or, ‘dude.’ I’m getting the sense that Alice is so confused by the status of their relationship that she’s just resorted to calling him ‘dude.’ But at least the fuckboy introspection was in response to Alice’s question and not a totally unprompted “not all men” defensive rant. That gives me hope for him possibly maybe being good enough for Alice someday despite the complex-morality Vladsplain at the end.

    That one exchange where Vlad’s distracted by the rando kid is catching my eye in ways I can’t quite pin down; maybe it’s Vlad’s flash of realization that he’s stuck in a time loop, maybe it’s Vlad picking up on Alice’s godlike intuition in ways us mortals wouldn’t. Because I thought Alice was just inferring his fuckboy status from, y’know, the sunglasses at night, and the jacket around the waist but he’s still wearing a scarf over a T-shirt. Ok now I’m just being old and mean.

    Comparison is the thief of joy and all that, so I’m not really comparing—but I can’t help but notice the swords and headless zombies and giant snakes and poses involving all three of those things and 1758 pages of citations of all the fancy stuff you used, while my big cathartic gamechanging chapter is two people talking on a bench. Good lord that must have taken forever. I vaguely remember saying this every chapter, but good lord it must’ve. And three simultaneous scenes! And also Photoshop and stuff.

    Welcome back.

    • feroshgirl
      August 9, 2020

      -Deacon and Caleb are fast becoming some of my favorite characters to write. Oh the adventures I have planned for them. You will be delighted. Perhaps horrified. But then delighted again. I do not know how to properly express how tuned into my weird little sense of humor you are. I don’t want to spoil anything but also I have already written this exact joke lololol. Deacon is just so damned comfortable with himself, he has no shame. It’s the exact opposite of Caleb who is so painfully uncomfortable with the idea of spending even five seconds with himself. I just cannot wait for you to read future chapters because these two are on their own journey.

      -Oh Vlad. My friend. You were definitely a fuckboy. I’m glad you caught that introspective moment. Vlad is, for all intents and purposes, a murder hufflepuff. He’s got this undying, unwavering loyalty to the creatures he cares about, including Alice. But if you are not on that list, woe be unto you. I always wanted him to be difficult and he is not good, by any stretch, but I didn’t want him to be toxic. In part because, I don’t think I’ve got the stones to handle it. I mean I hate Mike in your story, but I’m in awe of how you can write that character. I don’t know how to do it without them becoming a cliche, too boring to really engender any visceral dislike.

      -So Vlad is not upset about being called a fuckboy because patriarchy, he is literally like: WHY THIS MODERN VOCABULARY THOUGH? And he’s just beginning to process how much pain and trauma he’s inflicted on others. He feels guilt, but he also kind of doesn’t because: see murder hufflepuff explanation. Vlad’s got some processing to do, and some trauma to unpack. And he will unpack it.

      -Ooohh boy will he ever.

      -Because this is a romance and I wanted to turn some tropes on their head, it’s important to me that Vlad is wrangling with all the stuff that is normally assigned to the heroine (I mean, romance has come a long way. The things I love to read are all lighting those tropes on fire, but still). He’s the one feeling insecure after sex, he worries about Alice wanting him. He’s like wholly committed and ready to settle down and be married and Alice is like: living her life. She gets to have agency and conflict and character development that is not about becoming the best partner for her romantic interest.

      -Yeah, we are speeding towards time loop confrontation. Lots of characters have mentioned feeling deja vu or strange dreams in an off-hand way. Vlad is no different. And I don’t even have to dress all these npc extras, EA DOES THE WORK FOR ME WITH THEIR TERRIBLE DEFAULT OUTFITS.

      -I am an insane person. Sometimes I’m way too ambitious. Like. I don’t know why I’m like this. I will look at the amount of cc I use just to pull off a single image and its crazy. And it will only get worse. Though one of my favorite things about simlit is seeing the variety of ways people present their images. And actually, I think the supernatural stuff can be easier because there is so much to distract the eye! Haha, I struggle with the intimate moment between two characters on a bench.

      -IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK!!!!!

      -Ugh. Yes. EVERYTHING YOU SAID ABOUT SPARK’d.

      • Dolly Llama
        August 10, 2020

        Ahh, gotcha with the not-patriarchy thing. What does he want to be called, a knave? Dude’s jealous of college and Alice isn’t even in college. He’s jealous of the idea of her going to college; ah, murderpuffs.

        But you certainly have the knowledge to write a convincing toxic character—both our stories are not so much “can a man ever truly redeem himself after stealing a loaf of bread?” but more “well, I mean, does the guy seem to actually care about his family eating or is he making the bread thing about himself?” My secret is that I’m somehow able to empathize with Mike no matter how abhorrent his behavior gets. I don’t know how the empath end game became empathizing with people with no empathy, but here we are.

        I feel like knowing romance tropes would make this even better—as-is, I’m taking everything in stride perhaps too much. It makes total sense even without that context: Vlad’s focused on the relationship because the stuff he has to work on relates to interacting with others, while Alice is on a self-discovery mission. Bam! So I do appreciate the in-depth analysis here.

        I mean, I guess “fuck the pictures do more words” fits into the variety of ways people present their images. Learning how to screenshot was pretty sink-or-swim for this auditory nerd trying to cram herself into a visual community.

        NPC extras are just the cherry on top for every story. But also VLAD BLOODVEIN!

      • feroshgirl
        August 11, 2020

        ::tries so hard not to overwhelm you with 80,000 pages of nerd theory on romance novel tropes::

        It’ll be a little bit before Bloodvein shows back up but man, do I have some outfits planned for him.

        See! This is what I’m talking about. That’s why Mike is not just a cutout. You do write him with empathy, which is why my hate is so real. I feel emotionally exhausted by him even though he is a fictional character. I’ve got some toxic characters but I have not trusted myself to be in their heads, so they are foils.

        Nothing like a little murderpuff jealousy.

        Also, finally caught up on the forums. I’m so hella late to the game, but every once and awhile I wonder if it’s worth starting a reading group for some deep cuts. But I don’t even know anymore. I’m beginning to think of Simlit less as a one big community, and more like a collection of a bunch of little communities who are all doing their own thing…

        I never think of your writing as intimidating. I think of it as one hell of a ride. My brain always feels scooped out. But in a good way. The best way.

      • Dolly Llama
        August 12, 2020

        Bleargh, I’m sorry you had to read that thing on the forums. I really regret saying anything.

        I feel emotionally exhausted by him even though he is a fictional character.

        BEST. COMPLIMENT. EVER. I’m laughing over here because I’ve dealt with so many Mikes that when the time comes to write him, I flatly transcribe what comes out of my brain, totally emotionless, thinking “yep… sounds about right.”

        Don’t think I’ve forgotten about The Bernard Fight. I never will. You can expect some cross-universe fanart once I figure out how to draw, for sure. It’s getting there.

  • lonecat82
    August 20, 2020

    Caleb and Deacon and just too perfect together. I couldn’t stop laughing, and Deacon’s facial expressions were just the greatest. I am shipping them as the next crime-fighting duo, lol.

    And I love the way you are portraying Alice and Vlad’s relationship. In a lot of romance (though I think this trope is changing, which is a good thing) the love-interests get together and then that’s it, the end, happily ever after and all that. But it’s nice that Vlad and Alice are, sort of, together, but are also trying to figure out how who they are individually and what they mean to the other person. There’s still a lot of romantic tension between them.

    • feroshgirl
      August 20, 2020

      Thank you! Same, I’m glad the trope is changing. For me, the interesting stuff is not just that they get together, I want to know how they make it work. The messiness of trying to hold onto yourself while being with someone else because falling in love is not the answer to anything lol. Squee! I’m so glad the romantic tension is still there. I’ve been trying to evolve their relationship so they don’t have the same arguments while also trying to have an element of mystery 🙂

      Deacon and Caleb are 100% my little faves. Oh the things I have planned for them…

  • snickerbubble
    August 20, 2020

    The dark skintones are so blotchy and ashy I can’t believe someone okay’d it for them to be released like that.

    While I hope we can get more skintones for all races, I definitely think those darker ones need an overhaul ASAP. I’m not sure about makeup as I’ve managed to get most of the makeup to work on my darker sims but it might be a matter of preference. For that I think they should be giving us more makeup anyway considering it’s sorely lacking in that department.

    I just want skintones that aren’t just….tan.

    • feroshgirl
      August 20, 2020

      THIS. Ugh. Same, same, same. I’ve got a set of make-up looks that work for darker sims, but its a really limited number so it’s frustrating. I mean if they just made a slider, we could adjust them ourselves and get the full variety of tones for lots of different kinds of people. But they are promising a fix so we shall see…

      • snickerbubble
        August 20, 2020

        Heaven forbid they pull the thumb out of their ass to give us a slider or colour wheel lol

  • Yimiki
    February 24, 2021

    Okay, Deacon’s disembodied head on top of the closet talking to Caleb and making silly faces made me laugh way too much 😂 and them working together with his headless body to take down the basilisks omg. This is golden. I think this might be my favourite part yet. 🤣

    “What, in the name of all that is sensible, is a fuckboy?”
    Bwahahaha 🤣

    “To be a god is to choose, to make one thing possible and not the other.”
    That… is exactly what she is doing here, Vlad. She is making diplomacy possible and banning violence. But because it’s not your preferred option, you don’t like it. *grumbles angrily* I mean, I know he’s scared of this going sideways and wants to kill everything and anything that can pose a threat to Alice, but still. That was a tad hypocritical, Vladdy. Not that Alice is making it any easier for you. They keep misunderstanding each other. How they both blame it on their horizontal tango session made me chuckle, though.

    • feroshgirl
      February 24, 2021

      HAHAHAHA Listen, if I have one goal in life, it’s getting a 600+ year old vampire to use the word “fuckboy.”

      I had so much fun writing that Deacon/Caleb scene. I’ve got some adventures planned for them in book two because I just cannot get enough of them and the jokes write themselves.

      Oh, only a tad hypocritical? haha. Yes! Vlad and Alice are both…er…strong-willed. They haven’t quite figured out how to communicate with each other yet. In my mind, a romance is not just: will they/won’t they, it’s also what happens next. The hard stuff is how to work with your immortal vampire/living embodiment of Fear Itself boyfriend to efficiently eliminate some murder happy basilisks who want to manipulate your victory in a baking contest while also respecting each other’s point of view 😂

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