We’re still in fluff land, but I’d say this chapter is gruesome fluff—the kind you hopefully love if you read BBD. There is some angst. Sorry about that. I hope all the warm and fuzzy moments make up for it. Also kissing.
I mean, y’all know who needs to kiss, right?
Anyways, this chapter was a BEAST. I put in two action scenes, and one is a machinima. It was so much fun but also so much work. It was also building up to a huge reveal that has required me to run multiple different save files and I’m just so relieved to have it over with!
That means it’s hiatus time for the next month. I’m working on some very cool projects at work that I’m excited about, but it means my days are insanely busy. I also have some plans to make some future machinima scenes, and the coast down the hill to the final chapters is gonna require a heck ton of screenshots.
TLDR: I need some time to catch up on chapters and get ahead (I am definitely writing faster than I can pose in-game lol).
Don’t worry, I’ve got some entertaining BBD AU Halloween stuff planned starting October 1st, so there won’t be nothing happening this month. If you missed this week’s bonus post, it’s here.
Hopefully, though, this monster chapter will tide you over for a few weeks while I take a mid-season break!
Windenburg Arcade & Fun Zone
“It’s an arcade,” Alice explained, gesturing around the room.
“I understand what it is. I am not an imbecile,” Vlad snapped.
But he didn’t understand. Not really. It was too loud, too bright, with an almost disturbing number of children and teenagers. Her Majesty, as Alice had taken to calling Gwendolyn, had exacted a high price.
“Don’t snap at me,” Alice retorted, giving him a dark look, “We wouldn’t even have to be here if you would just admit it!”
“Admit what?” he asked, pretending to have no memory of his recent victory.
“Just admit you didn’t bake it!”
Alice fancied herself level-headed and laid-back, but she was, in fact, none of those things. Vlad was delighted by it. “Why, Alice Martin! Such a breach of decorum is unseemly for a god, don’t you think?”
“Honestly, Vladislaus, I will show you—”
“Hey!” Gwendolyn shouted, placing herself in between the two of them, “This is about me now!”
Alice glared, but Gwendolyn took no notice of it, grabbing Vlad’s hand to lead him across the room.
“I am appalled that you would think me capable of such a crime,” he called over his shoulder, enjoying Alice’s growl of frustration.
Gwendolyn stopped at a loud, flashing machine in the corner. Vlad could admit to being a bit hasty in his estimation of the modern era’s value. There were many things about it that he now enjoyed, though he could say, categorically, that arcades were not one of them.
“You’re orange, and I’m blue,” Gwendolyn insisted, pointing at the machine’s buttons.
“The orange controller,” she said, rolling her eyes as if it were obvious.
That he was to inhabit a small orange stick was not evident at all. Vlad frowned, “Show me how this inane contraption works, hellion, I grow weary.”
She laughed, a hysterical childlike guffaw that triggered a memory of such joy and grief; it went straight to the space that would have held his heart.
The snowfall was soft and steady by the time they started making dinner. Oberon poured ingredients into mixing bowls while Titania set the table. Akira brought more wood for the fire, and Miko surveyed it all like a general watching a battle.
After he got sober, Titania kept him embroiled in wars and conflicts. She feared he would relapse with nothing to do and no Miko to see his improvement. She wasn’t wrong, but it meant Akira became a shadow, floating from one task to the next, motivated only by the idea that his path would cross with his wife’s one day.
That day had finally arrived. Miko was here, in the flesh, and whatever anger he held for his sister melted because he was sure what she said was true. He’d need every tool in his arsenal to win back his wife.
Once they all piled enough ham onto their plates, Oberon launched into a story about Akira training baby dragons back at the palace. “Those little motherfuckers lit him up good! Came back every night lookin’ like a piece of kindling. Took him three months, but they finally learned how to fly—”
“And—” Titania started.
“And shit everywhere for miles on end,” Oberon cackled, refusing to give up the punchline on his story, “No one told him you gotta potty train ’em first. Like, come on!”
The whole table roared with laughter.
“I didn’t know you had that kind of patience,” Miko gasped, wiping a tear from her eye.
He didn’t. Not before. It was astounding what you could discover about yourself with a clear mind.
“Well, since we’ve had our customary laugh at Akira’s expense, I think it’s time we get down to business,” Titania announced.
Akira grimaced. She was about to show him up. Titania always had a head for strategy, even as a child. Centuries ago, when they first had to negotiate with Josef Straud, she was in the throne room with her parents. After one visit, she refused to return. He is immovable, she said.
Turned out, Titania was right.
“This better be good,” he grumbled, frustrated that he had no choice but to accept whatever plan she laid out.
His sister continued as if he hadn’t spoken, “Miko, you’ll be the distraction. The hermit can’t know what’s going on until the last moment. Oberon is on getaway duty. I’ll take care of the alarms. We don’t need word getting out to other hermits. You know they love a brawl. And since Akira is the fastest among us, he’ll snatch the apples from the bear.”
He rubbed his temples. Akira had forgotten about the bear. Every hermit had a robust defense system; it was the only way to keep the position. Any mortal who could manage to do it was guaranteed an immortality potion from the Granite Falls coven.
“Arrows ain’t gonna cut it, I’ll need—”
“Poison,” Titania finished. “I know. I’m already working on cooking something up.”
“Not the fire leaf stuff,” he warned, “The last time—”
“Are you ever going to let me forget that?” she snapped, stabbing her fork into her vegetables.
“No,” Akira smirked, “Ya fuck ups are few and far between, so it’s up to me to keep track of ’em.”
Oberon nearly spat out his drink out laughing so hard, but Miko just looked worried.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” she asked quietly.
“Why?” Titania purred. Her voice may have been innocent, but the look on her face was pure aggression, “Have you traveled into the future and seen that it will fail?”
“N-no,” Miko sputtered. “I just…what if Akira gets caught?”
Her face was so earnest. Akira took in the two high spots of color on her cheeks and felt his heartbeat a little faster. She did care.
“I’m not gonna fuckin’ fail,” he laughed, “What do you take me for? Two hundred?”
Miko frowned, “Two hundred? You were fast, but…” her breath caught. He knew the memory she recalled—him, running through half the fae realm to stop every clock. If I get them all before you get to the front gates, you owe me dinner, he told her. It was their first date.
“Well, if you thought I was fast then,” he replied, holding her gaze, “You should see me now.”