Chapter 39, Part 2: Marching Orders

Notes:

Happy Valentine’s Day! This is the right chapter for a day of luvvvvvvv.

Grim’s eyepatch is back. Is it on the wrong eye? Honest to god, I have no idea anymore.

Selvadorada, The Library of Magic

William

“These are the gods,” Morgyn repeated. “The first thing you should know is that there are less now than there used to be.”

William didn’t interrupt. He was trying too hard to wrap his mind around this new piece of knowledge.

“They live in the Elder Realms, each a master wielder of one of the nine schools of magic. From there, they are meant to rule as a collective, but you know how these things go.”

The gods as William knew them looked so ordinary—so mortal. But here, in these portraits, they appeared perfectly preternatural. The paintings almost seemed alive, and a voice in the back of his head whispered: You were in always danger, even before you knew what the danger was.  

“Know thy enemy starts here, vampire,” Morgyn turned to him, “Are you sure you’re ready?”

William squared his shoulders. He was the Last Great Knight of Windenburg. Even if there was one god he wished he could banish from memory, this was his task. 

“Tell me everything.”

Windenburg Woods, Dryad Territory

Vlad

Vlad stood in the doorway, watching Caleb examine Gwendolyn’s broken dollhouse. “Thank you. I know you did not wish to return, but for Gwendolyn, there is nothing I would not ask.”

Caleb turned and shifted uncomfortably. “It’s fine. I want to help. I knew what you were asking and that once family was involved, you would be…” his expression faltered, “You’ve always been like this, haven’t you?”

Caleb had asked some version of this question over the years, and Vlad had always dodged it.

“I’ve been thinking about him,” the vampire continued, “It’s ridiculous, really, all that damn zombie’s fault. But, when I look back on things I’ve…I’ve always wondered. And knowing how you are…”

He let the statement linger. 

“Your father believed us equals,” Vlad began, “He told me so one night, even as he gambled away your fortune. I, who had starved and begged and suffered every indignity to save my family, and that useless charlatan dared to say we were alike.”   

“Did you kill him?”

“Yes,” Vlad forced out, letting the truth hang in the air, sharp and dangerous. 

Caleb folded his arms. “And yet you still came for me and Lilith.” 

“Yes,” Vlad echoed, quieter this time. 

When they were first thrown back together in this house, Vlad dreamed of forgiveness. But now, that seemed infinitely selfish. More important than forgiveness was stopping Caleb from continuing this cycle.

“Something has to give. I suffered, and so I brought suffering to you. But I fear—I’ve always feared—that you will carry it forward to fill some hole I’ve opened up inside you.”

Caleb looked away.

“Passing on the sins—my sins,” he corrected, “It will not cleanse you. You will carry it with you the whole of your immortal life and you won’t just be nothing, you’ll have nothing.”

“I can’t ask your forgiveness; I likely don’t deserve it. But, Caleb, know this, even before the curse, turning you and Lilith haunted me. I never made another creature until now. And I swear I—”

Caleb stopped him, “I don’t think Gwendolyn was made with anything less than your absolute love and devotion.” 

Vlad let out a breath.

“My father was a monster too,” he continued, “A different kind of monster than Josef, but hateful and terrible all the same. His words were his weapons. And his neglect. He was a lousy, venal creature, and the only reason I ever suspected you did it was that after I was turned, I went back to do it myself.”

Vlad’s head jerked back. “You never told me that!”

“You are not the only one for whom familial relationships are complicated.”

The tension between them lessened, and Vlad dared to crack a smile. “Yes, well, let us hope that Gwendolyn sees fit not to continue our tradition.”

Caleb laughed and Vlad crossed to examine the dollhouse. Perhaps he could repair it before the tiny terror woke up?

Behind him, the younger vampire cleared his throat, “You know you don’t have to invalidate what Alice wants from her family. She can be loved and liked. Her relationships—Gwendolyn’s relationships—they needn’t be as broken as ours.” 

Of course, Caleb heard their argument. “And what would you have me do?” 

“Get to know them. Make them like you. You can be quite charming when you try.”  

“For a creature that hates me, you are very full of compliments,” Vlad grumbled.

“I don’t hate you,” Caleb maintained, a gleam in his eye. “I’m angry, and I would very much like to put a dagger through your chest a few more times, but I don’t hate you.”

Vlad rolled up his sleeves and cocked an eyebrow, “Alice said she needs an hour. I think stabbing me in the chest a few more times can be arranged.”

    10 comments
  • ThePlumbob
    February 16, 2021

    Elder Realms? Nine schools of magic? This pleases my inner nerd. I feel like I should be taking notes, though.

    Caleb and Vlad needed this conversation. I know I talked a lot about Vlad’s groth in the last few chapters, but Caleb has grown too, though only recentl. At least, his breakthroughs have been pretty recent, I don’t know how long it took to get the pieces in the right spot. He could still benefit from more time alone, I think. When the iminent danger has passed, he’ll go do his own thing, I think. I hope. “It haunted me before I’d even done it” is a shit excuse, let’s not beat around the bush. But I’ll move past it because Vlad is actually different now.

    “I’m angry, and I would very much like to put a dagger through your chest a few more times, but I don’t hate you.” Aww, family 😀

    Oh, the chick that look she was going to rip Akira open and posses his organs was just a random chick? That’s a relief. May have even been helpful, then. Haha, very fun. Suuuure, Akira, sure.

    Alice is puking again? Veeery interesting… Haha, the picture of Alice’s family and all the supernaturals looks like a really crappy board meeting or something. Nobody wants to be there 😀 Ok, Alice just bossed that haha. Her family have a lot to process. I do feel for them.

    Ooh, we’re finally onto the gods. Elmyra does look like Jimena! She had the owl before? In Gwendolyn form, or before the Owl was Gwendolyn? Hmm… “These gods are psychopaths.” I mean, what about the company you’ve been keeping yourself, William? 😀 I’m sure we’ve heard about SOmnus before but I can’t remember when. Nyx and Sol sound new to me, well, not new, ancient, obviously, btu I don’t recall them being mentioned before. Oh, not new to William, though! Huh.

    “There are worse fates.” Ominous. I wonder what Morgyn is referring to here. DO they know somebody that had a worse fate? Did they have a worse fate? Or did they become a lesser version of themselves through “death”?

    Lol, I think Alice’s family have had quite the information overload. If I were them I’d be requesting to sit on the sofa and watch Teletubbies right about now. Right, so one of the baking contest judges was supposed to be the owl… or were they? Might have very well been a ploy all along. How does one become the owl anyway? Can it be determined, or is it sheer coinicdence? Alice seems to have only become a god by sheer coinicdence – though things are not always what they seem, I know. In any case, I’d imagine the fates think it can be influenced, whether that’s true or not.

    Ah, Alice’s mother is brilliant, I love how she just went with approaching all the unknonws as a math equation to cope with all this intel. That’s bloody genius. One heck of a lady.

    Oh, Akira and Miko are not officially divorced? That makes sense, he did not take well to her calling him her ex husband. I bet she’ll have a meltdown when she finds out he filed for divorce. Well, after she gets out of her current being kidnapped somehwhere in time predicament, that is, haha.

    “Sulis would not deign to come to the mortal world” That’s kind of interesting. Does that play a role in when the likes of Phobos make an appearance? Vlad being mostly Vlad, but not whenever Phobos ventures into the world of humans? Oh yeah, gloss over the Ben thing. But Ben is not a god either anymore, hence no picture… When is Alice getting her painting?

    Oof, I love the contras between Akira’s face and his words when he claims he’s “happy.” Well, love is not the right word. But I have an appreciation for things like that. Poor Titania. She is far too sober and has enough of her own marriage problems to be dealing with this crap.

    Ok, so I knew Morgyn is pure magic, that much does not surprise me, but I don’t know if I full comprehend. They are what was left of a god that “died,” i.e. became a lesser thing? Is that right? I feel like wine was ot a good choice for reading this information packed chapter 😀 Also, does that mean this is the same case for L. Faba, since I think you mentioned she’s pure magic too? In which case, which “dead” gods are we talking? Ben’s parents maybe? ANyway, that was a lot of information! I may need to come back to this. Looks like William is also not capable of taking more of it in and has therefore opted for a smooch instead. I approve. It’s interesting if you think about the tit for tat relationship they had earlier in the season, considering Morgyn just ofloaded a great deal of intel, they should be in for a titilating night in return. Which I guess is what they were going for, lol. All’s well that ends well 😀

    • feroshgirl
      February 16, 2021

      OMG YES TO THE SMOOCHES!!!!

      I am drinking wine as I reply to this, so you know, excuse me if I make no sense lol.

      Yes, Vlad and Caleb definitely needed that moment! But the work remains. Caleb still needs to spend some time on his own and “I was haunted by the idea of murdering you so um…we good?” is a total cop-out. I mean, these issues ain’t gonna be solved in Book One, that’s for sure!

      Yeah, Alice is puking again. I’m sure it’s *fine.*

      Her family is the best though, right? They are really taking this in stride, even though it’s a lot. I mean, once the immediate danger passes, we’ll see how well that goes. There is A LOT of things they have not even touched. I’m sure resentments and conflict won’t fester 🙂 ::evil laugh::

      Yeah, I think Miko has been taking Akira granted for a long time and he is finally saying enough. Granted, he’s saying “enough” in a self-destructive spiral but I’m sure it’s *fine.* Hehe. What will Miko do when she finds out she’s divorced? I will confess that I have already written that very scene and….well…spoilers. hehe.

      Okay, let me get to the MEAT. This chapter was bananas and I packed in so much. As you can see, this is the point in the story where I’m like: WHY DID I MAKE THIS STORY SO BIG?!?!?!?!

      You are right about William calling the Gods psychopaths lol. I mean, I’ll just say “Vladislaus” and leave it there.

      – Somnus is the one who took Miko a few chapters back, so I’m sure that’s gonna be fine and not end up being a giant violent confrontation with Akira 🙂

      – Sol has been masquerading at Bailee Lunsford in the contest. Nyx is her wife and was making out with her onstage during the auditions.

      – Omar has been masquerading as Dylan, which is why William is not keen to let on how “well” he knows him.

      – Yes, Sulis would not deign to come to the mortal realm but that’s just because she’s a God who hates mortals. All I can say is that Morgyn knows why and like always, they are keeping secrets. Hehe.

      – In RE: Phobos and The Owl — I sort of took some inspiration from the movie The Santa Clause. Tim Allen (ugh) becomes Santa, he even gets some Santa’s physical characteristics, but he’s still his character with all his life experiences and memories. And when he is done “being” Santa, he can pass it on to someone else who will then “be” Santa.” Vlad and Gwendolyn have become Fear and The Owl, they’ve even gotten some characteristics (like Vlad’s white hair and Gwendolyn’s eyes) but they are still themselves. If Vlad or Gwendolyn’s bodies were to die, Fear and The Owl could just hop into different people and they would become Fear and The Owl. That’s how Phobos has been around forever, and how Elmyra owned The Owl but it was not Gwendolyn (no wonder she was so desperate for her creepy lookalike daughter to get her back).

      – Oh Alice is def getting a painting, just as soon as they get around to taking down Ben’s portrait.

      – L. Faba, Morgyn, and the other nine magics can all take on physical form and they are connected to the gods that wield them. They would feel the loss of a god like the loss of a family member. In terms of worse fates, well, you can be immortal and not die but be tortured for eternity. Or you could give up your godhood and become mortal or some other kind of supernatural being and then maybe a really selfish god takes control of your spirit and tortures you for eternity 😉

      – WHY DID I MAKE SUCH A COMPLICATED MYTHOLOGY?!?!?!?!?! lololol

      • ThePlumbob
        February 17, 2021

        Oooh I did not recognise Deacon/Omar, aaah.

        Haha The Santa Clause. But yes, that’s sort of how I’ve been understanding it – hence my musings if the owl was already Gwendolyn or not when Elmyra had it – so that makes sense, I think you conveyed that well, even though it’s such a complex web! 🙂

        That is so interesting about the magics and their physical form. I wonder which god wields untamed magic. Considering what spells are in that schools, it feels like it WOULD be the God of Death. Would also make sense with Morgyn’s comment about there being worse fates. Oof, would that mean Morgyn and Alice are linked now?

        Oh, I forgot to mention in my last comment because I was all dizzy from the god info; speaking of smooches, I absolutely love the line “The Sage kissed the way they moved through the world, all danger and grace and sly assurances.” That was dope!

      • feroshgirl
        February 17, 2021

        THANK YOU! Hahaha, I was like: how to describe Morgyn?

        Are Morgyn and Alice linked now…::looks directly into camera::

        I always get myself into trouble replying to you LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  • Dolly Llama
    February 21, 2021

    Holy in the WHAT?!!? AAHHHHH. AHHHHH. Five more paragraphs of screaming over how great all the god portraits are. AAHHHHHH. THIS MUST HAVE TAKEN FOREVER. The character design! The Photoshop! But then it went all the way back around again and now I’m mad that something might have happened to Sulis, because she’s basically the Goddess of Calculus and her hat is dope and her everything else is dope and I love her and I LOVE HER and DAMMIT, WHAT HAPPENED TO HER.

    An unsung hero of this chapter is Vlad’s red pants, and they would have come in handy if Caleb had wanted to stab Vlad in the thighs during the event Caleb’s therapist is definitely going to hear about. And Gwendolyn’s chalkboard. Dammit, Deacon, just, dammit. Save some likability for everyone else.

    So the poses at that table scene: those laying-down-the-rules poses are so Alice, for some reason I can’t quite place. Clearly she was born to yell and bang on the table. Valeria, though. The death glare?! How did you stop laughing long enough to post that one screenshot of her glowering over the table?? I keep scrolling down to that one picture and laughing my ass off. This is all the motivation I need to make a Valeria-inspired Shade pose pack. She’s going to need it.

    (Okay, spoiling one more Lobo burn from an upcoming chapter: “He’s Starlight Express personified.” And you know the reason it wasn’t “‘The Rap’ from Starlight Express” is that this character walked out after the first act.)

    The Morgyn/William interaction scene has a few notable quotes, so I’ll knock them out all at once before saying anything that requires my brain to be on.

    “Do not mistake my liking you for weakness.”: (proper middle school ooooOOOOOOOooooOOOOH)

    “Not old, infinite.”: Infinity/2 + 7 > 500, just saying.

    “And he could not stop wondering what Morgyn would taste like.”: …what their blood would taste like, right? Blood? Because he’s a vampire? Maybe saliva? Tell me there’s still part of my mind that hasn’t been filthified.

    Holy crap, it’s Dylan! Omar had the right idea with this disguise stuff. He nailed it. Who would suspect an academic would have time to do a little soul tormenting on the side? That’s what’s fun about BBD, you can maybe be vaguely suspicious of someone but it’s not always clear what they’ll turn out to be.

    Wait, but… Ben… so does Alice somewhat have control over Morgyn now? Okay, I feel like this is answering or at least partway addressing questions I should have asked, like why Ben needed a mortal conduit in the first place when it seems like everyone else is just a straight-up god with no mortal form. And if he obtained his god powers through unconventional means, it’s possible the Owl could remove them—and now it’s becoming vital to understand how the Owl, Fear, etc., were made in the first place. Ben, what did you do.

    Given his past instruction on Death God Studies, though, he seems like one of those profs who is brilliant in their subject area but who can’t teach for shit.

    Sounds like if Owlness is passable, it could be that Marjorie was previously the owl, and now Gwendolyn is. I’ll take that for now. Plus also I approve of the Miss-Hell-distracting heist. Could be that Miss Hell knowing Alice’s identity (dammit, non-hot-chip Bernard) could complicate things, but eh.

    (Dammit Claud—er, Akira. But, aww! Look how happy he is!)

    • feroshgirl
      February 23, 2021

      THANK YOU! The god portraits were insane and took forever but holy shit it was so much fun. Also, I’m very extra so I loved every second. That snake crown is EVERYTHING right? The Goddess of Calculus is *fine.* Don’t worry, you’ll meet her soon.

      Okay, well worry a little bit.

      Listen, if Deacon isn’t allowed to touch the chalkboard, he isn’t allowed, okay? Those are just the rules. As is the fact that Caleb’s therapist will have to hear about the surprisingly healing stabbing session and why I put Vlad’s pale ass in bright red pants hahahahaha.

      Alice is very good at bossing and yelling! She is not afraid to bang on the table! Valeria is consistently not here for anyone’s shit, even Vlad’s. I just started learning how to make poses but I am begging you, SHADE pose pack lol.

      (This is the sickest burn. I really need to know this certain character’s thoughts on Phantom of the Opera)

      LOLOLOL listen, they could not get into the math because they were too busy trying danger-kiss. I love that Dylan’s disguise works because he is working on his thesis, he doesn’t have time for soul tormenting. Bailee, on the other hand, who knows what the homemakers get down to? haha! Glad you liked that reveal.

      Does Alice Morgyn belong to Alice? Oh I cannot wait for you to read an upcoming scene about this. Yes. Early on in the story, people kept saying Alice was bound to The Owl. It was through untamed magic, which was part of the original magic that made The Owl. It’s why she was able to call it into Gwendolyn.

      You are making good observations. I’m going to try desperately to keep my mouth shut so as not to spoil anything. Love that you asked that question: Ben, what did you do?

      Indeed.

      I LOVE A HEIST. I am crazy and maybe I just had too many quarantine rewatches of Ocean’s 8 but it is important to have a heist lol.

      Oh yes, Akira is definitely “happy.”

      • Dolly Llama
        February 24, 2021

        Oh, I forgot that Dylan was a grad student and not an assistant prof. But at that point it might break down, since writing grants would take a lot fewer words for someone who has the power to torment souls.

        (I’ll just wait patiently here for the crap-Ben-pulled reveal and also the poses you made)

        (and to see if despite her dislike of mortals, Valeria is the only person Sulis gets along with because please, oh my god please, oh my god they can combine powers to glower at everyone until the world dissolves)

      • feroshgirl
        February 24, 2021

        WRITING GRANTs WOULD TAKE FEWER WORDS FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS THE POWER TO TORMENT SOULS.

        God. That is a whole mood hahahahahahahaha

        (Do I sense Valeria/Sulis side adventures in book two? In a word: yes.)

  • Yimiki
    March 25, 2021

    My comments are slowly turning into multi-page novels. Forgive.

    I really liked that conversation between Vlad and Caleb. There’s so much hurt between the two of them but they’re… I wouldn’t say healing just yet, but a lot of the bad blood that they had before is gone. I hope that they’ll eventually reach the point of being all right together. Hmm… I wonder if Vlad will actually tell Caleb where Lilith is once he thinks Caleb won’t repeat his mistakes.

    Stress barfing, huh? Alice the God still has a very mortal body, and I don’t know how “alive” not-quite-a-vampire Phobos is. I wonder if it is what I think it is, or really just stress barfing.

    Way to go, Alice! Nervousness aside she properly took charge there, and even got her dad to take back his talk of calling the military. So far, so good! 😁 I love how everything is starting to come together, slowly but surely.

    I’m so impressed by the portraits of all the gods! I think this is the longest I’ve ever spent just gawking at your screenshots. They all look so powerful and dangerous. I love how you’ve made them masters of the schools of magic like D&D has and combined them with the magic of TS4 – I play too so it instantly clicked in my mind and now I want to know absolutely everything about every single one of them.

    “Elmyra wanted a child who would be in her image exactly. When she found a mortal she liked, she paid a witch to erase his face. She keeps him around in a state of suspended animation in case the desire for more children strikes her.”
    Dear lord. That is horrifying.

    True… how can Majorie be the Owl if Gwendolyn is? “it must be earned or freely given”, was it? They’ve definitely earned Gwendolyn by taking her in, rescuing her from the witches and suffering her temper tantrums while she comes to terms with herself. So… how can it be Majorie too? 🤔

    Oooooh filing for divorce. That’s a statement all right. I wonder what Miko would say if she knew. Yknow, if she wasn’t stuck and in dire need of rescue.

    Sulis has other concerns than the end of the world and the all-powerful Owl of Undoing? Why is Morgyn looking away with that weird expression? What secrets – gah I need to know xD

    “I am not a wielder of untamed magic; I am untamed magic.”
    Oh hell. Is that why Morgyn is so sad here? Were they close to Marshala, seeing how she was Morgyn’s “wielder”? Also, then L Faba and Simeon are personifications of their respective magicks too, right? I wonder how they feel about the gods that “wield” them…

    Oh, Akira. T.T My heart breaks for him. He’s so hurt and broken and lost. Damn it, Miko. Just… damn it.

    Whoa, Ben in his portrait looks amazing. And scary. Amazingly scary. Am just as overwhelmed with information as William right now but whew, that kiss 🙈 Excuse me while I go fan myself in the corner and calm down.

    • feroshgirl
      March 29, 2021

      LOVE novel comments BTW. It makes me feel better about the fact that I do that all the time. Sometimes, I make myself edit it down to just a paragraph bc I’m just yelling at myself to stop being so extra.

      Vlad and Caleb healing has begun! Yes, I think it would be good if Vlad shared that information now, whether Caleb is in the right place to not make Vlad’s mistakes…welp…we’ll see hehe.

      Stress barfing. Again. Think of the most obvious answer and then sit back and watch as Alice struggles to come to every other conclusion except that one. Alice is immortal now, but she wasn’t when her and Vlad began their…umm…activities. And you are asking very good questions about not-quite-a-vampire Phobos. YOU ARE ASKING QUESTIONS THESE FOOLS DID NOT ASK THEMSELVES (I yell, as if I didn’t write this story lol).

      The Gods. Oh man, can I just say this took me for freaking ever and I’m so glad you loved them and thank you for seeing my D&D nerdom!!!!! Lol. I like don’t know how a magic system would work outside of D&D that is how my brain is. Umm, you are definitely going to get to know them…Elmyra is just one example of how inhuman they are so uh, buckle up.

      How can Marjorie be The Owl is Gwendolyn is? GOOD QUESTION. I wonder what happens to someone if the magic of The Owl is snatched out of their body…you know…unexpectedly.

      Oh, Sulis has some thangggggs going on. Morgyn definitely has secrets. This one is a doozy. All I can say is I’ve been hinting about the Magic HQ basement so…

      Yes! More on this soon, but Morgyn and Marshala were very close. Every magic is very close with the one who wields them. L. Faba is matched with Nyx. You haven’t met the other magics yet.

      And Simeon is a “sage in name only.” He is a very powerful witch, but he is not actual magic. No, Morgyn and L. Faba installed him as a Sage for their own reasons. Reasons that might have to do with the Magic HQ basement. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

      Me: Write a GIANT info dump chapter
      Also Me: ummm I know you’re prolly overwhelmed by details rn, here’s a kiss.

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