Chapter 43, Part 1: A Different Path to Victory

Sulani

Akira

It was strange to be in Sulani without Oberon. It was also hot as balls, and Akira regretted letting his sister talk him into leather pants. Titania was adamant that appearance was everything when it came to killing your husband’s mistress. Akira kept his mouth shut because a) his recent divorce didn’t give him a lot of moral high ground, and b) the sooner they killed Oberon’s lover, the sooner they could get on with the work of taking back their mantle. 

Thinking about his divorce drew his mind to Miko and what she’d say about their little trip. Probably nothing good. Probably she’d be disappointed. Miko might have been a Thread of Fate, but she was always horrified by the ease with which the Rushlight was willing to do violence. She didn’t have the stomach for perpetrating horrors.

Or at least, that’s what he always thought. 

She didn’t physically hurt him, though he wished she had. A wound was a pain that he understood. He could point to it and know that she caused it. But this emotional pain? It left him so jumbled up that he didn’t know where the fault began or ended—which part of it was him and which part of it was her.

He shoved those thoughts aside and hurried to catch up with Titania. The location looked just as the Book of Longings described, though Akira had been hoping “half-buried ship” was a metaphor. The place was worn down but not abandoned. A clothesline swayed gently in the stifling breeze, alongside stale-smelling water that was clearly set out for washing. 

With no warning, Titania waved her hand a sent a picnic table sailing through the air. 

“What the fuck?” Akira cried, giving her an incredulous look.

“I’m announcing our presence.”

It worked. The door swung open, and a pale vampire with dark hair shot out snarling and crouching for an attack. A lanky teenage girl, the perfect mix of Oberon and this vampire creature, ran out behind her, the look on her face shocked.  

At the sight of the girl, dread gathered in Akira’s stomach. “Tania, don’t do anything stupid.”

“I told you to stay back,” the vampire hissed at the girl, “Get inside.”

“No,” Titania purred, ignoring Akira’s warning, “Stay. It was rude of me not to introduce myself. My name is Titania Kibo, Queen of the Fae. This is my brother Akira. And we’re here because your mother fucked my husband.”

“Titania!” Akira snapped. He grabbed his sister by the arm and pulled her away. “You want to have a confrontation with his lover, fuckin’ fine. But that kid stays out of it, you hear me?”

Titania glared, but she must’ve read something in his expression because she relented. “My brother is right. The child should go inside,” she bit out.

Akira didn’t let go of her arm until he heard the screen door slam closed.

“Now,” she continued, raising a hand to conjure a bright blue spark, “About that fucking…”

It wasn’t like they didn’t know about Oberon’s love child. She just seemed like an abstract concept before. But now that Akira was standing in front of her house, about to let Titania murder her mother, he was having doubts. He needed to diffuse the situation.

“I mean, technically, it’s an unsanctioned fucking,” he called out.

Titania shot him a furious look.

“What?” he laughed, “We should be clear about why you’re upset. In fact, we should have a drink and talk about why you’re upset cause maybe she don’t know all your elaborate sex rules. Maybe this is a misunderstanding, and we can go destroy something else. Preferably something godlike and fuckin’ full of themselves.”

“I’ll destroy you!” Titania threatened.

“For what? Wanting a drink?” he teased, “I’m dying already since you got me out here in these leather pants.”

His sister gave a cry of frustration, “Why are you ruining this?” She fired off a spark in Akira’s direction, but he dodged it easily. 

Meanwhile, the vampire watched them with keen eyes. “You see what I have to deal with?” Akira shouted as Titania kicked him in the shin.

Slowly, her mouth tilted up into a lazy smile. “Oberon said you two were close. He had big plans, you know.”

“Plans,” Titania spat. “My husband was an idiot, and he did not make plans.” She crossed her arms and stared daggers.

The vampire just laughed. “I think you’d be surprised. The name’s Lilith Vatore. Would you like to come inside and have that drink?”

Elder Realms, Somnus’s Estate

Miko

“She was a marvel. She did exactly as she pleased all her life, God bless her.”

John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

“What do you mean Akira ain’t coming?” Miko shouted.

“Just what we said,” Liberty replied.

“He divorced you,” Summer explained solemnly.

“Divorce?” Miko gaped, “But that’s impossible! He never divorces me! He—”

“That’s enough!” Liberty snapped. “No, it is,” she insisted when Rory tried to stop her, “We’ve let this go on long enough. You tinkered Miko, and we let you. Pushing emotions around, manipulating them. It suited our purposes and didn’t matter, but this is the consequence.”

Miko’s cheeks burned. A denial was on the tip of her tongue, but she couldn’t bring herself to articulate it. She wasn’t trying to control anyone. Sometimes the emotions her friends felt were dangerous. Penny always wanted to chase down the witches instead of helping Alice. Mikel was so homesick when he first fell to Simnation that Miko’s nudging his emotions had been a mercy! And Akira…

A sharp pang ran through her. She never made Akira love her. Never forced him. Had she made a few minor adjustments around them? Made sure things happened in the right place at the right time? Yes. Fine. But he gave himself over free and clear. Now he was taking it back? This was how he showed the depth of his devotion?

Rory’s expression grew worried. “Rabbit—”

“I’m not your rabbit!” Miko snapped. “I’m not your anything, and I’m not going with you.”

“Not going? Like hell, you’re not going!” Liberty shouted, lunging for her. “You don’t even know how deep in you are! If you’d just wake up and—”

“Liberty,” it was Rory who pulled her back, “We can’t,” he soothed, his face stricken, “It has to be her choice to leave this place. That’s the only way.”

The look in his eyes was pleading, but Miko ignored it. “Just go.”


Her visit from The Fates was a reminder that she wasn’t completely defenseless. In fact, she was more than “not defenseless”; she was powerful. 

Which was why she tore off that dress.

And wore whatever the fuck she wanted to dinner.

“That’s what you choose to put on your body?” Somnus sneered. “Do you know I’ve killed creatures for smaller infractions?” 

“But you won’t kill me,” Miko said calmly. With a slight flick of her pinky finger, she sent a cloud of sadness through him. “You mentioned a follower earlier. Who was he?” 

“Bjorn Bjersten. He was devout. Loyal.” Suddenly, Somnus hunched forward, his voice breaking, “I have no doubt he went to his grave defending my vision.”

Now, a little anger…

“But in truth, he was a sycophant. And too self-important to take proper precautions. I warned him not to get too close, not before we completed our work!”

And a touch of confidence…

“It is no matter. I have many followers and many tools, and I will achieve my aims.”

“I see.”

“No, you don’t, you don’t see anything because you don’t know anything,” Somnus growled.

Miko smiled sweetly and let more of her magic unfurl. A little chagrin could go a long way.

He froze and then shook his head, looking embarrassed. “I’m sorry, that was…uncalled for. I don’t know what came over me.”

“It’s alright,” Miko replied, “Just so you know, I can’t stand rudeness.”

Somnus gave her an appraising look, “I’ll remember that.”

A thrill ran through her. Akira always looked at her with love, with reverence, but Somnus? He was looking at her like she was a force to be reckoned with. Maybe he knew she was using magic; maybe he didn’t. Either way, Miko decided she didn’t want to let that feeling go. The Fates were retiring; the future was up for grabs. Her future was up for grabs. She’d spent a thousand timelines playing savior to the God of Death, and it always ended badly. Maybe it was time she tried something else. 

“So,” she said casually, “You got many tools and many followers, and now you got me. What’s our plan?”  

Our plan?” At first Somnus looked like he was going to argue. Miko was prepared to use more of her magic if necessary, but he made the decision on his own.

“Our plan. Yes, I imagine you do have some insights that would be helpful.” His mouth curved upwards, “Let me pour you some more nectar, and we can talk.”

Miko nodded and handed him her glass. 

    3 comments
  • ThePlumbob
    June 6, 2021

    Oh I know what you mean. I think the further you get in writing a story, the more self-critical you become as well. But you’ve done it now, you’ve finished book 1 *grabs pom-poms* ANd I have catching up to do!

    I like how even though we haven’t seen heeps of Alice interacting with her family thorughout the seasons up until recently, it’s clear how different her relatiosnhip with each of her parents is. She always seems to mellow out a bit when she talks to her dad, like at the beginning of this chapter, or way back when she talked to her dad on the phone. It almost doesn’t matter what he says, but it gives her that little boost she needs.

    “Tempting as it was to have her parents’ disapproval focused on someone who wasn’t her, Alice didn’t have the heart to set her brother up.” Way to jump into conclussions there, Alice. I’d like to think the parents would hear Maverick out. They’ve certainly given Alice and all of her cummulative weirdness she has going on in her life a fair hearing, so why not let Maverick make his case. But no, Alice is going to make the judgement for him *grumbles* Alice really rubs me the wrong way sometimes. Which is weird because 90% of the time she is likeable, but those 10% (like when she screwed Penny over)… they worry me.

    I think she should stll try to bake a damn good cake, for the hell of it. I mean, the show is televised. Still need to make it look somewhat believable. I’ve known people be shoe in for a job and completely tank interviews, and then be surprised they didn’t get the job. Though this is slightly different, of course 😀

    “She grasped the politics of godhood, or at least, she had a keen understanding of reality TV which really was the same thing.” LOL! I love that line! Too good 😀 Sooo… Morgyn not only wants to destroy Gwen, but also get rid of Vlad. Yep, I’m sure that will get them brownie points with William, sure. How about you focus on your own ill-fated relationship there, Morgyn?

    Oooh. The way Vlad called Morgyn’s plan for the owl unsatisfactory was chilling. Go Vlad. He went with the whole less is more vibe in thata exchange and I think it really delivered. It was fun to see Morgyn squirm. (Side note, I often find it difficult to immerse myself in stories that feature Morgyn because my version of them is so prevalent in my head, but the way you write them is so distinct I’ve never had that issue with BBD. Which probably sounds weird, but just to clarify is intended as a compliment!) Anyway, as for Vlad’s threat about how his love for William wouldn’t stop him. I reckon he’s bluffing. At least, it’s in direct conflict with what he told Alice in the past when she questioned if she could override his judgement when he was Phobos. So he must be lying in one of those instances. In any case, while I’d like to think he’d take William’s feelings into consideration before acting, depending on Morgyn’s own actions William may very well be swayed to approve of disposing of Morgyn if Morgyn’s not careful… but I feel like I’m just repeating myself at this point 😀

    Yay, Akira and Titania, I’ve missed them! So let’s join them on a casual murder quest, lol. Ooh, it’s Lilith! About time she made an appearance. Exciting!

    Oh, and just as I got excited about Lilith we cut to Miko. Ugh. It’s funny how she used to be one of my favourites and now every time I see her makes me roll my eyes. This chapter not being an exception. The way she’s shocked about Akira divorcing her… what did she think it would take? A couple more thousand timelines? She’s the definition of taking things for granted. Ugh. “Sometimes the emotions her friends felt were dangerous.” Errrrrmn, you might want to start closer to home, Miko, because it’s your bloody emotions that have put a god war into motion. Gah!

    Ok, it was really interesting to see her use her magic on Somnus in action. And wow, how telling was that exchange over the meal. So… she never really loved Akira, did she? Miko gets off of being loved and desired, but that’s all that really matters to her. That’s why kira cheating was such betrayal. He could never redeem himself in her eyes because she didn’t want him to, all she wanted was the constant adoration, and she realised she’d get an indefinite supply of that if he’s on a constant quest for forgiveness. Damn. Now I like her even less. Oh well. Lol. I guess there’s a sliver of a chance this is all just denial. But I’m not holding my breath.

    OMG Transmutation is a lot of fun, I love the way his mind wildly wanders around. It’s very relatable, actually. This is exactly how random the mind is, except that you rarely see it in fiction because it doesn’t read neatly. But what a tease, Transmutation gives us so much lore but barely any at the same time. What’s the difference between a witch and a sorceress? I need to know!

    So Omar made a basic white cake before he knew he would not get the owl. That’s playing to expectations. Come to think of it, why was it Alice that won and not Vlad? Arguably it was more so Vlad who brought Gwendolynn into their lives, Alice is still catching up within that dynamic. Is it because a god had to win, I wonder?

    Aaand again, nobody’s giving Maverick any consideration. Do they want Maveric to betray them down the line? It’s like… theres a parallel between Alice’s one track thinking about Miss Hell regardless of what her brother is expressing and Morgyn’s one track thinking about the Owl regardless of William. They’re so zoned in on themselves and their goals and it makes them completely disregard those they claim to care about. Which is precisely what makes the likes of Penny and William so refreshing.

    Oh jeez I’ve rambled quite a bit here, oops. Especially considering that half of this novel-length comment is ranting, haha.

    • feroshgirl
      June 7, 2021

      It’s okay to rant! I know I do so all the time and am convinced these damn characters can hear me. Yeah, I definitely felt like this last stretch of BBD was the hardest and my inner critic was on her bullshit full-time. Sigh. But it’s finished! Yes! And despite all my claims of taking a break, I’m pretty deep into outline Book Two. It’s actually been fun to spin out ideas without any parameters. At some point, I’ll scale it down to something…”earth-sized.” lol. But onto your comments!

      Okay, your response to Alice always delights me. I mean, 85% of the time she is cool, but she is a bit self-absorbed and stubborn and I love that you take her to task over it. Although in her defense, I’ll say she is trying! And I think she’s evolved, especially with the level of things thrown at her. Still, I think our God of Death has some lessons to learn.

      Gah, I’m glad you loved that Vlad/Morgyn scene. I rewrote it a million times trying to get it down to something terrifying polite and chilling. I was hoping the bright sunlight and beautiful setting would make it feel more tense, not less lol. And yes, Morgyn has never met a situation that they couldn’t use to distract from their own failings lol. We shall see how that plays out. Has Phobos scared them so much they’ll leave Gwendolyn alone and focus on William? Hehe…maybe.

      Or maybe not.

      I’m glad my Morgyn feels distinct! FWIW I feel this way when I read my characters in other stories but I’ve been delighted to see all the ways different authors interpret them. I feel like BBD Morgyn and your Morgyn would be good friends, but also the world would not survive their egos existing in the same space and time.

      Oh and in RE: Vlad’s threat…I don’t think he’s lying. In this scenario, he is referencing Morgyn doing something that would cause the death of Alice or Gwendolyn and those are the two things keeping him in check. But even if Alice was around, they agreed she wouldn’t control him and even if she did, she could unwittingly allow him to unleash holy hell because he is free to interpret her commands (Grim has also warned her about this). In book two we’ll learn what Phobos is and…uh…I think it will make things much clearer…also maybe be way more cause for worry lol.

      Akira and Titania Casual Murder Quest is now officially how I’m referring to their story arc hahahahahaha.

      Oh man, I’m sorry about Miko. You are so right. I started out thinking they had an epic love story but Miko evolved and…yeah…we’ll have to see what awaits her in book two. Again, you’ve summed it up quite nicely!

      LOL I have a feeling Transmutation is gonna be one of my favorite characters to write. He and Penny are going to have so much fun (well…I mean…BBD type of fun so you know, chaos).

      My goodness, it’s funny how you keep being worried about people betraying Vlad and Alice down the line…you know…based on how they occasionally disregard friends, family, and team members. I mean, why worry? **maniacal laughter**

      • ThePlumbob
        June 7, 2021

        Haha I know, I’m always like “Alice is so cool and chill and handling all this new stuff so well… but also, why do you have to be such an ass sometimes Alice?” 😆

        Would the two Morgyns be friends? Neither of them is particularly good at having friends in the first place, lol. But I know what you meant! 😄

        That’s true about Vlad. I’m sure if either Alice or Gwen died, he would go beserk. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that!

        I mean, it’s not how I thought I would feel about Miko when she was first introduced, but I’m not disappointed with the journey, it’s been marvellous finding out her twistiness bit by bit. She needs a good look in the mirror, though.

        Well you know I love Penny so very excited about her and Transmutation’s story!

        Oh yeah, what’s there to be worried about, right? I’m sure I’m just being pesimistic for no reason… 😆

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