Chapter 43, Part 1: A Different Path to Victory

Von Haunt Estate

Vlad

Baking was not difficult. It required precision and excellent reflexes, which Vlad had in spades. But it also required creativity, which he struggled with. 

Though that wasn’t quite right. He had creativity; it just tended towards things not baking-related. Give him intestines or a femur bone, or someone to torture, and the things he could dream up were vivid and varied.

Indeed, Vlad kept a running list of ways he anticipated dealing with Alice’s future enemies. Even if she decided to have the baby and there were two tiny terrors to keep him busy, he still wanted to keep his skills sharp. 

He glanced over at her baking station. Alice didn’t seem tired today, and the gleam in her eye told him that she was excited and focused. Baking was definitely suited to her creativity. Aside from her ability to actually eat food and know how it tasted, she could look at a creature and see more than how best to take them apart.

For all these reasons, Vlad chose to make a winter cake for his final recipe. It was one of his mother’s favorite meals. It looked impressive and tasted like nothing, which was a perfect distillation of her character and reminded him that he had learned to be a monster from more than one place.

Alice worried that she was doing nothing for Gwendolyn, but she could not possibly know what doing nothing looked like.  

Carefully, he set his completed masterpiece on the table. It wasn’t anything like Alice’s cake. Hers was black-white with two layers, the sort of confectionery masterpiece that won contests because it was like her—full of life and cleverness and spitfire and warmth. In a word—good. Not in some sage-forsaken mortal sense, but like the original meaning of the word: desirable.

Vlad didn’t pay much attention to the Fates or the cameras other than to note that Morgyn was right. Their magic made the homunculus version of Marjorie imperceptible from the real thing.

All this build-up, all these months of baking and filming, and it was over in a matter of seconds. Alice pretended to be surprised by her win almost as well as Omar pretended he was just beaming at the judges and not salivating over killing Alice and snatching The Owl.

Outside of the tent, Vlad grabbed her and kissed her like his life depended on it. “You were marvelous,” he whispered as he locked eyes with Omar and took in the god’s intense and disapproving stare. 

The Pious God quickly recovered. “Good job,” he said brightly, “Obviously, I’m disappointed, but I’m excited to see you at the awards ceremony tonight. It’ll be a great party!”

Alice laughed, “Thanks. I’m looking forward to it, though if I never have to attend another party again, it’ll be too soon!”

“Oh, I’m sure that’ll be the case,” Omar replied with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.


ALICE

“So he definitely knows,” Alice said, clutching Vlad’s arm as they walked out of the Von Haunt Estate for the last time. 

“Oh undoubtedly,” he agreed, “But he’ll still want to play with his food first so I think we can safely continue as planned: seize Jimena, kill Miss Hell, wipe the floor with him at the awards ceremony.”

“I guess I did all that baking for nothing. I could’ve just told him to meet me in the parking lot after school,” Alice joked.

“Not for nothing,” Vlad chuckled, “I think you wanted to see this through, regardless of the outcome.”

He was right. While she felt a sense of relief at being done, she also felt good that she actually finished something. “Still, Omar’s a dick. I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.”

“I never liked him,” Vlad confirmed, “Killing him was on my to-do list if he and William didn’t work out.”

“That doesn’t count,” Alice snorted, “Almost everyone is on your kill-list, and you don’t like anyone.”

“False. I like—”

“Jimmy, I know.” She found Vlad’s deep attachment to a random sim a bit strange, but she was trying to be supportive. “Speaking of which, you said goodbye to him, right? I don’t think cellphones are a thing in the Underworld, so he might not hear from you for a while.”

“I sent him a text,” Vlad shrugged.

“A text? Like a real text or, like, one of your texts?”

He rolled his eyes, “It was a real text. I simply explained that he was the greatest mortal I’ve ever known. I told him his counsel has been wise, and while I am retiring from kingship, I remain available to grant him the death of his enemies and/or enough gold bars to fund a small business enterprise. I also explained that we were no longer arguing after having enchanted nectar or using our powers against each other. Unless it’s for foreplay, which we both enjoy.”

Alice blinked at him. “Why are you like this?”

“Good at texting?”

“No! Overly dramatic!”

“I am not overly dramatic,” he murmured giving her quick kiss. “And Jimmy responded favorably. He needs an internship and will be accompanying us to the Underworld, so I needn’t bid him farewell after all.”

Alice considered the fact that she only electrocuted him once to be a sign of progress in their relationship.


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    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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