Chapter 43, Part 1: A Different Path to Victory

Notes:

Thoughts I’ve had while writing this chapter:

  1. Writing is hard.
  2. Finishing is hard.
  3. My ADHD brain has a lot of reasons why we can’t finish this story and damn if they aren’t convincing.
  4. Writing is hard.

Really though, it is taking every ounce of everything to finish this story. And the number of times I just have to tell myself, “this is good enough, even if it’s not great, we just gotta wrap it up,” is too many times. I also have a lot of fantasies about abandoning plot points and just fixing them in part two, and that’s when I’m not fighting with myself over all the flaws in this story that my brain suddenly has a great interest in fixating on.

Writing is hard. Finishing is hard. I’m just going to put my head down, try bang out these last two chapters, and then I’m going to take a long, luxurious break where I read all the simlits, play the game for fun, and just soak up some new inspiration.

Windenburg Keep

Alice

“Are you up early, or did you never go to sleep?” Cyrus called out from the doorway. 

“I didn’t sleep,” Alice sighed, “Whether that’s because I’ve got the personification of my magic hanging out in a guest room or just good old-fashioned anxiety is anyone’s guess.” She decided not to point out how insane it was that her magic had a physical form. Or that that physical form was rude as hell. There was no telling how good Morgyn’s hearing was.

“Well, I think we can firmly put this in the category of ‘not supernatural,'” her dad laughed. “Even in elementary school you would stay up all night before a big test.” He squinted at the papers on the table, “What’s all this?”

“I’m just afraid something will go wrong, so I wrote it all down just to make sure.”

“And?” Her father grabbed a seat across from her, “Did you miss anything? Would it help to say it out loud?”

Alice shook her head. “I can’t find a flaw, which is kind of freaking me out. I mean, we’re making a lot of assumptions based on Morgyn and William’s information. What if we’re wrong? What if Omar doesn’t wait until the award ceremony to try and kill me? What if he ambushes us while we’re grabbing Jimena or—”

“Alice, pumpkin, relax. Plans are always based on assumptions. And I guarantee that Omar will wait until the awards ceremony for an attack.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because this is what I do,” Cyrus reminded her, “Omar believes this is a chance to settle the whole war in one fell swoop—get rid of you before you’re a threat. And if he’s as much of a showboat as Morgyn claims, he won’t be able to resist the poetry of striking you down right when you’re about to claim victory.”

“Well, I hope so,” Alice growled, “Because if not, we are screwed.” She ran a hand through her hair, “Maybe we should just leave Jimena be.” She didn’t mention the part about Maverick wanting them to also leave Miss Hell alive. 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.

“I taught you better than that,” her father frowned, “In this case, Morgyn is right. Omar has all the alliances and if you want a chance at breaking them, then a valuable hostage is—”

“I know, I know,” she grumbled, “I don’t know why I’m doubting myself.”

“I don’t know why either. I seem to remember a certain God of Five Things telling us to remember the number one rule of reality tv.” 

“Thou shalt not see the underdog coming,” they said at the same time. 

Alice giggled, “It worked in season 1-18 of the Outstanding Race.”

“See? It’s a good plan. Try to calm down. You should be celebrating! You’re about to bake your buns off.” He winked, “Get it? Buns. See what I did there?”

It was a terrible dad joke, but Alice didn’t laugh. “The Fates are gonna hand me the prize no matter what I bake because I already won. I have The Owl. I don’t even really need to try.” Her eyes pricked with tears. All these months doing this stupid contest and actually getting good at baking, and it didn’t even matter. The old Alice would have been thrilled to find this loophole. But the new Alice? The new Alice was disappointed.

Trying to hide her tears, she scolded herself and got up from the table. Her father followed suit, pulling her in for a hug. 

“It’s still a win, pumpkin. And you earned it, just not in the way you thought.”

Alice gave him a watery smile. “You’re probably right. I don’t know why I’m crying. I guess I’m extra emotional right now.”

Her father shrugged. “I’m going to load the last of the supplies into the van. You think you can be ready in 20 minutes?”

“Yeah, let me just change my clothes.” Alice hesitated, “I’m crying for no reason and extra emotional. You’re not going to ask about it?”

“What?”

She gestured at her stomach.

A wary look passed over her father’s face. “We woke up to Vlad standing over our bed, explaining in vivid detail how disappointed he would be to find us discussing the pregnancy. Apparently, you are very stressed out and haven’t made a decision yet.”

“And you guys agreed to that?”

“Maybe I wasn’t clear,” her father emphasized, “He was standing over our bed.

Alice tried not to smile. It was almost impossible to explain why she found Vlad’s actions so endearing, especially when they involved his penchant for making terrifying threats. “Yeah, that sounds like something he would do.”

    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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