Selvadorada, William & Morgyn’s House
“Neither he nor William talks about it,” Latimer said, “Just about the only thing I know is that his father spent a long time in vampiric slumber too.”
“Josef?” Lilith gasped, “Grandfather went into vampiric slumber? When? Why?”
“No reason,” Morgyn replied breezily. They could sense their husband’s agitation pouring off of him. Vampires were full of it; their senses and muscles coiled to attack any moment. A relaxed vampire was a falsehood. In all their time, they’d never known a single one to have so blissful an experience as peace.
William slammed a door. It was their signal, borne by a creature who did not need doors to travel: do not follow me.
“Well,” they glanced at the clock, “It seems 58 minutes is about all the family bonding we can handle. Are you going to be alright, Latty? One of us can come and stay for awhile.”
“No, I don’t think it’s nothin’ I can’t handle. He’s been edgy, and I don’t know why. But it’ll pass. Seeing one of you turn up uninvited will just set him off.”
The mortal wasn’t wrong. Vladislaus despised change and despised surprises. He lived a very tightly controlled existence, and for good reason. “Maybe you can get him out of the house, give yourself a break,” Morgyn suggested.
“Ooh, send him to my conference!” Lilith squealed, “That’ll keep him busy and out of town. Or you could get him to clean out the tower. I’ve been looking for scimitar…”
“I’ll stick with the conference,” Latimer’s eyes darted off to the side, “I don’t think he’s in the mood to be cleaning. I already asked him about your weapon.”
“He said no.”
“That’s it? Just no?” Lilith looked annoyed.
“His exact words were: ‘is it the plight of parents everywhere to drag their children’s youthful playthings from home to home, ad infinitum through eternity?'”
“So he still has it,” she nodded, as Latimer signed off. “I’ll come and look for it in a few weeks. I’m mov—reorganizing.”
It was hilarious that Lilith thought no one in the family knew she was being forced out of her house. Morgyn was just waiting for permission to go and use magical persuasion on the university president. Anastasia had already been looking into purchasing the property under an alias. Vladislaus, mad as he was, replied to the group text with: For the love of occult, stop texting me. I will just buy the damn university. Someone find out how much it costs.
Even for a vampire, buying a university was ludicrous. Although, to be fair, there was a chance Vladislaus might already own it, he was briefly married to Princess Cordelia after all.
“Morg-y, before you go, I have to ask you something.”
“Can it not wait, Lily-bear? I have to pretend not to follow my husband and likely deal with some complaint from my surrogate.”
She frowned. “Does my uncle truly intend to hide a baby from the rest of us? Doesn’t he know we can hear Sulis parading through the house on every call?”
Morgyn rolled their eyes. “Hubris is a Straud family trait.” One they were deeply familiar with. Once upon a time, in another world, they’d thought themselves the ultimate puppet master, capable of managing and manipulating everything.
It all came crashing down.
“My problem is with The Ultimate Vampire Tome,” Lilith explained. “Caleb came by with questions and wanted my help. The Sages said the book speaks of something beyond Grand Master Vampire, but it doesn’t mention anything like that. I thought it might be magic. I even tried a revealing spell, and nothing.”
Morgyn yawned, “Then what do you think I can do about it?”
“Caleb remembers seeing it at our house when we were children.”
“Everyone your age saw that in their homes when they were children. Goodley Mather was nothing if not a prolific twit.”
“He said you were all yelling about pamphlet sets and summons. Mother was crying, which must be wrong because mother is,” she started to laugh, “Well, you know how mother is.”
Actually, Anastasia had been crying. Or doing her best approximation of crying, which they all agreed was good enough to fool mortals but not the Sages. It would be up to Ethren to do that, the details of the plan worked out long after Vladislaus had carried Lilith and Caleb up to bed.
And they hadn’t been talking about pamphlet sets and summons, but rather, palimpsests and summoning.
Secrets. Always secrets with this family. Some more important than others.
It was eons of experience that allowed them to maintain a neutral if disinterested expression. “I’ll look into it,” they lied, “But do keep in mind that I’m preparing to have a baby.”
Outside, Sulis was standing on the patio, a shimmering light above her whispering in a tongue Morgyn had not heard in at least five thousand years.
“I really wish you wouldn’t gossip with the moon,” they frowned, “She’s addicted to drama and impossible to reason with.”
Sulis laughed. “She said you’d say that. She also said ‘time is up.’ When are you going to tell your husband?”
“What would I say? ‘Hi dear, small thing to tell you. I’m the physical form of Untamed Magic, a power so ancient that I’ve existed since the formation of the worlds, which, by the way, there are many of. I’ve ended a few of them, and in another universe, I screwed up so badly that you left me. Do you want to maybe run to the store and get some cheese for our surrogate, a goddess who was once my sworn enemy but is now a dear friend who I helped escape into this world?'”
“I wouldn’t say ‘escaped.’ More like we left a place we weren’t wanted to start over fresh, which we can’t do if we don’t find Janus and keep him from pulling the worlds apart at the seams. Does that book you made work?”
Morgyn didn’t bother to point out that they’d been searching for their brother for over millennia with no luck. Ethren and Faba had too. Well, Ethren was looking. Faba was mainly high out of her mind and whispering about arcane and mischievous magic.
“It’s a crude device,” they explained, “The Fates would laugh if they saw it. I can’t possibly track all the moving pieces. Unlike them, I don’t even know who all the pieces are. Ethren was right, making it was pure hubris.”
“We don’t have time for your self-depreciation. You are not who you were before, and it wasn’t hubris that made that book; it was desperation. There’s a difference. As for the Fates? There are three of them, and they are even older than you, so cut yourself a break.”
Morgyn cracked a small smile. “You’ve perfected the art of the pep talk, but the fact remains I’m still in over my head. What would you have me do?”
Sulis grinned, a little of the old chaos lighting her eyes. “Call for backup.”
“You would suggest that. Likely because it won’t be your insane siblings we’re dealing with. The last thing we need is meddlesome gods bringing their egos and piss-poor problem-solving skills to the battle.”
“Oh come now, Untamed, you know the saying: All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Speaking of which, you know she’s impossible, right?”
“Gods don’t have alters. The Universe only made one of us; we can’t be duplicated. If the God of Death is still in our old world, then Alice is—”
Morgyn scrubbed an exhausted hand over their face. “I don’t know what Alice is. I suppose I’ll have to find out.”