CW: Strong language, adult situations, violence, gore, sexual situations, discussions of grief, trauma, and severe depression.
Just a reminder that the post on August 21st will be the “mid-season” finale. I’ll be taking some time off to refill the creative tank, do a little site maintenance, and knock off annoying organizational tasks like updating my cc folder and backing up my sims. I plan to return at the end of September for the second half of season one.
And apologies that this chapter is late. I want to make up a good excuse but mostly my brain has just been very tired and I’ve been having a lot of fun with the high school pack (bugs and all).
Don’t worry, though! I’ve got big plans for the second arc of this season, including some machinimas that’ll thrill(er) you.
That’s all. Stay cool this summer, y’all. It’s a wild world, and we gotta take care of ourselves.
Selvadorada, William & Morgyn’s House
“What’s the tea?” Morgyn asked when Latimer logged onto the virtual chat.
“Ginger hibiscus and lemon.”
“No,” the spellcaster waved a hand, “I mean—”
“I know what you mean. You do realize I am the youngest one out of all of you?”
“You never let us forget,” William called out, sharing an amused look with his spouse. They smiled at each other until an irritated shriek cut through the air. “Go check on her!” he mouthed.
“You go check on her!” Morgyn mouthed back, their expression making it clear they had no intention of getting up.
With a sigh, William headed for the kitchen. There sat Sulis eating a bowl of edamame with raw eggs and plasma, the sight of which turned his stomach.
“Is there something you need?” he croaked.
“Yes,” she sniffed, “Cheese. I can’t have plasma, edamame, and raw egg soup without cheese.”
William prayed for his dinner to stay put. This is for the baby, he told himself.
And it was. For centuries, he’d been desperate to start a family, and finally, Morgyn agreed. They even asked a dear friend to be the surrogate. Had William ever met this friend? Absolutely not. And he couldn’t comment on it because that would involve bringing up the time in the 40s and 50s when they were apart. Not that it was strange. Plenty of immortal couples spent decades living other lives; they took lovers and kept secrets. It was natural. It was fine.
“I’ll not be bringing you cheese,” he snapped. “The other day, you demanded an entire wheel and then forced me to throw it away because the verra knowledge that cheese existed offended you.”
Sulis swallowed her last dripping spoonful, taking care to lick her utensil. “Things change.”
William’s eye twitched. Why did his journey to fatherhood have to be so fraught? Vladislaus had literally snatched Caleb and Lilith off the street without knowing a damn thing about mortal children. Anastasia didn’t even want children. In fact, she still hated ones who weren’t her own. But William, who’d spent decades upon decades doing careful planning and preparation, waiting for his spouse to be ready, had to deal with this?
“I’ll place a llamazon order later,” he bit out.
“You won’t bring me the head of a virgin acolyte, you won’t let me cut the throats of my loyal worshippers, and now you begrudge me cheese?” she rolled her eyes and crossed to the fridge, presumably for another serving, “I don’t want it later; I want it now.”
This was what he kept trying to explain to his spouse—Sulis was insane. But Morgyn always gave him the same excuse: Their friend was another spellcaster lucky enough to come across a death relic. Her strangeness was due to her advanced age, which they should accommodate.
“No one is accommodating of my advanced age,” he muttered under his breath.
“What was that?” Sulis asked.
“I said: ‘can you not see that I am busy?’ And why in occult’s tits are you drinking plasma? You are not even a vampire! That cannot be good for the babe!”
“Are you questioning my judgement about what my own body needs?”
William took a step back, knocking into the side table. He gasped when the vase crashed to the floor and then proceeded to reassemble itself and float back into place.
He should have been relieved, but the sight filled him with anger. He told Morgyn to baby-proof the house, as in get rid of all this inane priceless clutter, not enchant the fucking furniture!
He stormed upstairs, ignoring the sound of Sulis’s laughter. It took him ten minutes to calm down before he logged on to the chat, but it was necessary. He didn’t want anyone in his family picking up on his frustration. Morgyn disagreed but William was firm on keeping the baby a secret. He needed time to develop ironclad boundaries, there was no other way to keep their child from inheriting his family’s madness.
A century or two should do it…
…and maybe a moat.
William tuned back into the conversation.
“—Then they got kicked out of hot yoga, and Vlad apologized to management and wrote a check for the damages,” Latimer said, barely able to contain his laughter.
“Did you say apologized?” Morgyn was shocked.
“Yes,” Lilith added, eyebrows raised, “and ‘wrote a check for damages’ not burned the building to the ground and danced on its ashes?”
“He was inside of a yoga studio?” William repeated in disbelief. “Why?”
Nyx’s Yoga Palace
Vlad scowled from the moment he picked her up at her house until they reached the yoga studio in downtown Windenburg.
“Do you want to purchase matching yoga mats?” Alice asked, trying desperately to keep a straight face.
His eye twitched. “I would be delighted to get whatever you want.”
She gestured at the apparel hanging on the wall. “Okay, I’m thinking that, or the pants with ‘sun salutation’ written on the butt.”
His expression said he’d rather be dragged over hot coals than touch a single thing in this establishment. His eye twitched again. “If it would make you happy.”
It wouldn’t. And he didn’t mean that, but Alice still had plenty of time to wear him down. It was clear from their dates over the last couple of months that Vlad was trying his hardest to do everything she wanted and never disagree with her. That was okay in the beginning when she thought their relationship was going to be just sex. But now, her stupid heart had taken a liking to him, and she didn’t want him to be perfect.
Mostly because she was not perfect. She was a criminal with a toddler and way too many overdue bills, who embarrassingly, peed a little when she laughed too hard because giving birth was a nightmare. How could Vlad be into the real her? She was ornery and hot-tempered and honest-to-llamas out of her mind.
Salim was perfect when they first got together—catering to her every need, making her feel special. Despite that, Alice couldn’t just be chill. She pushed and pushed until their relationship broke. She called him an asshole, but she was well aware that if she was a different sim, it wouldn’t have turned out that way. That’s why she needed to see Vlad’s true, hot mess self, which would, fingers crossed, be crazier than hers.
Then it wouldn’t matter how much baggage she came with. And she could be sure that he wasn’t a) some deadbeat who was pretending to be decent just to take advantage of her or b) actually a good guy who would break up with her because she was insane and he was just some hella sexy, super-caring eccentric bazillioniare who wanted love and commitment.
It was just her luck that hot yoga was failing to break him. The temperature in the room was sweltering, leaving her pouring in sweat while Vlad—stupid, stupid Vlad—was flying through the movements as if the heat didn’t phase him.
And the man was wearing socks!
Who the fuck wore socks to hot yoga and didn’t break their neck? He was graceful and lovely and not at all losing his shit.
No, the only sim who was grumpy and annoyed and ready to scream was Alice.
“Okay, class. Let’s wrap things up with some quiet reflection in corpse pose.”
Alice breathed a sigh of relief at the instructor’s words. Yes, corpse pose. That’s what she needed. A chance to turn off her brain and relax.
She turned to Vlad, plastering a “see, I’m totally calm and chill about this too” look on her face, but he wasn’t doing at all what she expected. Worry crept in. He didn’t look relaxed about the end of yoga class, he looked alarmed.
“It’s only called corpse pose,” she whispered as they laid down on the floor. “You’re not actually going to die.”
Vlad didn’t laugh. In fact, his whole body was rigid with tension. Instinctively, she grabbed his hand. When his head lolled to the side, his eyes were glassy, unfocused.
Holy shit! “Get up,” she insisted, tugging his arm.
“I’m f-fine,” he tried to pull away, but he was literally shaking.
“You’re not.” Guilt sank it claws in deep. “This is just not your vibe. I’m sorry I dragged you here. Come on.”
He followed her to the entrance like a zombie, his tall frame collapsing against the wall as he fought to hold himself up, a trickle of plasma running from his nose.
“What’s going on?” the instructor demanded.
The other students sat up, and she immediately softened her voice. “Maybe I didn’t explain it well enough. There’s no special move.” Her smile didn’t quite meet her eyes. “You just lie back, close your eyes, and let the world wash over you. It’s soothing, it’s—”
“He doesn’t need an explanation,” Alice snarled. Couldn’t this idiot see that he was freaked out? “He gets it, and the answer is no. No corpse pose for either of us.”
“But you’ll bring down the aura of the class and make everyone uncomfortable!”
Most of the other patrons were now openly staring. This was hands down, Alice’s worst nightmare. For the past two and a half years, she’d done everything to avoid a crowd of sims pointing and whispering at her like she was a freak. She glanced back at Vlad, who was frantically trying to stop the bleeding. There was no way she could leave him like this. And really, hadn’t any of these assholes seen a panic attack before?
Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a small lighter and held it towards the ceiling. Flicking it open, she counted down until the sprinkler system activated.
“What the fuck??!?!” The instructor crouched down like she was being scalded, “What is wrong with you, you fucking psycho?”
Well, that wasn’t very zen. Alice smirked, calmly pitching her voice over the sound of sims shrieking, “Now we’ve made everyone uncomfortable.”
Selvadorada, William & Morgyn’s House
William wiped tears from his eyes, “Well, at least we know why he is so besotted.”
“He’s not besotted,” Lilith hissed, “This Alice woman is not that special.”
“Oh, but she is,” William insisted. “I’ll be the first to say it. I didn’t think Vladislaus would find someone else willing to navigate his bizarre idiosyncratic opinions. Not to mention the violent outbursts, inflated ego, perverse enjoyment out of the sound of breaking bones—”
“Well, she don’t quite know all of that. Vladislaus hasn’t told her the whole truth,” Latimer interrupted.
“What do you mean, he hasn’t told her? She’d have to be daft not to see that he’s 1) a creature of darkness and 2) completely unhinged.”
“Hey! She’s not stupid, she’s just…I don’t know. I like Alice. And Vladislaus has been on his best behavior, so how could she know?”
“Then she doesn’t deserve him,” Lilith frowned. “She won’t be able to handle the real him and when she gets frightened, he’ll be hurt. He needs someone like—”
“Your mother? Oh please,” William scoffed, “And Vladislaus is never hurt. Angry? Vengeful? Petty? Yes. But hurt? No. He doesn’t have access to that particular emotion.”
“You don’t know that.”
He did. His brother was willful. Always had been. “Do you think your father’s been married so many times because he is a nice creature?”
“He’s nicer than you!” Lilith shot back, “Maybe if you didn’t give him such a hard time—”
“Hard time?” William made a sound of disbelief. For centuries he’d been picking his brother up off the floor, playing the role of the perfect son because no one could bear to handle another problem on top of Vladislaus. “He’s a monster, and you think I give him a hard time?”
“Say that about him again, Aurelius Redding, I dare you.” Lilith’s eyes flashed an unnatural color.
William bared his fangs in return. “Using my birth name? To hurt me feelings? I was raised by your grannie and granda from a wee thing. If I’m not a real Straud, then some tiny waif and her troublesome brother are certainly not—”
“Enough,” Morgyn said tightly, “Lilith, your uncle is having a bad day. Please excuse him.”
“Of course,” she flashed an unmistakably false smile. “I wasn’t going to say mother, she’s seeing someone, and besides, she’s off of men forever. I meant Ethren.”
“Your former stepfather could no more tame Vladislaus than a rabbit could tame a fox.”
“And yet, after 800+ years he’s still around. Why is that, William?” her false smile widened as she affected an innocently curious look. It was as if they’d hadn’t had this same argument every 30 years or so.
He snorted. “Addiction. Stupidity. If they did not want to be divorced, they wouldn’t be.”
“But they don’t want to be. They got engaged again—”
“In 1997!” William interrupted.
“And father was happy about it because Ethren is the only one who knows the real Vladislaus and unlike this Alice woman, he won’t run.”
William rolled his eyes at his niece. When had she gotten such a sappy, misbegotten view of romance? He’d been there in 1997—
And in 1950, when Vladislaus woke from his vampiric slumber and even strong-willed Ethren, immune to his brother’s dramatics, balked at what had to be done. Lilith didn’t understand a damn thing. Her favorite step-father had already run. He was always running and Vladislaus, ever the lovesick idiot, was always chasing him.
“Alright, you’re graspin’ at straws, Lily-bear. Ain’t no half-hearted engagement twenty-some years ago got any hold on your father now. And besides, you’re being a little quick to judge,” Latimer admonished. “I think you’d probably like Alice.”
Lilith scowled “I won’t.” When William chuckled, she growled. “What do you know anyway? You’ve only ever been with Morgyn.”
William flinched involuntarily. “I know that if Vladislaus galavanting around with a mortal will give me a few decades peace then so be it. You can bother me with my brother’s love life again when she’s dead.” With that, he signed off.
He paced the room for a little bit, fuming. Lilith had no idea what she was saying. And how could she? The only creature who knew anything was Vladislaus and he might be selfish, psychotic, and rude, but he was loyal. Not that it mattered. William had nothing to feel guilty about.
Plenty of immortal couples spend decades living other lives, he told himself again, they take lovers and keep secrets. It’s natural. It’s fine.
Park, Downtown Windenburg
Alice led Vlad to the park across the street. “Do you want to go somewhere else? We can leave if it’s too loud.”
“No, I’m—” He looked around, seemingly distracted by the sound of a car whizzing by. “Fine.”
Vlad wasn’t anywhere in the neighborhood of fine. Was it her fault? Did she do this? She forced lightness into her voice, “What happened in there? Usually, corpse pose is the part where everyone chillaxes and falls asleep.”
He stared at her for so long that she feared she’d said something wrong. “It was a misunderstanding. I was thinking of…” he trailed off and cleared his throat. “I mean, thank you.” A dark shadow crossed his face. “Did that teacher call you a psychopath?
Alice laughed. Partly because he had a glint in his eye that could kill Father Winter; it was so icy. Partly because she was trying to subdue the nightmare she’d conjured up of the police showing up at her house and snatching Gwendolyn from the nanny because Alice was in jail for yoga crimes.
You are not getting arrested, she told herself. “It’s cool. They’ll probably try to charge my card but jokes on them, there’s only like 10 simoleons left on that thing. Don’t even worry about it.” Alice dug her toe into the dirt, trying to think about the best way to get him to open up. “So about what happened…we could stay. Maybe talk about until you’re feeling better?”
“Yes, I—” he winced as a group of teenagers turned up the radio. Alice watched him clench a fist, flex his hand, and then close his eyes. When he opened them again, his voice was tight and careful. “On second thought, I have a headache. I think I should take you home.”
He was holding something back, and Alice tried to be chill; llamas help her, she really did. But the universe had other plans for her. “Okay, why don’t we talk about it over dinner later this week?”
Vlad could feel the tension vibrating beneath his skin. This was an old street. He remembered it when it was a tannery, and later, the shops filled in around the turn of the century. He remembered it mid-century too. Things were less fussy back then—no Neighborhood Investment Coalition was slapping historic plaques down to mark was used to be.
Yes, once there was a phone booth on that corner, and wouldn’t you know, you had to ask the operator to connect you! Wow. Unbelievable. Stunning. He was so awash in his disdain and discomfort that he missed Alice’s questions.
“I said, I didn’t know this street had an art gallery.”
“It wasn’t always a gallery.” Vlad couldn’t help himself. “Once, it was an electronics shop charging an arm and a leg for a Simovitch television.”
Alice laughed, “How do you know that?”
“Trivia night,” he lied.
She leaned her head on his shoulder, and it was bliss. “I cannot imagine you ever going to a bar to play Quizzo.”
She was right, but he forced a genuine smile. “The gallery isn’t ever dedicated to one type of art. Today it’s Francisco Battista—”
“Knock-off Battista,” she corrected.
Vlad furrowed his brow, “How do you—”
“The paint isn’t right. The color is Apple 3132, but anyone with a brain in their head knows that Simstil Paints made the 1925 batch with too much tint, which gave them a great color but terrible fading. Battista missed his chance at renown in his day because of a shitty tabloid story, so when he died, his parents sold his estate to pay the debts. They let this piece sit on a display shelf, hoping to lure a buyer in. After that, they moved it to the basement and look,” she pointed, “No chipping on this one and no water damage. It’s beautiful and perfect and a total fucking fake.”
Alice blinked, looking as if she was surprised that the whole speech came pouring out. “Sorry, I have a lot of weird knowledge.”
“Don’t be sorry,” Vlad’s gaze tracked to her mouth and then to her neck. He ignored the ache in his fangs. “I like weird knowledge. His work is on display at the museum. We could go and—”
“No,” she blurted out. With visible effort she lowered her voice. “I mean, no, I don’t really do museums. I had a bad experience.”
They continued on in companionable silence until they reached Kork. Vlad hadn’t been here in years, but the bar was still as lovely and soothing as he remembered. It was small, cluttered, with more candles than electric lights and stone floors that he’d carried in from the old monastery as a gift to the owner. Well, as a gift to his mother, really. He stole a glance at the painting on the wall. He wasn’t really a fan of the owner.
It still stung to recall the yoga class. He could cope with his body failing him; he was used to that. But his mind, he thought he’d wrangled into submission.
“How do you do that?” Alice asked, catching a droplet of Avornalino with her tongue as it rolled down the side of her glass.
Have mercy. “Do what?” he licked his lips.
“Drink and not get drunk?” she swirled her nectar glass, “I mean, I’m a little drunk, and I am not a lightweight.”
“Good genes,” he gave her wolfish smile, “You are full of questions tonight.”
“I am,” she straightened, “Want to answer some more?”
Vlad heard the dare in her voice. It sent something white-hot spiraling through him. “My, my, is that a challenge, Miss Martin?”
“If you’re up for it.”
Under the table, he surreptitiously adjusted himself. “Oh, I can assure you, I am. What do you want to know? Hobbies? Likes? Kinks?”
She tipped back her head and laughed until it devolved into a snort, and fuck—that sound nearly undid him. He wanted more laughter, sex, and danger with her.
“I’ll start off easy,” she propped her hand underneath her chin and leaned forward, “What did you like to do as a teenager?”
“As a teenager?” he repeated tonelessly. Easy? That was her easy question?
Shit. What had he done as a teenager? It was ages ago, and there was no possible way to make it sound normal. “What did you like to do?” he stalled, hoping she’d fire off a few vague answers he could copy.
Alice laughed. “You can’t answer the question with another question. Come on, the 90s was not that long ago.”
Fuck. Vlad did tell her he was 38, and it was true; the 90s weren’t that long ago, but hell if he could remember what he was doing.
No, that was the 70s.
Damn it. That wasn’t right either. Mortals were in the middle of their ill-advised crusades, the dryads were trying to take territory from the Fae, and Vlad had just met Anastasia. Was that 1096? 1097?
He joined a cult in 1997!
Though that wasn’t really a teenage activity. He was just taking advantage of the fact that they were planning ritual suicide, and Vlad was tired of being on his best behavior.
“I drank,” he said carefully, leaving out the part about it being in taverns. “And spent my earnings on companionship and games of luck.”
—Prostitutes and gambling. Which he could now admit had gotten a bit out of hand. Tired of learning vampiric politics at the end of a sword, his brother sent a thousand letters to their mother begging to be sent home from their apprenticeship. William’s request was granted, but Vlad’s was not.
In response, he fought and fucked and drank and gambled.
“What kind of answer is that?” Alice demanded, “Are you lying to me?”
“You asked, and I answered,” Vlad replied, ignoring the implication of her words. “It’s my turn. What was your job before you were a bartender?”
“I…I…what the hell?” She grimaced, “Why are you even asking that? You want to know about my life, but you won’t tell me what you did as a teenager? You won’t say anything about what happened in yoga. Why are you so cagey?”
Vlad felt his eye twitch. He didn’t understand what she was talking about. He wasn’t being cagey; he was being agreeable—holding back all his (admittedly insane) opinions and not burdening her with his seemingly endless supply of what William called his “dramatics.” Yoga was a slip-up. “I am not being cagey.”
She crossed her arms. “What happened in class then?”
A thousand awful things. Memories so brutal, they took his breath away.
Let us see the heart of a vampire who breaks the rules. Is it really so different from one who does?
He ground his palms against the underside of the chair until he felt the skin break open. “The air was dry and gave me a nosebleed,” he replied, surprised by how calm he sounded.
Was that disappointment in her eyes?
“I’m tired,” she said, “I think you should take me home.”
“I’m sorry,” he said when they reached her house. “Can I walk you to the door?”
Alice sighed. “No, I’m fine.” She glanced back at the house. “Earlier, you asked about my old job, and I avoided answering. The truth is, my old job was really exciting and also fucked up. Sometimes dangerous. Anyway, I did something that failed spectacularly and needed help, so I accepted a favor with a lot of strings attached, which wasn’t even for me; it was for—” She froze.
“For?” he prompted.
“It doesn’t matter,” she pinched the bridge of her nose. “I just needed a fresh start away from my old job, away from Salim, away from everything. I’m trying to start over and not make the same mistakes.”
The mere mention of Salim’s name had Vlad fantasizing about sharpening his bone saw. To give his hands something to do, he gently rubbed her shoulders. “Are you safe?”
“I think I’ve answered enough questions,” she gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Goodnight.”
Vetus Deus Cemetery
It didn’t take him long to get to the graveyard. It was etched in his memory along with a host of other horrors. Alice was right; he was lying to her, and if he had any ounce of genuine bravery, he’d tell her and face the consequences.
But he didn’t want to tell her. She was so lovely, so perfect. Fierce and ornery and full of warmth and humor. Meanwhile, he was a warlord with two grown children and way too many ex-spouses who, embarrassingly, had a mortal form that was literally falling apart. He was neurotic and short-tempered and hand-to-the-occult, out of his mind.
In a different world where he could be his whole unhinged self, he would have told her:
He was intimately familiar with corpse pose. He went into vampiric slumber for nearly sixty years, and when he woke up, it was agony.
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.”
Downtown San Myshuno
Alice made her way down the street, pushing the stroller while Gwendolyn babbled nonsense. It wasn’t that the tiny terror lacked a good vocabulary, she just chose to speak mostly in demands and not at all when the topic didn’t interest her. For example, she loved owls, or a particular owl—Alice couldn’t figure out which—and would gab about it for hours. But when Alice tried to get her excited about preschool? Silence.
She sighed. “Just because mommy is crazy doesn’t mean you are. You can talk to sims, you know.”
Gwendolyn blew a raspberry.
Ugh. She was going to have to lead by example, wasn’t she?
Alice took a cautious look around, carefully observing who other sims were waving and making eye contact with. There was a woman dressed like an extra from an apocalyptic film—bad. But she plowed through a group of sims who gave her outraged looks and yelled to watch where she was going—good!
“Let’s wave to the nice lady! Nothing to be scared of!”
Of course, Gwendolyn did not wave, she scowled, which reminded Alice so much of Vlad she had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. She still felt guilty about yoga, and giving him a hard time about “half-truths” when she was keeping so much from him. Soon, she promised herself, soon you’ll tell him.
“She’s adorable. How old is she?”
“Almost three,” Alice gazed down warily at her toddler, who could not look more disinterested if she tried. “She’s uh, a little scared of strangers.”
The woman smiled and knelt. “Well, it’s good to be aware of your surroundings. Enemies are everywhere.”
“What’s your name, sweetie?”
Dead silence. And more scowling. It got awkward, but the woman seemed unfazed. “Yes, you’re right. I wouldn’t give me a name either.”
She rose and smiled in a way that was vaguely unsettling. “Good job, she’s very strong.”
Don’t antagonize the obviously crazy lady. “Uh…thanks…” Alice gave the fake cheerful laugh she reserved for customers, “Hope you have a nice day!”
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll see me around,” she waved, walking back in the direction she came.
At least she was real, Alice thought. It was low bar, but you had to take the wins wherever you could find them. “Alright Gwendolyn, let’s go find the library so we can send your daddy a really passive aggressive email asking where his child support payment is.”
NEXT TIME, ON THE STRAUDS:
POSES & ANIMATIONS
Male Stand Poses 6 by Natalia-Auditore
Male Stand Poses 7 by Natalia-Auditore
Not Feeling Good by Natalia-Auditore
Last Summer Collection Posepack by Dearkim
Together with Him by KaTPurpura
Love & Clovers Pose Pack by StarrySimsie
Water Tower Talks by StarrySimsie
Water Tower – Percy’s Spot by Storybrooke Poses
Halloween Poses Random Pack by Helgatisha
Halloween Poses Vampire Victim by Helgatisha
Aristocrat Outfit II by Moriel
Aristocrat Outfit by Moriel
Medieval Male Clothing (Medieval, Tudor, and Renaissance Sims 4 CC Finds tumblr)
Champion Sims 4 Medieval Outfit Conversion by Valhallan
Heartless by Natalia-Auditore
Gallavich Pose Pack by slowpika
Pose Request #156 by Sciophobis
Pose Request #163 by Sciophobis
Pose Request #151 by Sciophobis
BUILDS & SIMS 4 GALLERY
Newcrest Yoga Studio by LIvia24x
Police by bethowen111
Vampire Crypt & Cemetery by babybackribs0131
Kork wine bar by T0nksyo