Chapter 11: Fifty-Eight Minutes

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

WILLIAM

“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.

With alligators.

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

ALICE

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.”

    8 comments
  • Snow ~
    August 9, 2022

    How dare you take time off from Strauds! I won’t allow it! *joking*

    MORGYN WHY ARE YOU SO FUCKING GORGEOUS

    Ohhh goodness, Morgyn as a parent. Best or worst thing I wonder? We’ll soon find out…Sulis’s rant oh my gosh had me laughing out loud. Darn, William, let a girl cut a worshipper’s throat once in a while, bloody spoilsport! I laughed at the description of Alice with the peeing when she laughed, but hey, Vlad wants Alice for Alice and that’s a good thing because Alice is great < 3

    Who expected Vlad to be so good at yoga? I guess over that long a life you'd amass a whole load of experience in loads of different hobbies though. I absolutely loved Alice letting the sprinklers off on the yoga class XD I really need to see Ethren come into this now…one, because he's so-say the only person who seemingly could understand and 'tame' Vlad. Two, the sheer drama that would ensue. Back to Alice it was nice to see her take him out of the stressful situation to somewhere quiet. Wish everyone was like that instead of 'WHY DID YOU SHOW ME UP' and 'WHY ARE YOU ACTING LIKE THAT' ugh. Geez, that's not 'dramatics' Vlad, that my dear man is trauma…I hope he can realise that soon. Having lived hundreds of years before anyone gave a sliver of a shit about mental health doesn't help him in that regard. Seems neither of them want to give their pasts away, though I very much Vlad would judge : P

    Yeah, waking up from vampiric slumber for that long would really throw you…especially how quickly things have changed over the last century. It'd feel like waking up in a whole other dimension. As always your machinimas are amazing < 3 OOH I notice Ethren and William there…Still can't wait to see more of Ethren. I already said this earlier but I loooove that puppet master shot. so much Morgyn energy there < 333 I love your Morgyn SO MUCH AAAAAAAAAAAA also I love sulis's snake headband! I'm really excited to see the gods, the 'old ones' and also God of Death will eventually rear his head again, I'm glad you decided to keep all of that stuff in hehehehhe

    OHHH Gwen and her owls, eh? ; ) Ohh my gosh I'm so excited now. Woah, and miss Mad Max comes out of nowhere XD She creeped me out. And that final machinima ;o; did I see a zombie Vlad? And worlds collide…I wonder if Morgyn's mention of multiverse comes in there. Not unless…BBD is actually a literal alternate universe in this story? HMMMMMM I am looking forward to next chapter!

    • feroshgirl
      September 2, 2022

      AHHH After ten thousand years I’ve replied! I’m sorry! I’ve been way behind during this hiatus.

      Sighh, Morgyn truly is gorgeous. And terrifying. I think they’ll make an amazing parent and woe be unto anyone trying to bring harm to their child.

      I love how bloodthirsty this story has made everyone. Like yeah! Why can’t Sulis just drink the blood of her worshippers like nature intended?

      Alice is great! I continue to be delighted by how much we all love her in all her vulnerable, hot mess, relatable glory.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed their yoga trip. I wanted to be clear that Alice is just as unhinged as Vlad is, so they are perfect for each other.

      Rest assured, you are not the only one who wants more Ehtren. And I promise I will deliver very soon!

      Thank you for your compliments about the puppet master shot. It took so stupidly long and I gave up several times lol, but got it to work and I’m so happy with it!

      (squeee yes, many of our old favorite gods are back! I couldn’t stay away. I don’t know what I was thinking)

      Oh you picked up on Gwendolyn and the owls, huh?

      Yes, BBD is a literal alternate universe. So basically hang onto your butt.

  • Dragoncat
    August 23, 2022

    Oooh, very interesting.

    Come on, Vlad, you’ll have to tell her eventually. They’re both hiding secrets from one another and I bet the secrets will all come tumbling down.

    And The Strauds is literally an alternate universe from BBD? I didn’t expect that.

    I wonder if Alice is a normal sim or what.

    • feroshgirl
      September 16, 2022

      I cannot believe I am replying to this comment so late. I’ve been on hiatus and taking a break but trying to check in for comments!

      Lol, Vlad and Alice both seem determined to delay the inevitable. Hehe, “tumbling down” indeed.

      Yes! The Strauds is literally an AU as in, one of the thousand universes Miko ended up creating in her desperation to “fix” the BBD timeline.

      Is Alice a normal sim? ::cue maniacal laughter:: why, I wouldn’t worry about that at all 😈

  • Yimiki
    August 30, 2022

    Hoo boy. Alice and Vlad have reached the stage where being dodgy about questions is no longer intriguing and mysterious, but is starting to bother the other. They’re both holding back and they’re both wishing the other didn’t hold back, though Alice is much more vocal and angry about it than Vlad is. I hope they’ll realise and open up before the relationship blows up in their faces.

    Their family is so dysfunctional but the fact that every single one of them is working on making sure Lilith wouldn’t have to leave her home is really heartwarming. In a weird, stalkery, hush-hush kind of way. Aaaaaand there come the secrets again. Morgyn lying through their teeth even when they know exactly what Lilith is talking about.

    Ooooooh, is that a… what is that? Fifth wall-break? Waaaiiiiit is that Morgyn the previous Morgyn? Our previous Morgyn? From the whatsit?! 😮 I was wondering if Sulis was still a goddess in this story and if not, what she’d be, but oh my, is this what I think it is? It is, isn’t it? It is! That is wild on all kinds of levels. Gah, my head. There’s all kinds of connections here but there’s so much that my brain can’t keep up. Next chapter!

    • feroshgirl
      September 2, 2022

      Wooohoo! Sorry this took so long. I’ve been a hiatus gremlin and way behind on my comments (and reading and everything else but what else is new, eh?).

      Yes! Our two lovesick dummies are tired of secrets which is a problem they could 100% fix if they just opened their mouths and told each other. And I’m sure they’ll do that in a completely calm and mature and reasonable way and not before the whole thing blows up in the face ::evil laughter::

      Jk Jk!

      Yes, The Strauds might be completely dysfunctional and total menaces but they love each other and will fight anyone who threatens their family. Including universities seeking lucrative development deals.

      But yeah, they are are also lying liars who lie to each other all the time.

      THE FIFTH WALL COMES DOWN BABY! Yes, this is the previous Morgyn. You know, the one who traveled through many universes and timelines in BBD. And yes, Sulis is still a goddess and she has also crossed over from BBD.

      The Strauds is a fully alternate universe, but I’m sure its fine so long as they don’t import all the problems of the previous Universe that they couldn’t solve in the last one

      oh…what was that? You can’t just leave all your problems behind in an alternate universe and hope they disappear? Oh well…

      ::cue evil laughter::

  • Dolly Llama
    September 22, 2022

    SULIS: SUUUULLIIIIISSSSSSS!!!! SULIS!!!! SUUULLLIISSSSS. She’s offended by the existence of cheese?! Sulis YES! That’s based as fuck! No! No, don’t backpedal on that!

    Alright, new standard. The first person with the cojones to call cheese “fermented rape juice” is my favorite character.

    Continuing in Sulis’s section to keep the Morgyn ambivalence strong, ahhhh damn, it came full circle. Like always, I have so many questions. Why would Sulis need Morgyn’s help to escape, and what happened to Alice, and the other gods, and why is Gwendolyn de-aged, and—alright. Going back into patient waiting mode. I will be here standing in the doorway watching you write waiting patiently.

    WILLIAM: Has he had that accent the entire time?! Also, I feel like I should be able to tell what’s going on in that 1950s Army picture at the end of page 2, if I weren’t faceblind. Do we know those characters? That’s Vlad, right?

    VLAD: Vlad will not get the pants with ‘sun salutation’ written on the butt. No. Uh-uh. No way. Instead, he directs Alice toward the pants with ‘[surya namaskara]’ written on the butt. In the original Sanskrit. His keister will not tolerate translations or transliterations.

    And the man was wearing socks!

    Welp, there’s your flaw. What kind of serial killer does utthita hasta padangusthasana with socks on?! Put this man in jail for yoga crimes. (In his defense, the reason you don’t ave socks on during that pose is that the proper alignment is wrapping two fingers around your big toe, and he’s a sim, so he doesn’t have a big toe, just a foot blob with five sets of markings on it.)

    How hard were you laughing putting Vlad in that denim vest and flannel? Be specific. Actually—you know what, with all the clues dropped about Vlad’s sensory processing troubles, I’m going to start paying attention to his clothing choices. Less restrictive, breathable fabrics, no tags?

    THE YOGA TEACHER: Sucks. Her instincts do, at least. If a student is having trouble with savasana, of all things, you don’t try to explain it again. You listen! You figure out what adjustments they need and help them feel comfortable! I’m aware this is the point and I’m just ranting. Still.

    MOOD OF THE DAY: “He was just taking advantage of the fact that they were planning ritual suicide, and Vlad was tired of being on his best behavior.”

    NEVER GOING TO BE THE MOOD OF THE DAY: “I will just buy the damn university. Someone find out how much it costs.”

    IKEA ZOOM: y are they in Ikea Zoom

    SALIM: “Salim was perfect when they first got together… [d]espite that, Alice couldn’t just be chill. She pushed and pushed until their relationship broke.” Ooh. A clue that we aren’t getting the full picture on Salim. (Also, I see that shot where we can’t see Vlad’s reflection in the mirror right after Alice casts her ‘I Wish’ spell that he’s at least crazier than her.)

    ETHREN: Getting more and more suspicious that he’s not around.

    GWENDOLYN: SHE UNDERSTANDS WHAT’S GOING ON BETTER THAN ALICE DOES. OF COURSE. OF COURSE. I LOVE IT.

    ALICE: Was she always throwing this many spectrum vibes or is that just me?! Vlad, too?

    ELMYRA: That. That right there is my role model for talking to children.

    • feroshgirl
      September 24, 2022

      There is no story I’m willing write where Sulis does not come back as a mad, deranged, powerful goddess, okay? All of your questions are SO GOOD. I wish I could answer them right now but…spoilers. Also this line kicked my butt back into high gear. I’m writing, I swear it!

      Thank you fo noticing William’s accent. I worked hard this time around to make it clear. Why yes I can make my black fantasy characters into ye olde Scottish knights with hot non-binary spouses, what of it? LOL

      So, William is kissing someone who isn’t Morgyn in the 1950s with Vlad standing in the background. The man and Vlad are in military uniforms and we know Vlad served in the military in the 50s because that’s how we meant Latimer. That man is not Latimer but we do see him cuddling with William in Vlad’s flashback when he thinks about waking up from his vampiric slumber.

      But again, I’m sure he’s *fine* and totally not important and won’t show up later in the story to wreak havoc <3

      Vlad obviously has to go to jail for yoga crimes. Now, did I shoot that entire scene and forget about his socks until I was making edits? Yes. But is it now plot relevant? Absolutely. Would Deacon ever do yoga with socks on? NEVER. The blob-like construction of sims' feet is not burned into my brain.

      Not only did I laugh hysterically at putting Vlad in denim, I put him in a hoochie daddy venon shorts for a machinima flashback AND I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE.

      (okay listen, yes, you know I am a 100% about this Vlad clothing thing. I got a personal shopper once because I was so overwhelmed by choosing clothing and my instructions were: all parts of my body want to feel like they are in leggings. I AM A NORMAL AMOUNT OF CHILL ABOUT THE FEELING OF FABRICS ON MY BODY. Anyway, I digress - It's a plot point in chapter 14 and throughout the story its important to note when Vlad is wearing clothing that makes him uncomfortable and why)

      That yoga teacher was the worst and I literally wrote a scene where Vlad hunted her down because I was so mad, but it went too far afield from the plot so I deleted it. I really wanted this to be a moment where Alice takes care of him bc literally eff this teacher.

      Hehe, no don't pay attention to Vlad's reflection! nothing to see here...

      Salim, Salim, Salim - how do I love my plans for this character? Too much. Way too much.

      Everyone wants more Ethren. Will they regret it? Only time will tell 😉 (I have made that man entirely too much of a brunch daddy thirst trap not to bring him back)

      Gwendolyn remains the best and wisest character.

      OOOHHHH V INTERESTING OBSERVATION OF ALICE.

      Elmyra for the win.

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