Chapter 13: Academic Blues

The Gnome’s Arms Pub, Henford-on-Bagley

ALICE

“Excuse me!” The woman at the end of the bar waved. “I’ve been waiting for a drink all evening.”

And you’ll keep waiting, Alice thought. It had been easier to ignore her when there were more sims in the bar, but now it was taking all of Alice’s concentration. She missed Vlad. When he was around, this sort of thing didn’t happen. 

“Hey, can we get some water for Lucy?” one of the sims who came in with the bachelorette party gestured at the restroom, “She’s in the bathroom puking.”

Just great.

“I cannot believe you’re just going to ignore me!” the woman at the end of the bar growled, “I’ve been sitting here for hours.”

It was the entitlement that had Alice gritting her teeth. She didn’t so much as glance in the woman’s direction as she followed the group to the bathroom. The clean-up was gross, but toddlers got you pretty well accommodated with gross, so Alice managed it without much fanfare. Afterward, she tucked the stumbling lot of them into a taxi to return to their bed and breakfast.

“I want a drink!” the woman screeched.

“You don’t need one!” Alice hissed, “You don’t need food at all, so can you please just—”

“Who are you talking to?” Michael asked as he set down a box of bottles he’d carried up from the basement. 

“N-no one,” Alice stammered. 

The woman began to sob, hunching forward to reveal the gruesome knife plunged into her skull.  

“Just complaining to myself about cleaning up all the puke,” Alice finished, breathless.

He grimaced, “Yeah, when I offered to drop off the mushrooms she ordered, Sarah said you were working really hard. She told me she left a bonus for you under the cash register.” 

The woman’s sobs grew frantic, and red energy began to pour out of her.

Alice dug her nails into her palms and forced a smile. “Thanks, it’s no big deal. Would you mind locking up? I’m spent.”

“Sure, but—”

Alice didn’t wait for the rest of his answer. She grabbed the envelope and high-tailed it out of the bar.

Sims International Hotel, Oasis Springs

VLAD

It was only practice that kept him from limping. That, and sheer, burning determination.

His dark form pulsed again, begging to be let out, the hunger now insistent, like knives being driven under his skin. 

Shaking with the effort of leashing it, he stumbled into the bathroom and flung open the cabinets, searching for a bottle of painkillers and crying out when his hands trembled so badly he spilled them. 

He crawled, scooping them up, then tore at his clothing and hobbled into the shower. The pulsing sound of the water helped drown out the aching roar in his ears. It was too many painkillers. If he were mortal, he’d be dead. But they worked with whatever occult energy he could release to dull the pain until it became almost hazy.

He stretched out on the bed and turned on the livestream of the conference. Lilith was brilliant, carefully laying out her work on interpreting old manuscripts. Vlad closed his eyes and leaned back, smiling whenever he heard her reference a book or an argument he remembered from her ongoing thesis. Every few decades, when she had to pretend to be a student again, she worked to refine it, albeit in terms mortals would find acceptable.

Magic, Lilith believed, wasn’t just contained in old books as spells; the old books were magic all their own. They held a spell only until the idea of it took on a life of its own and no longer needed the pages as a physical container. Or at least, that was his best understanding of it. Lilith had written most of it in formulas and numbers. She said that was how magic made sense to her. Vlad knew the taste of magic, the shape, weight, and smell of it—but not its logic.

He was just starting to relax and maybe fall asleep for the first time in years when there was a commotion onscreen. The bespectacled sim that corned him earlier was peppering Lilith with absurd arguments and observations. 

“…but you’ve only done a preliminary review of these texts. As Goodley Mather detailed in The Ultimate Vampire Tome, occult energy is patriarchal in nature; it’s why male vampires have better control of it. Now, if men could harness that power—“

“Is there a question in there?” Lilith asked icily.

Suddenly, Vlad was standing in front of the TV, nostrils flaring.

Devour.

He had been hungry, so hungry. He bared his teeth and took note of the sim’s name, tracking the sound of the man’s walk. Vlad was so immersed that he barely noticed as the last of his bones cracked back into place, and light sparked in the eye that was usually dead. 

When the sim got up and left, Vlad did too. He stood in the hallway like a man deranged, listening for the cadence of those steps.

And when he heard it…

“Good evening Biffington Bobridge; as it turns out, I also have a question that’s really more of a comment.”

    4 comments
  • Yimiki
    November 15, 2022

    Welcome back! 😄

    Freelancing business 😆 So far, Alice seems to be the better improvisor in a pinch. Or is it the better liar in a pinch? Eh. They don’t seem to be mutually exclusive with those two. To be fair, Alice, even the most stone-cold of bosses are no match for Tiny Toddler Terror.

    BEN! I weirdly missed him, infuriating as he was the first time around. Hm, he does look significantly less… healthy? Is that the word? And Grim downright knows the “previous” world to, it seems. Curious. Why are they specifically there for Gwendolyn, I wonder.

    Oh! Ethren the ex! My gods he does have a lot of… err, appeal. Did we learn why they split up in the first place? We haven’t yet, right? Wha- is that Miko? 😧 Nah, surely I didn’t see that right. Interesting bit of lore about the origins of werewolves and vampires there…

    With all the trouble that seeing dead people could bring, having someone get increasingly mad because they’re not getting a drink they can’t enjoy had not crossed my mind. Maybe they’ll realise it when someone sits down in their seat… though pearl lady doesn’t seem aware enough for that either.

    I should probably feel bad for the poor sod who’s about to get torn limb from limb by Vlad there. He’s hiding some pretty mysoginistic views under his “research” but that doesn’t warrant whatever brutal death is about to… well. If that helps calm Vlad down, then it helps calm Vlad down, doesn’t it? And the guy is still alive! I think! Maybe!

    Oh dear. Snapped a shot and then sent it over without thinking, and now he’s seen Gwendolyn. Let’s see how that plays out. Something tells me Vlad won’t mind nearly as much as Alice thinks he will. Bwahaha small boobies 😆 Gwen is adorable.

    • feroshgirl
      November 15, 2022

      Thank you! I am slowly returning to life and getting back into simlit again! I took a few weeks just to play the game without any worries of producing anything and it was glorious. I was admittedly burnt out. I hear there has been some Tales of Camelot in my absence so I am eager to catch up. Onto your comment!

      Ha! Alice is definitely smoother than Vlad, though I think he’s just exhausted by pretending with her. I think they are both exhausted by pretending with each other, which is why they need that kick in the butt to just be honest with each other.

      Mommy has small boobies is the best toddler line I’ve ever written LOL.

      And you’re right, Gwendolyn is not for the faint of heart. I don’t know anyone who could handle her, Vlad included.

      Haha, I do think if you saw the dead everywhere they’d be more annoying that scary. At this point, Alice is just like: can you all please stop talking at once and don’t bother me!

      I love that you “almost” felt bad, but couldn’t quite summon it up. I mean, I wrote it and SAME.

      I think if anything, Vlad is more enamored. We know he loves kids LOL

      • Yimiki
        November 18, 2022

        Just playing the sims with no screenshotting responsibilities is wonderful sometimes. I do that every once in a while, too. Glad to hear you’ve recharged a bit 😄 Haha, there has been, but it’ll still be there whenever 😗

        And now I want to see a filler episode with all of your cast just trying to handle Gwendolyn’s toddlerness, lol. Morgyn, Lilith, Caleb, Bella, Anastasia, Penny…. and they have to do it without harming the kid. I wonder how long they’d last before they go (even more) mental 😂 Mortimer, William and Vlad seem like they could actually pull it off, so they’re not allowed to participate. 🤣

  • Snow ~
    November 19, 2022

    Sorry I’m so late to these chapters ;-;
    I love Gwen constantly interrupting Alice when she’s trying to pee. Toddlers never need something when you’re not busy XD Ah yes, the joys of the toddler ‘why?’ BECAUSE I SAID SO KID! Ah yes the return of B’ollithranon! And now all of the wondrous crazy stuff from BBD is gonna bleed right into Strauds and I’m here for it. Ohh gosh I don’t even want to THINK about Olive Specter as a babysitter XD So much I can’t say cuz I don’t wanna spoil BB for other readers but yeah maybe Ben is not the best person to have as a babysitter. Then again…possibly a better option than Olive Specter!

    Even someone with as much life knowledge as Vlad seems so out of place in one of those pretentious-ass conventions.
    ‘No, I have not read this obscure-ass paper and could not give less of a fuck.’
    ‘No please! Discuss it with me! You HAVE to know how much smarter I am than you! I got full marks in a spelling test in Year Four!’

    Yes here he is, glorious Ethren Reyes! I love that he’s half-vampire, so damn much. And that flirty edge. Kinda like when Penny’s traumatic experiences slipped in during convo and now we’re seeing it with Vlad as well…I love how you tied in the Werewolves pack lore with the Magic Realm lore so much aaaa! Now that I think about it it makes the spellcasters seem a lot more terrifying to know that witches created werewolves and vampires. Sort of like their own little murderous Frankenstein’s monsters.
    Yess Vlad, go feral > : )

    Ohhhh I wonder what that energy was? Has the uhh…powers / senses she had before in another universe come back in some way? I like the tie of magic and logic as well, since often magic there is not really anything sort of logic-wise or explainable about it, it just…is. I wonder if trying to apply a ‘definite answers’ mathematical edge to magic would help Lilith understand it better, or if it’s misplaced effort. For me magic isn’t supposed to be wholly understood, but then that would come with vampirism wouldn’t it? You have all the time in the world, why wouldn’t you make an effort to try and understand every little thing and boil it all down to some kind of formula?

    I really love the vampire / patriarchal energy thing as well from the vampire tome, since that’s something that ties in with my own vampire lore and that will come up in a soon-later chapter- that privileged men make good vampires and are less regretful of vampirism because in reality, it’s little new to them. Because they have never had to hide their chaos, they’ve never had to tone themselves down, their violence is almost always justified on the grand scale. It’s no different to before the turning other than the immortality and the drinking blood.

    I love that they’ve both had fucked-up days and they’re both like ‘yeah it was alright honey!’ XD ‘100 Kinky Things You Might Be Into With Convenient Product Placement From Our Sponsors’ list’ made me laugh so fucking hard XD Right alongside ‘You Are Perfect The Way You Are Queen! Now Buy This £4k Dress Or Men Won’t Want To Fuck You.’ GWEN! TIMING! Ohhh my gosh XD And the ‘mommy has small boobies!’ I’m gone XD

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