Of Love and Monsters

Chapter 10: Roll to Investigate a Mystery

1/29/2020 edit: Hot dang! See how far I’ve come? I originally wrote this as a bonus chapter but after cleaning up my blog for 2020 and working on “Season 2” of the story, I realized future chapters treat this as canon so it really should have its own chapter. Plus, I’ve grown in my writing over the last year. I’ve been able to incorporate the perspectives of other characters in way that I think (HOPE?) actually works 🙂

11/27/19 Original Post: What’s up? Here’s a little bonus chapter from William’s perspective. It’s a peek at what they got down to while Vlad was busy being terrorized by a girl scout. I am going to try to do a bonus chapter from the point of view of all the big secondary characters (I’ve got big plans for their stories…and love lives, in the future). I’ll sprinkle them throughout the story.

This one has a few fun easter eggs for future chapters so you know…spoilers 😉


“So you’re saying what exactly? Pretend I’m a fool who has never heard of ye olde simlish before,” William coaxed, giving the professor his best smile. 

Caleb snorted from across the room, but William expressly ignored him. Patience was the key to charm. William could force information out of anyone, if the need arose. But most information could be gathered with a smile. 

“Like an undergrad?” the professor said with an almost high-pitched giggle.

“Like an undergrad,” William purred. He leaned in closer, encouraging the professor to relax.

They had been at these interviews for a few weeks now. Neither he nor Vladislaus could make hide nor hair of the entry contained in the Elder-most Manuscript of Myths and Creatures. They had a vague sense of the story, and remembered bits of it from when they were young, but their olde simlish was rusty. Of all the old traditions that Vladislaus mourned and complained about losing, William had to admit he was actually right about this one. 


Speaking of Vladislaus, how had he even gotten the book? If memory served, it had been the Windenburg monks’ most prized possession. William had just assumed they lost everything in the fire. Though, knowing his old friend, he should have also assumed Vladislaus had set that fire. 

Regardless of how the book had come into Vladislaus’s possession, they needed help if they were going to make sense of the translation. Vladislaus, to achieve his misguided goal of ridding himself of a conscience. William and Caleb, to find the trick of the words that would help them force Vladislaus into his new state permanently

Though, knowing his old friend, he should have also assumed Vladislaus had set that fire. 

Change was necessary and Vladislaus Straud had long had problem with things being different.

“What I mean is that ze Owl is not an object. It may manifest like that, I suppose, but from everything I’m reading, ze Owl was a real creature. Or at least, real as far as ze myth was concerned. You understand, no? It belonged to ze Goddess Elmira and she betrayed her lover, ze God of Death, in order to see the bird’s feathers restored. She was ze one who discovered that it could only undo states, not create them,” he explained.

William scowled, “So the threads of fate were sewn backwards? That’s a mighty trick.”

“Exactly! Yes! In ze ancient myths, ze Fates were almost always depicted as tricksters.”

“So what about these warnings here, in ye olde simlish? I’m pretty rusty…” William ventured with a wink.

“Yes, right, give me a moment!” The professor dashed over to his computer and began typing.

Caleb groaned and scrubbed a hand over his face.

Caleb Vatore was not an “ask questions first” sort of creature. He was a “stab them between the shoulder blades with a knife dipped in paralyzing poison first, ask questions second” sort of creature. If Vladislaus was a monster, he had made Caleb in his own image. That made it all the more alarming that even Caleb, bloodthirsty as he was, thought that it was necessary for Vladislaus to change. 

Though his reasons were undoubtedly his own, Caleb was wise enough to realize that Vladislaus was on a path towards self-destruction. A “self-destruction” that put all of the Windbernburg vampires in danger, given what Vlad truly was.

If Vladislaus was a monster, he had made Caleb in his own image.

And while Caleb talked with William about a new order among vampires and agreed with William’s goals of clearing out the toxic leadership like Bloodvein and Miss Hell, there was something else underneath his revolutionary streak.

He wanted to go home.

Caleb had a deep longing to find his sister Lilith and return to Magnolia Promenade. But like William, he found it difficult to abandon their friend in his hour of greatest need.

Yes, Vladislaus referred to them like staff, but they knew better. They were, all of them, friends. Or at least, as complicated and messy a form of friendship as one could have among long-lived creatures and royal egos. 

William leaned against the wall and continued to wait patiently, glancing at the professor’s computer screen.

He smothered a laugh when Caleb threw up his arms and stalked from the room.

Tobias had been like that. He found William’s laid-back nature infuriating. In between making love and fighting King Josef’s never-ending batch of wars, bookish Tobias would take William to task for every inaction.

Tobias had plans.

William had learned to coast on the sea of whatever nonsense the day brought. It had been like since the day Josef Straud rode into the village and plucked him from his home. 

After a few more minutes Caleb returned. He was antsy, so it was clearly time to wrap this up.

“Anything?” he prompted, now taking a moment to appreciate the professor’s firm build underneath his cardigan. 

The time for flirting is not now, he reminded himself. 

“Vell, I can say this. Ze Owl of Undoing must be earned or freely given. Ze Sages released it into the world at ze behest of ze Fates. It’s for ze God of Death’s supposed heir to earn, though, technically, it’s open to anyone who can get their hands on it. Fate’s trickery at work!” he exclaimed.

Anyone could get their hands on it?

William sucked in a breath. This was a huge problem. It meant they weren’t just trying to ensure Vladislaus failed at retrieving it, but they were trying to keep it out of everyone else’s hands too. And who knew what kind of vile creature would be heir to the God of Death? 

“I see. This is so helpful. Is there any way you could get a printed translation for us, doc? We’d sure appreciate it. For the journal, of course,” William replied, using the cover story that he had concocted on their way to the university.

“Absolutely, let me just fire up ze printer.” The professor crossed to his computer, tapped a button and then slipped out of the office to retrieve the papers from the printer down the hall.

Caleb’s smile was wide, “So good ole Vlad-y will have to earn it. Well, we all know that won’t happen. Get the papers and we can break the news to him after I have a talk with the dryads.”

William stopped him. “It’s not just Vladislaus we have to worry about. Didn’t you hear him? Anyone could get their hands on this…we’ll be up to our eyeballs in surveillance and tracking…w-wait…I thought you were after the gnomes?”

“I’ve already confirmed the gnomes were just covering for someone,” Caleb cracked his neck, “They broke easily. It’s the dryads who are keeping secrets.”

William shook his head. “It’s no matter. Can you imagine if Bloodvein, or Miss Hell or any of their ilk got their hands on it?”

A flash of worry crossed over Caleb’s face. “But no one else even knows it exists!”

Now, it was William’s turn to snort. “You’re as big a fool as he is if you think there is no one else in the world with a television and knowledge about ancient myths and magical objects. And you’re both a set of cabbages for thinking the world ends and begins with supernaturals.”

“So the Gods are real?” Caleb asked. “I had always been under the impression that they were a myth. Something sims made up to explain the Sages and the magic realm.”

To be fair, William had thought the same thing for a long time. But he had spent a few decades in Selvadorada when Vlad first took up with Miss Hell and wandering through those ancient caves and temples had made him reconsider. 

“We’re real, aren’t we? There’s a whole other realm containing witches and Sages, and other creatures. Dryads grow from trees! The Fae have a kingdom in the lost lands beyond the sea! Why couldn’t there be gods? Why couldn’t there be scores of other realms that we’ve never even heard of?”

Caleb looked like he was about to respond but clamped his mouth shut when the professor returned. He handed them a piece of paper. William thanked him with a long handshake and a smoldering look. Then he and Caleb took their leave.

They kept their mouths shut the whole walk back through campus. As an extra precaution, they took two different paths and didn’t dare look at each other. The eyes of Bloodvein and Miss Hell were everywhere. Not to mention, the witches were recruiting on campus and they didn’t need to be anymore riled up then they already were. Besides, it felt like they were in possession of a huge secret.

A huge, dangerous secret.

Eventually they reconvened at the hillside on the outskirts of Windenburg-proper. Somewhere over the last hour, the weather had shifted. Rain was falling in light but determined patterns. They stood in front of an old pub called The Shrieking Llama. 

William knew it well. He remembered when it had dirt floors and served mead. He also remembered that it didn’t have outdoor access to the second floor. In the old days, the Bludgeon family—the pub’s first owners—had lived upstairs. The new owners cleared the space out and last he checked, they’d begun renovations in hopes of renting it out for weddings and parties.

But like most homes, the stairs were inside the house. 

William said as much to Caleb who simply replied, “As far as they know, they don’t outside access to the second floor.”

It must be enchanted. Caleb had no qualms about deals and negotiations with witches. William didn’t hate them as much as Vladislaus did, but he didn’t completely trust them either. 

“Keep up old man!” Caleb shouted, jogging towards the stairs.

William grunted. As they approached, he felt the rush of magic around him. It settled along the contours of his body, matching the hum of his veins with the frequency of the enchantment that surrounded the stairs. The whole experience was disorienting.

“And what exactly do you need secret outdoor access to the The Shrieking Llama for?” William hissed as they marched up the stairs. The enchantment felt heavy and unnatural around him. 

Caleb waited until they got upstairs to answer, “The dryads are hiding something, and I mean to find out what it is. Besides, I’ve always wanted my own space. This will do nicely.”

Caleb sat down at a desk with a series of computer screens and a bunch of other equipment that looked like radios piled on top. William didn’t bother to point out that The Shrieking Llama had their own plans for the second floor. Caleb had probably already purchased it, and then paid a witch to enchant the the owners into forgetting there even was a second floor.

Vladislaus’s own.

Though he’d never say that to Caleb. It would make him furious and Vladislaus already made him furious on a pretty regular basis. The two could not be more alike if they tried. 

Caleb began fiddling with the knobs and dials. At first, it was nothing but static. Then, clear as day, an airy high-pitched voice came through. It might’ve sounded like gibberish to a mortal, but William recognized the language.

“Gotcha!” Caleb exclaimed as he clicked on an image of sound waves on the screen. They both listened for a moment.

“She’s going to check on the offering’s progress. The new plants require…nutrients?”  William asked.

William was unsure what it all meant. But nevertheless, Caleb was right. The dryads were hiding something. Never let it be said that Caleb Vatore was not the best spy the world had ever seen. 

“They’ve been feeding something,” Caleb agreed. “And now that I have a little back up, it’s time to find out what it is.”

They headed back down the stairs again (which William still found disorienting) but Caleb stopped him before they could round the corner of the pub.

“What do you see?” he murmured.

“I see that your back-up has to do all of the heavy lifting,” William replied through gritted teeth.

“She hasn’t seen you before and…” Caleb paused to let out an annoyed sigh. “And my reputation precedes me here.”

Great spy, terrible temper, William thought with a grimace. They all had their flaws, he supposed.

William relented. “She’s standing outside of the pub. She’s heading out towards the woods. Ready to follow?”

“Just give it a minute,” Caleb sighed knowingly.

And sure enough, the dryad changed direction.

“And what do we do now, oh great and knowledgeable spy?” William huffed.

Now we follow,” Caleb replied, his tone smug.

They took great pains not to get too close. They refrained from using their vampire speed, so as not to alert the dryad to their movements.

Not that regular running was a hardship, but William ached to pour on the speed and just catch up with her. Without realizing it, he had started to pull ahead. Caleb sped up too, but only to try and cut him off.

The message was clear, William was drawing attention.

But it was too late. The dryad stopped to check in with the leaves. She knew she had been spotted.

Cover blown, they began to close the gap. They weren’t quite using their full vampire speed, but they caught up with her pretty quickly.

She stopped short. “Fuck this,” William cursed, and unleashed his full speed. He would just charm her. Caleb was too often all “stick”, William understood the value of the carrot. 

“Wait, we are not here to hurt you!” William cried as he sped towards her.

He gentled his tone as he approached. “We’re just here to hel—”

A cloud of dryad dust coated his face. His last coherent thought before he went under was: in the future, less carrot and more stick.

Then he was frozen, still as a tree.

He heard Caleb’s annoyed growl, and saw the tendrils of his power slinking past the dryad’s defenses but he couldn’t make sense of any of it.

He knew the second the command latched onto her brain. She waved her arms in distress. Caleb must’ve told her to release her magic because William could feel the control of his muscles slowly returning to his body.

Caleb stalked over to them and roared, baring his fangs and leaning in menacingly. “Don’t you try it, dryad. I’m not like him,” he spat and angled his head towards William. 

“I’m not here to help. I’m here to rip your fucking throat out!”

She reared back, as a garbled scream came pouring out.  

William recovered himself. “There, there. Now that we’ve established which one of us is good cop and which one of us is bad. Why don’t you tell us what’s going on.”

The dryad rushed to spill her secrets so quickly, her words tumbled over top of each other. 

“It’s in the barn! We didn’t call it! It must be a gift from the tree gods in the sky! I’m just to mind the plants and keep them healthy. That’s all, I swear!” she cried.

“Not a word of this, or next time I won’t let him stop me,” Caleb warned. She nodded frantically and ran off towards the trees.

They approached the dilapidated old barn cautiously. It looked abandoned, save for a slight glow coming from just inside the doors. There was indeed a strange plant growing outside next to a cardboard box of junk. 

“Are you sure I’m enough back-up?” William asked as he took stock of their surroundings.

He was a warrior, not an idiot.

Fear and bravery were not incompatible. And often times, a healthy dose of fear kept you alive.

“No.” Caleb answered honestly. 

Slowly, they opened the doors and stepped inside. What they saw stopped them both dead in their tracks.

Inside the barn, surrounded by vines and flowers (and, inexplicably, wood offerings from the gnomes), was an alien spaceship. One in dire need of repair, but still, it was like something straight out of the movies.

“Well, fuck me with a spoon,” Caleb gasped, borrowing one of William’s favorite sayings.

William frowned. “Still think the only worlds that exist are the ones we know about?” 


Facial Expressions 2 by JoanneBernice

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