“You will be haunted,” resumed the Ghost, “by Three Spirits.” Scrooge’s countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost’s had done. “Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?” he demanded, in a faltering voice. “It is.” “I—I think I’d rather not,” said Scrooge. —Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
You don’t want to be visited? Well too bad, poor reader! In honor of the holiday, Bonus Stuff #5 is my take on Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and a very smol glimpse at Christmas Future.
BTW I’m gearing up to take a little time off to build sets and edit the next batch of chapters, which I’m now thinking of as Season Two. I’ve got some blog housekeeping (my theme is way out of date and it’s causing HEADACHES on the backend) and a ton of SimLit to catch up on.
After this, I’ll have one more chapter (Chapter 10, Part 1 & 2) that’ll go live on Sunday. And maybe I’ll squeeze in a New Year’s post, but we’ll see.
In the meantime, thanks for sticking with me and reading along! I hope this gift makes up for my lack of posts over the next few weeks 🙂
Some answers about the past. Specifically, Vladislaus’s past.
Vladislaus Straud hardly ever dreamed of the battlefields.
Of the towering pile of limbs and viscera, those that he hadn’t consumed bodily, too torn to knit themselves back together. Or the flames and singed flesh he watched not with horror, but with hunger.
And he hadn’t wanted to stop either.
William had been there, to run him through with a silver sword. Silver, which would not kill him, for creatures like he were granted no such mercy.
He understood that. Now.
The sword had simply pinned him, gave him a moment to think and shove the darkness back down, caging it behind bone and marrow made mostly of his own willpower.
And the thing that was left, the husk of Vladislaus Straud felt nothing.
And in that nothingness that was still anger, and still grief, a certain kind of cruelty began to form.
Not the unhinged madness that burned the abbey of heretical monks and stole and stabbed and killed to survive.
But a cruelty that began to think, wars would be waged, lands would be conquered, and things were best done not by partnership, but by fear.
The dream would shift then. He’d see Kaylnn’s face and Atorn’s too.
He would feel regret for what he had traded.
Recall the moment he climbed into the mouth of the cave, dropping to his knees, and begging the demon to take this useless soul swirling inside him and grant him clemency from his unending misery.
Remembered how the demon had torn through his flesh and climbed inside, the pain unconscionable; and for a moment, Vladislaus Straud, not yet king, had welcomed it.