Of Love and Monsters

Chapter 21, Part 1: King’s Gambit

Content Warning: Although it’s not explicit, there are references to domestic violence and child abuse. Basically, this chapter gets a little dark, but the comedy returns soon, I promise!

Magic HQ

the sages

Magic HQ, six months ago

When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

First Witch, Macbeth

L. Faba ran her hands along the bookshelf in her study. Besides books, it was packed full of wands, candles, and small treasures that had, on occasion, brought her a brief spark of joy in her long life.

She turned, catching a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror: pink hair and a pouty mouth. Pale, but not too pale for this particular century. Waving a hand, she gave herself a new set of earrings.  


Some in the supernatural community made the mistake of thinking that the Sage of Mischief Magic was vain. Not that it bothered her. Vanity was fun! And anyways, no one who made that mistake was around anymore.  

“Do you remember the grand wedding of Princess Cordelia?” she mused. “It was in the castle by that dreadful university. Had those lovely little cakes?”

“Wedding? You are getting sentimental in your old age, L. Faba, dear,” Morgyn tutted from their place lounging on the sofa.

The Sage of Untamed Magic was dressed impeccably, as usual. Today they had the look of a rakish duke—well kept but looking for trouble.  

“Sentimental? For shame, Morgyn!” L. Faba exclaimed with mock severity. “You met your lover, Aurelius, there, did you not?”

“A lover,” Simeon corrected with a frown as he materialized by another bookcase. “They met a lover. One of many. Our Morgyn is never content.”

Simeon, who looked plain by comparison in his earth-tone robes and brown boots, spoke of Morgyn’s dalliances with disapproval. The Sage of Practical Magic had exactly three interests: obtaining knowledge, gardening, and the proper conduct of witches. He had been mortal before, and the other two Sages (though they rarely said so) felt he fairly reeked of it.  

“My darling, Simeon,” Morgyn drawled with a swish of his nectar glass, “Whatever shall I do without your constant stream of esteemed opinions?”

“Children,” L. Faba warned, “Focus.” 

“Do you think it’s a good idea, really?” Simeon asked, his tone indicating that this was barely a question and he did not, point in fact, think it was a good idea.

“There is no good, only necessary,” L. Faba replied with a shrug.

Morgyn waved a hand dismissively. “And anyways, we are out of time, Simeon.” 

“Yes, but him. Is he a good idea? Vladislaus Straud? You can’t possibly think—“

“No one has heard from the God of Death in over a century,” Morgyn sniffed. “You’ve seen his earlier choices—the creatures he brought in, claiming they could carry the responsibility of godhood. Stinking, selfish, drunk wretches the whole lot of them. We could not reason with him!” 

“We have failed, but that failure has been instructive,” L. Faba noted. 

Simeon gave a huff of displeasure and crossed the room. L. Faba followed, putting her head on his shoulder. He bristled at the intrusion into his personal space but held his tongue. 

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” she cooed.

 “Salvation comes in many forms,” Morgyn added, coming to stand behind them.

“He will be difficult to control,” Simeon pointed out.

“Difficult, but not impossible. Vladislaus is not without…weak spots,” L. Faba smirked. 

Ominously, the lights chose that exact moment to burn out, plunging all three Sages into darkness. Slowly, they flickered back on, but they were dimmer.

L. Faba sighed and rolled her eyes. “For the love of magic, can someone please go see about another battery?”

Straud Castle, April 1507


dungeon, April 1507

“Never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep…”

John Milton, Paradise Lost

Vlad’s left eye may have been swollen shut but he could still make out William’s form as Sabrina led him into the cell. She looked smug, but as his father’s personal guard, “smug” was her default appearance. The only regret Vlad ever had about giving up the throne was not being able to dismiss her.  

It didn’t matter now.

“Got a visitor, Prince,” Sabrina spat, making the word “prince” seem like an insult.

“You shouldn’t have doubled back,” Vlad croaked, ignoring Sabrina to focus on William. “You should have run.”

William snorted, but it was a wet sound. Broken nose? 

“He will starve you. You should have…I can do this myself,” Vlad rasped. 

Oh aye. You’ve never done an ever-llama thing yourself, so we needn’t start that thread of conversation.”

William’s tone was jovial but his face was serious as he catalogued Vlad’s injuries. 

“He won’t starve me,” he said, holding Vlad’s gaze. “I don’t have anything he wants.”

Windenburg Woods, March 1507


Straud family hunting cottage, march 1507

“Come now, rabbit, your father is skilled but not so skilled as all this!” Vladislaus laughed, gently placing Atorn’s clay model on the table.

“But you said!” his son pleaded in that particular octave that only children under the age of ten can reach. 

“I said perhaps, rabbit, as in I could try—” Vlad started.

But Atorn, determined to get what he wanted, had already changed tactics. “If I can make it, why can’t you?” he challenged, eyebrow arched in perfect imitation of his father. 

Vlad tried to give Atorn a look of censure, but the corners of his mouth kept tilting upwards. Each day, his son was growing more and more into his own sim.

Just as he was about to concede defeat, his wife swept through the door of the cottage. 

“Atorn Straud, that’s quite enough rudeness from the likes of you!” she chastised, wiping her hands off on her skirt.

“But momma—” Atorn tried.

“Oh no you don’t. Apologize. We don’t act however we wish just because we don’t get what we want.” 

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, looking thoroughly chagrined. 

Vladislaus could not help but pity him. Kneeling, he ruffled Atorn’s hair, his voice soothing. “I suppose a bear isn’t completely impossible. We’ll try making it tomorrow. You can help me gather wood for it.”

His son brightened instantly. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” he shouted, and began zooming around the small room, growling at furniture. 

“For such an arrogant man, you’ve a soft heart,” Kaylnn teased, poking Vladislaus square in the chest. 

He snorted, sweeping her off her feet into his arms, “And yet, you married me.”

“I’ve been known to be foolish,” she quipped. 

Vlad laughed, setting her down to tuck a stray hair behind her ear before kissing her. 

She chuckled, patting her braid back into place. “We don’t have time—”

“Of course we do,” Vlad whispered, already nuzzling her neck. “We have all the time in the—”

A frantic knock sounded at the door, rattling the whole house.

Straud Castle, April 1507


dungeon, april 1507

I don’t have anything he wants. Clearly, William was not here on a visit of his own accord. Sabrina confirmed it, her sharp voice cutting through the air. “Say your piece and be done with it or I’ll drag you right back out.”  

“Your father thought I might be able to talk some sense into you,” William added, sounding light-hearted and unconcerned about Sabrina’s threat.

Vlad dropped his head in defeat. He understood how his father worked. If Josef Straud sent William ahead, it was only to remind Vlad of everything he would lose if he did not acquiesce. Aiming for Vladislaus’s weak spots was Josef Straud’s special talent.

Sabrina cleared her throat, expectantly. 

“He wishes for you to cooperate,” William clarified, his voice strong and clear as a bell. 

And then quietly, so quietly Vladislaus thought he may have imagined it: 

“He will offer you the moon, the sun, and the stars. He will promise you everything. But do not take it. Do not let him break you. We will find a way, you and I. We will find another way. I promise.”

Windenburg Woods, March 1507



Kaylnn and Vlad both broke apart at the sound of the knock. Most days it was unspoken—how every knock, every strange sound, every unfamiliar shadow, had the potential to upend their happy little life. But lately…

“Is it?” she choked out, unable to finish the sentence.

Atorn stopped playing and studied his parents, confusion clouding his grey-blue eyes. 

“Likely William or Tobias, come by to visit from town,” Vlad explained, keeping his voice purposefully light as he reached into his boot and slipped Kaylynn a small dagger.

“Remember that ribbon you wanted?”

“Y-Yes,” she replied, her voice slipping on the simple word as she grabbed the weapon with shaky hands. 

Shutting the door quietly behind them, Vlad buried his face in his hands, allowing himself a moment of despair. 

A few more months, that’s all they needed. Why now? Smothering a scream, he bit down on his tongue until he tasted plasma. It cleared his mind. 

For weeks, Kaylnn said they should go to Granite Falls. She had a bad feeling, spoke of a change in the air. We still have time, he told her, and dismissed her worrying as superstition. 

Now, he stood by the back door and felt his heart lurch into his throat as his wife and son disappeared past the line of trees. 

But there was no time for fear.

The knock sounded again.

Drawing his sword, he crossed the room and stepped outside. 

Straud Castle, April 1507


dungeon, april 1507

Some time later, Vlad had fallen asleep. It was fitful, the gnawing in his belly making it hard to rest for any amount of time. For days—weeks? he had been subsisting on crusts of bread. He was out of his mind with hunger, his wounds and bruises refusing to heal. Most days he swung between fury and hysterical laughter, with an occasional prayer to the gods he no longer believed in peppered in for good measure.

At his lowest, he simply leaned his head against the cool stone and wept. 

Safe. He promised to keep them safe. Where were all his promises now?

He cracked open an eye to find his father standing over him, flanked by two monks in flowing robes. One held a rag and poultice and the other a bowl of food. Camper’s stew. Vladislaus smelled it and for a moment, he could think of nothing else. 

“How long, my son, did you think I was going to let your little respite go on?” 

Vlad’s head snapped up, and his father, reading his look, began to laugh. “Come now Vladislaus, you did not think that I could not find you living in my countryside, hunting in my woods? Have I taught you nothing?”

His father’s reference to teaching was laughable. Josef Straud’s “lessons” typically involved a whip or a pike or whatever heavy thing happened to be nearby. Learn how to play dead, William told him over and over again. It was a lesson Vlad had not learned until now. 

He waited until he could ask about his family with a level of deference his father would approve of.

“Kaylnn and Atorn—” he began.

“On your feet when you address me,” his father snapped.

Vlad stamped out the rage building inside of him. He was in no position to make demands and Josef was unhinged enough to take his anger out on anyone. Safe. Keep them safe. He clambered to his feet, gritting his teeth.

“Father, what of my wife and my son…please.”

He struggled with the last word, wincing at the bitter taste it left on his tongue. 

“We’ll get to that, Vladislaus. My, my, don’t look so sad,” his father chided as if Vlad was an errant child in the midst of a hissy fit. “I have come to be your salvation.” 


Engagement Photoshoot Poses by Atashi77

Male Crown 1 (Original mesh) by Colores Urbanos

Jailbird Poses by JoanneBernice

Elf Ears by Sikoi

Potables (wine glasses) by Quiddity

Poses & CC by Natalia-Auditore

from the sims 4 gallery

Lost in the Woods 16K by lluispire

Many thanks to Lila_Lynn_919 for posting a copy of the Sages. It made my life 1000 times easier. 

The castle is a screenshot leftover from my last story. I cannot for the life of me find the original download to credit it. If this is yours, let me know! 

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