Our story continues
Alice got sick after her release from jail and grew even more stressed when Lilith filled her in on the horrors of the supernatural world. Vlad struggled to maintain stability, but after a huge fight with Lilith, he turned to his ex-wife and estranged son for help. His conversation with Anastasia began with a swordfight and ended in an uneasy truce. His conversation with Caleb included some cringe-worthy discussion about safe sex before they also agreed to work together. Bella, who was busy eavesdropping on father and son, decided on her own plan to “save Alice,” and in a bit of good news: Caleb figured out why Titania was so upset.
This chapter contains strong language, adult situations, violence, gore, and depictions of grief, trauma, and severe depression.
Vlad was sitting in the dark. Though, to be fair, he wasn’t just sitting. He was thinking—trying to figure out how to manage the many conflicts that had popped up without getting Alice involved.
When he returned from Caleb’s, she was shaking so badly she couldn’t hold a cup of water. Eyes full of panic, she asked him about witches being hunted, Operation Eternal Flame, and whether Gwendolyn could die from displaying any sign of magic. By the time he calmed her down, he didn’t have the heart to give her any more terrifying news—like how he could finally sense the magic thrumming beneath her skin and the fine vibrations that indicated it was growing in Gwendolyn.
“I know you love Alice and Gwendolyn, but you can’t choose them over your own children,” Latimer announced. He tried to flip on the light, but Vlad snuffed it out with a thought.
Consuming magic had a strange effect on him. He couldn’t command it, but for a while, certain things just responded to his thoughts. It should be enjoyable—the rush of power—but Vlad had learned not to trust it. He liked it too much; it made him feel out of sorts even as it ostensibly gave him more control over his body. The aches and pains? Gone. His nerve endings fired correctly, he could see out of both eyes and the limp he pushed his body not to acknowledge never materialized. Without the sheer effort he spent keeping himself upright, he had time to observe the world.
And unfortunately for the world, Vladislaus Straud found it lacking.
“I talked to Lilith, and she said you threw her out,” Latimer continued.
“Yes, and on her way, she put the fear of the occult in Alice,” Vlad didn’t spare him a glance, “Or did my dear daughter leave that part out?”
“She said that because she’s hurt. She don’t understand what happened with you and Ethren, and despite what you know about his intentions, she has a good relationship with him. He did stay for the conference.”
Latimer blew right by Lilith’s offense, and Vlad couldn’t decide if he was annoyed or grateful that his daughter had such staunch defenders. “I stayed,” he snapped.
“Well, she couldn’t see you! How was she to know? You know I love you, but I can’t for the life of me understand why you do the things you do. In what world does it make sense to just fuck off to a hotel room and watch something that you should be experiencing live with your damn child!”
In a world where his ex-husband riled him, his body hurt, and every interaction with a sim felt like a thousand pinpricks across his skin. But Vlad couldn’t explain that, so he let Latimer keep going.
“And Alice don’t know shit about Oasis Springs. You plannin’ to break your promise to Caleb too?”
“Obviously, not.” Vlad wanted to take care of everything, but every time he thought he was getting some relief, like Eliza’s death being ruled accidental, something else popped up.
“Are you even listening to me? That’s the choice you’re going to make?”
“I haven’t made a choice,” Vlad pinched his brow.
“You have! You’re making it now by not talking to your children and sorting out what’s going on!”
“And say what?” His voice echoed through the room. “Lilith will only be satisfied if I re-enter a toxic relationship with my ex-husband because she has fond but delusional memories of him. If I follow through with Caleb, I’m forcing Alice to take on a life she didn’t want and never asked for at a time when she’s completely traumatized by her first brush with it. But if I say no to Caleb, he will have all his worst thoughts about me confirmed—that I am listless and selfish and care not for him. I don’t have choices, Latimer; I have a devil, a deep blue sea, and endless waves between in which to drown myself!”
There was a long beat of silence before Latimer spoke. “I…what can I do?”
Vlad’s phone vibrated, flashing Alice’s name. “Nothing,” he said as he picked it up, “I’m full up on help from members of this family. I’ll sort it myself.”
Anastasia leaned against the bar, examining the bottle she was holding. Carbonated plasma was surprisingly good. It gave her the feeling of drinking beer but with the pleasant flavor of someone else’s life force.
The owner of the bar, an ancient vampire named Lily Feng, smiled—her Champs Les Sims accent a warm purr, “I haven’t seen you this down since the death of Evelyn Rose. What’s got you so bent out of shape? Is it the press? That ex-husband of yours?”
“Please, the press loves me.” Or they thought that she was a psycho and a robot. “Vladislaus remains as miserable as ever.” Or stupidly happy and in love. “And I haven’t thought about Evelyn Rose in over a century.” Or every day. Especially now as her life crumbled and she felt what she desired most slipping away.
“If that was you pretending to be convincing, you should pick another trade, Anastasia.”
“And if your new business model is harassing your customers instead of serving them, I can find somewhere else to get mediocre plasma in a cheap bottle.”
Lily cocked a brow. “I’m going to take that to mean you need to blow off steam. Victor and I are available. Of course, if you like your stress relief tinged with revenge, I hear Ethren is looking to reassemble the Vampire Council. Vladisalus loves power and loathes witches, so imagine how disappointed he will be to hear his ex-husband has gone to war with the Sages without him. And you,” a slow perusal that hovered at Ana’s hips before moving back up, “You love violent conflict with no discernable end date. It’s one of your most attractive qualities.”
The answer was no to all of it. Anastasia was well aware of Ethren’s plans, and she already regretted the part she played in them. And Ancient Vampires were lunatics, so no matter how transformative the sex was, the likelihood of survival was low.
“Write your phone number on that napkin,” Ana instructed, ignoring Lily’s smirk as she pulled out a tube of red lipstick and dotted the “i” in her name with a heart.
“And the Vampire Council?”
“Wars are for the young,” Ana snorted, “The world has changed. Nowadays, it would take a miracle or mastermind to wrangle an army of vampires. And the mortal headaches it would bring would hardly be worth the effort”
“Speaking of mortal headaches,” Lily licked her lips as Luna walked in. As usual, the sim was dressed in a pink confection of a suit. Ana asked her about it once, but the girl would only say that it was an old habit from her days in a high school club, and she liked the color.
“Don’t ogle my assistant,” Ana snapped, waving Lily away. She turned her attention to Luna, “How did it go with the lawyers?”
“Fine,” she frowned, “I think they were expecting you and not your assistant, but they threatened to tie the police department up in so much litigation it’d take a century to get out if they so much as thought the name ‘Alice Martin.’”
“Uh…is Alice a friend?”
“A favor for my ex-husband.” Vlad and Alice’s devotion to each other still stung. Ana’s jealousy wasn’t sexual—she’d rather be drawn and quartered than sleep with him again—but she did want something similar with Penny. As it stood, her devotion was one-sided.
And probably psychotic.
“You seem bummed about it.” Luna moved closer to the bar but didn’t take a seat. She was doing a surprisingly good job of acting like she wasn’t scared out of her mind.
“Yes, well, I thought he was going to ask me to fly around the world and steal into the minds of every law enforcement official until they forgot Alice existed and barely remembered how to piss.”
“Holy llamas!” her assistant took an involuntary step back. “Y-you can do that?”
Ana shrugged. “Did you get anything on the twat that set Penny off?”
“Bella Goth? She was getting fired.”
Satisfying, but not nearly enough suffering for what she put Penny through. Killing Nina was quick, but Ana needed to take her time with Bella—come up with something truly creative. “You stole her personnel files?”
Luna set them down on the bar, her hands trembling. “It wasn’t hard. No one was paying attention to me, but…” she bit her lip, “Won’t Penny be mad at you for interfering with her friendships?”
“No.” A lie. Penny would be pissed. Not that it mattered. “We have an understanding.”
Luna was smart enough not to voice the doubt that was splashed across her face. “Oh, okay, that’s good. Um, where is she? I thought you two might want me to book dinner or something to celebrate your award.”
“You won Best Supporting Actress,” the sim prompted, “At the Starlight Accolades. Remember?”
Ana had forgotten or blocked it. It seemed she was cursed to have every one of her meaningful career moments destroyed by whoever she was in a relationship with. “Penny’s busy,” she replied airily, turning back towards the bar. “And I have plenty to keep me busy without worrying about some stupid dinner to celebrate an accomplishment I don’t care about.”
SAN MYSHUNO SUBURBS
Bella didn’t feel anything when she was fired. For hours, she’d steeled herself. Sacrifices had to be made. The chief had no idea what supernatural forces were at play, what lives hung in the balance. And so, when he laid into her, Bella left her body.
“Are you insane? We build cases based on evidence, Bella. Yes, there’s a little leeway to follow a hunch, but this is egregious!”
“Holy llamas! Even if we weren’t in danger of being sued, I’d fire you!”
Bella nodded again and kept nodding until she felt like a bobblehead doll.
The lawyers for Alice were expensive; they made her sign a bunch of documents that she didn’t read because what did it matter? None of them understood what was really going on. Alice probably didn’t. She was manipulated into joining the supernatural and was now stuck in a dangerous world she didn’t understand. Of course, she was throwing her lot in with Caleb and his father.
Vampires were excellent liars.
Her co-workers mostly treated her like she was poison. Assholes. The only sim who would answer her questions about Salim was the girl who came with the lawyers.
“He’s lawyered up too?” Bella asked casually as she watched Salim getting checked out.
The girl looked angry at first but carefully schooled her expression. “No, we have no association with Salim Benali.”
Definitely a vampire. Bella nodded her thanks and made a mental note of the girl’s description in case she became a problem later.
Something told her to keep an eye on Salim. She wasn’t sure she believed Caleb and his father. After all, the vampire openly admitted to lusting after Alice. His dislike of Salim was probably grounded in sexual jealousy.
Bella followed the man back to his apartment and waited outside the building. When he walked out carrying a suitcase, she worried that maybe Caleb was right. If so, no one else but her was around to stop Alice’s ex from flying to Windenburg and murdering her.
Which was why Bella followed him to the airport.
At the airport, Bella ducked behind a statue to give herself a minute to think. She had no badge, so if following Salim went poorly, she was on her own.
But then again, she’d never find him if she lost sight of him now.
She had to do this.
How could she head back to some quiet life at home with her kids, knowing that Alice and her child were in the grips of dangerous monsters she had no hope of winning against?
Keeping her head down, Bella ducked into line but couldn’t resist peeking over her shoulder. Salim wouldn’t notice her dressed in civilian clothing. In fact, he wouldn’t notice anything the way he was blithely staring at the vending machine.
Still, she had to get her hands on a change of clothes.
And maybe a wig…
A thrill went through her.
“Can I help you?” the attendant asked when she reached the ticket counter.
“Absolutely,” Bella smiled, sliding over her credit card. “One ticket to Windenburg, please.”
“So you want to take a road trip because Penny left you?” Lilith asked as she took a sip from her cup. She was the only one with coffee. When Ana tried to order, her daughter deemed her entirely too antsy.
“No. I want to take a road trip because Penny’s been kidnapped by dangerous bandits who I may or may not have to slaughter with my bare hands.”
“Is this a sex fantasy, or do you actually think something happened to her?”
“Both can be true.”
“No, they can’t,” Lilith rolled her eyes, exasperated. “Mother, you don’t have any proof she was forcibly taken. And no, damage to your apartment doesn’t count. Penny is a baby werewolf. I’m sorry she destroyed your things before breaking up with you, but that makes her a twat, not a victim.”
“You don’t know that!” Ana rubbed her forehead, a nervous gesture she didn’t usually allow herself. Lilith didn’t miss it.
“Are you alright? You’re wearing couture, and you haven’t once asked me if Father met with some sort of unfortunate accident.”
“Hope springs eternal.”
Anastasia dug her nails into her legs. She wasn’t ready to talk about the effect of Vladislaus’s visit. It just reminded her of how upside-down everything was. She’d actually enjoyed his company, and it made her miss their friendship. Or perhaps more accurately, it reminded Ana that she didn’t have friends. “I’m fine,” she muttered.
“You are not,” Lilith hissed. “I’m going to tell you what no one else will since you’re so clearly being coddled. You are a mess. And you don’t know how to recover because you fall hard for anyone who shows you affection and is likely to break your heart. I’d tell you and Father to start a club, but you already had one. It was called your marriage, and it failed because both of you are self-centered and off your rockers. Why you brought two unsuspecting children into it, I’ll never know. And—” she broke off, finally noticing Ana’s expression.
“No, please, continue.”
Lilith faltered. “I didn’t mean it.”
“Of course you did. You always do. And despite my ill-advised decision to have a cup of coffee with my unsuspecting child, I will forgive you for it.”
They walked back to Lilith’s house in silence.
“I said I didn’t mean it,” she said again when they reached the front door. “I’m just…I’m tired of dealing with your drama and you bringing all of your bullshit to my front door! What daughter wants constant unannounced visits and nagging from her mother and all because she can’t stop slumming it with disinterested snatch?”
Lilith thought her dangerous magic made her monster, and cruelty was how she’d decided to live up to the title. But Anastasia had endured cruelty, and the same thing was true now as had been 950 years ago when she shoved a pocketwatch down that old nun’s throat: she didn’t take anyone’s shit.
“W-why are you looking at me like that?” Lilith gulped.
“No reason. Cheer up, daughter-mine. Perhaps one of these days, you’ll be so lucky as to have someone disinterested in you too.”
Ana waved Luna down from market stalls in the San Myshuno Fashion District.
“I’m sorry I’m late!” The sim bit her lip, “Traffic was awful. It’s hard to get across the city; I don’t know how you do it.”
“Yes.” Ana turned on her heel, “The last time I drove, some man called me a bitch, and I snapped his neck, so I figured flying is safer for all parties.”
Luna squeaked and rushed to catch up, “W-what are we doing out here? Not snapping anyone’s neck, right?”
“Unfortunately, you are correct.” Breaking someone’s neck would put her in a better mood. She told Vladislaus he was being dramatic when he put Lilith out, but he was right; their daughter was in rare form. “We are out being photographed like the occult-forsaken studio wants.”
Ana struck a pose, delighted when a sim pulled out a cell phone and snapped a picture. Hopefully, the happy little idiot uploaded it to Sims Tok or Simsbook, or whatever the hell everyone was using.
“We’re being photographed In your ex-girlfriend’s neighborhood. Eep! I mean, um, girlfriend’s neighborhood?”
Her assistant looked pained, and Ana took pity on her. Sliding off her sunglasses, she blew out a breath. “Is it that obvious?”
“Uh yeah,” Luna smoothed her skirt, “You went to the awards alone, you’ve been spending your free time with me, and I had to process the invoice for all the broken glass and furniture.”
“It’s not anything to be ashamed of. When Sergio—er, my ex—broke up with me, I wrapped myself in blankets and didn’t leave my bedroom for a week.”
“Why?” What had this Sergio done to make her hide?
“I was clinging to him too hard. And then he—” she looked up, panic in her eyes, “Please don’t kill him. It was my fault!”
“I would never,” Ana lied, “I don’t believe in over-involving myself in other creatures’ lives.”
“Great,” Luna let out a sigh of relief. “I mean, you are really busy…well, except for now…but that’s only because you exhausted all your other options.”
“Option,” Ana admitted. “I have one. The others don’t talk to me. Or they’re dead. Or I tried to kill them.”
“Oh, uh, that’s…uh….” Luna cast about for the right word, “Hard. If it makes you feel better, I finished packing up your old condo. I shipped that auction dress back to the Goths in Brindleton Bay. I even charged them for the shipping.”
“Why, Luna Villareal, I didn’t know you had such a mean streak.”
The sim shrugged, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that. Or my friend’s enemies are my enemies”—she winced— “Not that we’re friends! I know you’re my boss!”
Her assistant was onto something. Friendship was a bond, but mutual hate was a bond too.
“Luna,” she said, turning to sign an autograph for the one sim still standing, “Pack your bags. And make sure you have a passport.”
It was hard to shed a story about yourself, even if you were trying to write a new one. Alice had always been a “hot mess.” She ran when life got overwhelming, practiced avoidance like it was her religion, and generally accepted that her heart’s impulsive decisions would eventually ruin her life.
She didn’t realize how much that story was core to her very being until she tried to change it.
Her life was settling into something she liked before it veered off course.
The arrest wasn’t supposed to wreck her, but it did.
Lilith’s tales about witches weren’t supposed to rattle her, but they did.
Magic eats you from the inside out. Witches will covet it. Other creatures will kill you for it. Ghosts are just the beginning for you and Gwendolyn.
Alice couldn’t stop thinking about those words. They became another part of her old story about herself—a tale that hurt the ones she loved and put so much pressure on Vlad that she thought he would snap.
She could see him retreating. He cut his hair and donned expensive clothing like armor. He’d crafted this studiously blank expression whenever they talked. He was careful with her, and she let him because she was too scared to face anything head-on.
Today was the last straw. He was in the playroom with Gwendolyn, where she was pretending to serve him from her toddler-sized food truck.
He kept knocking his plate to the ground and demanding increasingly strange additions until Gwendolyn squealed with laughter. After a few cries of “Monster, eat!” she tried to tackle him, which he used as an opportunity to toss her into the air and spin her around.
It was adorable, and Alice was caught up in the cuteness of the moment until he turned around. And then she saw him.
Really saw him.
He stood there, eyes cloudy with dark circles, skin stretched tight over his bones as if something had been consuming him.
And in her heart, she understood. The thing consuming him was her. “Hot Mess” Alice was eating him alive. Numbly, she made an excuse about picking up more boxes and stumbled out of the house.
Sitting by the water helped her clear her head. Yes, Vlad was a monster who would chase away all her demons, but he was also her partner, and she had to meet him halfway. And she would—just as soon as she got this damn truck out of the sand.
Another “hot mess” decision: driving on soft sand so you can stand by the water and pout.
Alice pinched herself to stop the nasty thought. You’re not stupid; you just made a mistake. It’s not the end of the world, and you can call for help. She dialed Vlad, who picked up on the first ring.
“Do you need help with the boxes?”
Alice grimaced, “Yeah, I didn’t get boxes. I drove out the cliffs to think, but now the truck is stuck because I made a mistake, and I can’t figure it out.”
“I’ll come get you.”
“Okay, thanks. And I know I’ve been putting a lot on you, and I’m sorry I’ve been…uh…not my best self. I want to—”
A flash of bright light hit the mirror. Suddenly, a ghostly figure appeared, shouting and waving its arms. But it looked all wrong. Ghosts weren’t supposed to be glowing and transparent, they looked like sims! What the hell was going on?
“Alice? What’s happening?” Vlad barked.
“Nothing,” her hand flew to her chest. “Nothing, I just…it was a ghost, but it was weird. I’m sorry I screamed.”
“Never apologize for being frightened. Stay in the truck. I’m coming to pick you up.”
Something whistled and whizzed right by her ear. Instinctively, Alice covered her head and dropped flat on the ground.
In addition to the CC I regularly use in the game and buildings from the Fleuralia Save File, I used the following builds and custom content. This story takes a ton of mods and cc, so if you see your work and I failed to tag it somewhere, please message me.
Underground Vampire Bar
Pack #9 by Sinnora Sims 4
Sniper Animation by UTOPYA cc
Pack #35 Phone Animations by SovaSims
Phone Talking Pack #1 by Steven Studios
Phone Animations by Sinnora Sims 4
Action Jumps by Steven Studios
Canary Cry by FlowersSimFactory
Justice | Sims 4 Animation Pack #22 by Sinnora Sims 4
Pack #27 by Sinnora Sims 4
Suspicious Idles by Steven Studios
Animation Pack #2 by Sinnora Sims 4
The Forest Animation by UTOPYA cc
Justice | Sims 4 Animation Pack #22 by Sinnora Sims 4
Animation Pack #9 by Sinnora Sims 4
Combo Punches Animation by Ideal Sims 4
The Curse of Onryo by Sinnora Sims 4
Witch, Raven, and Dragon Animation by Sinnora Sims 4
Spell Fight 2 by Steven Studios
Pack #11 by Sinnora Sims 4
Superhero Arrivals by Steven Studios
Turning Animation by Steven Studios
Animation Pack #112 by sovushkaxxx