Our Story Continues
Last time, Vlad argued with Latimer about his conflicting familial commitments. Anastasia attempted to keep herself busy by accepting an invitation to Lily Feng’s bed, siccing lawyers on Bella, and having a tense, uncomfortable coffee with her daughter. Bella was fired and decided to take an ill-advised trip to Windenburg to chase after Salim. Meanwhile, Alice did some emotional soul searching, just as a ghost appeared with a warning to duck. After avoiding a sniper bullet, she was attacked by a special-ops force. Vlad let out his inner beast to fly to her rescue, but something during the battle unlocked Alice’s true power.
They stood outside of the house, both hesitating to go in.
“I should have gone for the sniper first,” Vlad said almost apologetically.
“You did the right thing,” Alice clutched herself, brushing a hand over the dried plasma on her sweater. “You didn’t know where I was, and it was a lot of ground to cover.”
“I could sense you, but it was hard to remain myself long enough to think; I hoped you were hiding.”
“I tried. But then that woman found me.” The soldier seemed familiar, but Alice couldn’t place her. Maybe because her thoughts were too jumbled. “My dad taught me to fight. Basic hand-to-hand combat. I did what I could.”
“You did incredible.”
She couldn’t help the small smile that slipped out. Vlad hadn’t seen her fight, and yet he was still so confident.
“What happened out there?” he turned and cupped her face gently, searching her expression. “I felt something. I can’t describe it, but I was beside myself.”
Alice wanted to tell him the truth—that she’d heard death whisper in her ear, and it spoke with her voice. She wanted to explain the horror of what she did to those soldiers and how that horror was settling into something that felt suspiciously like satisfaction. But all she could croak out was, “I died.”
Vlad buried the flash of terror that crossed his face so quickly that Alice could have sworn she imagined it. “It didn’t stick,” he said firmly, leaning down to rest his forehead against hers.
“No,” Alice agreed, “It didn’t.”
Morygn & William’s House
The proper way to respond when your ex-sister-in-law showed up after ignoring you for 140 years was to use your magic to boil the glassy fluid that held her eyeballs until she screamed. But Morgyn didn’t want to risk the baby getting even more upset. “Anastasia, you can’t be here.”
“Why,” she tapped a finger to her lips, “Because of the baby you’re hiding?”
“There’s no baby.”
The mortal woman behind her flushed. “Uh, we heard it crying.”
Again, Morgyn found themselves infuriated by having to keep up with this charade. “She’s a bit young for you, isn’t she?” they raised an eyebrow.
“Don’t insult me,” Ana snapped. “I don’t chase children.”
“I’m 22,” the woman insisted, but Anastasia just nodded like this proved her point.
“This is my assistant, Luna. Luna, this is Morgyn. They’re an old friend who hates me. Now, there’s a lovely bar in the center of town. Morgyn, my love, would you like to get a Blackberry Fizz and hear my proposal?”
“No,” they said, though the answer was yes. A resounding, desperate yes. “I cannot help you, Anastasia. In fact, last time we spoke, I believe your instructions were to rot in hell.”
“I don’t recall,” her tone was airy, “Either way, I never took you for a rule-follower.”
They weren’t. And they actually didn’t care what Anastasia said to them a century ago in anger. They wanted to grab their old friend and demand she tell them why she was fleeing Del Sol Valley and then unburden themselves about William and Sulis’s anxious fretting. They didn’t hate Ana; they missed her.
But they couldn’t leave. They were a parent, a spouse, and whatever a goddess deemed the being that snatched her from another universe before her siblings murdered her. Probably a servant.
Burying the mournful sigh that bubbled up, Morgyn instead donned a scowl. “Well, clearly, you don’t know me as well as you thought. Now, get off my property.”
When Alice closed her eyes, she could still feel her ribs cracking, the shard of bone driving straight through her heart, and then…
No, that wasn’t true. There was only a split second of nothingness before she was everywhere—the trees, the grass, the fucking molecules. She zipped along the current until she found two little sparks of life. They were sputtering, floundering, begging for help, and she just…she…
“Contacts,” Vlad said softly, his voice grounding her. “Until you figure out how to control your form. No one will know.”
He seemed so sure this was temporary. Maybe because his beast was now tucked away beneath smooth planes of silvery skin. Alice traced a finger over the white spidery pattern that ran down her neck.
“It’s beautiful,” he wrapped his arms around her, kissing her shoulder. “A battle scar, or, if you prefer, a tattoo.”
Alice nodded, but inside she felt numb. What did hiding her new supernatural scars matter when the problem was her? “I did something awful. I mean…I am something awful,” she corrected, voice barely above a whisper.
“You are not.”
“I am! I was in their bodies! I used them, and then I tore them apart. I wanted to…” she bit back a cry.
“You wanted to what?” He held her waist, and even though Alice couldn’t see his reflection, she felt him staring. “Alice, you wanted to what?”
She tried to turn away, but Vlad held her firmly in place. “Did they smell appetizing?”
“What? No, I just—” she clamped her mouth shut.
“Why are you hiding from me?” Vlad nudged her head to the side, exposing her neck, his breath ghosting over her skin and making her shiver. He told her once that breathing was reflexive for young vampires, but he’d lain dormant for so long that it was now a purposeful act. He used it to blend, to express frustration, to seduce. “Why are you acting as if I don’t understand hunger for flesh? As if I don’t think every excited heartbeat is part of a wild chorus calling me to eat.”
“That’s how I hunt,” he continued, his tone almost playful and still tempting, “I follow the rhythm. And if you wish, I will hunt that way for you too.”
She meant to say no. She meant to tell him that she didn’t eat sims and that what happened in the woods was a mistake, but the sentence that slipped out was: “Brains. I ate their brains, and I wanted—I want—more.”
Vlad growled and spun her around, his lips crashing into hers. She leaned into the kiss, losing herself in it until she was gasping for breath, her mind scattered. “Oh fuck, am I a zombie?” She began to sputter, “Oh my llamas, I am a zombie! What if my skin falls off and I start to rot and—”
“Shhh,” he sat back on the bed and tugged her towards him, “I doubt very seriously that you are a zombie, but even if I’m wrong, you are by far the most enticing flesh-eating monster I’ve ever seen.”
She laughed as stepped between his legs and grazed his jaw.
“You kissed me,” he murmured, slightly awed, “On the beach.”
She had, with his face broken open in a garish grin—red flesh, sinewy muscle, rows and rows of needle-sharp teeth. “Because I’m in love with you, especially when you’re a terrifying winged demon who hunts my killers from the sky.”
Vlad sucked in a sharp breath as she slipped out of her towel and tore his off too. She pushed him back, climbing on top of him as he gripped her waist. With a deep groan, he released a full-body shiver, his fangs glinting in the light.
Alice couldn’t stop staring at them. In all their time together, he had yet to bite her. But she was a zombie witch now, he couldn’t possibly hurt her. “Please,” she whispered. “I want you to.”
He gazed up at her, his expression at once hungry and reverent. But instead of sinking his teeth in, he pressed his lips against her neck.
Alice rocked her hips, leaning back slightly so he could slide his hand between them. There were no words as they chased their pleasure. No whispers until his movements became jerky, and a last swipe of his fingers sent her careening over the edge.
And then they were messy and still. Alice panting like she’d run a marathon, Vlad easing out of her with a shudder.
They didn’t talk as they washed up and got dressed, but Alice could see the lines of exhaustion painted on Vlad’s face. He took a seat on the bed and pulled out a pen and paper.
“Why don’t you take a rest?” she asked.
He shook his head, “I’ll deal with the bodies. We’re probably being tracked, so we’ll need somewhere to go. And we should try to get a handle on the extent of your power, figure out your limits or lack thereof.”
Alice couldn’t argue with that. She didn’t want to feel helpless. Still, this wasn’t something for Vlad to solve alone.
“Perhaps Morgyn can help,” he said, though he seemed to be talking to himself. His hand shook as he wrote. “I’ll make some calls.”
“I can make calls. Or do something else. Vlad, I wasn’t joking. You should rest. You aren’t a machine; you’re—“
“Over a thousand years and used to this.” He continued writing. When his hand cramped, he switched to the other, still not bothering to look up.
“And what the fuck am I?” Alice glared. “In this whole little plan where you kill yourself taking care of everything, what do you think I’m doing?”
“Resting. Recovering,” Vlad stood and set the paper down, his eyes a storm. “I don’t know, Alice, I can’t figure all of this out and be responsible for how you feel about it too.”
“I’m not asking you to do everything!” She could feel her pulse speeding but fuck if she could calm down. “I’m asking you to let me be your partner. We were both just taking care of each other, and we’re better for it.”
“Yes, we had sex. It was a lovely diversion. But now there is the reality of this situation—a terrifying, complicated reality that is scarier than a night in jail, scarier than Operation Eternal Flame, scarier than—”
Alice reared back like he had slapped her. “Ok, homeboy, you can pump those fuckin’ breaks. In fact, I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt and say you didn’t mean that the way it sounded. I was upset about Operation Eternal Flame because it was a lot to take in.” She jabbed a finger at him. “Also, I thought I was a witch, so hearing that you basically hunted them to the brink of extinction kind of threw me off.”
“It was a war,” he growled, “Not a fucking hunting trip. And it is irrelevant except that it makes you upset, and I am trying, occult as my witness, not to put you through any more trauma.”
“Do you mean like someone killing me? Because that already happened.”
Vlad stared at her, the muscle in his jaw ticking so fast it seemed to flutter. “Yes. I know I was late.”
“And I know I was a mess,” she shouted, “Is that what you want me to say? I fell the fuck apart. But I don’t want you to do everything because you’re afraid—“
“I’m not afraid,” he snapped. Then scrubbed a hand over his face. “I’m irritable, yes, because I don’t want you to worry; I want—“
“WANT MOMMY!” Gwendolyn’s shrieks rattled the whole house, breaking up their argument.
“Damn it.” Alice clenched and unclenched her fist, trying to calm down. “I’ll get her. Just don’t do anything until we talk, alright? My point is that—” she paused as Gwendolyn shrieked again.
Vlad winced and gripped the side of his head as a slow trickle of plasma began leaking from one of his ears.
“Shit! Are you okay?” she whispered, “Let me get a towel.”
Gwendolyn shrieked again, and he winced harder. “No, Alice”—he pulled away from her when she reached out—”I’m fine…just make it stop. Please,” he ground out.
Alice dashed downstairs, got Gwendolyn fed, and calmed. If her new look upset the Tiny Terror, she didn’t show it. Gwendolyn merely waved and blew her kisses while Latimer carried her down the hall. Grateful for his help, Alice gave him a thumbs up and then took the stairs two at a time but skidded to a halt when she got to the bedroom.
There would be no talking.
Vlad was spread out on the bed, snoring.
Morygn & William’s House
“What are you doing?” William cried as he walked into the kitchen carrying their son.
Morgyn continued mixing the formula, “Planning to torture our child, naturally.”
“Torture? What do you mean? They’re already crying, and you intend to do worse?”
“For fucks sake William, babies cry. Our baby is crying because it’s incapable of polite conversation when hungry.”
“Our babe is not an ‘it,’” he hissed.
“I know our baby is not an ‘it,” Morgyn clenched their fists, “Have you chosen a name? Any will do. I sent you three pages of options. Do you need more?”
William gave them his usual haunted look at the topic of names. At first, Morgyn had no problem waiting until the baby was born. Even Sulis, whose list of requirements for the nursery was a mile long, was agnostic about choosing right away. But it had been months, and William fought them on every suggestion.
“William Jr, Terrance, Amos, Coop, Kwame, Garreth—any name William, please!” they threw up their hands, “Your mother sent a baby gift addressed ‘TBN’—to be named!”
“Don’t try to change the subject! The baby doesn’t need a name right now; he needs food. I thought Sulis said she would consider pumping again. Neither of you seems concerned he could get a stomach ache.”
This was the new William. Irritable and anxious, taking Morgyn and Sulis to task over everything they did, judging it as insufficient, dangerous, or damaging. There was no rhyme or reason to it.
“Why don’t you go upstairs and relax?” Morgyn suggested. “You’ve been with the baby all day; you could use a break. I’ll feed him and put him down for the night, and then I’ll join you. Formula won’t upset his stomach, I promise.”
The look in William’s eyes was pure panic. “I…I’m fine, you go ahead. I want to check the crib anyway. It doesn’t seem sturdy.”
Alice didn’t expect Latimer to still be up when she padded downstairs.
“Some argument,” he remarked as he set two steaming mugs of tea on the counter. “Where’s his Highness? The hot toddies are for you and me; I have a bottle of Prarie Grass Nectar chilling in the fridge for him.”
Alice flinched. “Vlad is sleeping.”
“Voluntarily?” If Latimer’s eyebrows lifted any higher, they’d be in space.
“I don’t think so.” Alice had put a towel under his head in case he started bleeding again, and he didn’t even react. “He’s exhausted, and I’m such a shitty partner I didn’t notice until it was too late.”
“Please,” Latimer snorted, “He is immortal. It ain’t never too late. And also, he’s stubborn as a mule. Do you know how many decades I’ve been trying to get him to even take a nap? You are an excellent partner. Vlad is just cranky.”
A knot formed in her throat as she tried to answer. “He is,” she sniffed, with a smile she couldn’t quite pull off, “It’s like his baseline vibe.”
“You alright?” Latimer asked, brow furrowed in concern.
“No,” One tiny sob became two, and then the floodgates opened. Haltingly, she told Latimer everything that happened, unloading all of her guilt and fear. Halfway through, she started to make her way back upstairs, determined to wake Vlad up and apologize, but Latimer stopped her.
“No, no, come on,” he soothed, “You’re not gonna interrupt the first sleep he’s had in seventy years. Just hang down here with me, and we’ll sort this out.”
“Thank you,” Alice hiccuped, hugging him tightly.
Morygn & William’s House
“Just the creature I wish to see,” Sulis slurred when Morgyn walked out onto the terrace.
“Why? Do you also think I’m trying to poison our baby?”
She squinted, “No. I’ve been talking with B’Ollithiranon and the Grim Reaper. I have updates.” She rattled the table as she got to her feet, “We need to go to Oasis Springs.”
Morgyn sighed. They weren’t sure if they had the patience to deal with a drunk goddess. “Please don’t make me sit through another round of speculation from those two idiots. I am not concerned about Alice; she is not a god. Let Vladislaus be happy in the one universe where his trauma is long past, and the love of his life is merely an anomaly.”
Sulis narrowed her eyes, “I could have sworn I said I was the one with updates.”
Morgyn waved a hand for her to continue, though they were only half-listening. Was it just a few months ago that their little family sat up here, planning to relocate? It was supposed to be the beauty of their arrangement—three immortal parents to ensure no one got burned out. “Why haven’t we looked at real estate?” they interrupted. “I’ll compromise on Sulani. We’ll baby-proof the villa, and you can go be worshipped by the mermaids or whatever it is you want, and William can study marine biology, and I will take our son to the beach.”
“On the eve of an apocalypse?” Sulis frowned, “Are you addled?”
“No, because there won’t be an apocalypse here. Didn’t you hear me? Alice is not a god.” Morgyn tilted their head back, trying not to whine, “Come on, Sulis, we agreed we’d stop after this time. We left to start over.”
“We left because my siblings and your siblings would have used their combined power to destroy or imprison us.”
“Semantics. And also, Faba is here, so not all of my siblings want to destroy me,” Morgyn scoffed. “Is this why you’re going on about Oasis Springs? You’re bored?”
“I’m a goddess,” Sulis sniffed, “I don’t get bored. I’m not sticking my head in the sand like you are.”
“You are not,” Morgyn growled, “Not anymore.” At the flash of pain in her eyes, they softened, “It’s painful to destroy your magic, like killing a part of yourself. I know. It haunts me, too, even after all this time.”
They rarely spoke of it anymore, the horror of fleeing from the God of Death, tossing themselves through the swirling red of the last gateway the Fates left open before they retired. When the three sisters stepped down, they took with them the ability to manipulate time and space, effectively severing the ties between a multitude of universes. It was for the best. A nearly endless supply of worlds meant that gods treated apocalypses with little to no respect.
“We had to do it. We left the gateway open longer than was sane. That’s how Miko got in, that’s how Vladislaus…” Morgyn swallowed, surprised they could still feel the sharpness of sorrow after so many centuries. “We suffered, Sulis, I’m not saying we haven’t. But if the threads binding the universe dissolved with the magic we sacrificed, then it was worth it.”
“That’s why we need to go to Oasis Springs,” she insisted. “Did you know Alice’s mother is an expert in momentum conversion? We were meant to find her. Science could open and close that gateway for us, and we wouldn’t need to give up our magic.”
“Wouldn’t need to…? It’s already gone!” Morgyn cried. “We can either spend eternity whining about it or get the hell on with it!” Sulis’s expression was stricken, but they didn’t stop. “Aren’t you tired of lying? I am. I want to live. I want William and our son to know what we are and how we sacrificed to have them. I’m not the Fates. I don’t intend to spend all my days watching, nudging, and playing 18-dimensional chess. The worlds are closed, there are no gods here, and I, for one, am delighted.”
“Obviously, you’re not the Fates. You don’t even listen,” Sulis scowled. “Now that we’ve applied some pressure to replicate what created the God of Death—”
“What pressure? B’Ollithiranon and Grim were given strict instructions. Hijack the nanny’s reaping; grab a quick peek at Alice and confirm whether or not she carried all of B’Ollithiranon’s former powers. They shouldn’t even still be here!”
“B’Ollithiranon and I decided it would be best to do a test. She was never in any real danger,” Sulis snorted, “Vladislaus hovers like a vulture. She didn’t even spend the night in jail.”
“Excuse me?” Morgyn did a double-take. “Is this a joke?”
“Why would I be joking? Don’t chastise me because you did a half-assed job.”
“Unfuckingbelievable!” Morgyn shouted, “Why are you like this? Why must you bring your desperate need for drama and plotting to everything? If the situation requires a hammer, you bring a fucking steamroller and then act like the outcome was inevitable.”
“I do not. Next, I’ll be forced to listen to your whining about formula too.”
William was being crazy about giving the baby formula, but that wasn’t the point. “You are picking a fight with me over pumping?”
“No, but since you mentioned it, let me remind you, Untamed, I am the Goddess of Reason. I don’t need some supernatural telling me the best way to feed our child. Last time I checked, William had not sprung a set of tits, so I don’t know what makes him an expert.”
“Don’t be petty, ‘goddess;’ it doesn’t suit you.”
Sulis’s eyes flashed. “Neither do apocalypses. Unlike you and the rest of my siblings, I’ve never caused one. Maybe that’s why you haven’t found your brother yet. You still haven’t figured out how to make Janus needlessly suffer and break my heart. After all, what could be more dramatic than a sibling rivalry turned world-ending event? Oops, I forgot, you already did that.”
Morgyn went still, but they could hear their plasma pounding in their ears. They were old enough to remember the founding of the universe. Old enough to have regrets. Generations of regrets.
“You miscounted. I have crushed many worlds, some for far pettier reasons than a fight with my brother. We gods and magics are selfish creatures. We never thought twice about dooming a world after we took what we wanted. But then came B’Ollithiranon and the Owl of Undoing, and suddenly, all that loss we’d visited upon others came back to us.” They flashed Sulis a grim smile, “I haven’t seen Janus in ages despite scouring this world, and do you know why, Goddess? Because he is not here. He is not anywhere. The Owl took from us just like it took from everyone else.”
“How did you avoid the sniper?” Latimer asked after he topped off their drinks.
“A ghost. Would you believe that?” Alice barked a laugh. “He looked strange though, all see-through and glowing.”
“That ain’t how ghosts look?”
“Not to me. He was dressed like a pirate and dripping wet. I half-expected him to float back up to a ship. He told me to run, and he was right alongside me, but by the time I got to the tree line, he was gone.” She snorted, “And then Vlad came through like a fucking wrecking ball.”
Latimer smiled. “That’s his gift.”
“It is,” Alice took a huge gulp, hoping the burn would fortify her nerves. “Jail and Lilith threw me for a loop, and I fell apart. Vlad kept filling in, and I kept letting him. Then, when I was ready to take things on, I just expected him to stop and make room for me. But Vlad doesn’t do well with shifting gears.”
“No,” Latimer agreed, “It’s not in his nature to stop once he’s set his mind to a thing. It is his best and worst quality.” He gave her a sad smile. “We both owe him an apology. Life with him is also good. Better than good. Lovely,” the old man sighed, “Sometimes I forget that.”
“So, about Vlad’s list. I don’t understand half the stuff on there. How does he know Clive Beeden? And he talked to Caleb?”
“When you were sick, yeah.” Latimer caught Alice up on Vlad’s promise to Caleb and Lilith, as well as their time in the military under Clive. When he was finished, he rubbed his eyes. “Good llamas, this is a lot. We’re gonna need help.”
“Yeah. I tried to call my friend Penny. She’s good in a crisis. But her phone keeps going straight to voicemail.”
“Well, unless your friend Penny is a member of the occult, we can’t use her help no how.” He scratched his head, “Did you call your parents?”
“No. My mom is the world’s foremost expert on momentum conversion, which is great for science, but no help to us.” Alice cringed. “We’re not close. And my dad…”
The old man gave her a sympathetic nod. “I know you don’t want to think your father might be trying to kill you.”
“But we can’t be too careful,” Alice replied hollowly. “We used to have Sunday dinner at the Beedens. Clive’s son Jerry tried to date me, but I said no. My dad was pissed; he thought Jerry was a catch—a ‘nice guy’ who would keep me on the straight and narrow.”
“At the end of his fist,” Latimer’s eyes darkened. “You’d have spent your life cowering in the corner, spinnin’ tales about being too clumsy and falling down the stairs, just like—”
“Justine,” Alice finished. “I know. Jerry’s mom was always perfectly polite, but at dinner, she’d be so on edge that Clive would ask her to leave the room.” Alice shivered, “What an asshole.”
“An asshole and a problem,” Latimer replied. “Clive is vain enough that he’d want to keep his failure to catch you a secret. But he’ll be back, and we are gonna need to get gone. Add to that your suspicious babysitters and this damn wand, and we got way too much heat.”
Alice agreed. She wasn’t so worried about what her babysitters were—she had no idea what she was. But the lying was suspicious, and she had no intention of putting Gwendolyn in danger.
“I’ll get help with the bodies,” Latimer announced, “You talk to Lilith about Ben and Eyepatch McGee.”
Alice nearly choked. “But Lilith hates me. The last time she was here, she threatened me.”
Latimer smiled, “Oh, Alice, you’ve got a lot to learn about vampires.”
Cantina “El Árbol del Jaguar”
“I knew you’d be here,” Ana shouted, waving them over to the table. Morgyn took a seat and got straight to the point.
“Why are you depressed?”
“I’m not depressed.”
Morgyn gave her a cool look. “You came to my house wearing a bird on your head and an evening gown. You and Vladislaus are two little dysfunctional peas in a pod, wearing your hearts on your expensively tailored sleeves.”
She narrowed her eyes, “And will you and William be attending marriage counseling or just griping until one of you slices the other one open?”
“We’re perfectly happy,” Morgyn replied, the lie effortless.
“Perfectly unhappy,” Luna snorted as she tossed back more of her beer.
“Luna is so wise, isn’t she? Everyone can see it. Besides, you’re in a bar with a woman whose last words to you were, ‘If you choose Vladislaus over me, I will scorch the earth of everything you love.’ You’re definitely not well.”
“So you do remember!” Morgyn gasped, already enjoying themselves.
“Yes,” Ana took a long sip of her drink. “And I apologize. I was having a rough century.”
Been there, done that. Morgyn shrugged. “Water under the bridge. So what’s this quest?”
“My girlfriend has been kidnapped by werewolves.”
“Ex,” Luna squeaked. Then looked embarrassed, “I mean—”
“Don’t listen to her. She’s had four of those, and she’s a lightweight,” Ana scowled. “Do you, or do you not want to go on a werewolf-killing rampage with me?”
Morgyn sat back, considering their options. They hadn’t set foot in Moonwood Mill since the whole debacle with the Moon. She loved to spin a complicated tale of being opposed by the gods, but the truth was that she’d pissed Sulis off, and Morgyn, being a good friend, had gone to mete out punishment. It might be fun to see her since she and Sulis were BFFs again.
“I’m a parent,” they said instead, “I can’t just leave whenever I want.”
“You’re one of three. Tell them you need space to clear your head and come hunting with me,” Ana pouted.
“I’ll give you two days.”
“One week, and that’s my final offer, vampire.”
She grinned. “I accept. Now let’s get you that drink I promised. We need to be good and drunk before I confess all my personal drama.”
What he was doing was not smart. He knew that. If Sulis or Morgyn pulled this, William would be all over them.
But Latimer’s call had been desperate. Sulis was too busy after a fight with Morgyn, and their dear spouse had fucked off to occult knew where and wasn’t answering their phone. That left William with few options. With a huff, he dumped the last of the body parts into the raging bonfire he built while eying the carrier to make sure it wasn’t too close.
Once things were sorted, he lifted the baby out and strapped him to his back. “There, are you not feeling safer closer to Daddy?”
The baby gurgled, and William glared at the fire. It chafed that his brother hadn’t even bothered to ask for William’s help himself. “Your uncle, who you will never meet, is terribly messy. I would never have left him this nonsense to clean up, and if I did, I’d call myself.”
His son’s response was a burp and giggle. Typical of a baby to take Vladislaus’s side. It was probably for the best his brother didn’t call. The likelihood that he’d pick up on the crying in the background was higher than Latimer, who William knew for a fact was in need of hearing aids and stubbornly refused to buy them.
The baby started getting fussy, probably due to the smell of burning flesh, which William had to admit, wasn’t exactly pleasant. He began to sing just to make the little one feel better. “How did I make such a mess? How did your daddy and your Morgyn and your Sulis make such a perfect little creature when we are such foul creatures ourselves?”
It was a question that plagued him. He felt suffocated by his family and, at the same time, desperate for their affection. The baby was perfect, and this little life he’d built with Morgyn and Sulis was everything he dreamed of, but now, he couldn’t settle down to enjoy it. He felt the press of certain doom around every corner, and try as he might, he couldn’t get the rhythm right.
He moved away from the fire towards the lake. Water always made him feel at peace.
“What shall we call you?” he teased as he walked, “Rollington? Mauve? Chip?”
William was thrilled that he was rewarded with a giggle, but he quickly realized it was the fish jumping out of the water that had caught his son’s attention. “Ah, would you like your da to catch one for you? I’m verra fast, you know. That’s what set your Morgyn’s eyes upon me long ago before you were even a wee twinkle!”
But when William leaned forward to snatch the fish—an easy feat—he was suddenly falling. Not into water…
But into nothingness.
WCIF (Where Can I Find?)
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.
POSES & ANIMATIONS
Pose Request #196 by Sciophobis
Carrying their Pieces by Natalia-Auditore
Solo Pose Falling by bignaicc
At least we have beer Posepack by Siimplysims
Sparks in the Eyes by Sciophobis
SP Pose Request #201 by Sciophobis
Beautiful Friendship by Simmerberlin
[TV] Are You Ok? Pose by Tatiana
Sad Hugs by Atashi77
Pose Request #201 by Sciophobis
Pose Request #196 by Sciophobis
Pose Request #190 by Sciophobis
Pose Request #197 by Sciophobis
Pose Request #175 by Sciophobis
Pose Requestion #174 by Sciophobis
Sparks in the Eyes by Sciophobis
Reading Letter – 3 Posepack by Natalia-Auditore
Pose Request #196 by Sciophobis
Solo Pose Falling by bignaicc