Part two of this chapter was a lot. I’ve been dreading it (and thus delaying it and rewriting it forever), but also laying the groundwork for it since the beginning so I’m kind of excited that I just took the plunge (?). I may have been a smidge ambitious and had to jettison a few things to a later chapter, but overall I’m happy (and also sad lol this chapter was an attack on myself).
Halfway through editing, I got a new computer so the quality of images on the last page is greatly improved.
Oh and I’m experimenting with footnotes because this story is dense and my world-building is dense (overzealous?). Hopefully, this will help when I’m doing call backs to past information. But who knows? This is an ever-evolving project 🙂
Laurel and Hodges Cemetery Crypts
Vlad did not look up when William came into the tomb. This is who I am. William had always known, and Vlad had wanted Alice to know too.
“I’m not used to receiving phone calls from you wanting to talk. Usually, I happen upon the destruction and force you.”
“There’s no destruction,” Vlad replied, unable to keep the petulant tone out of his voice. Ego and arrogance demanded he make calling William seem like a favor, rather than a need.
“Right,” William observed wryly, picking his way past a few stones and the coffins Vlad had tossed into the center of the room.
“Fine, there was a little destruction,” Vlad grumbled, ignoring the non-committal sound William made in response.
“I don’t understand any of this!” he continued, agitation causing him to pace. “All of this feeling is killing me. And to what purpose? There’s no rhyme or reason to it!”
“There’s no rhyme or…Vladislaus, do you not see that you’re a—”
“Monster,” Vlad finished, pinching the bridge of his nose. Talking was a bad idea. He already disliked it.
William sighed, casting his eyes heavenward as if to ask for patience. “Do you remember when we died?”
Of course he remembered. It was not a thing to forget. Vlad’s father had demanded they go and clear Forgotten Hollow. It was the price of getting back his wife and son.1 It seemed an insurmountable task but when they rode up with their small contingent and saw only a few half-starved looking soldiers, Vlad was sure his father had truly gone mad.
“I told you that we were lucky,” Vlad recounted, his voice tinged with bitterness. “That the Villain King had lost his bite and his mind and we would do this small task and be home before a fortnight.”
But the small half-starved army had turned out to be half-starved vampires. They made mince-meat of nearly everyone but William and Vlad.
“Your father, the King, knew exactly what early grave he sent us to.”
“Dying was not the worst of it,” Vlad croaked, voice thick with the emotion the memory summoned up. “The waking up was…brutal. But you were determined—”
“No,” William interjected. “You were determined. I was the last Great Knight of Windenburg,” he mocked, his head tilted in disgust. “Trained under Fatima Simovitch herself, and what did it buy me? A desire to meet the sun. But not you, crowned prince. You refused to grant me leave. A great big pain in my ass. Savior of my undead life.”
The olive branch hung in the air, but Vlad could not make himself reach for it. “I don’t remember that version of myself,” he said instead.
“You didn’t forget it by accident, Vladislaus. Josef ensured you would be so broken, so lost, that you would step into the mouth of that cave and let that darkness scrape out your insides and take up residence.” 2
Even as William laid the blame at his father’s feet, it scalded Vlad like an accusation. He could not stop experiencing his trauma as something he had somehow caused.
“Was excruciating,” William countered angrily. “But not singular! You cannot carry it with you the whole of your immortal life. You won’t just be nothing, you’ll have nothing.”
William rubbed his eyes, “You can have your misery or you can have Alice, but mark my words, you cannot have both.”
Alice wasn’t just Alice. For Vlad, she had come to represent a purpose outside of just existing, a possible version of a life where he could pine for something other than how things used to be.
“Why would you tell me this?” he rasped. “To remind me that I have a beast within me? That it pushed her away?”
“Yes,” William declared firmly. “To remind you that you are this creature, but you are Vladislaus too. You called me here because you did something dramatic. That’s not the actions of some monster, that’s just the same soft-hearted fool I’ve known most of my life. So you went too far this time and didn’t go far enough before? Go and find some middle ground.”
Middle ground? Vlad often felt he was all one thing or all the other, nothing in between. But he could try, couldn’t he?
“Any other wisdom?” he retorted, but there was no heat in it.
“Yes, since you asked. Stop bloody blindsiding her! It’s a wonder she didn’t try to stake you. I’ve been a vampire for nearly 600 years and even I find the sight of those eyes and those wings unsettling.”
Von Haunt Estate
Alice went through all the motions of making the banana bread as if in a fog. She slept terribly, Vlad’s pained growl replaying in her head. She regretted making him feel like a freak, and all because he had done the one thing she kept hinting at wanting.
Winning the Signature Bake round boosted her mood approximately 0%. There was not so much as a frisson of excitement when Marjorie declared her bread “reminiscent of the late great Barbara Jean Jeffries.”
Her moping was at such an epic level that even Ben steered clear. He’d been silent ever since they dropped Barbara Jean off at the cemetery.
It was probably for the best. Alice felt guilty and sad and then angry that she felt guilty and sad, so being around her wasn’t exactly fun. Case in point: the Technical Challenge was a sourdough loaf and she was already kneading it with more force than was strictly necessary.
“Whoa! Dudette, you gotta relax!” Deacon cried.
“Here, let me help. Don’t tell anyone, but I got a second sense about this stuff. In Sulani, we believe in the power of elementals so I got dope ass powers from beyond. And those powers are telling me: be gentle with that bread.”
Despite her miserable mood, Alice laughed. Not even Jimena staring intently at them could make her stop.
After managing to eke out 5th place in the Technical Challenge, and long after everyone finished cleaning up their stations, Alice dragged herself out of the kitchen. There was only one more day until the Showstopper and thus, elimination, and she felt completely off her game.
“Damn it, Ben! I know I don’t want your opinion most of the time but this one of the times—” her sentence choked off when Vlad appeared in the hallway. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
“I don’t do it,” he said.
“D-Do what?” Alice stammered, her eyes darting around in search of an easy exit. Could she also disappear and reappear in a cloud of black smoke?
Truer words had never been spoken. Still, she had get the hell out of here or else they were going to end up talking about last night. Maybe she had some kind of god-like invisibility?
“But I will try. For you. I will try moderation for you. I am—”
“Stop!” Her voice came out sharper than she intended. She wanted him to leave her alone, but she couldn’t let him go on berating himself and calling himself a monster. She took a deep breath, “You don’t have to tell me that what I saw last night wasn’t you, I—”
“But it was,” he held her gaze, “It was me, is me.” He put a hand to his forehead and gave a humorless laugh. “Sages save me, William was right.”
He reached for her hand but hesitated at the last moment and pulled back. “I was soft-hearted when I was alive, quick to fall, and that has not changed now. I was sure about Kaylnn from the beginning. I’m sure about you.”
Alice opened her mouth, but Vlad soldiered on. “Don’t misunderstand me. I mean to moderate my actions, but I have no interest in moderating my feelings, now that I have them. I think you want the same thing, but I have no way of knowing so I can only lay out what I want.”
She should stop him. She should stop him because this was the kind of conversation that lead to making decisions and Alice did not want to make decisions. Decisions were tomorrow problems…meant to be dealt with tomorrow.3
But stopping him was, in and of itself a decision, so Alice watched helplessly as the train left the station.
“I want you, Alice, to court you or date you or whatever it is you’re calling it nowadays. I want to skip forward to the part where we are simply just together, but…moderation and all that.”
Alice gulped at the teasing twinkle in his eye. The train wasn’t just leaving the station, it was crashing in slow motion and she was standing in the middle of the tracks.
“I am not mortal and I doubt that at this point I could even pretend.” His face grew serious. “If this is not what you want, if I am not what you want, then tell me so.”
Well, shit. What was she supposed to do now? Maybe she could delay—buy herself some more time to figure out how to have him and her normal life. “I know you want this, but…” she trailed off at the sound of voices behind them.
Quick as a whip, Vlad pulled her into the adjoining room. They could hear Jimena with some smarmy-sounding dude threatening Deacon.
What the fuck was going on?
“That’s—” she started, but Vlad seized her by the shoulders, mouthing for her to be quiet.
His eyes flashed red as the first tendrils of fear began to unfurl in her belly.
“He talked about having a spirit inside him, that’s all I know!” Jimena whined, “Why do I have to stay for this part?”
“Because, poppet, we’re in this together. And if you fail, you should see what happens so you can go back to the drawing board with fresh motivation.”
A fleshy sound, wet and gurgling, accompanied Jimena’s cry of disgust. Deacon wasn’t pleading anymore and the fear in Alice’s belly twisted into something like grief and nausea. Vlad maintained his iron grip but gently tucked her head against his chest. For some reason, the absence of his heartbeat was comforting, and Alice felt hers slow in response.
“Well, that was a waste. Come along, Poppet. We can discuss your observation skills over dinner.”
“R-right,” Jimena squeaked, her voice high and tight.
Finally, Vlad released her and in an act that gave Alice the strangest sense of deja vu, she leaned over and puked on his shoes.4
Von Haunt Estate
Alice had apologized profusely for getting sick all over him, which just gave Vlad the delightful opportunity to prove the benefits of his immortality. “On the list of bodily fluids that have been all over me, this is mild,” he told her. “Nothing is worse than a 15th century battlefield.”
She sucked down the two cups of water he brought her, and the glass of McDillan’s Single Nect. The former was William’s idea, the latter had been Caleb’s. She flinched looking down at Deacon, who Vlad had to assume was her friend. She felt awful, that much was obvious, but Vlad felt nothing but relief at having kept her safe and hidden.
Bloodvein didn’t choose Jimena by accident. Alice agreed, though he was surprised she didn’t blame him. The line between Jimena and a different power-hungry vampire clearly ran through him.
“Do you think she was working with him under duress or because he can help her get something she wants?” Alice asked, still struggling to take her eyes off of Deacon.
“I think,” Vlad said carefully, “That sometimes they’re the same thing.”
“So the foul creature I never trusted turned out to be completely untrustworthy?” William deadpanned. Vlad knew he was actually furious at being right about Vlad Bloodvein, and by extension, Miss Hell. It was almost a guarantee that Vlad would never hear the end of it.
“And we know for sure this mortal had no relevant information?” Caleb wondered, unable to mask his disdain at the incredible mess. As far as he was concerned, calling out the plasma was a flashy and wasteful manner of causing death.
Casting an uneasy glance in Alice’s direction, William cleared his throat. “Maybe someone should take her out of here. I don’t think dear Alice needs to know about all this—”
“She already knows, if it wasn’t clear to you. She can’t un-know!” Vlad snapped.
Just watching Alice’s response to this situation had him worried about her appetite for the supernatural. He kept catching glimpses of that same shell-shocked look Kalynn wore when his father’s troops surrounded them and set fire to the woods. We should go, Vladislaus. She never looked at him the same.5
Shaking off the memory, Vlad crossed to Alice, placing himself in between her and the view of Deacon’s body. He leaned in close, trying to cast off the way her fear and anxiety turned his stomach. “Alice,” he said gently. “We need you to tell us what you know about Deacon before you withdraw from the contest.”
Her head snapped up. “What? I’m not—”
“Of course you’re withdrawing!” Caleb cut in. “This is supernatural business. These creatures are hunting something very powerful and nearly priceless as far as our kind is concerned. You can’t possibly understand what’s at stake in this—”
“The Owl of Undoing.”
Even with no need to breathe, Vlad felt his lungs seize.
“That’s what’s at stake,” she repeated, “The Owl of Undoing. They weren’t looking for Deacon, they were looking for me.”
Vlad froze, his brain and his limbs not quite communicating, all his attention narrowly focused on her words.
“I’m the God of Death,” she revealed softly. “That’s why I ran. I’m not…” she paused, seeming to steel herself as if she had come to some decision. “I’m not afraid of your vampirism or immortality. In fact, I know you’re not a vampire. At least not anymore.”
“I’m the God of Death, but in the Underworld, they call you Phobos.”
Von Haunt Estate
Alice could not stop talking. Every random piece of knowledge about Phobos and the Underworld came pouring out. Even the really Byzantine stuff about the conclave of reapers that she was sure she pushed out of her mind and replaced with season six of Real Homemakers. The whole time, William stared at her as if he could not, for crown or country, wrap his mind around what she was saying.
“You are not what we expected, lass.”
Caleb somehow managed to look both bored and suspicious, which only served to fuel Alice’s verbal diarrhea. She studiously avoided making eye contact with Vlad.
Or maybe it wasn’t Caleb’s fault. Maybe it was the murder she had just witnessed, or the fact that she was in some kind of romantic relationship with Fear itself, or that she had not, for reasons that felt like they weren’t entirely her fault, taken the danger surrounding The Owl of Undoing seriously.
She glanced down at Deacon. It was probably the murder.
“So Phobos is King of War?” William asked, confusion painting his features.
“Uh…kind of? It’s like…an honorific. I mean what would he be king of?” Alice answered absent-mindedly, for the first time noticing how quiet it was in her head.
“Ben, I don’t know if you’re paying attention but now would be a great time to chime in.” She tried for stern but her voice came out worried.
“Who is Ben?” Caleb asked.
“He’s the God of Death…kind of. I mean I’m the God of Death, but he is too? It’s…” Alice trailed off, distracted.
“From the contest! That’s who you were talking to: B’Ollithiranon!” 6 William exclaimed.
Alice’s eyebrows shot up. “Who?”
“B’Ollithiranon, the God of Death,” William scratched his head. “That’s his name.” He drew out the last word, making it sound less like a suggestion and more like a truth.
“No,” Alice insisted, even as she felt something like doubt winding up inside of her. “His name is Ben. I should know. He’s been stuck in my head for 16 years.”
My name is unpronounceable in your sim tongue so I went with something simple, and jazzy if I do say so myself…7
“In your head? Don’t you know the story of B’Ollithiranon?” Caleb stressed. “Betrayed by his lover? Cast down to the mortal realm? Survives because of the Fates and his family sacrificing their godhood…” 8
“No,” Alice said stubbornly. “He’s not…that’s not…that’s not how he got here.” But even as she said it she realized she didn’t know how Ben got here. He gave her endless reams of information but none of it was about himself.
I’ve been around for longer than your mortal mind can comprehend, and I have known great loss.8
“Alice, B’Ollithiranon takes on a conduit every thirty years or so. He’s been searching for one that can replace him and rule the Underworld which apparently is you.”
Alice shook her head and began to back away. This was ridiculous. This was insane. She was just the God of Death for now. Her powers were borrowed.
The truth is…it’s…it’s c-complicated.9
“Caleb.” Vlad’s voice was warning, but Caleb continued as if there had been no interruption at all.
He gestured wildly, his face completely bewildered. “That’s why you’re here. To get The Owl of Undoing so you can undo your mortality and become a god. Alice, a mortal body can’t contain godly powers forever.”
It is imperative that you be the one in possession of this item…10
“Do you not know?” Caleb scoffed. “Are you sure this Ben you speak of is—”
“Caleb!” William hissed.
A kind of panic began to bubble up inside of her. She didn’t imagine Ben! Ben was real! She had powers. He just…he just needed to quit hiding.
“Ben! This is not funny. I’m done moping. I don’t want you to shut up. I want you tell me what the fuck is going on!”
Vlad’s voice was so gentle, it felt like an attack. “Alice…”
“I can’t hear him!” she shrieked, not caring how hysterical she sounded. Dimly, she sensed the beams of light swirling around her, but she couldn’t make herself pull the magic back. That was Ben’s job. He told her how to control it.11
The power surged and Alice clutched at her chest, wishing she could plunge her hand in and take out her heart. Her shock went beyond disbelief. “He’s supposed to be in my head, he’s always in my head! It’s never quiet for me! I don’t have quiet!”
“Alright, a lot has happened. Why don’t we all take a breath and…” William’s voice was calm but Alice didn’t hear the rest of the sentence.
Ben was the God of Death! He didn’t have any family. What sacrifice was Caleb talking about? But even as she denied it, her brain scrambled to recall. Death, Resurrection, Agriculture, Fertility, and Nectar.
Ben had a family. And they gave up their godhood to make him a god five times over.12
Grief hit her full force and she felt the flames before she even understood that she was the one who called them.
He would never leave her. How could he leave? How could he go? She didn’t have The Owl! Her grief turned to white hot rage and for a moment, Alice was terrified of herself.
“I’m the God of Death and so is Ben and I am doing this stupid fucking contest until I get the Owl of Undoing, turn myself normal, and get Ben his motherfucking body back!”
But she didn’t know if that’s what The Owl would do. She didn’t know because she never asked and she never asked because the “how” didn’t seem important. The “how” was a tomorrow problem.
You were wasting away, Alice. That was no life you were living. You were just…existing.13
She searched and searched to find a thread of Ben but when she got to the bottom of herself, there was nothing there—just Alice and silence and no trace of “he of the unknowable name” at all.
She wailed until the fire felt like it was inside of her and she wished, no—prayed—that it would consume her whole. I’m alone, she thought and the pain was unconscionable, like a part of herself had been seared off.
She didn’t collapse so much as give up. The stupid fire which was of her, came from her, refused to turn her to ash. Nothing seemed large enough to contain her sorrow so when Vlad picked her up, hands like cool porcelain, she didn’t fight or bother to put out the flames.
You’re my friend, she told Ben. The only one I need.14
She let Vlad carry her down the front steps and off of the estate. They walked, maybe for hours, but she felt no discomfort, no hysteria, no sadness.
She felt nothing at all.
He didn’t issue any platitudes or promise her that things would be okay.
“I know,” he said, every few paces. “I know.”
Inside the cottage, she slid bonelessly to the floor. Vlad joined her there, cradling her head, rubbing her back, his absent heartbeat seeming to swallow up sound.
“Stop comforting me,” she sobbed, and wished for all the world he was just a physical structure propping her up. How could she close the gates to all her emotions if she let even a single one in?
“I will do anything not to feel it,” she whispered.
“I know,” Vlad said. “I know.”
Pose Pack 25 by Katverse
Goth Poses by Natalia-Auditore
Male Poses by Natalia-Auditore
Desperate Girl by Natalia-Auditore
Carrying Her by Natalia-Auditore
Emotions 1-9 by Simmerberlin
Vampires Suck Poses by mememuru CC
TS4 Halloween Poses (Grave) by helgatisha
Hands Up Poses by ratboysims
Blase Pose by ratboysims
Sad Hugs Poses by Atashi77
Just Us by Katverse
From the Sims 4 Gallery
Run Down Country Manor by Aliceonthemoon5
Lost in the Woods 16K by lluispire
- This lot is stunning and normally full of a bunch of beautiful flowers, which I had to delete and turn into weeds because this scene takes place like 500 years after it was “built.”