Before we dive into this chapter, I just want to say a few things because I’m black and it’s been a hell of a week(s). Writing makes me feel good. Escaping to fantasy worlds is my way of practicing self-care and I’m prioritizing that because the trauma is real. I’m tired, exhausted even, but it’s not because I have work to do. I do not, point in fact, have any work to do.
You (not you, per se, but the “royal you”) might be wondering what I mean by that. You might even be squaring yourself up to list the myriad of things you think I need to do. You may be using words like “we” and phrases like “stand together” and lord help me, you may even think this is the moment when I, a black person, am going to illuminate for you a nuanced description of what happened in a way that takes into account your discomfort or feelings.
This is not that party, and I am not sorry. My father had that party once in the 40s when he had to swallow down his panic at being followed in a car by a group of white men who called him “boy” and asked him where he thought he was going. We learn from our past mistakes, don’t we?
Yes, you might be thinking that with all the things going on the world, I’ve got plenty to “do.” But I am about full up of all the ways I am supposed to contort my black body to survive in a world that does not value it.
You should know that I have perfect clarity on this situation. The color of my skin is not a problem that needs to be fixed. My existence is not wrong in any way, shape, or form. There is no better way I’m supposed to be doing anything because this is not a “me” problem.
I’m not really in the mood to educate anyone. Bless my lovely white husband who was wise enough to say to me this morning, “I love you and I’m not behind you, I’m in front of you.” It reminded me of that time we went to a restaurant that wouldn’t serve us (because racism) and the slow, agonizing seconds that ticked by while he absorbed their anger too. Weird how racism keeps popping up even though we wrote some articles about how it was gone when Obama got elected.
But if you are confused, may I suggest a “Timeline of Events That Led to the 2020 ‘Fed-Up’-rising“? It starts in 1619, in case you were wondering what kind of article it is. If, like me, you’re tired of “educating” this one does a good job of explaining the problem’s size and scope. You know. For people who aren’t tuned in to what’s be going on the last 400 years or so.
That’s about all I have to say for now. CW for this chapter for reference to sexual assault. I’m not sure what time I’m posting this because time is pretend and I have not been sleeping due to ::gestures around at everything::
Other than that, read on and enjoy. I finally got some zombies up in here so I’m really happy.
Oh and due the world being really racist, I didn’t feel like going back and fixing Vlad’s hair in his dark form. I didn’t notice it until I was already done with all the screenshots and I figure if there’s any week that I can let a small detail go, it’s this one.
Werewolves were overzealous by nature. Perfect for a fight with a powerful vampire. Hell on the furniture. She said as much in a dry quip to Bloodvein that did not communicate her profound concern over being wrong. Vladislaus had not been to the manor in at least a day and now they’d lost the element of surprise. Failure when she could least afford it.
Centuries ago, when she sat at her vanity, covering her bruises for the umpteenth time, she’d prayed for deliverance. When it didn’t come, she prayed instead for revenge and the God of Sleep slid into her dreams like a soothing balm.
“They call me Somnus, and I will deliver your vengeance. All I ask is for this one little thing…”
It was never just “one little thing,” Miss Hell thought bitterly, as the flames licked higher and one of the tower gargoyles crashed to the ground.
“I wish for the Underworld,” Somnus told her, “I dream of Gods and steel and heaps of dead.” 1
She’d always meant to deliver the wish, but not the dream. The dream was a dangerous thing—sims waking up with “dust in their eyes and gods in their mouths.” 2 Miss Hell could not let it come to pass. Her freedom meant nothing if this world were reduced to a pile of ash and rubble.
Taking a cleansing breath, she drew closer to the smoldering mass of gargoyle, dropping a pair of cufflinks that matched a blue silk suit.3 Failure was too strong a word. This was a setback. A setback that could be overcome just by pointing Vladislaus in the right direction to obtain his retribution.
Or die trying, motherfucker.
Miss Hell saluted the flames as she scanned the property line for any observers. Somnus’s greatest wish was to rule the Underworld. If she accomplished that, he’d have no reason to make his way to this realm. The Sages wanted Vladislaus in exchange for disposing of the God of Death, but things changed, alliances shifted, and Miss Hell had learned that if you wanted something done right—you had to do it yourself.
Taking on bat form, she caught a wind current and steered herself towards the Von Haunt Estate.
“The body is disposed of and William is at the manor procuring supplies,” Caleb explained, brushing some dirt off his shirt. “It would be easier if we had electricity.”
“If you need it,” Vlad shrugged with a nonchalance that made Caleb see red. Now that Alice held his heart in a vice, Vladislaus was open to change?
“Is that how you feel about it?” Caleb said with humorless laugh. He crossed his arms. “No comments on how you can hear the energy waves? Just install it? In this cottage you’ve kept as a virtual mausoleum?”
Vlad finally looked at him, eyes flashing, a tick in his jaw. “Would you like me to have comments?” he ground out.
“What is going on?” Alice complained as she came up behind him. Vlad shot him a dirty look before turning on a smile and crossing the room to see if she had slept okay. Caleb eyed them both with disgust. Did she think she was special because Vladislaus was making a show of good behavior?
“Well, it’s good you’re up,” Caleb snapped. “How much training did you get in before B’Ollithiranon gave up his godhood? Is it just additional power he gave you or was he able to extend your life?”
Alice fumbled around for words but Caleb cut her off. “Alice, we don’t have time for you to wallow. B’Ollithiranon is gone. Count your blessings he had the decency to make you a god five times over before he departed.”
“He’s missing,” Alice enunciated. “And I’m going to need more than five fucking seconds to process what’s going on.”
“You have time,” Vlad said mildly.
“She does not!” Caleb shouted, anger or something like it roiling in his gut. Now, Vladislaus had patience? Where was that patience when Lilith struggled to embrace life as a vampire? Fuming, he revealed his dark form and Vlad, perceiving his action as a threat, turned too.
Alice was undaunted. “Yeah, I’m going to need you to get off my case. My life was just turned upside down. I’m alone—”
“Are you?” Caleb glowered.
“Am I what?”
“Alone.” He didn’t make it a question because he knew the answer.
“I’m…” Alice trailed off, suddenly on her guard.
“Perhaps I should rephrase the question. How are you alone, Alice Martin, eldest daughter of Valeria and Cyrus, who paid for her to travel to Windenburg for this contest? Sister to Maverick who loans her bail money, and to Mayra, who painted her trailer which is parked, incidentally, in her parents’ backyard?”
She stared at him, jaw clenched, but Caleb pressed on.
“Were you about to say I don’t understand?” he spat. “Because your life has been so hard? Because in 1759 Vladislaus made you play a game for your sister’s mortality and you lost?”
“Caleb!” Vlad shouted. His tone was a warning but Caleb could not stop himself. If Alice thought Vladislaus would get better just because she snapped her fingers, she had another thing coming. Caleb had been at this for two hundred years, William even longer.
“No, that can’t be it. Maybe your father was a sociopath who imprisoned you and held your family hostage until you agreed to fight a battle that he rigged in some nefarious plot to turn you into a weapon? He didn’t say that part did he?” Caleb challenged. “That he fought and died for a family he never had any chance of getting back at all? That he wanted The Owl to burn the world because he never recovered?”
“She knows,” Vlad roared, but didn’t approach. Caleb reeled back, not from fear but from shock.
“Just the other day, I had to put a sword through your femoral artery because you threw a violent tantrum over a haircut. And now you’re holding back?”
“Oh, I don’t have to,” Vlad threatened before Alice smacked—smacked!—him in the arm. “What the hell is wrong with you?” she hissed. Chastised, he dispelled his dark form.
“And you?” she cried, gesturing at Caleb. “If you hate him so much, why are you still here?”
A question that had preoccupied him for most of the last hundred years. “It’s complicated,” he scoffed.
Before he could elaborate, William burst through the front door and skidded to a halt, eyes focused on the suit of armor behind the chair. “I haven’t been here in an age,” he breathed. “I was wondering where that got to. You really are quite the hoarder, Vladislaus, worse than I thought.”
He chuckled as he took in Caleb’s furious look. “What’s going on here? You all look half a tick away from killing each other…”
“A small disagreement,” Vlad bit out and Caleb was pleased to see he wasn’t the only one affected.
“Right. Well, we have a problem. Straud Manor has been compromised.”
Alice scrunched up her face. “Like by spies?”
“Worse,” Wiliam said solemnly. “Werewolves.”
Von Haunt Estate
She’d left her calling card earlier and waited at a coffee shop down the street to receive word that Bernard would see her. It was an inane and antiquated custom. The house was a public museum and Bernard and Mimsy had been dead since 1898. But Bernard was nothing if not enthralled with inane and antiquated.
She ensured her card was pretty and demure, a loopy script announcing her name and address. It was quite different from the ones she had designed for herself back in the day. Those said, “I am Miss Hell, Who the Devil Are You?” with the sketch of a demon holding a sign to stand in for the word “devil.”
Bernard would not have approved.
As she walked, her corset poked her in the rib and she found herself extremely resentful that she had to put on this performance. Corsets were suffocating, a punishment that she was none too glad to see jettisoned in the 20th century. Miss Hell had been thrilled to be told to stop buying them as part of some war effort in Brindleton Bay, and took great pleasure the first time she went out in a gown without being laced in too tightly to breathe.
Not that breathing mattered. She still hated the damn things.
Stepping into the front parlor, she made a ridiculous show of pretending to be received. There had to be other spirits on the estate, including servants, but Miss Hell had never encountered anyone except for Bernard and Mimsy.
Pretending to be led to his study, Miss Hell curtsied when she saw him. A handshake would have been perfectly acceptable, even in 1898…but not as far as Bernard was concerned. He hovered over his chair for a few long minutes, making her wait. No doubt enjoying the sharp intake of breath she faked for his benefit, her discomfort giving rise to his pleasure.
Finally, he got up and bowed. “Anastasia. Mimsy will be delighted to know you’ve called upon us today, I trust you’ve seen her?”
Miss Hell had seen her, even though the sight made her feel faint. Trapped in that drawing room, pacing endlessly, empty eyes begging to be set free. A spell kept her from passing the threshold. A spell Miss Hell provided because Bernard was a misogynist and Miss Hell needed a spy. Keeping Mimsy contained, “for her health”, was the cost of observation.
Information, however, required payment in full.
Clearing her mind of the thought, Miss Hell gave a light smile. “May I ring for tea?” she asked, folding her hands in front her. “You appear parched, though I hope it’s not too forward for me to say.”
It wasn’t. Bernard loved to be doted on. Rules could be bent, propriety be damned, if he felt he was being doted on.
“I’ve only just finished a cup,” he replied. “Perhaps a turn in the garden?”
Even though Miss Hell was a powerful vampire and Bernard was a ghost, she felt her mouth go dry at his choice of words. “A turn in the garden” never meant a walk. Fresh air was good for the lungs and Bernard preferred that if you screamed, you did so while improving your constitution.
Pressing the back of her hand to her lips, Miss Hell swallowed down her nausea and nodded. This was nothing but exerting control on Bernard’s part. He couldn’t touch her, couldn’t hurt her, but he could make her describe his past ministrations in such excruciating detail that it felt like she was reliving them.
They passed Mimsy in the drawing room, and Miss Hell avoided eye contact. You will earn your freedom, she told herself, these are desperate times.
They reached the center of the garden maze and Bernard motioned for her to kneel. She felt the crunch of the gravel, focused on the sound, used it to ground herself as his form floated around her.
There was no pretension in his movements now, no unnecessary drama.
“Begin,” he said simply.
Standing behind the fence, watching Straud Manor burn was surreal. Vlad was radiating so much calm, it was actually concerning. William immediately took to questioning a small group of joggers about anything they saw. Caleb was surveying the damage, and Vlad…well Vlad was just watching on the sidelines like a caged animal waiting to be set free. She hoped they didn’t think it was her job to watch him.
“Cufflinks. Expensive. Stamped with the letter M.” Caleb held them out for Vlad to examine.
“Custom job,” William observed. “Is that a swirl of fire? That’s the symbol of—”
“Morgyn,” Caleb finished. “The Sages do not like their summons to be ignored. And they are after The Owl, that much we know.“
He was prevented from saying anything else by the roar of sirens. He groaned as his cell phone began to ring. “That’ll be the local Fire Department.”
“Don’t answer it,” Vlad said quietly, looking over the wreckage. “This is war. Objects don’t matter.”
“Well common sense still matters!” Caleb snapped. “War against whom? How many? The Sages? Bloodvein? The crews looking to hunt down Alice and The Owl?”
“The crews?” Alice balked.
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” William assured her, “We’ve got a list.”
It did not stop her from worrying. Caleb was right, even if he was an asshole, she did not have time to mope.
“My point is we are hemmed in on all sides, Vladislaus. I want this as much as you—”
“I want to tear them all limb from limb,” Vlad whispered darkly. “And be bathed in plasma as I do it. I want to feast on their organs while they are warm and vibrating, preferably while they are awake so that I can taste their fear.”
“I want suffering, Caleb, not revenge!” he thundered. “So no, you cannot possibly want this as bad as I do.”
They were all silent and it dawned on Alice that Vlad’s role was the caged animal waiting to be set free. Fear was a powerful weapon, Ben told her, but she knew that was short-sighted. “It’s not the size of the weapon,” her father always said, “it’s the precision.” They all thought of Vlad like a nuclear bomb instead of like a scythe.
Good old Cyrus Martin. So deep in military strategy, his job didn’t have a name. A proverbial king of war, her father. She did have a family, and they had not sent her out into the world unprepared.
“A great war isn’t won by battles,” she said, quoting her father’s favorite philosopher: General Landgraab. “It’s won by information and we don’t know enough to be,” she tried not to gag, “…feasting on anyone’s organs.”
Vlad lowered his head. “Alice, I’m—”
“No,” she held up a hand. “It’s super gross and I don’t want to think about it. No one here is saying not ever…well…we should have some guidelines about whose guts you can tear out…but we are saying not right now.”
Caleb gave her a conciliatory nod and William threw back his head and laughed. “Alright dear Alice, what did you have in mind?”
What did she have in mind? There was no Ben inside her head to cheer her on or tell her if he thought she was doing it wrong so she was just going to have to wing it.
“We need Deacon’s body and,” she cleared her throat. “Uh…could someone tell me who or what the Sages are?”
Von Haunt Estate
After, Miss Hell felt numb.
“Information isn’t free, Anastasia. Confining her movement is not enough, I want her well-behaved.”
“Of course,” Miss Hell nodded, and her smile was so tight she thought her face might split in half.
“Payment in advance,” he insisted and somehow she made her fingers comply and place the potion on the table.
If Mimsy had been sad before, now she was hysterical. Thrashing and swerving she knocked against the invisible wall of the spell. She knew what was coming. Even when she confined her, Miss Hell had always promised her that she could keep her own mind. But there was no one Miss Hell kept promises to except herself.
She unscrewed the cap of the potion and let the vapors fill the room. Within seconds, there was no corner Mimsy could hide in and she writhed and choked before falling to the floor. That she was a spirit did not make the spectacle any less horrifying.
When she rose, she fluffed her skirts and folded her hands demurely, waiting for Bernard to give her some kind of instruction. Miss Hell could see his excitement and she averted her eyes, trying to keep the plasma she had sucked down earlier inside her stomach.
“Perhaps you would like to practice the piano,” Bernard called out, and Mimsy, dead-eyed even for a spirit, curtsied and took a seat at the bench.
Downstairs, Bernard motioned for her hand as he bent forward, intending to kiss it. “Did you enjoy yourself earlier?” he asked, and Miss Hell had to will herself to stand still.
She smiled and nodded, fighting the urge to claw off her own skin.
“No,” he said, “I don’t think you did,” gazing into her eyes with a satisfied smile. “The one you are looking for is named Alice Martin…”
Ancient Ruins, formerly Straud Castle
Alice looked at the cooler, her stomach sinking. “You fit him in that?”
“Mostly. I’m not an amateur. We didn’t want anyone to find him.”
“Fair enough,” Vlad observed and William nodded.
Alice took a deep breath and tried not to think about how horrible it was. Or how psychotic. “You all need therapy.”
“I‘m in therapy,” Caleb stressed, sounding offended. “And no one told me we needed to keep him whole.”
She felt Vlad’s cool hand on the back of her neck and it made her feel a little less nauseous. Just think about the ends, she told herself. She could worry about the means later. He began rubbing soothing circles into her lower back and she found it only added to the weirdness of the situation.
“Do you think maybe we should put him back together before…” William made a spinning gesture with his hand. They all looked at Alice.
“It would be easier,” she hedged. “Zombies can only reattach limbs they were reanimated with. The body rejects them otherwise.”
They set to work and Vlad led her away from the group. “That’s not just any dismembered corpse, you don’t need to see your friend like that,” —which was a remarkably astute observation for someone who delighted in tearing out his enemies entrails.
“I’m sorry about earlier,” she said.
“You don’t have to be. My grief and anger lasted 500 years and I still don’t believe I’m over it. I could have given you a day.”
“I don’t know what I mean by normal. I mean, I think I do, but I also feel like that ship has sailed. I guess I want reality tv on the couch with friends, a career…dates.”
“I did try to take you on a date,” he pointed out.
“You’re Fear itself and you showed me your true form and asked me to paint a picture,” Alice deadpanned.
They walked back over to William and Caleb who were putting the finishing touches on one of Deacon’s arms.
“But we were only there because I did ask you to help me bury a body,” Alice admitted, “Which I raised, by the way.”
“For banana bread.”
He chuckled. “And yet you want normalcy.”
“What I do is…not fancy,” she felt compelled to say. “And he’ll still be…er…like that,” she added, just in case anyone was getting their hopes up.
She reached out to call a temporary life force but it felt bigger than before. Lightning struck and the space around them glowed. Deacon was suspended in mid-air for three seconds before he landed on his feet. If there was any doubt as to whether Ben left her with more power, it had just been proven wrong.
“Well…” William gasped. “I wouldn’t call that not fancy.”
“Whoa! Dudette! I didn’t realize you had another job!” Deacon cried. “Store clerk and Grimm—”
“Oh no, that’s…I’m actually…Death. God of…” she trailed off.
“The big boss. Right. Got it,” he nodded seriously. “So this is totally awesome and all, but…” he looked down at his body, “I don’t think I’m supposed to be here.”
“Yeah, about that. I’m sorry Deacon, this…” she grappled with the best way to explain things. Being Death meant dealing with grief. How did she explain to Deacon that he was murdered?
“Something terrible happened—”
“Am I a zombie?” he asked hopefully. “Because if so, that’s fucking rad! I mean, I thought the contest was going to be my last chance to make something of myself but now…do you need me for a mission? Am I a spy? I’ve always wanted to be a spy!”
Alice was prepared for Sad Deacon, even Angry Deacon. She was not, however, prepared for I’m Excited I May Be A Zombie Spy Deacon. “Oh, I don’t think—”
“Let’s not be hasty,” Caleb interrupted. “What’s your stance on consuming brains for hire?”
Britechester University Campus
Caleb had been cagey about the location of the safe-house and now Vlad knew why. They weren’t just staying in a safe-house, they were staying on a college campus, in student housing that—according to the smell of stale juice and unwashed dishes—was recently occupied.
Vlad, who had slept on the ground in mud pits and trekked miles through the woods while regrowing an arm, was hard-pressed to explain why being surrounded by cheap furniture felt like a bridge too far.
And it wasn’t just the furniture. The fire took everything so for now, they were all walking around in the sartorial stylings of children who referred to their home as “llama-fucking awesome.”
It was annoying for everyone.
Well, not everyone.
They’d formed a plan as they left the Ruins. Deacon would call to formally withdraw from the contest, which would quiet the mortals and Vlad would ensure that no harm came to Alice during the contest by taking Deacon’s place. Caleb had been doubtful of Vlad’s skills, but Vlad felt he made a pretty good argument:
“If I can flay a sim alive, Caleb, I think I can manage a sage-forsaken pie.”
By day, they’d bake but on nights and weekends they’d hunt down the other competitors for The Owl and eliminate them one by one. William would investigate the Sages, Caleb would try to get more information on Bloodvein’s plans, and he would try very hard not to kill unless Alice asked him to.
Vlad would never admit it out loud, but the TV was an upside to their hideout. It gave Alice a little bit of her “normalcy” and meant that she was happily cuddled against him where he could easily press a kiss to her throat.
He didn’t understand the show, though. Real Homemakers?4 They were almost never home and far as Vlad could tell, nothing on the show was real. “Why are they all fighting that woman in the large hat?” he grumbled. “She only insulted Dina who everyone already admitted they hate.”
“Yes, but they are allowed to hate Dina. They know her. That bitch didn’t earn that!” Alice insisted.
“The enemy of my enemy is an enemy,” Caleb explained.
That, Vlad understood.
“Did you get it?” Miss Hell asked.
“Yeah, duh. Someone destroyed all the paper files but everything is online. Her release forms, sim security number, home address.”5
“What do you need this for?” Jimena asked, crossing to to plug the usb stick into the Slablet on the counter.
“Leverage,” Miss Hell replied, but she couldn’t take her eyes off of Jimena’s curves.
Attempting to distract herself, she cleared her throat and poured herself a glass of nectar. Too late, she noticed that she already had one on the counter.
“What do you think about? When you’re fucking him?” she blurted out.
“Richard?” Jimena made a face and Miss Hell forced herself not to laugh.
“It’s a reasonable question.”
“I don’t think about Richard Lionel, I can tell you that,” she smirked.
In an instant, her entire countenance changed. Jimena zeroed in on Miss Hell who found that whatever assumptions she had about who Jimena actually served evaporated.
Miss Hell felt caught, pinned to the ground, it wasn’t so much seduction as it was…
“You are hunting me!”
“I serve her Ladyship, Elmira, Goddess of the Hunt.6 The Owl was hers to begin with and it will be hers again.” She tilted her head, examining Miss Hell as she would a rabbit caught in a trap. “Should you ever tire of running errands for Sleep and his testosterone-filled fantasies of war, you let me know.”
“B-But you answer to me…” Miss Hell said stupidly. Wasn’t the Goddess of the Hunt a…? How could Jimena ooze such…
“Of course I do,” Jimena whispered, caging Miss Hell in with another look. “The wolf must answer the call of its prey. How else will it get its teeth around their throat?”
Newspaper accessory by soloriya
Reading Newspaper by rethdis-love
Couple Poses on Bed by shianae
Paired on Sofa Poses by helgatisa
Male Poses by Natalia-Auditore
Werewolf Costume by Natalia-Auditore
Werewolf Posepack by Natalia-Auditore
Emotions 1-9 by Simmerberlin
Sitting and Talking Pose Collection by Ratboysims
Table Manners by Something Wicked Sims
Arguing Poses by radioactive
Lookbook Poses V.13 by Flower Chamber
Female Fantasy Poses by Natalia-Auditore
Male Stand Poses 5 Natalia-Auditore
Reunions Posepack Natalia-Auditore
Drinking Wine 2 Natalia-Auditore
Aristocratic Portraits CC by Atashi77
Argument Poses No. 1 by Atashi77
Chivalry Poses by MadebyCoffee
Group poses with Sofa by MaryGelal
MP Venus and Just Stand Poses by Marty P
From the Sims 4 Gallery
Spa Room by SpazzyShanice
Lost in the Woods 16K by lluispire
Mossy Lane Reno by Julie1112
Studio Apartment by MeekaDenimore