I just want to take a moment and shout out all the incredible cc creators. I list credits at the end of each chapter but holy hell, it would be impossible to pull off all the supernatural elements of this story without a ton of help.
Also, the Sims Team promised to fix skin tones, so that’s dope.
And I’m working a on thing for future chapter. If you missed this week’s bonus post, it’s here.
Britechester University, Near the Pleasant House
In his mortal life, Vladislaus Straud had been plenty drunk. Not so much in his immortal one. Gnome’s brew was about the only thing that could do the job for vampires, that or the plasma of the intoxicated. But Alice was a god so whatever enchantment she had performed was up to the task.
He watched, helplessly, as she stumbled towards the Pleasant sisters shouting that she was the God of Death and could “totally help them out with a favor.” He reminded himself, again, that he did not have to listen to her or go along with her insanely flawed plan, which since his brain was disconnected from his mouth, he screamed at the top of his lungs.
She turned around and made a rude gesture. They had argued—about how he thought her desire to be mortal was misguided, about how little she felt he had changed, about why she ignored her family, about how badly she thought he needed a “hobby.”
He may have tried to call her bluff by listing his every murderous and illegal act since 1507.
She may have called him the “king of sitting in his fucking house complaining about television.”
In between it all, they had thrown back cups of juice like they were fortifying themselves for battle.
“Tough break, my man,” a comforting hand appeared on Vlad’s shoulder. “You gotta tell her your feelings. Use the L-word. But don’t crowd her. You’re like, super intense. She probably feels crowded.”
He wished being drunk made him happy or silly, like it did for Alice. Instead, he spent most of his time glaring at her doing keg stands and growing increasingly melancholy while pouring out his heart to some biology major named Jimmy. With his barriers down, he was all memories, lots of memories, almost none of which he wanted.
“She is a god, Jimmy. There is nowhere she would go that I would not follow and there is no word to adequately express the depths of what I feel for her,” Vlad spat.
“Uh yeah. That’s what I mean. Intense. Plus, you keep dissing her peeps man. Like, you make her feel less than when you talk down about her crew.”
He didn’t think she was less than! Even when he believed her to be a mortal she was always more to him. But what was he to her if she didn’t want any of this?
“You got a lot going for you,” Jimmy said. “I mean, you got that weird skin condition but I think it’s fine. Just like, be there for her.”
Vlad narrowed his eyes and drained the rest of his cup.
Out of the mouths of babes.
“You are a credit to your kind,” he declared suddenly. “I won’t kill you.”
With no effort to hide what he was, he sped after Alice. He caught up with her by the edge of the property. She was listening intently to the Pleasant twins explain their troubles with lovers and grades, even as she swayed on her feet.
They seemed…very steady. Too steady. He paused a moment to make sure he was talking inside his own head and not out loud.
Why weren’t they falling all over each other?
He tried to pick Alice up and pull her back but she yelped and in his shock, he dropped her.
She stumbled out of his reach continuing to insist that she could help the twins and spilling her own fears and secrets all too easily.
He reached for her again. “Listen to me,” he said, grabbing her shoulders and forcing her to look at him. It took every ounce of concentration not to squeeze too hard.
“You’re not squeezing me hard? What do you mean?” Alice slurred.
Why couldn’t he stop saying everything out loud? For the love of sages, he—they—someone needed to sober up—
“I’m not drink…drunk,” Alice shouted. “I’m fine you asshat! I’m just trying to give them the…the things!”
“You can give us anything we want?” Angela asked, a glint in her eye.
Vlad’s veins filled with ice.
I’m doing a page by page comment, so if I bring up something that gets answered later in the chapter, just disregard 😊.
The sight of Vlad with a plastic cup was something I had never anticipated to see 😆 I think it’s good that Alice and Vlad are airing their issues – it would just be a lot better if they did so when they’re not drunk and in the middle of trying to take down a pair of bazilisks 😆 Hopefully, since we know they somehow survive the ordeal, they can have a proper talk about the things they fought about once they sober up – if they remember it, that is. (I mean they have several possible reasons to forget, not just a hangover). Definitely enjoyed Vlad’s bonding with Jimmy though 😆
Thank watcher for Deacon. I grow more and more fond of him in every chapter. Things wouldn’t be the same without Caleb’s constant whining (I kid. I do actually like Caleb. Would definitely like him to visit his sister and her weird mermaid group now. That sounds fun)
“The God of Death does not negotiate,” CHILLS
The magic sequeance was so scary and awesome, now idea how you did that, but it looked amazing. Alice sure was terrifying. It’s good that she was able to get back to herself. Now, thing is, lets say she succeeds in getting the owl and truly becomes a fully immortal god of death. From what we’ve seen here, how much of actual Alice will be left, though? She may “live”, but will it really be her that lives? If she is for far changed from who she once was? In which case, is the vessel of the god of death dying that different from them losing themselves to the god of death’s identity?
In any case, it is good she has Vlad, in spite of all of their differences, he is exactly the lover/confidant she needs. Their lives are so incompatible, but he is the only person that can understand this transdymensional/transrealm existential melarchy she’s going through. Soulmates, except soulmates that are so unwillimg to compromise and try to umderstand each other beyond the big destiny part. But then, how much of life revolves around fate, and how much is the little things they can’t see eye to eye on? Unless you’re Miko – and hey, her own relationship didn’t work out because of said little things, not the destiny/fate stuff. Case and point.
Ok that’s interesting about how the magic works, that you have to conserve it to keep your powers. It’s kind of like the charge in game, but almost… reverse? Definitely wondering what L Faba is planning now with this extra “sage”. I mean, does the mere fact Morgyn left mean there even is an open sage spot? Does one stop being a sage by leaving the magic realm for an extended time – or do they need to be killed? And what is in L Faba’s basement?
Poor William, trying to maintain some kind of sense and order with this squad… I do feel sorry for him.
Aww, they did talk. Kind of. I mean, they didn’t entirely addrss their issues, but they are more open with each other now, a bit more vulnerable. That’s a good start. I’ll take it. Also –
“You are a half-assed god and I am a murderhobo. Possibly a fuckboy. It’s lucky we belong to each other, I don’t think anyone else would have us.” ❤️
Loved the last line too. Very true.
Right, apparently this page by page comment idea means I wrote you a novel. Oops!
Squee! Alright, first of all, I am QUEEN OF NOVEL LENGTH COMMENTS. I’m flattered. Let me see what I can tell you without spoilers.
– LOL Vlad and Alice being a drunk is something I just wanted to make happen because I thought it would be so fun. I tried to imagine what Vlad would be like drunk and it was hard to pin down. Then it hit me, of course he’d be full of melancholy and bond with someone who let him talk endlessly about himself and his personal problems. Also, Vlad’s at a point in his evolution where he’s ready to have an interaction with a mortal and not kill them on-site. He needs to develop his people skills, so to speak (for reasons that will be so important in the next story).
– Deacon is a balm for this wild world. Ugh, he’s so fun to write and I think he’s a good foil to Caleb’s constant whining. Seriously, I like Caleb too but right now he is insufferable. Mermaid adventures are 100% in their very near future.
– The screenshots, the cc, the editing, everything about that scene was a HEADACHE so I’m glad it really worked and actually ended up looking cool. “The God of Death does not negotiate” was the line I had in my head even before I wrote the whole chapter. This is definitely a turning point. Up until now, Alice has not really grappled with what it means to be a god. She’s been playing around with no real sense of how powerful she actually is. Now she knows. Your questions are so good and you will get answers to them! But one thing to keep in mind as more of the gods are introduced and we get deeper into magic: are the gods this way because they’ve lost themselves? Or is there something inherent in having that much power, in being that long lived, that separates you from your humanity? This is not the first time that Alice has used her power for dark purposes and liked it (the cowplant attack on the mayor, the building she lit up as a teenager to scare the hell out of her bullies…)
-Ooohhhh you are bringing up such good points and I fear my answers because spoilers. But yeah, Vlad and Alice are bonded. Bonafide soulmates. But a relationship isn’t all sex and danger, which is a lot of what they have right now…so we shall see how they begin to work those things out…And as for Miko…gahhhhh I can’t wait until we get a few more chapters in.
– Yes! Well, I should say: you have to conserve your powers to keep a physical form. L. Faba and Morgyn are pure magic. They can’t die. But if they burn up too much power, they return to primordial magic soup for a few centuries until they can generate a form again. There are only three sages. Sages are not elected, they can only come from that magical primordial soup and they don’t stop being Sages if they leave the realm, they only stop being sages if they abandon this physical form. L. Faba still has her form. Morgyn still has their form. Simeon is not a real Sage so the thing in L. Faba’s basement….[laughs evily]
– William is definitely having a hard go with this “merry band of lunatics.” It’ll be good for him to spend some time taking care of himself, not everyone else…wow…hope an opportunity presents itself hehe.
– LOL. Yes. Talk. Kind of. Vlad does not understand apologies. But they are finding their way.
– me, the author, just desperately wanting an excuse to use the words murderhobo and fuckboy in one chapter hahahahaha!
In Caleb’s defence, in his place, I’d complain a lot too 😆 He’s earned his right to whine after centuries of serving Vlad, especially now when things are going spectacularly wrong haha.
Ooh that is an interesting proposition about gods. Can’t wait to see how this all unfolds.
Ah well you know I had to mention Miko and Akira in spite of them being nowhere near this chapter because I am obsessed with them 😂
Ooh, extra lore side scoop. From what was said in the story I assumed the sages (with the exception of Simeon) were some kind of higher beings, but I didn’t realise they were pure magic that’s taken on physical form – that makes sense. I wonder if it’s actually preferable for beings like this to be in a physical form. I would imagine while they do take on the physical form, they think it is and are attached to it, and of course develop all those not so pretty human-like traits, but maybe at their core they are really better off in their “true form.” Unless they’re being kept in L Faba’s basement, of course 😆 (You don’t have to answer any of this, of course, I’m sure it would be spoilerific. I’m just thinking out loud because it’s such a fascinating concept!)
William would definitely deserve that. As long as he swoops back to help them out once they get even deeper in this tangled mess 😆
§10 on power being inherently exploitative, though its use isn’t always bad, it just requires a heck of a lot of situational knowledge and empathy and maybe a teeny bit of confidence. And I believe Alice is cunning enough to eventually determine when it’s appropriate to use her powers. Maybe not now but eventually. But that’s yogi talk, and there’s a reason the people we consider super super wise are all hiding in the mountains and not like, helping others with the 53789223428543 problems of 2020.
Oh shit the basement thing. I want the secret sage to be either a Twitch streamer or covered in Cheeto dust and pee.
Or is there something inherent in having that much power, in being that long lived, that separates you from your humanity?
Whew boy. Is that a question for the ages or what?
That is definitely something I’m trying to explore but I’ll show my hand a lil bit: for me, it’s more like what does your humanity evolve into? The world of these supernatural long-lived creatures seems lawless and without morality, but that’s only because they are guided by different desires and needs.
I’ve been trying to signal it in small ways, for example, their “religious exclamations”: Sims tend to reference the llamas (holy fucking llamas!) because L. Faba decided to make them worship it as a joke but also gods and monsters and mythical creatures don’t exist to them. Meanwhile, vampires and other supernatural creatures of a certain age reference the Sages (for the love of sages!) because they would have come into their immortality at a time when monarchy was the main power structure and the Sages would have been, for all intents and purposes, supernatural royalty. This is why Caleb’s use is not quite as consistent as Vlad or William’s. Magic users like witches tend to reference the school of magic itself (what, in the name of practical magic, is going on?) because the thing that defines them is their magic and they are beholden to it’s whims.
Basically, I want it to feel like they have their own rules and morals because they do. That’s why the story opens with Caleb telling the murder-happy King of the Vampires that he’s gone too far and Vlad knows it. But their rules and morals aren’t tied to the kinds of things humanity tends to value like say “sexual purity” or “being nice” because when you’ve been around centuries, or even millennia, all that shit stops meaning anything. They have values, have hopes and dreams and desires; but their conception of family, love, and “normal” life is very different from humans (aka sims).
That’s what Vlad is pushing Alice on: her definition of normalcy and morality is very small–very narrow. And this part of the story is really about all the ways she begins to expand that definition.
On the flip side, there is a chance you can become so far removed your humanity that you really do become a menace. You become cruel. Vlad is careful to make that distinction to Alice who, yes, has all the power of an immortal being with none of the experience. I am rooting for her to figure it out too.
After you read the next chapter and find out my take a on a certain character, I think you can safely have high hopes for what’s locked in the basement lolololololoololol.
(god, can I ever not write a novel in my responses?)
Also weirdly I like quoted myself and responded to it. Lol. 2020 man.
Oh dang the religious-explanations thing is blowing my mind. I don’t know about you, but I’m releasing a bullshit listicle thing soon that reveals some buried details people may have missed, and would gladly read a similar analysis of all the stuff I missed in BBD—after the fact, of course.
You know I’m not one for labels like “good” or “bad” and keep saying shit like “axiomatic core values” and “paradoxical belief system” and other pretentious things with the letter ‘X,’ and I don’t know how that’s going to change my reading experience from someone who hasn’t yet driven themselves nuts with epistemology. Might actually make me miss some things. Brb, gonna find a whiteboard marker and scrawl some theories on a window.
Oh yes, more of Deacon and Caleb. Deacon is becoming my new favorite. I think that’s what Caleb needed, a good friend to look out for him and stop him from wallowing in his own misery. I do still like Caleb, and I guess some of his wallowing is understandable.
And wow, that was scary, Alice realizing the extent of her power and that being a god of death is a lot more of a responsibility than she originally thought. Vlad did try to warn her in the last chapter. I’m glad Vlad and Alice are starting to talk to each other and that he was able to comfort her at the end.
YES. Caleb is insufferable, lol, I say that as the person who wrote him and adores him. He has his reasons, but he also needs to grow up (strange to think of 200+ year old vampire as needing grow up but here we are). Deacon has many layers 🙂 MANY.
Whew. Yeah. Alice has been coasting along like she’s got this god thing in the bag, but now she is starting realize that with great power, comes great responsibility haha. I feel like Vlad and Alice are a good balance for each other and he understands what she is struggling with in a way that no one else does. Plus, you know, I needed a little bit of sappiness after all of that drama!
“In his mortal life, Vladislaus Straud had been plenty drunk.”
Now THAT is an opening sentence. I’ll take any opening that bluntly throws the protag under a bus, for which the reigning champion will eternally be Delinquent Sims for “Hi, I’m Milo Pike and I’m a piece of shit.”
No Vlad, killing people is not a hobby. But thank god he had Jimmy there to help him figure out what mansplaining feels like. Yes, I felt that dig at people who are so far removed from the problem that it doesn’t affect them (until Alice goes super saiyan) but who feel confident offering advice. That black cloud of being the conduit for fear itself looks small from so far away! Might as well be a teeny nugget you can flick away with one hand. And I can’t choose which of every single one of Deacon and Caleb’s lines to comment on—is this how my readers feel? Hoisted! Hoisted!—so I’m just running around in a circle about it. But you can’t see me.
Someone who keeps using the word ‘metafiction’ is going to be biased when reading SimLit, always, so of course I’m amused that one of Alice’s central struggles is loss of control. You can barely keep yourself from leveling an entire school? Girl, you’re a sim, go over to where the textured-glass knight is and contort your limbs however SimmerBerlin wants you to.
I’ll admit, part of why romance doesn’t appeal to me as a genre is that I have trouble buying romantic connection when the characters are underdeveloped or just have no notable qualities in common, or even when the things they do share don’t uniquely rule it down but they’re still labeled by the author as soulmates. And I’m still reflecting on why Alice and Vlad don’t fall into that trap for me. Part of it is that I’ll stan a couple who are together because they’re broken in the exact same oddly specific way—but that’s like, part one of a relationship, and fuck Eros, I’m not backing something unless it has long-term potential. Like I won’t get into a relationship if I can predict how it ends. I’ll also appreciate when they use any variation in core values & talents they may have to boost each other up as a team, which is clearly happening here. Although if the key difference is Not Murder, they’re BOTH FAILING on that front and holy crap is there disaster brewing. Then there’s the day-to-day compatibility that’s so important in long-term relationships but often overlooked in those short-timescale lust facsimiles. That hit me in the first part. Alice calling Vlad out for complaining about TV? Oh, you’re one to talk.
Then she appeared onscreen without makeup. Bless
“You will be the death of me.” …foreshadowing? Because it sounds like foreshadowing and tastes like lies.
(I’ll keep this to a minimum b/c I don’t think I’ve sheepishly asked you in particular whether you’re okay with me compulsively copy editing yet, but there’s a typo in the first paragraph of pt. 2, also in the first sentence of pt. 5)
OMFG, okay here I go but I’ma try to keep it concise (this is a lie).
– HAHAHA opening line yes, I mean I’m all about laying it on the line sometimes. I had to look that reference up and I am SO GLAD I DID.
-LOL, there was a version of this where I wrote out Vlad and Alice’s actual fight but then it was too long so I cut it and just gave the highlights. 100% Vlad was like: what do you mean murder is not a hobby? And Jimmy – I just wanted to write Vlad developing a drunken friendship with some undergrad who has no idea what he is actually talking about. And yes, it gives the mansplaining joke a chance to come full circle!
-Being Fear itself is no mental cake walk. It will be interesting to see how this evolves now that Alice is getting a better sense of what being a God actually means in terms of power.
-Omg if I’ve giving readers the same feels you do, I’m HONORED (not hoisted, that would be another thing entirely ::maniacal laughter::)
-Damn. You’re right about Alice’s central struggle but I don’t even think I seen that myself! Sometimes the line between commentary on the sims/super insider joke for simmers and getting inspiration/justification for the characters’ actions from game play is real blurry.
-As a huge romance fan/nerd I feel this last big part of your comment down to my toes. It’s why I’m fascinated by romance books that are, as author Sarah McLean says, “hunting for big game.” There’s a paranormal romance series called Immortals After Dark that does that for me. It takes that whole Fated Mates trope and turns it on its head just by asking the questions a lot of stories don’t bother with: “and then what?” The story is less about “love conquers all” and more like a character study of what happens when love forces two people (in this case, long-lived immortal creatures with serious body counts) to have to deal with their shit and grow as human beings while also grappling with the fact that they might have, oh I don’t know, killed their mate’s entire family in a war 500 years ago. Its weird and violent and funny and smoking hot and everything I aspire to in my fan fiction.
-That said, I’m glad Alice and Vlad don’t fall into that trap for you! Writing this story now is so much harder than it was at the beginning and takes so many more rounds of edits (which is why typos, I’m already a terrible editor. Please point them out always LOL). I’m trying desperately make sure their relationship is growing and changing but also that they are exploring themselves and each other while trying to keep all these other plots points in the universe going (and as a further attack on myself, trying to develop and write from lots of characters’ points of view).
– I hope they read as being broken in the same oddly specific way but also not broken in different oddly specific ways that make them well suited for each other…if that makes any sense.
-Writing them working together as a team was so cathartic after so much bickering. You are right that it’s the day-to-day compatibility that is the BIG thing and Vlad and Alice are at a point where they’ve got the cheat code that brings them together (LTR Romance Main, thy name is plot point), now they gotta figure out what it means to be together and that’s HARD when you’ve got a ticking cake bomb in the oven.
-*Is* the key difference Not Murder? I never said Alice was a good character, in fact, she might be in a bit of denial about that. Also, how does the god war start again? ::laughs maniacally::
-Sims without make-up at bedtime is such a small detail and omg I’m so pleased someone noticed.
-Me? Foreshadowing in a very tricky way that is probably a lie? GASP + more maniacal laughter. It means something, that’s for sure…all will be revealed…eventually.
If Jimmy shows up at the climactic final god battle and casually explains to Vlad exactly what he has to do to win and make everyone happy forever, I’m going to have to put the laptop down and lie on the floor until I stop laughing. If Jimmy does that while also complaining that his bitch professor “gave him a C for no reason” and lets it slip that he never showed up to class and only turned in half the assignments, CT will end at Book II because I would for-real die of hysteria.
I legit can’t tell whether the “big game” they’re hunting for refers to powerful creatures or to super-epic love connections. In that same vein, I also legit can’t tell whether “body count” refers to killing or bedding people. <– There's your tagline for BBD.
Oh, shoot, that's a wording thing on my part. I was trying to say that Not Murder is one of the values they don’t differ on, but the double negative made it too crunchy. Whoops. When I say Alice, with her cunning, can learn to control her powers, I mean she’ll find a way to kill the Mayor of Strangerville but not the delightful shrubbery behind him. Hahaha. There was one time early on in the story where I underestimated her problem-solving abilities, and it burned me. Never again.
But of course she’s bound to make mistakes along the way, and—yeah, the “foreshadowing… or IS it?” bit says it for me, really. I mean it’s probably happened in one of the timelines.
(There’s a trade-off for really long chapters where if there are so many lines to comment on, you (=the commenter) end up accidentally letting some slip away. I’m sure I’m missing HUGE parts of the supernatural-politics aspect that are going to bite my face off later. Cathy Tea’s comments are great because she’s got the literary chops and clearly has those gears working full-time, but the poor woman’s so diligent with her SimLit emotional labor that she only has time for a couple sentences of comment, and sometimes those sentences are about a non-sequitur in the captions or the Pope’s sweater toggles when the Pope is standing in front of caged, scantily clad children. She gets it. She totally does. I see where she’s coming from: I also often assume the big-picture stuff is obvious and jump RIGHT to the details, and what makes it fun is there are so many details it’s impossible to predict what she’ll pick up on. It’s like a grab bag.)
L. Faba is cooking up betrayal. If Morgyn is basically her ride and die, and she’s gonna betray them… yikes, she is no better imo than Elmyra.
I’m not sad the Pleasant sisters were wiped from existence. It was rather amusing. Kinda sad that Alice didn’t embrace her full potential and decimate the entire campus. Ugh, Alice, your conscience is so annoying. You’re a god. It’s okay to just let yourself go and play with humans (sims) as though you are burning a colony of ants with a magnifying glass. I mean… good for you, Alice. (yo, not trying to rag on Alice, I just like chaos).
I am sad to admit I’ve never heard the term “boot and rally” (why does it sound so Nascar-y?) and am tickled by its meaning. If ever a party hard slogan there was! As someone who never knew her alcohol limit in her 20’s, I cannot imagine EVER wanting to continue partying right after vomiting (but maybe that’s b/c I was usually blackout drunk at that point). Anyways, go off, Deac! I’d like to see him turn Caleb into a frat fuckboy. Hey, it would help him make friends! Win-win!
Okay, now to end my comment with William. Le sigh. I love how self-righteous he is, acting like the stern parent of the group. Bro, you just agreed to meet the enemy and got caught up in some kinda sword fight foreplay. Come on now. Stupid is as stupid does, and you weren’t any less stupid. You don’t even know that Morgyn is in love with your dumb ass. They could have killed you if they wanted. Can I “okay, Boomer” William? I know he is too old to be one, but goodness is it ever so fitting.
NO ONE TRUST FABA! Hahahaha yeah listen, I’m sure its going to all be *fine.*
Be glad you never heard that term because oof, its awful. If only I could back to 25 year old ferosh partying in Vegas and tell her to have some water and a nice lie down. Hahaha this is a reminder that I have not done enough Deacon/Caleb frat boy adventures and somehow I will need to rectify that in the Strauds. (I do love the grumpy/sunshine vibe he has going with Caleb)
You can definitely OK Boomer him. Like, okay, its technically OK middles ages-era knight, but still. In his defense, I think William is carrying a lot of trauma and he’s used to not being listened to, shoved aside, left doing the dirty work without recognition. And I think the self-righteousness is a defense. But yeah, he still really needs to get his shit together.
Stay tuned for the Strauds: everyone in this family goes to therapy chapter LOLOLOL