Myself: Is this…is this smut?
Me: [distracted] uh…what?
Myself: This chapter. Is this smut I see in this chapter?
Me: Oh….that. Well, yes. But its like a joke inside of a joke that will make good on another joke.
Me: And plot stuff. Very…umm…plot things.
Myself: [disappointed grumbling]
Windenburg Wash ‘n Fold
A whisper of black hair caught his attention, but Caleb Vatore resisted tracking it down. In the early days, he had followed every black strand, certain Lilith would be at the other end. Eventually, he learned to temper his impulses and think of his sister like a ghost.
You may choose to be angry or you may choose to move on, but I will not be moved. Lilith Vatore is weak. She lacks constitution.
It had been 90 years since Vladislaus uttered those words and while Caleb had moved on, his anger never cooled. It was only the violent, demanding nature of his work that kept him calm.
In that way, the King of the Windenburg Vampires was both the cause of his misery and the cure.
He paused just outside of the laundromat to adjust his cuffs.
Deacon stopped short, “Uh, bro, you’re telling me that we’re really gonna to do laundry?” he pulled at his shirt collar, “And I have to wear all these clothes?”
“Quit your crying. I really do need to pick up some dry cleaning and clothing will not kill you.”
“I know,” Deacon grumbled, “But it makes me feel like my whole body’s in prison.”
Evergreen Harbor, Grimm’s Quarry
Grimm’s Quarry was founded by a prospector who, to this day, William regretted sleeping with. In some ways, it was the inciting incident of his 100 -year dry spell. To anyone who asked, William would say that Arnold Grimm was insufferable. But the truth?
Arnold Grimm was not Tobias.
William had loved hard and he had loved once. In the subsequent centuries, no one had been able to replace Tobias in his heart.
Walking up on the property, he saw a large historical marker in the priory’s front garden.
St. Tellamyr Priory was established in 1399 and was home to an order of scholarly monks dedicated to preserving the history of the Windenburg. Under the guidance of 15th century King, Josef Straud, the priory saw great expansion and was eventually combined with the Good Order Monks. This original building was abandoned when the Order grew too large. It is maintained by the Neighborhood Council and its founders.
William snorted. More like the St. Tellamyr monks were driven out by anyone who didn’t agree with Josef’s hand-selected band of heretics. Still, it was strange to see the Good Order Monks even mentioned by name or be associated with Josef. Aside from them being long dead, quelling any knowledge of their existence had been Vladislaus’s one defining commitment. He attended to it with brutal efficiency and surprising little fanfare, given his love of bloodshed.
I do not intend to make them martyrs, he once said.
Mortals had no memory of the monks. The witches were so ashamed that a group with such weak bloodlines had seized power that they were all too happy to forget. Only a few old creatures could recall the reference and mad or not, they were unlikely to cross Vladislaus. So where had the marker come from?
He crossed to the giant entry doors taking great care not to put his fist through wood as he knocked. Though he’d lived in Windenburg for over five hundred years, the buildings and locations from his mortal life were mostly ruins. The memories that assaulted him were soft, misty things that could disappear on a squint.
But this place…
It had been preserved, cared for beyond even Caleb’s diligence, and the memories that came were bright and crisp.
He watched with more interest than he was willing to admit as Morgyn strolled barefoot along the walkway. They froze when they saw William, the look on their face quickly morphing from shock into smug indifference.
William savored that look, locked it into his mind. Do you see, self? This is who Morgyn really is. You cannot be enamored of so cruel a creature.
“Hello Sage,” William glowered, “Fancy seeing you here. May I come in?”
Windenburg Countryside, Dryad Territory
“Everyone is gone and I have a list of very filthy things I am going to distract you with while you practice,” Vlad explained, his fingers playing across the lace underwear he both wanted feel rough against his skin and take off of her immediately.
“Very. Filthy. Things,” he reminded her, emphasizing his point with a kiss. She moaned, grabbing his shoulder, and he let his fangs sink gently into her bottom lip. Two small beads of plasma formed.
His eyes nearly rolled into the back of his head.
“The car is—”
“A mile down the road,” he promised, his hand moving to her neck—“As we discussed,” he murmured, giving her a moment before applying just the slightest bit of pressure.
She arched into it before tapping his knee. He removed his hand, releasing her immediately. “Too much?”
“No,” she panted. “Are we going to talk about it?”
“What?” he asked, still puzzling over why she had given him the signal.
“The control thing,” she whispered, biting her lip.
Vlad had forgotten that sex could be fun. As he rediscovered the side of himself that enjoyed teasing, he also stumbled upon the side that was playful, filled with humor.
“Of course,” he winked—winked! When had he last done that? “Lie back, and I’ll tell you what I want.”
She started to comply but froze. “No,” she said, shaking her head, “I mean me controlling you.”
Also enjoyable. He licked his lips. “I await your command…”
“What?” her eyes widened, “I don’t want to command you! I’m talking about the thing Grim said when—”
“Must we discuss the Grim Reaper?”
He raised an eyebrow.
“No, not like that. I’m talking about the other day when…when…” she blew a curl out of her face in frustration. “Can you put on a shirt? I can’t think when you’re like…this, and we need to talk.”
Windenburg Wash ‘n Fold
Caleb made a promise to himself when he thought he was dying from the basilisk’s venom. A half-hearted, fool’s promise, sure, but a promise just the same. He would allow himself one diversion, track down one lead on his sister. If it didn’t pan out he would do what he pretended to do 90 years ago and finally let it go.
That’s why they were here, at the Windenburg Wash n’ Fold which was actually part laundromat, part dry-cleaner, part supernatural black market.
“Feeding time,” Caleb explained, gesturing at the sims staring blankly at the washers.
“And do not make eye contact with that Moon Elf. We can speak freely out here, but once we go through that door the neutral zone ends and all our secrets are fair game.”
“You got it captain!” Deacon exclaimed.
Caleb frowned, he would not let the zombie think his enthusiasm was in any way amusing. “Don’t call me—”
Suddenly, a be-spelled hamper shot towards them. Caleb gasped and ducked, “Don’t try to destroy them,” he shouted, “Just bat them out of the way. The curses are trapped inside the clothing!”
Deacon grunted and batted away a floating laundry basket. It narrowly missed a sim in a red t-shirt who didn’t so much as flinch.
They dodged a few more laundry carts before the room finally settled down.
“Damned acolyte wizards! I’ve negotiated at least three treaties between them, which is more than Vladislaus has ever bothered to do. His response to the conflict was ‘I hope they kill each other,’ as if that’s any way to—”
“Right. Right,” Deacon interrupted, “Why do you think about Vladislaus so much?”
Caleb whirled around. “What are you on about?”
“Vlad-y. The vampire dude who turned you. Alice’s…er…Death’s…uh…boyfriend? You talk about him all the time, which like, rockin’, but it just seems thirsty.”
“I have no idea what you mean,” Caleb barked, “Obviously, you haven’t the faintest idea what it is like to be at the whims of a supernatural king, nor the requirements of my employment—”
“Wait, this is a job?” Deacon gasped.
“O-Of course this is a job!” Caleb sputtered, “Do you think I do this for my health?”
A group of hobgoblin bounty hunters walked by and nodded in greeting before checking one of the washer machines for a note and disappearing through the back door. Caleb glared at them.
“Dope!” Deacon nodded, calling his attention back, “What’s it pay?”
“W-what?” Caleb gulped.
“WHAT. DOES. THE. JOB. PAY?” he repeated loudly.
Caleb stared at him, dumbfounded.
“I thought you might be going deaf like my grandma,” he explained, “Because you kept saying ‘what.'”
“You are an imbecile,” Caleb snapped, pushing past him to stomp through the back door.
Windenburg Countryside, Dryad Territory
“Alright,” Alice declared as she began to pace, “So yesterday, did you not kill Gwendolyn’s foster parents because I forced you to or was that your decision?”
It was strange to talk of decisions. Lately, Vlad had done all sorts of things there weren’t his decision. Shopping, for example, which was a torture save for the benefit of no longer wearing the cast-offs of Britechester undergrads.
And credit cards. He liked those.
“As I understand it, Gwendolyn’s foster parents were not at home for me to kill,” he grumbled. “Is this what you intend to do with the few hours we have this morning?”
She stopped pacing, “Don’t be an asshole, I’m frustrated.”
“You?” he deadpanned.
“You’ll survive not having sex for five minutes.”
The part of Vlad’s brain concerned with his general well-being advised him that this was not the time to point out that whatever she was launching into was almost certainly going to take more than five minutes. The plans they had for that morning—foreplay, demonstrations of godly power, sex—evaporated before his eyes.
“I need to know, did you choose it? It’s skeeving me out, this idea that I control you…or anyone else. I don’t want to make you do everything, I want you to choose things.”
“I did choose.”
“How do I know?” she shouted, throwing up her hands.
“Because they are not dead,” Vlad replied, his tone calmer and more amused than he actually felt.
“Are you for fucking real right now?”
He didn’t answer. He was sure, almost positive, that she was not asking an actual question.
Yesterday, he held back because it would please her. Partnership. Compromise. He was old but capable of these things. Though if he was being honest, he had expected a lot more gratitude.
“What I did to the twins…that was…I forced you to help me smite them. I didn’t know I could call you to my will but now that I know it, how do I keep from doing it? What if I’m so forceful that I don’t realize what I’m doing?”
Vlad put his head in his hands, frustration seeping into his voice. “You would know. You’ll practice. Do you not recall today’s plan?”
“But I can control you!”
“I do not feel controlled,” he began, growing even more agitated, “Not in the way you think.”
Was she under the misapprehension that he did not know his own mind?
“Your will called to me and I answered. I chose to answer, Alice. Do you honestly believe there was any version of those events where I would not have gladly slain the entire sage-forsaken campus?”
Except Jimmy, he added silently to himself. He could make an exception for the biology major.
Alice stared daggers at him. “How am I supposed to know that? I am trying to have this conversation for you! For your benefit!”
His eye twitched at that statement. She didn’t understand the ground she was treading when she said it, but the words…he couldn’t find the words to tell her why.
“You are having this conversation for you,” he bit out. “And you are not listening.”
“Because you keep saying it’s fine!”
“It is fine!” he shouted.
“Well, I don’t want you to say it’s fine!” she shouted back, “I want you to tell me the truth because apparently, you’re bound to me and I can make you—”
Phobos took over so quickly, Vlad heard none of the rest of her sentence.
St. Tellamyr Priory
“Drink?” Morgyn asked, leading William back to what had once been the main chapel. He was surprised to see that the Sage had kept most of the original details and even some of the furniture.
“Please,” William replied. He watched as Morgyn began mixing a juice on the rocks, refusing to ask how they knew his favorite drink.
“I don’t think the monks would have approved of you using the altar for a bar,” he said instead.
“Really?” Morgyn smirked, “I heard the St. Tellamyr monks were quite fond of strong drinks. A set of bonafide lushes.”
With great effort, William maintained a serious face. The St. Tellamyr monks were renowned lushes. Besides Tobias, it was one of the reasons he and Vladislaus had spent so much time here. Still, he could not give into Morgyn so easily.
Graceful fingers wrapped around the glass as the Sage of Untamed Magic threw back their drink in one gulp.
They were nervous!
William could see it plainly on their face.
“Strange for you to be so off-kilter when it’s you who’s taken up residence in my old stomping grounds.”
Morgyn managed a smile, “Well, you are quite a…large presence. You can’t blame a creature for being a little thrown off their guard.”
Blatant flirtation. William laughed in spite of himself.
Morgyn gathered their empty glasses and tossed them into a bin. The priory kitchen had always been located on the second floor. The monks had built a trash chute system before there was any such fancy appliances.
“How did you find me?” they wondered.
“One true thing from me if you give me one true thing from you,” William reasoned, surprising himself. He could pretend he was dragging this out to give Vladislaus and Alice more time to tup each other’s brains out. Or he could just admit that when it came to Morgyn, William craved some vulnerability.
“You called me Aurelius, which meant you knew of me in my mortal life. We are creatures of habit, more so in our old age. I simply retraced over the memories of my life and asked myself what location would prove a grand and ostentatious enough demonstration for one such as you.”
Morgyn looked stunned and it took a moment for them to regain their composure. When they did, their voice was dripping with mischief and something else William could not name.
“What one true thing would you like me to tell you? Have you located the book?”
Windenburg Countryside, Dryad Territory
He told Alice the horns were something they did not yet understand. But he did understand.
Had begun to suspect.
Phobos was waking up. The line between vampire and conceptual magical entity was blurring.
“You can make me what?” he growled, appearing behind her. Alice yelped and covered her mouth, the flash of her fear turning his stomach.
“Make me? Is that what you propose, God of Death?” His voice was a ragged thing, his and not-quite-his. Her fear simmered, turning sharp, then acrid, then…something delicious.
He sped around the room, pulling the light into himself, enjoying the way the space fell to darkness. He felt dizzy with his anger. Invigorated by it. Fearless of it.
“Make me? Millenia upon millenia I have had to feed, to become this.”
He shifted, stretching his wings until he was floating above the bed, the light gathered unto him like a small beacon.
“Bound,” he spat, “I am older than that word. It is to be obliged. To have certain requirements of behavior imposed. And I am duty bound to do my best.” He curled his claws, flashing two rows of needlelike teeth. “Bound? Yes, I am bound to you, Alice. You may make me do anything. But even you, God of Death, the one whom I belong to, even you should be wary of what my very best entails.”
She did not shrink back, her eyes full of fire as she conjured a ball of light in her hands. She was all God and all fury. A glorious lovely thing.
And he wished to play with her.
Whispers of terror crept through the darkness, he fed and smiled, beckoning her forward. This was how he wished to fight, to burn off their frustration: a whirlwind of violence and magic.
Threat, his mind screamed. Threat. Threat. Threat.
Who would dare? He tilted his head, scanning the room, until his eyes landed on the light.
The light that was like napalm in her hands.
He drew back his claws and eased to the floor.
Fear was not immortal, Fear was eternal.
But Alice had a mortal body.
She was a god. But she was breakable.
“Truce,” he croaked out, the word foreign on his tongue.
The flames swirled in her eyes, but she nodded.
Windenburg Wash ‘n Fold
They rang the bell and waited at the desk. The Wash ‘n Fold might attract the worst supernatural criminals—those selling hacked wands, murder-for-hire, and anything else illicit and frowned upon—but they had a strict membership policy: No dues, no entry. Hopefully, Marley was working and could give them a sense of who was trading downstairs.
Deacon leaned against the gate, making Caleb uncomfortable with his stare. He didn’t owe anyone explanations, least of all some freshly made zombie who could barely keep his head on straight.
“Everything is not about Vladislaus. This is not about Vladislaus!”
…At least not directly.
Technically, Lilith was missing because of Vladislaus, and they were searching for her today because Vladislaus could not convince Alice that no one would be listening to them have sex. How did she think they had survived being the same household for so many centuries? God she may be, but she had silly mortal hang-ups.
Regardless, this was something Caleb was doing for himself. “I have my own reasons for this errand that have nothing to do with my job.”
Deacon saluted and it rankled Caleb’s nerves. It was a job! Caleb did get paid! Sort of. Vladislaus was a terrible administrator. Caleb handled all of the household accounts and simply purchased whatever he needed. It was easier that way. He didn’t need a salary!
“My therapist feels that I’ve made significant progress in developing my own sense of purpose.”
Perhaps “significant” was an exaggeration but Deacon didn’t need to know that.
The zombie nodded.
“And I’m moving out!” he felt compelled to say.
Deacon nodded again.
“Why do you keep doing that?” Caleb demanded. The zombie was starting to make him feel crazy.
“You told me not to talk back here because all of our secrets were fair game and I should just shut up.”
Caleb rolled his eyes, “There is no one—”
A fishman who was not Marley appeared behind Caleb and cleared his throat.
“Not to eavesdrop but—”
Fucking hell! Caleb turned on his heel and snapped the creature’s neck, letting the body slump against the counter.
“That was your first lesson,” he said haughtily, brushing off his coat after scanning his membership card, “Keep your cover.”
They walked through the door which portaled them into the Western Gallows section of the market. Caleb supposed they deserved it. It wasn’t a rule but members were discouraged from killing the staff.
“Holding lot for bounty hunters while they do their business. Don’t make eye contact with any of them,” Caleb instructed.
Deacon looked worried. “Yeah but the fairy seems—”
“Especially the fairy,” Caleb warned, pulling the zombie further down the path.
Without the manor, the Museum had become the one place that held his memories. The decision to appear here was not intentional, but it seemed to call to him whenever he felt particularly bereft. Last time a fight with Caleb. This time a fight with Alice.
He wandered the halls, no direction in mind, observing mortals running to and fro, marveling over one treasure or another. Alice didn’t understand what she had triggered, the vulnerability so tender, he could not give it words. Their argument was about her fear. She was scared of losing control. He knew that. He knew.
And yet he could not shake it, the feeling that he trusted her and she did not trust him in return.
And now here he was, Vladislaus Straud, Fear Itself, hurt. And not just hurt, but angry and anxious to burn that anger off like gods and monsters—hunger for bloodshed and magic and the sweet exhaustion that came after. And it would have been safe, reasonable even, if not for the fact that she and he were in the mortal realm.
They could’ve destroyed it.
Over a lover’s spat.
It and her and everything else he loved along with it.
He wandered downstairs, his bare feet padding on the well-worn wood. They needed replacing, but he had refused it when the museum board brought it to him for a vote. Stupid and sentimental, an attachment to a world he was now unsure he could even stay in.
But it was the scent of freshly cut wood that made him pause…
And the sound of…saws?
He opened the door to find a workshop. A few sims looked up when he entered. Though not all sims, he scented at least one werewolf and recognized the Fyres witch.
The old man at the front of the door tilted his head in greeting. “If you’re here for the class, you’re late. You’ll have to work fast if you mean to catch up.”
Vlad had been a poor woodworker as a mortal man. A dalliance over the centuries had moved that up to serviceable. But he had always liked it. And so, leaning more into how he felt in the moment as opposed to any sort of plan, he nodded and took up the place at the back of the room.
For centuries he had leashed Phobos, fed on a steady diet of fear and cruelty while whatever was left of Vladislaus faded to nothingness…became a ghost. Phobos slept and the shell of the man clambered through life from one heedless century to the next.
It was what he wished, for a reason buried so deeply he had nearly convinced himself that it didn’t exist. But there were glimpses, waking nightmares that made him think the past had crept back around again.
That it came for things precious to him and he gave up sinew and skin, let magic strip him down to the bones, just to beat it back.
The Good Order Monks are dead, he told himself, more out of habit than anything else. It was a raw statement that did little to calm him anymore.
He worked, searching for that blissful edge of peace until his fingers bled, and he thought it safe for him to return to the house.
St. Tellamyr Priory
To think that he had given a little piece of himself and now the Sage had the audacity to stand in the middle of the priory and ask William about the book. Unbelievable!
“You know I haven’t found it!” William shouted, “Because you know it isn’t a book in a mortal library. Because that’s not where you stored it.”
“Me?” Morgyn laughed, “I promise you I did not.”
“Oh? Three witches. That’s not you? Is that your one true thing?” William asked, narrowing his eyes. He felt stupid for taking this gamble and it made him furious.
The corner of Morgyn’s mouth curled up. “No, I’ll give you this one as a freebie. You are old William, but not older than me. There are always three Sages,” they emphasized that word, “But when the Book of Longings was made, I was not one of them.”
William balked. It was a true thing. Somewhat. He was not so foolish as to think the world had always existed the way he knew it.
“Fine. So the Book of Longings was written by some Sages and stored in the Library of Magic and everyone knows they won’t just let a vampire stroll into that foul place,” he took a step forward, invading Morgyn’s space, “I assume you mean to help me procure it.”
“Of course, I-I can retrieve it for you and—”
“No,” William growled. “I trust you as an enemy, not a friend. You’ll not be retrieving that particular tome unless I’m by your side.”
“The Library is dangerous. Deadly traps, Swimming in magic, and wary of outsiders,” Morgyn said quietly.
“More dangerous than a bevy of Gods making their way here to crush the world in war?”
Morgyn looked away, as if trying to settle some sort of internal argument.
“And so it begins,” he said finally.
They turned back to William and winked, “Alright vampire, I shall take you to the Library of Magic and retrieve this tome. But you will do everything I tell you to, without question, which I will enjoy but I imagine may be a bit difficult for you.”
William bared his teeth. “Oh, I think you’ll find me quite capable of following orders. I was a knight in the court of Josef Straud, after all.”
“Yes,” Morgyn replied drily, “I am familiar with a knight’s conception of following orders in that court. We’ll travel to the jungle by portal at week’s end.”
William gulped. The idea of being wrapped up in that much magic made his skin crawl.
“What about weapons?” he ventured.
“Am I not enough of a weapon?” the Sage purred, already drawing a portal open to make their exit.
“So offensive. I’m off to make preparations.”
“Wait!” William cried out, stalling. “You owe me one true thing, your real true thing.”
Morgyn looked over their shoulder, eyes primal and yet vulnerable. “I didn’t choose this place because it was ostentatious.”
When he disappeared through the portal William found himself staring straight at the spot on the wall where he and Tobias had carved their initials.
Windenburg Countryside, Dryad Territory
Alice scowled at her reflection. The first rule of being a god with tremendous power and the ability to bind other creatures to her will was to not remind everyone that she was a god with tremendous power and the ability to bind other creatures to her will. She knew as soon as she started that her anxiety over the last few days had run away with her. Grim told her to be careful about what she could unleash, but she wasn’t.
Magical side effect crap was an understatement. Phobos was, in full form, fucking frightening. And so was she. The two of them—frightening ass monsters who would have ripped each other shreds…and probably boned each other too. Phobos was frightening, but also sexy, at least to Alice.
“It was like word vomit, dad. I could not shut myself up.”
She meant to only call home once, but then the floodgates opened. Even though she had hidden from her family as much as possible, she really missed them. Her dad gave good advice, unlike her mother who never let her get a word in edgewise.
“Fights happen, pumpkin. Especially when you’re trying to learn each other’s ways.”
Alice snorted a laugh. That was one way of putting it. What would her dad say if he knew what the fight was really about?
“I know your mother says hell is other sims, but other sims make our lives richer, even if they drive us crazy. I might get mad at her but I wouldn’t trade her in just because we fought, or at least I’d try to get her back immediately.”
Alice cackled, “She’s not home is she?”
“No, are you crazy?” he lowered his voice to a stage whisper, “I would never put myself in that kind of danger.”
“Mom’s got a strong personality,” Alice said absently, checking the window. It wasn’t like Vlad was going to be pulling into the driveway but still…
Her dad was silent on the other end.
“You’re a strong personality too, Alice. It’s good. Very good. But it sometimes means you can be charging down the path and forget to listen.”
Alice sighed. “I know, I…”—ignored all his feelings, reminded him of all the power I had over him, planned to set his organs on fire in the middle of our argument—”…got a little carried away.”
“If I want to tell your mother something and make sure she really hears me, I wait until she’s about to fall asleep. Open mind, defenses down, knives stowed,” he joked.
Ben reading the Book of the Dead to her before bed made sense now. She sighed again. “I’m sorry about the camping trip. You know, the one when I was 13? I know I changed from this happy, perfect normal kid into some kind of angry weirdo. I was…I was going through something.”
“What?” It was her father’s turn to snort. “Life? Alice, you were always prickly. You went your own way. Remember your 13th birthday? Your mom made you invite all those girls you hated? I think you pinched one, or kicked her or something. I don’t know, she went home crying.”
Ben…er...Alice had set her jacket sleeve on fire, but that was besides the point.
“Wait, what do you mean I hated those girls? I had friends! I lost them all that summer, that’s why I was so depressed.”
“Alice, you did not like other children. Why do you think we took that camping trip? You walked out of every summer activity we ever sent you on. Even at five years old, you told us you wished everyone in drawing class would stop talking to you. We didn’t want you to grow up thinking we slighted you by sending Mayra and Maverick everywhere, so I did something special with you. It’s okay you grew out of it.”
Alice rubbed her forehead. She did kind of remember. A hazy kid memory, that looked different now with adult eyes. “So I’m just like this?” she asked incredulously.
“Like what?” her father’s voice sounded distracted, “Pumpkin, your mother’s home and we’ve got dinner plans with the mayor. I’ve got to run. You’re great, my favorite, don’t tell your siblings. Love you!”
He hung up the phone just as Vlad misted into the room.
“You look shell-shocked. What happened?”
“That was my dad. Apparently, I’m just like this,” she replied, still turning it over in her mind. Magic didn’t give her a snap temper or make her a weirdo that liked being around other sims more in theory than in practice.
Magic didn’t make her want to smite someone, it just gave her the tools.
It wasn’t enough to learn how to be a god, Alice realized. She had to learn how to manage herself. That meant taking a hard look at her flaws, figuring out what made her tick.
“You should talk to me when I’m sleepy,” she blurted out.
Vlad tilted her chin, examining her eyes. “Are you ill?”
“No, I’m sorry. Really sorry. And you probably need to tell me about myself—”
“And risk the fire eyes again?” He seemed amused.
“Ugh, the fire eyes. I don’t know what came over me. I’m freaked out. But I wasn’t listening to you…we…I was going to burn the entire house to the ground. With you in it. And I’m pretty sure you were going to…what were you going to do?”
“I am relatively sure you do not want to discuss what Phobos intended,” he said mildly.
Alice tried to suppress her desire to interrupt. She bit her lip and nodded.
“I can see those wheels turning,” he whispered, pulling her closer, “Rest assured it was dark and dangerous and a problem given that you are in a mortal body. In fact, everything we did was a problem. The destruction would have been far-reaching and not something we would have wanted given that you care about this world.”
Alice stared at him and waited.
“And I care about some things in this world. You didn’t mean it but your words triggered something that was…it was…” he swiped a hand over his face, a nervous gesture that Alice had not seen before.
“I trust you,” he said finally, gently stroking her face, “You are precious to me. And sometimes infuriating. With you, I am discovering parts of myself that remind me of the mortal man. But I remain what I am, Alice—a vampire, Fear. I trust you to treat that as equally precious too.”
“And sometimes ruin your murder fun?” she smiled.
“And sometimes ruin my murder fun,” he agreed.
She nodded because she understood. Really she did. There was a limit to Vlad/Phobos’s capacity to care for other creatures. He might adopt exceptions, but those would always be just that, exceptions. She had to be okay with that.
And if he trusted her like this, then the best thing she could do was pretend that her will wasn’t an option at all.
“Well you should check me too,” she conceded. “Apparently, it’s not godhood that gives me this sparking personality. I’m just…like this. So we both need to reign it in and not destroy everything. I called my dad…what calmed you down?”
“Would you believe woodworking?” he said with a delighted chuckle.
That night, Vlad climbed into bed with Alice. He would leave soon for hunting, but for now he had a small window to try what she suggested.
She asked him to bring her a bunch of books on mythology so she could start to formulate a theory on Ben’s location. Vlad delivered, even if he did not approve. Halfway through the first one, she begged him to hunt down something called “CliffsNotes” which he had yet to locate in his nightly travels.
She turned to face him, eyes already heavy with sleep. He wanted to tell her everything: how he was still haunted by the Good Order Monks, how time somehow felt squishy and he thought he saw their burgundy hats with the long blue feather cropping up out of the corner of his eye. He wanted to tell her why he had become this…how Phobos was truly made.
“I like fear. I am Fear,” he began, “But I am…” he paused, and changed direction. “You needn’t worry about controlling me. If you push me too far, trust that I will tell you and we will fight about it.”
“I’m sorry about the fire eyes,” she mumbled, snuggling closer and kissing him. “I’ll always tell you when you’re pissing me off too.”
“That,” Vlad replied, returning the kiss, “Is never a thing I worry about.”
They were quiet for a few more moments before he tried again. “I know what it is to be controlled by…” he paused, “to have…”
He trailed off, unable to finish the sentence.
“It’s okay,” she whispered, her words already slurred with sleep. “It’s okay, you’re fine, my dude. You’ll tell me whenever you need to tell me.” She turned until he was spooning her, “Just go to your vampire sleep, or whatever you do. I love you.”
Vlad startled. Sleep made her soft-hearted in way that she could never be awake. Unlike him, Alice held her feelings tight to her chest, and she rarely, if ever, wished to define them.
“I love you too,” he whispered to her softly snoring form. And then he lay enjoying the stillness, the light patter of William shuffling around the house an old and comforting sound.
They are dead, he told himself, recalling how he hid bones and wiped memories. Even the greatest scholars who defined their careers writing about his father had no knowledge of the Good Order Monks.
“They are dead,” he whispered. Repeated it until hunger gnawed at his belly and he slipped out of bed and into the night.
Penny looked at Mikel who was still fussing with his make-up. She wasn’t sure if Bjorn brought Clara to his office, it sure seemed like not since he and Penny had definitely fucked there. Not that it mattered, she didn’t want to go alone.
“Stop fidgeting like that! And don’t be weird. We’re going to slip in, rifle through this llamafucker’s shit, and slip out.”
Mikel gave her a doubtful look.
She groaned and started to stomp off before she remembered that she was wearing Bjorn’s body. Quickly, Penny readjusted her pace to a sedate stride and grabbed Mikel’s hand.
“So explain this theory again,” he puzzled, “I’m not sure I understand. Miko said your number one suspect was Vladislaus Straud but now you think it’s this medium height blonde businessman?”
Penny refused to laugh. It was another one of Mikel’s small quirks that gave him away, at least to her. He occasionally described sims as if they were flashcards.
“Miko’s full of shit. I’m not an idiot. I already told her the disappearances didn’t match Vlad’s particular brand of sadism.”
They walked into the lobby and Penny immediately slipped into Bjorn’s accent, abandoning her own flat tone for his musical phrasing.
Flashing a smile at the receptionist, she cleared her throat. “Hello, James, how are the kids?”
Normally, I’m really good at keeping track of cc and poses by chapter but I rewrote this a thousand times and moved stuff around so things got all sorts of jacked up. If you see something you made and I didn’t give you credit, please just yell at me and I’ll link it!
Sims 4 Talk Animation Pack: Bad Girl by Steven Studios
Expressive Animations Pack by Steven Studios
Mega Animation Talking Pack by FlowersSimFactory
Various Idles Animation Pack by Steven Studios
Sims 4 Animation Download: Rich Girl Talk by Steven Studios
Emotions Idles Animation Pack by Steven Studios
Emotions 8 by Simmerberlin
Emotions 2 by Simmerberlin
Emotions 3 by Simmerberlin
Emotions 10 by Simmerberlin
Male Stand Poses 04 by Natalia-Auditore
Talking and Walking Poses by JoanneBernice
Lovely 2/CAS Poses by Cassandra Grusel
Alice Hair by Natalia-Auditore
Morrigan Hair by Natalia-Auditore
Anime Fight Poses by Natalia-Auditore
A Beautiful Friendship by Simmerberlin
The Wall and Me Pose Pack 1 by Katverse
Drinking Poses Part 1 by JoanneBernice
Gallow for 3 + Poses by Natalia-Auditore
Reunion 2 posepack by Natalia-Auditore
Reunion Poses by Natalia-Auditore
Lost in You by Simmerberlin
Be Together by Andromeda-Sims
Three Spooky Posepacks by mamalovesnuts
From the Sims 4 Gallery
Sim City Laundromat by hariska_marta – I built the black market part inside my in-game movie studio. I have some terrible stop motion builds coming from it soon.
Modern Eco Family Home by ashbatch16
French Abbey by alichiahanneke (original by Lucian_Reeves)
Mussee De Windenburg by djeebee76 (original by Brunel-Reign) – That woodworking room doesn’t exist in the original lot, I just popped it in there.
SimCity News by MrMarshall0
Vlad’s Phobos form came from layering A LOT of stuff. The teeth, eyes, and claws came from Sewer Sims. The wings are from Natalia-Auditore, as are the sewed corpse accents. The bloody claw marks are by taraab and the horns are a World or Warcraft horn conversion by Illikid. The rest is all vampire and make-up stuff in game.
Alice is sporting one of the vampire brows and these dope ass fire eyes by Zaneida & The Sims 4.