We’re still in fluff land, but I’d say this chapter is gruesome fluff—the kind you hopefully love if you read BBD. There is some angst. Sorry about that. I hope all the warm and fuzzy moments make up for it. Also kissing.
I mean, y’all know who needs to kiss, right?
Anyways, this chapter was a BEAST. I put in two action scenes, and one is a machinima. It was so much fun but also so much work. It was also building up to a huge reveal that has required me to run multiple different save files and I’m just so relieved to have it over with!
That means it’s hiatus time for the next month. I’m working on some very cool projects at work that I’m excited about, but it means my days are insanely busy. I also have some plans to make some future machinima scenes, and the coast down the hill to the final chapters is gonna require a heck ton of screenshots.
TLDR: I need some time to catch up on chapters and get ahead (I am definitely writing faster than I can pose in-game lol).
Don’t worry, I’ve got some entertaining BBD AU Halloween stuff planned starting October 1st, so there won’t be nothing happening this month. If you missed this week’s bonus post, it’s here.
Hopefully, though, this monster chapter will tide you over for a few weeks while I take a mid-season break!
Windenburg Arcade & Fun Zone
“It’s an arcade,” Alice explained, gesturing around the room.
“I understand what it is. I am not an imbecile,” Vlad snapped.
But he didn’t understand. Not really. It was too loud, too bright, with an almost disturbing number of children and teenagers. Her Majesty, as Alice had taken to calling Gwendolyn, had exacted a high price.
“Don’t snap at me,” Alice retorted, giving him a dark look, “We wouldn’t even have to be here if you would just admit it!”
“Admit what?” he asked, pretending to have no memory of his recent victory.
“Just admit you didn’t bake it!”
Alice fancied herself level-headed and laid-back, but she was, in fact, none of those things. Vlad was delighted by it. “Why, Alice Martin! Such a breach of decorum is unseemly for a god, don’t you think?”
“Honestly, Vladislaus, I will show you—”
“Hey!” Gwendolyn shouted, placing herself in between the two of them, “This is about me now!”
Alice glared, but Gwendolyn took no notice of it, grabbing Vlad’s hand to lead him across the room.
“I am appalled that you would think me capable of such a crime,” he called over his shoulder, enjoying Alice’s growl of frustration.
Gwendolyn stopped at a loud, flashing machine in the corner. Vlad could admit to being a bit hasty in his estimation of the modern era’s value. There were many things about it that he now enjoyed, though he could say, categorically, that arcades were not one of them.
“You’re orange, and I’m blue,” Gwendolyn insisted, pointing at the machine’s buttons.
“The orange controller,” she said, rolling her eyes as if it were obvious.
That he was to inhabit a small orange stick was not evident at all. Vlad frowned, “Show me how this inane contraption works, hellion, I grow weary.”
She laughed, a hysterical childlike guffaw that triggered a memory of such joy and grief; it went straight to the space that would have held his heart.
The snowfall was soft and steady by the time they started making dinner. Oberon poured ingredients into mixing bowls while Titania set the table. Akira brought more wood for the fire, and Miko surveyed it all like a general watching a battle.
After he got sober, Titania kept him embroiled in wars and conflicts. She feared he would relapse with nothing to do and no Miko to see his improvement. She wasn’t wrong, but it meant Akira became a shadow, floating from one task to the next, motivated only by the idea that his path would cross with his wife’s one day.
That day had finally arrived. Miko was here, in the flesh, and whatever anger he held for his sister melted because he was sure what she said was true. He’d need every tool in his arsenal to win back his wife.
Once they all piled enough ham onto their plates, Oberon launched into a story about Akira training baby dragons back at the palace. “Those little motherfuckers lit him up good! Came back every night lookin’ like a piece of kindling. Took him three months, but they finally learned how to fly—”
“And—” Titania started.
“And shit everywhere for miles on end,” Oberon cackled, refusing to give up the punchline on his story, “No one told him you gotta potty train ’em first. Like, come on!”
The whole table roared with laughter.
“I didn’t know you had that kind of patience,” Miko gasped, wiping a tear from her eye.
He didn’t. Not before. It was astounding what you could discover about yourself with a clear mind.
“Well, since we’ve had our customary laugh at Akira’s expense, I think it’s time we get down to business,” Titania announced.
Akira grimaced. She was about to show him up. Titania always had a head for strategy, even as a child. Centuries ago, when they first had to negotiate with Josef Straud, she was in the throne room with her parents. After one visit, she refused to return. He is immovable, she said.
Turned out, Titania was right.
“This better be good,” he grumbled, frustrated that he had no choice but to accept whatever plan she laid out.
His sister continued as if he hadn’t spoken, “Miko, you’ll be the distraction. The hermit can’t know what’s going on until the last moment. Oberon is on getaway duty. I’ll take care of the alarms. We don’t need word getting out to other hermits. You know they love a brawl. And since Akira is the fastest among us, he’ll snatch the apples from the bear.”
He rubbed his temples. Akira had forgotten about the bear. Every hermit had a robust defense system; it was the only way to keep the position. Any mortal who could manage to do it was guaranteed an immortality potion from the Granite Falls coven.
“Arrows ain’t gonna cut it, I’ll need—”
“Poison,” Titania finished. “I know. I’m already working on cooking something up.”
“Not the fire leaf stuff,” he warned, “The last time—”
“Are you ever going to let me forget that?” she snapped, stabbing her fork into her vegetables.
“No,” Akira smirked, “Ya fuck ups are few and far between, so it’s up to me to keep track of ’em.”
Oberon nearly spat out his drink out laughing so hard, but Miko just looked worried.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” she asked quietly.
“Why?” Titania purred. Her voice may have been innocent, but the look on her face was pure aggression, “Have you traveled into the future and seen that it will fail?”
“N-no,” Miko sputtered. “I just…what if Akira gets caught?”
Her face was so earnest. Akira took in the two high spots of color on her cheeks and felt his heartbeat a little faster. She did care.
“I’m not gonna fuckin’ fail,” he laughed, “What do you take me for? Two hundred?”
Miko frowned, “Two hundred? You were fast, but…” her breath caught. He knew the memory she recalled—him, running through half the fae realm to stop every clock. If I get them all before you get to the front gates, you owe me dinner, he told her. It was their first date.
“Well, if you thought I was fast then,” he replied, holding her gaze, “You should see me now.”
Right, right. Let me collect my thoughts *fails* This was quite packed for “fluff,” no? 😆
Well firstly, I’m sorry to hear that there will be no BBD in October, bit glad you’re enjoying your work projects, and I look forward to he Halloween themed tidbits. I love Halloween – and October in general, it’s my birthday month 😊
Vlad as an adoptive dad is super precious (why does this make me think of the DreamDaddy game lol). Gwen does have him wrapped around her little finger. Love it. He was actually kind of comfortable at the arcade – if this was the beginning of the story, he’d stick out as a sore thumb.
Also, timelines. So clearly Alice and Vlad are now recalling timelines. What is the criteria for that, I wonder? Do you have to be very powerful? Or is it just that once you’ve gone through a certain loop many times, it kind of comes calling you eventually? (Donnie Darko comes to mind)
Also, timelines. So Akira and Miko. I had to read their whole segment twice because I am so obsssed I find it hard to think rationally there. Gnnmgrhbln!!!! They kissed! Ok, re-read. So, they’ve done this before, it seems. Is this Miko’s guilty pleasure? Reliving that time with Akira? Technically speaking, this might be as good as they’ll ever get. When he’s trying to win her back. Bcause who knows what might happen after… so this time, when he’s so determined to get in her good graces again, would be the most addicitve, for sure. Can hardly blame someone with her abilities for replaying that. Though it goes in line with his desperate wish to rewind and go back to before he screwed up, while she’s ironically keeping him in an endless loop. Damn.
Of course, it might just be this is the timeline you linked to, where Alice was getting pursued on her way to the inn a d Phobos appeared to save her before their time… but then, Miko was already at the inn at that point, so maybe not. So what is her reason for re-setting? But all this restarting just makes me feel like Akira and Miko are perfect for each other. She’s just as bad as he is with her desire for do-overs. Even though his is just focused on her, while hers are more world-saving, lo! Also, loving Akira as an archer. It suits him.
Ok, ok. That discoteque de Pan Europa machinima, holy hell 😲 Let me just collect my jaw from the floor. That was awesome! Can’t imagine how long that took you! Everybody got to shine in their own way.
Bhahaha Deacon with the arms. Oh my. Yeah, Alice is still learning when it comes to the whole “don’t reveal you will kill them” thing haha. She is so unfiltered.
Oh, and more premades! I bet you’ll end up using them all. Whatshisface Bailey-Moon I’ve never done mutch with, but what an inter3yting spin on Salim. I normally see him as a nice artsy, potentially too chill of a dude, so this vicious hermit angle was refreshing.
– Yeah, as I was writing and editing it I was like: wtf am I doing? This is not fluff. This is so much. This is like a mid-season finale and you need to relax, self.
– October is my birthday month too! Hilariously, I wrote that I was taking a hiatus and the next day I started work on Chapter 35, so who knows what the month will bring. I just needed to give myself some breathing room on paper. I also love Halloween and fall. I tried to only make a few small BBD Hallween “treats” but I have no chill. It’s already ballooned into an extravaganza.
– Thank you for seeing Vlad’s evolution! He 100% would have lost his shit or tried to eat someone if this was the beginning of the story. I just want him and Gwendolyn to go on adventures because she runs him and he knows it. The things I have planned for them ::cackles maniacally::
…I mean I love Dream Daddy so….LOLOLOLOL
– Timelines. Oh so soon it will all be revealed, like next chapter. Like Ben and Morgyn, the level of magic Vlad and Alice are working with is beyond your average supernatural. Also, it is KILLING me to keep this secret, I am the worst. Teenage me loved Donnie Darko, you are so close…
– THIS KISS WAS A GIFT TO MYSELF TOO hahahahaha! I think you said their love story was “epic” a few comments ago, and boy, you weren’t wrong. They have definitely done this before. “his desperate wish to rewind and go back to before he screwed up, while she’s ironically keeping him in an endless loop” AHHHHHH I DID NOT THINK ANYONE WOULD PICK UP ON THIS. Now I really have to shut up or I’ll ruin the next chapter but jgkosajfhwejo!!!!@@#$@#!$
But really though, I mean you’re right. He is so besotted with her, like prostrating himself and doing everything to make it up to her, and she is the perpetual victim of the thing he did wrong. He can never recover, but he is always begging forgiveness and she is addicted to it! It’s dark, I know, but I really was like: if someone had this power, how would they use it? It’s one of those things that its easy to tell yourself is okay, just a small lie by omission, but what if it had giant, world-ending consequences?
Making Akira an archer is like, another thing I did for myself. Those poses! That arrow! YAS. The last thing I wll say is that Miko believes she is looping time, unwinding the past and doing it all over again. But Akira was still standing there so…
– Discotheque Pan Europa. I just had the most fun. It was so hard but I was immediately like: I want to make another one. I’m glad you like it!
– LOLOL Deacon coming in as MVP. Flirting with the Grim Reaper. Just living that zombie life. Like Vlad, Alice does not have a lot of chill.
– Using all the premades should be a goal of mine! Ugh, Thorne is the worst. And I mean, Salim lives alone in that weird apartment in San Myshuno so who knows what he gets down to on the weekends?
Yay for October birthdays! I can totally see Vlad fitting in with the Dream Daddy cast hahaha.
“But Akira was still standing there so…” I was wondering about that too, yes. I guess the two possibilities are that a) she messed something up, or b) going back does not necessarily stop the timeline unfolding, so she’s just creating loads of parallel lose threads… or something else altogether, I have no idea haha 😀 I guess with so many characters starting to remember the other timelines, Akira presumably will at some point too, you know, centuries old elf and all, even though not as magical as gods and sages. Maybe Titania will. Maybe she does. That would make sense, given some of her remarks on Miko. Hm.
Oh yeah I forgot to mention Deacon flirting with the reaper. I ship it! 🙂
Alright, I’m giving commenting a shot, but am also pretty tired myself and am not going to reach Plumbbob’s level of epic analysis here, so I’m just going to scream at the machinima and cry at how amazing and talented everyone in this community is and pretend to hunt for symbolism. But we both know that what I’m really going to end up doing is talking about people’s shoes. Maybe the fact that Alice and Gwendolyn have matching hairdos and it’s just not fair how cute that is.
Please just imagine 10 full minutes of screaming for the machinima. The panning! The action! The dancing! THAT EPIC LINEUP AT THE END WHERE EVERYONE’S JUST LOOKING GLAMOROUS AS HELL. Fiiine, it’s mostly just Alice looking glamorous as hell and upstaging everybody. And then Vlad next to her losing his shit. I wanna make fanart so badly but am also getting somewhere at work and am far behind on my Inktober extras and… arrrgh. I know I can come up with the perfect couples costume for Alice and Vlad. It’s gotta be out there somewhere.
(You don’t need to know this, but the first time I watched the machinima, instead of watching it with the music you provided, I had ‘Contrecoup’ by TMBG playing, and when that ended, ‘Hellfire.’ It… almost worked?)
I’m getting the sense that mermaid powers are going to factor into this whole thing pretty soon, and that we don’t fully know what they are yet.
Deacon, boy, you just keep strolling around with that arm in your mouth. Live your best life! I’ll admit, I ship it, and will further clarify that the only reason I ship it is that I am a terrible person. No, I did not miss Grim’s neon green sneaky-sneaks. My god, the amount of magic he’d need to sneak up on someone! Those things are louder than the club music and William’s pants combined. (A+ for the Xiyuan pink blazer, as well.) Like, this entire scene was amazing and just rapid-fire character-based humor delivered so fluidly I can’t pick a section to comment on or I’ll end up just repeating the whole thing, and then the camera moves away from Grim and… that happens. Perfection. Okay, okay. Grim is now Captain Rocket Power, that is his real name and no one will convince me otherwise. He is a rider on a mission, YARRRRR.
Okay, I think that of the character-based humor bits, “Show me how this inane contraption works, hellion, I grow weary,” is the one I’m going to try to sneak into conversation this week.
What has Miko done, indeed? If you’re using different save files for the time loops, I’m willing to bet there are idiosyncrasies that indicate which time loop they’re actually in… like… clothes? Oh no, like clothes? Oh no, are Bloodvein’s outfits actually PLOT RELEVANT?!
And how the fuck does everyone in this comment section know what Dream Daddy is???
I’m glad that my typo-riddled homage to Dream Daddy and Donnie Darko passes for epic analysis 😅
You’re the Miko and Akira specialist, and there was a lot of Miko and Akira in this chapter 😀
I feel like it takes both of you to cover BBD and I’m also I’m so delighted that I get to squeal about both storylines! You are experts in your fields LOL!!!!
HAHAHAHA I mean I feel like BBD is in part Dream Daddy fanfic hahahahaha!
Do the clothes matter? Are Bloodvein’s outfits plot relevant? YES AND YES. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! You win!
Early in BBD Alice has a montage where she tries on outfits but she hasn’t been wearing any of them except the last outfit she was in before Ben left her. The “Alice” you know has lost all her clothing because she never went back to the Inn. Bloodvein is dressed like…god…there aren’t even words…garish? Vlad goes from vests and those men’s boots from 100 years ago to docs, jeans, and the occasional brightly colored shirt. He got a haircut. Grim is wearing sneakers. Ben is in that dark robe. As we coast down the final chapters and into Underworld Summer Vacation, if the characters don’t look right, then you really gotta ask yourself: which timeline are you even in?
What has Miko done, indeed? — Oof. That is the question. Don’t worry, in the next chapter all will be revealed (well, not all but a lot). You have been clocking characters to be suspicious of since the beginning and I CANNOT WAIT to read your response.
LOL. We might be the same terrible person. Clearly, I ship Grim and Deacon too. I actually wrote a joke about Grim’s sneakers squeaking on the dance floor but the chapter was already so long, I cut it. BUT GREAT MINDS HAHA! Xiyuan and William would definitely go shopping together, for sure. Grim would not because he has to blast off and omg that eye patch is perhaps the best thing I’ve ever found on the internet lol.
Really though, I’m so glad you enjoyed that nightclub scene! The thing I’m looking forward to with Underworld Summer Vacation is putting some of these groupings of people together for the long haul and just letting them run wild. I’m in a weird space where my cast of characters has gotten to be gigantic in preparation for the next story. I’m trying to introduce them, give you a hint of their dynamic, but then go back to wrapping things up with this current storyline.
If you can manage to work that Vlad quote into conversation I will legit give you a prize hahahahaha.
You are not wrong about mermaid powers. I can’t say when, but I am definitely laying the foundation. As Penny has discovered, there are two experiments the Good Order Monks tried: Phobos and the Lady of the Lake. Caleb’s sister is with the mermaids. Mermaids need water. Hmmm…
Oh man, you just made me add some TMBG to my work playlist. I think William can still swordfight to Contrecoup.
Man, the machinima was completed in a fugue state but gah! I’m so proud and so glad you liked it! I’m not even sure how I did it anymore. LOL. I was watching a lot of youtube videos on continuous shots, I can tell you that. And let me tell you, without all the people who make dope animations it would have been impossible!
Umm gimme all the inktober extras pleaaaseeee! I mean, I’m biased in favor of Alice so she was always gonna show them all up. Funny you mention Vlad/Alice Halloween costume. I am planning many Halloween-y things for BBD. If you come up with the perfect couples costumes I wanttttssss it.
This month is exhausting but hooray for meaningful progress at work! I just realized I replied to your entire comment in reverse lol.
YOU CONSTRUCTED A STORY IN WHICH MAKING SNIDE REMARKS ABOUT THE CHARACTERS’ OUTFITS RESULTS IN A HUGE PAYOFF FOR THE READER?!
Well, shit, I was going to joke about how Plumbbob’s and my domains are “Miko & Akira” and “everyone’s shoes”—respectively, of course, plus others on both counts—but no, “everyone’s shoes” is a legitimate subdiscipline of BBDology.
Long shot prediction: Caleb’s going to be in the middle of a climactic battle when he realizes maybe his therapist is saying he’s subconsciously competitive because he’s internalized that he won’t be liked unless people think he’s special, and this self-defeating mindset is both fueling his anxiety and preventing him from forming close relationships ohhhhhh and Deacon pronounces this realization “chill” while trying to punch incorporeal beings.
So the problem with Halloween costumes is, I’m having my boys dress as (spoilers) Shi Pei Pu and Bernard Boursicot for an upcoming costume party, and that’s not an easy standard to match, couples-costume-wise. Jack and Sally? No. Morticia and Gomez? No. Now Natalia Auditore does have that dope-ass Persephone costume (…which, incidentally, Kendra’s busting out to impress CT!Alice), and if Vlad wears a standard robe, it could look like Persephone is running the show and Hades is backing her up? Hmm. Ruminating on it.
Until told otherwise, I will assume that Lilith is the basis for the underworld’s system of government, i.e., through some farcical aquatic ceremony, of course.
And the only places I can drop that quote this week are in a conversation with my spouse, who’s not even going to respond because they’re expecting me to be weird anyway, or while giving an hour-long presentation about oligomerization structures of a certain protein… to a group who I guess is also expecting me to be weird anyway. We’ll see.
OPERA SINGER AND SPY??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
I bow to you.
That Persephone cc is DOPE. I need to see that. YAS. (My favorite Hades/Persephone trope romance is actually a book about Loki and ballerina. On like day one of being trapped in a save with him, she straight up stabs him in the throat).
sorry, back to OPERA SINGER AND SPY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
I just cant even move past that. I’m still bowing.
Opera singer and spy in a relationship with a man named Bernard, like, Bernard’s just going to wear his default premade clothes while Yuan is decked out in a full face o’ makeup and embroidered gown with water sleeves. WATER. SLEEVES.
You have got me using wordpress comments like a chat. Water Sleeves? I am…I am faint. I don’t think I’m ready. Except, I need to spend a thousand hours going down a wikipedia rabbit hole. And Bernard just looking like Bernard but still being costume? I…I…
I’m not ready.
(Oof, oof, I’ll try to end it here to avoid the chat thing, but yeah, I’ll let you know if I brainstorm up anything good. Also that I have been sitting on this costume for AGES and I’m not sure the world will ever be ready.)
Nawwwwww that picture of Gwen and Vlad walking while holding hands is just 😍😍 all the fuzzies. Just take the kid Vlad, it’s not like her adoptive parents will even notice she’s gone. Take her awaaaaaayyyyyyyy.
The hermit’s bear being a sim in that goofy bear costume absolutely cracked me up. Hoo boy. My sides. I can’t. 🤣
I can’t watch the machinima at work but woof, Alice and Vlad are getting good at the “bad cop worse cop” game on Thornton there.
Waaiiit noooooooo what happened at the end there? Miko? T.T Aw man, I gotta read back to make sense of this.
That bear is fearsome! Do you hear? Just wait until he unzips that costume and…oh…ummm…
Yeah, I think with this story starts off it seems like Vlad is the bloodthirsty one and Alice is gonna be nice. But it turns out, they are both pretty bloodthirsty lol.
Hehe, oh my, you’ve arrived at the time twist. Miko thinks she’s been doing things over but has she?
(continues to chant: steal the kid, steal the kid, steal the kid)
Got to give credit where it’s due. Vlad still might be an “Okay, Boomer” poster child, but at least he’s attempting to be current by hanging out at an arcade and actually engage with Gwen in the games.
“She laughed, a hysterical childlike guffaw that triggered a memory of such joy and grief; it went straight to the space that would have held his heart.” Oh the feels <3
Soooo it seems as though Miko isn't bothered by Titania and Oberon crashing at the cabin with her and Akira b/c she doesn't like them… it seems that these things have happened before and the outcome ends with Akira… uh… dying. I wonder if that is why she's been avoiding Akira all this time. Hmmm.
Is Alice for real drinking an adult bev at an arcaded LMAO. Okay yes her and DJ would be bffs.
The Hermit was creepy af, even if he was borderline hot. Him dragging Miko was the icing on the creepy cake. Ick. I'm glad it worked out after the 1001 attempt. Looks like Miko was also thankful. I was KINDA hoping the kiss was gonna be with William and Morgyn, but I'm not disappointed by that sexy kiss. Miko is one lucky chick. Akira is hot af. I'm impressed that she vanished after that kiss. So much for a woohoo sesh that would make the gods envious. I'm sure Miko has her reasons. Even if she's an idiot for not sacking Akria right then and there.
So nice to see Grimmy. I love him. The meet cute is adorbs (with Deacon), even if a little … um…I mean, maybe Grim is into beefy dudes sucking appendages in their mouths. Heh heh.
I know it’s gauche to like your own writing, but that “it went straight to the place that would have held his heart,” is like one of the fave things I’ve written LOL.
listen, you need wine if you’re gonna spend all day at the arcade with a bunch of kids and Vlad, ok?
THE HERMIT WAS SALIM.
Grim is definitely into beefy dudes sucking appendages into their mouths 😉
WUT!!!!!! Salim?!?!?!?!??! Omfg