Vlad makes an enemy.
“Me miserable! Which way shall I fly, Infinite wrath and infinite despair?”
― John Milton, Paradise Lost
Vlad pounded harder on the keys of the pipe organ. It didn’t improve the sound but it did make him feel slightly better about the day. Translation progress was slow-going. The number of sims who knew olde simlish was small, but the number who knew ye olde simlish was even smaller.
There were older vampires, of course, but he didn’t trust a single one of them with this information. No one could know what he was looking for. The risk was too great. Instead, he sent William and Caleb out to survey university professors under the guise of assessing the coven’s recruitment efforts. This mollified Bloodvein and Miss Hell (somewhat) and kept the rest of the vampires where they belonged: out of his business.
The downside to this method was that he was bored out of his mind. In 544 years, Vladislaus Straud had never been bored. If there wasn’t the sheer work of survival to do, there were wars to plan, funds to secure in order to fight those wars, and then the work of establishing his empire.
The Forgotten Hollow vampires had not wanted to be ruled. They were made to bow by force. And by great sacrifice. It took a monster to rule the monsters, and Vlad had become, through great personal sacrifice: the greatest monster of them all.
For them or for you? his conscience wondered. Vlad slammed his fingers down on the keys, banishing the thought.
For centuries, the Forgotten Hollow vampires had run wild through the woods—alternating between hunting in the Windenburg countryside and hills of Granite Falls. Distance did not present the same problem for vampires that it did for mere mortals. Vampires could run at top speed for hours, travel as bats or, if they were truly powerful, simply dissipate into a mist and reappear miles away. There were limits, of course, but when sims wondered how bloodsucking creatures of the night could seem to be everywhere at once, the answer was simple:
Vlad broke the will of those vampires on the battlefield and then, in a long campaign of starvation and imprisonment. It took centuries, but by 1797 they had been brought to heel. Almost 300 years it took to be crowned king, and that was followed by the hard work of ruling. There were always tasks. Always.
But not recently, his conscience added.
It was the sort of thing Vlad didn’t want to admit. Had he been bored before the curse? Impossible! And yet, something told him that he might be wrong.
A knock sounded and Vlad leapt out of his seat and sped to the door.
Once there, he froze. He was a fucking king, for sages sake! He didn’t answer his own doors and he certainly didn’t run to them.
Though, with Caleb and William still down at Windenburg University, there really was no one else. Few ever came to Straud Manor unless it was for something truly important. Most vampires feared him and Bloodvein and Miss Hell found his gothic manor depressing.
“I should have built a bloody castle,” Vlad growled. And it was the first words he had spoken aloud all day.
That did it! He was answering the door. He flung it open expecting to find some young vampire groveling and asking for a favor. Instead, he looked out and saw nothing.
A throat cleared. “Excuse me, I’m down here,” the small voice declared impatiently.
Vlad looked down and bit his tongue to keep the surprise from showing on his face. It was a child? But what was a child doing at Straud Manor? And where were her parents? And why was she dressed in that ridiculous uniform?
“Is there a problem?” she demanded. “Do you own this house or is the person who owns this house at home?”
Vlad was speechless. He stared at her dumbly.
She sighed and rolled her eyes. “My name is Gwendolyn Barrister and I’m here with the scouts raising money towards our college education and a field trip to the Museum of Modern Art in Newcrest. Just one box of cookies can help us achieve our goals. But purchasing three boxes not only earns you a discount, it covers the cost of my museum admission.”
Vlad recovered slightly, “I own this house.”
“Yes, well we’re past that now. It doesn’t matter who owns the house, we’re talking cookies.”
“Cookies?” Vlad answered, bewildered. He was a vampire. He clamped down on necks and drained plasma straight from the source. If he wanted to feel like a mortal, he might have it in a glass. He didn’t eat cookies!
“Yes cookies! Keep up! Is there someone else I should talk to?” she peered around him into the house. “You have a pipe organ! Sweet!”
And in yet another example of a vampire not being fast enough, Gwendolyn Barrister whipped around his legs and ran into the house before he could stop her.
Vlad shook his head. He had to get this child out of his house. He wasn’t safe to be around! He was a monster and he liked his solitude. What kind of parent would let their child wander to a home of nightmares like Straud Manor? What parent would let them go to Forgotten Hollow for that matter?
The sound of the pipe organ being played…badly, floated through the air and caught his attention. Vlad roared in frustration.
He stomped into the house but decided that was beneath his dignity and adjusted his pace. He meant to tell her to cease her racket at once, to demand that she stop manhandling such a priceless artifact but he watched her tiny hands pounding across the keys, so small, like Atorn’s had been… For a moment, his breath caught in his throat, the memory wrenching.
He shook it off.
“You can’t be in here!” Vlad shouted.
“I can’t? Because from where I’m standing, I’m already in here,” she replied, daring him to correct her.
Well then. “Your parents clearly didn’t teach you any manners. You can’t be in here because you don’t have permission.”
She was undeterred. “Do you only go places that you have permission?”
“No,” Vlad said.
Yes. But he was an adult and a vampire to boot, the rules were different for him.
“I don’t want to frighten you, little girl, but I will do what I have to. You will leave this place immediately,” Vlad told her in his sternest voice.
“Okayyyyyy,” she began, dragging the word out. Vlad exhaled a sigh of relief.
The relief was short-lived.
“But you have to buy some cookies,” she added quickly.
“Buy some…cookies?” Vlad’s tone was incredulous.
She got up and began examining objects in his living room. Expensive objects that had no hope of being replaced if broken.
“What’s this?” she asked poking at a Cu Cu Cachoo skull in a glass case.
“Don’t touch that! You’ll break it!” Vlad dove forward steadying the case.
“I know not to break things. I’m not a baby,” she blubbered, her eyebrows arched in that way that signaled the possibility of tears.
Vlad balked, “I-I never said you were a baby!”
“You implied it,” she sniffed.
He put a hand on his forehead. Damn it, if he didn’t feel lightheaded! “This is absurd. You need to get out of my house right now.”
“26 boxes of cookies,” she said.
He should have known. “Four,” he countered.
“16, and remember how bad you really want me out of your house,” she added
Son of a— The little hellion was right.
“This is extortion,” he mumbled as he reached into his pocket to find…to find…nothing.
Vlad didn’t pay for items. Caleb did all of that. In fact, Vlad was very rarely anywhere that didn’t know him or required him to use actual simoleons. As he patted his pockets absently, he flashed back to all the times Caleb had lectured him on his lax approach to maneuvering the modern world.
“Are you upside down on your mortgage?” she asked, hands on her hips.
Vlad blanched. “Am I? What? I…I have levels of wealth beyond even your wildest imagination. That you would think I can’t afford my house? Are you trying to insult me?”
She shrugged, “I’m just saying, when people are upside down on their mortgage they can’t pay for simple things. That’s all…”
Vlad was enraged, “Well I’m not!”
“Okay, okay, fine. If you can only buy one box, that’s alright.”
Who did she think she was? He was Vladislaus Straud: King. KING! He would explain it to her if she wasn’t some simple mortal, but he could buy and sell the entire country of Windenburg ten times over. He could buy 16 boxes. He could buy 100 boxes! He wouldn’t even notice the cost.
“100 boxes!” Vlad declared, “And I can pay you. Come with me.”
He wasn’t thinking as he lead her down to the basement, a place he barely tolerated Caleb and William occupying.
She sniffed, “Do you keep dead bodies down here? It’s dank!”
And here Vlad thought he couldn’t be insulted more. “There are no windows and we’re underground. What do you expect it to smell like?”
He heard her squeal. “That is awesome! Do you have video games?”
“What?” Vlad called out, distracted as he tried to figure out the best way to hand over a gold bar. Would it be too heavy for her?
“Video games? This TV is awesome. You should be playing video games on it!”
Vlad called her over. Television was a modern sickness. Did she not know that?
“Listen here child, there is no television down here and there never will be and you’ll accept that as your truth if you know what’s good for you. I am buying 100 boxes of your subpar cookies because it will get you out of my house. And though I could destroy you, I won’t, because it’s a Thursday and I am very busy.”
She watched him, rapt. He continued. “In my hand I hold a gold bar. Just one of these is enough to pay for your college education, send your entire group of miscreants to Newcrest and still leave you with enough money to buy your own television, though if I were you, I’d avoid it. The whole thing will rot your brain.”
She clenched and unclenched her fists. Gwendolyn Barrister was scared, but refused to show it. Vlad found that he sort of admired this about the child. Under different circumstances, he might have even complimented her on it. But he didn’t have time for a protege and things being what they were, he had to get her on her way.
He lowered his voice: “The only thing you have to do is take this bar, get out of my sight and off of my property without another word.”
He took a menacing step towards her. “Do you understand?”
She nodded, grabbed the bar from him and ran.
He followed her up the stairs to ensure that she actually left. She got just beyond the front porch, when she turned, prepared to speak.
“I said off my property,” he gritted out.
Her mouth snapped shut. Vlad watched as her shoulders slumped and her head bowed in defeat. But before he even had a chance to feel guilty, she looked up at him with a smile and a vicious glint in her eye that said:
“This isn’t over, motherfucker. Not by a long-shot.”
Then, she turned and ran.
Vlad didn’t bother to give chase, he had won. He walked back into the house and grabbed his vest off the dining room table. It was past noon, Caleb and William should be returning shortly. He’d intercept them at the park.
As Vlad walked back out the front door, he had to laugh. What he would do with 100 boxes of cookies? He had no idea but someone would…would…wait! He didn’t have 100 boxes of cookies because she had never handed him sage-forsaken thing. No wonder she had been at the bottom of his porch, cackling like a witch on Mabon. She duped him! He had been duped by a 10 year-old!
Vlad gave himself over to his anger and took off in the direction of the park.
Thanks to all the creators!
Emotion Poses 2 by Cassandra Grusel
Emotions 4 by Simmerberlin