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Wyrd Tales (updated Jul 12, '24)

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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 16 - A Life

    It was late, but the sounds of life still thrummed in the surrounding apartments. It didn't matter to him. No one would interrupt... and the locked door was no barrier at all.
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    It was trivially easy, really.

    Elsa, your mind is mine. Your will is mine. You will obey.
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    "There you are," he said softly. "She is yours now, Max. As I promised."
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    "Why are you bothering me?"
    "Forgive me, my lord but he is asking for you. I think it's nearly time."
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    "I'll be right there."
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    "Vladislaus, my old friend," Jacques smiled. "Join me... not that I expect you want a hot dog."
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    "Should you really be eating those... things, my lad" Vlad asked.

    "I'm an old man now, Vlad. One more hot dog isn't going to kill me," Jacques shrugged.
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    "You know you only ever had to ask, my lad," Vlad said quietly.

    "Immortality... fah," Jacques smiled.
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    "What do I want with immortality?" he continued. "I've lived, Vlad. Oh, let's not call it a good life... we can be honest tonight, you and I... I am a liar, a thief and a murderer. Still, the police can't touch me. The Families respect me. I have all the money I might want. I have a family... two sons to carry my name and a daughter who has surpassed them both! I have a grandchild. That... that is my immortality!"
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    "By the way, I know you've taken my young Max under your wing," Jacques added. "I would ask you to leave him alone, but I'm sure you've seen a use for him. So, I know you'd just lie and take him anyway."

    "My dear lad..." Vlad started.

    "Be honest, old man," Jacques laughed. "Just for tonight, be honest with me."
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    "Now, I know you've started to move," Jacques said. "Max is rising in the Organization... under your guidance. Once I'm gone, only the Landgraabs will stand between you and control over the Families. I'm sure you have a plan for them already. You've killed Cassandra Goth and the Silveroak girl... best not let Mortimer learn about that."

    "Mortimer doesn't worry me," Vlad said.

    "Your people have even gotten rid of that meddlesome reporter, Kim-Lewis," Jacques nodded knowingly.
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    "You're almost ready... but remember, old man, people aren't just pieces on the chess board even for you. Something out there may surprise you yet"
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    "Probably something you least expect."
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    "Good night, old man," Jacques said. "Maybe we'll talk again before it's over."
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    "Good night, my lad," Vlad said sadly. "Rest... well."
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 17 - It's About Power

    "Then you'll transfer the funds from the corporate account to the ones I had you set up for me," Max said confidently. "Simple."
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    "Max, I... I can't! Please, don't ask me to do this," Elsa pleaded.
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    "What?" Max snarled. "Do you think you can back out now? You're in this up to your pretty neck, sweetheart!"
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    "You don't have a choice. You'll do what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it."
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    "Now, get over here!"
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    "You belong to me," he ranted. "You're mine. I own you. You don't have any choices left. Not one!"
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    "We'll see about that, buddy," Elsa declared, defiant.
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 18 - What's Important

    Every year, after the first full moon of summer, Jake, Nick and Beth would go and camp out on Prowler's Patch. When they were kids, Kristopher or Daniel, Nick and Beth's father, had gone with them but as they got older, they had gone on their own. Whatever else might be happening in the world, after the full moon, they headed out to Prowler's Patch. There was no question that Miranda was invited too. Beth was happy to not be out numbered by the boys at last.
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    Miranda was surprised how easily they all settled into camping out. It wasn't something she'd even done with mom and Gwen, and a week on the run, sleeping where ever she could had been a very different experience. The days were pleasant...
    Beth would wake early and make breakfast for everyone.
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    Sometimes, they'd head over to the lake and swim.
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    Jake would show off the his guitar.
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    Nick would usually try to play. Sadly, since he never practiced, he still wasn't very good.
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    Beth enjoyed strumming a few simple tunes.
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    Miranda had brought her violin and stuck to that.
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    Still, Miranda found she couldn't ignore the tension between them all.
    Even in the few weeks she'd lived in Moonwood Mill, Beth had become her best friend...
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    ...and it was obvious Beth had feelings for Jake.
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    Miranda's out feelings were just confusing. She really liked Jake but she was also attracted to Nick, when he wasn't trying too hard... and she really enjoyed kissing either of them. It wasn't fair!
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    What had Lily said... think about what's really important.
    What could be more important than friends?
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    Miranda knew what she had to do.
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    "Jake, I... I think we should just be friends. I think... I really think you should be with Beth."
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    "Come on... you and Jake are prefect for each other. It's like... fate."
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    It was the kick they both needed. Jake and Beth embraced their feelings for each other. They felt so happy...
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    ... not everyone was thrilled, however.
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    "Dude!" Nick shouted. "What are you doing!?! That's my sister!"

    "Right," Beth shook her head. "I'm outta here. You boys do your boy thing."
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    As Nick ranted at him, Jake could smell a shift in the air. This wasn't just a fright between friends... this was a challenge between wolves. He could feel the fury rising in them both. The Wolf was calling him to change, to rip into his rival and force him to submit. Jake was leader of this pack!

    His father had taught him what a leader should do.

    He talked Nick down... talked them both down. He explained how he felt about Beth but also how much his friendship with Nick meant to him. He made it perfectly clear, he didn't want to lose either one them...
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    ...but he couldn't deny his feelings for Beth. He would be good to her. Jake added that Nick would be free to kick his butt if he wasn't.
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    "So... I guess it's you and me then," Nick grinned.
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    "Jeez, Nick. Really?" Miranda moaned.
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 19 - Xander, A Fresh Start

    It had been a horrible summer - in which he had lost his marriage, his sister and her family and his best friend Olivia. As friends of the family, his parents had come to Olivia's memorial. Afterward, the conversation had naturally turned to Cassie. The authorities still hadn't found Cassie and Gwen's bodies, but everyone was certain they were gone.
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    Dad said he was still "searching for Cassandra's spirit" but Xander insisted he needed to let it go. He wanted Dad to let of the whole macabre "medium" thing. It made great novels but this was real life, and in real life there were no ghosts, no magic, no dark powers. Dad didn't want to hear it, but somehow it made Xander feel better to have said it.
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    Miranda was still missing, which made it harder, but after the service and the fight with his dad Xander felt he had at least some closure.
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    He was making a fresh start. He had a new place, new neighbors and the Talos project was going well.
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    He'd started on Talos a while ago.
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    It had been suggested that his obsession with the project had harmed his marriage...
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    ... Xander simply didn't see it that way.
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    At least Talos's social programming starting to improve.
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    His relationship with Lilith was getting deeper too.
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    She was so thrilling...
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    ... even if she was into weird stuff sometimes. A guy can adapt.
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    It was a new start...
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    ... and things were looking up.
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 20 - Friends in Need

    The next full moon was approaching, and a quick stop to use the facilities in the library was in order. It puzzled Miranda a bit, that a library would have showers, but she was more than willing to embrace the availability of hot running water without too many questions.
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    As everyone took turns in the showers, Miranda embraced another aspect of civilization she missed - the internet. She felt like she'd been cut off from the outside world forever and it was high time she caught up on the latest news and gossip.
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    She didn't know why, but her eyes were drawn to the headline about the death of reporter Olivia Kim-Lewis. Miranda had a vague memory of a tall woman with rich brown skin - a friend on Uncle Xander - who she's met years ago at his wedding. More clearly, she remember mom and Gwen occasionally pointing out articles she'd written. It seemed to Miranda that the reporters name ought to be read as Oliva Kim-Lewis-You-Met-Her-At-Uncle-Xander's-Wedding.

    Now she was dead? The article didn't say much. She'd been attacked in her apartment. Police were questioning several persons-of-interest. Speculation about her being killed because of a story. Rumors of a mysterious circumstances around cause of death. There was nothing. Nothing that explained the pure certainty that blossomed in Miranda's mind - Olivia Kim-Lewis-You-Met-Her-At-Uncle-Xander's-Wedding had been killed by vampires.
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    With that knowledge came another thought. It was time to stop hiding from everyone.

    The Moonwood Collective, Kristopher's pack, was gathering for the full moon. Jake, Nick and Beth were going. Miranda had planned to spend the night safely locked in her room and then join them back at the campsite the next day. Instead, she was walking into a secluded grove soon to full to raging werewolves.
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    Worse, she was asking Kristopher for permission to address the pack.

    Beth, at least, was being encouraging even though none of her friends had any idea what Miranda wanted to say to everyone.
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    Miranda faced the pack...
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    "Umm... I'm Miranda. I... you've all met me. You welcomed me into your community... Kristopher, into your home... even though you didn't know me. I was just some runaway girl... umm... lost and needing a safe place to sleep. You gave me that and so much more... and... and I'm really grateful! You didn't have to do that... you didn't know me. You don't know me.
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    "My name is Miranda Silveroak-Goth. I'm a witch... and I didn't just run away from home. My family... my family was attacked. By vampires! They came to our home. They attacked my moms. I heard them and I knew... I just knew I had to get out. To get away. More than that, I knew I wasn't just running away... I was was running to somewhere. I was running here.
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    "I needed to come here... because I need your help. We need your help. Something is happening. The vampires didn't attack us at random. I think... I know they came for my moms that night because they wanted us out of the way... but they failed. I survived.. and I know my moms did too... and we need your help."
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    "What help do you want from us?" Kristopher asked. "You should know us well enough to know that the Moonwood Collective are not warriors. We value peace and community."

    "No, I know that," Miranda said, "but the Moonwood Collective does provide a safe place. More than that, you're dedicated to a building a community were everyone, mortals, werewolves and witches... and maybe even some vampires too... can be together and understand each other. But these vampires don't value that. They want to tear down what you want to build. Do the things you value - peace and community - really only matter in Moonwood Mill? Or are they worth standing up for?"
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    "I'm not asking you to fight," Miranda finished, drained. "I'm asking you to help."

    "OK, Miranda Silveroak-Goth," Kristopher extended his hand,"Friend of the Collective. We'll help you."
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    "Did I do the right thing, Jake?" Miranda asked the next morning. "I meant it... I don't want you to fight but... it could be dangerous."
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    "Don't worry, Miranda," Jake smiled. "I'm with you..."
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    "... I'm with you."
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 21 - Creatures of the Night

    Xander was happy to have a bright, charming lady like Morgan as a new neighbor.
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    It was terrific to have a friend he could sit and watch TV with...
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    ... someone to talk to after a hard days work.
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    They quickly grew closer.
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    Of course, he was close to Lilith too...
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    Really, as much as Xander might have wanted to believe otherwise, that night was inevitable.

    "Oh hey, Lilith," Xander said, trying to cover his panic. "Lilith... this is... is my neighbor... Morgan."

    "Yes, dear" Lilith purred.
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    "Morgan, I'm so pleased to finally met you," Lilith continued, her voice soft and smooth, like silk over razor sharp steel. "I know we have things in common... things that we should discuss."

    "Yeah, I think you've got that right," Morgan replied.

    "Xander, dear, why don't we all go inside," Lilith smiled.
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    "Heh, heh... well this is... nice," Xander shifted uncomfortably. "You know, I should check on Talos. He's having some circuit problems. I'll be right back... yeah..."

    "Of course, dear," Lilith purred.

    "Yeah, do that," Morgan agreed.
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    "So...," Lilith said, "we should discuss this."

    "Sure," said Morgan. "Let's start with - you're a vampire. I noticed the fangs."

    Lilith laughed, "Oh, you are delightful! I've taken Xander's blood and he still doesn't acknowledge what I am."

    "You're not the first one I've met," Morgan replied. "I know what you are and what you can do..."

    "... and still so defiant," Lilith purred.

    "Hey, you might be some hot-shot creature of the night," Morgan shot back, "but I ran with Max V and his Renegades for more than ten years... doing some things I still have nightmares about... and I got out! I've seen scarier things than you... and I've got a baseball bat by the door if they ever come calling."

    "Oh Morgan, I do like you," Lilith smiled.
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    "I'm dead, buddy," Xander muttered to his broken down robot. "I mean... what was I thinking? I'm dead."
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    "You're serious," Morgan was surprised by what Lilith was proposing.

    "Why not," the vampire replied. "I'm in no position to make a claim on Xander's days... and like I said, I like you. What do you think?"

    "Share a guy with a vampire," Morgan mused. "Yeah... still not the most messed up relationship I've had. I'm game to give it a try... on one condition - if it doesn't work out, you don't eat me."

    Lilith laughed, "Agreed."

    "You think he'll go for it," Morgan grinned.

    "Dear, he'd be a fool not to."
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    Xander thought he was prepared for whatever it was he would face when he finally dared to return to the living room. He was wrong.
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    "Umm... I... What?" Xander stammered.

    "It's simple," Lilith grinned. "Morgan gets your days and the night belong to me."
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    "Did... did this just happen?" Xander stammered.

    "Go with it," Morgan grinned.
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    After a horrible summer, Xander thought, the future was looking bright.
    "Lilith... always so sentimental."
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 22 - Secrets and Plans

    Summer was fading into fall. The cool twilight of the evening, Miranda played her violin and wondered what the fall would bring.
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    The sight of a lone figure, walking along the path from the town center, caught her eye... though at first she wasn't sure what it was captured her attention.
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    "Mom?" Miranda blinked. "Mom!"
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    "You're... you're here?!? I knew it! I knew you couldn't be dead! What happened? Where Gwen? Is she OK? What are you doing here?"
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    "Do you have any idea what I've been through?!?" Miranda ranted.

    The whole story came pouring out of her... that terrible night, wandering lost and alone in the woods, Bluebell and the encounter with the old hermit, finding Moonwood Mill and the Volkovs...
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    "Werewolves! Vampires and werewolves and boys... and you just left me alone?!?"
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    "Oh, darling," Cassie hugged her daughter fiercely. "I'm so sorry for all of this. You've been through so much... and I have so much to tell you... but I am so, so proud of you."
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    "Come on, mom," Miranda said at last. "Come meet Volkov's"
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    Jake, shocked by meeting one of his musical idols, was incoherent...
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    ... Kristopher was more composed.
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    He and Cassandra spoke at some length, apart from the others. When they were finished, the witch and the master werewolf had come to an agreement.
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    Cassie and Miranda had a long talk too...
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    ... and Jake, at least, managed to get an autograph...
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    ... before Cassie left.
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    "OK, can we start with... why did you tell us your mom is a superstar!?!" Beth wanted to know.
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    "Well, to be fair... you guys didn't tell me you were werewolves," Miranda replied.

    No, no, no... you've know were were werewolves for months," Jake said. "You still never told us your mom was Cassie. Like Cassie!... and I got her autograph and everything... she's amazing."

    "... and hot," Nick added. "You said she was hot."

    "Gross, Nick," Miranda groaned. "That's my mom!"
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    "OK, now guys, seriously," Miranda said. "Focus... I have like serious stuff to tell you."
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    "Like, why your mom left and you still here?" Beth asked. "I thought, since your mom found you, she'd be taking you home."

    "Right," Miranda started...

    "OK, first you know my mom is married to Gwen Silveroak. Gwen's a witch... I mean not like me or even my mom. Gwen's a witch like Kristopher is a werewolf. There's this house... Glimmerbrook Watch... that's been her family for generations. The witches of Glimmerbrook Watch are protectors of some kind of important magical artifact...
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    "Vladislaus Straud, the master vampire, wants to control of the artifact. To do that, my mom says he needs to break the spells protecting it and those spells were tied to the coven somehow. When Gwen was little, he killed her family and tried to break the spells... but Gwen survived.
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    (With thanks to one Wooldrop who I believe designed the Glimmerbrook Watch house I found in the Gallery. - L)


    "Mom says Vlad waited... because he's a vampire so he's got time... to see if the spells would fade but they didn't. I guess Gwen had kind of inherited them. When Gwen married my mom, and then I turned out to be a witch too, they guess Vlad decided Gwen was trying to rebuild the Glimmerbrook Watch coven. (To be fair, she probably was.) So, he tried to kill us all.

    "He doesn't know, yet, that mom and Gwen survived... but he knows I did. Mom says I'm safest staying here, with you guys, because Vlad isn't going to risk provoking werewolves. So, she says I need to stay here where you all can protect me, while she and Gwen find a way to deal with Vlad.
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    "... but that's not all," Miranda continued. "Mom mentioned that a long time ago witches and werewolves fought the vampires."

    "Yeah," said Jake. "My dad talks about it sometimes. He never says much but I guess it was kind of a secret war."

    "I know and from some of the things I've read in your dad's library it sounds like there are secrets and artifacts, left over from that conflict that might be hidden here, in Moonwood Mill," Miranda said. "If we can find them, maybe I can do more than just hide here with you guys. Maybe we can help!"
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member
    edited July 2022
    Chapter 23 - Don Investigates

    "Mr. Lothario," the detective said. "My name is Williams and this is Detective Grant. We'd just like to clear up a few points with you about the death of Olivia Kim-Lewis."

    "Sure," Don said, uncertain. "I don't know what I can tell you..."
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    "You were in a relationship with Ms. Kim-Lewis, isn't that right?" Detective Williams asked. "You had a date at a club in the city, the night of her death?"

    "Yeah," Don nodded. "That's right."
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    "It was a good date?"

    "Yeah, it was a pretty good date," Don said.
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    "Now why are you lying to us, Don?" Detective Grant asked fiercely.

    "It wasn't a good date, was it?" Grant continued. "In fact, witnesses saw you two arguing that night."
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    "I broke up with her, OK," Don groaned. "She was getting all serious... talking about weddings and stuff. I'm... I'm just not that kind of guy. So, I broke up with her... and then she went home and someone murdered her. I didn't... I didn't want to tell people I left her the night she got killed."
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    "You're exes have bad luck, don't they Don?" Detective Grant said. "Olivia's dead. Cassandra's dead."

    "Cassie and I broke up a long time ago, man," Don said. "We... wha' do call it... reconciled. You know, for Miranda's sake. Cassie and I get along... got along... OK."

    "Did you know Olivia was investigating the disappearance of Cassandra and Miranda Goth," Detective Williams asked, "and Gwen Silveroak-Goth?"

    "Maybe she was looking into things you didn't want her to," Detective Grant snarled.

    "What?" Don said, puzzled. "No, I... I didn't know."
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    Olivia was investigating what happened to Cassie and Gwen? She'd been looking for Miranda? Maybe... Don thought. Maybe she found a clue to what happened.
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    OK, I'm a horrible boyfriend and rotten father, but maybe... maybe I can find a clue too. Those cops sure don't know anything but what if Liv did. How would she have found out? Liv wasn't a detective. She was a reporter. She was great at asking people questions. She could get someone to spill there whole life for a story.
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    Well... asking questions is just talking.
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    I can talk to people...
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    People, well, women, like to talk to me... and stuff...
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    So, what do I know? Well, Cecilia is really...

    Focus! About Miranda... Cecilia said she remembered some strange guys hanging around the woods at night. They scared her. She had nightmares about pale men coming into her house, hurting her... Something really weird is going on.

    Man, I'm getting all spooky... thinking about Cassie and her ghosts and stuff. I'm tired... maybe I shouldn't have stayed so late with Cecilia. Heh... right... get some sleep, figure it out in the morning.
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    The door was no barrier...
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    His mind was weak...
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    His blood was hot...
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    "Phone," Don gasped, staggering. The room spun. "Where's my phone... gotta... get... help..."
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    Miranda... Sorry kid, I tried.
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    "My lord, Don Lothario will no longer be a problem for us."
    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member
    Chapter 24 - Xander's Problems

    Xander Goth was a man with a problem. Well, two problems...
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    On the one hand, the vivacious Morgan...
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    They'd been going out for over a month now. After a certain point, it had just made sense for her to move her stuff in from across the hall. She was there all the time anyway, so why pay an extra rent?
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    They still went out most evenings. She liked going to the museum to look at the paintings.
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    She said they were some of the best dates she'd ever been on, really.
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    On the other hand, the mysterious Lilith...
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    Xander couldn't believe she'd never done karaoke before... but at least her singing voice was better than his.
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    Spending his nights with her was great.
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    Honestly, he thought to himself, the biggest problem with dividing his time between beautiful women was he wasn't getting a lot of sleep. Still, he thought he was getting the hang of it...
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    Still, he felt a little guilty that, with Morgan coming down with a stomach bug, he could get a little more rest. She'd been sick almost every morning for a few days now.
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    "Xander," Morgan said. "Umm... We need to talk."
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    "Are you feeling any better?" he asked.

    "Well, that's the thing," Morgan said. "I went down to the pharmacy and got a test and..."

    "They have flu tests?" Xander looked confused.

    "No dummy," Morgan grinned. "Pregnancy tests. I'm pregnant!"
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    "What? Wait... what? Oh my GOD! You're pregnant? That's... wow!"

    "Are you... OK with this?" Morgan asked.

    "Yeah," Xander smiled slowly. "Yeah, I am..."
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    "... but what are we going to tell Lilith"

    "We tell her the good news!"
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    "Darling, that's wonderful!" Lilith laughed. "I'm so happy for you both. I know Xander will do the right thing."
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    "Yeah... about that," Xander said. "Uhhh... Morgan... "
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    Later, after an exhausted Morgan had gone to bed...

    "I guess," Xander started. "Well, I hope we can still be friends."
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    "Xander, dear, don't be absurd," Lilith purred. "Your nights still belong to me."
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 25 - The Death of Alexander Goth

    Elsa knocked tentatively on the door, unsure of her welcome.
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    "Elsa, it's good to see you," Xander said, pulling his ex into a warm embrace. "Are you OK?"

    "Oh God," Elsa sobbed. "Why do you have to be so nice about it?

    "I'm sorry?" Xander said with a sheepish grin. "I'm happy and I've been worried about you."

    "Well, No," Elsa said. "No, I'm not OK..."

    "Come, sit and talk to me."
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    "It's funny," Elsa said. "We never talked when we were married, but you were the only person I could think of to talk to now."
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    "Are you still with Max?" Xander asked.

    "Oh God... Max," Elsa took a deep breath. "He's horrible. He's a criminal, Xander. Not like some petty crook or anything... he's seriously involved in organized crime. He... he dragged me into it. He made me embezzle from the company."
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    "He made me do... horrible things. Xander, I'm so ashamed.
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    "It's not your fault," Xander said soothingly.

    "You don't know that," Elsa shook her head. "I'd try to fight him, sometimes. We'd argue... but I kept going back to him"
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    "Are you going back to him now?" Xander asked.

    "No," Elsa took a deep breath. "I'm not. I... I had a pregnancy scare. I couldn't bear the thought of having his baby... of bringing a child into that life. Worse, I wasn't even sure if it was his. In the end, it was a false alarm... but it woke me up.
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    "I told him we were though...
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    "He didn't take it well. He threatened me..."
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    "... but I'm done being intimidated by him."
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    "Well, you're away from him now," Xander said. "If you want, you can stay here, until you figure out your next move. We can put a cot in Talos's workroom or something. I'm sure Morgan will understand."

    "Understand you letting your ex-wife move back in?" Elsa shook her head. "She must be a pretty remarkable woman."
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    "Out of my way, Morgan," Max snarled.

    "No, Max," Morgan snapped back. "You're not welcome here. Crawl back under whatever rock you came from."

    "Out of my way!" Max yelled. "Or I'll put you six feet under, like I should have done when you skipped out."
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    "Goth!" Max barged into the apartment. "You think you can take from me? You can keep the red head. We used her up a while ago... but this one is mine."
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    "Get outa here Max!" Xander yelled back. "I'm not going to let you hurt them anymore."
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    BANG

    "No so tough, are you Goth-boy," Max jeered.
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    "Oh God," Elsa sobbed. "Max, what have you done."
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    "Max, you monster!" Morgan cried.
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    "Get out, Max," Morgan demanded. "If you know what's good for you, you'll get out before the cops get here!"
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    Only, it wasn't the police Morgan called.
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    They couldn't save Xander...
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    ... but she could.
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    "We always agreed, the nights belong to you," Morgan said sadly. "I guess... at least he'll still be..."

    "Morgan, darling," Lilith replied, "it will take some time for him to become accustomed to his new life but you will see him again."
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    "Sleep now, Alexander Goth," Lilith said. "When you rise, we will have much to discuss."
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 26 - Werewolf High School

    Fall had come to Moonwood Mill at last and things were changing for the teens.
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    On top of the start of school, Miranda faced renewed grief. She'd gotten word that her father, Don, was dead... murdered in his home under mysterious circumstances.

    Yeah, he hadn't been the best dad in the world... starting at leaving mom pregnant at the altar and ending with rarely, if ever, being around. Yeah, he'd cheated on every woman he'd ever dated. (With as many affairs as he'd had, Miranda sometimes wondered if she had any half-brothers or sisters out there in the world.) Still, he'd been her dad. What little time they had had together had been good.
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    It was a time where Miranda really missed her mom and Gwen. At least she had her friends. Jake was there for her, offered her a shoulder to cry on when she got the news.
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    She was really glad to have a friend like him.
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    Miranda had been worried about attending school again. She was, after all, the missing daughter of a (believed to be) murdered world-famous celebrity. What would happen when the Community High School asked for her records?

    Fortunately Community High School, which educated teens from several small towns, communes, farms and lonely houses in surrounding area, was more than willing to turn a blind eye to strange teenagers showing up. No one questioned the sudden appearance of "Jake's cousin, Miranda Volkov" or her total lack of previous school records.
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    It was quite enough that the new girl from Moonwood Mill was polite, studious and not prone to sudden outbursts. High school was never easy, but it was an especially hard time for teenage werewolves. The wolf inside them longed to run under the open sky, not to sit in cramped desks listening to teachers drone on about math.

    Nick and Beth spent most days after school at the Volkov's.
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    Nick wasn't a great student... book smarts were Jake's thing, not his.
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    Beth did her best to encourage her brother and keep him focused.
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    A few times, the boys missed school entirely simply because they couldn't hold the wolf back anymore...
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    ... but for the most part school was school.
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    While Miranda still eagerly wanted to unlock the secrets of Moonwood Mill, those early days of fall didn't leave any of them much time. Between school and homework, it was sometimes all Miranda could do to find some time to practice her violin...
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    ... and hang out with her friends.

    Sadly, Nick's cheesy pickup lines weren't getting any better...
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    ... but they were getting along OK, when he didn't talk.
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    Jake and Beth were getting along well too...
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    ... though also mostly without talking much.
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    Despite all the dangers and challenges in the world, Miranda thought, really life wasn't half bad.
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    She knew could count on Jake to make her laugh when she needed to.
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    She was really glad to have a friend like him.
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 27 - Awakening

    Xander Goth acknowledged that his family had a rather macabre reputation. The stories about his ancestors tended to involve various combinations of tragedy, misery and dread. Popular opinion held that the family mansion was haunted. A fact his father had embraced openly, while adding to the family fortune as a successful horror novelist. His sister Cassie's musical and performance style played on the Goth name and reputation.

    Xander had been trying for years to distance himself from it all. He was a computer programmer. He lived in a modern apartment in the city. Maybe he'd never quite shaken the family tendency to dress in black but, he insisted, black went with everything. Really, Xander Goth had no use for ghosts and spirits and things that go bump in the night.

    Waking up in a coffin, with his pale, spooky, blood-play girlfriend looming over him, was therefore a rather unsettling experience for him.
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    He didn't really hand it well... Lilith just calming let him shout himself out, observing to herself that he'd inherited some of his father's literary flare at least when it came to creative profanity.
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    She waiting until his emotional outburst brought him around to the actual events of the night before...

    "Oh my God! Max shot me. He shot me!" Xander yelled before considering an impossible possibility. "Lilith... did I... am I dead."
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    "Not yet," Lilith said sadly, "but you are dying."

    "What?"

    "Max shot you and you were going to die of it. I did the only thing I could do. I took you blood and gave you my own. In the next day, maybe two, your body will die and rise again. You will be like me - a vampire."
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    "A vampire," Xander whispered. "That's impossible."

    "Perhaps," Lilith agreed, "but it is also true. Now you need to learn what it means... and met my family."
    "My brother, Caleb."

    "Caleb Vatore, the writer?" Xander was surprised. "My dad talks about you. I thought you were older."

    "I am," Caleb laughed.

    "Caleb's wife, Irma," Lilith continued.

    "Wait, Irma Gold?" Xander said. "Didn't you host the fundraiser for World United?"

    "I'm glad you remember me," Irma smiled. "You see Xander, we're not all that different from you."
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    "Vampires," Caleb expounded, "are only monsters if we choose to be... much like mortals."
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    Caleb, Lilith knew, was prepared to go on at great length about the nature of the curse and his philosophy on controlling it. She decided to spare Xander that - for now - and reminded her brother he had a deadline with his publisher.

    Recognizing that Xander was, and always had been, a lover of books she instead provided him with some - tomes of vampire lore and secrets.

    "You know," Xander mused. "We have a copy of this in the library at home. Cassie read the whole thing. I started it but I never really took it seriously."

    "Now you should," Lilith purred.
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    Lilith had brought him clothes to change into. For the most part, they left him alone to read the books Lilith gave him.
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    Honestly, Xander still didn't believe it. Lilith had always been dark and intense, but so was Cassie. Caleb was a bit odd, in the way that eccentric rich people were odd and Irma, well she was fairly normal for a powerful woman - focused and very self-contained. The idea that these people were vampires... that he was become one... seemed crazy.

    Still, he couldn't shake the memory of Max shooting him.
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    A gnawing hunger set in... but the Vatores cupboards yielded only dry pasta and an old jar of tomato sauce. Xander was pretty sure the sauce had gone off... eating made him feel sick and didn't do much for the hunger.
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    Alone, in the tower room, the three vampires discussed him.

    "You shouldn't have done this," Caleb said.

    "He would have died," Lilith countered.

    "Why shouldn't she bring him over?" Irma said. "She cares for him, like you cared for me... and it is good to have a new member of the family."
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    "It's too late now anyway," Lilith said. "It's done. Soon, he will be part of the family."

    "I hope so," Caleb said. "If he embraces our ways."
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    "He will," Lilith said...
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    "I know he will."
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 28 - Hidden History

    For Jake, the idea that he was expected to eventually replace Kristopher as leader of the Moonwood Collective was always in the back of his mind. The expectation gnawed at him, like the Fury of the Wolf, and, like the Fury, it drove him. He'd long ago taken to calling his circle of friends the Young Collective. While neither were formally part of the real Collective, Nick and Beth had both embraced the Young Collective and followed Jake's lead. The addition Miranda, even though she wasn't a Wolf, to the Young Collective had given them purpose.

    Now that they were getting a handle on school, Jake thought it was time for them to start digging into the hidden history of Moonwood Mill.
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    Jake and Beth were learning the old werewolf runes and reading the books of history and lore.
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    Miranda started practicing her spellcraft again.
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    Nick... well, Nick wasn't much for studying. He focused on keeping himself fit.
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    Jake knew that the best way to learn about the history of the town was to talk to the man who had lived through most of it... Kristopher. His father was always cagey about his past, but every once in a while he would let something slip.
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    With what he could find in the books and learn from his father, Jake started delving into the tunnels under the town.
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    From there and other places, they started gathering a collection of old artifacts...
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    Beth set herself the task of studying them...
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    ... translating the runes and unlocking the history of the Mooncasters - witches who drew power from the moons and eventually became the first werewolves.
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    Miranda found she could take the fragments Beth was discovering and use them to inspire her spellcraft (with a little help from Bluebell). She was starting to learn how to channel and focus the energies of the moon.
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    Beth was learning a lot about the past - the magic of the Mooncasters and the roots of her own power - but she knew there had to be more.
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    It was Kristopher who let slip the last piece she needed... that the infamous and mad werewolf Greg was the oldest living werewolf.
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    Greg was an immortal like Kristopher himself... he might be the last surviving Mooncaster.
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    If anyone had the answers they needed...
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    Beth set out to find her answers...
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    She knew digging around in Greg's yard, looking for clues, was probably the most dangerous thing she had even done...
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    She could smell him out there... and she ran!
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    "Where have you been?" Miranda shouted. "I've been looking all over for you. Jake said he saw you heading toward the lake."
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    "I found it!" Beth gasped.

    "Found what?"

    "The journal of Greggorius Lunvik, the oldest living werewolf," Beth grinned. "The last Mooncaster!"
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 29 - Lessons in Control

    On the whole, Xander was finding that Irma was right... his life as a vampire wasn't all that different from life as a mortal.
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    Lilith had insisted that he stay in the house, at least until he developed a better understanding and control of his new state. So, he took a short sabbatical from work (which wasn't that difficult... it was his company after all). He spent a lot of time playing chess and talking with Lilith, mostly about what it meant to be a vampire.
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    The biggest thing that took some getting used to was his new diet.

    Lilith explained that blood packs were an easy way for vampires to sustain themselves. The Vatore family, she explained, was dedicated to peacefully co-existing with mortals. Caleb lived almost exclusively on blood packs. She and Irma fed from mortals from time to time... but only with their permission... like she had fed on Xander.

    "Yeah, but I didn't believe you," Xander said.

    "Whether you believed I was really a vampire or not," Lilith smiled, "you still allowed me to drink from you."
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    Sometimes, she admitted and despite Caleb's disagreement, when the Hunger was great they needed to feed without permission. Those vampires who saw mortals only as food, drank deeply from unwilling mortals and sometimes killed their victims. If she had to drink from the unwilling, Lilith said, she took only as much as she needed. The key was control.
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    "If you are going to return to some semblance of life among mortals," Lilith said, "you need to learn this control... control of mortals and, above all, control of yourself."

    After weeks in the house with other the Vatores, Xander was happy to be out in the world again. Lilith had taken him to the old city...
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    It was late and the streets were practically empty. Still, for the artists and poets of the old city it was never too late to go to the coffee shop.
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    Lilith was a good teacher. It was easy... so easy... to slip into the woman's mind, to compel her to obey.
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    The blood... hot, living blood... shaded with the colors of life itself. So much more than the bland, cold blood of the packs. Xander understood now. For the first time, he thought, he really understood what he was.

    He was a vampire.
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    "You did well," Lilith said.

    "I wanted to take it all," Xander admitted. "I could have."

    "But you didn't," Lilith replied.
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Interlude - Max V

    "Max, what we got to stay in this rotten place for?" Wolfgang complained. "I like the bird's digs in the city."
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    "I told you, Wolf," Max sighed. "We got to lay low. I got heat on me since I offed Goth-boy. Now the 🐸🐸🐸🐸 blonde's singing to the DA. Shoulda done her too... That's what I get for bein' sentimental."
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    "Come on. We gotta talk to the Boss."
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    "Would you look at that, Max," Wolfgang sounded awed.

    "I told you," Max smirked. "He's the real deal."
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    Eerie music filled the room...

    "Oh, hey Boss," Max kept his cool. "I don't see you come in."

    "We need to talk," the Boss hissed.
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    "You've been careless, Max, careless and stupid. You killed Alexander Goth without my permission. You allowed Elsa to break free of my control and now she's talking to the authorities. I cannot allow such carelessness."

    "Give me another chance boss," Max pleaded.

    "If you were anyone else, I would have you bled dry," the Boss snarled, "but out of the deep respect I held for you father, I will give you one more chance. One chance, Max. Do not make me regret my generosity."
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    mightyspritemightysprite Posts: 6,205 Member
    Wahahah Vlad makes such a great comic book villain
    .....
    Don't buy broken stuff
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member
    Wahahah Vlad makes such a great comic book villain
    .....

    Oh yeah...
    he is a straight up, black hat, mustache twirling, soon my death-ray will destroy Metropolis villain. I love him for it. You need a good bad guy.
    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 30 - Date With A Vampire

    "Xander! I wasn't sure you'd come," Morgan was secretly embarrassed how happy she was to see him. He was... well, maybe alive wasn't the right word but he looked a lot closer to it than he had when Lilith took him away after that horrible night.
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    "I'm sorry it's been so long," Xander said. "There were a lot of things I... I needed to get a handle on. But I never stopped thinking about you."
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    "Hey, let's go inside," he continued, "It's a little bright out here for me."

    "Sure," Morgan sighed. "Absolutely."
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    Sitting the club, listening to Xander explain at least some of his new life, Morgan wondered if she could really handle this.
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    I mean this guy's a vampire, she thought to herself, a genuine, bloodsucking vampire. It was one thing to know vampires were real, to even be on kind of understanding terms with one... but this. She was carrying his baby, for Pete's sake! Could she really make a life with a vampire?
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    ... but when they started talking about the latest update to The R.E.F.U.G.E, which had only totally messed up her perfect strategy, she realized...
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    He was Xander - the same cute, smart geek she'd fallen for.
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    OK, so he's a vampire, she thought. I can maybe handle that. Right?
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    The door wasn't a barrier.

    She didn't hear him come in...
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    "Hey Morgan, how old is that fruitcake?"

    "Xander!" she shrieked. "Don't startle me like that! What are you doing here?"
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    "So... Lilith says I should be able to handle things on my own," Xander replied. "I can come home. If... if you'll have me."
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    "Hey, what not," Morgan grinned. "I've been with worse guys."
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 31 - The Journal

    The Journal of Greggorius Lunvik... Beth was fascinated. It was hard to remember that the troubled man whose thoughts she was reading was the monster in the woods her parents had warned her about since she was little.
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    Miranda was enthralled by the history Beth was discovering...
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    ...especially the hints of old magic that gave her ideas of new magical experiments of her own.
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    Miranda also took up yoga, like Gwen did, as a way to focus her mind and energies. Kristopher had an old yoga mat he let her use.
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    Beth encouraged Jake to read the Journal as well. There was, she felt, so much in there that would help him in his journey toward becoming the leader she knew he was going to be.
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    Jake studied the journal like he did his school texts...
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    ... but it wasn't the history and hints at strange magic that held his attention.
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    It was the powerful bond Greggorius felt toward Avelina. The power of fate that held two moon-touched souls together...
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    ... and how much Greggorius was willing to give up to preserve that fated bond.
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    Jake found himself thinking about it... a lot.
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    Nick really didn't do books and studying. Even school made his head pound. It was all he could do not to howl some days. He felt better when he could do something physical. Kristopher had let him set up a workout area in the yard and he used it.
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    Nick worried he was having a hard time control the wolf.

    Jake had a scar over his eye now, from the night Nick had lost it and gone after him.
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    He was afraid of what might happen if he lost control around Miranda...
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    ... though she seemed pretty confident she could handle him.
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    Still, thinking and worrying just wasn't Nick's thing.

    Dancing... Dancing was Nick's thing!
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    So he got everyone together at Grimtooths.

    Tearing up the dance floor...
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    Hanging by the bonfire...
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    Working out some tension...
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    ... and making some moves.
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    A night to party and relax was exactly what they'd needed.
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    To face what was to come...

    "Miranda," Kristopher approached her quietly. "I need to talk to you."
    "I was in the library and... I'm sorry, Miranda..."
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    "No... oh, no..."
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member

    Chapter 32 - Investigations

    Ever since Cassandra's disappearance, Mortimer had reached out into the spirit world to find her.
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    He consulted with many spirits...
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    ... but got no closer to his answers.
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    Bella used her own methods to investigate.
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    She was certain she was closing in on the shadowy figures who ran the Families...
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    ... but her investigation was stepping on toes.
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    "I just need more time," she insisted to superiors.
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    "Oooo spirits, hear me!"
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    The answer, when it came, was unexpected.
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    Don shared with Mortimer his own investigation into the night of Cassie's death...
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    ... and after speaking with Don, Mortimer was able to reach out to Olivia Kim-Lewis as well.
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    Between what Don knew and what Olivia had discovered, Mortimer was ready to face his greatest fear...

    ... his daughter's death.
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    The spirits gave him more questions than answers but strange and terrible truth of that night was beginning to take shape.
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    He just needed more time...
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    Mr. Briggs had watched, as he had been told to. He knew the investigation was getting to close...
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    ... the Master would be pleased.
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    "Mortimer! No... oh God, NO!"
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    "Mr. Briggs..."
    Vlad hissed, "Am I to understand that you have killed Mortimer Goth?"

    "Yes, Master," Briggs nodded. "He was investigating the attack. I knew you would be pleased..."
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    "Pleased... PLEASED?" Vlad roared. "You DARE to kill Mortimer Goth without orders from me! You impudent CHILD!"
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    "Mortimer was MINE!"
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    "Master... please... forgive me," Briggs wheezed.
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    "Very well, Mr. Briggs," Vlad hissed. "I forgive you..."
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    "... much as it may profit you in Death."
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    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    DaniRose2143DaniRose2143 Posts: 9,392 Member
    I'm loving this story. I still have 5 more to go to get fully caught up. I find it interesting to see the different takes on Vlad. I've always had him as evil but more in a Dr. Evil way, a comically inept bad guy. The way he keeps popping up as a bartender, or my favorite, a masseuse at a spa I built in San Myshuno, lends itself to that narrative. Now that the lore in the werewolf pack sets him up as truly evil I wonder if he will continue to spawn in those jobs? As a hopeless romantic I'm curious what happens with Miranda, Beth, and Jake. Nick gives me Don Lothario vibes. That will be a fun one to watch what happens. In a way, Lilith turning Xander dud him the obvious favor of saving his life, but it also means now he doesn't have to worry about lack of sleep keeping up with his two lovers. It does complicate his days with Morgan though, at least until he gets sun resistance...if he gets sun resistance. And will Lilith and Morgan always feel like sharing him? So many storylines to look forward too!!
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    luciusstormluciusstorm Posts: 1,808 Member
    @DaniRose2143, I'm glad your enjoying it.

    I've seen Vlad pop up in random jobs in some saves too, but not this one (might be due to a mod I'm running to keep people in their home regions). Still, to quote Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I like my evil like I like my men - evil. (Even though Joss turned out to be evil himself, I still think the show was great and highly quotable.)

    As a hopeless romantic myself, I'm curious what happens with Miranda, Beth and Jake. The good/bad thing about the Sims as a storytelling vehicle is the characters really do have minds of their own sometimes. Like Nick. He's turned into a much more interesting character than I originally planned... but yeah, he's definitely a got some of Don's vibes.

    Xander is also one whose story has gone in unexpected directions. I had honestly planned to keep him and Elsa together but it really didn't work out for them. As I am personally a consensually non-monogamous hopeless romantic, I find jealousy and illicit affairs strange and different... and thus an interesting writing challenge. If I have a hope for the new Orientation system, it's that it can eventually be expanded to encompass polyamory. (For now I get there via mods...) We'll just have to see how Xander juggles his relationships, his new life as a vampire and the growing Occult conflict. What's Cassie going to do when she finds out her little brother is a vampire?!? So many stories to tell...
    Fate is a riddle and we choose our own answer. Wyrd Girls
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    Metior_IceMetior_Ice Posts: 3,116 Member
    Every time I go back and read older chapters then read new chapters, I’m impressed by Vlad’s body count. He’s taken down a lot of sims, but I think the ghosts might come back to bite him, pun intended.
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    DaniRose2143DaniRose2143 Posts: 9,392 Member
    @luciusstorm I have had some surprises too with how sims personalities have developed. Matteo was a surprise that, leaving him to his own devices, he really enjoys more intellectual pursuits. When I created him and Leonardo I envisioned them both as love 'em and leave 'em, shallow party boys. That's part of why I never really played them when they were roommates. My interactions with them were when they were around Summer, Danielle, and Liberty. Leonardo truly turned out as I envisioned him, he really only cares about himself and having a good time. But watching Matteo now that Liberty is living with him it has been fascinating how different he turned out to be.

    Liberty with a couple of new traits, genius instead of geek, romantic instead of clumsy, has created such a new and wonderfully different Lib. In the past when I've had her in active households she is sweetly innocent and even a little bit childlike. This version is assertive in a romantic and sexual way, and very mature acting. I have thought about completing the trifecta and replacing her bookworm trait with self-assured. She hasn't lost any of the lovability in her character, she's even more lovable and relatable as a self-actualized woman. She's still sweet and friendly, but she isn't taking crap off anybody either. The implosion of the BFF household and her career change set her free.

    After I get my housework done I'll jump in and finish catching up.
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    DaniRose2143DaniRose2143 Posts: 9,392 Member
    @Metior_Ice Vlad's past evil deeds are piling up as are the dead sims who have all eternity to plan their revenge. They have the added benefit of already being dead so what do they really have to lose that he hasn't already taken from them? Even if they aren't the agents of his demise they will be there to torment him in the afterlife.
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