“Why won’t you talk to him, Bella?”
“You know who I mean.”
She wouldn’t look at her. “No offense to those who may practice it, but necromancy is dark magic in which I do not partake.”
“You’re just like your father. Everything in glorious black and white.” Olive rolled her eyes. “Magic is a tool, nothing more. Any spell can be used for good or ill.”
“I’ve never cast a dark spell that I didn’t regret.”
That was all she needed to confirm what she already knew. “So it’s true then. You made the Elixir of Death?” There was no response. “Of course you did.”
“I didn’t make it to kill anyone!” Bella spun around to face her. “I didn’t kill anyone. Every drop has been accounted for. We took every precaution; no one else even knows what we did.”
That was doubtful, to say the least. “We?”
“Jennicor. She thought it would make her mortal, but it didn’t work. The results were only superficial.”
“Oh for goodness sake; I could have told you that would happen and saved you the trouble. Death is determined by the Reaper, not the body. You can’t change his rules.”
“We can try.” Bella set her jaw. “I don’t submit to servants of the Watcher.”
“Death is not the enemy here. It was your ‘good intentions’ that brought Jon to his end.”
“No, it didn’t! You have no proof of that!”
Anyone who’d ever said this child took after her mother knew nothing of anything. Jocasta had always caved under her glare alone. “You think somebody else grew a cowplant, successfully made the elixir, and slipped it to him at your party?"
“He wasn’t poisoned; he lived an irresponsible lifestyle and wore himself out. The elixir had nothing to do with it.” Logic was of no consequence to Bachelor blood; they shaped the world to their own convictions and never the other way around.
“Well clearly Jon has some sort of unfinished business keeping him around here. Maybe it’s just nonsense, it often is.” Olive’s voice softened. “But I’ve buried many who chose to ignore the warnings of spirits, and it’s not a risk I would ever choose to take.”
“Then why don’t you talk to him?”
“It’s not my mystery to solve, or it would already have been. You’re the one he wants.”
“I can’t, Olive. The last time I used magic from that side of the spectrum...” She grimaced. “There were side effects.”
Olive blinked, unable to believe what she'd just heard. “Is that what this is really about? Vanity?”
“I am a public face for witches. If that face should happen to be green it would be detrimental to more than just me!”
“There are ways of preventing it, dear. It’s much easier to deal with than your brother’s unfortunate condition.”
“No, it’s a good thing; it keeps me in check. I don’t need the temptation!”
“Bella,” Olive took her hand, affectionately but firmly. “If Jon’s died by your elixir, then a murderer is still at large. Don’t let it be thanks to your stubbornness.”
Bella looked down at what she’d left on her palm. “What is this?”
“We were just - um -” Nina appeared to have been dragged through the foliage and thrown against a wall, possibly the roof. For two neat sims these two seemed to get awfully dirty together.
“I know what you were doing,” Olive said, pulling a shingle out of Nina's hair. “And I hope you did it responsibly. Graveyard shenanigans are how I ended up with this little one.” Come to think of it, Bella's child was probably conceived in a graveyard as well.
“We weren’t trying to eavesdrop.”
“I’m sure you didn’t hear any information that you weren’t more or less entitled to."
Nina nodded without a word but she could see the questions in her eyes.
“Let’s get you fixed up, dear. If you go back with grass stains on your knees they’ll be hounding you for details.” Olive couldn’t help but wonder the mechanics of that herself. “Servo, will you take Junior back to the house for me? Ichabod should be there waiting - if he’s not, I’m going to kill him.”
“Er, robots aren’t legally qualified to babysit, ma’am.”
“Nonsense. You’re the most trustworthy person here.” She wouldn't have even considered handing Junior off to this robot if she hadn't recognized the fresh scent of Miss Handy’s multi-surface anti-bacterial wipes on him.
“But what if he falls in the pond?”
“He won’t go near it; he’s scared of that hideous statue. Just make sure nobody takes off with him other than that walking corpse who calls himself my fiance.”
“Still in the dungeon. She put up the ‘do not disturb’ seal; you probably shouldn’t intrude.”
“Can we be of service to you, Bella-Bella?”
Bella looked over the group and pulled Nyllisit aside. “Do you have any...” She dropped her voice. “...necromancy...tools in the house?”
“Um, check the library?”
“EW!” It was surreal to imagine that word coming out of Bella’s mouth, and yet it was unmistakably her voice coming down the very staircase she’d just ascended. “EW EW ew ew ew!”
“EW.” In that moment she was no longer Bella Goth, but Bella Bachelor from the Sunset Valley suburbs, and no amount of red satin was going to hide it.
“My brother and that...” The last word was a struggle.
“Good heavens. In our pure and sacred home?”
This place was a fairy trap.
Titania hadn’t appreciated the depths of her cousin’s madness before this night; to make a home of an iron cage. Even without direct contact she could feel the weight of it in the air itself, breaking the back of every spell.
And yet the mortals, even the witches, were completely unaffected. They had it in their blood. Did that give them immunity? Or was that why they were so much weaker in the first place?
Jennicor, ever the brethren traitor, had only let her in as a servant, knowing she’d have to toil away by hands like a human housemaid. Was she trying to to teach her a lesson? Or did she just enjoy seeing her suffer?
The more she tried, the more she felt her magic being forced back inward. If she lost control she might just implode, or at least implode into a fox. She could still transform here, make herself smaller while the world closed in on her, but it was doubtful that she’d be able to change back.
She would never have set foot in this place had she been able to see it in her crystal, but to be here was simply the only possible way to keep an eye on her darlings.
Servo returned from the cemetery without his lady. That could have been disastrous; he was someone who would rather be abandoned in outerspace than at a social event. But he was not alone, and even more surprisingly, he’d found someone to talk to. Someone that she hadn't thrown at him.
He'd found company with some lumbering old mortal who put her in the mind of Frankenstein’s monster and a very small child. She wished he’d stay away from children for the same reason she did; it was only bound to make him hope for what could not be.
Still, the choice was his. She would not directly manipulate someone with so little will of their own.
“He likes you. He can tell you’re a gentle spirit.”
“I’m not sure about that, but thank you, sir.”
“You like kids, Servo? You can be honest, he won’t take it personally.”
“They’re kind of a foreign concept to me. I’ve never even been one,” he sighed. “And it’s not like I’m ever going to have any of my own.”
“I used to think the same thing, but it turns out nothing’s impossible in this world,” the man said, “You ever been married?”
It didn’t seem like he was joking, but Servo couldn’t hold back a little laugh. “I don’t think so, sir.”
“Well, no, but I think it’s rather... unlikely?” He touched his left hand. “I guess I never really thought about it before. Why do you ask?”
“I dunno, you strike me as a world weary guy with a bit of a family streak. Wouldn’t be a shock; I’ve seen just about everything with my job. Except fatherhood, that’s new.”
“What is it you do, Mr. Specter?”
“Spiritual guidance.” He was smiling, but the words came out as a growl.
“You mean like a...like a priest?”
“Suddenly you sound scared,” he chuckled. “Don’t worry, I’m not one of those Jacobans. Olive wouldn’t marry a guy who believes she sold her soul to a demonic cow.”
“I didn’t mean any offense, sir. I just didn’t think anyone in your profession would be at a party like this... or have any interest in talking to me.”
“Oh, I understand. People use my job for terrible things. Couldn’t blame anyone for being wary.”
“Sir?” Servo said after a pause. “May I ask what your church’s policy is on servos?"
"Official policy? There isn't one. Not yet. You’ve only be around for what, a decade? It takes longer than that for my people to agree on anything. But in my humble opinion a soul is a soul.”
Somewhere closeby, a wolf howled into the night.
The child awoke in the next room and responded with his own kind of howl.
Servo reacted to the sound with an involuntary cringe; in a weaker body he might have fainted.
“Eesh. Must be a full moon, huh?”
“It’s a waxing gibbous.” Jennicor strode into the room wearing a furcoat and nothing else. “No werewolves out tonight, just beasts.”
“Are you in need of my help, cousin?”
“I need you to cease stalking my guests and get back to work,” she snapped. “Servo, the young man is still down there, will you unchain him for me whilst I secure the perimeter?”
“Is everything all right, ma’am?”
She didn't answer him.
“I’d better go do what she says. Thank you, Mr. - er - Father Specter.”
“Why did you ask if he was married?”
“I met a Servo and his wife once. First of his kind, I think. Kind of memorable as far as people go.”
“He does not need to hear of that right now. It will bring him no happiness.”
“What’s it to you? Are you his, uh, ‘godmother’?”
Her hand went to her ear, still covered by her hair. “Aren’t we clever?" Some were better at spotting it than others, but that could just as easily work to her advantage. “What’s your angle, preacher? Your lot doesn’t believe he has a soul to save.”
"That’s not for them to decide. I’m just glad to hear the kid's got somebody looking out for him.” He added under his breath, “Wouldn't have guessed that."
"It is by my hand that he stands here tonight in one piece, surrounded by those who love and accept him."
“After being broken twice, losing his memory, sold into slavery, and contracting vampirism.”
"I cannot just magic his problems away! All must act on their own free will; I may only point them in the right direction."
“Shhhh.” He put a finger to his lips, motioning toward the slumbering child. "Well in that case, keep up the great work."
“It’s more than your lot have done for him,” she said. “My people watch over those whom your Watcher has abandoned!”
“Or maybe it’s all part of the Watcher’s plan, and you’re playing right into a reverse psychology gambit.”
“Stay away from my godson," she hissed. "He is mine to watch over, and he does not need your guidance.”
“You’re my hero, lady! He was in need of a little unbuttoning. Now if only somebody could do the same for Bella.”
“Ahem,” Mortimer said. “Code red, boys. I haven’t seen Bella this upset since Landgraab bought the election. The only treatment for this kind of trauma is the direct application of bleach to the brain.”
“She doesn’t have that voodoo doll with her, does she?”
“Don't take it personally, Dina. She's like this with every girl I meet; she’s being immature.”
“Unlike you two.” Mortimer clicked his tongue. “You couldn’t wait the five minutes it takes to walk to your house?”
Mike stumbled for an excuse and finally just said, “No! Why did Bella even go up there in the first place?”
“Something about necrophilia tools." Kiernen scoffed. "Pfft! And she calls us lecherous."
“I don’t want her to be mad at me.”
“It’ll be fine, Dina. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Indeed. We would not take issue with this anymore than Mikey would for the things we've done in his house.”
Mike pushed that out of his mind. “Don't worry, Dina. Let me just smooth things over with Bella.”
Once Michael was gone, Dina turned to Mortimer. “Can vampires get drunk?”
“On fairy blood. It’s sometimes rather hard to tell the difference with these two.”
Author's Notes: Cut text is from Regina Spektor's Apres Moi. A lot of this is set up for the next half of this chapter.
The green necklace that Olive gave Bella is supposed to be the same one she wears in TS2, but the original is very 2004/pixellated so I decided to go with a stylistic upgrade to one of these.