Book 5, Chapter 52

The limo ride was awkward. This time I was accompanied by Valerie and two of her donors. Pretty much everyone else other than our driver had either left with Matteo or been left behind to take care of Cassie and Curtis — including Reid and Thaddeus, who were supposed to watch Hans’ and Daniel’s auras and let us know if Jeremy’s wolf left the church he was apparently holed up in.

I really hoped that he didn’t leave it with a bunch of holes in him: I still remembered how Matteo’s solocks had decided to deal with me the first time I’d met any. I really didn’t like that the first response of Matteo — and his people — seemed to consistently be ‘shoot it in the head; sort it out after.’

Worse, feeding on Curtis had been about as effective as feeding on Hans. So I was feeling ‘normal’ rather than ‘bloated’ — and that meant I didn’t have complete control over my supernatural senses like I did when my aura was at its fullest.

My hearing skipped along, abruptly focusing in on random car engines, distant sirens, loud televisions and bits of road noise seemingly at random. I knew it was trying to identify the source of my rising anxiety so that I could eliminate the threat — but that didn’t do me much good, since in the absence of an actual threat to deal with, the random bits of noise were the source of my rising vehicular anxiety.

I really, really needed to invest in warded earplugs. That would’ve been awesome.

Instead, I spent the start of the drive with my eyes closed and my head leaned back, trying to focus on doing Megan’s meditation breathing. In, two, three, and hold… out, two, three, four. It wasn’t very effective this time. It was too easy to get distracted by the thought of how many bullets a crack team of solocks could put through a werewolf’s head before he finished shifting — or, heck, before I finished counting.

That thought made the bits of aura I was holding on to from Hans and Curtis resonate. Protect Jeremy. Don’t let the wolves hurt anyone. This is my responsibility. That part was the same in both of them. But in Curtis’ aura, there was an undertone of: if I do this, maybe they’ll accept me. Maybe I’ll belong. While in Hans’ aura the undertone was: don’t let everyone die again. If they die, you’re the one to blame.

Even though I was experiencing those emotions as though they were my own, I could still determine where they originated from. And thinking about it like that, instead of focusing on how they were making me feel, was more than a little heartbreaking.

“It isn’t always like this,” Valerie suddenly said. “I hope you realize that.” I snapped my head forward again so I could look at her. How had she realized I was feeling overwhelmed? Had she been reading my mind? No, she’s not fae. Or fae-esque, like me. It’s just a comment.

“In my experience, it has been,” I said.

Valerie gave me a wry grin. “In mine it hasn’t,” she countered, “and I think I’m a touch older than you. So please don’t think your second life will always be crisis after crisis like this. I, personally, have found that pseudo immortality yields frequent opportunities for fun or tranquility — you know, depending on how you prefer to spend your time. So do remember that it will get better than this last week has been. If you’re just exhausted and stressed, that’s fine… but as your mentor I’m going to have to advise you to not give into despair.”

Her dry tone injected a shameless and blameless humor in her words — especially the bit about her age — that actually startled a laugh out of me. And I had been on the verge of a despairing anxiety spiral. “What gave me away?” I asked.

Valerie shrugged. “Body language. Also, you told me about the past week back at the hotel, and I just heard you sniffle.”

Had I? If I had, it had been imperceptible. Or it would have been if Valerie’s senses weren’t at least as unnaturally acute as mine. So I probably had.

“Plus,” Valerie added with a waggle of her eyebrows, “My last tabletop RPG character was a steampunk detective. So I’m clearly highly qualified to apply my powers of observation and deductive reasoning to situations in real life.”

That startled me into another laugh.

“Wait,” I said. “Roleplaying? Like, with the dice and make believe dragons and stuff?” And I had thought Benjamin was a dork! Although, Fumiko and I had played some co-op fantasy games that probably sort of counted after I started to refuse to play her versus first person shooters. Besides, I was a total fujoshi, which was a subset of otaku, which made me way too big of a dork to really be pointing fingers. Even if my poor manga collection had gone up in smoke. “Doesn’t having to deal with real dragons sort of make that less fun?”

Note to self, I noted and added to my mental to-do list. Do not let Benjamin know you are also a dork. It might encourage him, and he was a little too good at getting my veins bared as it was. At the very least, I wouldn’t be able to fluster him by calling him a dork anymore. Not if he could just call me out as the same.

Addendum to self: Are dragons real? How freaked out about that should I be, now?

“Nope!” Valerie cheerfully opined. “It’s actually pretty fun to hang out with regular people and see what they’re getting wrong about how the supernatural world would work ‘if it were real.’ Although, I do usually prefer to go for steampunk, cyberpunk, or space opera games — but it’s all fun.” She grinned. “Also, I’ve been LARPing, lately, rather than doing the tabletop stuff.”

I stared at her and tried to remember what I knew about LARPing — which wasn’t much since I’d only heard about it tangentially when Fumiko had been going on about people she’d picked up costuming tips for working with her cosplays. I frowned. Wasn’t that the game where people dressed up and pretended they were…

My jaw slowly dropped. I noticed that one of Valerie’s donors was grinning. The other one looked vaguely mortified that he associated with the two of them. “Wait,” I said. “Are you telling me that you spend your free time dressing up in costumes, hanging out with regular mortals, and pretending to be a vampire?!

“Well,” Valerie said slowly. “Yes and no. I mean, not all of the players are ignorant of the supernatural world. I make sure to go with a donor, just in case things get a little too real. Also, I don’t pretend to be a vampire.”

Well, obviously not since you actually are one, I thought — but then the grinning donor spoke up. “Yep, that would be me. I’m a level twenty-two spider vampire of the midnight eclipse clan.” I stared at him. That entire second sentence made absolutely no sense. The other donor groaned to himself.

“And I’m a level twelve unholy thrall,” Valerie chimed in. She frowned self-deprecatingly. “Currently, anyway. I’d be higher up there, but I keep overcompensating when I hold back my actual abilities, getting killed and having to re-roll when Dan ‘raises’ a new minion.”

I looked back and forth between my mentor and her donor. The donor patted Valerie in consolation. “But that’s part of why it’s so funny — and why I put those points in necromancy to begin with,” he said with a grin. I guessed that he was Dan, then? The whole thing was… was… was… I was too flabbergasted to figure out what it was.

“Thanks,” Valerie cheerfully said to Dan. The other donor glanced up and gave me a long suffering look that conveyed he felt my pain. I wasn’t sure how to take that, either.

“What… how… No,” I said. I valiantly pulled myself out of the quagmire of What? and pushed on. “No, wait: why are we talking about this?”

Valerie shrugged again. She leaned back and looked at her two donors. No, hadn’t she said she preferred to call them partners? She looked at her partners and smiled. “Because we can’t really plan for anything without knowing what we’ll run into. And while I did text Fiore, I haven’t gotten a reply. So… we may as well talk while we wait to arrive, and this was as good a subject as any. Especially since it illustrates my point that there will be time for you to just relax and enjoy yourself over the course of your next eternity.”

I frowned. She had… oh, right. Touchscreen phones. I had probably been too busy wondering if that screech my ears had just picked out from three blocks away meant a truck had lost control and was going to barrel into us to have heard her fingers tapping on the screen. Stupid super-senses! Focus, Abby!

Not that they listened. I mean, other than the fact that one of them was hearing, so literally all it did was listen. I mean… oh, fuck it.

While I was utterly failing to focus, I kept the conversation going on autopilot. “Shouldn’t you try calling him, then?”

Valerie shook her head. “Too many supernatural beings have heightened senses. If our wolf Jeremy has already shifted, a phone suddenly ringing could be… well, not good.”

I blinked. Oh. Right. How often in the movies did the bad guys find the hiding good guys because of an errant phone call? I should’ve realized that one. “Okay,” I continued. “But still, aren’t there more important things we could be talking about? I mean, if not what we need to do when we get to the church, then: Megan’s plans to integrate faeries into the city! Why were you so eager to pursue that? I would’ve expected everyone to react more like Matteo.”

Valerie frowned. The levity left her face, and I felt my anxiety start cranking up again. Why had I just called her motivations into question? Oh god, were her motivations actually questionable? It wasn’t like vampires with dubious intentions were unprecedented! Just look at my track record with the undead so far: Salvatore wanted to kill Megan. Lewellan wanted to frame and kill me. Thomas hadn’t shown up in the city in order to be made the vampire boss of it at all: he’d had an ulterior motive from the beginning with his orders to network with the other families. Whatever he said, I was pretty sure Fiore thought I should be rendered dormant and shipped to The Center. John wanted to adopt me, Daniel wanted to steal my pack of werewolves, and Benjamin wanted to bite me. Or Ben wanted to go out with me. Or both. Or one and then the other and then the one again. Or maybe just screw around and nibble.

Honestly, I was still kind of conflicted about Benjamin. But the point was: the only really surprising thing was that it had taken me this long to wonder what Valerie was up to, at all!

“Alright,” Valerie said. “I figured someone would ask eventually — I just thought it would be Prudence.” She gave me a wry grin.

“So,” Valerie continued. “I came to this city expecting to be appointed as its Guardian. I was the eldest of the scions sent here, and it seemed like a very likely prospect. But somehow? Everything went off the rails. I don’t think that anyone expected anything that happened in this past week.”

Valerie gave me a half — almost apologetic — smile. “I was looking forward to a new challenge in my life,” she said. “But somehow I expect that liaising between Benjamin, Matteo, Thomas, and yourself — to say nothing of yourself and The Center! — will be much, much more difficult than a simple Guardianship. And I know that a lot of other people are upset because this is something new, and different, and your relationship with Megan flips conventional wisdom on its head. Some vampires in my position — yes, Matteo for one — would probably be angry. They would see this as dangerous, and you as a rival or usurper or worse, a rogue and hostile.”

Valerie shook her head. “But, Abigail? I don’t. Oh, you are dangerous, yes. And so is this experiment with Megan’s kingdom and this city and all the talk of allowing faeries to roam our wold freely. I’ll have my work cut out for me if I’m going to keep the hawks among the vampires held in check long enough to see any of this turn out well in the end. But ultimately? If I’m going to live forever, I have to believe that we can have peace and coexistence between the mortal, supernatural, and faerie worlds. Otherwise, I’m just passing the time, waiting until something comes along that I can’t handle — and I get killed and scattered. And I won’t do that. I spent most of my life in a bed, waiting to die. I’m not going to throw my eternity away waiting to die again.”

Valerie’s eyes pierced mine with their intensity. “And that means that I will always campaign for the wars to end, and do whatever I can to support that cause, even though I know that in many cases they do still have to be fought. But I will take the risks, like gambling on Megan and her kingdom, that others won’t accept because they feel a fight is a more certain thing — something they understand, the evil they know. But even if those risks I’ll have to take include the chance that everyone else sees of it backfiring and costing me my second life, I’ll still take them. Because the only other option is more war, and the certainty of eventual, violent death — and I have no desire to have further experience with either of those travesties of reality.”

I couldn’t think of how to respond to that earnestness. “Oh,” I said dumbly. From the intensity in Valerie’s gaze — and the agreement mirrored in her donor’s faces — I formed a realization. Among the vampires, Valerie is some kind of an idealist, I thought. And so are her partners. I didn’t know what to do with that, but I could tell from how she’d spoken that if there were other vampires in The Center that felt the same way, they were the minority faction.

And one way or another that, an uneasiness in my gut told me, wasn’t going to end well for them, or the faction of supernatural warmongers, or the fae, or me, or anyone.

Midnight Moonlight, Book 5

23 responses to Book 5, Chapter 52

  1. Rob

    Hooray! And next update should get us off ther cliff, and onto another…
    2 minor typos seen in passing:
    – “to big of a dork” (too)
    – “flabbergast” (flabbergasted)

  2. Syndic

    Welcome back Eren, hope you’re feeling better 🙂

    And thanks for this fascinating look into Valerie’s headspace – and a bit more shaping out of Curtis too. It was hinted at, but here the “wants to be accepted” bit is spelled out clearly for those who might have missed it between all the other stuff that’s going on 😉

  3. eduardo

    Thanks for the chapter.
    Too many factions, at least Aby will not have to face the world alone.
    The question is: and the council of 13? What will be their position?
    Because, really, the center just can`t keep loosing vampires sending them after Abigail.

  4. Valerie’s LARPing habits had me giggling. Also: warded earplugs. You want those for real life, don’t you? 😉

  5. Lightdefender

    Completely unrelated to this chapter, but by any chance are your ebooks available on Google Play?

    • Eren Reverie

      Not currently. :/ I’ve had that on my list for a while, but I have a bad tendancy to get so wrapped up in actually writing them that I don’t get to the publishing part in a timely manner (I don’t have book 4 up on Smashwords or Amazon yet, either — and I haven’t done most of the advertize-y stuff I keep meaning to do, like setting up a TVtropes page). Books 1, 2, and 3 are on both Smashwords and Amazon for Kindle, though.

      I’ll bump getting them on google play up in the queue, though.

    • Eren Reverie

      Hrm. After some cursory looking, I might not be able to get them onto Google Play — the site for signing up to publish states that they are not currently accepting new partners. That’s disappointing. I might be able to get them pushed there through Smashwords, if they’re already a registered partner. Otherwise, I think that Smashwords provides the option to download as various file formats that can be imported into your google play library.

      • Lightdefender

        I ask about Google Play specifically because I have credit there that I’m not using for anything else. (For some reason, it didn’t occur to me until a couple days ago that I could use that to buy books.) Buying them elsewhere and importing them doesn’t allow me to use credit that I’ve already accumulated.

        But if I’m the only one interested and it’s difficult to do, it may not be worth it to you.

        • Eren Reverie

          I wondered if it mighbe something like that. Well, if I’m understanding what Ive been looki g into right, Smashwords should submit to google play aslong as I provide aproperly formatted word document — and a few weekends ago I wrote a script that will convert a WordPress blog export into an eBook formatted microsoft word document. It needs a little more polish: basically,it doesn’t include the preview chapter for the next book or the link back to the site. But it should be properly formatted for smash words to push it to other sellers, of which I believe google play is supposed to be one.

          So basically, yeah: I’ll see what I canmakehappen. 🙂 just might be a bit longer (I want to have this process read by the end of book 5, so I can update all thebooks whilegetti g4 and 5 in the stores, too) — mostly because the weather won’t pick a season and Im getting laid out by migraines about once a week when the temperature shidft comeswitb a pressure change (like now) which really cuts into my editing/eBook publishinng time.

          • lightdefender

            Please don’t risk your health on my account. Don’t risk your update schedule, either.

            But if you are able to get them listed without doing either of those things, feel free to announce it in a comment on a new chapter. I’m probably not going to check this thread further, since there are newer chapters now.

            And, again, if I’m the only one interested it may not be worth the effort on your part.

          • Eren Reverie

            In case anyone else reading through hits on this thread, then: It should be a side effect of getting my ‘new books sent to the publishers’ script finished, which I’m working on in dibs and dabs when I already have the next chapter ready to post.

            I will announce it in a future chapter when/if I get things setup so that Smashwords can push the books to the google play store. 🙂

  6. SpongeeJumper


    “after I started to refuse to play her versus first person shooters”
    “after I started to refuse to play against her in first person shooters”?

    “people she’d picked up costuming tips for working with her cosplays”
    “people she’d picked up costuming tips from for working with her cosplays”
    “people from whom she’d picked up costuming tips for working with her cosplays”

    “chance that everyone else sees of it backfiring and costing me”
    “chance that everyone else sees it backfiring and costing me”
    “chance of everyone seeing it backfire and cost me”

    By the way, let me know if there’s something you’ve liked/disliked about how I’ve formatted one typo post vs another. For example do you like the multiple-choice corrections, or are they just cumbersome? Offering a corrected version of the quote seems to be the easiest way to make error/confusion point clear and obvious, but I don’t want to proscribe a particular wording when there’s a subjective choice to be made. Maybe I’m over thinking this and it doesn’t make much difference to you.

    • Eren Reverie

      Offering corrwcted version is great. 🙂 I appreciate the help, and will fix those soon — passing out with a migrainenow. Thank you.

  7. im glad your feeling better eren!

    and anyone with me on Abby being the vampire queen(ruler above the council of 13) in a century or two in theory alone (from the way the story has shown) she looks like a true immortal. with absolutely zero ways of being killed permanently. “it will only get better from here” when Reid teaches her fae magic and Valerie teaches her how to be a vampire. Truly a vampire to be feared for the rest of the Era.

    not to mention she just keeps growing stronger. and i absolutely look forward to the day where she just lifts her hands, points her palm towards any living being being hostile to her and rips out their entire pool of life force forcing instant dormantation or obliteration.
    i can just see her sexy self having an expression with cold eyes and after they have fallen she just… smirks 😉

    only reason i look forward to it is because it sounds rare. with Abbys mentality on just killing people alone.

    • Syndic

      Well, I’ll have to contest the ZERO ways of being killed permanently – at the very least, another ruler-class faerie could drain HER to zero, which would likely kill her permanently – and if it does not, scattering her body afterwards would complete the trick.

      It’s still something that’d be really hard to do, especially since she’ll also have allies, but nothing is truly unkillable. Or as red robot said it, “the one thing I admire about you humans is that you can destroy ANYTHING if you put your thoughtlessness to it” 😛

      Personally, I’m glad (for the story, not for Abby herself, obviously >_>) for that, and for the fact that Abby is suffering from the issues she has. A story with a protagonist that just gets more and more powerful and invincible is kinda fun to read at first while they still struggle, but soon becomes more and more boring. At that point, the author either has to come up with more and more insane threats for them to battle and more and more insane ways for the protagonist to win anyway (aka the dragon ball syndrome :P) or any conflict becomes just yet another masturbatory exercise of “this enemy that would normally be dangerous appears, but our superman protagonist vanquishes them with her awesomeness. She’s awesome. Did I mention that?”

      So for the sake of Midnight Moonlight remaining an interesting story, I am glad that Abby’s issues are as – at times – crippling as they are, even if it pains me for the character herself. I’m sure Eren could write a good poly romance (slash porn) story with an invincible Abby as centerpiece, but it would be by far inferior to the interesting fantasy story with romance (and porn) seasoning that we have here instead 🙂

      • Eren Reverie

        Ha! Thanks, Syndic. I think if it ever gets to that point it’ll be time to start a new series. 😉

        Yes, Abby isn’t truly invincible — there are a lot of things out there that ccan do serious damage to her, especially if they know what they’re dealing with. For instance, remember when Abby and Melvin were surrounded by Katherine’s faeries? Melvin couldn’t escape because they’d been ‘circled’ — he couldn’t use leylines leading to anyone outside of the circle. If Archarel had realized what he was dealing with and put Abby in that kind of circle, she wouldn’t have had access to all of her allies’ leylines and then he very well could have burst her soul apart by overflowing her aura.

        Lewellyn could have won in a similar way — had he used wards to bind her instead of a geas, he probably woulld have gotten away with draining her completely. It was the reaction between Abby stopping time and his geas not being complete that allowed Abby to turn the tables.

        Or what about when Abby went up against solocks for the first time? If they’d known everything she was capable of, they would’ve put a ward around her body and then she wouldn’t have been able to reanimate by draining Derrick while she was dormant.

        In fact… So far every big bad Abby ahs faced was defeated in part because she’s awesome and in part because she’s had allies to help her. Even Salvatore: Melvin dueled with Salvatore until Abby ccame back to life as a vampire, and even after that Hans shot Salvatore before he could wrestle her away from Megan’s blood.

        And then there are the things out there that Abby just doesn’t know about — those zombie ghosts seemed to make for a pretty close call, to me.

        So… yeah. Abby is awesome, I don’t think there’s anyone who wants to debate that. ;D But invincible? Nooooot quite there yet. 😛 Although, in another century or two…?

        Well, that would be spoilers.

      • as i said xD in theory. give her a century and maybe only the sun will be able to kill her.

        because abby’s soul is also part fae. although she has never actually critically died. wouldn’t her fae soul just resurrect in megans(part hers) kingdom? then all she has to do is pull life force and she can reconstruct her scattered body.

        if we are going with vampires draining her soul dry. are there even other vampires with their first blood being a changeling of all fae arch types?

        and the porns amazing. idk about other people but its vivid and i can imagine every part of it. i can really relate to their ecstasy( having done and experienced it my self. it is very well written lol~)

        • Haha. Fair enough. And I’m glad you’re enjoying the story and, er, porn. 😛 As for the rest, I cannot comment just in case it should happen to come up in the story itself, some day. 😉

  8. Renny

    So the plan was to re read a couple of chapters before bed with the intent of catching up soon. I figured I’d re start at book five. Now it’s 5.30 am.
    Your writing makes me happy. I giggle. Bite my knuckles. Occasionally get worked up. It also manages to resonate with my anxiety, somehow in a good way -bringing it to the fore as something more akin to anticipation, despite my actual experience being different from that portrayed.
    Anyway I am rambling. Write well and with joy. I shall continue reading when I wake.

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