Chapter 11. Origins III

“My master hated seeing me heartbroken.”

“He told me he was sorry that Tetsu had left me, and that he wanted to make everything right.”

“He told me he was going to go and talk to Tetsu personally, and I couldn’t believe it. My master had not left the house in over 100 years.”

“But he said he would do it. For me.”

“And then he disappeared for a few days.”

“He returned just before daybreak of the third night, and told me Tetsu was here. I was so anxious! All I had to do, Vlad said, was look out the window.”

“But I didn’t understand. Why was Tetsu locked in the graveyard? Vlad told me not to worry. He said that he loved me, and that he was doing this for me so Tetsu could never hurt me again. He said-“

Just enjoy the sunrise.”

“And then I realized what Vlad had turned Tetsu into.”

Zell was crying too hard to continue.

“Zell,” I said quietly, my heart aching. “You don’t have to keep going-“

“No, I want to,” he said, wiping the tears from his face. “I need to talk about it. I’ve never told anyone.”

I nodded, and Zell resumed his story.

“When Tetsu died because of me, something broke inside me, and I knew I had to get out of there.”

“But where could I go without money? As Vlad went to hibernate, I found myself staring up at the portrait in the parlor, and I had a dastardly idea.”

“The price of that painting couldn’t buy a mansion, but it was certainly enough to buy a small house. So I took it and left.”

“And that’s how I moved out. I thought Vlad would be angry and come after me, but for some reason, he didn’t. He did, however, keep inviting me to his dinner parties. But we never talked about Tetsu again, or about how I had betrayed Vlad.”

Zell took a shaky breath. I had never seen anyone look so remorseful.

“Zell, you need to listen to me right now.” I grabbed his shoulders. “Tetsu’s death was not your fault.”

Zell lowered his head to avoid my gaze, staring at the ground.

“The Count is abusive and manipulative,” I continued firmly. “He killed Tetsu because he’s evil.”

I embraced him and repeated it. “Tetsu’s death was not your fault, Zell.”

And then he suddenly melted into my arms.

I could feel Zell shaking uncontrollably in my arms, wracked with sobs.

But I held on to him tightly, and I didn’t let go.

8 thoughts on “Chapter 11. Origins III

  1. I love how supportive Benji is and how Benji just tells him the truth. The Count is abusive, manipulative, and evil. He murdered Zell’s friend. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, oh! Almost forgot that their couple name is this.

    Oh… godspeed, Zetsu. You’ll live on as one of the smoothest custom maps of all time. I apologize for defacing your memory with Beat Saber references.

    Look at that—Benji earned his §50! Excellent call on his part!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love how you reveal Zell’s story over a few chapters, giving it some space to actually be its own story instead of a compressed info dump. The emotions build up really well. I react with anger at Vlad, and deep concern for Zell. The screenshot of him looking up at Benji with tears in his eyes is touching, heartbreaking, and beautifully done. And it feels completely true because we’ve been allowed to make the full journey with him.

    I like Benji’s reaction and support of Zell.

    And, wow. This version of Vlad is… diabolical.

    As a side note, when I read this story the first time, I didn’t catch what it was that Zell was chuckling about looking at the space over the fireplace. But the second time through, at that diner party chapter, I caught it. Good planning and attention to detail. I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much ❤ I have so many feelings for these characters and am so happy someone else is on that journey with me! And the stars definitely aligned to catch that screenshot…

      Oh my gosh, I’d forgotten about the detail with the painting! Thrilled that you caught it!


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