Chapter 39: Flight

Gunther drove mindlessly out of Sunset Valley, not caring where he was headed. The gas tank indicator sank with the sun and still he drove, completely lost and completely uncaring. His head was a mess, he couldn’t think straight, and most of the time his vision was blurred by recurring tears.

“How could you do this to me?” he whispered, over and over into the emptiness of the car. Over and over until it became a wail of anguish as a thick bank of trees loomed up ahead.

Somehow, he’d found his way down a dirt track that led into a forest. Easing on the brakes, he looked around, sniffling. Snow had started falling and was settling on the windshield as the moon rose higher in the night sky. The gas tank was almost empty, and with a sinking feeling he realised that as he’d grabbed the car keys on his way out of the house he’d left his phone behind.

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7 responses

  1. I don’t think things are as awkward as I figured they’d be. Which is good for their relationship. I’m happy Gunther understands why Valois did what he did. Even though it was wrong and it doesn’t completely excuse what he did, its nice to know he understands.
    Wouldn’t Gunther have the same reaction to being asked considering he would still have to outlive his son? That’s what made him storm out in the first place and drive off into the unknown. Although, when he saw the color of the furniture he should have known who would be nearby. What a coincidence he just happened to find his house.

    Another random question: If Valois has children, would they also be powerful immortal witches? Not that I think he would, just wondering if everything would be passed on.

    • I think, for Gunther, being asked meant he would have had a choice. He would have been able to weigh the options, to talk it over with Mortimer beforehand, and to come to terms with the fact that he had the chance to be with Valois for eternity. To him, that would have been far more acceptable than what actually happened. Valois gave him no choice; he just went ahead and did it anyway. Gunther loves Valois so much that, had Valois simply asked him, he would very likely have said yes. Now, though, he feels betrayed because he’s been forced into it.

      The awkwardness is lessened because Gunther feels so out-of-kilter, and the reason for that will be explained in the next chapter. As to the red furniture, he’s so accustomed to seeing red all around him that it barely registers as unusual any more ;)

      Interesting question, re: the possbility of any children Valois might have being immortal witches. I can tell you they definitely would not be immortal. There’s a very specific reason for his immortality and it’s something he can’t just pass on in the manner of a mutated gene. Any children he had would, however, live longer than usual. Anyone who spends a lot of time around Valois will have their life extended by a proportionate number of years, purely because time is so twisted and messed-up around him (remember Cal and Ten, and how Curt wondered why Cal didn’t look any different than he did in the photos from 18 years before with his groupie mum?).

      Any children of Valois’s would be witches, yes. The Craft is handed down through generations and every child of a witch has some magic within them. As to how much of his power they would inherit, well that’s something even he’s not sure of. They wouldn’t be as powerful as he is for two reasons: 1) much of his power came directly from his father, and I can’t really explain that without giving away how he came to be immortal, and 2) a witch’s power increases the more they work at their craft. That’s why Valois never stops studying.

  2. When Gunther first pulled up to the creepy looking house, I had a bad feeling about it. As soon as I saw the red furniture, I connected it with Valois and knew he’d be OK.

    Now that Gunther realizes how old Valois is, it’s a double-edged sword. It gave Gunther some much-needed perspective on how long Valois has been lonely (and how desperate he was to keep Gunther in his life). But, did it occur to Gunther just how long he’s going to live? Immortality is great when everything’s going well and you and your partner are happy together. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a new relationship. Just a short while ago, Gunther was running away from Valois.

    When Valois asked Gunther whether he would’ve said yes, he must’ve been feeling pretty vulnerable. Gunther’s response hit me hard. I said (audibly), “Wow. Just. Wow.” Valois must’ve breathed a huge sigh of relief, even though Gunther hasn’t forgiven him for taking away his choice.

    • I think that immortality is such a huge thing that the human brain simply can’t wrap itself around it. I love to sit and contemplate the universe, the possibility of multiverses, quantum mechanics, and all that stuff. But there comes a point where – without an extensive knowledge of the kind of mathematics required for the real heavy lifting of physics – I just get lost and give up. Immortality is a similar thing, especially when you contemplate things such as the end of the world (and how it might end), whether they would somehow survive even that, and what their existence would be after that. (I would assume, in truth, that they would just live in the Veil after the world’s ending.) Poor Gunther gets confused enough by physics, so such advanced questions of time and spacetime etc would make his brain go, “Nuh-uh!” and turn to something nicer to think about XD

      Valois was feeling very vulnerable, yes. Since Gunther ran off he’s managed to pull himself together enough to present a calm and confident front, but inside he’s realising that Gunther is still very much his own person with his own stubborn impulsiveness. I rather suspect that Valois had thought Gunther was more malleable than he actually is. Yes he’s naturally submissive, but he’s also a businessman. There’s no way he would have risen to the position he’s reached at his relatively-young age without having made some hard-headed decisions. And, deep down, Valois knows that he’s done even worse to Gunther than making him immortal without asking. The fear of that coming to light is going to haunt him and it will colour everything he says and does from now on. If he admits it now, he knows he’ll lose Gunther for good, and he loves Gunther so much that he just can’t bear that thought.

      Gunther, too, loves Valois deeply. He was, quite literally, made for Valois. It took them a while to find each other, but if anything happened to split them apart neither of them would ever rest easy again. They need to be together, and the knowledge of that is what made Gunther say what he did at the end. He truly would have followed Valois to the ends of the earth. And Valois is now beginning to realise, also, that his lies and little twisted truths weren’t even necessary. He could have simply courted Gunther, and Gunther would have fallen for him. The only problem with that would have been he’d have lost Gunther eventually to old age and death. And, if he’d managed to pull Gunther away from Cornelia without Cornelia having the chance to bear the child that Valois exchanged for Gunther’s immortality… what could he have given to the Lords instead? The only other precious thing in Gunther’s world is Mortimer…

      (God, I don’t write replies to comments; I write whole novels – lol!)

      • Thank you for the novel! I crave the extra insight your replies bring.

        The whole physics thing was a complete debacle for me in high school. And for a student who always got high grades, it was eye opening. I avoided the sciences as much as possible in college. LOL. I understand how Gunther would get lost in the complexity of immortality other than as a vague concept. Makes perfect sense to me now.

        Oh, God — the baby! You have me so wrapped up in Valois & Gunther’s relationship that I’d totally forgotten about that. That is HUGE and could very well be a deal breaker. Valois will have to tread very carefully indeed.

  3. Awww poor Gunther, running out of gas. When he saw that big majestic house, I thought it was a manifestation of something Valois conjured so that Gunther would not freeze out in the cold, but it being Valois’ real house in the Veil was just as good of a revelation.
    That is so sweet, that Gunther said he would have said yes if Valois had just asked. Poor Valois, LOL, I see in this chapter how desperate he must have felt about losing Gunther, so desperate that he didn’t even think to ask, as if he didn’t want the possibility of Gunther saying no to even be an option.

    • This chapter, and the end of the last, were the first hints of just how desperately lonely Valois has been. He’s deeply in love with Gunther, and he’s known (for practically all of Gunther’s life) that this man was all-but his soulmate. The sad thing is that–thanks to his past–Valois was too scared to ask outright, and so he lied. Only now is he coming to realise that if he’d been honest and upfront, Gunther would have given up mortality for him. And so now Valois has to deal with that ever-nagging little presence of Gunther’s daughter in the back of his mind. The worry of Gunther ever finding out about what he did with her is going to haunt his thoughts forever, so he’s never going to know peace :/

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