The Morphée Hill Manor House

By -
published June 22, 2021
11949 words

Eamon accepts a dare to enter the Morphée Hill Manor House and steal something, but the Manor’s owner is at home for the first time in thirteen years.

The Manor House up on Morphée Hill in my hometown of Melilot was abandoned when I was still a kid, at the tail end of the Virisean War. We woke up one day and all activity at the Manor had ceased. The owner didn’t even bother to clear it out. Everyone was just gone, including the night-time servants.

Mostly, the strangeness of it was forgotten in the confusion of the end of the war. Hell, I don’t even know if there was an investigation. Many agreed that the owner, a Mister Tarquin Eszhauten, must have been up to something nefarious — was maybe even a spy for the other side. There were a lot of rumours about Eszhauten. But, there was the business of remaking their lives to tend to. So people moved on, forgetting the disappearance except to tell the tale from time to time when they were in their cups, gathered around a fire. When they got really drunk, some told stories about the raucous parties that they had attended at the Manor House. Otherwise, none of our families or elders spoke of it.

Now, our town wasn’t all that big, to begin with, and we hadn’t seen as much destruction in the war as most of the surrounding townships. Pure luck, I used to think. These days, I have some other ideas. At any rate, with so many of our youth shipping out, the war had brought some strangeness to our small-town existence, interrupted the natural flow of things while it lasted. Mostly, when it was over, people were able to resume whatever it was that they had been doing before. So, there wasn’t much work in a town our size. With a bunch of young adults who had been expected to go off to war, along with another cohort freshly back, roving gangs of bored youth formed.

The Manor House was easily our nicest and biggest building, after the Temple. You can probably guess what kind of initiation rites and other trouble our little gangs thought up. We would dare each other to go into the Manor at night and take something to bring back. If we were feeling especially wild, we might hold a small gathering inside the manor itself — nothing that would draw the attention of the constabulary, you understand, but enough to make ourselves feel high on our own daring, enough to make us feel like the masters of our domain.

Surprisingly, destruction was never one of the dares that came up. We stole, sure, but not a single window was broken by a rock, not a single dish or cup smashed in the way that young people are wont to do when they’re testing their boundaries and have no supervision. By and large, the manor retained its splendour. It was too rich and too full of treasures for our silly games to affect it all that much.

By the time I was twenty-four, I must have participated in at least a hundred or so of these different little excursions to the Morphée Hill Manor House. It was the month before I turned twenty-five, around thirteen years after he disappeared, that Tarquin Eszhauten rode back into town with a few trusted servants and reclaimed his property.

The Manor House was once again lit up by more than just our furtive candles. But Eszhauten didn’t hire back any of the townspeople who used to work at the House thirteen years ago. He also gave no sign that he intended to resume hosting his famous dinner parties, the ones that people only now began to speak of again freely, as though their memories of them had been unlocked with his return.

Was I drunk when I accepted a final dare on the night of my birthday celebrations to enter the Manor House with Tarquin Eszhauten inside of it? Of course I was. My apprenticeship with the Builders Guild was over, and I had been recommended to go to the Capitol for training as a civil engineer and architect. My time in our sleepy little town was at an end, at least for the meanwhile, and this was my farewell party, my very drunken swan song for my time as a disobedient youth. From here on out, I’d be responsible for myself. So, naturally, we all thought one last dare was the perfect send-off. Anyway, everyone in the Manor would be asleep and I knew the building’s entrances and exits probably as well as Eszhauten himself — probably better. I knew which windows squeaked from having been left to go to pot for thirteen years, knew the sightlines between different rooms, knew which floorboards had a creak to them.

I did not feel the chill of the wind as I walked the switchback road up to the Manor, surrounded by my friends, all of us trying to be as stealthy as a pack of drunkards can, which is to say there was a lot of suppressed laughter, falling into bushes, and exaggerated shushing. They left me one kilometre away from the grounds proper. They said they would wait there, but when the night grew colder and they began to sober up, I suspected that most of them would leave.

From there, I made my lonesome way to the Wellhouse at the edge of the property. The lock on the building was busted and had yet to be changed. I supposed that Eszhauten had other priorities. This was all to the good because there was a covered corridor leading from the Wellhouse to the main building, for the servants’ use in winter. Oddly enough, it felt like coming home, in a way. I had done a lot of growing up in that Manor, especially the kind that matters to a young man. My first drink had been in that very Wellhouse. My first fight had finished in the back garden pond, with both me and my opponent sopping wet. I had given my virginity to Sebastian Merrill in the Master bedroom, and many other firsts besides (truth be told, Sebastian was very charming). I’m not saying that I knew every inch of the place, but it was close enough as to make no matter.

The corridor smelled earthy and damp, and I had not brought anything to light my way. At the time, I had told myself that this would minimize my chance of discovery, but I also hadn’t wanted to leave the party to go get a lantern. At this point, the idea of sneaking into the manor for one last cheeky hurrah no longer seemed like quite as much fun. Instead, it had become a sort of solemn duty to prove that I had the stones, even if there was in fact no one there to witness it. Like I said, this birthday boy was drunk.

Feeling my way along the rough stone in the darkness, I tried to count my paces but I found my mind wandering. I knew what I intended to take that night. In one of the second-floor sitting rooms, there was a wooden cabinet of curiosities, with large glass windows revealing what was inside. It was what we locals would have called a kunstkammer. Curiously, it had remained largely untouched through the years. I think we came to consider it our own collection since its original owners seemed to have abandoned it. We took some pride in the Manor, even though it was never really ours, and taking people to see some of its treasures was a good way to impress newcomers.

Inside that cabinet was a figurine.

It was made of some translucent black material with a slight shimmer to it and silver flecks that reminded me of the night sky. The figure was humanoid, wearing robes, and holding its hands pressed together in front of it as though in prayer. The unusual thing about it was the head and shoulders: this figurine had a large lobed head with many tentacles where a man might have a long beard. Its eyes were especially captivating — through some trick of perspective, no matter where you were in the room, you couldn’t help but see the glint of light off those orbs. I had never opened the cabinet because I wanted the figurine to remain where it was. It seemed…safer somehow. But now, I found myself coveting it.

As I continued down the Wellhouse hall, occupied by those thoughts, a jagged bit of brick sliced deeply into the pad of my ring finger, causing me to hiss and draw back as a trickle of warm blood ran down my wrist.

“Ah, fuck,” I muttered and reached for the (mostly) clean handkerchief in my pocket. I raised the hand above my heart and maintained pressure as I continued down the hallway. This took both hands, so my progress slowed further because I could no longer guide myself along. It was a few minutes more before I reached the door at the end of the long corridor, sensing it in the darkness and stopped short, narrowly avoiding smacking into it.

Even bathed in moonlight, with no other light to speak of, it was clear that the Manor was transformed. Tarquin Eszhauten and his retinue had undone years of damage, even if they hadn’t gotten around to fixing the Wellhouse lock yet. The floors fairly gleamed, and I hesitated to step onto them. I took off my muddy boots and carried them in my uninjured hand, thinking to make my time here short. As I padded across the floor toward the sitting room, I couldn’t help but wonder at how different the Manor looked and felt now that it was once again inhabited and, well, clean. It was also utterly silent — far different from the noisy delinquent parties that I had attended here.

I paused in the foyer, staring up at an oil portrait of Tarquin Eszhauten, looking regal and put-together, that I must have passed a hundred times before. His hair was golden-hued, his eyes a mixture that I decided to call hazel. A cut jaw, a wry smile — he was every inch the rich aristocrat. I had little interest in his portrait when I had thought him dead and gone, or as good as.

Though I was too young to remember much about him, Eszhauten now occupied my thoughts. Where had he gone for thirteen years? Was it true that he was some sort of spy? Why had he returned now? His home had been central to my life, but he himself was conspicuous through his absence, looming large in my imaginings of what it would be like to have so much, to actually live in a place like the Morphée Hill Manor House. I was unlikely to be privy to the answers to those questions since I was leaving the town and had no intention of returning, except maybe for a holiday visit from time to time.

I made my way without further incident to the sitting room and the cabinet of curiosities, though I gawked at the freshly-laundered curtains, the gleaming cornices and colonnades, the statues that felt so lifelike in the dark. The figurine stared at me from within its enclosure, glittering in the moonlight. I opened the cabinet, its door unexpectedly smooth and silent on oiled hinges. Because I was holding my boots, I had to take the figurine with the hand that I had hastily wrapped in my handkerchief. The stone of the carved figure, whatever the material was, was cool to the touch, but seemed to warm quickly in my grip.

Even the light pressure of holding the figurine reopened my cut — it was in a bad spot, being near a joint that I had to bend to do just about anything with that hand. A droplet of blood hit the base of the figurine and I quickly wiped it as best as I could, one-handed, against my shirt. Then, I put it in my front pocket, where it sat peering out into the darkness.

When I turned away from the cabinet, I saw the flickering flame of a candle on the main staircase. Had I been heard? I had no way of bypassing those stairs if I intended to go out the way that I came. I had chosen that way for its discretion.

Then, the light came bobbing toward me, with the gentle shuffling of slippered feet. I hid behind one of the curtains at the window — the drawing room didn’t have much else to conceal myself with. The light turned at the last possible second before entering. According to my mental map of the manor, this meant that this person was headed to the adjoining study, still in full view of the stairs. The longer I waited, the greater the risk of discovery, as it was already well into the wee hours, and servants typically rose early to get on with the day’s work. Who knew how long it would be before they left the study again?

While that person remained in the study, I would not be leaving this room by the door that I entered. I glanced out the window, seeking an alternate path. Luckily for me, there was a trellis just outside the window, flowering vines already covering it. I hoped these would provide me with some cover from the study window, which shared a wall with the sitting room. I slipped on my boots.

The window was thankfully one of the silent ones, still in fairly good repair, and I lowered myself toward the trellis. It occurred to me then that the trellis was on the outside of the manor, and while the inside was in good repair now, other outside details like the Wellhouse had not yet been tended to. Had they thought to fix up some trellis at the side of the building? I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice, and with my path set, I put my weight on the first lattice crosspiece. Once I was hanging from it, I couldn’t help but glance over into the study to see what servant had decided to clean out the fireplace or dust the shelves or whatever inane task that had left me trapped in the sitting room at three o’clock in the morning.

It was Tarquin Eszhauten, sitting at his desk with a pen in hand.

He looked far younger than I had expected from his reputation and history in the town — no older than his mid-thirties, and still unfairly handsome. And…maybe it was the drink or my tired eyes, but his face seemed to shimmer as though reflecting shadows off a pool of water. His candle distorted his features, and it was almost as though a second face peered out from beneath his own.

Then, Tarquin’s face turned smoothly, and his eyes met mine. That strange candlelight illusion seemed to make his face look something like the figurine in my pocket, shifting between colours and forms. I ducked, trying to lower myself to hide among the vines before his eyes could register me, and that was when the rotten crosspiece gave out below me, and I tumbled toward the ground.

When I awoke, my right ankle was wrapped tight and my right arm was in a sling. Both were throbbing with pain. The rest of my body felt stiff, especially my neck and back. My clothing was gone, but the little figurine that I had stolen was sitting on a nightstand beside me.

“It’s called an Illithid,” said an amused voice to my left. It had a rich, full sound, and I found myself hoping that it would continue. A painful glance toward it confirmed that it was Tarquin Eszhauten, fluffy golden-brown hair practically shimmering in the harsh sunlight from the nearby window, making my eyes ache. I turned away, looking back to the figurine. “An interdimensional being said to be skilled in illusion and trickery, capable of controlling the minds of any foolish enough to allow them an opening.”

I thought it safer not to say anything, and anyway, I couldn’t think of a thing to say. Eszhauten seemed quite serious — with no hint that he was referring to a creature out of a book or anything of the like.

“It’s a beautiful piece. I had it commissioned. You’re welcome to it, if you’re so drawn to it that you would go to such extreme lengths to acquire it. You’re one of the local boys — we haven’t met yet, have we, Eamon Renard-Caron?”

I turned toward him in my surprise, and I paid for it, twinges of pain reverberating through me. Eszhauten’s frown seemed genuine. “Oh, yes. You’ll find movement quite painful for some time. My physician tells me that you’re lucky your landing wasn’t worse. Would you like something for the pain, Eamon?”

He had yet to mention my trespassing, beyond the passing comment about the statue. I wondered if anyone knew that I was there and whether my parents had been contacted. But the pain was more insistent than my questions. “Yes, please. I’m…sorry to trouble you.”

Eszhauten shook his head and rose to his feet, his shadow on the wall towering above me, wavering with the quickness of his movement, even in the full sun. He went to a side table and began to mix honey in with a thickish, clear liquid. “It’s no trouble. I’ve more bedrooms than I know what to do with. You may as well stay here while you recover — I’ve attendants and a nurse on-staff. The care will be far superior to what you can expect in sleepy little Melilot’s clinic.”

“You haven’t yet mentioned my…trespassing, Mister Eszhauten,” I said, some part of me still very concerned that I might have ruined my chance to leave this place and take my spot amongst the engineers, that I might be arrested for harassing the richest man in town.

“I am given to understand that it was your birthday, and that you were quite drunk, my boy,” said Eszhauten with a dismissive wave of his hand, casting fluttering shadows on the wall. “Both your friends and your parents were very clear that this isn’t typical behaviour for you, and that you’ve got quite the head on your shoulders. Anyway, being stuck abed with only me and my servants for company should serve as punishment enough, and I’ve already told you, you’re welcome to your prize.” At this, he gestured again to the figurine on the nightstand.

Eszhauten then returned to my bedside and offered me the mixture. He made as though to offer his other hand as well for a shake, then drew it back, seeming to remember my arm. “Silly me. You may as well call me Tarquin, Eamon.”

“Tarquin, then,” I said, and took the mixture from him.

Even covered up with a generous amount of honey, the taste of the medicine was bitter. I swallowed it down as quickly as I could, and almost immediately felt a bit better. Eszhauten was there to take the glass from me. His long, elegant fingers brushing up against mine were unexpectedly chilly. “There you are. I expect you’ll want to rest now.”

It seemed like no time before I faded back into sleep.

I dreamt vividly.

I seemed to live a whole other life in those dreams, strange though they were. All I remember now are disjointed images, disconnected events. I stood inside of the kunstkammer naked, and was scooped up by what Tarquin Eszhauten had called an Illithid. I stared into its eyes and its glittering gaze was like a physical caress. Those eyes held all the stars of the night sky and more. Galaxies and nebulae swirled inside of them, and I was pulled inside as though they were a gateway. Each bright planet resonated with its own note, a melody of dancing spheres, circular windows that peered into the daily existence of creatures that I had no names for. Then, I was looking at myself from the inside, being pulled apart and then remade. I felt exposed, as though every part of me was known by some entity larger than myself — perhaps the cosmos at large. That was what it was like to be seen by the Illithid.

Another time, I watched as Eszhauten (Tarquin, my mind whispered) mixed together honey with some strange iridescent purplish slime, aglow with stars, dotted with planets. I wondered if this was what I had been consuming in the medicine that Tarquin fed me in my waking periods, and whether it was ambrosia or poison. He poured this strange mixture through a golden funnel into a small pot with a long, narrow spout. He came to me in my borrowed bed and tilted my head to one side. I was helpless to do anything about it, unable to move, as though a heavy weight sat on my chest, as though my limbs were anchored.

Into my left ear, he poured those living, coiling contents. They penetrated my head, soaking into my grey matter, marinating my thoughts in cold wonder and ecstasy. With a long, metal syringe, he penetrated my right ear, drawing up some part of me that he judged I no longer needed. This, he ate with relish. Removing the needle, he put the barrel into his mouth and began to suck on it in the same way that I had once sucked off Sebastian Merrill in one of these very rooms. Inside his mouth, that metal barrel seemed to soften to an almost flesh-like firmness, and he coaxed out whatever he had taken from me with his unnaturally-long tongue, relishing it. It swirled around the shaft, squeezing and pushing the contents down his throat.

And then, perhaps influenced by my thoughts of Sebastian, I found Tarquin Eszhauten’s phallus pressed to my cheek, rubbing up against it, brushing my lips. I moistened them and pulled it into my mouth, and I felt as though that dick was penetrating something more than just my throat. It was as though I could feel it inside my brain, pushing around my thoughts, rearranging them and leaving more room for whatever it was I was being repurposed for. I swallowed and sucked and licked and delighted in the flavour of Tarquin’s pre-cum. He flooded my mouth with his cum, and it poured down my chin, making me look as though I had drooled on myself.

He didn’t seem to speak aloud, but I heard his voice in my head all the same. ‘You look good like that, Eamon. Like you’ve quite literally had your mind fucked out of your skull.’

I came awake then, some actual drool at the corner of my mouth. I remember little waking periods like that one — the normal scenes of convalescence. Though my dreams were dark and strange, Tarquin never treated me with anything less than patient kindness, and I was grateful for his attentive ministrations. Tarquin would make sure that I had enough water to drink, and that I ate all of the poached eggs that his servants cooked for me. Always, he mixed my medicine himself. Slowly, under his care, I was getting better, my bones reknitting, my flesh healing.

But always, there were those dreams, and they may have been the most important signal of all that something in me was already changing. Dreams where I floated down rivers of stars through circular gateways, dreams where I lay at the feet of unimaginably large creatures and listened to them as they told me who I would become (and I could never remember the answer when I awoke), dreams where Tarquin and others siphoned insubstantial smoke-like liquids from my brain and consumed them. Even when I no longer needed quite so much in the way of pain management, the dreams persisted.

I was at the Morphée Hill Manor House for a month when Tarquin’s physician finally deemed me fit enough to return home to finish convalescing there. A good friend of mine, Ramsey, arrived to pick me up at the door, and Tarquin pressed the strange black figurine into my hand and clapped an arm around my shoulder before we left. “Be well, Eamon. I’ll patiently await your return. Don’t be a stranger.”

“So then, you’re back amongst us peasants,” said Ramsey brightly. “Mister Eszhauten seemed pretty friendly with you. What was that he gave you?”

I walked along slowly, my crutches digging into my armpits even with the generous padding. Thankfully, my arm was healed, even though my ankle would take another few weeks to be fully capable of holding my weight for my usual activities. “The thing I came to nab on my birthday. He said I could keep it.”

“That was one hell of a night. He came down the hill and asked us what your name was and where to find your family. None of us said anything, of course,” said Ramsey, which must have been a lie since Tarquin had gotten my name from somewhere. “Then he went on his way, sent word into town that you had been injured celebrating your birthday, and that you couldn’t be moved. A doctor showed up, with the constabulary, and they told us all to go home.”

I realized then that I hadn’t even thought to contact my parents in one of my periods of lucidity, all month long. It was as though I had forgotten their existence. I supposed it was to be expected — the oh-so-necessary painkillers had left me with cotton for brains. I shivered at my own choice of metaphor as I vaguely remembered my dreams. “Shit. My parents.”

“Oh, actually, guess you’ve got Eszhauten to thank for that. He’s been keeping your family up-to-date on your progress. Near as I can tell from what your mom has been saying, he didn’t even tell them what actually happened. He just said that you were up for a visit and that part of the house that hadn’t been repaired yet gave way.”

“Close enough, I guess. The rich really are different, huh? He didn’t seem mad at all,” I said, thinking aloud.

“Maybe he has a thing for you,” said Ramsey, fluttering his eyelashes. “I heard those parties of his used to be wild orgies. Did you have any wild orgies?”

I blushed and fell silent. Ramsey noted my silence, his lips parting in surprise. “You’re supposed to laugh — I was kidding. You didn’t — not with your leg and arm and all — did you?”

“Of course not,” I found my mouth saying. “I was just surprised you’d bring something like that up.”

Ramsey grinned and seemed like he was about to give me a playful shove before he remembered, well, everything. “I saw the way you were looking at him. Admit it, you find him attractive.”

Though I remembered only little, Tarquin had cared for me for almost a month, so I supposed it made sense that I had some fond feelings toward him. I’ve heard that happens sometimes with patients and their caretakers. I shrugged, and Ramsey’s grin widened, but he didn’t press me further.

By the time that we reached my room in the town, I had exhausted my reserves and was ready to sleep again. Someone had been by to clean the place and had left fresh-cut flowers in a vase on the table. They seemed to be in the lotus family, with deep purple blooms, speckled with white. Their odour permeated the place, possibly covering the scents of anything that had been left unattended for a month. There was a card nestled in them. Leaning my crutches against the table, I picked it up while Ramsey fetched a pair of pyjamas and put the kettle on. I knew right away that I would never hear the end of it if I let him see the message:

’To my unexpected guest,

May the rest of your convalescence be as brief as the bloom of these flowers and twice as sweet.

Fondly, Tarquin Eszhauten’

Tarquin. He seemed to know me better than I knew him. But for all I knew, we had talked for hours, and my pain medicine had robbed me of the recollection. Pulling the figurine from my pocket, I set it at my bedside, in the same position relative to me where it had kept vigil for the past month. I told myself that I would find a spot for it the next day. Ramsey helped me change, made me a cup of tea, and left.

That night, my strange, vivid dreams returned.

In them, I awoke to find myself ravenously hungry, and my room was filled with lotus blooms. Their scent was tantalizing, and I began to shove them into my mouth by the handful, chewing them and swallowing them. They released sweet, honey-like juice into my mouth, and this, too, I swallowed. The juices ran down my chin in rivulets, coating my neck and chest. I felt weighed down; I could not move my limbs. The scent overwhelmed me, and my thoughts slowed.

The figure at my side seemed to grow in my peripheral vision, and I heard sibilant speech in my ear…No, not in my ear, exactly. The voice was inside my thoughts. It whispered to me, telling me my place was in Melilot, that the Morphée Manor House had an open spot in its cabinet of curiosities.

There was more, but of course I can’t fully recall it now. Spheres and circles, doorways to places unknown. When I awoke, the lotus flowers were still on the table, except for one stem, which lay on my pillow, the flower missing.

All that month, I kept intending to find a spot for the figurine at the earliest opportunity, but it was as though it only came to mind when I was already cozily settled into bed. My dreams also continued, even after I stopped the remaining pain medicine. I thought that maybe staring at the strange figurine around bedtime wasn’t doing me any favours. It had an unsettling appearance, and what I remembered of my dreams was disturbing.

When I was well enough, I took the figurine and walked slowly back up to the Manor House. When I came in by the front gate, I saw that the grounds had regained a splendour that I had never known them to have, but that others in the town spoke of with wonder. Everything seemed to be in full bloom at once, and the repairs that had yet to be done when I had last been there were now complete.

Tarquin himself greeted me at the door with a hearty handshake and stepped back to allow me to enter. “Eamon, welcome home — that is, to my home.”

“Thank you,” I said, and held up the little figurine. “I couldn’t shake the feeling that you have an empty spot in your cabinet of curiosities. Thank you for your kindness, but I think that this fellow would be more at home with you.”

Tarquin’s face fell. “You don’t like it?”

“Oh, no, I…I’m leaving town, and I won’t be around to enjoy it,” I dissembled.

“Well, you can take it with you, as a reminder of home,” said Tarquin brightly. “I want you to keep it by your side until you’re safely back. Then we can fill the empty place amidst my curiosities.”

I left with the figurine still in hand. At the door, Tarquin squeezed my shoulder and wished me luck with my studies. I briefly thought that Ramsey might be right, that I had feelings for the older man. That touch made me shiver, and I walked down the road with my cock bouncing up and down against my leg.

The longer I stayed among the engineers and architects at the Capitol, the more I realized that I was ill-suited for city life. Melilot called me. Every night, I dreamt about the town, with Morphée Hill rising in the middle of it, like a pearl still in the shell. The noise of the city exhausted me, and the people there seemed abrasive and ill-mannered. I thought that some of it must be homesickness at first, but the feeling never went away.

I was determined to finish my studies so that I could help improve Melilot — help to make it match the beauty of that beacon on its most prominent hill. And I would be good at it — I was well-suited to the work of civil engineering and architectural design, and my mentors told me that they foresaw greatness for me.

As I approached my graduation, the dreams changed. At first, as I studied for my final examinations, I dreamt of architectural design and the tall buildings of the city. But some unseen force impressed its influence upon me, impatiently returning my eyes homeward again and again. Soon, I was dreaming of building something else entirely alien to me that would not be denied. I began to have intrusive visions of how I would transform Melilot, of the sacred geometry that would allow them into our world. What had been siphoned away and consumed from my brain was now being replaced with new knowledge that better suited the role that I had been training for. I spent the time when I was not studying sketching plans for the buildings that I would make, filling notebook after notebook — beautiful structures, each with their own hidden power. Forming…what? I thought maybe a gate of some kind, though I didn’t know for sure. I didn’t even know who they were — that understanding was locked within my subconscious, clear to me only in my dreams.

Tarquin Eszhauten, too, was central to my thoughts of Melilot. Even now, I can see how my memories of family and friends are flattened, as insubstantial as a morning mist, as though the twenty-five years that I had lived in the town was only a prologue to Tarquin’s return and subsequent presence in my life. The most vivid parts of my memory are of Morphée Hill. I recognize now, as then, that I have been very much changed.

I thought more of Tarquin than my other loved ones, as I approached the time that I would finally return for good to Melilot, three years since I had first left it. Nevertheless, when I did return, I hugged my mother and toasted my success with my friends, many of whom were returning from studies of their own. We feasted together in the public park on Morphée Hill, graciously maintained by Mr. Eszhauten’s people. The Builders’ Guild leaders expressed surprise that I had returned to Melilot to stay, for I had always expressed frustration at its smallness. I told them that I had matured some, and now saw the potential in being able to help bring out the best of our little town.

That night, I placed the stone figurine at my bedside. I noticed that it had gathered a few spots of road dust — not trusting it to my case, I had carried it in my front pocket for the journey home. Taking the edge of my shirt, I rubbed it clean and then put it back on the nightstand. It gleamed in the candlelight, and I found myself staring at it for a while, my eyes roving over its form, the planes and curves resolving themselves into something new, a structure made up of circles and spirals that I immediately drew in my sketchbook as though compelled by an unseen force. I only realized what I had done when I was finished. Then, my hand cramping, my entire being exhausted, I went to sleep.

That night, I did not dream for the first time in three years, though what happened when I awoke from my sleep felt unreal, like I was inhabiting another reality. When the night sky was still fully dark, I awoke and left my bed as though I was being pulled from it. Unthinkingly, I took the figurine from my bedside. It was warm in my hand, warmer than it had any right to be, but I could not put it down. As I held it, it melted. The iridescent flecks and inky black substance spread over my arm and ran upward. Then, the substance was gone, absorbed into my skin, and leaving behind an otherworldly tattoo: incomprehensible geometric designs, ink-like black linework with iridescent flecks and delicate shading, which I grew lost in as I tried to trace their paths. They seemed endless, spiraling into unknown dimensions and curving back around each other in an infinite loop, fractals spinning inwards or outwards, depending on your point of view.

I was ashamed and upset at the loss of the figurine, which did not truly belong to me. I lit my little lantern, and I began to walk to Morphée Hill like a somnambulist, my body no longer within my control. I wondered if I was still asleep, but the chill night air disillusioned me of any lingering belief that I was dreaming. I picked my way carefully up the switchback road, my body knowing the way, even though I had been at the Capitol for so long.

There was a lantern lit in the mansion’s foyer. I hesitated about whether to knock or simply enter, knowing somehow that Tarquin was up waiting for me, but not wanting to disturb his servants. Now that I was here, the strange hold on my body ended, and I was fully in control of what came next. In the end, I could not bring myself to simply enter, so I knocked lightly.

Tarquin opened the door, tilting his head at me curiously. “Eamon. You’ve come home.”

I was melancholy as I held up my arm, still sleep-muddled and rather maudlin. “I’ve lost your figurine, Tarquin. I don’t know how, but it’s gone.”

Tarquin took my hand gently, then, and held it out away from my body, inspecting the lines carefully, running his fingers over them. I shivered at the touch. Then, Tarquin pulled in closer toward me, a smile at his lips, eyes like deep inky pools in the dark, teeth gleaming white. Again, his face seemed to flicker in the candlelight, a curious doubling coming over his features. “Well then, you’ll just have to take its place, won’t you, Eamon?”

“Sorry, what?” I did not try to draw back, but I was trying to understand what he could mean.

He laughed, and his features resolved into something mostly human again. “Oh, Eamon. It’s all right, about the figurine. I’m much more interested in you. Tell me, how was your time in the Capitol?”

He walked me further into the manor, to one of the sitting rooms.

We spoke until the sunlight peeked out from the horizon. Tarquin was an excellent listener, and he was eager to hear about my plans for transforming Melilot and bringing it into the modern era. What’s more, he had pull in the town, and opinions of his own that only seemed to improve my ideas.

At the end of our conversation, Tarquin licked his lips and reached out a hand to touch the side of my face. “Eamon, I’m glad that you’re home. May I kiss you?”

This felt as though it should have been surprising and awkward, but I had dreamed of this moment in the days before my return. I wondered if I had fallen asleep at the manor house. But I nodded and leaned toward him. He had preoccupied my thoughts for months, my feelings walking the line between fear of the unknown and anticipation, between confusion and attraction.

When our tongues met, for this was no chaste kiss, they locked around each other, and Tarquin pulled my tongue into his mouth, sucking on it. His tongue was agile, able to curve and curl to stroke my own delightfully. I found myself wondering what it would be like to have it on my cock or at my neck, imagining it right at the juncture of my shoulder, licking at my trapezius.

Then, Tarquin pulled away, smoothing my hair as he did so. “Delicious.”

I looked into his changing face, lit by candles and the coming sun. I couldn’t tell what colour his eyes were, or what expression he was making. What I did know is that I wanted more than anything to be there with him, to remake our small corner of the world together.

“You should get some rest,” Tarquin suggested, pointing to one of the larger couches. I yawned, suddenly feeling the effects of an entire night of intimate talk.

I awoke a few hours later to the sound of soft, sibilant voices. They sounded close, as though they were in the room with me, but I could not see the speakers or make out what they were saying. It was as if they were just around the corner, just behind a curtain, the next room over. Did Tarquin have company over?

I rose to my feet and tried to track the voices. When I went toward the door of the sitting room, they seemed further away. I turned back toward the center of the room as quietly as I could, and listened, my eyes widening at their words. Beside me, lounging in the chaises of the sitting room and on the couch that I had just vacated, I could just barely see unresolved shapes and shadows if I squinted. These looked something like the figurine that I had kept at my side these past three years, with long robes and large-lobed heads, dangling appendages growing from their faces. These were the beings I had seen in my dreams. Illithids, Tarquin had called them. I held my breath uneasily, wondering if they could see me and focusing on them until my eyes began to ache. When none of them reacted to my presence, I exhaled carefully. I relaxed my eyes and saw nothing but the sunlight streaming in through the window. But I could still hear their voices.

Now that I knew that they did not seem to be able to perceive me, I was more curious than fearful. I had been wondering what was happening to me ever since Tarquin had first returned to Melilot and I had taken on that foolish dare. So, I kept listening.

“The Preceptor worked better than intended. The keystone to this dimension has revealed itself sooner than anticipated,” said one, sounding surprised. What were they on about?

“Yes, though I almost wish that it hadn’t…It’s a lovely place, isn’t it? And it’s delightful to have the run of it. These townsfolk are delicious in their simple lusts,” said another, and I knew the voice as Tarquin’s.

“Watch what you say, T’rrqu’en — someone might take exception to you wanting to keep this part of reality all to yourself,” responded a third.

“Well, nobody has to know, since we’re ahead of schedule, right? Why don’t we enjoy a little bit more time amongst these ones — a reward for our success,” said Tarquin.

“Perhaps the plans should be reviewed. If they bloomed early, perhaps they’re incomplete. Study them to confirm that they contain the seed pattern, won’t you, T’rrqu’en?” said the first.

“With pleasure,” said Tarquin, and suddenly his body resolved itself into a solid, fully-human shape. I would have had my head resting in his lap, had I stayed lying on the couch. The others had disappeared, their conclave complete. Tarquin looked across the room at me searchingly.

I froze.

“So, you heard all that, did you, Eamon?” said Tarquin, a smile returning to his face. “No matter — you won’t be able to tell anyone about it.”

When Tarquin said this, I knew it was true. His saying the words made it so — a barrier forming in my mind between the knowledge and my ability to speak it.

“I thought you would be asleep for a while yet. I apologize for my carelessness,” Tarquin continued, and patted a spot on the settee.

I could feel a sort of chilly, soothing presence in the back of my mind. I was drawn to the spot, my feet shuffling forward without my say-so. When I sat down, Tarquin entwined his fingers in my hair. I looked into his handsome face, searching for signs of the shadowy, tentacle-faced creature I had seen before.

“I am a harbinger of sorts,” said Tarquin calmly. “And I was sent to Melilot to prepare the way for my fellows. I’ve been here for some time now — almost sixty years. There’s a certain artefact that we use to…”

I felt a few probing tendrils of sorts inside my mind, a kind of rummaging as…something…read my innermost thoughts. Still, I felt no urge to speak.

“Right. So, I was here to investigate your dimension and help create a…doorway of sorts, a gate. Every doorway has two sides, an inside and an out. You’re going to build the inside of this one.”

Tarquin gripped my wrist and pulled up the sleeve of my shirt, revealing the wild geometric patterns that had embedded themselves in my skin.

“Through the Preceptors, we combine a part of ourselves with the local inhabitants of a dimension in order to reveal the…architectural secrets for just what such a doorway ought to be, in the reality we find ourselves in. Every dimension differs. But it takes an architect of great skill. Our artefact, the Preceptor, chooses its own…target…to meld with. This one chose you. It called to you. And eventually, you answered. Here is the end result.”

In the glass coffee table, I noted that my reflection’s arm was bare. I surmised that the markings were invisible except to us. Tarquin let go of my arm, and sighed. “But it’s too soon, Eamon. Your world is so much fun. And we were just getting to know each other, you and I. Things will change when my people arrive. I’ve decided to prolong our time together ahead of that. You’ll still have to build what your mind tells you — it’s your nature, now. Like a carpenter ant. But I will delay to the very end.”

Suddenly, I slumped a little as I regained control of my body — had been returned control of my body. I hadn’t realized that I didn’t have it until it was back. My perspective shifted dizzily, as though I had a blocked ear underwater that suddenly equalized its pressure. My limbs tingled vaguely, as though I had been lying on them, constricting blood flow. Then, I let out a breath that I didn’t realize I had been holding. I felt sick to my stomach, but alongside that, there was fascination. I was excited by the prospect of building something so powerful with my art that it could open a gateway to another dimension. I did not want any harm to come to Melilot, to our dimension. I could only hope that this was not their intention.

Tarquin danced his fingers alluringly down my shoulder, tracing the impossible architectures that were now written on my body. He looked at me and licked his lips. “Eamon…I could read you, but I want to hear it from you instead. Do you want me, even now? Even knowing that I am not from your reality, and have come here to prepare the way for an invading force?”

I did not hesitate. I shouldn’t want him, but that wasn’t the truth. “Yes. I want you.”

Tarquin smiled and took hold of my hand. As he led me away from the couches, my mind was already…unfolding. He granted me access to parts of my brain that were normally reserved for when I was asleep, the pieces of my mind that understood the intricacies of experiences that could not be explained with words, of visions that were epiphanic in sleep, but unknowable while awake.

He pressed me up against the windowpane, pulling down my trousers, and I saw him reflected both as he was in my world and in his own, as he was in countless others. His abilities made me doubt the evidence of my senses. Tall, short, wide, thin, all at once, with limbs that wrapped around my form and held me firmly in place, with probing fingers and phalluses and tentacles pushing up against me, preparing to press into me. He was opening me up to a new set of realities just beyond my limited grasp. I saw layers upon layers of dimensions adjacent to our own.

Of course, what I felt was his singular phallus, pressed between my ass cheeks, nestled snugly. He grinned and his reflections grinned with him, their many toothsome smiles chilling me. Pressing his face to mine, his hot breath in my ear, Tarquin spoke softly but firmly. “Strip and look out toward the park. Imagine someone you know walking by and seeing you like this.”

I pulled off my shirt, exposing my firm nipples to the air, my skin prickling with the cold of the glass as Tarquin pressed me against the window.

To my horror, not ten seconds later, Sebastian Merrill happened by with Ramsey, carrying a ball and a woven rush basket. Sebastian stopped and pointed up at me, transfixed. Ramsey stood there, too, and it was as though they both couldn’t look away from my exposed body. I flushed, humiliated but painfully hard.

“Is it real? Is it your imagination? What’s the difference, when it makes you react this way?” said Tarquin, reaching down and grasping my firm, leaking cock as I stared out the window at my friends. Tarquin’s laughter was teasing but not mean-spirited. “I would love to fuck you up against this window, but we would break it.”

Covering my eyes with one hand, Tarquin led me away. I wondered, in the darkness behind his hand, if he had known they were coming that way, with his powers? Or if he had nudged them, controlled them into behaving that way? His powers seemed limitless to me. If he had told me to masturbate in front of that window, to wink at them and invite them in, I felt sure that I would have.

Tarquin paused for a moment then and secured a blindfold around my head before leading me onward.

From the moisture and floral scents in the air, I realized that we were in the solarium. Finally, he stopped and bent me over, pressing my hands to the back of an ornately carved stone bench. I shivered. Outside of the privacy of the study, I wondered if his attendants would see. I didn’t have time to wonder for long, because his phallus, slick with pre-cum, was once again nestled between my cheeks.

“Do you want it, Eamon? Do you want my full, hard cock?”

I nodded and moaned my answer, and Tarquin rubbed himself back and forth against my hole. He seemed to grow increasingly slick as he did so, dripping the thick pre-cum down onto me and rubbing it into me, lubricating my passage. He reached around and pulled one of my hands away from the stone bench, pushing it toward my cock instead. “I want you to touch yourself for me. Think about how good it would feel to have me inside of you.”

As I rubbed my cock, I felt my hole begin to pulsate in response, my yearning for Tarquin’s phallus intensifying as he continued to rub back and forth against me, maddeningly slow. Without ever being penetrated, I felt my hole loosen and relax.

There was a further strange sensation as it seemed to grow further, as though Tarquin was rubbing against something external — it felt like slick, engorged folds of sensitized skin were blooming around my hole, and his phallus was spreading them out, pushing against them and causing them to swell and firm up, engorged. It was as though I had grown a pair of sensitive lips there, which grasped at Tarquin and tried to pull him in. My eyes widened. I gasped, and shook my head, disbelieving, and the sensation disappeared. My hole still felt amazing.

Tarquin chuckled deeply. “We’ll work our way up to that, then.”

Then he plunged inside of me, seating himself completely in one, long thrust. My entire consciousness was concentrated in the sensations in my ass and crotch as I continued to palm my cock. Tarquin’s dick filled me entirely, seeming to expand further once it was inside of me. It was snug. Then, I felt a strange wriggling sensation inside of me as something began to rub at my insides, stimulating the lining of my hole, pressing up against my prostate pleasurably, tickling and licking and pushing at it. Though I was fearful of just what Tarquin was, and what he and the strange powers in the Manor were making me do, it felt good, and I moaned in surprise and pleasure.

“Hands off now,” Tarquin told me, as he pulled both of my arms behind my back and held me by the wrists. He thrust in and out of my hole very slowly, the tendrils or cilia or whatever it was that was massaging my inner walls continuing their dance. They pressed continuously up against my prostate, pulsating and rotating around the base of Tarquin’s phallus to make sure the sensation was constantly renewed.

After a few torturous, pleasurable minutes of this, he pulled out, still holding my wrists behind my back. I moaned and tried to push my ass back toward him.

His breath was hot in my ear as he admonished me. “I’ll decide when I want your ass penetrated, Eamon.”

I moaned in response, and he applied his mouth to my neck, sucking on it hard enough to bruise, positioning his phallus right at the edge of my hole as though daring me to thrust back onto him. I knew I was being tested, and rubbed my thighs together around my own cock needily, unable to help it. Tarquin chuckled at this, then slammed home. The queer sensation of fantom cilia brushing against my prostate was electric, and he slowly withdrew, allowing me to feel every inch leaving me before he pushed forward again. Between strokes, he rubbed his phallus against the outer rim of my hole, which squeezed and relaxed rhythmically as my ass did its best to grip him.

It was a slow, languorous fuck, but the build-up was inevitable. The pressure in my groin was mounting, and soon, a strange sensation filled my entire body. The bottom of my feet began to feel strangely hot, as though they were near an open candle flame. My hole began to spasm, and suddenly I felt intense pleasure spread out through my legs and torso, centered on my crotch and ass. My eyes flew open, though I could only see the darkness under the blindfold. I was slowly dribbling cum as wave after wave of pleasure passed through my body. I tightened around Tarquin, spasming uncontrollably. “Ahhh…! Fuck!”

When I tightened, I felt Tarquin begin to orgasm, filling my hole with hot seed, so deep inside of me that I didn’t think it would be coming out again. He let my arms go and held me around my chest, his head leaning against my back. He thrust and thrust, barely making a sound, before stroking a finger down my spine that made me shiver. “Good boy, Eamon. Good boy.”

As Tarquin removed the blindfold, I fancied that I saw five or six monstrous shadows retreating from the solarium. Perhaps it was just the exotic plants, casting their shapes on the ground in the mid-morning sun. I thought instead that these must be Tarquin’s trusted servants — I had never seen them, even in the month that I had spent there, only trusting his word that they were the ones that prepared my meals and helped to maintain the manor house. My body responded with a visceral shiver to the thought of what sorts of creatures these must be. Tarquin cast a glance at me questioningly. He then tossed me a knitted blanket from one of the solarium benches. I think he thought that I was cold, though, thinking back, I don’t know why he didn’t just pull that information from me.

From then on, I lived at Morphée Hill. Together, we lived in the Manor House and enjoyed each other’s bodies and minds. My small rooms could not contain the boundless creativity that overtook me then. I began to draft plan after plan for renewing the city, always with a similar motif that became my distinctive style: a circular gate that opened upon the greenspaces that I incorporated into my work. These gates began to form spiraling patterns throughout Melilot, like the shell of a nautilus with the hill at the center. I built work on many scales, always with Tarquin at my side to ease the agreements along with the town council, or to help with specific transactions. We were remaking the face of Melilot, building our gate.

Building their gate.

Every few weeks, Tarquin consumed a part of my mind and I had the best sex of my life under the influence of his abilities. The first time that I was alert and aware for the experience, Tarquin drew it out, heightening the anticipation. I couldn’t bring myself to be afraid, only curious.

After all, I had survived a month of him feasting on my mind when I injured myself. I hadn’t come out unchanged — everything that has happened since then proves that — but I hadn’t suffered any ill effects, beyond becoming a thrall to the whims of interdimensional creatures who wanted my help to build a gate between our worlds.

First, Tarquin showed me his tools. I remembered some of them, from deep within my half-remembered dreams of that first month. There were more, too. A long, fluted canister, like a cross between a teapot and a bee smoker. A syringe to pull up…fluid? A small set of brass scales. A pair of scissors. A pair of tongs. A small metal bowl. A sepia-toned map that I had trouble reading, but that seemed to depict a human brain.

He told me to strip down, directed me toward a long, padded table, and told me to lie down. When I did, Tarquin restrained me. “You needn’t worry, Eamon. That’s just so you don’t wriggle at the wrong time. This is delicate work, and I am the best at what I do. That’s why they sent me here.”

Then, Tarquin ran a hand down my body, soft whispers already entering into my mind, telling me how pleasurable his touch felt, amplifying the sensation. My body responded, goosebumps raising across the surface of my skin as I felt every part of that touch distinctly. He smiled down at me, seeming pleased. “Good boy, Eamon.”

That, too, sent a shiver down to my groin. I wanted to be Tarquin’s good boy. Rationally, I knew that this must have been something he had done to me — that he must be making me want that — but another thought came on the tail-end of this: I had been chosen for this existence by the Preceptor for some intrinsic quality that must have been there long before I met Tarquin. Maybe it was just how pliable and aroused I was rather than my potential as an architect.

Tarquin moved up to my head and began to massage my scalp, scratching gently and making my head tingle pleasurably. He took the…teapot?…and, turning my head, poured something that was somewhere between a liquid and a vapour into my ear. My thoughts immediately seemed to slow. It seemed to me that they were slow enough to catch now, unlike my normally racing ones. I watched Tarquin pick up the syringe and he pulled something colourful and viscous from my ear. Then, he grabbed the tongs and began to pull some pieces away from the whole, snipping some off with the scissors. These, he placed in the bowl. The rest, he poured into that teapot and then back into my head. Weighing the bowl carefully, he raised it to his lips and drank deeply, his eyes rolling back in pleasure.

He turned his eyes on me and they seemed to drill down into my consciousness. My thoughts turned to fucking Tarquin, but there was nothing I could do, restrained as I was, except beg for it. So that was what I did.

“Oh, fuck, please, Tarquin…I need you…!”

Tarquin unbuckled the restraints holding my ankles and pushed my legs up toward my torso. “With pleasure, Eamon. Now, don’t mind anything that you see. That’s just other realities and dimensions peeking through the connection between our minds. You can just enjoy them.”

As he said this, I realized that his hands were not holding up my legs. Instead, two large tentacles encircled my calves and held them up and away from my hole. Tarquin positioned his large phallus, which was also a fat tentacle, and also some other strange tubular organ, all simultaneously, at my entrance.

He pushed in, and I found myself seeing something of his memories, sharing in pleasures long past. He showed me his world, with its inky black skies and deep, dark oceans, with creatures from many dimensions serving at the feet of his kind. This was Tarquin’s memory. I felt what he felt — a deep sense of satisfaction and power, but also something beneath that, something hidden and buried that it was impossible to read at that moment. I felt the reflected pleasure of absorbing a part of another sentient mind into myself, of sharing their most intimate thoughts. Then, following that, I felt the pleasure of going down on Sebastien Merrill and then taking his cock up my ass later that summer, drawn from deep within my own mind.

Then — an explosion — a wildfire of pleasure tearing through my body, reflected back and forth between us a thousand times. Tarquin rubbed his cum into my skin, marking me as his own, and then devoured mine himself, licking the remnants from my belly.

In this way, we learned everything there was to know about each other, fuck session after fuck session, day after day.

Neurogenesis is amazing. Tarquin feasted on my mind, consuming certain crucial thoughts and leaving me an obedient, sex-obsessed toy regularly, but every time, my mind returned to me, along with my ability to do the work that was required of me.

But then, one time, Tarquin took too much — or misjudged and took the wrong thing. Tarquin let the leash slip — took away a part of the compulsion that allowed the creatures from another dimension to control me from afar. I saw recognition in his eyes when I began to sketch something new in my blueprints that wasn’t part of the plan, but Tarquin did not say a word at first. Instead, he tapped his lips pensively and reached into my mind with now-familiar, soothing tendrils of thought. I felt a small bloom of arousal as he teased me a little bit, making me think of his rigid phallus. It wasn’t long before we were having sex atop the blueprints for our latest project. When he finished inside of me, he murmured into my ear.

“You’re fun this way, with nothing hampering those wild fantasies of yours.”

Maybe it was intentional — maybe his professed fondness for his time with me in this world was genuine. I don’t know. He had never made such a mistake before, nor has he since. For some reason, maybe because it didn’t come from inside of me, and so couldn’t be replicated, that compulsion never returned. I was able to think clearly about my work for the first time, able to observe and teach myself from the markings on my body. I began to understand the language of the interdimensional architectures I was building. Soon, I found myself feeling confident enough to make small changes to the plans, deviations that, though subtle, would fundamentally impact the final design when the time came.

I was building my gate.

I had no way of knowing whether I was getting it right. I could see the shape of things, but I could not confirm my guesses.

As the years passed, it became clear that Morphée Hill was the gateway’s focal point for a good reason: it stood at a strange juncture in time and space, and while I resided there, I ceased ageing. Not entirely — but I aged so slowly that I appeared fixed in time. My loved ones began to show discomfort with me — not mistrust, but confusion. What had happened to me that had made me so strange? When they asked me, I could not answer. I could only smile and tell them that all was well, and ask if they liked the latest building I was working on.

It took the better part of two decades, but all too soon, it was time to begin the final gate. It would be built on top of Morphée Hill in the park. I dreamt of a free-standing sculpture with a circular gate, open to either side, made of black basalt and white marble, with a wooden door — the only one of any of the circular gates to have a door — made of a single piece of giant Douglas fir. Rather than employ the Melilot Builders Guild, I decided that every piece of it would be built by my own hand.

Every day, Tarquin watched me work from one of the Manor’s upper rooms while I sweated away, often stripped down to the waist, working at the stone, shaping it lovingly. Every night, after I came home, Tarquin licked the sweat from my neck and fucked me. It was as though he was trying to open up an interdimensional gate inside my hole.

He was eager to partake of me. With the end in sight, Tarquin must have imagined that things would change when the rest of his kind arrived. He would never tell me exactly what happened to the dimensions that they entered, but I suspected that not everyone had his control or restraint, when it came to feasting on the minds of those they came through the gate to use. It didn’t take a mind reader to sense his frustration.

So, every night, I gave myself to him eagerly. I told myself this was partially to distract him from my plans, but I had also grown accustomed to him throughout the years. There was real affection there.

I told him that my body was his. I slowly stripped my sweaty clothing away, washing myself thoroughly and lewdly with the sponge in the bath, massaging my pectorals and stroking my cock for him. I told him I wanted him to fuck my mind as much as my body.

He would eventually grow impatient, take the sponge, and toss it aside. Then, Tarquin dragged me to whichever spot he wanted to fuck that day — often that same bench in the solarium where he had first taken me. He would send his coiled tendrils of thought into my brain, liquifying some of my thoughts, dragging others up to parade in front of me — humiliating thoughts, mostly. When he had pressed me to the window, making me expose myself in front of Sebastian and Ramsey. The thought of him transforming my body, giving me holes that did not belong on a man’s body but that were oh so pleasing to him. The thoughts of serving him and the presence within Morphée Manor. The thoughts of how much I enjoyed getting fucked for an audience of interdimensional creatures, how much I enjoyed giving myself up to him. He replayed my moans for me repeatedly, and then he began the physical manipulation of my body.

These days, he allowed me to see some of his being unfiltered by our reality. He never dropped his human face, but the shadowy tentacles writhed alongside his arms, holding me still as he impaled me on his long, thick phallus, filling me up. I think he could have lifted me with it — it was that deep inside of me, and that thick. And then he pushed more tentacles down my throat, meeting his own phallus in the center of me, the two appendages greeting each other. He covered my eyes, plugged my ears, and made sure that my entire focus was on the sensation of being filled from every direction.

Then, he delved into my mind, and together we relived all the times that had come before. It was overwhelming — phantom orgasm after phantom orgasm wracking my body until I came all over myself again, the wet splash of my cum the only sign that it was happening in that moment, and not merely another ghost of a memory.

I’ve taken the time to tell my story because I don’t know how it ends. Tonight, I open the gate. I hope that I haven’t misaligned any pieces. I hope that the Builders Guild is every bit as talented as they say and that they each of them used their spirit levels and measuring tools.

I’m excited, and maybe a little scared. If I’ve done everything right, we’ll be in a new dimension. Not to conquer, but to explore. To say hello, and maybe even to ally against those who think other dimensions are theirs to exploit.

No matter what happens, both Melilot and I have been very much changed. Though I have survived so far to tell this story, I have been transformed from what I was. Rearranged into a new configuration, more pleasing to them…and him. Gods.

Maybe Tarquin won’t be too mad about the gate, once he realizes it means that we can be together for a while longer in this world or another. Maybe he has already realized — after all, he can read my thoughts if he so chooses. (He rarely chooses to, of late, outside of sex and fueling my fantasies throughout the day.) Maybe this was his intention, and freeing my mind was no accident at all.

Do I dare to find out? Well, let’s just say I’ve taken worse dares while drunk.

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