Robert opened his eyes and all he saw was a smokey haze. No more than a foot in front of him was a wall of smoke he could not penetrate with his gaze no matter how hard he tried. Even with all the smoke, there was no issue with breathing, he took deep breaths and looked skyward and again was met with a wall of smoke, thick and oily.

It is then he heard The Marquess and the contralto that simply must be obeyed.

“Robert, come here to your Marquess, come here and sit beside her in this place of power and learn of things that man is not meant to know, Sit beside her and become a ruler over things you did not even know existed. Come to me now Robert, I do not like to be kept waiting.”

Robert felt panic in his heart when he imagined letting her down. It was not a panic of a man who worked for someone, it was the panic of a servant who has disobeyed a Goddess and he fears the wrath that may come if She does not brook his disobedience.

He walked, knowing instinctively where to go in the smoke. He looked straight ahead and nothing else. His only goal, his entire being, needed to find Her and serve and do what was commanded of him. The smoke thinned and his heart began to beat normally and he let out a breath he did not know he was holding when he finally saw her.

Naked and glorious in a chair of stone and bone. Blood spilled about her feet like so much rancid water thrown from a tavern closing. Her hair was raven black, her skin nearly luminescent in its vibrancy. She was pale as death and glowed like a furnace of a star. Her body was shaped for incitement and her eyes locked onto him as he imagined a hark looked to the field mouse. She spoke with soft lips the color or rose petals and as she did a tongue as black as a midnight grave winked at him through pointed teeth.

“Come now boy, sit with me and let me teach you.” Robert obediently dropped to his knees and sat on his heels as if it were a thing he had done his entire life. He saw her reach into the pool of blood and ichor he himself knelt in and smile at him with murder and lust in her eyes as she spoke to him again.

“You will help prepare the Way. You will salt the earth so it cannot feed, drown the deceivers so that they cannot speak and drip with the blood of the unrighteous. I chose you because you are a dark man Robert, I chose you because you have seen the sensual in the grotesque, I chose you because you have seen the beauty in the corrupt. Now we will let you live every fantasy you have, let you take from the world all you desire and you will do it in my name and the Darkness that Comes. You will sing praise to all Eight Mothers and debase yourself in front of them and serve them, each and all, in my name. Do you understand me?”

Robert could not stop the thoughts in his mind from rising to the surface. Dark and evil, foul and serene visions of torment and blood. He did not know when he started to smile and look up to his new and infinitely infrangible Goddess.

“The Marquess shall have the power of the Eight, The Darkness shall Come, I shall serve, I will obey.” He bowed to her then and pressed his face into the foulness the ground was, his mind empty of all things until he felt her fingertips brush along his spine with a serpentine quality.

“Let us begin that kè sere, let us show them all what us under the Veil”

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