26. Already Dead

Soundtrack: Marilyn Manson, Angel with the Scabbed Wings (Dead to the World)

Naturally, Inglorion seeks to console himself with sex. As always, Camilla is free and willing that very afternoon. He shows up and starts to kiss her with no preamble, as soon as she answers the door. He picks her up, carries her into the bedroom, throws her down on the bed, starts to strip her. She’s laughing. “Inglorion, what —” 

He shushes her. “No, let’s just do it. I want to be inside you.” Her room is shabby. The mattress sags. There are dirty clothes piled all over the floor. God knows when the sheets were last changed. They race to get out of their clothes. He checks to see if she’s wet, and bless her, she is.

He’ s pushing her down, kneeing her thighs apart, when she sits up, says, “Wait — wait,” pulls a paper bag from under the bed, starts to rummage through it. “Yeah, here we go.” She holds up a handful of dried mushrooms. “You want some?”

He’s always avoided drugs out of fear that they’d ruin his precision of eye, and shunned drinking because the memory of Tereus’s bouts is still fresh. In this moment, though, he’s utterly reckless. “What do they do?”

“It’s a hallucinogen. You’ll last longer, feel more, come harder. It’s supposed to be Drow.”

He shrugs. “Sounds good to me.”

He can tell that she’s relieved to be able to share her drug use with him. She divides up the contents of the little bag. They each eat a handful of dried mushrooms, then lie side-by-side. “You’ve done this before, right?” she asks. “I gave you a lot.”

“No, never.”

“Oh. Well, it’s probably fine.”

It’s slow at first, and subtle. Every sense perception is velvety, somehow ornamented. Her hair cascades across the pillow. He presses his face into it, takes in the scent, the feel. He’s never consciously noted the musky, silky tangle of it. His palm trails down the side of her neck, between her breasts, past her navel and pelvic bones. He slips his fingers into her, and marvels at how slick and supple she is.

She pushes him onto his back and sucks his cock, and that stretches out indefinitely. He watches the sun’s rays slip across the floor, then disappear. As the light dims, he sees the sweet tangle of her limbs flaring white hot, and he remembers that he was going to plunge into her, fuck her, blot out everything. 

He fucks her savagely, then tenderly, then savagely again. Inglorion is truly angelic and demonic now — his beauty burns brilliantly with this strange fuel. There’s nothing he can’t or won’t do. They both feel as if they’re coming the whole time, but he doesn’t reach physical climax.

This is how he wants to die, so it’s no surprise when she whispers, “Strangle me.” He places his hands around her throat without hesitation, and enjoys the knowledge that he controls her breath directly. As she starts to gasp and wheeze, he feels her pussy clamp down harder, an extra gush of moisture. He’s freed from empathy and shame. He’s aware that he could kill her with his cock buried deep inside her. He wonders how that would feel — just the pure physical sensation. After a time, he stops. She regains her breath and full consciousness, and they’re gazing into each other’s eyes, hypnotized by this new bond.

He says, “Now you do me.”

Tenderly, gazing into his silver eyes, she places her hands around his neck and squeezes. As his body struggles for breath, he’s flooded with adrenaline. Sensation washes over him as he lies there, abandons his life to her hands. He wavers in and out of consciousness, oscillating between absolute blackness and a dim, gray awareness that his cock as hard as it’s ever been, and she’s riding him. Slowly even that fades away. His consciousness narrows to a single point — the restriction of his breath, the struggle for air, the temptation to submit utterly, to lapse into darkness. He feels no distress, no terror at the proximity of death, or disgust for the act itself. Each sensation is beautiful, pure and fascinating as it comes. 

And then he’s lying there alone, exhausted and utterly at peace. He hears strange, faint music. He hears a voice, quiet, clear, distinct: “They’re afraid because you’re crazy. You’re already dead.”

The voice is not despairing, cruel or angry. It’s merely stating a fact. He has nothing to fear, and there is nothing to hold him back.

He knows that he must go to the Underdark. The Bringer of Light and the Demon Queen of Spiders are bound together, and they cannot be unbound. It’s time to go home. He’s not evil, he’s simply Drow. 

He wakes up again much later, exhausted, to the nauseating smell of frying eggs. His throat is sore and it’s difficult to swallow. His lips and tongue are dry. When he sits up and starts to get dressed, his fingers feel stiff and slow, and he struggles to button his shirt and breeches. It’s late afternoon, presumably the following day.

He finds Camilla in the tiny, filthy kitchen area of the front room, standing over a frying pan. “There you are,” she says.”You want some?”

“No, thanks,” he says. “I can never eat when I first get up.” She has one clean plate and one clean fork laid out on the table. The counter and sink are piled high with dirty dishes. She’s wearing a white cotton slip and nothing else, and a cigarette is dangling from her lip. Her black curls are piled up loosely and pinned on her head. As she bends over to scrape the cooked eggs onto the plate, he sees the shadow of finger marks on her neck, the red pinpoint of a burst blood vessel on her cheek. He thinks of serving Lavinia as she presided over the breakfast table in the Shelawn household. Towards the end, her throat was often marked.

Camilla feels his gaze, looks up, smiles. “Do you have to be somewhere? Why don’t you stay awhile?” She looks so delicate — slender neck, fragile wrists, long, coltish legs. And that mass of dark hair falling over her eyes. That fragility — it’s what attracted him to her in the first place. That, and her availability. 

He smiles, shakes his head. “I wish I could, darling. But I’m moving on from here.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going home. To the Underdark. I’m Drow, you know.”

She’s human, so she knows no such thing. To them, all elves are equally exotic and mysterious. She shrugs, smiles, buries any disappointment she might feel. She knows how to play the game. “So you’re leaving town? That’s too bad. Come see me if you’re ever back this way.” She’s standing by the table, still holding the skillet and spatula.

He steps over to her, removes the dishes from her hands, places them on the table, then takes her in his arms, gives her a firm, lingering kiss. He feels her relax, incline towards him. He whispers, “Thank you.”

“You’re so beautiful,” she murmurs, almost to herself. 

She sits down to eat her eggs, and he gathers up his weapons: longswords and bullwhip, bow and quiver. He straps them on, and their familiar weight marks the transition back to daily life.

He pauses for a moment by the front door, with his hand on the knob. “Take care of yourself, OK? Be careful.”

She glances up. “Of course. I always am.” She’s already closed herself off. 

With that, he’s gone.

Inglorion doesn’t worry too much about the things he and Camilla did: the drug, the acts themselves. It was strange to feel those sensations without shock or fear, and to enjoy them thoroughly. He’s not ashamed that he did it, because it accomplished a purpose. He’s also not eager to repeat it. 

He accepts his vision as true. His fate lies in the Underdark. He must go there, no matter what the risk. Later, when he takes an oath to Lolth that seems to contradict his service to Corellon Larithian, he’s driven partly by this vision — by the assurance of a higher unity between the Demon Queen of Spiders and the Bringer of Light. Now he truly believes that no race is purely evil or good. There’s a mission that only he can fulfill. He can’t put it into words because it hasn’t been fully revealed. But he knows it’s real, and that knowledge quiets his abiding rage and fear.

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