16. I Wish You Could Forgive Me

Tereus wakes well before dawn, like he used to long ago in billets and bivouacs. The farmhouse is still, though the others will wake up soon. He urinates and masturbates, spending just a bit longer on the latter activity. He slips down the stairs and out the door in his stockinged feet, boots in hand. […]

14. Xialo

Tereus enters a long, dark period. Later, it will feel as if he’d fallen under a fairytale curse. During this time, he engages in unbridled brutality, beating Lavinia, raping the odd parlormaid and terrorizing his valet. He has a series of  near-fatal carriage and riding accidents, which prove that neither is a reliable method of suicide. […]

13. Free Fall

Over the years that follow Sieia’s flight, Lucius and Valeria start to fill their nursery. Through some strange miracle, Lucius is an affectionate husband and father. Not only can he tell his children apart, he has an intimate knowledge of their likes and dislikes, and their intellects and temperaments. He and Valeria are aware that […]

12. The Few Positive Duties of Fatherhood

For the second time, Tereus’s valet informs him that Lady Sieia has gone missing. This time, she’s gone to some trouble to deceive her keepers. She packed her doll and a change of clothes undetected, and left the house on foot at midday. When the butler summons the second footman to be questioned, he’s missing, […]

11. Foreshocks

Tereus wakes gradually. The light seems wrong. It’s afternoon or evening, or a storm has rolled in and obscured the sun. He feels so fucking miserably ill that it takes him a moment to appreciate that he’s not in jail, and though the skin is broken on the knuckles of both hands, he’s not covered […]

8. The Smooth, Hard Surface of His Indifference

When they reach her bedchamber, Lavinia hisses, “How could you humiliate me like that?” He’s a bit taken aback. She’s taken much more flagrant behavior in stride. “Pardon me?” “The way you fawned over those vulgar, nasty old women.” He says in a commonplace tone, “If you’re bent on quarreling, come into my dressing room […]

7. He Will Not Submit to Boredom Tonight

The social ordeal begins the night before the ball. Two sets of elderly nobles emerge from the North Mountains the day before, and of course they stay at Shelawn House. There’s a small house party, and Tereus is forced to feign lighthearted sociability. Dinner is tolerable. He finds he rather likes Lady Soane. She’s 800 […]

5. Part of the Flesh Itself

After tea, Tereus shuts himself in the library to consider Lucius’s words. He lights a cigarette, kicks back, props his feet up on the massive, marble-topped desk. Lucius is right, of course. In his misery, Tereus has managed to recreate the atmosphere of stifling terror that cloaked the house when Agamemnon was alive. And no […]