6 February 1865

We were raising a monster.

While Jenson (it seems incorrect to continually refer to such a foolish man as Lord Shepherd) and Lima now took occasional respite from their primal rutting, the healthy members of the Dolphinae joined Poseidon and myself in the balcony of the saltwater pool, watching the pure, black squid dart around its new habitat.

It beggars belief that such a creature could have come from Gail’s womb, yet the impossibility of its existence made it seem all the more real. I saw it happen.

I saw it burst from her body.

I saw it.

I could deny it, of course. The world is full of people who willingly reject what they know to be true, but I will not be a person who turns a blind eye to the truth, no matter how impossible that truth may be.

Throughout the day, food was tossed by Poseidon into the pool in the Deep Water Room, but the squid was interested only in fish and meat. I wondered why the squid did not escape the pool, and Poseidon explained that there was a solid gate at the bottom to prevent unwanted visitors. He further explained that he did not think the squid could survive long out of the water.

Perhaps that is why it seeks shelter inside a human host,” he theorized.

After lunch, Silvio left to return to Kraken Moor.

No one asked me if I would like to accompany him.

I spent several hours pretending to be angry, and on more than one occasion after his exit, I found myself wishing I were back at Kraken Moor and dealing with the likes of Kadul, Kanarl, and Tchitok. The soul of Jackson depended on me, as did the lives of my parents. I had come to understand, however, that demons had a different conception of time than we did, and what seemed an eternity to us might be a simply blink of an eye to them.

Should I retire to the bath and seek Kadul in the dreamworld?” I asked Poseidon at one point.

So focused was he on his newest pet that he simply waved my question aside with a simple, “Only you can answer that.”

What is it, Poseidon?” I asked. “Do not say it’s a squid. I can see that. But what is it, really?”

As I told you previously,” he scolded, “it’s an attempt by a Brute to claim the Earth. The armies of Kadul and his ilk can only walk in Hell, but a Brute’s army can walk in our world. Perhaps we can use this progeny to our advantage.”

I thought it a ridiculous notion.

Perhaps you should sleep again,” Poseidon said suddenly. “Tell Kadul that we have the squid. Ask him if he can help us destroy the Brute with it.”

But-?”

Miss Sharper,” he said tersely, “please remember that our current two futures either involve the Brute destroying all the demons at Kraken Moor and, if my deduction is correct, using the castle as his base for conquering the world with squid progeny, or Kadul killing people you care about in an attempt to flee Kraken Moor. There must be a way we can pit the demons against one another.”

Neither possible future was one I wanted to experience. “What is the nature of this new Brute?” I asked.

Poseidon cocked his head. “Isn’t it obvious?” he asked, but before he could continue, the doors to the house burst open and a Dolphinae rushed in. “Poseidon! Come quickly! Lord Shepherd is …!”

Her words were cut off as Poseidon pushed past her to dash into the hallway and look to his left. From where I stood, I could see the deep frown on his face, and I walked briskly to stand next to him and see what he saw.

Jenson Shepherd was creating a harem.

Looking into his room, there were now three women engaged in acts of perversion with the master of Kraken Moor. All of their eyes (as far as we could see) were black and the skin of Lima and one of the other women oozed varying levels of black ink.

The ink represents fertilization, perhaps,” Poseidon mused scientifically.

Is that all you have to say?” I asked curtly. “Perhaps we should finally shut that door!”

We need to study them,” he answered calmly. “It is our best chance to-uuunnnnnnnhhhhhh!”

My eyes went wide as I saw the Dolphinae that had come for him connected to a knife that was jammed deep into the demon fighter’s shoulder. Poseidon dropped to one knee and the woman pulled the knife out, intending to stab him again. Her eyes were swirling orbs of pure black.

My hands went for the Lafayette-gifted knives on my legs, but they were not there as I was dressed in the blue gown of the Dolphinae. Absent my weapons, I did the only thing I could think of –

I punched the Dolphinae in the face.

It was not a highly effective move. With what seemed like supernatural strength, the Dolphinae backhanded me and sent me hurtling back into the Deep Water Room. I put my hands out to stop myself against the railing, and while I was successful in stopping my forward motion, I was not prepared for the Dolphinae that moved in behind me.

Grabbing my hair in one hand and my gown in the other, I was hoisted over the edge and tossed into the pool.

Falling with a thunderous splash, by the time I righted myself and came sputtering to the surface, there was only one object in my vision:

The black squid.

It observed me for a brief moment that seemed to stretch for days. It’s elongated black head stared at me with eyes even blacker than its flesh. Eight tentacles moved in the water, keeping it in place, and then all at once, the tentacles shot behind its body, sending its head lurching across the distance at me.

Halfway to me, its tentacles shot forward.

I screamed and two tentacles shot into my mouth.

I choked.

And then my world went as black as the squid, itself.

I must stop here for the night. Evidence by my writing of this experience, it is clear (even to me) that I survived. What happened when my world was consumed by darkness will have to wait until morning. I must sleep.

But in my bed. Not the tub. I am in no condition to face Kadul.

After where I went and what I saw and felt, I feel that I might well succumb to the demon’s advances if he came to me tonight.

Lord protect me.

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