She blinked as her eyes swam back into focus, dancing lights, motes and colours like a bad Alice flashback, greens and purples and reds as the light faded away and was replaced by darkness. Above her the vaulted ceiling of the cathedral slowly gathered enough effort to regain its edges and solidity. Black-and-green, shining and chitinous, oily, the Dark Lament cathedral resembled nothing less than ten-thousand priapic beetles locked in an orgiastic embrace.
Faint light filtered through the web-window of stained resin and she lifted her hand into it, fascinated for a moment by the dancing mote of dust caught in a beam of muted light that she never would have seen before. Her hand came back to wipe the tears from her eyes.
Her blackened claw came away bloody.
She could hear a half-hundred hearts – not beating.
She could smell four-dozen emotions, a patchwork of tension, fighting for dominance in the vaulted space.
She could feel every rib and spar of the sternum-and-knuckle carapace beneath her body, every slight gush of air was like a hundred cigarettes stubbed out upon her raw and bloodied flesh.
It made her thighs tense, it made her wet.
She could taste the copper tang of vitality in her mouth, teeth like razors cutting her own tongue but something else, something fatty, something sweet.
She forced herself to sit up, to pay attention, to think, to concentrate. She felt, rather than saw, the others around her. The world receded like a dream, it didn’t seem genuine compared to how she felt. Compared to the others around her. They were somehow more real, more firm, fixed points in space and time, pulsing with the power of The White, the same power that flowed through her.
A shadow loomed as she staggered to her feet like a newborn foal and from a hundred mouths the eater-of-souls spoke a singular chorus of welcome.
“ONEone. OFof. USus.”
Her head threw back in an ecstatic scream of exultation and her wings spread behind her in a great black arch.
She was REAL.