“No man shall find these words but on tips of severed tongues.” The dim lamp began to flicker sporadically. “With the thirst for forbidden pleasure he shall only be greeted with the taste of smoldering ash.” The wind picked up outside and slammed the shutters hard against the windows. “No God will be found here. For it is only the presence of THEY who brings the infinite pleasure. It is THEY who unleash the pain of endless time.” The thin walls shook and the room started to glow with an otherworldly crimson mist. “Now it is you who bring them to the world of the living. It is you who seek the infinite pain. It is you, who called upon THEY!”

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With the last word erupting from between her lips, Sarah felt all of the strength in her body vanish. She crumpled to the floor as the red mist engulfed her. She tried to close her eyes to avoid the sting of the mist, but she was met with an immediate searing of pain. A row of thick metal pins were lodged between her eyelids, propping them open as they dug into the soft pink flesh of the inner eye sockets.

“Help m—” Sarah’s words cut out with a blood-curdling gargle as a hook penetrated her neck—piercing her vocal chords with a pain unlike anything she ever felt before.

You, girl. Your desires have been calling to us for quite some time. I hope you are ready for the pleasures we bring.”

Standing before Sarah is a man. Or at least, what’s left of a man. For where his face should be is a twisted mass of mangled leathery flesh, leaving just slits for eyes and a gaping maw where the mouth should be. His chest is barren of skin with a blackened, burnt rib cage protruding through the tattered remains of a wool coat. His hands are gnarled and curled inward like they had been half melted in fire. The red mist blocked her from making out the details of the hideousness where his legs should be.

I hope you don’t mind us taking our time here? We so rarely get to visit your world.” A row of rotted brown teeth peeked out as the creature attempted to smile from its gaping mouth.

The man took a step forward, and as he did four shadowy figures appeared behind him. Sarah couldn’t see who they were, but she could tell by the grotesque outlines that they were similarly deformed.

A guttural chuckle assaulted Sarah’s ears as the group closed in on her. The overpowering stench of rotted flesh and death made her gag. The pain of her eyelids and throat wound intensified, but a strange calmness washed over her. This is what she wanted. This was the reward for her years of searching and studying. She had found the Scrolls of Infinite Pleasures. And just like the legends said, five beings would greet the one who truly desired their offerings.

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What a shame it will be to take the purity of such fine flesh. What a shame indeed.”

THEY surrounded Sarah as she pushed herself to her knees. She tried to speak but no words came out. The vicious air filtering between their bodies stung her open eyes, but she didn’t flinch. No, she wasn’t scared of the pain. She rejoiced in the thought of it. This is what she always wanted; she just didn’t understand until now.

A heavy hand lay upon her shoulder and she looked up at the twisted face of the man. A fire danced in the deep blackness of if eyes and his brown teeth peeked out in delight once more. But before he could take her, Sarah reached her trembling hands up to her eyes, pushed her fingertips into the hollows above and below the lids, and squeezed as hard as she could—sending blood gushing as the heavy pins shot through both ends of her eyelids.

Oh, this is only the beginning child. We have so much more pleasure to introduce to you.”

Sarah, with blood rushing down from her eyes and collecting in the spaces between her teeth, couldn’t help but smile.

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