The induction of a new homunculus into the cadre fashioned by Dante was, as always, a cause for celebration.

Or so the old woman said as she sat, sipping her tea and smiling her wistful, beady-eyed, mysterious little smile, all false innocence and blatant malevolence (or, blatant if one knew what signs to look for in the creases of her aged face). She relaxed in her breezy, well-furnished dining room and enjoyed her afternoon meal, and meanwhile, the aberration she had so recently discovered lay in the basement, churning spume from splitting pustules and carbuncles, writhing and making pathetic little noises which—if one listened with a little imagination—could have been taken as attempts at screaming.

Lust could hear the muffled sounds even as Dante patiently explained her findings to the other homunculi, and she noted that the old woman seemed the tiniest bit amused as she said, "But she'll be such a pretty thing in time," before adding, more darkly, "she must have been beautiful in life, don't you think?" Clink. Clink. The teacup was lowered to the table. "I mean, to have been as loved as she was. And by whom."

Dante said nothing more after that, but Lust caught onto the contempt which underscored her otherwise gentle tone. She looked away, giving her observation little mind. All of the homunculi had gathered there, and all were silent for the nonce, either intrigued or plotting out their own ends (for most, Lust suspected the latter). When a general curiosity in the latest addition to their ranks was expressed, Dante chided them softly, but ultimately guided them downstairs and gave them a look at what they had once been.

Immediately, Envy was unabashedly scornful and seemed to find the newest homunculus's predicament quite hilarious; although he did not go so far as to burst out laughing, Lust heard him make a number of sarcastic remarks at Dante regarding the appearance of this newborn creature; though Dante rebuked him with a series of tsks, each sounded more like notes of encouragement than anything else—a sort of reverse psychology, possibly, but Lust knew she might have just been imagining things. Pride appeared wholly unaffected, and Gluttony simply continued sucking his finger while giving Lust's dress intermittent tugs.

Well, why should any of them be startled by the sight? Lust wondered as she gazed upon the mass of something—the exaggerated structure of which could best be likened to that of a human turned inside out, complete with crushed bones sticking every which way like off-white daggers and nemaline tendons roping over half-formed facial muscles. Lust had intended to give the newest homunculus her customary detachment, her disdain and disinterest, but the image of this thing affected her more suddenly and more deeply than she would have anticipated. As if in a trance, she stared at the popping joints which had lost their sutures and were now seeping yolk-like synovial fluid onto the basement floor.

It was inconceivable to think that this could ever be called beautiful...but the same could have been said for her once, couldn't it?

Muttering something apathetic about not wishing to stand around gawking at groaning piles of gore, Lust excused herself from the room and was content in noticing that none of the others gave her the slightest showing of attention. She intended to keep quiet about her true reasons for leaving, because the others would not have appreciated her feelings in the least; Envy in particular, as the eldest, had nothing but loathing for any of the human tendencies that the younger homunculi sometimes expressed, and as Lust had been the youngest up until now, many "memories of warmth" (as the others deemed them) were still too firmly placed within her mind. To see that thing within the basement was to see herself as she had been not too long before, and though she could feel no sympathy for its helpless and pitiful condition (sympathy, after all, was for humans alone), she could easily imagine herself in a similar shape—gory, pathetic, mocked and derided, looked down upon by Dante's little eyes while the crone spoke so kindly to her other followers.

The idea (it could not be called a memory; it was far too imagined and ill-formed to have been given such a prestigious title) caused a shudder to meander down her spine, twisting its way over her nodes and ley lines as her alchemically formed body shivered and tried to force itself into a state of relaxation. She had to be cool, detached, indifferent...composed. It was who she was, the personality she had been given, the face she had perfected over her years of enduring this unlife.

Wanting to become a human was fine and condoned by Dante—even encouraged by way of her benevolent promise—but outright exhibiting human qualities was deemed a sign of weakness and a matter for scoffing, rather comparable to how some humans looked down upon those among them with disabilities. Lust had never been able to reconcile this incongruity in her mind: how was it that they all sought humanity, yet they all resented their memories, and any memories held by their peers? None minded her desire to be a human, yet any who saw her now—awash with memories of her creation and overcome by the horror inherent within it—would have thought her a weak specimen.

Did they simply hate what they could not understand? Did she simply hate what she could not understand? Were they jealous? No, no, probably not. Are they like me, in that I proclaim humans to be the epitome of stupidity, yet covet their humanity? Do they fail to understand themselves and their own reasons, as I do? She suppressed a dry laugh. Or do they want to become human so that they will not hate their own memories? She considered. Do I want to become human so that I will not hate my own memories? Could it have been that?

Or did she merely wish for a list of answers to appease her many questions?

No matter. Today was not a day for the answers to arise.

She tossed her hair over one shoulder and left the hallway.

Within a few weeks, the grotesque creature Dante had uncovered in Riesenburg had begun to change into something else entirely, and Lust found that she was able to enter its vicinity without feeling the slightest unease.

Well, not its vicinity, Lust thought as she walked into the room, lips pulling upwards to form a sultry smirk. Her vicinity.

"Sloth", as Dante had named her, had indeed become beautiful, to the point that Lust could well understand the old woman's seeming jealousy and spite, and when the first female homunculus came to visit the second and newest, she found herself wondering which between them was more sightly, or if the woman who had been named for one form of desire had at last met her equal.

Oh, certainly Sloth lacked the other's ample curves and her exceedingly voluptuous frame; she was more slender, long-bodied, with flesh that flowed like the water tendrils her body was capable of creating—the hybrid limbs, mixtures of liquid and aether, drifting from her svelte form like a series of coryphees and inquisitively probing all nearby objects as if to say "What are you?" before dismissing them with "Hmm. Not interested," as befit her name. Sloth was cold and aloof, a death-pale porcelain doll with black hair that shimmered mauve, wet and dripping and sparkling like swollen snow-crested plums. Her face was soft, smooth, could have even called her eyes melancholy, had they not contained the same diamond hard edge as Lust's. Those lilac eyes barely turned when Lust entered the room, and an apathetic gaze fell upon her.

You're going to be such a great killer, Lust thought, unfazed, letting her own eyes take in the sight of the other woman—starting at her brow before slithering downwards to her slim middle, then easing to the floor and the bare feet upon it. Calculated and me. Like how I present myself, in the least. Like how they see me. And Dante will hate and love you...

"You seem to enjoy looking into the mirror." Lust touched her face, grinning and tilting her head as she watched her nude companion. "What is it that you see in there?" Who you are? Who you were? Or who you want to be...?

In response, Sloth's eyes narrowed, but she said nothing. The room was dark save for a few candles, each glowing softly and reflecting off the cool silver surface of the tall, oval-shaped mirror, dispersing light like a series of winking eyes; this bedroom was the farthest back and the most hidden away space in Dante's mansion, and it had all the warmth and ambience of a tomb. It was whispered that long years ago, Dante had rested here when she had been in love with him, and surely there had been some semblance of heat stirring within the chamber back in those days, but it had long since dissolved into ice. Small wonder that she confined her here, Lust thought, vaguely intrigued. Of course the Master would lock her favourite new toy within the cell where her old memories reside. A fitting cycle.

Sloth stood upon the marble floor, naked and glistening with beads of water, and the mirror loomed before her like a frozen lake of flat silver. When Lust approached, she caught a glimpse of her own reflection—ivory skin and hair like rolling clouds of pitch—and she glanced for a moment before folding her arms at her waist and turning away, tossing her hair over one shoulder as if seeking to throw up a shield between herself and her reflection—beautiful though it was. Now I'm no longer the youngest, she thought, unsure of whether this was cause for grief or joy. Now I'm not the only female. I wonder if that means, no. Probably not. And Envy could be a female if he wanted to be, so I suppose gender really is nothing more than a distinction humans make between one another...and we aren't humans...yet.

"I need something to wear," Sloth said, suddenly deigning to speak. She reached up, stroking her long damp locks, fingertips exploring the aesthetics of her body with childlike wonder, something Lust had known upon her own metamorphosis from hideous to exquisite. "Do you have any other dresses besides that one?" Very, very slowly, she lifted her eyes, then looked in the direction of a closet on the far wall. Quickly, she jerked them back, hair swishing with the force of her turning head. "Or do you suppose I could borrow one of hers?"

Wear? Stupid woman. We're all wearing masks, even if you can't see them. Lust laughed. "I'll help dress you. Our Master came from a different age than us, and her tastes are not suited to the young; even on the rare occasion when they are, they're far too elaborate and showy. You need something a little less ostentatious. Something simple, yet beautiful. Classical and yourself."

"Where is everyone else?" Sloth's expression was gentle, aside from a slyness still present within her eyes. If she had any reply for Lust's offer, then it failed to exit her lips.

A wonderful killer, Lust thought again. A cold, dead monster, but she can push maternal warmth onto that pretty visage. So serene and welcoming. Amazing, truly. Our Master did well to happen across her...what luck, indeed.

"To and fro," Lust answered, shrugging. Her eyes traced the curve of Sloth's jaw line, indulging in the vision of those garnet lips and the delicate heart shape of her face. She was still young enough that she retained some of her human complexion, including a smear of colouring on her skin, and her cheeks could still maintain that faint pinkish glow. The old and the new were at work within Sloth, mixing to reflect her former life and what she now was, and when Lust really paid attention to her eyes, she saw the troubled look hiding beneath their mirror-cold surface. Do my own eyes show something similar? Lust wondered, but she did not look into the mirror to find out. It was better to remain in the embrace of the darkness surrounding them...and within them. "They have their tasks to attend to, and you'll have yours, in time."

Lust approached, and Sloth fixed her with a direct look. "Did she send you here to check on me? Or to attend to me?" Idly, a hand was raised to her cheek, and fingers traced a circular pattern. "Envy already gave me a 'proper welcome'." She paused. "In all the ways you'd imagine. Our Master says it's a test of endurance for me...something to make me stronger. It's all about honing and refining, she says. At least, if I'm ever to become a human...she says I must first learn to be a homunculus."

A proper welcome, eh? Lust was mildly startled. Sloth was going on about this matter as though it was a customary ritual of induction for all homunculi, a "toughening up" as Dante had suggested, but Lust thought she would have clearly remembered being on the receiving end of something like that, even if she had been as newly formed as Sloth herself was...and as she did not recall ever having been beaten or raped, it was easy enough to assume that Dante probably reserved such an elaborate greeting for the darling little doll who had been so truly loved by Hohenheim.

"We all have to be strong," Lust said, simply, neither affirming nor denying that she had experienced something similar. She stepped forward, stiletto footfalls echoing on the marble floor. Once she stood behind the other woman, she reached forward slowly—somewhat tentatively—and touched the tips of her wet hair. When Sloth did not protest, Lust felt bolder in her teasing flirtation; she sunk her digits into the dark mane entirely, burying and sifting, looking over the gentle curve of Sloth's shoulder and into the peering eye of the mirror. Candlelight flickered on the reflective glass, glinting like a flashing smile, and Sloth's expression was still severe, even bored and indifferent. "I'll ask again. What do you see when you look ahead of you?"

The reflection shifted. In the mirror, Sloth's ruby lips lifted on one side, revealing a devious smirk. "The future. What else would I see?"

"Good girl," Lust purred, leaning against the other woman and pressing her nose into the crook of her neck. She grabbed a handful of Sloth's hair and pulled it over her other shoulder, letting it drop over her breasts, allowing herself plenty of uncovered pale flesh to tickle with her face and mouth. "I see our Master has already taught you so well. Just recite whatever she tells you to recite and you'll be fine...perfect. Just like me. But..."

Ever so slowly, she lifted her hands and placed them lightly upon Sloth's exposed breasts. The other woman neither flinched nor stirred. Wonderfully trained, Lust thought, bemused, and slightly, she squeezed. "...but do you happen to remember a time when these were put to a very different use? Does it feel like a..." She lowered her voice to a sultry whisper. "...dream? Fuzzy-edged, as though submerged in water?"

"What are you getting at?" Sloth asked, still sounding disinterested, and Lust decided that something ought to be done about that.

"You haven't figured it out yet?" Lust laughed gaily and continued to press close, breasts pillowing against her companion's back. She squeezed harder and lifted the breasts, pushing the soft flesh up, running her fingertips over the pale nipples, and she was delighted to hear a soft—very barely audible—gasp when she applied more pressure. She thumbed the areolas and gently pinched until the rosy flesh hardened beneath her ministrations. "I'm saying..." She kissed Sloth's neck, licking and biting, sucking softly, and then her lips brushed over the other's earlobe. "...that I have memories, too. I think we can understand one another."

The intended response was cut off by a sharp gasp as Lust's skilled hands held Sloth's breasts, rubbing and stroking relentlessly, encircling the skin with the pads of her fingers and palms, and the caresses were so rough that Sloth would surely have been rubbed raw had she been a human. Lust wasn't sure what she was doing or why; not really, but she was living up to her name, existing as a homunculus automaton who followed animalistic instincts and desired and took and followed through with other straightforward, simplistic functions. She wanted this woman, wanted to be near her, because the concept of a new homunculus—the newest—and a female, at that, was simply too appealing; Sloth was Dante's perfect little prize, a dainty doll, and Lust wanted her turn to play.

"...yes," Sloth admitted at last. Her breathing had already altered, hitching and growing tense, and Lust watched the mirror, enjoying the sight of her chest moving in and out as hands toyed with it. "I these used to be touched. I remember hands, though they were nothing like yours. What are those...memories? Are they..." She hesitated, as though hardly daring to give breath to the musing. "...dreams? The humans have these things...dreams...and I wonder..."

"Not truly," Lust responded before the other woman had been given a chance to finish her ponderings. "They aren't dreams as humans have them, or so I'm told, but without a soul, all life may as well be a dream—one giant sleep. Ah, but she named you after the Sin of Sloth, didn't she?" Lust lowered one hand, penduluming her fingertips across the u-curve of Sloth's navel, across the tight skin which would have swelled with life had she been a human, and the digits of her other hand continued pinching and twisting the nipple of the breast she cupped, drawing forth a series of strained little gasps from that exquisite throat. "Maybe that's because all of your existence is sleeping...dreaming. Do you...fantasize about becoming a human?"

A dangerous question, and from her own end, too much of a personal one. Homunculi could touch, taste, smell, and perform many of the same deeds a human, yet their physical contact brought no true intimacy; every movement lacked the anchor of a soul, so there was no weight to support their various (and sometimes amorphous) masses. On the other hand, the issue of their absent quintessences was a sore place, enough so for all homunculi to become disoriented and wrathful when in the presence of their human creators and families.

All the same, Lust tested both of their sensitivities by hinting at her own wants and by probing after Sloth's; with her own metaphysical tendrils, she took an experimental plunge into the cold abyss of the icy woman in front of her—mortal transfigured to goddess, exalted and despoiled, life and death all in one, warm and cold and perfect. The mirror revealed her smirk, that light and wonderful upwards hook of muscle, and her eyes were so maternal and quiet, happy and mournful, a paradox and a unity of opposites. Suddenly, she pushed backwards on her heels, forcing Lust's mouth along the ridges of her shoulders and the lines of her neck. The seductress was more than willing to comply with the unspoken demand; she sucked roughly, biting and purring softly as the other woman arched and grabbed her empty hand, pulling it downwards.

As Lust watched, unspeakably aroused, two graceful long legs slid apart like a stage curtain opening, and the elder homunculus found her hand shoved into the heart of the wetness, a place where the skin was smooth and surprisingly warm. So this was the image of the body Hohenheim Elric had loved, the body which had given life to the little prodigy. And the body whose hands will murder at the request of our Master. Grinning at their reflection, Lust watched her hand slide between Sloth's legs, lightly tracing the thick folds and the indent of her sex, and Sloth moaned and parted her legs further, accommodating deeper touches. Lust pressed two fingers in, pushing and pulling and spreading the rosy flesh, opening it for the mirror's appreciative gaze, and her index finger aligned itself with the clitoris, moving it back and forth as she buried her fingers deeper into the woman's body.

At this, Sloth dropped some of her aloof chill. Her back curved when she responded to Lust's exploration of her body, taut muscles bending as she jerked and gasped gently, hair spilling over one shoulder, face faintly flushed with surging desire. She had thus far retained enough of her original human complexion for a blush to look almost acceptable upon her gorgeous face, and the pleasured suffering in her eyes caused Lust to increase the speed of her actions, giving her fingers free reign to journey into the depths of Sloth's newly beautiful form. The other woman refused to be passive; she eased into the caresses, gently at first, but with growing need for the promise of release. Her delicate pubic bones nudged against Lust's palm as the woman's fingers plunged deep, and she exhaled in tremulous little gasps, shaking as her knees quaked and her body and hair shone with perspiration and the drops of her watery essence.

"Y-yes," she answered, finally. "I be remember..."

It seemed the doll was coming to life at the touches of her master, and Lust knew she had control of this marionette's strings. Yes. She loved it; loved holding such power, loved creating that feeling for which she had been named, loved these moments of seduction and control over others, and perhaps most importantly, she loved being able to bond. Neither of them had souls, but they had spirits, energies, and in this room, those spirits met one another in the murmurs and gasps and whimpers and in the silent needs of the soul-starved females; the filaments of their hearts touched with painful friction, connecting in their mutual yearning for something more, and in one another, perhaps their emptiness could be replaced with wholeness... if only for a time.

Without warning, Lust pulled her hand away from Sloth's groin, fingers dripping, cruel calculation weighed and measured, and when Sloth responded with a groan of dismay, Lust laughed in a low hiss and whispered strange words into her ear. The mirror shimmered as ribbons of silver light criss-crossed its reflective exterior, dancing like a physical display of mirth, making Sloth's structure look as much like fluid as when she actually transformed into the translucent blue substance. Her expression was one of a hallowed martyr: agony and ecstasy had plainly coiled within the pit of her belly like twin serpents, like a feasting ouroboros, and she grimaced and shook and twitched, plunging downwards and mindlessly seeking satiation, but Lust held her still. The hand still gripping her breast pinched the sensitive bud of a nipple, twisting roughly, and Sloth caterwauled and tensed up reflexively, as if expecting Lust to finish her original work.

"No, no," Lust began, burying her nose in Sloth's lovely wet hair. "Maybe Dante's way of greeting you is to simply take, but that's too mundane for me. Our Master gave me my name for a reason; did you know this?" She chortled. "Let me show you why. I've taken, and I've given, and you're going to return the favour, sweet sister."

So saying, she suddenly lifted her hand and dug her fingers into Sloth's hair. All at once, she gave her a sharp jerk, yanking her around so that they were facing one another. Eyes—identical save for the emotions within them—met, and lips swept over one another. Lust eased her tongue into her partner's mouth, tasting the sweet nectar of the stones Sloth had so recently consumed, and she lapped thirstily, relishing the taste of the life that coursed through their veins, the essence that flowed freely between them. Sloth fought back forcefully, eyes wide and open as if she might be surprised, but her tongue was never hesitant. Like a good puppet, she knew what to do. Keeping her fingers firmly entwined in Sloth's tresses, Lust eased her head downwards, silently commanding her to roam the voluptuous expanse of pale flesh. Dante had taught her well, of course; Sloth obeyed, biting and sucking her way down Lust's neck, her whimpers nearly inaudible, muffled by the cool skin that she kissed and licked and nibbled.

Once she had reached her mistress's breasts, Sloth wasted no time raising her hands and nimbly peeling the tight black fabric away from Lust's bosom, exposing her fair curves for the mirror to behold. Lust gave a pleased sigh and stroked her soft hair as Sloth's harsh tongue trailed over the perfect contours, playfully encircling and teasing nipples as dark as sloe plums. As she licked the nipples to hardness, her sad eyes looked up with feckless curiosity, and an unabashed, wanton hunger for the carnal pleasures to be had here. After skimming the surface of the breasts, Sloth took one into her mouth, engulfing it and sucking viciously. Her hand cupped the other breast, stroking the eager flesh as she alternated between gentle and hard touches, and Lust purred like a feral feline slowly growing tame to the touch of her owner, as if their roles were at last beginning to reverse. She tossed her head back and licked her lips, shuddering at the tremors that twisted her spine into and out of knots, groaning at Sloth's ministrations; the woman massaged with tongue, teeth, hands, and she switched between torturous slowness and murderous speed. There was no pause here, no worry for Lust's well-being, and Lust didn't worry for Sloth's, either; after all, they were both homunculi. They could handle the violence of passionate wiles.

"Lower," Lust insisted, slurring the word with her namesake emotion, and Sloth did not comply at first. She held one flawless breast upwards as if trying to show it off to its owner, and her dark red lips clamped down as her hot mouth fell again over her lover, tormentor, and victim. Lust growled as that tongue assaulted her once more, and impatiently, she pushed Sloth downwards. Aside from a slight mewl which may have signified either pleasure or protest, Sloth uttered no noise in response to Lust's shoving hand. Those slender fingers worked to undress the elder homunculus, pulling away her dress until her mid-section was nude, then her hips, and once she had gotten the clothing off sufficiently lowered, she planted a trail of moist kisses down the soft feminine belly, seeming to smile at the trampolining motion that came in response to her movements. Lust tilted her head back and enjoyed the sensation, the marvelous sensation which came with those lips and those fingers, and as her breathing grew ragged and desperate, she tilled her fingers through the strands of dark wet hair, exploring the scalp and the hair itself with an affection that could have been mistaken for something so much more filial.

When Lust opened her eyes again, she saw the mirror, and within it, she saw Sloth kneeling at her feet like a proper servant. The entire length of the sable dress lay at its owner's feet, pooling like liquified obsidian, and Sloth was crouching, and though Lust could only see the back of her head and her own hands upon it, she felt—oh, did she ever feel! Tight and wet, heat and moisture coiled between her legs like a tense bundle. When Sloth's mouth and hands joined forces in bringing more sensation to the slippery nerve-rich flesh, Lust had to hold her breath and tighten her resolve to keep an orgasm from overtaking her and exploding hot within her belly. What a good little wife she must have been, the older homunculus thought, amused. How submissive she is.

Yet, no sooner had the musing entered Lust's mind than a startled gasp wended past her throat and her legs fell from beneath her like glass turned to sand. She gasped as she fell, swallowing air rapidly before her back struck the hard floor and her head followed suit with a resounding thud. The sound echoed in the lofty room, and Lust winced at the pain which shot through her ersatz "human" form; her head spun with the dizzy recognition that this was not right, and I didn't expect this...but at the same time...unexpected meant intriguing...and it was most alluring to ponder the idea that the little doll might have severed her strings...

Lust sat up, lips arcing upwards to bare her teeth. The grin was brutal, sharp and deadly. Her libido was still dreaming of the euphoria to come, and only a slim fragment of her mind bothered to focus on ascertaining what was happening.

The mirror vanished. Candles danced and cast swaying shadows on the walls. Yes, Lust thought, and little more could she form into anything coherent. Touch. Taste. Smell. The world was naked, stripped of all things extraneous, and only feeling remained. Borders fuzzed, blurred, dissolved into foggy colours, and a fair, fleshy body crawled up the length of Lust's form. Yes. Perfect, she thought, again, and she could do nothing but want as hands pressed down, as hair tickled skin, as that searching wet mouth mimicked a concave meniscus and bit red crescents onto her shoulders.

The shadows draped everything save for a silhouette of pastel, and Lust closed her eyes and relaxed, allowing herself to be pushed to the ground and spread like the input for a sacrificial bout of alchemy. She moaned encouragingly and opened her eyes to slits as soon as those feathery touches turned hard and edged upon violence; when her mouth fell open, her gasp was instantly swallowed by a kiss, by sucking lips. Sloth's eyes no longer held any residual look of depression; the dainty martyr—suffering saint in her former life—had now fully undergone her transformation into a monster thirsty for blood, and Lust could have never envisioned something so remarkably lovely.

"I am the youngest," Sloth said, her words cool despite the dark and hungry undertone manifesting far below their exterior. "But our Master demands that I learn quickly; she wants me to hurt and get strong, to be assertive and live among the humans as one of them." She pushed a lock of dripping hair behind one ear. "If that means playing a role, then that's what I'll do. If it means feigning weakness, then I'll feign it. I'll act submissive, gain power through allowing others to think I'm something I'm not..." The smile that graced her lips was sweet, but it held no warmth. "...and then I'll have what I want."

Lust was no longer even certain to what she was referring—humanity, or something entirely different—but in that moment, it did not matter. For now, nothing mattered but one instant, one deed, and Lust spread her legs in open invitation, waiting for the final act to commence. They had reversed places: from mistress to servant, from the sacrifice to the priestess readying it, and Lust might have opposed her sudden loss of control...had it not piqued her curiosity so very thoroughly.

Darkness gorged upon its crow's feast of perspiration-soaked, needy flesh, and Lust succumbed to its blissful arms. Watery tentacles traversed her limbs like a host of snakes; at first, they seemed unhurried and indolent—like the sin that Sloth had been named for—but then, all at once, they were eager. Ravenous. Pulling. Prying. Opening her. Around her arms, her legs, her knees and thighs, sliding over her breasts and belly in slick waves, encircling and squeezing her nipples until her back bowed up off the ground and she cried out, begging for her torture to be dragged out or begging for her wants to be satiated...she hardly knew which she desired more. Sloth's tendrils lifted Lust's arms and angled her pelvis as though she were hanging, crucified; the only sounds she heard were her own frantic gasps—now becoming screams—and the slap of the cold appendages playing with her breasts. One tentacle inched towards her nether lips, fondling, slipping between them and pressing hard before pulling back so suddenly that her breath caught and she panted for more.

Lust's eyes swam with bursts of colours, with impressions of light and life and movement. She bit down hard and let all reality be burned away by the bizarre length of ethereal flesh which shoved into her in one quick motion, penetrating her, and further sounds were muffled by other tentacles at her lips, her mouth, her throat. Sloth was gone; she had disappeared into the overwhelming shadows, but her ghostly tendrils remained. Like wandering spirits, they left nothing untouched. As her body clenched around the harsh membranous filament driving into her, another inquisitive limb nudged the cleft of her buttocks. Lust had to admit that Sloth's level of control over her form's extensions was simply amazing; this newest tentacle actually swooped upwards to collect a dollop of spill from its victim's considerably aroused body. Then, it hooked downwards and wriggled its way in, writhing past the nerves at her ass and drawing liquid sounds from her throat; she gagged around the tendril in her mouth and bucked into the newfound friction, shuddering helplessly as twin tentacles filled her, twisting against her insides, lengthening and straining, and...and she could barely breathe...and...

But then, she didn't really have to breathe, did she?

By the time the final touch came, Lust knew she didn't have long left. All of her muscles seemed to be singing in unison, humming over the short and long notes of the surging pleasure that Sloth was threading through her nerves. She had no choice but to react, to accept, to let herself be carried away on this sea of burning euphoria.

And then...

...and then there it was.

There was one more tendril—or was it one of Sloth's own fingers?—dragging across her clitoris as lightly as a stroking fingernail. Back and forth. Back and forth. Up and down. Tickling. Fingering. Orchestrating the swan song for their chance coupling.

And Lust couldn't stand it any more.

This newest sensation hopped up her spine, entwining with the delicious assault her neurons were already being faced with, and all at once, the tentacles pulled free from her mouth and she screamed as the force of her orgasm washed over her and wrung her dry. Spasms rocked her spread legs, igniting faux fires within her belly; she twitched like a creature gone mad, riding each successive burst of blistering hot ecstasy, and only the tentacles around her arms hoisted her up and kept her from collapsing into a boneless pile of flesh. Sweat coursed down her temples in rivulets, and...both mentally and physically...she felt exhaustion beginning to settle in the form of a very appreciated ache.

She couldn't hear...couldn't see...couldn't even feel anymore...

It was just...

(...noise...all noise...white and wonderful...)

By the time Lust regained her awareness, arms were cradling her. At first, she thought that the tentacles had simply stayed past the duration of her climax, continuing to lift her, but then she heard a soothing voice in her ear, and there soon came the unmistakable caress of lips, as well as fingers sinking in her hair and splaying it. Sloth sat behind her, chuckling warmly, holding her lover as though Lust were one of the infant boys she had known in another lifetime. When Lust glanced backwards, she noticed that her partner looked as tired and spent as she herself felt, and the mirror winked at them both. The candles seemed brighter, and the room grasped for a little warmth.

"I always did want to be in charge," Sloth murmured. Her fingers spread the black mane, separating the strands like black cobwebs. "She...our Master...always had me held down, and beaten, and..." Her voice began to sound shrill, desperate. Then, she paused, and Lust felt the woman's head shake slowly against her own. "...but I enjoyed having control."

Lust smiled dreamily and pulled herself from the ivory-coloured arms, though not without a degree of sorrow that she had to finally end their moment. "Good, Sloth. Perfect." She reached up and smoothed some of the tangles from her hair, then proceeded to straighten out her dress. As she put her clothes on, she glanced over her shoulder at the incomprehension plain upon Sloth's face, and with a laugh, she added, "The bud has become a flower. Congratulations. You've now been well and truly inducted into the fold, dear sister."

Beauty and beast, victim and killer. The cycle was complete, and the ouroboros had at long last finished its meal. Lust knew Sloth was ready now, more so than she could have ever been before; she had dared, and daring was reserved for those who were approaching the next step. Now, it was only a matter of time.

Sloth sat languidly upon the floor and stared down at her hands as though trying to read something within her palms, lavender eyes somber. Death had rarely been so beautiful, so nurturing, and its threat was not so prominent in one ready sword as it was in a single hidden needle.

"Now..." Lust walked up to her and placed a long fingernail beneath her chin, pricking the skin and drawing a fresh trickle of blood. "Now...let's find you something to wear."