Merrie sat in the corner of the prison cell. It was situated in the basement of the count's keep, well protected against stray sunlight as long as she avoided the single narrow window ten meters above her.

Around her, the hum of wards scraped against her senses: Natis' newer ones felt like brands when she accidentally projected her thoughts, older protections to prevent anyone from digging into the stone, even wards using magic against the locks or the heavy steel door that led out. The runes on the door glowed faintly when she approached, a warning for the flame spells inscribed into the metal. The auras of the different spells were a cacophony against her senses, like a thousand rats squealing for attention.

Natis was a powerful summoner, but she found traces of divine magic in his wards. It surprised her but also made sense as she thought about it, the forces from other dimensions were almost gods, not unlike the Lord of Shadows.

She had spent an hour inspecting the wards, learning from them even as she realized there was no escape. She couldn't leave even if she wanted to. Her thoughts kept her pinned in place. It had been hours since Natis had commanded her to stay in the cell after enchanting it. The agony of being cut off from the others meant she only had her own thoughts for company.

Doubt plagued her as she kept going over the conversation in the great hall. It was obvious that everyone felt that she made the wrong choice but she couldn't identify it. She made a promise, a deal, with the Lord of Shadows to give them shelter in this world. Intellectually, she knew that a four thousand square kilometer of land turned into a shadow land would be devastating for those already living there. It was worse than the Shadowed District and just as many people will die as they were hunted and slaughtered by the creatures of the shadows.

Her creatures. Her children. It had to be the shadow kin. She had a strange attachment to them that no other creature had ever touched. No, there were others. She had her pack in Franome City, her wonderful dogs who killed and died to protect her.

The memories brought tears but the gaping, howling darkness of their loss had finally faded. She could still longed for Tamin's comfort. The powerful Bel Dark hound had been her companion twice, one as a gift from the Lord of Shadows. He died saving her, twice.

She sniffed. The shadow kin also sacrificed themselves to save her. Was that what made her want to save them? She didn't want to know there were others who would kill and die for her, yet there were. The creatures of the shadows, from the smallest shadow of a squirrel that died in the light to the powerful tentacle beasts that radiated protective love for her. They were hers. No one else could talk to them, feel them, or cherish them. They were hers. Born from both her power and the Lord of Shadows, they were a part of her heart as much as Tamin and her pack, Kine and Rimmy, and everyone else she lost over the years.

Emotionally, the answer was also clear but opposite of her thoughts. She had a family and friends. She could save them and she did. If she had to choose, she would have done the same.

Tears burned in her eyes. She buried her face into her knees and let out a cry. Why couldn't there be easy answers? Why couldn't the geas wrapped around her soul prevent her from making the wrong choice? Why didn't it?

She couldn't see any other way. She had risked all of Franome for her family twice, once when she made the deal to save her friends and then again when she refused to close the portal. The geas should have torn her apart long before the creatures fucked her, before she asked the Lord of Shadows to give her an orgasm to limits its boundaries.

Her cloak wrapped around her, the cool fabric settling into place along her icy skin. The caress brought little shivers of pleasure along her skin. Flips of fabric rustled along her nipples while the fluttering corner draped along her pubic mound. The cloak was cold, even for her body, and the icy touch felt good.

She sighed and let her senses drink in the sensation. Her triple heartbeat grew more rapid as the pleasures radiated through the rest of her body.

The cloak tightened, grinding her knees against her head and pinning her arms to her side. It continued to stroke along her nipples and pussy, drawing up and down with slow, torturous strokes.

Merrie moaned and tested her bounds but couldn't escape.

The cloak continued to move without her direction, pressing hard against her pussy as it opened up her lips and wormed up against her clitoris and along the sensitive spot between her pussy and her ass. The delicate, fluttering fabric teased and tickled her.

She arched her back and panted. Soft whimpers rose up from her throat, the needy sounds of a bitch who hungered for an orgasm.

The cloak ran a ridge against her entire sex, from clitoris to asshole and back again.

“More, please,” she whispered.

Responding to her plea, the cloak continued to caress her. Ribbons of darkness wrapped around her body, tightening along her skin as it cupped her breasts and thighs. Pressure rippled along its length, teasing her even further as it sealed her arms tight to her body.

Merrie tested the pressure but the cloak easily held her in place. She moaned and twisted in her constraints, enjoying how the pleasure bubbling inside her. It felt like icy claws reaching from her insides, stretching along her nerves in delicious agony.

Before she could beg for more, the cloak withdraw from her sex. It kept her bound tightly but ceased to teach her sensitive parts.

Merrie moaned and twisted, the pleasure rising inside her but nowhere close enough to an orgasm she craved. She wanted to reach out with her mind and regain control over the cloak but didn't. She liked it when it responded without her direction; it was her ally but she couldn't predict every action which made every touch a pleasure.

The collar was the catalyst for the cloak's independence. She didn't dare break its control over the animated material formed by her own powers.

She wondered if the collar was the reason why the geas didn't stop her. Was the artifact more powerful than the royal geas? Would it protect her from the damage promised if she ever did anything against the royal family or the country?

Merrie tensed. She wondered if the geas had actually taken root inside her. The idea of having anything absolutely controlling her was both exciting and terrifying. She loved when she could resist, the playful way she got in trouble with Kine or even using the collar to divorce herself. The geas didn't allow for that. It was absolute.

She realized her pussy was growing wetter. The part of her who craved submission also loved the absolution. There was no escape from the collar around her neck. It had bound into her soul and kept her leashed as tightly as any master.

Merrie rubbed her thighs together to enjoy the pleasure of her slick lips stroking each other. The cloak had started a fire inside her and she wanted to nurture it into something more than just a little pleasure.

A new doubt slithered through her thoughts: what if the geas wasn't an absolute? What if the power she gained from submission was a lie?

Her attempts to masturbate faltered. Not even the cloak's bondage was enough to push her over the edge.

After another attempt, it was obvious. The doubt was too much. She had to know if the geas was there. If it wasn't, then she had made the wrong choice. The others would forgive her if she promised to close the portal.

If the geas remained, however, then she still didn't how the shadow land furthered Franome and the family.

Merrie had to find out.

She tensed at the thought, the geas was very powerful and it could kill her if she tried something as foolish as attacking Claston.

There was a brief tingle that scraped against her spine.

Merrie frowned, unsure if it was the geas or anticipation that stopped her. She shivered and bore down. Her breath came faster as she thought about the geas. She must push harder, to know if it was really there.

Her pussy tingled with her thoughts. She remembered another time when she built up the courage to hurt herself, when Bass was being too gentle with her and she needed it harder and faster. She whimpered as she twisted and and forth, the tingling between her legs becoming a liquid heat as she remembered how much the last geas hurt when she cried out from her cage. She could still taste it in the back of her throat.

Merrie panted as she tightened her body. She knew how to trigger it. It just needed to be a thought with convention, willpower to go forward with some action that would violate the compulsion. She only had to push a little.

Just a little thought.

She moaned and squeezed her legs together. Her stomach tightened as she took a deep breath and then another. “Come on,” she whispered, “just one thought. Just trigger it a little and then you'll know.” Her voice was hoarse from talking but she was tired of echoing inside her own thoughts.

Her body tingled with anticipation. Her pussy drooled with the realization she was about to inflict agony on herself.

She tried to let her thoughts go toward treasonous activity. Her first attempts was to imagine attacking Claston but her fantasies took hold of the thoughts and draw them into sex, fueling the ache between her legs. With a hiss, she screwed up her thoughts and imagined someone else. She couldn't think of anyone else that would trigger the geas besides maybe killing the queen—