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Merrie was in agony but she could not scream. She tried to do anything but no matter what she did no noise came out of a throat that no longer burn. She couldn’t take or touch herself or even flail around. Instead, it was just a terrible silence. She wanted to flail around, to find some way of escaping the pain, but her limbs refused to move. She couldn’t even feel anything against her skin. It was as if she no longer had a form, not even a shell to contain her darkness.

The helplessness surged through her but no pleasure rippled along her senses. Instead, it plunged her deeper into the pit of torment. Unable to do anything, she continued her attempts to scream while forcing her way through the cloud of agony.

Desperate for something—anything actually—that would relieve some of her torment, she reached out for the one thing that she knew would be there, her collar. Her body didn’t caress against the cold metal but she felt it in the back of her mind. It was a solid anchor for her thoughts, a place to shield against the pain for a moment to gather her senses.

At the touch of the mental connection, she felt a surge of relief. Some of the pain faded from her mind as she focused all of her willpower on the collar, exploring the familiar connection to herself. It was an unbreakable leash, a lead that was inexorably bound to her mind and soul. If she had a soul left.

Still in agony, she sent out a pleading pulse through it. She didn’t know how it would respond, but the collar had changed her thoughts before. What came back wasn’t her own thoughts, it was her mistress.

A part of her wanted to explore the strange behavior that she felt only a short while ago. The response she got wasn’t an alteration of her own thoughts, a change that made it feel like her mistress, but something more. It felt like a distinct consciousness echoing in her mind.

The time it took for the thoughts to transverse the artifact felt like forever. She lost her mental grip on the collar and fell back into the agony. Her mind wanted to scream but she couldn’t hear her voice.

Merrie tried to reach for her collar again but she couldn’t focus. Her mind felt like it was fracturing under the darkness that threatened to tear her apart. It reminded her of the pit of despair that had formed in her mind when she lost Kine. The emptiness and fear all boiling deep inside her, ripping her apart when her life had no more meaning or purpose.

A new thought blossomed through her mind, wordless and powerful, a sense of ownership and command. It pushed away some of the agony with a singular reminder that she was already owned. She had bonded her soul already, joined forever with the one mistress who would never leave her.

Merrie’s agony diminished slightly. The despair felt a little more shallow. She had bonded with herself, given her very being to the collar and became her own woman.

Reaching out, she found she could find the collar’s connection in her mind again. She sent out a strangled pulse of hope and joy, her love for being dominated.

It came rippling back as an intense wave of power, all the force of a command without actual words or desire, the idea of submission.

Pleasure blossomed inside her.

(Accept it.) The feeling of submission became something more intense when the actual command filled her thoughts. It was her voice but different, the unfamiliarity was there again, different thoughts than her own. It only took her a moment to realize what she meant, accept the pain.

The idea of sinking into the agony terrified her. It hurt beyond anything she had seen. She remembered how the despair had torn her apart. She created the Shadowed District and hurt so many people.

(Accept it!) came the overwhelming command.

The pleasure snaked through her agony. She managed to steel herself and than opened herself up, taking in the pain and letting it shatter her mind. Her thoughts, her sanity, fractured and blew apart, sinking into oblivion as she obeyed her collar because it was the only thing she could do.