And then—

—the instant you felt its mind again, you knew, and you were moving. Not even a thought, and no part of you sought to demur; by instinct alone you leapt and ran and flung yourself at the thing. Let it flee if it so chose. But you would touch it again, before it did. Just one more time, even if it was the last time—there were things you must not leave unsaid.

Of course they vanished in the instant in which it caught you. As you saw the fast rising sea beneath you explode in a boil of foam and thick leaping dark strong limbs, you knew—and then those limbs found yours, and plucked you from your fall, and wound strong and tight against every part of you—almost, damn it—and as they slicked your fur with slime and held your long body transfixed, you could think of nothing but only feel your very soul leaping with joy as the dark sweet hot pleasure blossomed in your belly and reached out through your limbs to set you quivering with delight and the anticipation of so much greater fulfillment yet to come.

The deep thing almost fled your mind again, at that—in the first moments of that embrace, you knew its contrition for having careless flung its vast weight at you before, and its fear that you might respond in kind—might focus the energies you'd so carelessly flung out of yourself before, and make a weapon of yourself which would destroy it utterly. That you might take exception to it hurting you, and choose to hurt it back.

But its mind is so much faster, now! Before you felt it great and vast and slow, and vast and great it is still—but it is not now dying, and where once it was barely there, mouse tiny and mouse quiet in the spaces of your mind—now it is as agile as vast, as nimble as great, and so strong—it does not understand why you have flung yourself at it so, but it would know, and so—

—and so suddenly as that, it is inside you.

In your wood scout days now gone, you knew all manner of monsters. Plant-things like short squat bushes full of whippy writhing suckered tendrils which would batten on whatever incautious creature came within reach—batten on, and sink tiny needle fangs, and draw forth blood, and you knew how to find them all but sated, and how to entice them just so once you did. Insect things—the spidery crawling eaters of leaf litter not unwilling to feed elsewhere, and a creature like a palm-sized woodlouse whose writhing many legs framed a belly full of lovely horror. And the many many beasts, hunters of flesh or blood or more intimate sorts of satiation, to which the forests of New Albain were home.

But to those, you gave only your body, and then only what of it you chose—most times, at least; you had a few surprises. But even then, you found yourself ready willing, more taken with the pleasure of the strange than frightened by its insistence upon itself—and even then, none of them could reach beyond your flesh. But this—this great alien sea-beast of yours, which you have so hardly sought, and for which so hardly fought—it is everywhere within you, in a matter of mere instants.

Not painfully—not by any means; fearful though it was, it still will not harm you. But mouse tiny and mouse quiet no longer—the tendrils of its mind dive beyond the boundaries of your own, branching wide and deep along all the strands of thought and memory and sensation and emotion which make up everything that is your mind, and though there is no pain, there is such sudden fullness as the deep thing reaches into you and through you and wraps each strand of yourself in a tendril of itself—

—you cannot help yourself; you would not if you could; you surrender to the thing, and let it have of you what it will—