Louis glanced over at him, vaguely alarmed at the idea. "I wouldn't," he said. In the background, the doe bounded away. "But I've known men who would." He frowned a little. Nothing happened to the dream, but thinking of shooting always made him think of his father. He had never bothered to force Louis to pick up the sport, thank God.
He wasn't sure how to answer such a question, so he merely shrugged. "I don't know if that's possible. To inspire overthinking." He smiled a little, as if he'd heard a joke that had gone over his head. "I think that I overthink most things, and a beautiful landscape is no exception to the rule." The walked down the steep path to the cabin, winding in and out of trees, then into the open expanse leading down to the water. The surface of the water did not quite reflect the sky above, which was grey, now, and heavy, threatening rain. "If only I were a poet," he said, to his walking companion. "Do you have a verse at the tip of your tongue? I'd love to hear it."
Come here often?. Where was here, exactly? The question could have forced him to reexamine his environment, but he didn't, answering immediately and with confidence, "Only recently. I've been trying to come here more often." He didn't seem to remember that it could have been taken as a joke, and answered with the lack of irony with which it had been asked. "I suppose I missed it. I was trying to find a place where I felt calm, and this seemed about right."
The door to the cottage, surprisingly, was unlocked. Louis opened it and held it for his companion, smiling at him. "I think someone's waiting for us," he said. Still unsure of who, he stepped inside.
Inside was not a cottage, but a vast ballroom stretching the width of a sports pitch. The floor was tiled in checkered marble, a soft pink beside a brilliant green veined in red. It was an odd combination, strange and rococo.
The whole room was wildly over the top. The wood paneling was carved with figured, saints and sinners, gods and goddesses, gargoyles, cupids, virgins and crones, picked out in brilliant paint and gilt. Looking up, the ceiling was no less breathtaking - blue-winged seraphs beat a path across a midnight-blue sky and tiny gilt stars. There were others in the heavens, too. A buddha, perhaps. Kali, many-armed. Was that a shinto god? There was a veritable crowd of divine beings peering down on them.
The door shut behind, much too small to fit a grand room of this size, and when it sealed, it disappeared. There was an unbroken wall behind them, unbroken carving of untold beauty.
Louis had picked up a suit somewhere, but he wasn't Louis, not precisely, not anymore. He wore perfectly polished patent leather shoes, just as reflective as the marble floor. His black suit, brushed silk, hung on him perfectly. He seemed to have gained a few inches in height.
If dreamers saw themselves as more themselves when they dreamed, more beautiful and exceptional, this was still a radical change. The face was completely different, at once perfectly symmetrical, handsome, and beautiful. It seemed to change, too, when one looked away and looked back. Whatever Eames might imagine the pinnacle of human beauty to be, here it was, staring back at him, hovering somewhere between a stunningly pretty man and a the world's most handsome woman. The hair was straight, black, short, and tucked behind the ears.
It extended a white hand to the dreamer. Oil-slick eyes looked back at him. "Mr. Eames. I would call you by your first name, but that would put us on an awkward footing. You dance, I assume."