Thank you to all my Phans for the reviews so far! Here is the continuation I promised . . . if you like keep reviewing and I'll keep writing! Yeah! My apologies to Malfoy for the typos... I wrote the first section late at night!

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Phantom of the Opera characters and Susan Kay reserves all rights to her ideas for Erik's time in Persia, on which this phic is based upon.

WARNING: THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS SOME SEXUAL MATERIAL.








Nadir waited patiently for permission to enter Erik's private quarters. He had not seen him for several days and the eunuch servants said he had not eaten or left his room since that afternoon in the Khanum's chamber.

"Erik, please let me in," he pleaded through the door. "Tell me what has upset you. Perhaps something can be done.

After a few moments he heard the bolts on the door slide back and footsteps withdraw. Nadir entered to see a complete mess of his apartment. Papers were strewn across the floor; pillows and silk lined blankets from the bed adorned every corner of the room as though he had been throwing them. The exhausted looking Erik dropped down on the floor where it was evident that he had remained for quite some time, proof by the piles of discarded crumples of papers surrounding him.

Nadir walked over to Erik and picked up one of the papers and unfolded it, brushing out the creases.
"What is it?" he asked curiously.

"Something horrible," Erik said grimly.

"Erik, what has happened to you?" Nadir asked as he knelt down beside his masked friend.

"It should never have been like this," Erik said out loud to himself. "He didn't teach me all he knew to be used like this."

"Who?" Nadir was almost afraid to ask. Erik didn't answer him. He got up and walked over towards the balcony over looking the garden ponds.

"There are so many beautiful things in this world, tell me why I am condemned to creating the horrors that stain it's perfection?"

"I don't know, Erik. Why don't you just leave this place? The palace can be built by the workers if you leave them the proper instructions and you could just move on."

"Move on?" Erik said to him coldly. "Where should I move on to? Don't you think I tire of running from place to place? Here I have every comfort I could dream for and only at the price of a few wretches broken necks whom nobody cares for anyway."

"You know you can just leave and those 'poor wretches' you speak of could have a little chance for survival."

Erik made a derisory sound, "I was beginning to think I was doing them a favor after having seen those so-called jails you keep them in. Most of those men will never see the light of day again. At least facing me they stand a chance."

"Stand a chance? You must be joking!" Nadir said angrily to him. "You know that there is not a single man in those jails with enough skill to defend against the common criminals that run this country, much less against you. The shah promises them their freedom if they defeat you, but by all respects they cannot! How is that mercy?"

Erik stared at him icily through the cut holes of his mask and did not answer. "I grow weary of your constant badgering. What do you care? You have slain a good handful of men in your position, just as I have mine."

Nadir did not reply. He knew that it was true, but never out of bloodlust, as he feared Erik did.

"When will it end? You know that the Khanum will never be satisfied. She will drain every last drop of humanity that resides in your body until you are near death and then she will strike and enjoy watching you die," Nadir argued.

"I have no humanity in me! All humanity left my being the moment I was born to a world whose nature is to shun this!" He took off his mask and turned to face Nadir with a poisonous glare.

"Erik, you can say all you want about not being part of the human race, but the truth is, you are! Just because you say that you no longer have to abide by the rules of man, doesn't mean that it is law. Is there no hell you fear?" Nadir demanded of him.

"I have glimpsed hell by the life I have lived and this is living proof!" he shoved a handful of his design drawings into Nadir's face and throwing them on the ground at his feet.

Nadir sighed and dropped his shoulders in resignation. There would be no further arguing with Erik on this matter.

Erik began again, but his weariness showed in his voice and his body. He seemed weaker. "The truth is, I don't know where I belong in this world. Maybe the only purpose for my being here on this earth is to show people that there is more to fear than their own mortal sin."

He dropped back down into a chair and rubbed his temples before returning the mask to his face with shaking hands. He quietly sobbed, trying to hide it from the man standing behind him.

"Is there a reason you came to see me?" Erik asked.

"Yes, The Khanum has requested that you see her in her quarters immediately."

Erik let out a huge sigh and asked, "What does that woman want now? Does she not know that I've spent the past three days working on her latest request? Every time I turn around she wants something more of me!"

Nadir waited outside the room while Erik changed his clothing, so he could escort him as far as the outer walls of the harem. He could see that Erik was very tired and probably had not slept much, if at all, since their last meeting. Nadir hoped that Erik did not have the strength to start a confrontation with the reigning Khanum, despite his exhausted short temper.

When the two eunuchs took Erik from Nadir's watch, he felt a certain amount of pity for him as Erik cast a feeble glance back at him. He could not be much more than twenty-two and already he had to serve the whims of an evil ruler. Nadir wished he could pray to Allah to strip his talents away so that his burden's could be released, but in respect that he had been cursed with such an awful visage, he was thankful that the almighty maker had compensated him with something.

Although Erik was weary, he still maintained his usual regal air when approaching the Khanum's ornately carved doors. He took a deep breath to compose himself before entering the domain of the shah's mother. The moment he stepped through the doors and left the eunuch's behind him in the hall, he noticed something wasn't quite right. There were no sounds of the harem girls and their usual reaction to his entrance. There were no servants waiting in the corners of the large room, and at first, Erik was unable to locate the presence of the Khanum. He waited several moments before calling to her, "Madame? You summoned me?"

After a few moments more she finally answered him. A soft voice rose from the thin curtains of the canopied bed.

"Erik, tell me about the women in your country."

Erik was still unable to see her, but directed his voice towards hers on the bed, "The women in my country are much like the women everywhere. They are very simple creatures who do not dream any further than their mother's tales of marital bliss will allow."

"And?" her voice came curiously from the pillows themselves.

"And they all fear me," Erik said with venom in his voice.

"I do not fear you, Erik. Does that make me so different from the rest?"

"You should fear me Madame. I could kill you as easily as I do your prisoner men."

"Is that a threat," her voice came evenly.

"Why should I kill you? You keep all the others from killing me."

She laughed dryly at his remark and said, "That much is true, but I doubt they could kill you if they wanted to."

"Why did you ask about the women in my country?" Erik inquired.

After a moment's consideration, she answered, "The travelers from the mission tell of their beauty. I have heard many stories of this from different corners of the continent. Tell me Erik, do you find me as beautiful?"

Erik did not answer. He could not decipher her point in this questioning. Before he could answer, she rose up from the bed. Erik was entirely too shocked to register what he was seeing before she demanded that he answer her. She was wearing nothing but a thin crepe gown, through which he could see most everything that her long hair did not cover. He began to sweat under his mask and felt his body grow very hot. Why was she nearly naked he wondered to himself frantically as the urge to escape the room that seemed to close in on him and expand at the same time grew urgent.

When Erik did not answer her second demand for an answer, she smiled slyly to herself and raised herself up to the thin curtain that separated the two.

"What are you thinking Erik? She asked in a seductive tone.

"M m madame," he stammered, "I have a lot of work to do. The designs are nearly finished for the device you requested and..."

She shushed him with a sound that sent cold chills up Erik's spine. He could not remember feeling so incredibly vulnerable and unsure of himself. He could not help but stare at her one visible breast, despite the urge to look away, should she be angered. He kept wondering the same thought in his mind, why is she doing this? Does she want an excuse to have me arrested? He finally forced his gaze to the ceiling where it stayed until he heard her draw the curtains back.

"Erik," she beckoned with her index finger, "Come and sit by me."

Erik turned abruptly to run from the room. The urge to escape that closing space was overpowering his physical desire to see more, to touch more.

"Erik!" she called to him harshly. "How dare you run from me. I have given you an order and you will obey it!"

Had Erik been in full capacity of his senses, he would have continued to flee, but his emotions were so mixed up at the moment, he could do nothing but listen to her order. He stopped dead in his tracks and slowly turned towards her. The Khanum could see her effect on him and she smiled to herself as she moved aside to accommodate him on the edge of the bed.

He slowly sat down beside her, every muscle in his body drawn taunt from the desire that was raging in his body at seeing hers and the uncommon fear that had struck him to the bone. Like a snake, she slid up next to him and lifted the mask off his face that continued to stare straight ahead.

Her hennaed hand slid up his arm and she whispered in his ear, "Why don't you face me?"

Erik's mouth was dry and even if he could answer her, he did not know what to say."

The Khanum impatiently thrust her hand to the crotch of his pants and exclaimed, "You would not dare defy me would you Erik?"

Panic broke loose in Erik's head and he bolted out the door as fast as he could, his heart racing a thousand miles a minute. He was so entirely confused by her behavior that he refused to think about what had just happened. She was taunting him, teasing him into a little game of hers. He would not play along with it, he vowed! He would not; but then again, a small part of him had wanted to. As much as he could not deny it, she stirred something in him that he had long since repressed into the bowels of his inner being. How could he feel something towards that woman and what was it exactly he felt? In a half-crazed moment as he sat on her bed, he had wanted to take her, consequences or no, and the thought of that made him sick.








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