At long last! The final awaited chapter to The Khanum!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you all for your patience! I've been busy getting engaged and all so my writing has taken the back burner for quite long enough. I do apologize for the serious delay in finishing this story. Please review the chapter and the overall story if you would please. Reviews are greatly appreciated!!!!
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The Khanum entered her private chambers alone. He usual entourage of lady servants eunuchs, and girls from the harem had apparently been dismissed. She paced quietly across her bedchambers, then jumped at the sound of Erik's voice which came from nowhere.
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"Don't you think it unwise," his voice came from a darkened corner, "for a lady of your standing, to enter a room unattended?" Erik slipped out from the shadowed curtains of the window in which he sat waiting. "There could be dangerous assassins lurking about."
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Angered by his willful deception of being in the room, she threw him a poisonous glance for having made her jump, to which he continued to stare at her calmly. "I see you still have not learned the proper way to address me," she said.
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"I see you still have not learned that I address no one properly!" Erik replied contemptuously.
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Choosing to ignore the last comment, she sat in her favorite chair, allowing him to stand waiting in her presence. His motionless body and heavy stare unnerved her slightly, causing her to remind herself that such inappropriate behavior should have been punished had it been done by anyone else.
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But there was nobody to punish him now. And Erik knew this.
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"You know Erik, you should consider yourself the luckiest man in this country to be alive still, after all the ways you have disobeyed me. Your refusal to follow protocol, your lack of respect of authority, all these are punishable by imprisonment and in other cases, death..."
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"Yet I have not been punished," he cut her off. "Why make an acceptation for my life over that of others?"
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To this she merely scoffed, "I suppose you think you are more valuable to me than others."
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Erik did not answer.
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"I can assure you that is most certainly not the reason for why you have been kept alive," she said dryly. "I made it quite clear when you first came to us that your services were merely to amuse me, however the means may be."
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"Building a new palace for your son hardly constitutes amusement," Erik replied.
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"Do not try to argue your case!" she snapped. "My son may be the ruling shah, but I am the one who runs this country and the purpose for you building the new palace was solely to keep his mind occupied while I took over political affairs. I did not think you could be so ingenues and so completely daft at the same time when it came to obvious matters!
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Erik clenched his fists tightly and ground his teeth at that last remark. He took an advancing step towards the Khanum, who flinched slightly in her chair. Then suddenly, her attitude changed once more to the conniving, sly serpent he had witnessed many times before. She gracefully rose from her chair and walked across the room to look out across the courtyard, brushing past him with complete indifference to his threatening move.
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Erik did not turn to look at her as she stood at the balcony window.
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"You may have built my son a palace to live in, but your true marvel lies right down there," she gestured towards the silent dark chamber that lie below her chamber as Erik glanced over his shoulder towards her. "So simple and yet complex. It can take a life at the flip of a switch then return to the innocent state in which it now sits. It has no morals. Nothing to gain or lose. It does not take sides in a war. It simply exists to take life from those within."
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Erik, now facing her, stood for a moment while she stood, now silent, staring into the ill-lit courtyard. "Madame, you requested me to come to your chambers for one last request. If you would please state it's purpose, I'll be on my way."
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"Ahh yes," she started as though she had forgotten.
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She reached up and pulled the curtains shut.
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Erik took a step back.
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"I know that after tonight, you will leave this place, never to return," she began.
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Erik held his ground, wondering what she was getting at.
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"And that it is quite possible that nobody from this country will ever see you again."
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"Yes, that is true," Erik replied.
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She turned to close the curtains on another window then turned to stare at him. "Take off your mask."
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"Why? You've seen my face a thousand times before. It will be the same I assure you."
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She stared harshly back at him with her cold eyes glowing. "Take off your mask."
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The mask landed on the floor between them.
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"What is it that you want from me?" Erik finally asked.
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"I think you know what it is that I want from you. No man, however innocent, can be so naive not to know what I want from you." She walked past him, flipping her hair in his face as she slowly walked towards the bed.
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"And if I give in? What then? I suppose you will kill me the moment you are satisfied," Erik said dryly.
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"Perhaps," She smiled schemingly.
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Erik started towards her slowly. His face expressionless.
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"Would you truly deny me this one last request?" She coyly asked, untying the ribbon on the front of her blouse.
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Erik was silent but kept moving towards her spot on the bed.
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"You have never denied me before. And isn't this what you desire more than anything else? To feel the body of a woman trapped beneath yours in the heat of passion and pleasure? Surely, you would not deny yourself that. Not when I offer it to you freely," She continued to unlace her blouse, the left sleeve now dropping past her shoulder.
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"Madame, what game is this you are playing?" Erik replied in a silky hushed tone.
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"Game?" She responded as she dropped the other sleeve. "I don't know what you are talking about."
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Erik inched in upon her, leaning forward on the bed. "Do you want this?" he gestured towards his face.
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"Yes," she breathed.
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"Do you truly want what you thought you could not have?"
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"Yes."
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His face was now scant inches from hers, his head tilting towards her shoulder, going in for a kiss. Her lips lifted up in anticipation to meet his. At the last moment, he turned his head to the side, placing his hands on her shoulders, guiding her to stand.
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"How can you know what I want?"
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She smiled at him. "I think I can tell." She dropped her blouse off of her body, letting it fall to the floor beside them. There she stood wearing only her thin crepe pantaloons and golden jewelry. She stepped backwards away from him slightly. "I know what all men want."
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Erik advanced on her. "As you know I am not 'all men'."
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She continued backing away, "Yes, but no matter the difference, all men desire the body of a woman. So in some ways, you are no different from other men. How else do you suppose my little game could have worked?" She backed into the balcony and stopped, waiting for him.
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Erik moved to join her, pressing her body close to his then smothering her lips with his own. She fought his tongue with her own fiercely as he gained access to her mouth with his crushing pressure. She breathed heavily as his mouth moved towards her neck and his hands began to roam over her tanned skin.
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Erik pressed his lips into her ear and whispered in a harsh tone. "No, Madame. You do not understand me. For if you had, you would know that I, of all men, do not play other people's games."
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She looked at him, confused.
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"I play my own." he grinned, twisting up the corners of his horrible mouth.
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And with that, he gave one mighty shove and pushed her backwards over the balcony! Down she fell to the courtyard below, smashing through the glass roof of the torture chamber that lie just below her window. Erik stood for a moment watching her crumpled body start to bleed from the dozens of lacerations caused by the broken glass. When he saw her stir and try to get up, he calmly walked down the marble steps to where the chamber stood.
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He heard a painful groan from inside the glass hexagon and called to her, "Well well well, this is the second time, I've trapped you in this ingenious device, isn't it. I must admit that this time is much more amusing. For me that is."
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She listened to his voice echoing through the mirrored walls as she struggled to get to her feet. She winced in pain as she realized that her right leg had been broken in the fall. Her painful breath, a sure sign of several broken ribs.
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"You see, when I agreed to come to this godforsaken country, it was for MY amusement, not to satisfy the vain and stupid whims of the ruling shah and his wicked mother. I know you have been playing a game of cat and mouse with me, but the amusing illusion is that all this time, it has been I who was playing the cat, while you and your son, have been my evening meal of minced mouse."
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Erik began to round the chamber, touching it's smooth metal surface.
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"When you said that this device was my true marvel, you couldn't be more correct. You asked me to build something that would create amusing deaths. Since I care nothing for the amusement of others, I designed it to entertain me and myself alone. And you, Madame, have the honor of being it's one and only victim."
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Erik heard her moan from inside, as though she were now truly baffled.
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"I see you do not understand. Yes, many have died inside this wonderful contraption, but nobody has yet died by its true weapon!" He shouted to her.
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And with that, he lifted a hidden panel on the opposite side of the chamber's lever control board to reveal a secret lever in the shape of a scorpion. He lifted the scorpion's black tail then lowered it again when he heard the gears inside the machine start to turn.
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Inside the inner circle of the chamber's two, the floor began to spin, slow at first, then faster and faster until the Khanum was thrown to the floor in the center.
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Erik stood outside and watched as his master creation began its first and last performance. A perfect victim for the perfect killing machine.
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The outer shell of the chamber began to open up like a black metal flower in bloom, it's petals splitting at the top and lowering to the ground. As the chamber walls came to rest on the ground, the inner chamber floor began to spin faster, leaving only a small circle in the center stationary. It was on this circle of reflective glass that the Khanum sat, fearing to be slammed into the walls if she dared try to cross the spinning surface of the floor.
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Erik heard the increasing whirring of the motors beneath the chamber and held his breath as he waited for the final stage to happen.
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A loud metallic clang rang through courtyard.
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The sound of blades scraping together quickly cut through the evening air.
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All at once the grinding of the gears ground to a half, and the remaining glass walls fell away, breaking upon impact with the ground, to reveal what lie inside.
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There on the center ring of glass, lay the remains of the Khanum, neatly cleaved into sections by the hidden spring-loaded blades that served to hold up the inner glass walls along it's seams.
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Erik's bloody lotus bloom now stood silent in that hated courtyard of death.
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"So you see Madame," Erik said softly, "Mirrors can kill."
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Epilogue:
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Nadir listened to Erik's tale with an ashen face and a hard brow-line. "Erik. I simply don't know what to say."
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"Then don't say anything."
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"But Erik, you know that they will never rest until they find you. The entire country will be searching for you now," Nadir proclaimed.
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"Yes, which is why we must both leave this place. You will be hunted too. No doubt on counts of accessory to the murder of the Khanum," Erik said, staring into the fire.
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"Yes, I suppose that would be best," Nadir sighed. "I don't suppose I will ever see you again, will I?"
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"Who knows. Fate has an interesting sense of humor. It's quite possible that our paths will once again cross."
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"Promise me something though," Nadir said seriously.
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"And what's that?" Erik asked.
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"Promise me that you will never again kill, unless you have no other alternative. I'm not stupid and I know that there will be times you will have to strike first in order to save your own life, but please, I beg you, do not kill anyone merely for the perverted pleasure of it. You are better than that, and you know it."
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Erik sighed and poked the fire with a stick, turning ashes over the fading embers of the burning brush. "I suppose if I don't, you will feel accountable for helping me escape and letting me live."
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Nadir did not reply, but kept staring hard at his companion. "Erik, promise me..."
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"I promise," Erik said with resigned finality. With the fire completely out, he stood and mounted his horse.
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"Where will you go?" Nadir asked, handing him the reins.
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"I don't know. Only time can tell. Look me up if you are ever in Paris," Erik said with a shrug of his shoulders. He urged his horse on and took off into a gallop.
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Nadir nodded and watched Erik ride off into the underbrush. "Good-bye mon ami."
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