A/N: I have dedicated this final chapter to Valinedel and all the others out there who were possibly triggered by the attempted rape. More notes at the end.
Johan Elazar basked in the comfortable softness of his large bed, resting with his back supported by pillows in a semi-sitting position and a glass of fine wine in his hand. A female young servant girl silently poured more wine into his glass every time he reached it to her. She was still far too young for him to be even remotely interested in her, but he considered removing her maidenhood once she came of age. Until then, she was his personal servant and tended to his smaller needs. Such as ensuring that his glass was full at all times.
A month had passed since the King had called him back to Luvor and demanded that he explained in person to the Royal Court why the invasion of Triarda had failed. The King proclaimed that Elazar had allowed his objective goals become clouded by personal interference, and stripped him of his title as General Commander as punishment.
Elazar did not mind. Administrative tasks and bureaucratic businesses suited him better than the war-field itself. He was allowed to continue to oversee the border and send supplies to the forces that still fought Peralem and Haven. He still trained the forces and made sure they were ready before he sent them into Peralem, but he no longer had any power to command their movements or strategies. The new General Commander was skilled enough in warfare to make the battles in Peralem difficult for their enemies.
He had grieved the death of his concubines with the same intensity a man would grieve the death of his children. He had traveled to deliver the news to their families in person, he had held their mothers while they cried and tried to comfort their fathers. Elazar, widely known for his generosity towards his concubines, gave a decent amount of gold to their families when he left. He assured them that the gold was just a small amount of what he would have spent on their daughters if they had lived.
He sipped his wine in contemplation of the woman in front of him. The sorrow had left him beaten for weeks, but now he was ready to move on and replace the deceased concubines. He had found a very promising replacement for one of them a few days earlier, and was now considering the second.
Three women had been in his room before this one. All of them had different attributes. One of them had a lovely voice and an acute intelligence, and she was well versed and educated in literature and poetry. What she lacked in beauty, she made up for by her delightful nature. So far, she was the most promising of the three. The other two had been pretty with astonishing bodies, but agonizingly uninteresting beyond that.
This one, the fourth woman, had a male companion who waited by the door. The man was dressed in simple robes and had bowed respectfully to Elazar, explaining that he was the woman's bodyguard and servant. Elazar generously allowed the man to stay, acknowledging the man's oath and duties regarding the woman's safety. The male servant introduced her as Lady Varrelia from Haven. Elazar had never heard the name before, but his interest sparked by the possibility to have a noblewoman from Haven among his concubines. That would surely be a new and interesting experience.
Her hair was long and thick and fell in lovely cascades down a slim and strong back all the way to her lower back. The color reminded him of an animal that only roamed the northern countries; a red fox. He could not see her face yet. She had hidden it behind a veil that covered everything except her eyes. Her eyes though, were green and had a bewitching shine, revealing that she had to be an intelligent and strong-minded creature. Elazar's face twisted into a pleased smile, the scar around the side of this mouth from the burns tightened towards his temple and ear as he did. The scar was not as ugly as he had feared it would be, and his other concubines assured him that it gave his face more character.
They were kinder than he deserved.
The woman in front of him wore an outfit that resembled the Luvorian style worn by his concubines; a tight-fitted top with a low neckline that hinted about her delicate and full breasts, and a skirt that was low in waist and with a long split that reached her hip. A long and thin scarf was wrapped around her throat; the ends fell down her front and back. She had a strong and lovely body, muscles flexed when she took her position in the middle of the floor in front of him. Her skin was bright and flawless, and had a sensual shadowed glow from the oil-lamps in his chamber. Bells in her clothes chimed cheerfully when she moved, and she carried a tambourine in one of her hands.
Elazar watched in fascination as she began to move, her hips swaying carefully. Her back and neck was straight, proud and gracious. She reached her arms over her head in a slow and enjoyable movement while she closed her eyes. The tambourine in her hand moved as she hit the skin-drum with the fingertips of her other hand, the bells chimed in response along with the movements in her hips. It was just the beginning. When the woman opened her eyes again and locked her gaze with his, hers held a passion that immobilized him completely.
The woman's dance was enticing, delicate, sensual and raw, all at once. She moved with elegance and strength, like a flame disturbed by wind but still refuses to quench. Elazar watched her the entire time, drowned in her movements as if spellbound. His body responded with eagerness while he imagined her bring that passion into his bed. He sipped his wine to still the dryness in his mouth, and his limbs were slowly growing heavier. He forgot about the servants, both his own and hers, his full attention was on the dancing woman and her movements that followed the rhythm she created with her instrument.
Her pleasurable performance ended in the exact position it had begun. Elazar downed the rest of his wine, his grey eyes watching her hungrily. He noticed her green eyes narrowed slightly when she looked at him, and he realized his desire for her was very visible through his tunic. There was no shame in that. She had come there by her own will, knowing he was looking for a concubine.
"You will be a treasured addition to my collection," he said to her. Surprised that his speech was slurry, he eyed the empty glass in his hand and put it away.
The woman began to walk towards him. Her movements were soft and reminded him of a hunting leopard. She bounced effortlessly off the floor and into his bed, still standing, and came to a halt above him. One of her feet stood between his legs, dangerously close to his crotch and the twitching member, the other lifted and pushed him gently in the chest to keep him from sitting up. He noticed she had small feet.
The woman looked at him. "How do you feel?" she asked in perfectly fluent Luvoric.
Elazar's eyes narrowed slightly. His head was swimming, the heaviness in his limbs felt unnatural. He tried to move, and realized that it was difficult. The woman's eyes never left his face, and when she saw his confusion, she removed the veil that covered her face.
He paled. "No…. Impossible. I watched you die." His voice was low and strained. He tried to move, but the woman, the dead woman, shoved at his chest harder to keep him still. His arms were unwilling and robbed of strength.
The woman rewarded him with an unfriendly chuckle. "Not so easy to fight with that drug in your system, is it?"
Elazar wanted to scream, but the only sound that escaped him was pitiful whimpers. His eyes moved to the side, and just then did he notice that his servant girl laid unconscious next to the bed. He was alone in his chambers, alone with this dreadful woman and her servant. His body was helplessly bound to the mattress by the drug they had lured into his wine.
The woman reached a hand back to her servant, not once looking away from Elazar. The servant came over to the bed and presented her a sword. Elazar's eyes widened in horror when she skillfully flipped it around in her hand, and then pointed the blade to his crotch.
"Do you remember you said you did not wish to hurt me? That Kharon would never forgive you if you did?" Her blade moved. Elazar screamed, the sensation of the blade cutting into his member and balls excruciatingly painful, but his voice was feeble and noting more than groans. The woman smiled. "I consider rape as hurtful. You do not, apparently," she continued and withdrew her bloody blade, only to direct it to his throat.
His breaths came in short gasps. The woman's face was unmoved by his pain when she tilted her head and considered him. The tip of her sword entered the softness between his collarbones as easily as a knife cuts through warm butter. She worked slowly, savored the moment, and as her eyes did not leave his face for a single second. When air left his windpipe as her blade entered it, it was as if she sighed from pleasure and her lips parted.
"This drug is quite amazing," she whispered. "It renders you completely powerless, but leaves your bodily senses intact."
Blood began to pool out of his throat. Her blade had moved even further, slowly through his windpipe and gullet, where she twisted it with a jerk that made his limbs convulse in protest. His heart quickened, he heard by the splashing sound that she had severed his vital arteries. Hot, thick liquid pooled into his open windpipe and down to his stomach, feeding him his own blood while he choked on it as well. His body started to shake uncontrollably and the desire to couch left him gasping miserably for air.
"You did not watch me die," she said slowly, mesmerized by his struggles. "You watched the death of Leylah Kharon. That is not my name any longer."
Her green eyes never left his. Elazar knew she intended to watch him die. His peripheral vision faded and left her the last thing he saw when he finally yielded to the sinking darkness as it claimed him. Blood was still spurting out of him when unconsciousness took hold.
Leylah stared at the dying man as a hypnotized child when the last spurts of blood left his body through the puncture wound. It had taken him long time to die, and it had surely been painful, if his panicked eyes was any indication. She had envisioned this so many times in her head, going through what it would be like and what she would feel, expecting everything from fear to pleasure. All she felt, was a hollow emptiness when his grey eyes faded.
There was blood. A lot of blood. Leylah had never known that a body could have so much blood in it. Azrahir had even warned her about it, certain that she would faint when she saw it. He had explained what to expect, the violence behind the seizure she would witness, the sounds, the blood and the unbearable pain in the man's eyes. Azrahir had offered to do it for her, countless of times ever since she voiced her desire to kill Elazar herself. Leylah refused. Elazar had made it personal, and she wanted it to end personal.
The sword felt heavy in her hand while she continued to stare at the dead body. The silence was deafening. She had enjoyed witnessing his death on some levels, enjoyed the horror in his eyes when she revealed who she was, the confusion when he realized he was drugged and unable to move. The death itself was a cold and empty nothing. A complete nothing.
Aware that Azrahir moved behind her, she was still staring at the dead man when strong arms came around her and lifted her back and away from the bed. He was careful not to pressure the small bump in her stomach that revealed her pregnancy. It was still small, and one had to know about it to notice it was there. The growth from now on would escalate though, which was why they had to do this now and not hesitate too long. The cut in her throat had healed nicely, but it was still a little tight and numb in some places.
Leylah steadied herself when Azrahir placed her on the floor and looked down at her. She saw the worry in his dark eyes, the concern that she would have a reaction of some kind. One of his hands carefully eased the sword out of her tight grip, her fingers were cold and stiff from clutching it the entire time. Her eyes slowly fell back to the bed and the blood around the dead body.
"You never mentioned the emptiness," she said with a low voice, still looking at the dead man.
"I did, but you refused to listen, you stubborn woman," he countered calmly and placed himself between her and the bed so that she had to look at him. "Come, we have to leave."
Leylah looked at him, the emptiness slowly drifting away to give room for Azrahir and everything she felt for him. Elazar's death had served a purpose; a message. He was still a high target to the Sherokahns, and she had fulfilled the contract because she had requested to do it. There was nothing more to it than that. Jabbar had allowed it, knowing Leylah needed justice. Now that they knew of Elazar's whereabouts, Azrahir accompanied her to the mansion as her supporter and the one who had trained her. And her husband. Now she could forget Elazar and move on.
"The girl," she began. "She will be fine, right?"
"She will wake up with a headache, that is all," he answered and glanced over to the unconscious young servant girl.
Taking her husband's hand, Leylah offered him a smile. He touched her freshly colored hair lightly, a silent repeat of the admiration he had voiced when she had emerged from the bathhouse a few days ago. They had not wanted Elazar to recognize her too easily, and Jasmin had helped her prepare the foul smelling substance and then add it to her hair. The friend was still recovering from her injuries and the loss of her husband, but she was well enough to walk and do small things. In time, she would be back to normal.
When Johan Elazar's death was discovered by his servants, Leylah and Azrahir had already escaped the mansion without detection and crossed the border. There, they turned south towards the Sherokahn fortress and the Sanctuary it offered.
A/N: I would like to give a special thanks to Esther and Valinedel, who stayed with me through this entire story, giving me priceless help and support. I'm forever grateful!
Also, thanks to everyone else who reviewed this story. I'm humbled by every review, favorite and follow alert. It's just so surreal that there's people out there actually interested in what I write.
I'm now moving on to the sequel, picking that up again. Leylah's story is far from over.
Much love to you all! Peace!