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Volume 3175a
Princess of Az-Lium
by Den Valdron

CHAPTER FIFTY-EIGHT
MONSTER
And immediately wished I could have swallowed my tongue, taken the words back.  Somehow, I'd forgotten I wasn't a Princess.   I opened my mouth to apologize, to beg, to explain, to claim it was a joke, that it was thoughtless, a moment of panic.   Yes, I thought, kneel, spread your legs, do whatever he asked, submit to this raving terrifying madman.

He hit me.  I felt blood on my lip as my head snapped back, the force of his blow rippling across my flesh in a sensation of pins and needles.

“Bitch,” he swore.

“Wait!”  I cried out.  But he hit me again.   Harshly, he dragged me across the room by my hair, causing me to stumble in chains.  Only his grip upon my hair kept me from falling.  I shrieked with pain.

“I offered you the world,” he snarled, “and you spit in my face.”

He slammed me up against the table, bruising my hips and knocking the wind out of me.  I gasped.  He slammed my forehead down into the table, bringing another loud gasp of pain from me.

“Please,” I whimpered.

I felt him position behind me, pushing up my skirt, adjusting his harness.

“No, no,” I cried.  His grip loosened.  I slid down, sliding under him, crawling under the table.

“Oh no you don't,” he snarled.

“Please,” I sobbed, crawling away beneath the table, “I'm sorry, I didn't know what I was saying.  We can have sex.  I'll be yours.  I'll do whatever you want.   Really....”

He flipped the table over with a mighty crash, exposing me as a cringed before him.

He reached down, seized my hair, provoking another shriek and hauled me roughly to my feet.

“You had your choice,” he said, and flung me hard.  Shoved into the upturned table leg, I felt it hammer into my crotch and stomach, I bent double around it, almost vomiting with the pain.  My momentum carrying it forward, caused it to snap.  I stumbled, wrapping my hands around it as it came with me.

Markath Khan was looming over me, his fists raised to strike me again.  I gasped, stumbling away from him, but he kept coming on.  I staggered a half circle, turned, the table leg swinging in my hand.

Suddenly, the table leg connected with the side of his head, with a loud crack.  For a second, he looked astonished.  Then he dropped.

The room was silent.

I heard a ragged panting, and then realized it was me.

Markath Khan was not moving.  I dropped the table leg and stepped away, staggered back to the wall and sank to my knees.   Then I put my face in my hands and wept.

After a moment, a burst of panic overtook me, and I scrambled to retrieve the table leg, drawing the makeshift weapon up against my knees.

I don't know how long the spell lasted, minutes.  Finally, I forced myself to start thinking again.

Was he dead?

I stared at him.  He was breathing.   One side of his face was swelling, and there was a trickle of blood.   He moaned softly.   No such luck then.

I could go over there and finish him, I thought.   I could club him to death.  He even deserved it.  By murdering him, I could avenge the lives of thousands.  Save the lives of thousands more.   But was that true?  Or would another monster merely take his place.   No matter, I thought, just do it.

I couldn't.   I couldn't simply murder a helpless man.

Well, what then?  I couldn't hold him hostage.  And when he woke, he was likely to be even less reasonable.   My notion of seduction as in Clesart and Seopara seemed like laughable notion in the face of this raving madman.

So, get out of here.  Escape?

In chains, bloody, from a palace full of Diome's warriors.  That was mad.  What other choice did I have?  Wait for him to wake up?   I didn't think so.

I forced myself to stand.  The first thing were the chains.  Maybe there was something here that I could use to pick the locks?   Some minutes of searching the chambers turned up keys.  Of course, I thought.  That made sense, if he'd really contemplated having me as a willing concubine, at some point in bed, for sleeping at least, the chains would have to come off.  He wouldn't suffer the inconvenience of summoning a locksmith.

Freed from shackles around waist, wrists and elbows, I felt a lot better.  A small accomplishment.  Markath Khan moaned again.   Oh oh.   Moving quickly, I wrapped him in my old chains, the wrist cuffs were too small, so I fixed ankle cuffs to his wrists and looped the wrist cuffs around a cupboard's grillwork and the remains of the table.  I stuck a makeshift gag in his mouth.  I felt even better.

I held his wig.  Disgusting thing, spoiled with blood,  ick.  It made my skin crawl.  I dropped it down a waste chute I'd found.

These were his chambers.  There'd be other wigs, wouldn't there?   I searched about, finding the rest of them.  These were not quite so disgusting.  I tried one on.   Hmmm.  Passable.  But I'd have to cut my hair.

But I could do that, couldn't I?

Not here though, somewhere else, once I was away.   I kept two, the rest of the wigs went down the waste chute.   Followed by all of Markath Khan's clothes that I could find, save only a few things I felt I could convert to a habitable ensemble.

Returning to the unconscious man, I stripped away his harness, and wiped away as much of the red paint as I dared without disturbing him too much.   He was obviously concealing his identity from these red men.  It might buy me some time to make that masquerade a little more difficult.

I cleaned up, dressed, checked myself in a mirror.  Passable, definitely passable.

Markath Khan groaned again.  He was groaning more frequently.  Maybe I should club him again?   I had best be leaving.

I strode to the door the chamber, opened it and peeked my head out.   There were guards.  I cursed mentally.  Of course there would be guards.  There'd be guards everywhere.

I smiled my sweetest, most ingratiating smile, twirled one blonde lock around my finger, and said  “Could one of you fine, strong gentlemen take me to the kitchen?”

“What?”

“The kitchen please.  I have no idea where it is, and Markath Khan's heart is set on Orovar Pulge,” I giggled, “I'm pretty sure I can make it with whatever I find in the kitchen.”

“Orovar Pulge?”

“A great delicacy.”

“Aren't you a prisoner?”

“Oh,” I laughed, “we worked all that silly nonsense out.”

I waved my wrist.

“See, no chains,” then I giggled, “though, later on, I might put them on in the bedroom.  He was was saying he might like to try them himself.”

They looked at each other and blushed.

“The kitchen,” I prompted.   “I need to someone to take me there.”

“We can't leave our posts, Markath Khan would have us hanged.”

“You could give me directions,” I said, “but then I might get lost.”

“Perhaps...” one of them was starting to sweat, “Markath Khan could send us.”

“Oh my,” I said, “he's having a nap.  But if you'll come in and wake him...”

“Uhm...”    From the looks of them, horrible things happened to those who woke Markath Khan from his naps.

“Well,” I said, “I'm certainly not going to be the one to wake him.  It'll have to be one of you.”

“Maybe we could just wait for him to wake up.”

No.  No.  No.

“Actually, not a good idea.  He had his heart set on Pulge, and I promised to have it steaming and ready when he woke,” I told them.   “It's an aphrodisiac of sorts, renewed potency. And vitality.  He was quite taken with the notion of it.   But it takes a little time to prepare, so it has to be now.”

“But we can't leave our posts...”

“Well,” I said, “you can wake him up and ask him, and take your chances, because he hates to be woken for trivial nonsense.  Or you can make me wait till he wakes up, but then he'll be angry because his pulge isn't ready.  Or one of you can sneak me down to the kitchen, return to your post, and I'll just find someone to bring me back when its ready, and no one will ever know.”

I smiled sweetly at them.


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