“Welcome, my lover, to this abode of love! Welcome to these arms, for whose embraces your covetous soul has thirsted unappeased! Take all of me, for I am yours!—aye, so truly yours that you can never escape me!—never separate from me—no! not through a thousand thousand centuries! Life of my life! Soul of my soul! Possess me, as I possess you!—for our two unrepenting spirits form a dual flame in Hell which must burn on and on to all eternity! Leap to my arms, master and lord,—king and conqueror! Here, here!” and she smote her white arms against her whiter bosom. “Take all your fill of burning wickedness—of cursed joy! and then—sleep! as you have slept before, these many thousand years!”
Still mute and aghast he stared at her; his senses swam, his brain reeled, and then slowly, like the lifting of a curtain on the last scene of a dire tragedy, a lightning thought, a scorching memory, sprang into his mind and overwhelmed him like a rolling wave that brings death in its track. With a fierce oath he rushed towards her, and seized her hands in his—hands cold as ice and clammy as with the dews of the grave.
“Ziska! Woman! Devil! Speak before you drive me to madness! What passion moves you thus—what mystic fooling? Into what place have I been decoyed at your bidding? Why am I brought hither? Speak, speak!—or I shall murder you!”
“Nay!” she said, and her slight swaying form dilated and grew till she seemed to rise up from the very ground and to tower above him like an enraged demon evoked from mist or flame. “You have done that once! To murder me twice is beyond your power!” And as she spoke her hands slipped from his like the hands of a corpse newly dead. “Never again can you hurl forth my anguished soul unprepared to the outer darkness of things invisible; never again! For I am free!—free with an immortal freedom—free to work out repentance or revenge,—even as Man is free to shape his course for good or evil. He chooses evil; I choose revenge! What place is this, you ask?” and with a majestic gliding motion she advanced a little and pointed upward to the sparkling gold-patterned roof. “Above us, the Great Pyramid lifts its summit to the stars; and here below,— here where you will presently lie, my lover and lord, asleep in the delicate bosom of love—here...”
She paused, and a low laugh broke from her lips; then she added slowly and impressively:
“Here is the tomb of Araxes!”
As she spoke, a creeping sense of coldness and horror stole into his veins like the approach of death,—the strange impressions he had felt, the haunting and confusing memory he had always had of her face and voice, the supernatural theories he had lately heard discussed, all rushed at once upon his mind, and he uttered a loud involuntary cry.
“My God! What frenzy is this! A woman’s vain trick!—a fool’s mad scheme! What is Araxes to me?—or I to Araxes?”