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I am to wait here where it is dark. I can see to write because my pen has a built-in torch. Tiny though it is, the beam of light is comforting, but only spreads its halo when directed at this page. When shined into the catacomb it is swallowed without a gulp, like a firefly eaten by a bat with silent jaws and unseen wings. As farfetched as it sounds, I believe I hear them—the airborne mammals. Their high-pitched squeaks abound throughout these caverns as they echo-locate prey. Oddly, they do not trigger the Palace’s fine-tuned alarms. Ubiquitous are the spy-cams, microphones, and sensors—installed, I have been told, not by the Prince but by the Sheik, him whom I have trusted, respected, revered my entire life. Naively, I admit; my vision has been childlike—seeing what I want, believing what I am told, misperceiving treachery disguised as pure benevolence. My mentor a murderer? Worse yet a fratricide whose motives seldom stray from the path of wickedness? Am I then less his protégé than an imbecilic pawn, exploitable and expendable in a game I cannot play... except unwittingly? Such is power and its first-lieutenant wealth. And yet I am reluctant to pass so harsh a judgment. Evil does exist, but never devoid of good. Like twin magnetic poles on this our planet of antitheses, good and evil pull in opposite directions, neither winning so totally as to disengage the other, both remaining contingent in a comprehensive sphere—Sheik Hadithah’s infamy doubtless no exception, imperfect as the Prince who stands as his accuser. I, alas, have cast my lot with him, joined in a plot to overthrow his uncle, mine a niggling role but nonetheless complicitous. Loyalty is, to these two men, inviolable. She who takes sides wrongly does so at her peril.

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