Chapter Twenty-Five

An end

The two figures stood before each other and stared into each others eyes, seeing only malice. Blanco began to sweat from the heat, but the Duke did not; he was calm and did not drop a bead of sweat as though he was a dog. He only grinned at Blanco thinking upon all the years that had led up to this moment.

Many times, the Duke has seen a situation such as this in only movies, and quote a few he has been in them; a feeling in him knew this was to be the final time. Dead or alive, his weapon of death was to be laid down and put to rest- if not him before it. This decision was made prior to his arrival, on his journey that brought him to this resting place of the forsaken.

Here the forsaken winced due to the amount of light the sun had given off. They both inhaled the smell of anxiety into their bodies as well as the odor of death coming from Blanco's victim- the Duke's dear friend.

The Duke took a quick glance at his former friend. For a second he was shocked, but then realized that the Pole had survived that fatal night; only to die this very day. His time on Earth must have been extended for a reason that he was not aware of.

Before him was the man he sought, and he set himself in front of him and they stared.

"Is this where it's gonna end?" The Duke asked. His words meant nothing, naive words they were-nothing was going to end.

"So it seems," said Blanco, he played along.

The Duke sighed, "But there's a girl here, what of her?"

"What about her?" Blanco asked.

"Are you going to kill her?" the Duke asked.

"It doesn't matter to me, the Pole is dead. She is nothing.''

"Then why did you chase her?" the Duke asked.

"To protect my identity, but after all this trouble I have realized that she was not worth it,'' he paused. "Actually I take that back. It was quite worth it. She led me to you. Once you are dead, the exiles are no more.''

"The war will never end," the Duke stated.

"It sounds as though you know more than I do."

"Perhaps..."

"Or perhaps you are bluffing," Blanco proposed.

"One day you will know," the Duke replied.

Blanco squinted his eyes in confusion. He glanced at the house with the corner of his eyes and looked back at the Duke. "It appears that you expect to die."

"It's the only way."

"The only way?"

"The only way it can end."

"I thought you said it will never end."

"It will be for me. I can live with my Ellen. Only then can I be happy.''

For a second he thought about the Duke's wishes and closed his eyes, for he thought of his Helena- the Duke's Ellen. If he died he could be reunited with Helena, but she would always love the Duke; Blanco was only a mistake.

The sense of ease felt over him, as though he had taken a drug he has long never taken. He could almost smell her, but once he opened his eyes he saw only the Duke- her love.

It was then that Blanco realized that the Duke was unaware of the fact that his Helena was the very same woman. If the Duke died, he would be with her. Either way Blanco could not win. Killing the Duke was what he desired most, besides ever gaining the love of his Helena. But Blanco knew he had to kill the Duke.

"So why do you fight, if you know that you will die?'' Blanco asked.

"I will kill you, and you will kill me."

"Oh is that how you see this is going to end?"

"Yes."

"You are mistaken, you will die."

"So will you, and I know it will take my life."

Blanco refused to argue any further. "So be it."

Each of the two men grabbed their weapons and aimed it at each other. This moment seemed to last a lifetime for both of them. An aura of haze and heat came upon the enemy they each sought as though each were holy. Perhaps not holy, but rather it is the way a forsaken man saw another. Some one was to pay their life long debts. One of them, both of them. Possibly none of them if there is no such thing as grand judge of the world.

But that was not how they saw themselves, they knew that men who killed and shed blood upon the land would be punished one way or another. The punishment was not necessarily death, but living.

In Blanco's mind he believed that he would live, for God was not such a kind person to a demon as him. That was why he has always lived when a person desired to take revenge upon him, not by chance-but by fate. It was God who aided him in the past to survive, even though at times Blanco did not desire to do so.

The Duke believed he would die this day, by bullet or self he would. After Blanco was dead, he would have no purpose nor the will to live. Penny would be safe from now on if Blanco died. No one would care for a girl, her life would mean nothing to whoever was the employer of Blanco. This demon in white did not even care for the girl anymore. All this would be over, and he would be happy. God must be on his side this day; though he knew not why. He was as evil as Blanco, both wielders of lives. This is why he knew they would both die, for this very reason.

At this moment, all he saw in the path of his bullet was the fate of that girl within the cabin. God would not allow such a demon live, to kill a girl; he had to die. She must live...and nothing else mattered to him.

As their thoughts ran into these very paths a loud sound silenced them, as they each awaited their fates.

From inside, Penny sat on the floor, and heard the gunshots from out side. For a minute silence took over the outside world. A series of gun shots were fired once again. She jumped at the sound of them, and she looked at the door and hoped that the Duke would walk through the door.

She knew one of them was the victor, and was confirmed with such as she began to hear from afar footsteps. The victor was walking on the sound, slowly- as though exhausted. She began to smell a cigarette.

Heavy breathing could be heard beyond the other side of the door. Her eyes stared intently. A knot in her stomach grew tighter as she awaited. The Duke had to have won, so she thought in her mind. Her conscience was as confused as her, but she had hope.

The door began to turn and she saw the victor. He walked into the room and he stared at her. The feeling in her stomach was released as a sense of dread came upon her. At this sight a tear fell down her cheek, for the demon in white was he who stared into her eyes and smoked his cigarette.

This moment stood before her forever, for she did not know what was to become of her from now. There was no way she could defend herself, if she ran, he would still be in shooting range.

He panted and wiped the sweat from his forehead. Blanco rose the hand which had his gun. Penny flinched and began to prepare to embrace the pain she was about to receive. Blanco squeezed the trigger and all he heard was a click.

Her eyes opened and they both realized that the gun did not have any more bullets. Blanco looked at her in exhaustion and dropped his put his gun away. He grabbed his cigarette and let out the smoke.

"It seems as though God does not want you to die today. And you will not. This could be the last time I we will ever meet, if not then...so be it. If I'm still around, I'll be expecting you. Until then, hopefully your life gets better.''

Blanco walked out the door and left her life...perhaps for good. She did not know.

The Duke lied on the floor breathing heavily; he had dropped his weapon. He could not reach it, but his fingers tried. Blanco eliminated the hope but kicking the the gun away. He stared down onto the Duke and grinned. "I knew I would win."

"You can't," the Duke spat out with not much sound coming out, but just enough for Blanco to hear.

"Well I do not think you know this, but I have a secret or two about your Ellen.''

"What would you know?" the Duke asked in anger.

"That I fucked her. I did so while you were away.''

The Duke ached at the sound of this and could not believe it. He began to breathe quicker, and looked into Blanco's eyes with hate.

"What are you talking about?" he spat in spite.

"I did everything a man could want to do with her," he paused and bent down onto his knees and softly continued, "I fucked her, loved her, and killed her."

A tear grew into the Duke's eyes, so did blood on his mouth, of which spat out when he asked, "Why?"

And Blanco replied, "Because of you."

He grabbed his gun and shot a few more shots into the Duke and finished the rivalry with a whisper of the wind blowing the thoughts within the head of the defeated.

The Duke exhumed his last breath as Blanco breathed in the smell of smoke and of death.

For hours Penny sat in fear. After a few hours a man came in. He said his name was John Franklin. She did not care. All that mattered was what was to become of her.

He let her sit in the back of his car and asked him questions. She answered them the best she could. John understood that she was traumatized and did not have the will to answer too many questions...well at least not all the ones within his head.

The sun was beginning to set, and she looked at the detective snooping around the house. The radio was on and a song came on. It was one she knew very well. In the middle of the song he returned and told her that he would take her somewhere safe.

The car began to drive along the desolate highway of Kansas and it rode towards the sunset. John drove and was silent. Penny only stared beyond the window. She had no time for grieving, for she had a feeling within her stomach that it cannot be done until after another task or person was done.

Perhaps it was the song on the radio, the Metallica rendition of "Turn the Page," or the despair that allowed her to entrust this stranger, with all she had left, and sit quietly in the car as it drove off towards a path she felt she must take; but at the same time feared she would become forsaken. To be like one of them who would kill her, who would die for her, and would love her. Penny desired to succumb to the thought that she was already one of them to rationalize what she knew he had to do. If it had to be done, then so be it. And so she decided that the one thing must be done...and nothing else mattered.