Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 2 of 38

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Roman paced the hallway nervously. His master had not emerged from that damned room for days.

The mansion that he called home was exquisite, its architecture hauntingly beautiful and its various rooms filled with the most expensive and desired furnishings.

Except for the music room.

The music room was actually located in one of the fine home's turrets. It was threadbare: no polished woodwork, no Persian carpeting, no fine wall coverings...nothing. It was a dusty, dreary space, filled only by a large black piano. Roman had never seen a piano before, but he wagered that none were as beautiful as the one his Master possessed. Its ivory keys were the color of fresh crème, its wood polished to show a reflection as well as any mirror. Gold leaf wound all over it...a combination of musical instrument and priceless artwork.

But the Master never played it.

Almost a year had passed since Roman had come to work here, and in all that time the only attention the piano had gotten was a dusting. Once, Roman had made the mistake of asking the Master about why the instrument was left dormant, and was answered with a set of burning eyes.

He had never asked again.

He and the other men soon turned it into a game of sorts, guessing as to the significance of a piano that was never played, kept in the darkest and gloomiest of rooms, and yet was cleaned and polished everyday at the Master's orders. Could it be that it was purchased as an investment? Perhaps it had been a family heirloom? For some reason, the various explanations that he and the other men came up with all seemed to fall short. It was just plain bizarre that the Master never played that damn piano.

Until three days ago.

After Roman had told him the news of the tragic fate of the de Chagny's, the Master had locked himself in that dark, cold room and started playing. The music that emerged had sent daggers of ice through Roman's spine, and one of the other servants had explained that it was a requiem. A type of music reserved for the dead in Christianity. For three days the Master had not eaten, had not gone to bed, had not ceased playing.

Now Roman paced the hallway, right before the winding stairs that lead to the tower room. Should he go up there? For some reason, a part of him worried for this man, this strange creature that he served. As all powerful and ominous as he seemed, a life steeped in Romany belief and insight told Roman that his Master was actually a man drowning in pain.

And men in pain were dangerous indeed.

Roman cursed his own cowardice, but he had to admit that a part of him was deathly afraid of what his Master might do if disturbed. What had been so important about that family? The de Chagny's? Was he related to them in some way? The Master was titled, and went officially as Baron Von Alsing, though Roman had long ago suspected that the title was purchased. With a sigh, he forced his feet to start moving up the small, winding staircase. He winced against the music that assaulted him from above. It was harsh, violent even. The man was playing out his rage.

Suddenly, the terrible, beautiful sound stopped.


Roman froze at the harsh cry from above. How could he-

"Roman, get up here now!"

Roman wasted no time running up the rest of the stairs and barreling into the small room. What he saw made his stomach lurch. His Master sat before the great piano, his black hair plastered to his face from sweat. He was only in black trousers and shirt sleeves, and those were rolled up to his elbows. His fingers, as well as the gorgeous ivory keys of the piano, were covered in blood. The man had literally worn his fingernails down playing!

His eyes fastened on the man's face. The mask was firmly in place, but the Master's eyes were wild with an emotion that Roman couldn't even begin to name.

"Find me another girl, Roman."

He bit the statement out with malice. Roman cringed. The Master had a veritable harem of women at his beck and call. It was his job to find the girls. The Master absolutely abhorred prostitutes, so Roman was challenged with finding girls who might have been of lower station, but were on the whole good women. They were usually looking for work in a household, so that was what they were promised. Soon enough though, the Master always found a way to seduce them ...even though they all feared him at first. A few hadn't accepted his money, but others became very willing to become the paid mistress of a wealthy gentleman. He was actually quite attractive, though no one had ever seen beneath the mask that he wore.

The woman also had to be physically perfect. The Master demanded no less.

Roman hated finding the women...he hated seeing his Master around them. As a child, he had watched his own mother die under the ruthless hand of his father. The memory still haunted him, and he had silently sworn that he would never be the type of man who could use another human being as if they were merely an object. The Master's women were no more than puppets. He used them as if sex was some kind of scientific experiment...a means of exercising anger and control. He never hurt them, but he never called them by name and easily discarded them. Once he was bored, they were gone.

Roman sensed that his Master didn't even care for the sex...perhaps he just wanted to know the feeling of a body beside him.

"Damn it, are you listening!"

His Master's voice ricocheted around the room with the force of its anguish. He quickly nodded and collected his wits.

"Yes Sir, forgive me Sir. I will leave at once."

Roman literally ran from the room. His master only asked for a new girl when he was in the blackest of moods. The poor child, who ever she would be. She would face nothing but his recent anger and grief. He would punish her by controlling her completely. Would he rape her? Roman quickly discarded the idea. He had never known the master to rape his women. Most returned willingly! He paid them highly...and there was a magnetism about the man.

Where would he find a girl this time?


Yes, Paris seemed like a good idea. With the Commune rebels out in full force, there would be plenty of women looking for work...of any sort.

"Do you think she will be any use to us, Giselle?"

A rough voice echoed above Christine.

"I think so, Dorian. She's not as bad as I first suspected...just a cracked rib and a hell of a lot of bruises, a cut here and there...she'll heal nicely in a week or so."

Christine recognized the other voice as the pleasant one from before. She tried to open her eyes, but the bright light all around her kept them shut. She heard the two voices continue on in conversation, but it was hard to make out what they were saying. God in Heaven her head hurt!

The voices continued in a blurry cadence of sound.

"Look...trying...wake up."

Christine's eyes fluttered. This time she allowed the light to fill them, and soon enough she could open them slightly. A face loomed over her.

"Can you hear me, girl?"

Christine gave a small groan as she furiously blinked her eyes, doing her best to erase the haze. The fog of pain was slowly lifting, and she could tell that it was a woman leaning over her.

"Girl...girl, can you hear my voice?"

Christine blinked her eyes fully open. She was lying in an uncomfortable bed, in a small and rather dark room. Sunlight tried its best to shine through a drawn curtain. A middle-aged woman with a long, drawn face was looking down at her. She smiled to reveal several missing teeth. The woman was dressed in what once would have been an expensive gown, but was now dirty and tattered.

"What in the hell-"

Christine's words were cut off by a quick motion from the woman standing above her.

"Such strong language for such a weak little thing. Such a pretty little thing." She sat on the bed beside Christine, reeking of gin.

"We found you in a gutter three nights ago, love."

Christine shot up, instantly regretting it as the muscles in her back screamed.

"Three days! Oh my God...God, brought me here? Where's here?" Confusion riddled her words. Three whole days? Had she been unconscious for that long? Had it really been three days since...

The memory of Raoul suddenly burst into her consciousness, and great choking sobs forced their way up Christine's throat. Soon her whole body shook with them, and she couldn't prevent the strange woman next to her from taking her into her arms.

"There, there sweat pea...Giselle will make it all better. You will start a new life here with us."

Christine looked up from her tears.

"New life?"

The woman nodded.

"Something hurt you real bad out there, ma chere...and by the looks of you, you've had a rough life."

Christine looked down at her clothing. It was torn and dirty. She must have looked like some common street whore! Giselle noticed her scrutiny and smiled.

"Don't worry...we patched up your bruises...we'll fix the clothes, too. There won't be a gentleman in the whole of Paris who will turn you down."

Christine swung her legs over the side of the bed. Giselle backed up, allowing the girl room to stand and test her strength. Christine was relieved to see that she had no problem supporting her own weight, though the pain of sore and severely tired muscles cut through her. She moved her arms about, happy to see that she had at least most of her normal range of movement.

Her eye caught a shadow in the corner, and Christine finally noticed a man there. He was large and-to her embarrassment-shirtless. It must have been his voice that she had heard speaking with the woman...Giselle, apparently.

Christine's memory clicked.

"I beg your pardon; did you say something about someone turning me down?"

Giselle shook her head.

"No no, not at all dearest. No gentleman at all will turn you down. Whoever your last pimp was, he was an absolute fool to allow you to become so mishandled. You have the look of an innocent about you, pale skin, beautiful men will pay handsomely for you."

Christine blanched.

"You think that I...that is to dare you!" Pain and confusion mixed into a foolhardy mixture of rage. "To say that I am a whore!"

Giselle cocked her head, confused.

"Honey, you hardly have anything to hide from me." She narrowed her eyes. "What, do you want to return to your old boss? After all that I have done for you?" Giselle's face contorted and venom was laced into her voice.

Christine bristled. "Madame, I will have you know that I am the Viscountess de Chagny! I refuse to be treated in this matter by, by, well, by the, um, the likes of you!"

Giselle laughed in her face.

"You...a Viscountess? And I'm Napoleon."

Her laughter died.

"Or did you forget that I dragged your half naked body out of a gutter?"

Christine's head began to pound. This couldn't be happening! No, God no! Not after everything else! Not after He had just stolen Raoul from her! All that she had left was her dignity! God no! What cruelty was this, to send her saviors that only meant to use her as a means of making money!

Giselle landed a quick slap against Christine's already tender cheek.

"Listen to me, slut. You are in my bordello. You will live here. I don't care who you reported to before, you are mine now. I spent three days and good money having you patched had better turn out a profit for me if you don't want to end up back in that gutter, with a physical reminder of this insult!"

A fat tear crawled down Christine's cheek. She wished to God that she could call it back. The change in Giselle's voice had caught her completely off guard. What had first sounded like the pleasant cooing of a mother now rang sharply with spite, unmasked and true to form.

Giselle simply sighed, her former anger leaving just as quickly as it had come.

"Look here girl, you are nothing but a child. A child who knows nothing of the world and its cruelties."

Christine swallowed a sob. If only she knew the cruelties I have suffered!

"I can give you a home here. I can give you a way to support yourself." She looked up and down Christine's quietly crying form. "God...are you even twenty?"

She shook her head. Giselle put an arm on her shoulder.

Looking back years later, Christine would remember that moment in Giselle's whore house as one of the most terrifying of her life. Not because she had felt threatened or endangered-even though she had-but because for a moment, she had heard sense in the Madame's words. She had nothing in the world anymore, and her body would have bought her a warm bed and a means of financial stability. It would have been so easy...

But something had flooded her brain, be it reason or insanity, she would never know.

It wasn't the thought of what her husband's reaction would have been that revolted her. No, for some reason, Raoul hadn't come into her head then. It had been the thought of another man's reaction, the thought of...

Ignoring the pain, she launched the small pitcher on the night stand at Giselle's head. The woman screamed, and Christine bolted for the room's door. She grabbed the handle, only to have her body pulled back by the bare-chested man. He had grabbed her by the hair and was ruthlessly twisting it around his hand. Christine gave a cry, but he only laughed.

"I wonder if you'll be this much trouble in bed, sweetheart."

He bent his stinking mouth toward hers but never completed the drool soaked kiss. Christine had planted her foot a solid few inches below his belt. With a howl of pain he fell over, and she bolted from the room. Christ! How far up were they? Before her a staircase spiraled downward for at least six or seven stories! Taking the stairs two at a time, praying to God that she wouldn't fall and break her neck, Christine ran. It was only a moment before she realized that a furious Giselle was right behind her. Down and down she went, but she knew that her aching body would give up eventually.

She was so close! Only a few more stairs and she would be out onto the streets! Back in the sunlight! Glorious, beautiful sunlight! Her heart felt as if it was bleeding into her chest, but she kept going. Why were her feet so slow! It felt as if lead weights were around them. The door! She was right there!

With a great cry Christine threw the front door open and flew out onto the street, only to be instantly tackled to the ground by an enraged Giselle. Sunlight ravaged her eyes, disorienting her even further. When had she grown so accustomed to the darkness? Christine's mind reeled, trying to adjust to the brightness, but it seemed that every faculty that she possessed was simply refusing to function. Giselle straddled her, slapping her hard across the face.

"Whore! I will teach you a lesson, you little bitch!"

Christine struggled to get away from the woman, but she had already asked too much of her body. She could do nothing.

With a gleam of absolute viciousness in her eye, Giselle pulled a small dagger out of her dirty corset. Christine didn't even have time to scream. The perfect blade sliced through her perfect cheek, creating a perfectly straight, perfectly horrible gash. From the base of her perfect blue eye to the line of her perfect jaw, flesh that was once as white as porcelain flamed red. Blood started to ooze.

"There! See if you can make any money now, you little tart! No one gets one over Gisel-"

A dark figure threw Giselle off of Christine. The woman landed in an unconscious heap a few feet away. Christine then felt herself begin lifted from the ground and tugged in a direction away from the deserted Parisian street. Quite frankly, had it been the devil himself, she would have followed.

"It isn't deep at all, didn't even slice through the flesh into the mouth. Just scratched the surface." Roman took a piece of clean linen to her cheek. "Unfortunately, the skin of the face is very delicate and, well, I'm sorry Mademoiselle Christine, but it will probably scar."

Christine wrapped the blanket that she had been given tightly around her shoulders.

"Thank you, Roman, I don't know how I can repay you for your kindness."

The gypsy nodded, securing the bandage to Christine's face.

"No repayment necessary, Mademoiselle. I thank Fate that I came along in time."

He stood, motioning for her to sit more comfortably in the chair of his hotel room. The poor girl had been shaking like a leaf as he had tended her wound.

"Do you mind me asking, Christine, how you came to be in that place?" He noticed her widening eyes and instantly tried to recover, afraid that had he insulted her. "Not that I mean it as any insult, if that was your place of employment...I simply meant to inquire as to..." He searched desperately for the correct words but found none. He was relieved when Christine started speaking anyway.

"I don't know, Roman. I simply awoke to find myself there this afternoon." She noted the curiosity that lit up his face, and wondered just how much she should tell him. The man had been an angel, sent from God to rescue her in her time of need. She could tell that he was not of French origin, even though he dressed impeccably and spoke with a very fine command of the language. She had assumed that he was a nobleman's valet, and had guessed correctly. When he had begged her to come to his hotel room so that he might mend her bleeding cheek, she had not objected. In retrospect, Christine realized that she could have put herself in even more jeopardy by agreeing, but a clear thinking head was not an attribute that she could have claimed to possess at the moment.

The hotel had been one of the best in Paris, one of the few not ravaged by angry Commune members. Roman had explained that high ranking Commune leaders enjoyed lives just as pampered as the nobles that they hated, and took pleasure in some of the finest hotels in the city. Christine thought of her opera house, raped and pillaged of all of its former glory. Had that not been worth saving?

"My husband and I were arrested by the Commune. He was executed; I escaped, running until I literally collapsed. I awoke to find myself in my current situation."

She was instantly silent. Roman's heart broke for her.

"I am sorry, Christine."

She bowed her head, trying to conceal the tears framing her eyes.

"That past cannot be undone. If anyone knows that it's me."

Roman crouched down beside her, offering her the handkerchief from his breast pocket.

"Have you no other family?"

Christine shook her head.

"My father is dead, as are my husband's parents. It was only the two of us here in Paris...along with servants, though I fear that they are long gone now."

Roman arched a brow.

"Servants...who are you?"

Christine froze. What should she tell him? What if his Master was one of the same high ranking leaders who had ordered the de Chagny's destroyed? She realized then that her name was a liability. Commune members had set to murder her and Raoul primarily for access to their vast wealth, as they did with most nobles. Money and power always went hand in hand. Being alive meant that she had a claim on that money...and that claim meant that she would be dead the moment she tried to go back to her former life. She realized with a crying soul that Christine de Chagny really had died in that cellar.

"My husband was Charles Daae'," she lied, "a musician. We had a very comfortable lifestyle from his playing. He garnered a small amount of fame and was rather outspoken with his politics ...he probably said the wrong thing to the wrong person."

Christine wiped away her tears, handing the handkerchief back to Roman, who seemed to accept her answer.

"No children?"

'None," she replied. "My health was very frail this past year...the doctor advised against it."

Roman decided not to pry any further as to what had caused her health to deteriorate, but he certainly had no trouble believing it. Apart from the girl's obviously recent injuries, he could see that she was underweight and unnaturally pale. He couldn't just abandon her. He knew that. Something in her dark blue eyes was begging him, and he knew that he could not leave this girl behind in Paris. It would mean that he would have to return home without his Master's new girl, but a sense of duty outweighed his sense of fear.

"Christine, may I ask you something?"

Her bandaged face looked up at him.

"As I told you, I am a valet. My master is Baron Von Alsing. I was originally here in Paris to find him a new mistress."

A small smiled crept onto Christine's face. Roman marveled at how much prettier she looked with it.

"Your Master needs a valet to find him a mistress?"

Roman sighed. "It's not like that, it's just, well, he never leaves the estate. And they aren't really mistresses; they are more in the way of..."

"...Whores," Christine finished for him. Roman didn't reply to her statement, but continued on with his.

"And while I wouldn't bring you to be my Master's mistress..."

She eyed him, and Roman realized that he had probably just insulted her again.

"Not that you couldn't be! You are certainly beautiful! It's just that the Master demands perfection."

Roman instantly bit his tongue. He had done it again!

"Not that you aren't perfection! You are a lovely girl...well, I mean, the Master would forbid me from bringing you anyway!"

Christine looked up at the poor man, stumbling over his words. Truth be told, she wasn't insulted at all, but she certainly didn't mind a man falling over himself to call her beautiful, especially since she would soon have a ghastly scar on her face.

"He would forbid you?" Her curiosity was piqued.

Roman nodded, taking in her charming features. "Yes, that Master has forbidden me from ever bringing him a girl with brown hair and blue eyes."

Christine snorted. God...when was the last time she snorted! "Well I'd say your Master has certain control issues he should address."

He smiled. How could he not! The girl had just been through hell and she was trying to draw a little humor into her lungs.

"The Master is a bit...eccentric." Roman looked to the floor. "But I do not doubt that he is a good man. He "realized then that he completely believed the statement. His eyes fell on the girl before him. "Which reminds me of the question that I was trying to ask."

Christine looked up.

"Baron Von Alsing keeps a very large estate, and our household is still relatively small. I assure you that you would find a happy life with us. The work really isn't too straining, and you will have fine accommodations, food and protection." He smiled. "And company, I might add."

Seriousness once again returned to his tone. "I have only known you a few hours Madame Daae', but I am loathe to let a fine young woman such as yourself waste away on these streets...or worse. With us you will find a new opportunity to live. My wife will show you everything that you need to know...she will treat you like a daughter, Christine, really, you have nothing to fear."

He stood, rearranging his fine tailored suit and running a dark hand through his black hair. Christine's voice faltered.

"Roman...I don't know if I can. What could I possibly do? I have no training to be a member of a household and-"

"You have nothing here anymore Christine." Roman's words echoed in her mind. "Nothing but painful memories."

Of course Christine knew that he was right. She had nothing here anymore, and the only options that Paris could offer her were death or prostitution....probably both. With a large degree of certainty, she knew that a new life awaited her within Roman's offer. It was not the life that she had once dreamed that she would be living, but it would be a life all her own. It would be her chance to build something herself....she would finally have a way to prove that she was more than a child.

They left Paris in the dark of night, bound for a beautiful estate in the North of France, and the strange Master who inhabited it.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 2 of 38

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