Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 28 of 38

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Amanda hissed through her teeth, her rage palpable.

"God Almighty, Henri! It certainly took you long enough. Did you have to wait until Laurent had the gun to his fucking head?"

From the shadows where he had been concealed, Henri Starre just smiled, his eyes still on Laurent's blood soaked corpse. The bullet had torn its way through the man's neck, severing his jugular, and spilling blood everywhere.

Erik's eyes were still wide open, stunned into a state of acute alertness. Only moments before, he had been sure that Death had finally come for him, and then he had watched a bullet tear its way through Laurent Brette's neck.

He licked a few drops of stray blood from his lips.

Behind him, Edward Morrigan had gone white. "What the hell is going on?"

"Calm down, father." Amanda's voice was shaking slightly as she finally looked to Laurent's lifeless body, and then upwards to Erik, his shirt smattered with the dead man's blood.

Henri replaced the revolver within the folds of his jacket. "My apologies, Amanda. I would have shot sooner, but I had quite a bit of fun watching you squirm over a man." Amanda's eyes burned, but she said nothing under Erik's questioning gaze. She noticed a length of rope in Henri's right hand. He smiled, his voice growing almost casual. "I'm sorry Edward, I would have let you in on our little..." he paused, his eyes once more on Laurent's body, "surprise, but time didn't allow for it." He walked behind Erik and began to bind his arms. "You see Edward, your enterprising daughter and I knew that Laurent would end up killing Von Alsing. He was, quite frankly, an irrational idiot."

Even Amanda shivered under the cool indifference of Henri's words. Nothing lay in his heart at this moment but the desire for fortune and prosperity. Starre was behind Erik, telling her father all that had been planned, but Erik's eyes remained on her face. Suddenly, Amanda felt very cold. She wrapped her arms around herself and looked away, naked and exposed under the terrible scrutiny of his gaze. He hates me, was all that she could think. Oh God, he hates me. He hates me. He hates me..."

"What of the Viscountess?" Edward's voice suddenly broke through Amanda's train of thought.

Her stomach clenched. Not in front of Erik, her mind screamed. For the love of God Henri, don't tell him in front of Erik.

Henri's eyes narrowed in thought. "Well yes, rather inconvenient that she's missing. Fear not, something tells me that she won't take kindly to the Baron's absence.

"She won't c"are!" Erik hissed. "You'll never find her! Take my money and run, just don't look for-"

Henri's fist slamming into the side of Erik's head cut the end of his sentence off. Erik heard a faint cry from Amanda in the distance. "Shut your mouth, Von Alsing. Our dear Monsieur Brette was right about one thing. Your fortune is a joke compared to the money in the de Chagny name." He smiled. "Oh, you can rest assured that I'll get my hands on it, but as a side dish to the feast that your precious Viscountess is sure to offer."

Erik turned his head and spit in Henri's face "You'll get nothing!" With a snarl, Henri struck him and seized his jaw, wrenching his face violently toward his own.

"Henri, stop!" Amanda cried.

"Quiet, Amanda!" Henri turned his attention back to Erik. "Listen to me, freak!" His voice smoldered with controlled fury. "Your Christine is nothing but an empty, useless puppet." Erik struggled, but against the ropes that bound him and Edward's grip, he could only move a few inches. Henri only smiled, pressing his lips to Erik's ear and whispering. "Your lover is a puppet. An empty shell with no control over her own life. Think, Von Alsing. I made sure that she miscarried the Viscount's son, I think that I can handle a few simple account numbers."

In that moment, Erik's world fell away. A dull roaring sound began to build from the bottom of his heart and exploded throughout his brain. "Bastard!" He screamed, surging forward from Edward's grasp, but falling to the ground, restricted as he was by the ropes.

Henri pulled his foot back, and Amanda saw what he intended to do. A quick kick to the face would cause sufficient pain...and easily move the mask out of place.

"Henri, no!"

"How the hell did you do it?"

Both Erik and Amanda cried out at the same time, staying Starre's action. Erik's voice was an unholy snarl. "Tell me you bastard!" He felt as if his soul were draining away from the core of his being. Emotions were tearing him apart. Jealousy at first, jealousy at the child that Raoul de Chagny had almost had, and then pain. Terrible, heart-stopping pain brought on by the weight of his guilt. He had accused Christine of not wanting his child. How could he have known! A fresh burst of anger blossomed in his blood. Why hadn't Christine told him! Could she not trust him? God in Heaven...what had he done?

"Oh God," he whimpered against the stone ground. "Oh God, Christine."

Amanda's control gave way. She fell to her knees besides Erik's bound form.

"Erik, Erik just give them what they want and I promise-"

"Get away from me!" He roared. "What would you know about a promise!"

Why, Erik? She closed her eyes as once again she felt the evil and the hatred that she had lived on for so long consume her. You were the only one who could put these demons to easily you now cause them to spring to life. She opened her eyes and stood, and it was as if a different person was before them. Calm, in control, and sinister to her very core. Whatever vestige of kindness-of weaknessthat had pre-viously hung about her heart was gone.

Love will destroy you! Amanda heard her mother's voice echo across time and space.

Perhaps, she thought in reply, but not yet.

She opened her mouth to speak, but a dull clang echoed throughout the cavernous space, cutting her off. All four individuals looked up.

"What was that?" She asked.

Starre just shrugged. "Probably Julian and his boys. Sometimes noise from above echoes down through the passages."

Edward's face went white. "About that Henri..."

Starre turned toward him. "Yes?"

Edward gave a small laugh. "It's just that the Baron here gave Julian quite a welcome."

Amanda's eyes widened. "You can't be serious..."

He nodded. "Whoever made that noise up there, it certainly wasn't Julian or the others. Their blood is soaking the entrance to the Communists road."

Henri's mouth fell open as he stared down at Erik. "Clever bastard..." He snapped his gaze back up to Edward. "Go back up, find whatever's there, I don't care if it's a bloody rat. The last thing that we need right now is a distraction." Bending, he hauled Erik to his feet. "Amanda, take his Lordship over to one of the metal gates and tie him to it. Securely. Even bound by the wrists...I'm less than comfortable knowing that he killed three men." With a swift flick of the wrist, Henri swung his pistol, allowing it to crash against the side of Erik's head with a dull thud.

Pain exploded in his skull, but not enough to knock him out. Inwardly, Erik swore. His vision had blurred and he had never felt so helpless in all of his life. He could vaguely sense Amanda taking him by the elbow and leading him somewhere, but he had neither the ability nor the will to care. The pistol to the head had weakened his sensibilities, and the knowledge of the truth surrounding Christine had weakened his soul.

A child!

A child that she believed that she had miscarried...

...a child that Henri Starre had murdered.

Christine swore softly. The end of her cloak had caught suddenly on a splintered edge of a statue in the Opera's grand foyer, causing one of her pistols to hit the marble floor with an obscenely loud clang. It had kicked up a large cloud of dust and in between coughs Christine realized how terribly neglected her former home was...

It was funny, but she found that she did not care. Perhaps she had realized too late, but her life was so much more than a building, or a place to call home. At the moment, everything that she held dear in the world was in danger.

She had expected guards, watchmen, someone, but to her surprise, the entire opera house seemed deserted. A momentary wave of panic hit her. What if they aren't here? What if they left with Erik? What if they killed him and left his corpse! Tears stung Christine's eyes, but she stubbornly fought them back. No! She had come too far to let something as insignificant as fear bring her down. She was completely beyond fear at this point. Even death held no special significance for her...

...because Erik is my life.

Christine could not remember how she and Raoul had been brought down to the basements all those months ago-she had been nearly unconscious-but she clearly remembered how to navigate the passageway behind the mirror in her old dressing room. Passing through the old hallways, Christine's hands began to shake. What was she to do once she was down there?

The answer was terribly simple.

She would offer herself in exchange for Erik...and Raoul, should he be alive. She hadn't allowed the thought of what to do if her husband actually were alive to cross her mind, as she didn't expect it to really be a problem. Christine had no illusions about ever leaving these cellars alive. The Commune wanted her money, but they also wanted her blood. They would make sure that no de Chagny ever survived their reign of terror.

What would it be like to die? To feel her heart slowly stop beating, to feel the breath of life leave her lungs and the warm of vitality rise away from her flesh? Would there be pain? What would greet her on the other side of life? Heaven? Hell? Nothingness? Or was the nothingness truly what Hell was meant to be?

The door to her old dressing room was cracked open, and Christine was already pale by the time she placed her hands against the flat wood to push it in all the way.

The scent reached her before the sight of it.


The smell of blood saturated the air. Christine could not recall ever having smelled blood in so large a quantity, but she recognized it nonetheless. It meant death, and death was the sight that greeted her upon the floor of her old room.

Three men lay dead.

One, she could tell by the sickening angel that his head lay in relation to his body, had been garroted, his neck snapped with brutal efficiency. Another had been shot, presumably through the neck, for that was where the blood still seemed to be seeping from. The third however, the third man was a vision that would remain with Christine until the day she died. His neck had almost assuredly been broken, but his entire head seemed to be torn incompletely from his body. Blood, sinew, and splintered bone gaped back at her, calling to her with the garishness of their shining, sickening, glittering presence.

How strange...blood caught the light like rubies.

Christine exploded back from the room and into the hallway, unable to keep a scream from ripping its way up her throat, until her vomiting stopped it. Their eyes...all three of those bodies had had their eyes open, staring at her, trying to seduce her, wrapping her in a shroud of pain and death.

She retched again.

"What the hell are you doing in here, boy?" Edward had emerged from behind the mirror, distracted from the sight of the three corpses by a strange choking sound coming from the hallway. Hunched over was a boy, terribly thin in clothes that were much too big, his hair a tangled mess, retching.

Christine's face snapped up to the large, older man that stood before her.

He advanced. "What the fuck are you doing in here? Eh? Trying to impress a sweet heart?" Edward made a move to grab Christine's arm, and she blindly grabbed one of her pistols and shot.

The bullet whizzed past Edward's head, but the explosion of the gun sent him tumbling back. Discarding the now useless pistol, Christine took advantage of the situation and barreled past the man, back into her dressing room. She trampled over the bodies and made a mad dash for the mirror, jerking it open and jumping into the path. She made a swift move to close it, but was unable to before Edward came barreling in, landing on top of her and sending her spilling to the ground.

"You're going to pay for that you little whelp!" He snarled right into her face. "What's the matter, boy, didn't your mother teach you that guns were made for grown men, not idiotic youths?" His fist landed squarely against her jaw.

Christine bit her tongue in pain, a metallic, bitter taste filling her mouth. Panic bells went off in her head. Her other pistol was in her holster at her back, well beyond her reach. Edward straddled her, his face only inches away. Hawking back all of the blood in her mouth, Christine spat the deep red mixture into his eyes. Edward's hands flew to his face and he rocked back, allowing Christine to slide out from under his body.

Cold fury flowed throw Edward as he struggled to wipe the disgusting mixture from his eyes. What the hell was this boy doing here anyway?

Christine's hand flew to her holster, grabbing the first thing that she felt: one of Erik's daggers. She held it above her head, her breath coming in heavy gasps, as Edward stood, facing her.

He laughed. "I could break you in half, child. In fact," he sneered, "I think I might do just that. Put the knife down before you embarrass-"

Christine lunged for him, her knife slicing into the side of his shoulder. Edward gave a yelp of pain and grabbed Christine by the hair. She thought for a moment that she surely must be bleeding, for tears instantly misted her eyes and she once more brought the knife into Edward's shoulder.

Her hands were sweaty and nervous, her handling of the blade childish at best, so Edward's wounds were hardly fatal. Still, blood stained the left arm of his shirt and a stinging pain seared through his body. With a roar, he shoved Christine against the stone wall. She responded with a scream and a well placed kick to his stomach, her foot a jagged spear in the soft flesh of his abdomen.

She tried to dart away, but Edward's hand instantly came around her throat.

"Was it worth it?" He snarled. "Now you are going to die because of your arrogance!"

Christine's eyes rolled back into her head as Edward tightened his grip. Oh God, she thought. I'm going to die. I'm going to die without ever having really lived.

The knife fell from her hand and hit the floor.

Edward brought his hand roughly to her waist, a move meant to increase pain, but something made his hand freeze. The waist that he felt wasn't if the boy beneath him was...corseted!

He released his hand from her neck, but Christine was too weak from lack of air to do anything but slump against the wall. She could barely see anything but a dull, black haze. Her lungs burned as precious, life-giving air flowed through them once more.

Edward brought both of his hands to the collar of her shirt and tore it clean down the center. The boy was corseted! And in an expensive corset! White, pristine, with lace sewn delicately along the top as it swept over...breasts! He hadn't even noticed "the boy's" feminine form under the overly large clothes.

He looked down to the dagger she had dropped, and his eyes went wide. It was studded with precious gems, a fortune lying at his feet.

Then, as if screaming for attention, the scar on her face suddenly seemed to glow red before him. He had noticed it, but hadn't really noticed it, or thought that it could have anything to do with...

"Fucking hell," he whispered.

Erik felt himself being pushed back against a metal gate...gently. Amanda had a length of rope in her hand that she was tying around an iron bar. His mind was at war with himself. Part of him wanted to die. Part of him saw no more point in life, no point in continuing this cruel, painful existence where all that he had held dear was now gone from him.

Another part of him raged. Part of him wanted to use the heat of his anger to burn away the ropes that bound him, to kill Amanda and Starre in the most brutal, calculated, disgusting execution that his twisted mind had ever thought up...however it was the same part of him that wanted to scream away his pain at Christine. Why hadn't she told him about the child? Did she think him such a monster that he wouldn't have understood! He could forgive her anything! He had forgiven her everything!

"You are angry with her." Amanda's quiet voice broke through his fiery thoughts. He looked at her, his vision still somewhat blurry, but said nothing. Amanda's eyes remained on his as she slowly slid her hand across the expanse of his chest, bringing the rope with her. She secured it before bringing it back around once more, so close to him that her breath fluttered lightly against his throat. "I know you are," she said, now dragging the rope with deliberate slowness against his stomach. Erik sucked in a breath. "I can tell by your feel betrayed that she didn't tell you about her child."

"Stop it!" He roared. "Yes, you are very good when it comes to betrayal."

Amanda's heart fell into the pit of her stomach as her demons once more assaulted her senses.

"Yes," she replied, her voice calm, and yet darker. "I suppose talk of your precious"-she spat the word-"Christine, from my lips would be blasphemy. Well I have a secret for you, Baron..."

She leaned in, her lips brushing his earlobe, her hands resting lightly on her shoulders. Somewhere, from the back of her mind, her heart cried out. Don't do this! Don't hurt him like this! This isn't his fault! He didn't set out to do this!

The demons roared back with equal fervor. You were not made for love, Amanda Morrigan. There is no compassion, there is no are only showing him what the world has shown you.

The demons won.

"Do you know how our good Dr. Starre got to your darling? Hmmm?" Erik's face betrayed no emotion as Amanda simply laughed. "She was in a sanitarium! Locked away by her loving husband because she was insane!"

Erik felt his heart begin to race. "You're lying," he whispered brokenly.

Amanda simply laughed. "You'd like to think that, wouldn't you?" She traced a lazy finger from the waistline of his trousers to the base of his throat. " I'm afraid it's true. The dear Viscountess began to lose her mind not long after her marriage."

"Stop," Erik whispered.

"Raoul de Chagny saw to her immediate care...I believe they brought her to Naples."

"Stop," he whispered once more.

Amanda chuckled. "Though apparently, Raoul was reluctant to suspend his marital rights. Christine was pregnant not too long after."

"Stop!" He screamed.

His cry echoed within the cavernous space, and Amanda took a long breath. "Did you ever wonder Erik, why I never quickened with your child?" He stiffened against her, the ropes keeping him from pushing her away. "I used the very method that Starre used on your lover. It was easy enough, your lovely Christine being locked in a room and all, to slip it into her tea..."

Erik wanted to scream, wanted to sob, wanted to rage. He wanted to believe that what Amanda was saying wasn't true... but something in her eyes, some sick, twisted, desperate pleasure in her eyes told him that it was. He couldn't even speak.

"It's an absolutely ingenious concoction," she continued, "that one can find in the darker corners of Paris. A poison of the most creative sort, meant to intoxicate the womb and nothing more." Erik shut his eyes. He knew what she spoke was a common enough among gypsy medicine women. Drinks that could abort a pregnancy before they even had a chance to become noticable. Amanda leaned in even closer. "I've used it on many an occasion, dearest."

Erik felt his control begin to break. Tears slipped down his cheeks and his beautiful voice became a dry whisper. "She...she was locked in a room?"

Amanda's entire body softened, the demons chased away by the sight of the tears on his cheeks. Erik froze as she leaned in, kissing them softly away. "Please don't cry Erik," she begged. "Please don't cry. I promise...I won't let anything happen to you-"

"You think that I care about myself right now!" He roared back, squirming under the vile, traitorous silk of her lips. "Is that all that you can think of? That I would care for myself! I am nothing right now. My everything has been bloodied, poisoned, and hunted by you and this disgusting organization. God, even your whole family is in on it! Your own father is your henchmen. I wouldn't be surprised if your grandfather were the devil himself."

Erik was surprised by the force of her palm slapping against his cheek.

Don't you dare insinuate anything about my grandfather! That man was the one light in my pointless existence!"

Erik blinked. Were those tears in her eyes?

Amanda's voice caught in her throat. "He...he was a man who lived for his family and for his God...he built for his God," she whispered quietly. "Tell me Erik," she murmured, her eyes looking past him, as if staring back past years of pain and regret, "have you ever seen the Piazza del Popolo?"

A deep, rumbling thunder began clamoring within Erik's mind. Time slipped away and all that he was left with was a memory...a long ago, long forgotten memory...

Giovanni stared at his young charge, the boy's eyes lighting up at the sight before his eyes.

"Do you like it, Erik?" He asked. The strange, masked boy nodded, seemingly transfixed and incapable of speech. "It's called the-"

"Piazza del Popolo," Erik finished for him. "Yes...I know it well."

His mind reeled. "What was his name!

Amanda was "startled by the sudden edge of desperateness in Erik's voice. "Who's-"

"Your grandfather's! What was his name?"

She hesitated for a moment, unsure as to whether she should reveal what seemed a rather insignificant piece of information. "He...his name, was Giovanni Pambianci." A small smile of pride lit up her face. "He was Rome's Master Mason."

Erik's face had gone completely white behind the mask, his eyes lifeless, his body shaking. Now it all made sense...The dreams, those terrible, bloody dreams...the random memories, that pang of longing in his heart that he felt every time that he saw Amanda, even as he wanted to hate her. She was the spitting image of Luciana because her blood was Luciana's!"

And then, he did something that shook Amanda to her very core.

He threw his head back and laughed.

"Is this your idea of a sick joke?" He seemed to scream to air above him. "You have had forty years to play your cruel tricks on me...why this? Why this!"

Fate and Destiny had come for him with a vengeance. They would deny him peace, they would deny him sanity, by playing the cruelest ruse of all time. They would destroy everything that he loved all at once...even his memories.

Amanda's own eyes were wide with confusion. "Erik..."

"Oh God, Luciana..." he mumbled.

"What?" She could hear a low keening wail bubbling up from the depths of her mind. No...there's no way that he could have way he could have known...


Both Amanda and Erik turned toward the direction of the frantic cry. On the shore of the lake stood her father, his gun to Christine de Chagny's forehead.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 28 of 38

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