Continuing Tales

Demons

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 32 of 38

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Demons

For God's sake, stop whining!" Amanda gave Christine another rough shove through the dark cavernous space, a lantern hanging around her left wrist, the pistol in her right hand.

Christine gritted her teeth against the pressure of the gun against her back. She already suspected that her skin was broken in several places. "Well I might stop whining if you would stop pushing me so hard!"

With a violent push, Amanda sent Christine tumbling toward the ground. She landed with a cry, the loose rocks cutting deeply into the fleshy part of her hand.

"How is that for pushing you too hard, Countess! Now get up. Get up!"

Shaking, Christine got to her knees, cringing as the low light from the lantern illuminated the blood dripping over her wrists.

"Now," Amanda said, steadying her voice. "Let's go."

"Where?" Christine asked. "Where does this lead?"

"The caverns connect to the catacombs. It will lead us right up into St. Chapelle. That is where Starre will come for you."

"And you?" Christine asked, catching herself when she almost stumbled once more. "You don't expect me to believe that you will just disappear?"

From behind Christine, Amanda smiled. "Oh, I intend to disappear, Madame...with your lover as my own."

Christine laughed.

Amanda winced.

"You expect to become Erik's lover!" Christine's laughter was cut short by the crack of the gun against the back of her head.

"You forget, fool...I already have been."

"So it seems," was all that Christine replied, an unusual shot of sarcasm dripping into her words, despite the stars spinning before her eyes.


"Why are you here! You should be in England. You presume to disobey my orders?"

Roman untied the last of Erik's restraints, freeing him from the iron grate.

"You're welcome, your Grace." Roman looked at the cuts on Erik's chest. "Ah, these are nasty now, aren't they?" From the satchel on his side, he took out an absolutely putrid-smelling blue paste.

Erik sneered. "Put that anywhere near my person and it will be the last thing that you smell on this earth."

Roman ignored him. "It will stop the bleeding, seeing as I don't see any clean bandages at the moment...unless you've got a better idea?"

Erik shook his head, grimacing as Roman quickly applied the salve. It stung like Hell.

"That's enough!" He cried.

Roman smiled. "Good, you are in a repulsive mood. Your health appears to be returning by the moment. It's when you begin to wax poetic that I fear for you."

Erik sent Roman a sharp look. "Why aren't you in England?"

Roman shrugged. "You honestly thought that I would allow you and Christine to come to Paris alone? It was easy enough to get one of the other men to say he was Roman Majekt. You solicitor in London is none the wiser." He replaced the medicine in his pack and cocked his pistol once more.

Erik blanched. "The letter I gave you had specific questions within it so that your identity could be verified. Only you could have answered them!" He grabbed Roman by the collar of his shirt and almost hauled him off of his feet. "You rashness not only allowed Christine to follow me, but now seems to have condemned your wife and unborn child!"

Once Roman stopped choking, he attempted to explain. "Master...Master really, I am...am a gypsy. It was only a matter of creativity to open the letter without breaking your seal."

Erik raised one eyebrow. "Without breaking the seal?"

"Oh, indeed."

"So the contents..."

"Are known to the other men."

"And my solicitor..."

"Believes that Roman Majekt is in London."

Erik put Roman down and nodded. Roman knew that was as much as an apology as the Baron was ever likely to give.

"How did you find me?"

Roman took a piece of cloth from his belt and threw it to Erik, who wiped the excess blood off of his face. "I came to Paris as soon as I realized Christine had gone. I had assumed that she had come to the opera house, but had no idea where she would think to go within it. I went to the one connection that I knew Christine had."

Erik returned the cloth. "Marguerite Giry?"

Roman nodded. "It seems that our esteemed Dr. Starre had been asking her strange questions about Christine lately. When I told her of the girl's disappearance, well...you can imagine the reaction."

Erik snorted.

"So, remembering the Giry had known of you, I asked her if she knew any way of getting into the bowels of the theater."

Scowling, Erik could only mumble. "The girl always was too curious for her own good."

"And thank the stars for it."

For a moment, both men stood in silence, reflecting on the wonders of Fate, and the fickleness of the fortunes that had brought them to the very moment.

"How do you feel?" Roman asked.

"It doesn't bloody matter," Erik replied. "Amanda has Christine."

Roman almost laughed...almost. "Amanda? Our Amanda! Miss 'Roman go into town and pick up the new necklace the Baron ordered me' Amanda?"

Erik grimaced. "One and the same."

"A Commune member!"

"Does it really matter! She has Christine!" Desperation flickered across his eyes. "We have to go, now."

"Where?" Roman asked.

"St. Chapelle. The tunnels down here lead into its catacombs."

He nodded. "Then I hope your God is with us."

Erik shook his head. "He is not my God. To give only to take away?"

Roman smiled. "Now you are a liar." He paused. "I just hope that at least one god is watching over us in that darkness."

Now it was Erik's turn to smile, though there was nothing humorous in the gesture. Blood had been cleaned from his body, but it still sang an everlasting aria within his soul. "Then your prayers are answered, Roman...for I am the darkness."


"I know what it's like," Christine called to the woman behind her. "To lose someone you love." They had been walking in silence for some time now, and it had begun to unnerve Christine greatly. She began to seriously fear for her sanity should something not puncture the heavy gloom.

Amanda did nothing besides keep the gun firmly positioned against Christine's back.

"My father died when I was eleven, my mother when I was six. I have been an orphan for as much of my life as I can remember."

Amanda laughed. "My cousin Luciana was murdered when she was fifteen. My mother died of a heart attack a week later. I slept with a man for the first time when I was fourteen. By seventeen I learned to enjoy it. By eighteen I learned not to care. My father..." She pushed Christine once more, the pistol ever present. "Do not insult me again by what you think was your hard life...or was the Baron so good in bed that you forgot you were a Countess? Was it nice to find someone so accommodating, my dear?"

Angry tears burned at Christine's eyes. "Erik loves me. He loves me...and now you will rip it all away!"

"He loves you, does he?" Anger, hatred, and jealousy colored Amanda's words. "Are you sure of that, Christine? Now that he knows of your little...sojourn, in Italy?"

Christine stopped, turning around slowly. Amanda let her, wanting to see the teary shock in the young girl's face.

Hatred burned in Christine's eyes.

Amanda gripped her gun tighter.

"How? How could you have possibly known?"

Amanda shrugged the question off, happy when her nonchalance seemed to anger Christine more. "Let me assure you, Viscountess, we've been watching you for some time." She laughed quietly. "Hell...we know more than you do."

Christine felt the clouds of foreboding roll over her. Something was wrong. The air was too thick, her breath was too short, and Amanda Morrigan's smile was too perfect. She didn't even have to ask the question, what do you mean? Amanda could see it in her weary eyes.

Amanda really could not say why, it wasn't necessary to tell Christine all that had happened, but in that moment, she wanted to hurt the girl to the point of agony. Perhaps it was the way that she had been able to survive her parents' death the way that Amanda hadn't been able to survive Luciana's, perhaps it was jealousy at the way a nineteen year old had been able to transform from a dancer to a Viscountess...perhaps it was just insanity.

"Your baby."

Christine knew, without asking. It was seeping out of Amanda's eyes, flowing from her black heart...the awful, terrible, hateful truth.

"They told me..." Christine's voice was shaking so badly that she could barely speak. "They told me-told me that my, that my disposition...that my black disposition, had poisoned my baby."

Amanda did not smile. Instead, her triumph shone out from her eyes. "Dearest girl, it wasn't your disposition that poisoned your baby."

Christine went numb. It started in her toes. An odd, nagging sensation. But then it spread, burning up her legs, into her loins, through her stomach, and ravaging her heart. The numbness burnt through the pain, through the darkness. It was a feeling like she had never known. She could not cry. Simple tears would have been an insult to her agony. Instead, she took a deep breath, allowing the damp air in the caverns to fill every inch of her lungs. By the time she hissed it out, a quiet, tomb-like calm had settled over her.

"You expect me to weep, don't you?"

Amanda almost snorted with laughter. "I suppose, you have every reason to."

"My child is murdered, as is my husband, and Erik..."

This time, Amanda did smile. "Oh yes, my dear. Let me assure you. I have many plans for that man."

Christine sighed wistfully, as Amanda imagined a child might when they finally knew they were defeated by the will of a parent. "A year ago...a year ago I had everything to weep for. I had a career, I had a fiancÚ that I loved, and I teacher that I was in love with. I had a life, I had...I had everything. I can't even count the nights that I wept myself to sleep trying to manage it all. Now, you've taken everything from me. The simple truth of the matter, Mademoiselle Morrigan, is that I have nothing to weep for." Christine turned her eyes downcast. "I suggest you be careful. It's those who have nothing to weep for that are the most dangerous. I should know. I knew such a person once..."

Amanda had the good grace to look shocked. Not only at the fact that Christine had just obviously threatened her, but at the fact that the threat had actually had merit behind it. Christine had nothing to lose. In taking her child, her husband, and now her lover, the Commune had stolen much more than a life from Christine de Chagny. They had taken her soul.

So why did she feel as if Christine had just gained the upper hand?

You have your h"ope to lose," Amanda quickly interjected. "Your hope that somehow he could still love you after your betrayal. Well, let me add that to your 'woe-is-me' list. He doesn't love you."

"He does."

"He doesn't!" Amanda's eyes burned, her fury heightened by Christine's tranquility. The woman should be on her knees, sobbing in agony!

"He does," Christine replied once more. "And always has."

"He was mine long before he was ever tempted to seduce you, to settle his perversion with your disgusting face!"

"No," Christine answered. "You are wrong."

"Like Hell I am!" Amanda screamed, bringing the gun up to Christine's forehead. "Now," she grinded out her words between her teeth. "Turn around and walk. I've had enough of you to last a lifetime."

"I have seen beneath his mask."

With a cry Amanda shoved Christine roughly to the floor. The girl landed with a thud, catching herself with her hand before a sickening crack filled the air. Christine let out a scream of pain, instantly cradling her right wrist. It rested limp against her body, and by the time Amanda even saw it in the dim lamplight, it was already turning purple.

"The next time," Amanda said between a heavy breath, "you lie to me like that, I will cut off one of your fingers. Does that sound like a good idea to you, Christine? A digit for every lie that you tell? The idea certainly appeals to-"

Amanda never finished the sentence. She was thrown, violently to the floor, sending her lamp to the ground and the gun flying somewhere into the darkness of the caverns. A crushing weight landed on top of her stomach, and she crumbled beneath it.

Roman hoped that the bitch suffocated. "So, this is what it's like to be on top of the infamous Amanda Morrigan? I must say, for all the men who have extolled its wonders, I fail to see what the appeal is." He pressed his gun to her forehead.

Christine almost didn't notice someone helping her to her feet. The pain from her broken wrist had nearly caused her to pass out. But she did notice a terrible smell. It was suffocating, instantly snapping her out of her haze. "God, what is that!"

"Blame Roman, he's the one who insisted putting the stuff on my chest.

Christine could"n't bear to look up. That voice...a voice that she had never thought to hear again, so alive and so sure...so beautiful. Oh God, was she dead? Had she finally died, and that was why she was surrounded by such Heaven?"

"Christine, aren't you going to look at me?"

She started sobbing.

Erik wrapped his arms around her fiercely, not even caring when he felt his wounds ignite with pain. It was nothing when compared to the feeling of holding Christine in his arms. She buried her face in his shoulder, finally wrapping her own arm around him, allowing the one attached to her broken wrist to lie limply at his side. Erik noticed, and instantly pulled her back. His eyes met hers, and he soon felt tears fill his own. She was so bruised and battered and...beautiful. Slowly, Erik leaned in, capturing her lips with his. At first the kiss was light, chaste even. Neither wanted to move too quickly, and risk destroying the fantasy that they found themselves in. Unconsciously, Christine opened her mouth, brushing her tongue against Erik's lips. He lost his mind, claiming her mouth with a ferocity of which she hadn't know him capable. Christine relished in the kiss, allowing his lips to bruise her further, anything at all to remind her that he was alive. Erik's tears fell down his cheek steadily, and Christine could taste them as they fell upon her mouth...on one side of his face. His mask was still on.

"Oh God," she murmured, backing away from him no more than an inch. "Oh God how is this possible, how are you alive?"

Erik kissed her forehead, shushing her quietly. "I am alive...you are alive. That is all that matters." Christine nodded dumbly, lost in the absolute bliss and the impossibility of this moment.

"But Italy...my baby, Oh God Erik, my baby. How can you even-"

"Can you doubt my love for you so much?" Pain etched itself over the visible side of his face. "That I could leave you for fear of you? No, good God no, Christine...no matter what happens, I will see you through it. I will see the both of us through it." Gently, Erik traced a finger down the scar on Christine's face. "You are my everything...my very existence."

Fresh tears blurred Christine's vision. "I didn't mean to make you think that I didn't want your child. I was just somy b...aby had only recently died...been murdered," Christine finished on a hiss.

Erik's stare turned cold and black. "Amanda told you?"

Christine nodded. For a moment, it was all Erik could do to not walk over to the woman beneath Roman and strangle her. She would have only confessed such a thing to hurt Christine. A whimper from his angel turned his thoughts once more back to her. She cradled her wrist in her left hand, ugly and purple. With a grimace, Erik gently set his fingers upon it.

"Broken," he whispered.

Christine nodded. "I had suspected as much."

With a nod, Erik tore the sleeve of his shirt, wrapping it tightly around her swollen wrist.

"Erik don't! It hurts too much, it-"

"It will keep the bone in place until I can fix it properly. The last thing that you want is for it to break your skin."

Christine almost cried with relief. It was the most beautiful thing in the world to hear Erik being bossy and pragmatic when the occasion didn't call for it at all. It was so...Erik of him. The smile that she gave was nothing short of dazzling.

"Excuse me! Not that I want to break up the reunion, but our dear Miss Morrigan is getting a tad antsy over here."

"Roman!" Christine gasped. "What in God's name are you doing here?"

No one answered Christine as Erik walked over to where Roman had Amanda pinned to the ground. For a moment, both just stared hellfire into the other's eyes.

"Not to sound brutal," Roman said quietly, "But should I kill her?"

Amanda didn't flinch.

"You may get off of her, Roman. She isn't going anywhere, with a gun trained to her forehead."

Roman obeyed, though curious at the strange tone in his Master's voice. Again, he asked, "Should I kill her, Master? She will only kill us if she is allowed to live."

Erik seemed to ponder this for a long moment. Christine had come up beside him, holding herself against him gently, silently...

"No," Erik said at length.

Shock was undisguised over Roman's face. "Think, your Grace! To leave her alive would-"

"No, Roman. Henri Starre is dead, she has nothing now, she is powerless. She can't hurt us."

Amanda's eyes went wide at the mention of Starre's death, but still she said nothing.

"And besides," he continued, lowering his voice dramatically. "For all the death my hands have felt, for all the blood my eyes have seen, I cannot spill blood that ran through Luciana's veins."

Only Amanda and Christine turned pale as death, Amanda even more so. It was as if the weight of the world had just fallen upon what was left of her soul.

"Say that again," she hissed.

Erik only stared at her, his eyes saturated with some far away, mournful emotion.

"Say that again!" She screamed.

For the life of him, Erik did not know why he started to tremble. "I loved your cousin, in my youth, and nearly died of my grief when she died. I cannot kill her cousin..."

A single tear fell silently down Amanda's cheek.

"...Or were you not the 'dearest Mandy' that she always spoke of?"

Amanda shut her eyes, the world around her falling away. She vaguely heard Erik order her to go back up into the opera, to go back the way that she had come, and to never go near him or Christine again. She didn't even hear them walk away, bound for the daylight and the freedom of the St. Chapelle, Erik holding Christine as if she were the most precious treasure in all the world. All that Amanda could see was Luciana, dead in her coffin, her head smashed in and poorly corrected by the mortician, her skin pale and still tinted slightly red from all the blood that had had to be cleaned off.

A second tear fell with the first.

She thought of her mother, dead only a week later, of her grandfather, broken forever, and of the life that she had led since that awful day...

The only man that she had ever loved, the strange, masked Baron, was the same man that had caused her to hate love above all other things.

A third tear.

Had Luciana seen beneath the mask?

A fourth tear.

"I hate you," she whispered into the silence that surrounded her.

A fifth tear.

"I hate you!" She screamed, the sound bouncing off the caverns walls. "I hate you!"

And she wept.

Next to her, the lamp that she had dropped had not extinguished entirely, and the little light that it still gave off sent Amanda's weeping shadow all around her, a ghostly mirror of her hatred and her sorrow. She opened her eyes, allowing the shadows to seep into her brain.

Erik was the boy.

Erik was Luciana's first love.

Erik was her lover.

Erik killed your mother.

"Yes," she whispered, seduced by the power of her fleeting sanity.

Erik killed your grandfather.

Erik killed your father.

"Yes."

He wears the mask because Luciana is punishing him. She is punishing him for loving you all along.

"Yes."

Now Christine serves in Luciana's place.

Kill Christine.

Kill Luciana's memory.

And he will love you.

Amanda's lips curved up into a smile. She took a deep breath, allowing the glorious demon of hatred to kiss the tears from her face. She turned her eyes to the ceiling. "Forgive me, Father," she laughed, "for I will sin. Over and over again." She continued laughing.

"Until I am hell's favorite blushing virgin! Until I am-"

She stopped. Something caught her eye. It was the way that the low lamp light played in the dark corners. It caught upon something, something that sparkled, something that had been hidden in the darkness, something that no one had seen.

Walking over to it, Amanda bent to see what it was. Red light reflected perfectly off of one of the rubies on her pistol...off the body of Hell.

And Hell still had two shots left.

Demons

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 32 of 38

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