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 DISCOVERING A LEGEND

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PhantomnessFay
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PostSubject: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sun Jul 27, 2008 9:37 am

For all us Phans, we have all wondered how and why Gaston Leroux came to write the beloved novel The Phantom of the Opera.

Here is what may have happened. Please R&R. Enjoy!

*******************************
CHAPTER ONE

BEGINNING OF THE INVESTIGATION

Of all my writings and research, the most fascinating and only
one for which I received any true recognition came from the haunting of L’Opéra Garnier, also known as the Paris Opera House. How my heart thrilled to meet Carl Laemmle, a filmmaker from the United States! Fate brought us together so I might learn how to make movies and that Carl would have a new idea for his next film. For some strange, unknown reason, I offered Carl the story which had intrigued me all these years. I had no inkling he wanted to make it into a movie. I would have settled for verbal acclaim and the sale of countless copies.

Whether or not Carl Laemmle believed in the existence of the
Opera Ghost or not, I never knew. I know the press didn’t believe me. They laughed at the opening line of my novel, which simply said the opera ghost really existed.

Yet, to my happiness and surprise, all my investigation and
hard work paid off. Carl introduced me to the actor chosen to play the title role of my book, Lon Chaney, the man of a thousand faces. I couldn’t believe it! The fame of this actor had spread worldwide and he would play the lead in my novel. Incroyable! (Unbelievable!) The talents of Lon Chaney created the face of the Phantom so the audience as well as I would get a glimpse of the beast which haunted the opera house so many years ago.

When the film debuted in 1925, everyone knew my name, and
the story many say influenced filmmakers and writers everywhere. But still, no one believed me when I said the
opera ghost really existed. The public assumed we had another gimmick to sell the movie. Tell the world it’s real and ticket sales will soar.

The current year is 1926. My name is Gaston Leroux and this is an account of how I came to write one of the most famed stories of all time, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra ; known in English as The Phantom of the Opera.

Journalism had always been my forte, yet the desire to become successful novelist never died. Unfortunately,
some said my news articles stirred more interest than tales drawn from my imagination. Criticism like this generally led me to drink at my usual haunt where only the barkeeper and
painted ladies seemed entertained with my wild imagination.

In October of 1901, on an evening at the Queen’s Eye, a dive
that always welcomed the struggling journalist, a young man interrupted my latest tale with the discovery of a house by an underground lake five cellars beneath L’Opéra Garnier. At first, I ignored the lad when he babbled about some of the staff burying old phonographs in a box. A time capsule I believe they called it. They had hoped in a hundred years someone would find and display them to reveal our history. However, when he mentioned a mysterious, unaccounted for wall which had been broken, only to find a house with a skeleton by its well, my ears perked up. The lad said the remains looked quite hideous and wore a gold band on its finger.

All men are ugly after death, so I wondered about the
comment. Then I heard the words “Opera Ghost” and “haunting of a young diva”. This piqued my interest and I had to know more. The young man only knew of what he’d blurt out, but directed me to the ancient building which housed the rumors. So I ingested some very strong coffee to ward off the haze liquor induces and headed for the opera house.

Let me say France has always believed in the supernatural and superstition definitely flourished. The current managers refused to speak to me as I knew they would. They feared a restless ghost would return to wreak vengeance, so I sought other resources.

A decrepit stagehand allowed me to explore the underground
lake which came into existence when a worker broke a pipe, flooding the area. I marveled at the maze of tunnels and crevices in which anyone could easily hide.

For a few more francs, the old fellow took me to see the
broken wall and the house which lay behind it. Workers had moved the skeleton to the National Archives, but the interior of the house beckoned to me. The stench of the dank enclosure tormented my senses, but the decaying furniture and rotting organ captivated the eye.

Evidently, the workers had removed other items from the
house. I noticed the drawer of a great oak desk had been forced open. Certainly they removed whatever caused the
large, square imprint in thick dust. A box, perhaps.

Again, I jotted down more notes, before we left. I only wish I had been allowed to photograph what I’d seen. The old stagehand only allowed a few sketches. He didn’t want
the burden of me getting caught with a camera. He’d be blamed and loose his job.

Upon my arrival upstairs, some half frightened dancers
whispered the name of Madame Giry, the old woman who worked as a box attendant at the time. And then I wondered when all this happened. The young girls claimed to know nothing more. From their pale complexion, fear kept them
quiet. This led me in search of the box attendant.

Finding any old woman the opera house had employed would be less than simple, except Madame Giry had a daughter named Meg, who had married a title and I found her with not much difficulty. However, little did I know at the time, the quest had only begun. It would take some nine years or so to gather sufficient evidence to write this amazing story. Did I say evidence? Perhaps evidence is the word, since proving the existence of the Opera Ghost became my main objective.

I saw the Baroness as quite a stately woman for her
sixty-five years. With regret, I did not make note of what area Meg ruled as baroness, but I vividly recalled the
sparkle in her eyes, when I spoke of her mother.

Sadly, Madame Giry died at least ten years prior, yet Meg
still could not speak of her dear mother without tears. When I mentioned the Opera Ghost, the demeanor changed and a strange look washed over her. At first, I couldn’t tell if fear and dread caused the look or some sort of twisted delight, until I listened to the account of what she witnessed and heard. Her hands trembled as she took a swallow of cognac she poured for herself and then offered me a glass. At the moment, liquor didn’t entice me. I only wanted to know more of this haunting story.

In brief, Meg recalled the rumors and tales of a darkly clad
creature that lurked in the shadows and terrified all who had the misfortune to see him and his glinting, ember-like eyes.
She claimed to have seen him twice, once when he brought down the chandelier and again when he breezed passed her just before the lights went out and Christine vanished from the stage.

Only once did she hear it speak to Christine. Many times Meg had walked the hall passing the young diva’s dressing room, but only this one time did she hear a man’s voice conversing with the girl as though they had some sort of relationship. Lovers? I think not. According to Meg, Christine treated him like a father, yet her voice sounded full of anguish and doom.

According to the Baroness, the voice touched her like none
she’d ever heard. The feelings it stirred she could not describe, except hypnotic. Had the door not separated the two, she would have done anything it demanded. A mix of
abject terror and pity filled her and in that moment of recollection she wept. Her emotions overwhelmed me, and I became speechless. What kind of man or spirit could evoke such emotions?

When she composed herself, she recalled the notes written in
red which the spectre sent to the managers demanding money or giving instructions. The ghost demanded twenty
thousand francs to prevent accidents occurring. So far, I’d found a ghost that not only scared people, it hypnotized, and
blackmailed as well. Interesting creature!

For additional proof of the ghost’s existence, the baroness
referred me to Christine Daae, now also married into nobility, and a man she only referred to as the Persian. When I
tried to question her, she claimed to know about him from Christine’s letters. After all these years, they still wrote to each other, and yet one regret remained. When I inquired about the regret, Meg simply said, speak to Christine.

Searching for the Persian felt like looking for a needle in
the proverbial haystack. I had no name of any kind and no description. All I knew about him suggested he had a history with the Opera Ghost like no other.

The local police did not hesitate to answer my questions. They even allowed me to read over records which pertained to the haunting. It seemed that Paris held the ghost responsible for the death of a stagehand named Joseph Buquet and a woman who should have replaced Madame Giry as a box attendant.

Buquet had seen the spectre numerous times and tried to follow it. He claimed it looked like a man in black opera attire, wearing a fedora and a black death’s head lurking in the shadows and in the darkest corners, just as the young dancers had said. Yet, again the glowing, yellow eyes came up in the description. The next account said another stagehand found the body of Joseph Buquet hanging in the third cellar near backdrops used in previous operas. The account said he hung himself with a sickening, yellow thing, I later discovered they called a Punjab lasso. The gendarme claimed catgut made the lasso. Who’d ever heard of such a thing? Some called Buquet’s death a suicide while others blamed the ghost since the Punjab lasso appeared to be his signature weapon. So now I’d found a blackmailing, money hungry ghost that frightens and kills. How intriguing, but how did the young diva fit in?

In the police records, references of the Persian came up time after time, along with an address. Accordingly, the Persian demanded the police stop the ghost he called Erik. Ah, yes, at last the ghost had a name, Erik. Why didn’t the police hunt down this monster? In Carl’s movie version they did. In reality, the law enforcers like most Frenchmen believed in things which had no scientific explanation. Being filled with superstition, they refused to look for Erik and no one could ever find their way to his lair nestled within the labyrinth beneath the opera house. In truth, very few workers had access to a map of the underground lake, and more than a few had ventured upon it, never to be seen or heard from again.

Finding Meg and getting a few answers here and there seemed simple enough. The police records told me a lot and I rejoiced in all they allowed me to copy. However, when I sat down in the Queen’s Eye to review my findings, I didn’t have enough for anything more than a short article of maybe three or four paragraphs. My intent to write an explosive story about this Opera Ghost drifted away. So much I didn’t know. So many loose ends dangled in the wind. This time I welcomed the brew the barmaid offered.

I tried looking for the Persian, but he’d moved from the
last address the police had, and no one seemed to know where he went. Frustration churned my insides and I wanted
to scream. The first really good story I hear, I can’t find the people involved. Had my life been a waste as my father constantly reminded?

A dozen handed down stories from frightened dancers didn’t
mean a lot. All the accounts I deemed as hearsay, since the girls lacked the age and knowledge of first hand experience. If only I could find someone like the Baroness. The Persian would prove a great find, or even Christine. Why I couldn’t find her, I did not understand. Meg had given me the address and directions, but at the time, I didn’t realize Christine’s name had changed insomuch that no one connected her to the opera house incident, especially her dear friend, Meg, would have known.

When I arrived at the château from Meg’s address and
directions, the maid who answered the door kindly informed me I had made a grave mistake and requested I please not come again.

The architecture appeared ancient and massive. I felt like an ant compared to the building and surrounding land. I’d never seen so many stone and brass figures and fountains in any one place. Several armed guards volunteered to escort me
from the grounds; a humiliating gesture I could have lived without. As they drug me away, I glanced up at the top
most window and saw the figure of a woman peering from behind the curtains. It felt as though she wanted to speak but couldn’t. Who watched me? Christine?

As I picked myself up from the ground where I had been tossed by the guards, I couldn’t help looking back at the window. This time, the woman pulled open the curtain
and I saw the entire, thin shape of a very handsome female of age. Sadness emanated from the eyes and I wondered
if I’d ever get to speak to her.

When I returned to my usual haunt, I settled my weary bones
at a table in the far corner of the establishment. I couldn’t go home. Not now. My wife said I drove her to madness with all my drinking and carousing. I loved her, but she never
understood my obsession with this ghost story and why liquor gave me comfort and she didn’t.

Drinking my favorite brew helped me pull together all I’d
found in some sort of order. The who and why still remained unanswered. For some reason, I just couldn’t let go of the rumor. I had to know who Erik really was and what relationship he had with Christine. The investigative reporter in me needed to understand why the entire opera house lived in terror of a spirit or man or whatever fueled their fear. The woman who allowed the guards to bodily remove me from the premises had to be Christine. So why did she do it? Why not talk to me? From whom did she hide?

Too many questions swirled around in my weary mind. All I wanted lay in the answers I sought from Christine and the Persian. No story ever obsessed me like this one. I had to
write it. I would write it, if it was the last thing I did.

At least five years passed in search of Christine and the
Persian. Eventually I discovered a Madame Valérius who had watched over Christine when her father died. Unfortunately for me, she had died as well.

Once again, the evening found me at the Queen’s Eye ingesting my favorite poison while mulling over my notes; trying to make sense of things. As I drained the last drop of fermented nectar from the stein, the image of a woman hovered over the table. A lace trimmed ebony gown enveloped the thin, frail figure. The word dress would not be correct; it looked most definitely like a gown. The blue of her eyes still captured the attention if not the heart. With the extension of a gloved hand, she introduced herself as Christine Daae.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Mon Jul 28, 2008 7:59 am

Nice details. It makes me think that there really was a Phantom of the Opera. Let's see what Christine has to say about it.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:12 am

erikstalker thank you for the kind words. I wanted to make this sound as real a possible. Whether we believe the Phantom existed or not, I am sure you will enjoy the adventure.

More coming soon. Stay tuned. Razz Razz Razz
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Tue Jul 29, 2008 11:22 am

this really made me belevie more of the story is ture
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Tue Jul 29, 2008 12:05 pm

Ooo thank you GerardButlerisawsome01. Sound pretty authentic, huh?

More to come. Glad you enjoyed.

Razz Razz Razz
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Tue Jul 29, 2008 9:16 pm

really well put together begining.

you know fay.... you are making us all look bad

im joking of course.

you have impressed me with your writing yet again.
very detailed and well thought out, and i can't waite for more.

_________________
*le gasp!*
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Wed Jul 30, 2008 10:02 am

Devine_Muse you are so kind. You've made my whole day. Thank you for a lovely reveiw and compliment.

I don't mean to make anyone look bad. No I just love to write and entertain.

More will be coming soon. Smile Smile Smile
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sat Aug 02, 2008 3:07 pm

Thank you again to all who R&R'd. Love you all.

Here is the next chapter. Please R&R. Enjoy!

**********************************************
CHAPTER TWO BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

The Queen’s Eye had never been graced with such a presence, as the aging, yet handsome figure of a woman who called herself ChristineDaae. Absently mindedly, I arose and took her gloved hand. Upon touching my lips to her glove, I inhaled the sweet essence of roses laced with a hint of what I came to know as sandalwood. Why sandalwood? According to Christine, it reminded her of him. He used it to clear away the stench of death. At first I assumed she meant her husband, but she spoke of Erik.

After seating herself across the table from me, she
apologized for allowing her guards to toss me from the gates of her château. At the mention of guards, four young, armed
men in uniforms made their presence known and hushed the tavern. As she continued, Christine gave a rather pleasant,
half smile while recalling the incident as though it happened yesterday.

As a child, she lived in Upsala, Sweden where her father
gained notoriety as an accomplished violinist. When her mother died, she and her father moved to Perros a city in Brittany in Northern France, with hopes of beginning a new
life. There they met Madame Valérius and her husband the professor. When she spoke of them or her father, her beautiful blue eyes sparkled with such love.

On a particularly windy day, at the age of nine, she and
Madame Valérius took a walk on the beach to watch the setting sun when a sudden gust of strong wind caught her favorite scarf tore it from her neck and gave it to the surrounding sea. The bravery of the young boy who rescued it astounded me. At ten, I would not have jumped into any large body of water to retrieve a mere scarf. I commended him. In this way, she introduced me to Raoul, leVicomte de Chagny.

The young Vicomte and his aunt came to spend the summer in Perros and had not expected the gusty winds which plagued the day. He felt grateful they had or he would never
have met the shy little girl he would fall in love with. For the remainder of the summer, the children played together. Monsieur Daae would tell them dark tales of the land of the
North. At selected times her father played the violin for them.

From one of their favorite stories which began, “Little
Lotte thought of everything and nothing…” the boy playfully teased the girl by calling her Little Lotte. When the summer ended, the lad returned to Paris with his aunt, but something kept him writing to Little Lotte and drew him back to Perros each year, until he tired to court her at the age of nineteen.

Life had not smiled upon Christine or her father. France
did not bless them as did Sweden. The loss of his beloved wife yet haunted Monsieur Daae and sent him to an early grave. With her father dead, the young girl, now eighteen seemed listless and uninterested in life let alone the affections of a boy she’d known since childhood. Obviously she both hurt and confused him, forcing Raoul to leave with a heavy heart filled with rejection. Never did she apologize for her actions. Not once did she show signs of regret. At least my mind clearly understood the one regret Meg mentioned did not lie with the young Vicomte.

After all this talking, Christine asked if we could resume
her tale at her château. Dives, such as the Queen’s Eye made her uneasy. Quickly I collected my notes and sketches and hurried away with her.

Once again, I came to visit her exquisite château, but this
time, not in a hurried manner. She allowed me to examine the amazing statuary and fountains found about the grounds. When asked the purpose of the various statues. She replied, “They reminded me of him.” To this I now knew she meant Erik.

As we wandered through the gardens, she continued to tell me how she came to the Acadamie Nationale de Musique based in the opera house and won the part of Marguerite in Faust. Quickly her days in the opera droned on like a prisoner awaiting execution. One day after rehearsals she found herself crying her heart out. Oh how she wished her father had not left her and prayed for the Angel of Music to appear.

The Angel of Music? I had to ask what that meant, but she begged my indulgence and to allow her to finish the story. “After all, Monsieur Leroux, for years you have sought the true story of the Phantom, therefore, permit me to tell it in
my fashion,” she said with a wry smile and that delightful twinkle in her eye.

Inside the castle, she asked the cook prepare the evening
meal. She and I then moved to the parlour where the maid served us tea and small cakes. Here she explained her father often expressed his love and would never leave her alone.
To his dying breath, he promised to send the Angel of Music to watch over her as he had. The Angel would fine tune her singing voice, bestow her with love and most certainly, protect her.

This all sounded fascinating, but how did this fit in with
the Opera Ghost? I dared not interrupt, but I truly did not see the connection.

For two and half years life went on like this, along with
pleading to God day and night for the Angel of Music, until one day she heard a voice which came from nowhere and everywhere. At last, God answered her prayer! The Angel expressed how much her father loved her and wished she’d stop grieving for him. For twenty year old Christine, this came as a sign from heaven. Like Meg, she described the voice as hypnotic; addicting like a drug. When the voice sang, it grew in power, wrapping each syllable around her, clinging to the soul like a child to its mother.

Each day at a particular time, the voice spoke to her, and
soon began coaching her singing voice. The power behind it made the world fall away; raising her voice to heights unknown.

No one could explain why the girl’s voice suddenly became so
perfectly pitched and filled with such heart felt emotion. The cast and crew of the opera stood in awe of how her performance excelled and her popularity grew.

The disembodied voice continued coaching and comforting her for three months when at last, she begged to see her Angel. She had fallen in love with the voice. Surely she would love the angel himself. Her heart ached to see his face, to feel his touch, and to live eternally in his presence.

Feverishly I jotted down notes. A disembodied voice seducing a young girl had to grab the attention of the busiest person.
A glimmer of light shone through my haze. Could the Angel of Music and the Opera Ghost be one in the same? I had to know. I would not miss a single word from this graceful lady’s lips. Had I been older or she younger, we would have made such beautiful music together. Again I wondered when all this happened. If she were twenty at the time and currently
she appeared as old as Meg or older.

After staring at her absent mindedly, Christine caught my eye and asked what troubled me. I felt ashamed for allowing her to catch me staring and interrupting her story.

At last, I asked the dreaded question. “When did all this
happen? How old are you? Meg…,” then she cut me off.

“Monsieur Leroux, it is not polite to ask a lady her age. As for when this event occurred, let me ask that when you write about this, do not use the correct dates. I would not wish to be found, nor the old ghosts disturbed.” She smiled and gave me a knowing nod.

Surprised that her words, I began again, but she instructed,
“Whenever you begin to write, please say ‘go back no farther than thirty years’.” I puzzled, but said nothing.

After a sip of tea and continued her story of the seductive
voice speaking to her.

Finally, the figure of a man appeared in the mirror. His song spoke of heaven and love, lifting her very soul to the ethereal realm of the gods. The voice drew her to the mirror. Literally it pulled her into the glass and carried her off into the pitch black of wherever angelic beings dwell. But do heavenly
angels abide in pitch black? A question which crossed her frightened brain.

A dim torch mounted on the wall allowed her to see the
death’s head beneath the fedora he wore tightly around his face. She screamed and screamed. As he covered her mouth to muffle cries, she mentioned the smell of death on his hands. At that moment, her heart pounded so loudly with fear she felt certain the Angel of Death carried her off. Soon she’d be in the company of all her deceased loved ones. Any moment, she just knew her father would appear in a ray of heavenly light.

Ever since her father’s death, some six years previous, she’d
prayed for death. Then she would unite with her father and mother, never to separate again. But if Death carried her away this night, she repented for the sin of ignorance and pleaded with God to deliver her from the demon who spirited her away to the netherworld.

Recalling this event caused the aging diva to take a deep
breath and steady her shaking hands and jittery nervous. Obviously, the account emotionally drained her, and I see why it took so many years deciding to relive the experience. How thoughtless I’d been! I never realized how this would
affect her. In a moment, she rang for her maid who seemed to appear instantly. It seemed the dear woman needed something stronger. In a matter of minutes, the maid disappeared and reappeared with a tray baring an exquisite decanter and a couple of small glasses.

Now I wondered if the Persian would react in a similar
manner, as I watched the handsome woman throw back a shot of some sharp smelling liquor. It seemed most unlady-like, but in view of the matter, I completely understood and partook of a shot myself.

After one more swallow, Christine resumed the account of how she fainted. The masked angel sat with her by the fountain near his home and sprinkled water in face to revive her. The boat ride through the labyrinth of tunnels seemed like a blur to her. She only remembered coming to and seeing the death’s head once again.

The atmosphere inside the lake house felt dreary and
depressing as if visiting an undertaker’s parlour, especially when she saw where the thing slept. Within a room dimly lit
with a few stray candles, lay a rather large black coffin lined with gleaming white satin. Again she swooned, but the
creature caught and carried her to a room set aside for her.

Two weeks she spent in this underground house, hosted by a
man, not an angel. Beneath the mask lay a face so distorted only a corpse could compare. The flesh appeared like yellow parchment stretched over a skeletal structure. Where
a black hole appeared where a nose should have. The eyes sank so far into the sockets, it almost seemed like he had no
eyes. Except for the glint of yellow in the dark, like a cat, she almost swore he watched through empty hollows.

Her breathing grew strained and eyes wild with terror. Wringing her hands, she feared he might return for her. Once again, she reached for the decanter of spirits and poured herself another glass. It took several minutes for her to gain
composure. During which time, Icompleted my notes.

All of sudden, she turned on me and raised her voice and
asked, “Do you realize I kept company with a corpse, a dead man? Without the mask, it seemed like a skeleton conversed with me. Death personified!” Then she began to wail and
shriek as mourners do at a wake. Thisbaffled me. From the rumors, Christine had an affinity for the ghost, but what I witnessed at the moment certainly did not seem like love. Never had I seen anyone so terrified in my life. Hearing
the description scared me enough, but seeing Christine’s reaction, made me think.

“Didn’t you love him?” I asked the foolish question. A look of insane confusion crossed her face and made me fear for my very life.

“Love, love him?” she stared about wide-eyed. At this she let out another mournful wail.

For the moment, she could not continue. Christine left the room without a word, but sent the maid to invite me to stay the night. She offered me an extraordinary room which I could not refuse. The maid brought a fine dinner to my room
which I washed down with a delicious wine. I did inquire about the mistress of the castle, but the maid only answered that Christine would join me at for the morning meal at seven.

As I settled into the most comfortable bed I’d ever known, I
remembered my wife. So I rang for the butler and gave him a note for her. She would be angry and upset, but I couldn’t let a once in a lifetime opportunity slip by. I had to hear more of this fantastic story. I had to understand Christine’s reactions.

Like a child, I drifted off to sleep with visions of a corpse playing host to a beautiful young girl. Obviously reminding me of the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast”.


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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:08 pm

Lovley... I awaite to hear more
(sorry i had to keep it short, i'll comment more later)

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*le gasp!*
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:55 am

Devine_Muse you made me feel good knowing you took time from your busy schedule to read my work. Thank you and bless you!

More coming real soon, so don't touch that dial. Razz Razz Razz
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sun Aug 10, 2008 9:49 am

Thank you to all who R&R. Here is the next chapter. Please tell me what you think.

Please R&R. Enjoy!

*****************************************
CHAPTER THREE

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH

The next morning found me rested and eager for the remainder of the account. Graciously Christine greeted me in the dining area and we ate with pleasant conversation. Not once did she speak of the Angel or whatever they called him. Each time I brought up the subject, she quickly turned the talk to something else.

The morning grew a bit warm for autumn so as we strolled
through the gardens and statuary she asked a strange question. “What would you do if a dog, so hideous and
injured, began following you? Say you took pity on it and cleaned its wounds but still cringed at the mere thought of
touching it.” The look from those piercing eyes sent a shiver through me. Did she liken this poor disfigured man to a dog?

I shook my head, not knowing what to say. She looked me in the eye awaiting my answer. “I don’t know madame. If I had cleaned its wounds and nursed it back to health, then it should leave when it regained strength.”

“But what if it wouldn’t leave. Even when you tried to leave it, you’d find it watching and waiting no matter where you went. What would you do?” When we reached a gazebo a distance from the château, we sat and she stared me down, waiting for an answer.

“Are you comparing this masked man as a wounded dog?” I
watched her reaction.

For a moment Christine sat staring out over the grounds and
babbled something about how her husband used to hate the statues and threatened to have them all melted down. I had no idea what material made up the figures nor did I care. When I opened my mouth to retort, she slipped into the story as though we never had a break.

In her mind, a wounded dog that’s been nursed back to health would never leave the person who doctored it.
Her voice had healed the invisible wounds of her Angel. He knew she had exceptional range and pitch which only needed a little coaching to bring it to perfection. In many ways, the wounded dog compared to Christine for her spirit had need of healing to bring about the glorious tones lost at her father’s death.

The time Raoul heard her crying, “Poor unhappy Erik,” came
about when she realized that she pitied the loneliness of the wretched man, but cringed to be in his presences. Not once
did she hate him, but how could she love a man like this? He gave her anything and everything she wanted. Many times he’d surprise her with trinkets and rides through le Bois de Boulogne or even to play the Resurrection of Lazarus on her father’s violin.

Never would he speak of his past or why he lived as he
did. Death obsessed him as much as she. Yet, how can a woman love someone who hates life and the living? How can a woman think to wed a living corpse? Yet she had wished to see his face, feel his touch, and live in his presences forever! Had God punished her by answering her prayer?

This flabbergasted me. Anybody can feel depressed. I
often did and found solace in a bottle of spirits, but this poor creature, what could I say? That wild look came to her eyes again, the same one that answered my question of if she loved him.

“You asked me if I loved Erik. Can you love a sick, ugly dog?” She asked with such persistence. Again she used that analogy.

“Madame, pardon my confusion. You compare him to a dog. Why? Did he not love you?” More questions flooded my mind, but again she stared at me. I knew I had to give an answer.

“Personally, I would find it difficult to love a sick, ugly dog. Perhaps the humane thing to do would have been…”

“What? Kill the poor thing? Does it not deserve love as well
as anyone with beauty?” The lady seemed ruffled by my attempted answer. Her sentence structure puzzled me. In some way she referred to him as animal and then like a human.

However, before I could speak, she went on to say she’d
never met a more gifted human being than Erik. The music he wrote astounded her. How could any one person express themselves so explicitly with sound? Sad and happy seemed obvious, but she found humor and mirth, good weather and bad in a single selection.

Erik had a gift of storytelling as well and often amused her
with tales of distant lands and their people. Yes, she admitted that he wanted to marry her in the Madeline
Chapter. The first time he mentioned this and tried to embrace her, she flew into hysterics and given the chance,
tried to kill herself by banging her head against the wall.

At this I stood in shock. The words did not strike me as the emotion. By now the woman trembled and her breathing
grew erratic. I feared she had gone into a seizure and leapt from my seat to fetch help, but she assured me she only
reacted this way when she recalled the incident. A few moments passed and she took control of her emotions.

Then again, she posed a question, wanting to know how I
would feel in the same situation. I thought I was the investigative reporter. Why did she keep asking me strange questions? Perhaps she would write her memoirs about the
nagging reporter who had nothing but questions about an obscure legend.

Rather than answer the question, I remarked how suicide
seemed a bit drastic and many young women often over reacted.

Without a comment, she proceeded with her account. She explained the type of man Joseph Buquet was and how he did his best to follow the shadow with blazing yellow eyes. The description of events seemed to coincide with the police report and then I realized something. The police had asked me not to mention the actual year of these events. Why?

The description of Madame Giry as a box attendant favored by Erik made the woman seem insignificant. Yet she had many personal experiences with the Opera Ghost as Meg and
now Christine recalled. The police account had been carefully hand picked for me to read telling much of the same. The date at the top of each page had been blotted out. Why? For what purpose?

“What are you and the police hiding? Both of you have asked that I not mention the year of these events. I thought nothing about it at first. Now, I have to know,” I felt defiant. What had the year to do with anything?

For a few moments Christine bit her lip and said nothing. After what felt like forever, she gave a long sigh and explained that in order to keep her sanity and privacy, she preferred it that way.

“If you document something so carefully, the preservation
could cause the experience to reoccur and we wouldn’t want that now would we?” Very few lines marred her handsome
face, but the flesh about her throat gave away her age as did her hands.

“Are you afraid of the de Chagny family or a ghost?” At this she shivered and abruptly arose and moved toward the château.

With haste I followed, note paper fluttering in the breeze
as I quickly caught up to her. Worry crossed my mind, fearing she’d had enough of my inquiries and would again have
me tossed from her home.

Suddenly, she paused at a bronze-coloured stature of what
looked like an angel wrestling with a mortal man. “Do you know who they are?” she asked in a shaky voice. I said nothing. I knew her answer would come and may not be
the same as mine. “The angel is Michael, the archangel and the man represents humanity.”

Again she spoke in riddles. What had this to do with Erik and her? Exasperation nearly overwhelmed me. If the current year was 1906 and she looked around seventy, then the year of the Opera Ghost haunting had to be some fifty years prior, possibly 1856. This could not be true.

“You still don’t understand, do you?” Christine asked with
dead calm. “The blasted dates are plaguing you. I am Christine Daae. When the events occurred my age was twenty and Raoul twenty-one. His family hated him for marrying me. We were wed in secret and hid until we felt safe to be seen by those known by the family. After all these years I feared he’d find me as well. Tell the world I found him dead as L’Époque said. Tell them I slipped the ring on his finger as promised. But never tell them the entire truth.”

What did this mean? Never had I interviewed anyone like the diva called Christine. At the time her words confused me. Why did she say she feared he would find her? Did she mean Erik? I caught the story out of order and faced more upset then before. Could the woman be addled and needed to be shut away for her own good. Now I felt the need for a strong drink.

Talking to the aging diva made me seriously wonder about her
sanity. The Angel of Music and the Opera Ghost appeared to be one in the same. The poor woman both pitied and detested the man. Apparently the sight of him made her cringe and the thought of marrying him made her want to commit suicide. The latter statements about slipping the ring
on his finger as promised and whatever the newspaper said made no sense at the time.

Inside the castle, we went to the parlour for tea and
sweets, a habit acquired from Erik in his better moods. He never had much of an appetite, but he on selected occasions, he did enjoy tea and sweets.

“What caused his deformity?” I had to ask.

“He was born that way,” came the reply.

“What sin did he or his parents commit to bring about such a
thing?” I thought out loud.

This ruffled Christine as well and she asked me not to make
any reference to religion when speaking of Erik. It seemed he didn’t get along with Deity or humanity. As far as I could tell, the man didn’t belong anywhere; a freak without friends or family. Of course, I didn’t say this to Christine.

As I listened to her speak, I recorded everything word about
the counterweight being cut on the chandelier only to fall and kill one person, the one who would replace Madame Giry.
Every detail of the masquerade went down on paper, especially when the Phantom overheard her and Raoul plot to elope.

“If you knew he listened, why did you continue speaking?” I interrupted. “I would have left immediately.”

“He could have killed us both, but he didn’t,” she looked me
in the eye. I suppose she expressed gratitude for him allowing them to live.

“Madame, I understand your feelings and how such events
would put a strain on a young woman, but in all truth, why did you not leave with Raoul instead of insisting on a farewell performance of Faust?” Somehow I knew a sane question from me would bring a baffling one from her. So, I braced myself for her retort.

“Do we not give a dying man one last request?” She offered
me more tea, which I graciously accepted.

“You have me at your mercy madame. What on God’s green earth do you mean? Erik was not dying.” She noted how I spoke; at the moment I felt more at ease to speak freely.

“We all die daily,” she retorted between sips of her tea. “May I continue, or do you still question what cannot be changed?”
Knowing what she meant, I fell quiet.

After making all the lights go out at once, panic filled her
being while the madman carried her off the stage. I thought to question this with gaslights, but didn’t. Accordingly, she really feared his wrath. Then came the story of the scorpion and the grasshopper. Thoughts of whether or not he would force himself on her passed through her mind, but he never did in that way. The only force came in giving her a choice between choosing Raoul, by turning the grasshopper to face her, engaging a counterweight to ignite the gunpowder stored beneath the torture chamber.

Torture chamber? I had to ask. After promising the details after the scorpion and grasshopper story, she continued saying igniting the gunpowder would blow up the entire opera
house, and everyone in it including her, Erik and his house. If she chose Erik, she would turn the scorpion to face her engaging a counterweight which would open a door from the
sea and flood the gunpowder.

The more I heard about Erik, the more insane he appeared. Because of his face, he alienated himself from humanity and God. Humanity he hated for mocking and shunning him. God he blamed for making him ugly; forcing him to live like the lowest of the low. No woman would look at such a hideous beast. Deprived of the joys of the flesh, of love and camaraderie, death became his mistress and the devil his lord and master.

He fashioned the torture chamber after one he’d made in Mazenderan, Persia. The genius of his mind exhibited in the creation of a hexagonal shaped room housing six mirrors
positioned on rotating axis. At the touch of the counterweight, the room illuminated with light which increased in heat when reflected from the mirrors. Even the walls enflamed within. Such tremendous heat caused the victim to hallucinate and have the insatiable thirst for water. When the torment became too much to endure, the poor devils would end it all with the Punjab lasso which hung on a
nearby metal tree amid the intensity of the heat.

“He’s a madman,” I mumbled while scribbling my notes.

“He was neither mad nor wicked,” Christine cried. She acted as if I’d insulted her. “People like you and me drove him to commit such desperate acts.”

“Like you and me?” By now I felt sure she had lost her
mind. “Just be careful what you wish,” she said before arising and leaving me alone in confusion of her cryptic words.


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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:04 am

It's amazing how one man can change a persons life.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:35 am

erikstalker thank you for the comment. Glad you came by and hope you enjoyed.

More to come. Razz Razz Razz
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:03 pm

Thank you to all who R&R. Now for the next chapter.

Please R&R. Enjoy!

********************************************
CHAPTER FOUR

BUT TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE

For a long time I sat in the parlour and scribbled my notes
and even added the finishing touches to a sketch of the addled diva. The parlour in the château held a deathly
silence which echoed over and over in my head. I tried to ignore it and as I finally stuffed the drawing in my portfolio, Christine returned with a large object in hand draped with a heavy piece of material.

She looked down on me as a mother would an insolent child
and then retuned to her seat and held the covered item in preparation to unveil it. Needless to say, I literally sat on
the edge of my seat in eager anticipation of what my eyes would behold.

At first I thought the cloth covered a painting of some
sort, but it didn’t. When the drab material dropped to the table, a thick collection of sheet music met my eyes
along with the title written by a very shaky hand, “Don Juan Triumphant”. With care I took the sheets from her and
reviewed every page. The music score should have been buried with him when he died. Apparently, Erik worked on this pet project for years, and sometimes for two or three weeks straight without interruption. When asked why it wasn’t buried with him, she did not reply.

When asked what the title meant and the purpose for the
score, Christine cocked her head to one side and eyed me as though I’d just arrived from Bedlam. My next question of
who performed the opera got the same reaction, but this time she explained that Erik never intended for anyone to see or hear the opera. The angels would hear Don Juan

Triumphant when they came for him; providing we understand
the nature of angels. Here

I puzzled. According to the famous poem, Don Juan met his end when the devil came for his soul. I began to see a sort of connection to Christine’s story. Faust, the play performed at the time had the same premise as Don Juan. Had Erik made such a pact or did it just seem like that? Once again, I had to ask.

“Don’t be absurd, monsieur. Why would you ask such a thing?” This time I could not tell what she thought of me or the question.

Then I laughed, “Certainly he didn’t see himself as Don Juan
the ladies’ man.”

“The mind and soul are fragile. The shell which houses them is
unimportant. Any woman would consider herself fortunate to have been loved and cared for by such a man, regardless of outward appearance,” she chided me.

I couldn’t resist the poison barb so I retorted, “Was this
the reason you ran off with the Vicomte de Chagny instead of remaining with your beloved Angel?”

“Touché, monsieur. Touché. For years I punished myself for making that choice. Sometimes, I even punished my husband. Thank you for bringing the horrible mistake to my attention. Thank you for stabbing me with it once again,” she said with such a sad but noble dignity, I almost apologized, almost.

“Please, madame, let me understand, this disfigured madman
deceived you into thinking him to be an angel sent by your father; he showers you with gifts and attention in an attempt to woo you, but retaliates with the threat of blowing up the entire opera house, its occupants, you, himself and his home, yet you express a sadness for leaving him. You tried to kill yourself, yet you feel sorry you didn’t remain…” here she cut me off.

“I regret leaving him.” At last I discovered the regret. “The selfish act of choosing him only to save Raoul and other lives at stake made my choice of the scorpion tainted and impure. I and my love had hid from him, playing games of children, half hoping to get caught. Do you know how many times I could have left Erik, but didn’t, until that night?

That horrible, horrible night.” At this she buried her face
in her hands and sobbed as though her heart would break.

Women appear extremely complex and fragile in more ways than one. Money and a title didn’t matter. Vulnerability yet remained, and here I witnessed the breakdown of one of the wealthiest women in Paris. If Erik the Angel or Ghost ever truly existed, he would feel most flattered to know that such a handsome woman, such a dear soul grieved for him even now.

At first confusion befuddled me, but because of the mix of
feelings pulsating from the poor woman, I felt she loved a man she could not live with. Pity could never heal the
broken heart when he watched her leave with a man much younger and more handsome than he. Death could never hurt
as much by a bullet, hangman’s noose, or guillotine, as the one caused by a broken heart. Rejection by humanity in
general he had accepted. Shunned by even the most corrupt, except for when they needed his expertise in deceit or taking
a life, he had expected. He felt no love for God; since he felt sure God had no love for him. For all intents and purpose the only constant pleasure in his life came when he mastered the art of execution with the Punjab lasso.

After listening to Christine’s description of this man, her
reactions and mix of feelings for him, I realized that Erik’s euphoria came from the kill since he had not enjoyed intimacy with a woman which could lead to giving life. Strange way of looking at things. What kind of life had he known? I could not begin to comprehend. Therefore, the final stab to the heart came when he finally let down his guard and surrendered his mind and soul to a young woman, who sought the Angel of Music. All barriers had fallen. This broken, ugly man laid bare his soul to this woman, practically begging her to be his wife;
awakening to the harsh realization that she would never belong to him. So the last, yet redeeming act of this poor
wretch came when he released Christine and Raoul de Chagny to leave together, unharmed. There from his pitiful existence Erik watched the only woman he’d ever love walk out of his life forever. The pain of unrequited love can very seldom be healed. In this, I felt sorrow for the poor devil as I listened to Christine weep while I shuffled through the forgotten pages of music which spoke of the life and passion of man
I’d never know.

The photographs of a young man and young woman she said were her children set at her bedside. She said they had since married into money and titles and lived their own lives in
a not too distant province.

Several times I asked about the Vicomte. I knew he had not died, but I found no evidence of him in the château.

Finally, the Vicomtesse looked me in the eye and said, “I
assume your journalism skills have taught you to viciously attack the person your interview.”

Once again, I sat in shock at the response. I would think it a natural question for someone to ask about the man you married. But then, I had made a series of errors all evening; one more wouldn’t hurt.

This time, I did apologized and asked why she felt I had
viciously attacked her.

“My husband and I have lived separate lives for these past
fifteen years. He hates the statures I’ve scattered over the grounds; they remind him of Erik. He hates when I sing, because all my songs are from Faust; another reminder of Erik. Lastly, my dreams unnerve him, especially when I call out the name of another man instead of his. Whether
alive or dead, Erik has haunted us all these years and will continue to do so until the day we die.”

Again I apologized for upsetting her. I saw the sadness in her eyes. The years had not been good to Christine and aged her beyond her years. She could not live with the Opera Ghost, but could not live without him. Existing in the shadow of a Phantom put a strain on her and her marriage. Somehow,
I got the feeling that this Phantom yet lived, whether in flesh or not, this broken woman immortalized him and kept him alive even if only in her heart.

The hours I’d spent with Christine felt well worth while and
she did welcome me back if I’d care to visit or if I still had questions. Before I left, she told me where to find the
man called the Persian. Oddly enough, he still remained in Paris, in a district very near the opera house. This would explain why he attended the operas so frequently, but the address looked different from the one recorded with the police. At last the questions seemed to get answers. I still had to piece some things together like in one of my detective novels. The period of time still made me wonder.

William Shakespeare once said, “But to thine own self be
true.” Please reconsider the phrase. For this very reason, Christine, held regret, for being true to herself gave her
Angel of Music a fatal case of heartbreak.


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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Tue Aug 19, 2008 7:53 am

:cry:Poor Christine... she lost both of the men she loved.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:01 pm

Yes, my dear erikstalker, sometimes that happens, as with Christine. Sometimes we loose more than one of the people we love.

This goes to show us we should think carefully before we act.

Thank you for your comment. Hope you enjoyed.

I will post more in a few days. More coming soon. Razz Razz Razz
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sat Aug 23, 2008 3:10 pm

Thank you to all who have R&R.

Now for the next chapter. I hope everyone soon returns from their vacations and start posting. Please come R&R. Enjoy!
**********************************************
CHAPTER FIVE

LIVING WITH A GHOST Part I

At first I thought to follow the lead of the Vicomtesse de
Chagny and look up the man she referred to as the Persian. After some considerable thought over a stein of my favorite brew at the Queen’s Eye, I decided to seek out her husband
instead. Certainly the point of view from le Vicomte de Chagny would be in order. I didn’t feel I should ask permission of Christine or even mention it to her. Should she discover I had gone to see him, I would simply reply according to her reactions. After all the unintentional insults I afforded her the last few days, I’m sure one more won’t hurt.

Finding the château where the Vicomte now lived seemed easy enough, but finding him in the château did not appear so simple. Finally, after several weeks of searching, I discovered his favorite haunts; one of which surprised me.

Burlesque seemed very popular at the time and usually catered to those of a lower class with some questionable reputation. You can imagine the shock I received when I
followed the lead of a reliable source and found the Vicomte at Marnie’s Birdcage, a dive that featured short scenes of comedy or dance with ladies wearing nothing more than what looked like undergarments. I understood they called this burlesque.

When I walked into the smoke filled room of unruly men from
the bad side of town, I felt appalled at the whistling, the vulgar comments and lewd remarks. Had it not been the for
the tough-looking men called bouncers, these ruffians would have climbed upon the stage and made off with the half naked dancer removing her clothes to the rhythm of some ghastly music.

Raoul le Vicomte de Chagny sat in the front row near the
stage and did his share of whistling and making lewd comments. Had I not been so determined to uncover the
truth of the legendary Opera Ghost, I would have gladly turned around and went back to the Queen’s Eye. At least I
wouldn’t be subject to watching men make fools of themselves or women dancing in their undergarments. Mind you, I’m no prude. The beauty of a woman’s body should not be the subject of gawking men with foul mouths.

I forced myself to tap the man on the shoulder. When I had his attention, I had to practically shout my own introduction. The music and patrons made so much noise I nearly went deaf.

The Vicomte had several armed guards with him. With a nod of his head, they followed us outside. Outside, the glorious outside where I could actually hear myself think! Here, he apologized for the inconvenience, explaining very little amused him nowadays. Burlesque at least gave him a few hours of entertainment. Then he asked how he could be of service. I explained my interest in the Opera Ghost and hoped he could answer some questions.

From the look on his face, I felt I should apologize and leave. A few lines marked his handsome visage, but not as much as the pain in his eyes. Several seconds passed without a word.
The Vicomte motioned for his coach and the guards assumed their positions, one with the driver, and two inside with us.

I tried to apologize and attempted to leave the coach, but
the Vicomte kindly touched my arm and motioned for me to sit down. A tap of his cane on the roof signaled the
driver to go.

“Why the Opera Ghost, M. Leroux? Why on God’s earth would you want to know anything about that abominable creature?” he asked with such venom. His bottom lip quivered a little and his right hand as well.

“I love mysteries. I have written a few. Perhaps you’ve read
them,” I tried to explain. The awkwardness of the conversation made me lose my train of thought. I actually forgot the names of my own novels. How embarrassing! But he understood and asked what questions I had.

“I would hardly be of help. My wife knows him better than I,” muttered the Vicomte.

“You speak as if he were still alive,” I commented.

No response.

“I’ve spoken to your wife. She did answer many of my questions, but…”

“Did she explain the reason for those infernal statues she
had placed on the grounds? It looks like a bloody cemetery!” he spoke with disgust. “Did she tell you about her nightly dreams? The ones which cause her to call out his name instead of mine?” At this, I truly pitied the man. His eyes welled up with tears and he bit his lip in a struggle to maintain composure.

My attempts to ask questions failed me, and the poor man
began to ramble his own story.

According the Vicomte, he met his wife when they were
children. She and her father, the renowned violinist from Sweden, came to Perros-Guirec in Brittany to visit the Valérius family, a professor and his wife. The boy and his nanny happened to be on the same beach as they when a sudden gust of wind sprang up and caught the young girl’s scarf and swept it into the sea. The young Vicomte bravely jumped into the water and retrieved the item and returned it to its owner.

I had heard the story before, from Christine, but the
details sounded different.

“Christine was with Madame Valérius, not her father,” I
corrected. His brows furrowed and his eyes narrowed.

“Monsieur, a woman who thinks of nothing but her Angel of
Music can in nowise remember who was with her when she met the man who would love her to his dying breath!” More
silence followed this outburst. I shifted in my seat and felt relieved when we finally arrived at a small château where the poor man now resided.

Inside the castle, I found the furnishings quite simple for
a man of nobility. I would have thought a gentleman of his caliber would be swimming in satin brocade and silk drapes,
but no. I found a quaint sofa of delicate floral patterns, with a matching overstuffed chair and a dark mahogany coffee table. A portrait of Christine hung over the fireplace and a few tapestries graced the walls. The carpet made me think of a verdant sea, filled with treasures of forgotten ships.
No doubt reminiscent of the Vicomte’s early days in the navy.

After accepting his invitation to make myself at home, I nestled into the overstuffed chair and noticed a plain wooden box on the coffee table. Tried as I did, I could not hide
my curiosity.

The look on my face made him hand me the box. “Go on, open it. Satisfy your reporter’s thirst.”

Gingerly, I lifted the tiny latch and opened it. There lay the gold band Christine claimed she promised to slip on Erik’s finger when he died.

“The ring? Is this the ring?” I asked, removing it from its bed.

“It is indeed,” replied the Vicomte as he sat opposite me in
another chair like mine. The butler brought a tray of tea and sweets and set it before us on the small table. However, the Vicomte requested something stronger. As he put it, revisiting his ordeal with the Opera Ghost required more than tea and cakes.

Because of his bitterness toward the statues, I had to ask
what they represented.

“Did you see them all?” he questioned as he sipped his brandy.

“No. I saw a number of them. Christine pointed out Michael
the archangel wrestling with humanity,” I answered innocently.

“Humanity? Bah! Not humanity. Erik. All of the statues represent him either fighting deity or mankind. Some seem to come from a Greek tragedy, but none the less, they are all
Erik fighting God or someone,” muttered the poor man as he downed the spirits and then poured another snifter full. Next,
he poured a bit in my tea. Quiet tasty I must add. Tea and spirits very tasty indeed. Now, I too was ready to visit
the Opera Ghost with him.

Apparently, Erik had a fascination for morbid or tragic stories and art. This explained the sculptures of Persephone leaving Hades to bring life to the Earth six months out of a year. The sadness on the face of Hades clearly showed the pain of watching his wife leave him.

Another sculpture depicted Othello accusing Desdemona of
infidelity. Another favorite of the Opera Ghost. These small figures inspired Christine to have life-sized statues created to represe nt various aspects of Erik’s tragic life. But not
his death.

According to her husband, Christine fabricated excuses in
order to remain with the disfigured genius as long as possible. Just when he gave up on her, she’d give him hope; hope that she would love only him. Many times they could have gone away together, far away from le Garnier.

Up on the roof of the Opera House, she rambled about the horror she felt for Erik, but always how she didn’t want to anger or hurt him. Clearly, she had feelings for him. Fear and horror went hand and hand with those feelings, but without a doubt, Christine loved Erik. Not as her maestro, father or angel; she was in love the voice and the man.

“If you found a horribly hideous dog wounded in your path,
what would you do? Nurse him back to health or put the poor devil out of its misery?” came the same unsettling question Christine had posed. This caught me off guard and I sat speechless like a mute oaf.

“Speak freely my good man. Don’t be shy. If you feel the
creature should be shot, say so,” the Vicomte stared at me over his brandy snifter. He spoke without emotion or even a thought. I found the parallel disturbing. Why would both he and his wife refer to this man as a hideous wounded dog?

Recovering from my shock, I asked the question, to which he
replied, “Only a dog would follow the person who saved it, no matter how it was treated. Did she tell you he referred to
himself as her faithful dog ready to die for her? Did she tell you that? To answer the question, I would shoot the dog
rather than have it live without love. Mortal wounds are nothing compared to emotional ones.”

Such a cold hearted statement put me in another state of
shock and confusion. Naturally a jealous husband would feel hatred for his rival, but the hideous, wounded dog analogy
from both left me cold.

While I sat like a deaf mute, the Vicomte went on to say the
Opera Ghost held most of his victims in the spell of his voice; singing voice that is. More then he attested to this, saying once the human ear heard the voice, the listener would abandon all free will and become subject to the Opera Ghost.
Of course I dismissed this as an exaggeration. The man would have to be a magician or a god.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sat Aug 23, 2008 3:10 pm

CHAPTER FIVE

LIVING WITH A GHOST PART II

“No M. Leroux, he is said to be a ghost, a phantom and an
angel. Not a god,” corrected the Vicomte. “Don’t look so perplexed. Christine called him her Angel of Music. I serious think she believes he is her Angel,” de Chagny set the snifter on the table and gave me a most unsettling gaze.

He did it again. All references, like his wife’s indicated the Phantom yet lived. I truly did not understand. Christine distinctly said she read the words ‘Erik is dead’, in the newspaper of the time called L’Époque. After which, she returned to Erik’s underground home by the lake, where she slipped the gold band on his finger, as promised. Then according to his instructions, she buried him. This sounded quiet clear to me. The man had died and she buried him with the gold ring. Didn’t she? What did I not understand?

I knew I’d receive another shocking reply or rebuttal, but
my reporter’s mind would not let the questions go.

“M.le Vicomte, you have me at a disadvantage. I understand from your wife that the man was dead. She returned to his home, slipped the gold ring on his finger and buried him according to his instructions. Yet, here in this plain wooden box I find a ring which fits the description of the one in question. Then, on top of all this, both of you refer to the
man as a hideous, wounded dog and speak of him as though he yet lived.

What is the truth? Is the Phantom alive or dead? Is this the ring she promised to place on his finger when he died?” I said my piece and waited for the response. Food and drink no longer interested me. Not even the brandy. Clearly I’d found a story that would change my life, but I needed to know the truth.

At first, I felt my words had insulted the Vicomte. No smile crossed his face. In fact, I detected no emotion whatsoever. Staring at me with a stoic expression, he again shocked me when he burst into laughter. Certainly, this came as a comfort. I had not offended the man, I’d amused him. My quest for the truth made him laugh at me.

“M. Leroux, my wife gave you the end to your story. You wanted a story for your next novel and you have it. Write what she told you. I’m sure your readers will be thoroughly
entertained,” he grinned. “As for the truth, well, most it was there. I’m sure you were told never to tell everything. Small details like dates and who died are of little consequence.”

Of little consequence he said. Would I be telling a lie or covering up one? I wanted to ask more questions but the Vicomte continued.

“Are you married M. Leroux?”

“Yes,” I replied, realizing I hadn’t even thought of my own wife.

“Do you love her?” He looked me in the eye. I failed to see the reason for his line of questioning, but I played his game.

“Of course I do. I married her.” From the look on his face,
I knew I’d said the wrong thing.

“Christine married me, but she never loved me. Women are complex creatures. They want to be loved and cared for, but they never want to make decisions.”

He went on to say Christine never admitted her love for
Erik, the Phantom, but her actions proved she did. Had the man not lived beneath the Opera House with a face that would scare the hair off a brass monkey, she would never have left with the Vicomte. Raoul de Chagny became her easy way out. Society would not look down on her.
Riches and finery would belong to her as well as a title. What more could a young woman want?

The Vicomte related his disappointment and pain when he
heard a man speak to Christine in her dressing room. A lady would not entertain a gentleman in her dressing room. Nor should a man seek amusement in a place where women disrobed to some primitive rhythm; men really do have double standards. Forgive me; I digress.

He recalled his obsession to know why the lass acknowledged
him one minute and refused to see him the next. Following her to Perros-Guirec to her father’s grave nearly cost him his
life.

The first encounter with the elusive Ghost sent the young man sprawling to the ground. The next morning found him at the inn, being nursed back to health or he would have died from exposure. Sad to say, Carl Laemmle did not find place for the incident in his movie. It would have been a fascinating scene.

When de Chagny mentioned the Persian, my ears perked
up. The adventure in hunting down the Phantom led them to his strange torture chamber filled with mirrors and intense
light. Who but a true master of torture would have thought of such a thing? The more I heard about the man the more I wanted to know the truth.

After hearing how he and the Persian nearly drowned when
Christine turned the scorpion and flooded the barrels of gunpowder, I realized how much the man loved her. By the same token, I clearly saw the woman’s dilemma. Two men vying for her affection gave her equal devotion, enough to give their life for her. How could any woman decide? No matter what she did, someone would always get hurt.

“If you can believe it, after all this, the bloody monster let me go with Christine. I would never let her go. I guarded her as a prize above all others, but he let her go with me. With much regret, I must say it was quite honorable of the beast.” Again he spoke as if he felt nothing. By now I understood the poor man had suffered so much in the name of Christine Daae that he had to steel himself from all emotions or perish.

“I assume you forgave him. Since he let you live and marry the woman he loved, you must have forgiven him,” I stupidly said, not thinking who I spoke with.

“Forgive him? I despise the bastard. If I couldn’t kill him, he should have killed me. Have you ever suspected your wife of infidelity monsieur? It’s not easy living with a ghost. Most of my life was spent living with a ghost; haunted until the day I die!”

With this, the Vicomte poured himself another brandy. The poor man began to ramble. But one thing he made clear. Dates, deaths and small details should go undocumented and
unexplained in order to protect the de Chagny name.

This got me to thinking. Protecting the good name of the Vicomte never entered the picture. Not the way one would think. Erik’s relationship with the family needed protecting. Now came the dawn. Everybody, including his rival protected
Erik, but why?

“Is Erik dead?” I asked again.

“I swear to write the story as dictated, but for my own sanity, please tell me the truth. Is Erik dead?”

At this, the man smiled and said, “After you have completed
your questioning of me and whoever you will, grant me one promise.”

This piqued my curiosity so eagerly I promised whatever he
wanted.

“When you have questioned the last person on your list,
please go to le Garnier and find the place where the skeleton was found. If you can view the remains, do so. If none of this is possible, find Christine’s dressing room. Ask anyone there, and you will be directed. When you reach the room, ask the mirror if Erik is dead. I assure you the question will be answered.”

Ask the mirror-another cryptic message added to my list. Discovering a legend proved more complex than I thought. I looked at him as though he’d lost his mind.

“You think me mad. I agree. However, if not the mirror, just stand in the room and ask if Erik is dead. I’d be curios to know the answer you get. Indulge me this whim, M. Leroux. You won’t regret it.”

Raoul de Chagny hated the Opera Ghost. He wished that one of them were dead and spoke as if Erik yet lived. Christine
had gone mad from it all and I stood in jeopardy of doing the same.

The Vicomte graciously invited me to stay the night and dine
with him. No, not another evening at the burlesque; rather one of good food, good wine and quiet conversation. He had more to tell about living with a ghost.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sun Aug 31, 2008 12:57 pm

Looks like everyone is a bit busy to read this one. I will continue to post anyway. It is a good read when you get time.

Please R&R. Enjoy!

*****************************************
CHAPTER 6

THE PERSIAN PART I

My interview with Raoul le Vicomte de Chagny gave me a
lot of in sight, but not a lot of answers. His account of what the Phantom
looked like and his encounter with the Persian made me sit up and take notice.

Any person resembling a living corpse couldn’t be sane. What would make a man look like that? Surely whatever illness affected his looks must have addled his brain. I didn’t want to imagine anyone with skin like yellow parchment stretched over a skeletal structure. Apparently he had no visible nose and his eyes sunk so deep in the hollows it looked as if he had none. But at night, his orbs appeared visible by their golden glint like a cat. No matter what Christine said, I shuddered at the thought of his looks. Certainly, I did not wish to meet anything like that on a cold, dark night.

Pity? Of course I felt pity for the poor devil, but was this right? Shouldn’t I
feel more for such a mistreated, unloved wretch?

The most intriguing request came from the Vicomte. He asked me to visit the
place where the skeleton was found and if possible, view the remains. If none
of this could be done, then go to Christine’s dressing room and pose the
question, “Is Erik alive?” This truly confused me. Why couldn’t he or his wife
answer with a simple ‘yes or no’?

This time I sought the mysterious Persian. The only man who knew this Opera Ghost better than anybody I’d met. After following Christine’s directions, I found the apartment off from the main streets.

When I knocked on the door, I heard a rustle from within. Someone peeked at me through the curtains and then a man’s voice asked what I wanted. I thought it odd he didn’t address me at the door or even open it for that matter. If I had come in the dead of night, I wouldn’t think a thing of it, but when the
midday sun shone down with such fervor, I had to wonder.

Upon introducing myself, I asked if the man called Daroga lived there and could he speak to me. In a few moments, the door opened and dark skinned, aging man invited me in. Because I asked for Daroga, this piqued his curiosity as well as his master’s. Only one man in
Paris had ever called the Persian that, Erik.

Darius, the manservant let me in at the request of his employer who heard me
ask for Daroga. His master then ordered him away for refreshments. The foreigner didn’t want to give his name. I suppose he wanted to retain his privacy and not have readers of my book track him down. My request for an interview made him curious. For the moment, I did not mention I’d spoken to Christine or the Vicomte, or even Meg for that matter. I wanted to hear his unbiased account.

The man appeared weak and sickly, as he showed me to the sitting room and
invited me to sit down. His servant returned with a tray of tea and small cakes. Darius hailed from the same country as his master. For some reason he didn’t seem to like me. The old fellow gave a look of disdain as he poured the tea.

Daroga apologized for his servant saying they had not entertained a visitor in
years. Like Daroga, Darius grew more stubborn and reclusive in his old age.
When finally alone, I began asking how he came to know the Opera Ghost. And I asked if he had truly haunted the Opera House as rumored.

To this he replied that he, himself, haunted the place many a night during
dozens of performances. Apparently he didn’t like the word ‘haunted’ or using the term ‘ghost’ in reference to Erik. To him, Erik was Erik, his
misunderstood, lonely friend. Yes, he did say friend. As he spoke of the man,
he fought back the tears which welled up in his eyes. Never once did he refer
to his friend as ugly or disfigured, but rather ‘special’ or ‘unique’.

His lonely friend met him in
Mazenderan, Persia. Daroga meant police commissioner; the position he held at the time. Ah yes, the time. I had to ask what year did he speak of and the age of the legend.

“I understand as a reporter you would ask such questions. However, there is a reason for not answering them. Can you not write your story without them?” The old fellow gave a lopsided smile and offered me the small cakes. Actually, they tasted just like the ones Christine served. Had she been closer to the Persian and Erik than most people thought? I could just see her and the Persian swapping recipes like elderly ladies at a church social.

Without telling me his side of the story, he got up and disappeared into
another room for a moment. When he returned, he handed me a journal, his
journal. Inside, I found a written account of what happened to him and the
young Vicomte as they traveled through the labyrinth beneath the Opera House searching for Christine. Apparently, Erik made the men in charge of the gaslights drunk. Then during the young diva’s final performance as Marguerite in Faust, he caused all the lights to go out on stage and made off with the damsel. This lent reason for the search.

“Take my account of the event and use it in your book. It will save you the
time writing. As you can see, I have left out the dates. I knew someday a man
like you would come for such answers,” he smiled again and sipped his tea.

For a moment I thumbed through the pages, glancing over the description of the torture chamber and barrels of gunpowder.

Again, I made a mistake in calling Erik a madman. Christine calmly rebuked me, but Daroga actually shouted at me.

“HE IS NOT A MADMAN! He was forced to become an executioner. What other employment is there for a man without a face? Would you support for him as magistrate or even mayor? No. Why? Not because he couldn’t do the job, but because of his looks,” with this, the Persian arose from his seat and moved to a nearby tapestry. By the way he took short breaths I knew I had made him angry.

Then he continued, “I know of no one who ever possessed the talents of such a man. What human being can sing with such power and majesty and still bring the world to tears? His mind for business exceeds any accountant or advisor I’ve ever known. He excels in magic, ventriloquism and in most anything one creates by hand.”

“You truly admired him, didn’t you?” I couldn’t think of much to say. He spoke of Erik like he would a god.

As I looked about, I noticed he didn’t have much furniture or anything on the
walls save this tapestry of Don Juan killing the father of his lover and
another of virgin nudes. What they represented, I didn’t know but I had to ask.

“I apologize for upsetting you monsieur. I only assumed madness from stories I’ve heard. Please, tell me what do the nudes represent in your tapestry?” I looked at his back as he stared up at the one of Don Juan.

“So the nudes fascinate you more than Don Juan, eh? No surprise there. The nude virgins are brides for Erik. When he goes to that eternal rest, may Allah grant him many such brides.”

Once again, another reference as if he still lived. This time, I held my
tongue. I still wanted to hear what he’d say before posing such a question.

“What about Don Juan?” I stupidly asked.

“Are you familiar with the story?” he turned to me with hands folded behind his back.

Most people think of a great lover when they hear the name, Don Juan. But in
truth, the man had loyalty to no woman. After killing the father of one of his
lovers, the spirit of the dead man visited him, only to drag him to hell. Of
course, I’ve left out details due to the lack of consistency with this account.
Let’s just say Erik thought of himself as Don Juan, not as a ladies man, but in
doing evil and going to hell. Interesting comparison!


End of Part I
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sun Aug 31, 2008 1:03 pm

CHAPTER 6

THE PERSIAN PART II

This time, I denied ever knowing the story of Don Juan. This
led into an explanation similar to the one I just related. How trivial! I had no interest in an in depth analysis of the music score or the story of a notorious lover. My mind demanded the truth about the Phantom of the Opera. Mmm, not a bad title for a novel! So I scribbled this into my notes.

Instead of commenting on Don Juan, I glanced over the Persian’s account and read where the article in l’Epoque said: Erik is dead. How could I ask my questions if I didn’t tell him the Vicomte had the gold band and Christine kept Don Juan Triumphant?

“What’s wrong Monsieur Leroux? You seem perplexed,” the old fellow moved to the tray of tea and sweets.

“I assume you placed the article in the newspaper. The one saying: Erik is dead. So after reading it, Christine returned, slipped the ring on Erik’s finger and buried him according to his wishes. Correct?” I asked innocently. Naturally he gave me a confusing answer.

“That would make a good end for your novel. It is a novel you’re writing, isn’t it?” The Persian seemed to side step the direct question.

“Oui, it is a novel. I don’t think I understand. Did you place the article in the newspaper?” I tried to be specific, just in case he had not heard the first time.

“Yes, M. Leroux, I placed the article in the paper. Please tell me what you’ve heard so far. To my knowledge, I am the only one you’ve spoken to. Am I wrong?” This time, he returned to the overstuffed chair and sat staring at me.

Feeling like an insect under a microscope, I shifted in my seat and sipped my tea. In all my years, I’d never talked to a person from Persia. Therefore, I wasn’t sure if his unnerving stare came naturally, or from his constant vigilance over the Opera Ghost.

Finally, I had to answer. “I’ve talked to the police commissioners of this district. They were kind enough to allow me to view their records and take notes.”

“The police commissioners? Have you gone mad? They know nothing. When I spoke to them they threw me out, saying my request sounded like the ravings of a madman.” The old fellow no longer appeared sickly. Talking about Erik excited him. I could see how much he cared about the man. Then he explained how he went to the police commissioners asking them to stop Erik from killing again. This occurred when he feared for the life of Christine and the Vicomte. Apparently, a few past incidents made him think Erik would kill if he couldn’t get what he wanted. I could see he kept a number of details from me. And in some way he feared Erik as well.

Les officers de paix (the royal police force) had investigated every ridiculous complaint about the mysterious man. When complaints came about box five having an intruder frightening away patrons, they found nothing. When the managers complained someone had robbed them, the money turned up. When Christine disappeared, no one thought twice about it. Most people assumed she entertained a new lover. In any event, no police commissioner, l’officer de paix or vigilante would dare seek out something they could neither see nor touch. How could one catch a shadow? Especially in a maze of tunnels, passageways and trapdoors five cellars below le Garnier.

From the Persian, I learned how Erik won the bid to rebuild a certain portion of le Garnier. In time, he created a number of trapdoors and secret passages that no one knew of, but him. Some passages and tunnels already existed from previous architects, so he only connected the new ones.

At the very moment he heard Christine sing, he began to plot her kidnap in hopes of winning her love. A lonely man will go to any length to find companionship, even to commit a desperate act. But forcing his attentions on her would never
be the case. As lonely and miserable as this man felt, he would never hurt the woman he loved. Erik loved with an undying, unconditional love. At hearing this, I repented in calling him mad.

A small part of Erik understood why Christine left with the young Vicomte. Did she make the right choice? Did he make a wise decision in releasing her to a man he despised? Whatever Erik gave her, he did so without looking for something in return. Whatever he did for her, he did for love. If he had killed the Vicomte or force his attentions on her, it would clearly display selfishness. He didn’t have a selfish bone in his body, according to Daroga.

Brief tidbits told of Erik’s past with the gypsies and his stay in Constantinople and Mazenderan. I could see what care my source told the story. Only selected information came my way, omitting dates, ages and above all kinship. Yes, somehow, they all related to each other. Of course, Christine married Raoul de Chagny. His brother, Philippe died looking for his younger brother and the young diva. I could go on and on, how just being acquainted with one another made a kind of family, so to speak. Yet, a piece of the puzzle had not emerged.

The true identity of Erik and if he still lived had to be the big secret everyone tried to hide. Who was the Opera Ghost? If he was still alive, why keep it a secret?

When Daroga finished talking, he stared at me for the longest. I sat as if totally numb.

“Are you well, M. Leroux?” he asked after some time.

Finally I set the cup and saucer down. My journalist mind pushed me to ask the burning questions. A chill ran through me as I did so, but I could not stand the suspense any longer.

“Daroga. May I call you Daroga?” I sputtered.

“Of course. It makes me think of him,” purred the foreigner.

“Daroga, I’ve heard many things which leave me with two questions. Who was Erik? In all honesty, I feel like his true identity has been covered up?” For the moment, I literally sat on the edge of my seat waiting for an answer.

With a long sigh, my answer came. “If I told you who he really is the truth would create a lot of trouble for many people. He is related to a very prominent family. Because of his past, this should be buried. Let it go, M. Leroux. Please, I beg of you, let it go.”

No matter what I promised, the answer remained the same. After a while, I realized he made perfect sense. No matter what I wrote in the book, somehow my notes would reach the newspapers. Then the whole sordid truth would be smeared on every front page in the country. For this reason, I agreed to leave well enough alone.

Now came my second question. Certainly he couldn’t shut me up with the same reasoning.

“Is Erik still alive?” There, I asked the dreaded question. A smile crept across his tired face.

“Who have you been talking to, monsieur? No police commissioner or gendarme would ever give you such an idea.”

“Does it matter? The question requires only a ‘yes or no’ answer. Is Erik still alive? Yes or no?” This time, I sat back and waited.

The answer did not come without thought. “You’ve been to see Christine haven’t you? Perhaps le Vicomte de Chagny as well. Christine admits to nothing. Le Vicomte made a request, didn’t he?” To this I nodded.

“You cannot hear ‘yes or no’ from me. I am not at liberty to say.” He chose his words well. In a moment, Darius entered with a bottle of pills and a glass of water. Seemed the old man required medication at a certain hour.

I waited until he washed the pill down before speaking. “I understand why you can’t tell me his true identity. My novel will be just as intriguing without such knowledge. Dates and timelines are surely not necessary, however, why won’t you tell me if he’s dead or alive?” I challenged the poor fellow.

He confessed knowledge of Christine keeping Don Juan Triumphant. Obviously, he knew about the ring in the Vicomte’s care. But the most startling thing he said went like this, “Allow me to take you somewhere to get your answers. Then decide for yourself if you should put this in your book or keep it in your heart.”

Again I fell silent. Of course, I accepted his offer. Where would we go to get my answers? Did he mean to both questions? Even the one he reasoned me out of?

After all this, my quest in discovering a legend may be coming to an end. For now, I dined with the Persian and listened to him prattle about the mysterious masked man he called friend.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:38 pm

now i`ve only the last chapter left to read.Wink
ìt`s really good so far, keep it up cheers

*sore eyes after all this reading* Shocked gah!
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:49 pm

I love you silver moon. Thank you for the beautiful comments. So happy you likey.

You said you wanted more to read, so I was a posting.

More coming soon.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:54 pm

that`s right i want to read till my eyes go Shocked and fell out Wink
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sun Sep 07, 2008 2:09 pm

Thank you to all who have read and reviewed.

Now for your reading pleasure, I give you the next chapter.

***************************
CHAPTER 7

EVIDENCE

At this point, I had interviewed Meg Giry, now the Baroness
de Barbazac, as the Persian reminded. For the life of me I could never remember her title. I had audience with Christine Daae, now Vicomtesse de Chagny and her estranged husband, Raoul le Vicomte. After all this, no one would tell me who the Opera Ghost really was. They only referred to him as Erik or Phantom, but his origin, family and such remained unknown. The Persian explained why I should abandon the search for the man’s true identity. If his relationship to a prominent family brought shame and dishonor, I definitely put it out of mind, almost.

The next burning question everyone avoided, ‘Is Erik alive?’. A simple yes or no answer would do, but I couldn’t even get that. So now I followed the lead of a close friend of the masked ghost, the Persian or Daroga as I called him.

As Daroga and I ambled along the streets of Paris, we found ourselves at le Garnier, also known as the Paris Opera House. We had no trouble getting a couple of employees to show us where the skeleton was found.

They allowed us to examine the well where the remains had laid beside and the decaying house nearby. When I looked at the wall the workers had broken, I realized it might have been a portcullis at one time. Apparently someone had made it into a sold wall which sealed in the little shore and its house.

Obviously I’d visited cemeteries and the local undertaker
during investigations of prior stories, but none of them gave me the weird, eerie feeling I got from standing on the shore.
The Persian felt it as well, for he urged me to hurry with my
examination and note writing.

Waves of desperation mixed with death washed over me as I
scribbled my notes. Nothing but the sound of Daroga breathing could I hear, and occasionally my own. The dank air made me gag a few times, but I tried not to show my discomfort. The employees of le Garnier would not set foot on shore. Instead, they waited patiently in the small boat.

Feeling a bit claustrophobic, I agreed to leave while trying
to make note of whatever I saw. Had I not felt the place closing in on me, I would have gone into the small house. However, Daroga assured me it contained nothing worth looking at. He should know.

By the time we reached the upper levels the color came back
to my face and I could breath easier. How could anyone live that far below ground? Seriously! A mole doesn’t live as far down as this Opera Ghost. If le Garnier employees had not been waiting in the boat, I would have been tempted to blurt out my questions right then and there.


Before going anywhere else, we stopped at a nearby tavern
for something to lift the spirits. You’d never believe how I cherished the cold brew Daroga bought for me.

“Erik actually lived in the house we just saw?” I asked incredulously.

Daroga chuckled and sipped his sangria, taking a moment to
word his answer. “Yes my dear Gaston.” We’d since become friends and he now called me Gaston. Too bad he didn’t
privy me with his given name. He continued, “Erik did indeed live there. What did you think?”

“Of what?” I didn’t understand.

“Of all you saw. The remains were found near the well,” he sipped his wine.

“It frightens me and that’s not easy to do. Where did they take the skeleton?” My hands still shook, so I tried to steady them by ingesting more brew.

“To the National Archives. We shall go there next. Are you
sure you’re up to it?” the old fellow smiled and offered me some sweet cakes the barmaid left. I must say the man
loved his sweets.

“I assume you are helping me fulfill the request made by le
Vicomte.” Setting the flagon down, I studied my guide carefully.

“Whatever you experienced or will experience happened to
him. After all is over, you’ll understand.”

The dear man tossed me another cryptic message, which I took note of , but said nothing. Then he instructed me not to tell Meg’s true age. He asked me to make her younger than Christine and less colorful. Then explained how I should end my account of the Phantom of the Opera.

Listening tentatively and I nodded now and again.
Accordingly, the story must be written, but only in a particular way. Should I have the opportunity to ask if Erik was a live to someone or something at the end of this tour, then surely I would have an ending not of my own choosing.

Meg, the Baroness had to be at least twelve to fifteen years
older than Christine. Undoubtedly, they’d kept in contact with each other, but I don’t know if I could say as close friends.
Again confusion rumbled in my mind.

“Alright, you want me to say Meg was at least six years
younger than Christine and make sure to color her drab. Why write her into the story at all?” I retorted.

“To some it may not be obvious, but when you say she is now Baroness de Barbazac, most will not realize the truth.”

Should I ask, I knew I’d get a cryptic answer, but I had to
ask. “What truth?”

“Meg married the Baron because of Erik. You know that. He promised her mother she’d be an empress, but fell short of this. However, by no fault of his. So, a baroness was the next best,” again he smiled and leaned back.

“Are you saying Erik introduced her to a baron? Was he the local matchmaker?” This came out with a bit of sarcasm, but it couldn’t be helped. I grew weary of having the man dodge my questions.

At this the Persian broke into uproarious laughter. “Erik, a matchmaker?” He laughed so hard I thought he’d pop. Actually a masked man arranging marriages would make a rather amusing story. So I jotted that into my notes. I could write an entire novel like that. But then, I digress. The story at hand if of the Phantom.

“So delighted I’ve amused you mon vieux (old fellow). How did Erik know the baron?”

“Erik knew many a royal and politician. In fact, there wasn’t much he didn’t know, or many people of power he didn’t know. Is there something you desire and have not yet achieved?” The old fellow furrowed his brow and leaned over the table to stare me in the eye.

“Are you saying Erik could give me my hearts desire? Is he a genie as well?” I again retorted.

The Persian never seemed offended. He just gave a lopsided smile and waited for my answer.

So I gave in and replied, “I want to write a story that will
be remembered from generation to generation. I want it to make them laugh as well as bring them to tears. I want to be remembered for this story. Perhaps even be immortalized because of it.” Actually, I did want this with all my heart.

Daroga seemed to understand and only said, “Erik will make
this come true.”

After one more drink, we left the tavern and went directly
to the National Archives. Convincing someone there to allow us to examine the skeleton got a bit complicated. I had to show identifications as a journalist and then answer questions of several selected officials of the Archives.

As we waited in the lobby for a decision on whether we
should be granted permission or not, the most beautiful woman, next to Christine and my wife, I’d ever seen waltzed in and went straight to the desk clerk. The Persian whispered and said the woman was the daughter of La Carlotta, the Spanish singer who once rivaled Christine as diva.

Questioning any of the other performers had never crossed my mind until that moment. What good fortune!

So, before Daroga could stop me, I called to the dear lady
and introduced myself and asked for a moment of her time.

At first she seemed reluctant to talk. The Phantom had not been a pleasant subject. The beast had terrorized her
mother and anyone who stood in the way of Christine Daae’s success. Still a handsome figure of a woman with jet black hair rolled into a bun and fastened at the base of her head, she eyed me suspiciously. My questions caught her off guard.
As a child, Doña Isabella remembered her mother returning to
le Garnier only once after Christine’s last great disappearance. She accompanied her mother to the mangers’
office and recalled a disembodied hand coming up from the floor to pick the pocket of one of the managers. A child
of ten may see many strange things, but trying to convince adults of what she’d witnessed came near to impossible. Only
her mother believed her.

After this, La Carlotta never again spoke of the Opera
Ghost, not even to her children. Doña Isabella related one more incident before breaking into tears.

It seemed she attended the opera with her husband a few
years ago and because of the crowd, became separated from her spouse, Don Enrique. Finding herself backed into a corner, she searched for a break in the sea of people so she might make her way to her husband. The crowd had shoved him toward the entrance.

From behind her a very distinct male voice clearly demanded
the crowd to part and allow the woman to reunite with her husband. No sooner had the last words sounded; a hush
fell upon both cast and patrons. A path quickly appeared as people moved to one side. When Doña Isabella turned to see who spoke, she only saw two orbs like small, disembodied embers peering at her from the shadows.

With this, the woman broke down and wept as she ran from the lobby in terror of the recollection. Never had I seen such a reaction. This account intrigued me and insulted the Persian. At least I hadn’t insulted him.

The woman’s reaction appalled him because she displayed
ingratitude for the Phantom’s help. But I could understand how two floating embers would send anyone screaming from the room.

The desk clerk would not tell me what she came for, so I let
it go. At this moment, we had been given permission to view the remains found by the well beneath le Garnier. So we followed a snappy young chap who led us to a room deep in the building.

For some reason, the hair stood up on the back of my neck
and I grew afraid. Of what, I didn’t know. The room looked like part of a museum, with one rather large display case.
Inside the glass case laid the twisted skeleton of an unusually tall man. On one finger glinted the yellow of a plain gold band with the monogram PC. Yes, a ring. The monogram buffaloed me.

I must say the chap looked quite ugly, but then all men are
ugly when they’re dead. Not being a doctor, I really did know how to tell its identity. But one thing for sure, the skull had a large crack in it. It would seem the poor devil died by having his skull cracked open. Did this mean the Opera Ghost had
been murdered or perhaps had an accident?

A chill ran through me and my skin became like goose flesh. I felt as though something watched me. Could I be feeling the empty hollows of the skeleton following me? Again, I shuddered.

Whispering my thoughts to Daroga, I saw him nod an
acknowledgment, but offered no opinion.

As we left the room with the skeleton, it dawned on me. Raoul had a brother named Philippe who died during his hunt for him and Christine. Would the monogram stand for Philippe de Chagny? Was this the body we viewed?

When I brought up the subject, Daroga cocked his head to one side and just stared blankly at me. He just stood staring at me without a word. What did this all mean? Once and
for all was Erik alive or dead? Whose remains did we just view? Again, I received no answers, just more confusion.
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silver moon
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:30 am

so mysterious Very Happy Cool

yeah i`ve fnally read through it all. it sure was on time eh? Razz
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Today at 1:12 am

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DISCOVERING A LEGEND
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