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 DISCOVERING A LEGEND

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PhantomnessFay
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:53 am

silver moon I hope we are giving you enough to read. So happy you enjoyed and got to read through. Thank you.

More coming soon.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Tue Sep 23, 2008 2:02 pm

Thank you to all who have read and reviewed.

Here's the next chapter. There aren't too many more.

Please R&R. Enjoy!

******************************************
CHAPTER 8

IS ERIK ALIVE?

Daroga and I stood in the hallway just outside the room
where the skeleton set in the display case. The eeriness of the viewing still lingered and my questions remained unanswered. The ring finger of the remains bore a gold band with the initials PC on it. From this, I now assumed we’d just viewed the body of Philippe le Comte de Chagny; Raoul’s elder brother who died the night he and Christine went missing.

The police commissioner’s report said the body was found
floating in the lake near Le Rue Scribe; cause of death, accidental drowning. Accordingly, Philippe stood roughly
1.889 meters and made frequent visits to the world below le Garnier. Stretched out to its full length, instead of twisted, the height of the skeleton would have been about the same.

“Daroga, please answer. Did we just view the body of le Comte de Chagny? The ring says PC. I assume it stands for Philippe de Chagny. I’m confused.” Again I pushed for an answer. He gave a faint smile and turned to leave, but I gently touched his shoulder.

Knowing he’d have to answer, he looked at me and said,
“Assuming you have done your research, what did the police commissioners’ report say about Philippe’s body?”

Actually, the report said the family claimed it. However, the family member remained unnamed. Could it have been Raoul, le
Vicomte? Now I stood speechless.

“Gaston, I know your reporter’s mind is working hard. What did le Vicomte say?” Daroga asked, looking at me like a parent trying to make a child think on its own.

“We barely spoke of his brother. We talked about the accident briefly and I assumed the boat tipped over. Why was he down there anyway? How did he know the way since the gendarmes didn’t?” Only questions came from my mouth.

Slowly we sauntered out of the building discussing the facts
I’d collected. At this point, anyone who consented to an interview had been subject to my questions.

We talked for some time and found ourselves en route to a
cemetery. There we visited the alleged final resting place of Philippe de Chagny. The caretaker said the family visited the mausoleum often.

Oddly enough, I felt nothing as I stood before the section
which read: Philippe le Comte de Chagny. Loving husband, father and brother.

Never thinking of myself as a person sensitive to spiritual
or outer worldly matters, I had the strangest feeling the crypt had nothing in it.

“What’s wrong my friend? You seem more at ease here than at the National Archives,” Daroga removed his hat in respect for the dead.

“He’s not here,” I said bluntly and without emotion. The words flew out of my mouth without a single thought.

My Persian friend smiled. “Then you know?”

All of a sudden, it hit me. I did know, but I stood in denial of the truth. Some people likened my research to a Beauty
and the Beast fairy tale. But what was this story of the Phantom of the Opera? Did I have a love story? A mystery? Another detective novel? Or a tale of untold terror?

“The authorities assumed the remains found by the well were
of Erik. Not so. It’s Philippe de Chagny!” I declared out
loud. Daroga hushed me and asked me not to speak so loudly. According to him, the night had eyes and the walls had ears; whether dead or not. What a disturbing thought!

An hour or so later, we sat at the Queen’s Eye quenching our
thirst. Of course I asked why a noble family would consent to such a farce. If Philippe died that night, why not bury him in his own tomb? Why let the world assume the body belonged to the Opera Ghost? Obviously, Erik yet lived.

So many questions swirled around in my head giving reason
for another mug of my favorite brew to settle my nerves.

“Are you ready to fulfill the request of le Vicomte?” The
Persian sipped his wine and gave me a gentle look.

Since I had been to the well where they found the skeleton
and had actually seen the creepy thing, why would I need to go to Christine’s old dressing room?

“Wasn’t the request either/or? You do mean I should go to Christine’s dressing room, correct?” Setting the mug
down, I waited for an answer.

“Yes. Perhaps I should say I’ve rephrased the request.
You said you wanted a story that you would be remembered for. Yet, you still deny the most important thing in all your findings.” The calmness of the man amazed me. Somehow I knew exactly what he meant. I denied the existence of Erik.

Truly, the story fascinated me from the moment I heard it,
but all my findings led me to a mass of confusion and a family secret everyone tried to keep buried. If a man as brilliant as he, regardless of deformity, had the means of making a ballet rat like Meg Giry into a baroness, the skill of an architect and the voice of an angel, why would he stay hidden? Surely such genius would be made known to the world.

For a moment I only stared at the Persian without uttering a
word. He seemed to know my mind. Why should I validate what he already knew?

“Come. We must go. Tonight there are no performances,
perfect for you to have all your questions answered.” And with that, Daroga finished his wine and arose from the table.

Le Garnier appeared awfully quiet and desolate that evening. A few cast members and some of the crew milled around preparing for tomorrow’s ballet. The days of operas had long since passed.

Like tier three Box Five, Christine’s dressing room remained
empty and in non-use. The room still held the old Victorian furniture and the infamous looking glass everyone mentioned.

A gilded frame with exquisite carvings of roses and cherubs
marked the full length mirror which took center stage. By now electric lights replaced the gas ones. The Persian nodded to the mirror. Slowly I moved toward it.

Sunset brought many deceiving shadows into the room, despite the electric lights, especially around the mirror. Remembering the counterweight mentioned in Daroga’s journal, I ran my hand along the top of the frame.

“Ask the question,” urged the Persian. Then before I realized, he left the room and closed the door behind him.

“Wait!” The words weakly fell from my lips. He left me
alone to ask my questions of an obstinate piece of glass.

After taking a deep breath, I asked, “Is Erik alive?”

Nothing happened.

Without realizing my hands shook and so did my legs. Impending terror makes one react like this. The words stuck in my throat when I tried to speak again. After coughing and sputtering, the question came out a little louder.

“Is Erik alive?” This time I heard something stir behind the mirror or around it. I couldn’t be precise.

From this moment on, all the lights went out except for a
small wall lamp at the back of the room. Clutching my chest, I tried to keep my heart from leaping out of my body.

“Erik died the moment Christine left with the boy,” echoed a
disembodied male voice. I couldn’t tell from where it originated. It seemed to be all around me.

Of course the dim lights and voice terrified me, but the
journalist within had to keep the questions going, even if it meant the last thing I did.

“A…Are you Erik?” came my next silly question. A long, exasperated sigh answered at first. Then a silhouette took form in the glass as it swung open on a pivot.

A horrified scream escaped my lungs and quickly I backed up against the door. The silhouette stepped into the room, twirling its cloak. In the dimness, I could see no face, only the eerie glint of orbs like tiny embers from a dying fire. It wore a hat pulled down over its already darkened features.

“Gaston Leroux, after talking to Christine, the Vicomte and
Daroga, why do you ask such a question? Leave me in peace. Haven’t I suffered enough?” bellowed the cloaked figure.

At this, I babbled like a fool. Erik, the infamous Opera Ghost now stood before me in all his heart-stopping majesty and I could do nothing but make incoherent noises. The voice rang with a smooth resonance which engulfed and held me in its power. Even though a slight irritation edged its words, the tones eased both body and mind.

How he knew my name and who I’d talked to, I only guessed
from the Persian. My breathing returned to normal and relished the moment.

“Leroux, write the story if it pleases you. You have been told what to omit. Timelines and dates mean nothing in the
miserable life of poor wretched Erik. Tell your readers the twisted skeleton belonged to me. Verify you saw the gold
band on its finger. There is no need to mention the initials.” For a moment he paused and motioned for me to sit down.

Somehow, I felt a little calm, so I sat and he continued. “Are you familiar with curses?”

Again questions answered my questions. What did I know of curses? Of course I shook my head. I wanted to hear him speak, so I said nothing. It’s not everyday one is privileged to speak to a legend. Now my heart pounded with anticipation of what I would learn from the man I’d been seeking, the man I called the Phantom of the Opera.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:18 pm

Shocked omg this is amazing!
i love it to bits Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Thu Sep 25, 2008 9:38 am

Ah, silver moon thank you for the kind words. I see you enjoyed and that made my day.

It is possible that this could have been this way, don't think. Perhaps Erik is watching over us this very minute. affraid

More coming soon, so please don't go away!
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sat Oct 04, 2008 2:47 pm

Thank you to all who have read and reviewed.

We're coming to the end. Only a couple more chapters after this one.

Please R&R. Enjoy!


**********************************************************
CHAPTER 9

NEVER SAY GOOD BYE

In the dimness of Christine’s dressing room I sat in awe of the man claiming to be the Opera Ghost. Continuing, Erik explained how a curse similar to the Flying Dutchman’s plagued him. Sea lore spoke of a ghost ship called the Flying Dutchman doomed to sail the seas for eternity. The sprites who man the vessel would never know peace and any ship that sees it faces imminent death.

Like it or not, the Opera Ghost could not find rest until he found forgiveness in sight of God. During his stay with the gypsies, he killed the clan leader’s son while defending the honor of a young girl. The chieftain could not believe his son would violate a woman, so Erik took the punishment; bringing about the curse. And I quote, “By the name of the gods and all that’s holy, you will never know peace or rest; but live forever knowing you have offended the Holy One of Israel. Unless the King of Kings lifts the curse, live in torment forever and ever!”

I for one did not believe in curses, especially ones that doom a body to a tormented existence for all eternity. At that moment, I truly doubted the man speaking was Erik. After all we met in a place where people pretended to be someone else for a living. True the voice of the man calmed and soothed my frayed nerves and he did scare the life out of me, but how could I be sure Erik the Opera Ghost spoke to me? For all I knew the Persian had paid some actor to fool me so I’d leave him alone.

The explanation of la malediction (the curse), left me cold and I said nothing. The dark figure bent down so the ember-like eyes could get a better look at me.

“Still don’t believe I am Erik, do you Leroux? You presume I’m an actor playing a part. La malediction is the product of a child’s fantasy and vivid imagination, isn’t it?” As he drew near I could smell the distinct odor of medicine and illness, perhaps even death; like a hospital or doctor’s office. Cringing, I instinctively flinched and drew back. He must have realized the smell offended and moved away.

Then it dawned on me that he knew my thoughts. But how could he know my disbelief would make me think Daroga had paid an actor to fool me? Could Erik be more than a disfigured eccentric?

“Go! Fetch a lamp from the table and bring it here,” commanded the silhouette. I arose quickly and obeyed. Snatching the old oil lamp from a nearby table, I returned. Erik drew out a match and lit the lamp.

Trying not to faint and scream like a woman, I stared into the face of a black death’s head. The glint the ember-like orbs disappeared as the light passed over empty hollows. Gasping, I heard my own teeth chatter and my heart pound like a drum. For obvious reasons I started to hyperventilate.

“Now look carefully and tell me if you’ve ever seen any actor’s make-up quite like this.” With that, he ripped away the mask and hat.

What my eyes beheld words could hardly describe. I’ll never forget as long as I live. Even from the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, nothing could ever be more horrific. The best description came from the gypsies; un corps vivant (a living corpse). Having a skull covered with yellowish, decayed flesh move and talk nearly gave me heart failure. What else could I say? An animated, decomposing corpse conversed with me. My head began to spin and I nearly passed out.

Releasing the lamp, I backed into the wall and tried with all my might to scream, but words never came. Erik caught the lamp before it hit the floor as empty hollows looked back at me like the skeleton viewed at the National Archives.

In the light not only could his height be determined, but truly his body displayed nothing but skin and bones; not an ounce of flesh to be had. A lock of dark hair adorned both sides of his head and a snatch at the back, but other than that, he had no hair. This had to be Death personified. The hands gripping the mask, hat and lamp appeared like much the same, skin and bones.

“Please Gaston. I thought you of all people would have a little more control and respect,” he said nonchalantly as he set the lamp down to replace the mask and hat. Apparently, he had grown used to this reaction. I tried to apologize, but my quivering lips moved without a sound.

“Now you understand why I’m not very sociable. Parties bore me and visitors don’t have much to say,” he stated with a mirthless laugh. From all descriptions given, I knew no one could create make-up or any mask equivalent to what I had witnessed; not even the Man of a Thousand Faces (Lon Chaney).

From inside his cloak Erik drew out a bottle of spirits and a couple of small glasses and set them on the table near the lamp. Then he poured a little in each and offered me one. With shaky hands I accepted and gulped it down.

Without seeing the horrific face, the voice truly could sooth the heart and soul. My grim host again offered a chair and we both sat, as he poured more wine into my glass.

“Do you wish to speak or shall I continue?” Erik pushed the mask up a bit and tipped the glass back. It seemed he had to spill the nectar into his mouth a little at a time, since he had no flesh to form lips. I shuddered at the thought. Poor wretch! What illness caused his condition? Since he went through such an ordeal to drink, I now understood why no one had ever seen him eat, especially Christine. Removing the mask would be necessary and no one wanted to see or even imagine it.

“For a journalist you are very quiet. Not what I expected. Now you know I am truly Erik, don’t you?” I nodded.

“However, I feel like you don’t believe in curses. Your eyes display it. Believe it not, I am the victim of one. Do you think I enjoy existing like this? Is it any wonder why Christine went with the boy? My voice entranced her. The genius of my music captivated her. My generosity overwhelmed her, but my hideous body scared her away!” After pausing a moment, he gave out a long, drawn out sigh.

“No family wants to claim relationship to a man who looks like a corpse. Do you think I could have ever taken my rightful place as le Comte looking as I do? Mais non! C’est impossible!” Again he paused. This time I managed to say something.

“I’m truly sorry for your plight, monsieur. Is there something I can do for you?” What a stupid thing to ask someone that looks dead.

“Don’t be sorry,” came the calm, stoic reply. He extended a skeletal hand for me to shake. I don’t know how he lived so long without actual meat on his bones. Repeating myself, I know, but the hand felt like skin and bone. How else could I say it? I clasp the cold, stiff bones and shook them like I would an ordinary hand. Pleased, Erik nodded.

“You are very polite. I like you.” Then he rambled on about his unfortunate life and ended up laughing. The laugh came as something to do, for I found no humor in what he said. Better than crying I suppose.

By now, I had regained my composure and realized he knew my name and…and his rightful place as le Comte? Did I hear correctly? After a couple of glasses of wine, I felt courageous and began asking questions.

“Are you saying you are actually le Comte? Do you mean le Comte de Chagny?” I puzzled. He nodded. I continued. “Then Philippe should not have borne the title?”

“Right again, Leroux. Now you see why I must remain a ghost? I should never have been born. My deformity and insanity came as a punishment to my parents. Please don’t ask for details. I wish to forget. Just know I’ve been twice cursed by God.” Sadly he looked away and sighed again.

“Insanity? You’re not insane,” I blurt out. This seemed to please him as well.

“You haven’t been around me long enough,” he laughed. “Especially when I’m angry. Since you’ve gotten over your fright, you rather like me, don’t you? I can tell. More wine?” A smile sounded in his voice, as he filled my glass.

“Then Philippe and Raoul are your brothers?” came my next bold question.

“What do you think? Actually, half brothers. Why else would I let the boy go? For the sake of Christine alone? Not so!” Another long sigh came from this. “The most difficult and painful thing I’ve ever done was to let Christine go. I love her so much.” For a moment he fell silent. I felt for the man, but didn’t know how to comfort such grief.

“If it’s any consolation, Christine regrets leaving with le Vicomte. I know she loves you,” the words fell absent mindedly from my lips.

The masked face turned to me. “Now it’s too late.”

“Why? It’s never too late for love. You do know she and le Vicomte have separated.” I wanted to see his reaction.

“Yes, yes I know. But what good is that? Has she come to me? No. Does she send me letters? Of course not. Women are such fragile creatures and so indecisive as well. If I could die I would. Many times I’ve tried to, but the curse prohibits.” At this his lament filled the room. The wailing and moaning echoed as though he grieved the passing of a loved one.

“Perhaps you should go to her. I really want to write your story. I promise to omit the timelines and dates and above all your relationship to the boy, er…I mean…” I stammered, but he cut me off.

“Yes, yes, I know. Le Vicomte. Thank you. You are most kind. Forgive me for frightening you. I really do hate visitors, present company excluded.”

“Thank you. I’ve grown fond of you as well. Tell me, was the skeleton found by the lake Philippe?” Sitting back, I waited for him to scream at me, but he didn’t.

Calmly he replied, “Yes. Let the world think I’m dead. The boy and his family know better. I overlooked the ring. I’m so tired. Tired of living.” Another long sigh followed.

Never had I ever wept for anyone like I did for Erik. Both of sat and cried like a couple of children.

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE


Last edited by PhantomnessFay on Sat Oct 04, 2008 2:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sat Oct 04, 2008 2:47 pm

CHAPTER 9 CONTINUED

When the weeping stopped we sat and talked for a while. Even as a storyteller the voice held me captive, as he spoke of his stay with the gypsies and his narrow escape from Mazenderan and Constantinople. A small bit of it I’ve mentioned in the novel. I wanted to save the main portion for another time, another book. Yet, so far, I haven’t been able to write a single word of Erik’s life before the Opera House. Perhaps, some day I shall.

Of course I had to hear why and how Joseph Buquet and Philippe died. Apparently Buquet, the raunchy old stagehand got a bit too curious and took to following my new masked friend. As warned, extreme danger lurked in the dark where the Opera Ghost abode. He never admitted to actually doing the deed, but hinted that Buquet had an unfortunate accident. I assumed Erik had caught him with his ghastly weapon called the Punjab Lasso. At this, he had to draw it out from his inside coat pocket and show it to me. Created from catgut, it looked just as yellow and sickening as Erik’s flesh. I gagged and shuddered at the thought. From his tone of voice, I didn’t ask anymore about Buquet. I would write this part as instructed, only that the body was found hanging in the third cellar between some props.

With the ingenious skill of an architect, Erik won the bid to rebuild a portion of le Garnier. Hidden passages already existed in the world beneath, so he connected new ones along with trapdoors. As a master mason, he had to know how to run electricity into selected parts of the edifice, so he set up an electric alarm to warn himself of unwanted visitors to his house by the lake.

The alarm rang the night Erik demanded Christine chose between the scorpion and the grasshopper. Being distracted by Christine’s hysterics while the Persian and le Vicomte unwittingly invaded the torture chamber, Erik violently ripped Philippe from the boat. Not realizing his identity he struggled with the man. Le Comte pulled away so quickly he slipped and fell, cracking his head on a rock; another unfortunate accident. Whether true or not, I wanted to believe him. But the alleged curse I still could not accept.

Genuine grief and sadness filled his voice as he recalled Philippe’s death. Apparently, this display of anger also exhibited his hare-trigger temper. In such rage he saw nothing but red with only a single thought to kill.

My heart went out to him. Tragedy dogged the man’s trail his entire life. No wonder he wanted to die. For a fleeting moment of happiness with Christine he lived a lifetime of shame, ridicule, rejection, hatred, vengeance and unrequited love. Never had I known a more pitiful soul than Erik. Twice cursed of God and despised of mankind, I could readily understand why he became an executioner and a political assassin for the shah. What other profession suited a man who looked like death?

When he finished speaking, we sat in silence. I didn’t know what to say.

“Have I bored you to tears or confused you to no end, Gaston?” Erik finally broke the silence.

“I don’t know what to say. You have my heartfelt condolences for such a tragic life, mon ami. Is there anything I can do for you?” I offered. Somehow, my grim friend didn’t frighten me any longer. Nothing I could say or do would change the way the poor man had been treated.

“You can pray for my death. The longer I live, the more I suffer. Playing tricks on the managers no longer amuse. I am of no use to anyone. If you are truly my friend, then ask God to let me die!” came the grim request. Stunned, I again fell speechless. He requested something against everything good Christians were taught.
Again I suggested he visited Christine. Why I persisted, I don’t know. I felt it might make a difference in his existence. After all this, I knew I had finally received all my answers and could easily write the novel.

We parted friends and he asked me to return at sunset the following day and he would go with me to visit Christine. This shocked me as well, but I felt better. Perhaps if the two reunited, they might both be happy, or at least feel better.

“Listen carefully, Gaston Leroux. Should something detain you where you need my assistance, leave a note with one of the mangers. Address it to Caesare Casanova. This is another alias I’ve used to terrorize the new managers. It can be most amusing to watch their reactions when they receive notes signed by Caesare Casanova,” at this he actually chuckled. Not sure why he said this, I agreed as I puzzled. What made him think something would detain me? Did he know something I didn’t?

Before we parted company, my new friend honored me by singing an aria from Faust. Though I’d only heard it once and didn’t know it by name, I now experienced the awesome tones Christine and the Persian had described. Anyone in earshot, whether man, woman or child would undoubtedly be entranced by the heavenly notes issued from a man who had no true lips. If I could sing I would have joined him as Christine had on selected occasions. Never had I heard anything so beautiful in my entire life. I wanted to stay and listen to him sing all night, but alas, the song came to an end and we had to part.

Again, I shook his cold, bony hand and thanked him for the honor of his presence and magnificent singing. This seemed to give him much pleasure and he actually said he looked forward to seeing me tomorrow.

My friend then collected the empty wine bottle and glasses and tucked him into his cloak. Upon arising, he bowed and swept out majestically into the hidden passage behind the mirror. The glass then swung back into place.

Leaving the room, I staggered into the corridor where I met the Persian, sitting on the floor, waiting for me. With a faint smile he asked how my visit went. My head still spun from such a meeting; I could barely tell him anything. Whatever I said seemed to please him.

I know my novel shall never say a word about the reunion of Erik with his beloved Christine, but I had to be there. Something like this I wouldn’t want to miss. So, now I’d return to Raoul le Vicomte de Chagny and tell him what I’d discovered. But should I mention that I and the Opera Ghost would pay a visit to his estranged wife? Even being indecisive, I shuddered at the thought.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sun Oct 05, 2008 7:22 am

another lovely chapter.*sigh* does it really have to end? Sad
Razz

btw, it seems i`m the only one who read this scratch anyway, they don`t know what they`re misisng, poor souls Razz
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sun Oct 05, 2008 9:23 am

Thank you silver moon. Yes, it looks like you are the only who reads this or at least the only who posts. I did have it posted on another forum, so they may have read it there. Thank you for your kind words and compliment. You've made my day.

There is a sequel to this which I will post when this one is done. Perhaps you will enjoy it as well.

More coming soon.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:13 am

yay, a sequel cheers awesome Wink
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:51 pm

So is this behind or ahead of what was on POTO.com?
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Wed Oct 22, 2008 12:17 pm

Discovering a Legend was first, then Heart of Midnight.

You may like it better HighwayPhantom. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:31 am

It's been a long time in posting. Since there are only two chapters left, I am going to post both of them and hopefully all you lovely readers will find an opportunity to read and review.

Now I present to you Chapter 10. Please R&R. Enjoy!

CHAPTER 10

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE


After relating my visit with the Opera Ghost, le Vicomte and I sat staring at each other without a single word. Le Château de Chagny still felt like a second home, but the look on my host’s face almost made me regret mentioning Erik. At this moment, I noticed he wore his sword strapped about his waist. Could he be preparing for a battle I didn’t know about? I wanted to ask, but my courage failed me.

“You actually feel sorry the beast?” came the cold, heartless question. It didn’t seem to demand an answer, only for me to reconsider the emotion.

From his tone of voice, I knew he had known the outcome should I stand in the middle of Christine’s dressing room asking, “Is Erik alive?” like a stupid fool. With the knowledge of his hatred for his half brother, I debated on whether I should continue the conversation.

“I suppose if you haven’t had your life threatened by the damned thing you would at least feel pity for it,” he took a sip of cognac. Closely I studied my host, recalling the description of the impetuous young man wanting to save his lady fair from whatever she feared. The accounts from both Christine and Daroga differed greatly from the broken, vengeful man who now sat before me. “You have received all of your answers and should now trot off to begin the writing, I suppose.”

“Why do you hate him so? You are half brothers, aren’t you?” Again the journalist had to pry for something more.

“You will not mention that in your writings, monsieur. If you do, you shall suffer my wrath and more than that of a twice cursed outcast from heaven!” came the unwarranted threat. My host leaned forward a bit and gave me a look which sent a shiver down my spine.

“Please monsieur le Vicomte, I meant no harm. I will never say or write anything about your relationship with him. If I’ve offended you, please accept my apologies. All I meant was…”

“You meant to remind me my elder brother was hell-spawned. Thank you very much. Every day I curse myself and my family for the misfortune of having the bloodline spoiled. Please, never again make reference to my relationship with this demon,” le Vicomte finished and threw back the last of his drink.

Biting my tongue, I sat quietly, wondering if I should excuse myself and leave. Sunset would come in another couple of hours and I had promised to meet Erik and accompany him to Christine’s. I advised her of my return visit, but never mentioned who’d be with me. At least she would welcome Erik, I hoped.

After giving my word not to divulge the family secret, I excused myself and arose to leave, but my stubborn host refused to let me go. He insisted I stay and dine with him. It seemed he wanted to know more of Erik’s past, especially the curse.

As much as I’d wanted to accommodate the man, I had a previous engagement and said so. I wanted to leave. Again, he insisted I stay, asking me to send word to my intended host and cancel this evening for an emergency. At this I frowned. Why the persistence? Did he know who I planned to meet?

The face of le Vicomte distorted in a terrifying grimace and demanded I obey. Instantly he stood up, dashed the snifter into the fireplace and pointed to the stationary on a nearby table. Shouting at the top of his lungs, he ordered me to write a note to my host and break tonight’s engagement.

In truth, I stood dumbfounded and taken aback by the outburst. Had he been following me and eavesdropping on my conversation with Erik? The Persian had to know if he did. Wouldn’t he have told me? Surely, neither le Vicomte nor any of his men could be as stealthy as the Opera Ghost!

“Please monsieur le Vicomte. You are very kind and generous to say the least. I shall return and tell you whatever you wish to know, but tonight I must keep my engagement.” I bowed and attempted to leave, but an angry host grabbed my arm and spun me around.

This took me by surprise as well and instinctively I jerked from his grasp and bellowed, “I won’t be treated like a common criminal. There is no need to manhandle me. I am well within my rights to keep my next appointment.”

“Who did you plan to meet, your wife? Would you dine at a fine restaurant and then take a moonlit ride along le Seine? Or perhaps le Bois de Boulogne?” Suddenly, my gracious host disappeared leaving a madman in his place.

You might think his actions frightened me, but they didn’t. I grew quite angry and raised my voice. “Surely you rule this land, but I am a guest, not a loyal subject. Your actions perturb me and I demand to know why you insist I stay and dine? What in the devil has gotten into you?”

Actually, leVicomte and I stood eye to eye, but being so rotund I certainly out weighed him. Should worse come to worse, I could have thrown him down and sat on him to teach him a lesson!

An argument ensued and the insulted royal called for his guards. Seeing my blustery tone of voice and brave resistance would accomplish nothing I agreed to write the note; especially when two very tall, strong looking young men answered the call of their master.

Knowing a courier could leave a note for Erik with one of the managers, I quickly penned the words:

Must cancel tonight’s engagement; family emergency. Please forgive me.

Your obedient servant,

Gaston Leroux

Satisfied with the note, my vindictive host carefully folded it and tucked it into an envelope. Then I addressed it to Caesare Casanova. Out of habit, he sealed it with a wax baring the de Chagny crest, as I’d hoped he would.

I asked him to have it handed to one of the managers. For a moment he glared in obfuscation and asked who Caesare Casanova was. To this I merely said a new friend at le Garnier who had helped me garner information for my book. The lie sounded convincing, so he handed it to one of the guards and asked him to have it delivered to one of the managers at the Opera House. The man bowed and left with the other guard.

“How did you meet this Caesare Casanova? I don’t believe I know him.” Le Vicomte returned to his seat and rang for his manservant to bring him another snifter.

Knowing he’d question me, I thought up a lie quickly and told him Caesare had been acquainted with La Carlotta and that he came in now and again as a consultant for ballets having an Italian or Spanish theme. Again, the lie seemed to satisfy him and he resumed his babble about losing the only woman he’d ever love to a deformed freak of nature.

I held my tongue, but for how much longer, I couldn’t say. Truly I felt like hitting my host with the decanter and running like anything. Of course I didn’t. How coarse of me to be so crude and having such violent thoughts! One would think Erik’s philosophy of life had rubbed off on me; such as permanently removing whoever got in your way. My apologies.

Calmly, I took my seat and asked why he insisted I break my engagement.

“I assume you plan to meet with ‘him’ and I won’t have it. You have your answers. Write your confounded book and be done with it. Your pity for the creature sickens me,” he sat back as the words drifted casually from his lips. At the moment, he didn’t appear angry or upset, just in control. “Surely you will meet him again. I cannot stop that, but I can control tonight’s rendezvous. I can and I have.”

Not sure what to say, I just sat and stared at him. He had to know something. But how? Who told him?

Resigned to my fate, I related Erik’s story of why the gypsy leader cursed him and what power the curse had. He seemed quite intent and hardly spoke a word during my story. At the mere mention of the Flying Dutchman, his face paled and his widened. Certainly it appeared the ghost ship meant more to him than sea lore.

After an hour or so of this, a rustle and scrounging sounded from the fireplace. My host’s face twisted in anguish and he bit his lip to keep from screaming. The fireplace swung open and out popped my masked friend. Dressed in his trademark black opera attire with flowing cape and dark fedora, Erik once again stood in all his heart-stopping majesty. The occasional glint of tiny embers flashed from the dark hollows of the death’s head. Le Vicomte gasped and dropped his snifter. Then he leapt to his feet and drew his sword. Instinctively, I jumped up and move to intervene, but Erik asked me to stay clear.

“Ah, the boy still has spunk! After all these years, you still want to kill me. Come Vicomte. Send me to my death,” Erik stood with open arms, making no attempt to shield himself. This surprised my host and for a moment he just glared at his rival with drawn sword. I assumed he hesitated when he saw the man made no move to retaliate or defend himself.

Certainly I didn’t want to see bloodshed, especially within a family, so I stepped in front of Erik and demanded le Vicomte put away his weapon. Surprisingly, Erik gently pushed me aside and assured me he could handle the situation.

“Come Vicomte, kill the monster. Put me out of my misery. You should have killed me before you left with Christine.” At the sound of her name, le Vicomte went totally mad, turned beet red and charged the Opera Ghost with his sword. As the blade rammed into the carcass of the living corpse, I gasped and my host paused; waiting for the blood to spill and the body to crumble.

Erik neither faltered nor said a word. For a moment, the two brothers glared at each other; one waiting for the other to fall. Normally, no man could live after taking the full thrust of such a blade, but as warned, Erik could not and did not die.

Le Vicomte released the sword and backed up quickly, muttering something about demons can’t die. Madness overcame him, and the poor man burst into hideous, maniacal laughter. Calmly, Erik grabbed the blade with both hands and pulled it out from his chest. I couldn’t see a drop of blood and found no evidence of a wound, save a slit in the fabric of clothing.

At this, I backed away as well. Had I conversed with a demon the other day? Was Erik indeed a devil and not a man? Or perhaps trying to kill what was dead already displayed the true madness. The explanation of a curse like unto that of the Flying Dutchman returned to memory. Up until now, I dismissed such tales as the superstitious prattling of gossiping old women and children trying to scare each other.

The sword fell to the floor with a clatter. My host continued to laugh uncontrollably as the madness set in and I stood with a new wash of panic and terror filling my very being.

The death’s head turned to me and said, “Now you believe in the curse, don’t you Gaston? Please, examine the sword. Cold steel cannot send me to the grave. I am truly a dead man walking.”

Petrified, I could only stare in horror and confusion. My hands shook and so did my legs until I had to sit down in the nearest chair.

By now the manservant entered and drew back in fear of the darkly clad Opera Ghost and his insane employer. After ticking a look around the room, he turned and ran screaming bloody murder.

At last, taking the sword he handed me, I examined it carefully. Such a hefty blade would have easily cut a man asunder. Yet, Erik stood before me unscathed.

Without warning, my insane host, ran to me, collected the sword and went at the Opera Ghost once again. Without emotion or words, he just stood there as le Vicomte hacked away violently and then finally ran him through again. Any minute I waited to see blood spurt everywhere and the skeletal figure fall to a thousand ghastly pieces.

“Die you fiend! DIE! DIE! DIE!” He thrust his sword into Erik’s torso repeatedly. “Why won’t you DIE?”

In abject horror I sat with a morbid fixation at the sight of le Vicomte de Chagny shouting like a madman while repeatedly stabbing the Opera Ghost with his sword.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:34 am

Here is the final chapter. Don't forget, there is a sequel.

Presenting Chapter 11. Please R&R. Enjoy!

*******************

CHAPTER 11

LOVE TRANSCENDS ALL TIME


We stood in the sitting room of le Château de Chagny, as le Vicomte made one final thrust of his sword into Erik’s torso. What else could I do but watch in horror?

At this, the two glared at each other, le Vicomte holding fast to the sword hysterically shouting, “…die you fiend, why won’t you die?” still vibrated in the air.

Finally, my host pulled out the sword without word. A twisted grimace distorted his flushed face. Never in my entire life had I witnessed such intense hatred. Brother against brother like in the Bible. Could this even be compared with Cain and Abel?

Glancing at the blade, I still saw no evidence it had pierced anything flesh and blood. Again I stood dumbfounded. What could I say or do? Erik really could not die. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it. What really shocked me more, the deep hatred one brother had for the other or the fact that cold steel could not kill my new friend? Without a doubt, I would never write a word of this. How could I? No one would believe me.

At last Erik move away from the still open fireplace, so it could swing back into place. Without a word, he made haste to le Vicomte and ripped the sword from his hand.

“The boy still thinks he’s in the navy. I am a rather good target to use in practice, however, you have me at a disadvantage. As you can see, I am unarmed,” came the sarcastic remark from the Opera Ghost. “Surely you know one cannot kill what’s already dead.”

Upon hearing such a chilling statement, my host broke into a fit of insane laughter, only this time, his mind truly snapped. Backing up to the overstuffed chair, he sat in uncontrollable laughter babbling something about sharpening his sword on cold, stiff bones. Erik shook his head and moved to the coffee table where the liquor sat. One by one he picked up the decanters of fermented nectar and examined them. When he found one to his liking, he poured a little into a glass, sniffed it and then tasted it; again having to lift the mask up a bit to tip his head all the way back to pour it into his mouth.

“Excellent vintage! Gaston, one for the road as they say?” He poured a little into a glass and offered it to me. Graciously, I accepted and thanked him. All the while, le Vicomte alternated the maniacal laughter to incoherent babbling. We could do nothing for him.

We left by way of the hidden passage behind the fireplace, just as the manservant returned with guards and the family doctor. Their voices carried as the fireplace moved back into place.

Certainly Paris had many buildings with subterranean passages leading to the surface, but I had no idea le Château de Chagny was one of them. Quietly we wound around for some twenty minutes or so until we came to an exit which swung open on its pivot once Erik engaged the counterweight.

My head spun and I doubted my own eyes. The terrible thing about all I’d experienced, I couldn’t write a word of it. Not only would no one believe me, but the secret of the de Chagny family had to stay hidden. Should I say, skeletons had to remain in the closet; especially the one I now accompanied to Christine’s.

Erik must have known my thoughts as he again reminded me of the importance in keeping secret his relationship to the royal and noble family of de Chagny. Of course I agreed and assured him I would neither tell a soul nor write a word of it. He appeared satisfied with my answer as the cab rolled along to le château de Vicomtesse.

Understanding their relationship, probably allowed him knowledge of the hidden subterranean passages, but how did he know le Vicomte would detain me? So, I asked my questions.

“Forgive my brother for using you to flush me out. We haven’t seen each other in decades,” Erik replied calmly. From this I understood. As a detective would say, I was setup. Le Vicomte played on my journalist mind to hunt down all the clues to finding Erik, who would eventually surface. Yes, I became the pawn.

In the dimness of a passing street lamp, I stared at his clothing, now a bit tattered and slit open. I fussed over this and let him know how appalled I was at such a poor display of temper. However, Erik assured me madness, insecurity, and hatred motivated Raoul de Chagny, not an ill temper. For this I shuddered. Such madness before my eyes! Poor wretch! What would become of him? They will put him away for sure. Such a pity!

Since the Opera Ghost no longer lived in the same house by the lake, he still dwelt beneath le Garnier. Another hidden, connecting passage led to where the remains of a prison existed. This had been used during the Franco-Prussian War to detain prisoners. There, my ghastly friend now lived. No one ever wandered into this area. Too many souls inhabited this section. Erik liked the prison and desolate feel of the place. It allowed him the solitude every spectre needed. Upon hearing this, I wondered if he and Christine would marry and live beneath the opera house or her fine castle.

By the time we reached our destination, the hour for the evening meal had approached. As agreed, I met with Christine first. She greeted me with a smile and expressed her pleasure in seeing me again. Then I told her I had brought someone with me; someone from her past. At first, a puzzled look crossed her handsome face. But when Erik entered the parlour she nearly fainted. A quiet gasp escaped her lips and I had to catch her, lest she keel over and hit the floor.

“Erik? Erik, is it really you?” Finally she spoke with a quavering voice after staring at the darkly clad figure for some moments.

“Yes, Christine, it is I.” At this, she broke down and wept. When I released her, she knelt at his feet and begged forgiveness through her tears. Whether Erik anticipated this or not, I couldn’t tell. In silence, he stood stoic like one of the inanimate statues Christine had strewn about the gardens.

When he did move, he bent down and touched her shoulders and like a dark, fallen deity, forgave her and bade her rise. In tears, the Vicomtesse rose to her feet, as I helped to steady her.

“All these years I should have come to you, my Angel. I should have told you I could no longer remain with a man I never loved. But I couldn’t. After all I’d put you through, how could I expect you to love me like nothing had happened?” Tears stained her alabaster-white face.

“Oh, but I have. No matter what you do to me, I have and always will love you, my beloved. I will love you beyond eternity!” Such a touching and profound statement brought even me to tears. From intense hate, I now witnessed unconditional, eternal love. The kind of love women dream of and men wish for. For what seemed forever, the two wept while holding each other close. And so this I added to my book, where their tears mingled. However, the kiss did not come to his forehead as in the novel, but rather on his fleshless mouth. Without warning, Christine threw her arms around his neck, pushed up his mask a little and placed her lips on the bony mouth of the animated skull. Had I not been so moved to tears, I would have truly been repulsed. Obviously, she no longer cared what he looked or smelled like. In fact, I had grown used to the stench of medicine and illness; or death if you will.

As long as I live I shall never forget this reunion. Never had I seen or felt such undying love and devotion emanating from two people. Christine admitted her childish fears of loving a man so extremely different from everyone else. Marriage to Raoul had been the easy way out. With him she had a title, money and the worship of society, at least part of it. When the other portion treated her like dirt because she had earned a living as a singer, she realized the horrible mistake. Love, true, undying, unconditional love didn’t care about your past or family history. It didn’t care whether you dressed in fine silks and satins or just plain calico, true love caressed and engulfed you just the same.

Whether five cellars beneath the Opera House or in a fine castle Erik would be with her to love and protect come hell or high waters, to coin a cliché. Unto this day we never mentioned Raoul’s madness, unless Erik deemed wise to do so later. It didn’t matter any more. After all these years, Erik and Christine would now be together.

I did dine with them and we talked for some time. Of course, they invited me to return and visit, but I’m sorry to say, after this night, I never saw either one of them again. Not by choice, rather by fate.

With such a grand tale to tell, I buried myself in writing and had my pièce de resistance fait complet en 1910 ( my masterpiece was completed in 1910). In that year came the first publication in France and later in 1911 in the United States. At first, no one received my book in the way I had wanted. Then I met Carl Laemmle, the American filmmaker, who began to make my dream come true. To coin another cliché, the rest is history.

And so, I leave this tale, buried away in my journal. Erik had many gifts, whether magician, architect, composer, or singer, he granted me my greatest wish as he had Meg Giry and untold others. He gave me a very unique, heart rending story, one I will be known for long after my passing. For who cannot help but recall the story of a disfigured genius, hidden away in the depths of the Paris Opera House, obsessively in love with a beautiful, young singer. Inspired by her voice, he mentored her into becoming one the greatest divas of all France. Despite his dark past and intense feelings, he set her free to go away with a man he despised. Why? Because he loved and wanted her to have what he felt he could not give. At the time, neither he nor the girl realized they only needed each other.

No matter how great the actor, Lon Chaney could never portray the true essence of man who lived as a twice cursed of God, doomed to wander the earth in eternal torment with the look of death itself.

When I left him and Christine together that night, I’d like to believe that perhaps by the grace of a loving and merciful God, sweet peace would come to Erik, the infamous Opera Ghost, and better known to all as the Phantom of the Opera.
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Sat Jan 10, 2009 11:07 am

Hello out there! Any comments on the final chapter? This story is done. Do you want the sequel? Shocked
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PostSubject: Re: DISCOVERING A LEGEND   Today at 5:22 pm

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