The Phantom was truly something.
Aside from being a spectre which was said to haunt the opera house, which was something enough, he had managed to worm his way into every conversation, every word that dripped out of anyone's lips. He was spoken about in hushed whispers, as if he could be listening from the very walls of the Opera house. They found a way to blame anything on the Phantom. A powder puff went missing? A dress was torn? A rope was moved two inches to the left? That blasted ghost was held accountable.
So now, after hearing a group of women gossip about how one of the stagehand's 'suicide' was a murder, and the phantom was responsible, Raoul regretted sitting in box 5.
He could feel the cold, chilly gaze on the back of his neck, growing hotter every minute. He had shivered, but stomached his urge to sit up and shuffle out of the box. Instead, the man slumped forward, balancing his chin on his closed fist. He tried to listen to the 'buh-dum-buh-dum-buh-duh-da-da' of the music and watch the ballerinas twist and twirl and contort in front of a crudely painted background. Grotesque and amazing. Thought Raoul couldn't complain, they put the stage and actors together so well, it was amusingly entertaining.
Raoul found his vision straying from the stage and into the crowd and other boxes. There was a sea of red, pink, tan, black, white people staring in wonder at the ballerinas, the piano and violins captivating them. A glass and candle chandelier was fixated on the domed, painted ceiling. Rows and rows of seat, with hundreds of occupants, all with their eyes on the dollhouse-like stage. In the orchestra pit, sharply dressed musicians moved their instruments with brief and intentional strokes, causing heavenly sounds to erupt across the room. Across the room, the managers of the opera both had their eyes fixated upon the stage. Their hands were intertwined, champagne glasses full of sparkling wine in the other.Raoul admitted to himself, he was a bit jealous. They had each other. Being rather wealthy, he seemed to have no one who didn't desire him for his wealth. Most of his companionship were cold and dismal, with talks of business and not friendship.
Then the rush of cold air against his pale skin, now covered in gooseflesh, returned. It jerked his mind away from his thoughts, unintelligible fear replacing logic. All he desired now was to run, to put as much space between him in the Opera House. He was so terrified.
And yet he stood his ground.
He would not be moved by a ghost, a silly fairy tale, Raoul told himself strictly. He turned around in his seat and comforted himself with the fact that no one was there. Behind him, only red curtains and a dusty mirror. He turned back around, just in time for Meg Giry to perform a stunning leap across the stage. He forced his tense shoulders to relax. He could only be imaging-
Two cold hands settled down on his shoulders.
Raoul's mouth fell open a bit, but he kept his eyes on the stage. He was too petrified in fear to move, it froze him where he stood. He felt a cool, gloved hand stroke his right cheek, brushing some of the long hair out of the way. Raoul gripped the armrest of his seat until his knuckles were white.
"What a beautiful young man. Pity." He heard a male voice coo, so rough and quiet, Raoul suspected that the man hadn't spoken loudly in a while, "Did I not tell the managers this box should be left empty for my use?"
Raoul's blood went cold in his veins, his breath caught in his throat. The phantom, he's right here in this box with me. His breathing became uneven. Raoul was silent. He felt the hand caressing his face slap his cheek. He bit his lip.
"Did I not?" The opera ghost asked once again, his voice just as quiet and raspy.
"Y-You did." Raoul said in a hushed voice.
"Exactly, yes. So explain why you are up here."
"There were no other seats available." Raoul tried to keep his voice quiet and steady, "And I looked forward to seeing this opera."
Another had maneuvered its way around Raouk's cravat, and around his neck, applying light pressure. Raoul gulped, his voice wavering.
"Why were you so keen on witnessing this opera?"
"My...er...female c-colleague is performing tonight."
"Mm...Christine Daaé, I suppose. I can see your eyes light up when she is on stage. She is a charming young girl, full of life and innocence," The ghost mused, his hand stroking Raoul's cheek, "And an excellent voice, strong, flexible."
"I shall leave," Raoul said, pausing as a drum let out a deafening cry, "If it be your wish. You, too, seem keen on seeing Miss Daaé. I shall leave the theatre early, insist my head was paining me."
"To leave would hurt Miss Daaé's heart so. And if you said your head was troubling you, she'd mask her pain. It would make no matter. Besides, I look forward to having a chat with you after the show, preferably at 30 minutes after 9. I own this opera house, Mr. de Chagny, and you are it's main patron, we have...business matters to discuss. You stay."
The phantom gripped Raoul's shoulders tightly and, suddenly, Raoul was more terrified of leaving and disobeying the opera ghost than of staying for this 'chat'.
"So be it."
Once the last of the crowd drained out of building, a loud cacophony of whoops and shouts and praises arose from the people on and behind the stage. Their voices, full of pride, traveled around the vaulted room. They praised each other on a job well done.
Raoul fought his way past the torrent of people, and to Christine's dressing room. He offered quick praises to her once he entered the room, as the now familiar sensation of the phantom watching him was stronger than ever. He pecked her on both of her rosy, full cheeks and gave her a bundle of fresh, plump roses. They shared memories of their past, so many years ago. Of stories, of red scarves, and chocolates, and violins, and stories of goblins, and frocks, and sea foam.
"Thank you, Raoul. They're lovely." His old friend smiled, the corners of her pink lips turning upwards.
"You were stunning, Christine."
"Thank you, once more."
"Now I really must excuse myself, Christine, I have...er...important business to attend to." He said briskly, avoiding eye contact with the young soprano. Instead, he admired the many flowers on display in Christine's dressing room. It seemed he was not her only admirer.
"Oh...of course Raoul." Her smiled remained the same, but a little bit of the light in her eyes dimmed. Raoul felt horrible for robbing such a sweet girl of her joy, but the feeling of the phantom's stare was burning the back of his neck now. He dug his hand into his pocket and retrieved his pocket watch that dangled from a golden chain. 9:43.
He apologized and kissed both of Christine's cheeks once more, which restored some of her previous light back to them, then escaped back to the throng of people.
Sorry, this is shorter than the previous chapter. My schedule is pretty screwed up so my chapter lengths and updating schedule will be inconsistent. I apologize
And excuse spelling errors, my proofreading is not the best
The theatre had been erected countless years before. In fact, it had been in the city, there, for so long, it just seemed a part of the city now. A sapling that had been planted in a garden and had grown along instantly, baring plentiful fruit. It was a beautiful, strong tree. But, as of late, a rather threatening bird, shrouded in black plumage had rested upon it's thick, winding branches. And Raoul was currently a small mouse darting amongst the tree's finger-like roots, when, suddenly, the bird swooped in and scooped Raoul up in its long talons. And carried its new prey, the poor mouse, off.
Raoul sat in box five, sitting in one of the back chairs. There were a few stagehands lingering around the isles but, for the most part, everyone else had either left or retired to their beds inside the theatre. Raoul had assumed the phantom would wish to meet in box five again since he hadn't specified where their meeting was to take place. But, the phantom moved so briskly around the theatre, Raoul assumed it didn't really matter. Surely the phantom could get around anywhere, couldn't he?
It was a few minutes after 10 and the young man feared the phantom's anger at his delay to arrive. Perhaps the phantom just got up and left, furious that Raoul didn't show up. But, just as he let his back sink down into the velvet, red seat, he felt that hot yet indescribably cold gaze on his neck. The hairs upon his arms stood on edge.
"You're late." The raspy yet familiar voice grumbled.
"For your information, Mr. Phantom, it's not easy to avoid been seen and not questioned when there are so many people around. If I was caught entering box five, what would I say? I was having a meeting with the infamous opera ghost. Certainly not!"
Raoul heard the opera ghost chuckle quietly. He swore he also heard him murmur 'that would be amusing, wouldn't it?'
"But, enough nonsense," Came the phantom's odd voice. A melodramatic ooze of both luscious, deep baritone and a dry, snake-like rasp, "Let's get down to business, shall we?"
Raoul felt the phantom grab the back of his chair and yank it around to face him. Raoul lurched forward, nearly falling out of the chair. For the first time, Raoul got a decent look at the phantom.
The spectre was hunched over in his black cloak and suit, making him almost unnoticeable in the dark box except for his mask, which glowed a ghostly white. It covered most of his face, only his mouth and chin visible. Two holes in the mask made the phantom's golden eyes visible. Plain, white gloves covered his long, slender fingers. A blood red tie was wrapped around his neck and his black hair was slicked back against his nape. Aside from the unorthodox mask and the mystery surrounding his identity, he could've been a dashing gentleman.
These attributes caused blush to dust upon Raoul's fair cheeks. Raoul had, for some peculiar reason, had always preferred a male lover, a beau, over a female one. It was what had separated him and his brother at such a young age. As teenagers, the two brothers always seemed to be drowning in a sea of maidens, running towards them with their affectionate gestures. However, only Raoul's brother gave them the attention they so desired. They quickly avoided Raoul in favor of Philippe. It didn't bother Raoul, he preferred to admire the young, wealthy counts who attended his family's dinner parties.
The way the mask seemed to perfectly model high cheekbones and a nose must have taken a grand bit of skill and time to produce. Raoul assumed the phantom made the mask himself and secretly praised the phantom on his handiwork to himself. Rapid couldn't stop the blush that was now high on his cheekbones, and feverishly hot.
"Mr. de Chagny, the managers, as you may know, are deliberately disobeying my commands to leave box five empty and pay my salary." The phantom said, his mask bobbing up and down hypnotically as he spoke, "In order to make up for this, I implore you to visit me twice a week with 400 francs, and deliver them for me. In return, I will personally give you 1/4 of the proceeds from any performance Miss Daaé performs in."
"400 francs! Eight times a month! Sir, I don't even know where you liv-"
The phantom pulled one of the curtains in the back of the box aside, revealing a small door.
"Open the door and descend until you meet two sets of stairs, take a right if you wish to keep your life. Take the right, and go down until you meet a small rowboat, take it and ride until you see my home. And, trust me, Mr. de Chagny, you will see it." The spectre said threateningly, then he offered his hand to Raoul, "Do you agree to my demands?"
"Do you AGREE to my demands?"
Raoul, terrified of the phantom's serious tone, nodded and shook his hand firmly. The phantom turned to exit.
"Sir? Might I ask, what is your name?" Raoul inquired.
"Yes, I can't keep calling you the opera ghost if you're my business partner, sir." Raoul said, as polite as possible.
"Of course... You may refer to me as the Angel, Mr. de Chagny." The phantom said and, with a dramatic turn of his coat, exited through the door and slammed it shut behind him.
Thanks for the support <3
Comments and kudos are always appreciated
It is said in the scripture that the angel of death patrolled the towns in Egypt, looking for the doors without lamb's blood crudely smeared on them. He would gladly take the lives of those who lived in the houses without lamb's blood on the doors. Earlier that day, hundreds of people had slaughtered lambs, gathering the blood from the poor animal's slit throat just so they would live.
Traveling down the staircase to the phantom's supposed 'home', Raoul felt a lot like the poor lamb, loyally following orders to head to the slaughterhouse. With no idea what lie before him. He held the torch firmly in one hand, the orange-yellow light flickering off the cobblestone walls. His boots hit the floor with a satisfying click! He descended down flight after flight of what seemed like an endless supply of stairs. Though, as the phantom had said, there was soon a crossroads. Two flights of stairs both descending down into unknown darkness. Both identical. He took a sharp right, as he had rehearsed the phantom's warning to take a right in his head over and over, rolling it in his mind like a snowball that got bigger and bigger as more snow piled on it. Take a right if you wish to keep your life.
Raoul took the right staircase, and about five steps in, a swirling mist rose into the staircase, clinging to Raoul's pale skin. He exhaled deeply, finding harder and harder to breathe as he descended to the lowest catacombs of the opera house. The most was so intense, that, soon, Raoul couldn't see past his own hand. Soon, the stairs have way to a flat platform, the previously undisturbed mist swirled up angrily. Raoul continued walking until he felt himself step in something wet. He used his arms to wave away the mist and peered at his foot.
He had stepped into the lake, the warm water of the catacombs lapping at his foot.
If the lake is here, Raoul thought to himself, the boat must be nearby.
So, Raoul stumbled through the darkness, waving his long arms to ward off the mist. He traveled along the edge of the water, careful to avoid getting his feet wet, as the sensation of water soaking into his shoes wasn't pleasant. Finally, he stumbled (quite literally, he tripped right over it) upon the boat. The boat had a lantern attached to his splintering front, so he stuck his torch in the moist gravel of the catacombs and climbed on in. He seated himself in it, the old wood creaking under him, and placed his gloved hands on the oars. At first, he struggled to get it moving but, once it was in deeper waters, it glided along the vast, misty lake. Raoul wondered how the phantom got the boat down here. Too many things about that man had to be a mystery.
Gentle ripples sloshed against the sides of the boat, making it rock from side to side. Raoul's grip on the oars tightened painfully, the slow rocking frightened him a bit, but he pushed on. Eventually, the dark must gave way to hundreds of glittering candles, illuminating the cavern. They burned the mist away, allowing Raoul to see so much of the beautiful cave. He looked up at the ceiling, seeing thousands of crystals sparkling in the stone, little pinpricks of light that resembled stars. The candles wound across the walls of the cave, lighting his path. He turned around a corner to see the phantom's lair.
Candles and crystals lined the walls on one side, on the other was a giant, metal door. Raoul had entered through a small passageway. In the center of this room was a large island, covered in various items like instruments, tables, props, a cabinet, a vanity, a closet, a sofa, three mirrors, and a bed. Raoul stared in astonishment. But, the more he seemed to learn about the mysterious phantom, the more questions it raised.
His boat thudded softly against the island, and Raoul scrambled out, dusting himself off. He walked up to the small vanity and examined a silver, skull mask that looked freshly polished. He smiled and fiddled with the lace around the edges.
Raoul nearly jumped two feet in the air, yanking his hand back from the mask. His head swiveled around to face the phantom, who was reclining back on a velvet sofa, his hair and clothes as flawless as ever. Raoul, shocked, hadn't remembered seeing him there mere moments ago.
"Angel...I...I'm so sorry to intrude-"
The phantom raised a hand to silence him and briskly strode towards him. He opened a drawer in the vanity and pulled out a sleek, navy and gold masquerade mask.
"This would be more your speed." He pushed the mask into his hands, "Keep it. It Compliments your eyes and that pathetic stubble you're trying to pull off."
Raoul wasn't sure whether to be offended or appreciative. He mouthed a brief thank you (he had no idea how else to respond) and slipped the mask into one of his coat pockets. He slipped 4 one hundred franc bills into the opera ghost's hands. The phantom pushed them into a vanity drawer.
"Do you play?" Raoul spoke quietly, gesturing towards the piano.
"Could you teach me? I have to return to my brother's home for a visit soon, he admires the piano so. And he would be incredibly impressed if I showed a talent for it." Raoul said hopefully.
That was a lie, his brother actually despised piano and had never taken up a liking for it. But Raoul's curiosity got the better of him and he couldn't resist the thought of learning more about this strange man. If taking piano lessons from him meant answers, Raoul was ready.
The phantom gave him a slightly confused look, before he reluctantly agreed.
"But keep these lessons secret. I'll be forced to kill you otherwise." That earned a gulp from Raoul, "I can't have you running around, telling everyone about this, then no one will take me seriously again." The phantom groaned.
"Thank you, Angel." Raoul replied with a steady sigh, surprised and relieved the phantom agreed and didn't see past his lie.
But the mysterious twinkle in the phantom's golden eyes was unnerving.
"No, no! Your hands go here!"
The phantom grabbed Raoul's wrists and yanked them to the other side of the piano. Raoul awkwardly scooted to the other side of his stool. His lessons weren't going as planned. All he managed to unearth about the phantom was the fact that he had an unbearably short temper under all the splendour. Raoul was, in short, awful at the piano. The phantom and him had spent weeks leaning over the instrument, with no luck. No progress seemed to be made. Raoul still played as slowly and awkwardly as he had when he began.
Raoul cracked his knuckles and put his hands back on the piano.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
I'm sorry this is so short and late I'm not feeling the greatest atm and I'm losing inspiration. If anyone has any ideas or just wants to talk, please do so in the comments section
Raoul was now incapable of avoiding the phantom.
It's not like he genuinely wanted to stay away from the phantom, instead it was the uncomfortable sensation of always being watched by the opera ghost. It felt unnatural to have one's eyes on you constantly. The burning, yet also cool sensation of the phantom's golden eyes was always present on his neck. Raoul assumed it was loneliness that caused the phantom to prey on him. Raoul did return for lessons and visit the man, but the slivers of time they were together wasn't enough for the phantom. He couldn't imagine how empty the phantom must feel. How the sheer loneliness might kill a person. Had Raoul been that lonely, he might've broken. To be so isolated, so distant from any human life.
Turns out the opera ghost had a....different way of coping with loneliness that Raoul hypothesized.
"Mr. de Chagny, have you heard?" A ballerina by the name of Jammes inquired one day.
"The death of the stageshifter, Joseph Buquet. He was found hanging in the...third cellar...Oh, it is too awful."
The tiny dancer shook, glancing at the walls as if someone was listening in on them, ready to strike, then continued,
"When the managers came to investigate, his body was limp on the ground, but the rope was gone...They ruled it a suicide, but everyone knows who really did it. A stage painter saw a hooded man in a mask stalking in the second cellar with a rope. When asked what he was doing, the man ran. You can ask the stage painter, Montrul, he swears it happened on the word of God. And we all trust in Montrul's faith in the Heavenly Father. And not too long after the other stageshifter, Joseph's friend, Petre, died... Oh, we're all doomed!"
"That's...awful." That was all Raoul could choke out. No, he wasn't close to the stageshifter, in fact he never really learned the man's name until this moment. But the knowledge that the man he'd grown close to over the past few months would do such a thing. Raoul always seemed to think the stories about the phantom were false. Not altogether, but still not entirely truthful.
The small dancer hurried away, going to gossip more of the news out, leaving Raoul in the dark hallway. Raoul shivered and walked off.
The phantom put his hands on Raoul's smaller, more delicate ones and guided them over to the piano keys with a soft , "There."
The same hands that strangled Buquet were softly holding Raoul's to the piano.
"Did you do it?" Raoul blurted, yanking his hands away, "Did you really strangle that poor man in the third story cellar?"
The phantom was quiet, his face unreadable, he replied,
"Yes, I did. And I do not regret. When people's belief in me starts to wane, I must take action. Do not worry, Raoul. You provide me too much...happiness for me to end you."
Raoul stared. As if that was supposed to console him. That did nothing to make him feel better.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
I would like to personally thank @seagullsaredemons for their comments and ideas.
Please excuse my grammatically errors. I will be revealing a part of Erik's backstory today, but with my own personal twist.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Erik's mother prodded his side, shaking the sleeping boy awake.
"Filth, get up."
She grabbed his wrist, yanking him up from his bed. He was the least favorite child of all his siblings. He was a normal boy, he excelled in school to the point where even the teachers envied his skills. The only problem was: he favored his father. He received his father's dark hair, high cheekbones, and talent with music. His resemblance to his father fueled his mother's hatred towards him.
So, she decided to put an end to it.
"Maman, please, you're hurting me-"
"Filth. Disgusting! I shouldve listened to the doctor when I was pregnant. He told me you would cause me to go infertile and that I should abort you with snake oil pills and pennyroyal. But no! I didn't! And your father left because of my infertility! He was a deadbeat, good-for-nothing bastard."
"You are no son of mine."
She dragged him outside, into the garden, into the night, and started a bonfire with dead leaves and a lantern from the kitchen.
"Mama, no, maman, please- Please, no!"
She shoved his face in.
A week later, the carnival came to town. And the ringmaster bought Erik for 40 francs for his freak show.
Two weeks after the death of Buquet, the occupants of the opera populaire were still nervous and on-edge, that, of course, was expected.
But not for Carlotta.
She still woke up at 4:30 to take her cold bath, as she believed cool water made ones voice strong and melodious, as well as open her pores and wake her up for the day ahead. She took the dangerous road to her bathroom all alone (except for her dog, Bartolome, of course). Oh, how stressful it was to be astonishingly beautiful, but she would suffer through it...for her adoring fans.
Bartolome walked by her bathtub, growling and whimpering, restlessly hurrying around the room. It was common for him to be anxious, so Carlotta ignored it.
Until he slipped out the crack in the door.
After the stageshifters does her dog's coat blue once as a prank, she didn't trust Bartolome on his own. So she rolled her eyes and unplugged the bath drain. She not-so-hastily tied her hair up in a towel, dried off, put on a pink bathrobe, slipped on her shoes, and left the room.
Only to find her poor Bartolome on the floor of the hallway, his fluffy fur scattered around his dead corpse. The dog's chest was ripped open, his ribs and lungs exposed. And his eyes were ripped out, his tiny feet still twitching.
Piangi was the first to respond to get scream, mostly because his room was beside her washroom. By 6, everyone was either consoling the diva or asking her question after question. Typically, she enjoyed the attention, but now, she hated it. She just wanted to be alone. She didn't answer many questions.
"It's obviously the phantom..." Muttered a chorus girl.
"We could ask Jammes, I saw her taking pillowcasings to the ballerina dormitory around the time of the murder. She must have gone down that hallway, so she may have seen the ghost in action."
Of course, Jammes claimed she saw the ghost before any of the girls could ask her. She had already been gossiping about it far before.
"Oh, the terror. I saw the phantom walking to the poor mutt. I was too scared to interfere. Thank God he didn't see me."
Thank God indeed
"You killed that poor, innocent little!-"
"You killed that stageshifter and now a dog! In such a gruesome way! The poor thing!"
"No, no! I can't believe it!"
The phantom grabbed his shoulders and shook the boy a bit, Raoul still staring up at the man in anger.
"I didn't do it Raoul, I know I didn't. I wouldn't. There was no reason-"
"Exactly, because you're a mindless killer." Raoul spat, his face red with fury, "That I was a fool to trust."
"I will be leaving. As soon as I gather my things, I shall go. I hope, I truly hope, I will never lay eyes on you again." And the patron left box No. 5 .
Don't worry, it gets worse!