Chapter one

Smoke swirled in thick silvery pools around the stone banks of his lair as the misty lake chilled even further the icy cavern which he was forced to call home. Long fingers moved caressingly over the ivory keys as they stroked out a deep haunting melody in a slow pained legato. The soft notes sounded of many things—passion, lust intrigue… yet most of all was his own agony… Yes, his agony that was apparent in every fiber of his being. Agony that pierced him with moonlit silver eyes that seemed to sharpen to daggers in the candlelight and turn as hard as stone with the moon. His

Reaching with one finger into his mouth he roughly bit the tip letting out a note of the agony in a slow kind of hum that sang with a sort of morbid fascination at the feeling of pain. He sucked in a breath of air as he gazed hard at the drop of blood that welled there. Laying his finger over the candle letting its soft light be burned out by the droplets of the wound. He smirked rather grimly at the blood that trickled now just lightly over the dead wick and sucked the rest dry. His dark musings were fueled by the taste and he laughed darkly as the pain subsided into a dull burn.

Music began to flow like water from his hands more so as the pressure caused the pain to increase. The whole world around him was now a haze of pale color as his muse sang of all the darkness inside him. There was little to do but to weep into his music to let it all out into the masterpiece he had created out of his pain. The music sobbed for him wept with all the morbid fascinations and dreams that had been born from so many years of solitude. Every last dark melody, all the ringing bells of his night kingdom which he heard every night for the past twenty years. They came together in one sadistic symphony.

The writer of this master work was so deeply locked within the confines of his genius that the slightest sound that wouldst disturb him would cause his fingers to crash down with a vengeance worthy of the Storm God himself. This was the very thing that happened when the hollow wail of a real sob echoed throughout his cavern. He slammed his fingers down on the keys from which broke forth from the high register an eerie sound as offensive and off-key as a screech owl in the dead of night. The composer glared at the sky at first in a haze of rage but as he listened he became aware that the moaning sob was not his own but more importantly that ofa... child weeping for someone or something. He rubbed at his temples irritated, this child interrupted his music.

He hated it when people broke his concentration and even more so when the culprit was a sniveling brat. He got up and grabbed the nearest weapon he could find, his lasso, beginning to creep about the hollow stone hallways in hopes of finding the disturbance and ending its miserable existence entirely! The soft hiss of a curse escaped his normally eloquent lips as he failed time and again at finding the little culprit. He sat down again at his piano and touched the smooth ivory coolness of its hand-crafted keys for the sheer point of keeping his mind in check.

The child's sobbing was really starting to become a tiresome sound and rather taxing on his nerves. He looked about himself again this time using his wolf's eyes to pierce through the darkness with almost inhuman precision. All right— so this child was not in his lair at all and it was merely the fine acoustics of his underground halls amplifying this pestering sound. Still for some reason whose purpose was beyond him he was finding himself curious to find the source of this rather petulant noise. So with that cat-like grace with which he had been known for, he rose to his feet and skulked his way up the path.

As he made his way up the path he found to no surprise, there was in fact, a child there weeping. A pretty chocolate-haired amber-eyed girl. He watched her for a moment his eyes drinking in the sight of this newcomer, this new subject in his artistic domain. She appeared to be a young woman of sorts no elder than the blossom of sixteen, at first glance he thought that there was nothing particularly enchanting about the child, mostly she possessed just a plain sort of childish prettiness which clung to her features. She was no Aphrodite to be sure hardly worthy of beauty, but then she opened her mouth and a soft bell rang forth from the pale bloodless things that were her all too thin lips.

It was that sound that caused him to jump back, the pitch of her voice was something close to angelic and made his eyes smart with a pain he had long since banished. The pain of tears. He wiped them bitterly and silently cursed whatever manner of being it was which she sang for. For it was clear to him that whomever or whatever it was she sang for did not seem to care a damn for her voice. This girl could have had the gift of an angelic voice capable of astonishing the world and yet she had neglected it! What blasphemy! She was singing the final main aria from Hannibal as the beautiful Elissa held her dying love.

"Rome will be far worse now than e'er before,

My love is breathing his last breath and my heart is no more."

He stepped back as he heard her weeping-- the child was quiet an actress to be sure. He saw an the door creek open and the old Henriette Giry came bustling in much to his annoyance and said it was time for her to meet the other girls of the corps d' ballet. His eyes hardened as he watched the old woman gently urge her off towards the dormitories where she would share a room with another ballet rat. This child was clearly not a dancer!

He sighed and rubbed at his temples as he slowly crept back to his lair. There in the peaceful solitude of his lonely darkness was what he always knew would heal him. His music. For some reason or another he could not find the strength to compose he was still left in shock from his reaction to the girl. The music just would not come. He wrote a letter excusing the new girl from rehearsals and smiled. He would find out more about her one way or another...

Over the next three days he would wait for her after her no doubt disastrous rehearsals. He would make sure to cloak himself in the blankets of shadows in any corner he could so that he could see her but she could not do the same. Each day he would seethe at the sight of her, huffing and puffing as she rubbed her burning limbs. Heard the other talent less twits of the dancer's core telling her that she was as graceful as a stork on hot coals. One particularly fat girl Bethie as she was called was bullying her so badly that Madame Giry gave her a wrap on the ankle so hard her eyes pooled with spoiled tears.

That made him quirk his lips upward in a low growling chuckle. One that he had to stifle lest anyone hear him. It was not until the third day however that he heard her weeping. He came this time and saw that the little Megara Giry was kneeling beside her and soothingly rubbing her back as she murmured to the little girl softly. He watched her weep and then he heard the child say something, "Christine it will be all right." So that was her name...

Christine... He knew that at least and that was a start. Perhaps it was time for him to visit an old acquaintance.... One other who knew all about the opera and all its occupancy.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The weather on this dreary January evening was poorly rubbed to say the least as heavy droplets of rain splattered relentlessly on the roofs of every Parisian home. Nadir Khan was situated comfortably in his foyer lying on his dividend of Persian saddle bags. He sighed and breathed a puff of smoke from a rather ugly cigar tucked into the corner of his right cheek, breathing in the sweet smelling smoke. He grunted mightily when he inhaled too much and made his poor chest heave in pain from the oncoming cough. Sitting up he reached for his cup of Russian tea with lemon and sipped the bitter liquid letting the lemony foam curl the hairs of his goatee and mustache. He sighed again and blew another puff of smoke from his cigar.

Yawing in a rather loud and impolite fashion, the Persian decided that tonight was the perfect night for some shrimp soup and a romantic book, but was feeling too lazy to get up. Instead he grabbed a copy of Macbeth that was lying around and a few leftover butter cookies from that mornings tea and began to nibble on them. He was half way through the first cookie and twelve pages into the book when the front door of his home sprang open with a rather loud crack. The dark-skinned man uttered a cry of surprise and dismay as a rather tall figure in a burgundy cloak that covered him from head to foot stalked into the room. Before he could tell the visitor to go away whomever it was reached up with one long fluid motion and threw the hood back.

"My Allah!" the words flew from his mouth before he could stop them and the visitor gave a long dark chuckle.

"You flatter me Kahn." said he with a quirk of his lips and moved forward to take a seat in the high-backed armchair that was closest to the fireplace.

"What are..." he began.

"Please spare me the pleasantries." the other snapped boredom glistening in his icy gaze.

"What do you want?" he finally asked.

"What do you know of Mme. Giry's new ward, Christine?" said he as though they were discussing the weather.

Nadir was shocked by this strange question, and opened his mouth to answer, only to find that no sound came out. Finding his voice, he answered, "She is the daughter of a violinist, who I am sure you have heard of. Gaston Daae?" He eyed the other suspiciously. "Why?"But the man said no more and suddenly vanished, leaving as quickly as he had come.

Nadir chewed the remains of his cigar, stunned and thinking.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So she is the daughter of Gaston Daaë is she? That explained her aptitude at music. He massaged his temple and went to the girl where she usually was and crying like always crying for her father's angel. He sighed and then called softly finding for some reason the child's tears to be unbearable : "Christine," she looked up and began to cry harder. "Do not cry child... I am here to give you music. Perfect and flawless music to astonish the world."

He saw her smile and that was that. He would be her angel. Perhaps it would help them both out in the long run. Besides, he mused, It was the least he could do...