When she woke up, Mona found herself in complete darkness. Her head felt very heavy and there was something prickling at her face. Something between a tickle and a rash. She moved her head to the right, but the sensation did not fade. Instead, it got worse. There was a squeaking sound coming from somewhere nearby. A jumble of hands and her cape flied off and landed on the moth-eaten carpet. It took some time for her eyes to focus due to the adamant pounding she felt in her head. She found the feeling eerily similar to how she felt after the night when Amelie and Isabelle smuggled some liqueur into the dormitory.

Froderick was hanging upside down in his bat cage, swinging lazily back and forth. "Mona, you're up! I was worried for you."

"What are you doing in there?"

"Short&Stupid locked me and I think the door's jammed."

Mona rose from her bed, walked with wobbly steps towards the cage and pried the door open. Her companion flew out and hugged her neck.

"There, there, it's alright" smiled Mona and patted him gently with two fingers. "Where's Shrowdy?"

"No idea. He left right after the smackdown and I haven't seen him since."

An all-familiar feeling of disappointment stung somewhere inside Mona. She had tried countless times to escape, but this was the first time she had actually come close to succeeding. Bottled messages were eaten by Inky and the outings that Shrowdy had promised her were very likely to never come into fruition. But she couldn't give up. That was simply not an option. Giving up meant resigning oneself to spending the rest of her life evading Shrowdy and his tragic attempts at courtship. Having this in mind, Mona took a deep breath.

"Let's go find him. We need a rematch!"

"I've been thinking about that and boy, have I got a fine selection of sadistic plans for you, miss!"

"Oh Froderick, you truly know the way to a girl's heart."

They went down into the tower hallway. The air was dusty and had an unpleasant tinge to it. A warm, gentle light was coming from the trophy room. After exchanging an apprehensive look with her friend, Mona poked her head through the doorway. The trophy room was no more. Instead, the chamber had been turned into a theatre. There were rows upon rows of seats, all laquered wood and rich plush cushions; some hunting trophies were still lining up the stone walls, but in the new decor they looked more like stage props. And right there, in the back on the room was a candle-lit stage framed by heavy green velvet drapes with golden tassels. A large, rather sinister plaque above the stage read: "The Mona de Lafitte Memorial Theatre - Established in 1892."

"Memorial? I am not dead!" seethed Mona.

"I am rather impressed" wheezed Froderick as he was flying around the room.

"If he thinks that something like this will make me feel less miserable of living here and being around him, he is out of his mind! I should tie him to the plaque and burn this entire thing down. That should get the message across!"

"It mind not be too bad. The theatre, I mean. You do need practice to keep your voice in shape, right? And what better place to do it than a stage?"

Mona had to agree. The stage had always attracted her and she had missed it sorely during the time as a captive of Count Forever Alone. And one day, of that she was certain, one day she would escape and make her way to her beloved Paris and to that beautiful, breathtaking stage at the Opera and people would cheer for her and weep at her singing and throw roses at her feet. And she would be happy. And with that in mind, she got up the stage, closed her eyes and began to sing.

~*~ The End ~*~