Musical/book based, no 2004 movie. I apologize, but I just can't stand the 2004 movie. It was a bit perverted :/. I prefer Ramin Karimloo, but you can imagine it's Gerrard Butler. Sorry for my critique, but his singing was a bit strange in the movie. He was fine in LND, though. Phantastic actually. Now, without further delay, the prologue! It's a bit long :/
Disclaimer: I do NOT own Phantom of the Opera. ALW, Kay, and M Leroux do. Wish I did :( oh well.
Night of Madness
I waited for Christine and the useless fop- I mean, Raoul to finally leave. I trusted her young suitor, fop he may be, to get her away from here. To forget this madness, this nightmare I had thrust upon their shoulders. It hurt to let Christine go, but it was the one right thing I had done in years. No more lies. No more death. No more Phantom.
The roars of the mob reached a crescendo and I knew if I didn't run, I would be killed. So be it. I deserved it. But, despite my wish for self punishment, my instincts took over.
I snatched my cloak and fedora, knowing it would serve useful should I need to hide amongst the shadows. I left my mask, hoping that it would seem as though the Phantom had disappeared, never to return...or at least to let them know if they sought me they would see the horrors that lie beneath the mask. No doubt those rumors of a glance at my face will cause death would make them hesitant to continue with their mission.
I continued down the dark corridor dimly lit with a few candelabra. The jeers grew louder. I mentally cursed myself for not adding some sort of hideaway, a safe room in case my underground home was ever explored in such a fashion. I was a beast, hunted by man to satisfy their hunger for revenge.
I could feel them, hear them, right behind me. In order to avoid their wrath, I knew could evade the murderous throng doing the one thing the Phantom does best. Disappear.
I pulled on my cloak and melted into the shadows, turning my back to the mob. Out of the corner of my eye I watched the danger pass. Cast members whom I once thought of as decent men stormed through my sanctuary, eyes ablaze in their lust for blood and vengeance.
Were it not for my keen senses, sharpened by years of pain and torture, I would have stepped out of the shadows and quickly been caught. I could sense that the danger was not gone yet and waited patiently for the police to catch up to the raging cast members and stagehands, begging them to please calm down and let them handle it.
After making sure the danger had passed, I stepped out of the shadows. Suddenly a hand gripped my shoulder. I whipped around and my mouth flew open in shock.
Christine's eyes filled with tears as the mob ignored her claims that she was fine and the Phantom was gone.
"Please, gentleman, this is madness! The danger has passed," said Raoul.
"I'll believe it when I see it," snarled Jacques, a stagehand.
"But there is nothing to see!" wailed Christine.
"He killed Joseph Buquet AND M. Piangi as well those crushed under the chandelier and you expect us to sit around?! They must not die in vain," he screamed, a wild look in his eyes.
The petite rats of the corps de ballet nodded and sobbed for emphasis. All but Meg, that is, who was no where to be found.
Christine felt sick. Who were these people? Certainly not the kind co-workers she had grown to know and love. No, what stood before her were crazed men driven by the thought of revenge, past tales of their prey's dark deeds fueling their madness.
Jacques led the crowd below, ignoring Raoul's futile attempts to stop them and Christine's pleas for them to leave the Opera Ghost be.
Thankfully the police, who were supposed to capture the Phantom previously, rushed over. Raoul briefly explained the raging mob and they gave chase.
Christine felt faint. Everything was a blur, but it seemed in slow motion as well. She accepted Raoul's offer to escort her home without really thinking about it. He offered his arm and she accepted it.
The Victomte de Chagny beat back reporters, whose attention had been drawn by the screams and panicking civilians as they filtered out of the Opera House Populaire.
Raoul hailed a brougham and they spent the ride in silence. After paying the driver, he lead Christine to the door of her flat.
"Goodnight, Christine. Please do get some rest," he said.
Christine just stared at the floor.
"Are you okay?"
"Christine, please answer me."
She slowly looked and smiled. "Yes, thank you Raoul. I'm just a little..."
"Shocked?" he offered.
"Me too, but it's over now. Everything will fall into place. Now, get some rest and we can go for a walk tomorrow, how does that sound Little Lotte?" he asked.
Christine smiled at her pet name and nodded. "Of course, but can we please not speak of this for some time? I feel awful leaving him down there on his own."
"Shush, he will be fine, I promise," murmured Raoul. He was tempted to take her in his arms, to comfort her and never let go, but for propriety's sake and Christine's need for rest, he simple kissed her hand and bade her goodnight. He fingered the engagement band on his finger. They could discuss wedding plans at a later date.
Christine fell asleep almost the moment her head hit the pillow.
"Minette?" Erik gasped.
"Shush," hissed Madame Giry, placing a finger to her lips. Erik nodded. He lead her through several twisting tunnels until he was sure the mob and policemen were far behind.
Erik turned to face the ballet teacher and maid of his box, Box Five, in the Opera House above.
"Why are you here? You're just putting yourself in danger," he whispered.
"I'm aware of the situation, Erik, now sit down. Are you hurt at all?"
"I'm fine, but I'm afraid that my nerves are failing me at the moment and I doubt that calming myself is an option," he admitted.
Mme Giry was taken aback. Erik never admitted to any sort of weakness. Not even the slightest discomfort.
Erik laughed at her surprise. "This night is one of madness," he explained. As he spoke, the rumblings of footsteps echoed off the walls along with jeers aimed at the Phantom.
"Speaking of madness," he mused.
"Come, quickly,"whispered Mme Giry.
Erik followed the elder woman clad in black. At least we won't be easily spotted in the darkness, he thought. As the footsteps drew closer he soon realized they would be quickly caught if they didn't hide soon. He pulled Mme Giry into the shadows and motioned for her to be quiet.
After several tense minutes, the footsteps and voices retreated. Mme Giry sighed in relief. Erik felt himself relax and tried to catch his breath.
He stepped out of their hiding place, thankful for the lack of light and plentiful cover the winding tunnels offered. The sound of glass clinking together pulled him out of his thoughts.
"Madame Giry," he hissed. "What are you doing?" He could sense her open her mouth, about to speak, when a sudden cry at the end of the tunnel caused them to jump.
"There he is!"
"He's got Mme Giry!"
"What's the matter, Monsieur l'Fantôme? One damsel ain't enough?"
Erik ignored their jeers. "Minette, get out of here. Make sure that Christine and...Raoul are safe. Please, listen to me."
Before Mme Giry could respond, the crowd had surrounded them, or rather the Phantom. Jacques pulled Mme Giry away.
"Stay back, Madame. You're safe, now," he said, ignoring the elder Giry's horrified stares as the mob taunted their prey.
Erik kept his head down. Even as he was roughly shoved to the ground and kicked. He could at least have the dignity of not facing the horrified looks his malformed face was sure to provoke. It only meant fear and fear lead to hatred. It had been a hard lesson to learn, but one his mother made absolutely clear.
She didn't understand his deformity, therefore she feared it and soon hated it. It was the same story everywhere he went. Such was the case tonight.
"I said LOOK AT US! Face your fate, Opera Ghost," shrieked a tenor whom Erik despised. He resisted the urge to strangle him, to reach for his Punjab lasso which, unfortunately, was not with him. A rough hand forced his head up into the light and he winced as his hideous disfigurement was revealed.
There was a brief silence, quickly broken by a once civil baritone.
"What happened to you, ugly?"
A string of hateful words ensued.
"You should be hanged just like those innocents YOU hung!"
The insults crescendoed and so did the beatings. One lucky aim kicked him full in the stomach. Another connected with his jaw. A punch sent him sprawling, followed by kicks that he would surely feel in the morning, if he survived through this. Someone decided to take out his pocketknife and he was pinned to the ground. His eyes roved the crowd for a face, just one friendly face. He found none. All were clouded by loathing and bloodlust.
Erik made no effort to escape. He deserved this after all he had done, but even so his limits were tested as new form of pain was introduced as his persecutors cut his arms and even a few to his face. The knife was replaced by fists as a rather haggard man assaulted his face.
Then there was the whip. The dreaded, awful, most unforgiving and ruthless of all weapons. The weapon of his past. His tortuous past. Each crack of the whip brought back dreadful memories. Memories of begging, pleading for mercy as those heartless gypsies just laughed and whipped him.
"Monster must have his lashings," they cooed. "The little freak deserves his lashings. Now SCREAM." Then they would proceed to whip harder, never quite killing him or putting him in any danger of it. After all, he was one of the main attractions.
Tears of pain formed in his eyes. The temptation to brush them away in his anger with himself for showing weakness was tempting. However the slightest movement sent him into a world of pain. He felt sticky and the ground he lay on was scarlet with what he soon realized was his own blood.
He was forced to his knees and some rope was used to bound his wrists behind his back.
Erik was having trouble focusing on anything but the pain. The ropes dug into his skin, cutting off his circulation. Another rope was brought forth, but this time he recognized it as his own. His Punjab lasso.
The men made a sport of trying to get the lasso around his neck. Like a common beast, he thought ruefully. He thought of raising his hand to the level of his eyes, but soon banished the thought and resigned to his fate.
Soon the lasso found it's way to his throat and there was a roar of approval. They dragged him under a beam and tossed the rope over a beam. He focused on the pain, trying to block out the mocking from the crowd and Mme Giry's pleas to stop the madness. Tonight truly was a night of madness, for no one in their right mind would dare cross Mme Giry. There were some people that you could tell just by looking that they were not to be crossed. Mme Giry was one of them.
However no one was in their right mind. He felt the rope tighten. Panic flooded his mind and he wished to tear it off. His feet left the ground and he jerked involuntarily. The rope cut into his skin painfully and cut off his oxygen supply immediately.
Erik became faintly aware of the laughter around him. But this was not kind laughter. This was the kind of laughter that clearly said they knew he was in pain and approved of it. The kind he had grown accustomed to. They mocked his helplessness.
"Dance, Opera Ghost, dance," laughed Jacques. The men holding the rope jerked it, causing him to jerk and bounce and the rope to tighten.
Please let it be over soon, he begged silently. He felt desperate for relief. Anything. Any relief! His tongue felt thick in his mouth and poked out a bit. Something salty and wet caused a red haze to cloud his vision, stinging his gaze. His eyes were bleeding!
Curse it, why was his throat fighting for breath? Why could it not just end? Why was he still fighting? Darkness clouded his vision. He was finally going to die!
Erik hit the ground with a painful thud. He rolled over and retched as a dark cloud hovered at the back of his mind. His throat burned, but welcomed the oxygen gratefully.
Erik welcomed the darkness just as enthusiastically and hoped against hope that this was the end of his tragic existence. For once, he would feel at peace. Then, nothing...
Erik slipped in and out of consciousness. Voices spoke. Small tidbits of conversations were heard, but nothing that made sense. He was faintly aware of movement around him. He felt like he was dead, that the only thing that let him know he was still living was the pain. Searing white hot pain that he could only escape through unconsciousness.
Shoes scuffing the earth, murmurs, and even an argument here and there. He felt himself lifted off the ground and flinched in pain.
"You're alright, poor beast. Those wretched devils-" He never found out what it was about wretched devils. Erik just hoped that if he was dead, which he assumed he was, that he wasn't going down to he- he didn't get to finish his thought as the darkness took over.
"-it's in his best interest-"
"-but how long-"
"-get rid of this-"
Erik was comfortable. Or at least on something comfortable. He felt battered and bruised. He was also afraid to move, knowing it could only bring pain. These bits of conversation frustrated him. He couldn't understand why he was here. What was going on? Where was he? Who were these people?
Erik growled in frustration. The talking stopped suddenly. A voice, a heavily accented voice no doubt Persian, was the first to break the silence.
He opened his mouth to reply, but no sound came out save for a faint croak. His tongue felt thick and dry from lack of use and his throat still stung. It hurt too much to open his mouth and the pain sent him back to the world of oblivion.
Erik woke with a yelp to the stinging of some sort of herbal poultice on his arms. He tried to sit up, but his pain only heightened. Everything hurt.
A kind voice hushed him and forced him to lay back down. A feminine voice. Somehow, it sounded wrong. This kindness seemed so foreign, especially coming from this person. Who she was was beyond him. His head pounded too much to think about it.
All he knew was that he did know this person from somewhere and kindness like this was not something she often showed. As his headache reached a crescendo he allowed himself to fall unconscious, glad to escape the throbbing.
Erik became vaguely aware of the sounds of someone rummaging through a pack. There was a pop, like a cork being pulled out of a bottle. He felt himself being propped up a bit, a dull pain overtaking anything that moved, and his mouth was gently pried open so a cool liquid could slip down it. A finger stroked his throat, causing him to swallow involuntarily.
Suddenly he grabbed the bottle with the cool liquid. It felt wonderful. He had to have more. He heard a soft sigh of relief as he drained it of it's contents. Ignoring the pain from his protesting everything, he finished it off, lay down with a sigh and fell asleep, feeling an odd sense of triumph in completing a usually trivial task.
Later he woke to the sounds of soft sobbing off to his right. Turning his head to the side, he ignored the pain from a kink in his neck and rope burns to observe a woman who knelt on the floor, her face in her hands.
He felt compassion for her. Was she his mother?
Mother. Why did that word send jolts of fear and loathing through him? Shouldn't he feel the opposite? Suddenly it all came crashing down on him and he remembered.
The beatings, the taunts, his Punjab, Mme Giry, the Vicomte de Chagny...and Christine. Oh, Christine. He missed her dearly, but dismissed the thought quickly. She was happy now. Safe.
"Minette," he croaked. "Are you alright?"
The woman looked up, her raven hair usually so tidy was unkempt and her eyes were red and puffy. She looked years older than she actually was when she was stressed and it did nothing to soothe Erik's already shot nerves.
"I'm fine Erik, but-" she burst into tears again. Erik shifted uncomfortably. He wasn't used to tears from anyone but Christine. Why did it hurt to think about her? The very mention of her name...
"But what?" he prodded, casting aside his thoughts.
"I've done something horrible. We almost lost you and then you made a sound. I tried to give you some water...and I did," she sobbed.
Erik felt lost.
"You gave me water. What is wrong with that?"
"It was the wrong water. I was supposed to get rid of it, but-" she cut herself off as more sobs wracked her frail being.
Erik felt worry, but allowed her to calm down. Once her hiccups had receded, he proceeded to question her.
"What did you give me?"
She ignored his question. "How do you feel? Do you feel...any younger?"
Younger? What kind of question was that?
"Minette, answer my question. What did you give me?"
How could she put this delicately?
"Erik. I'm so sorry. I gave you water from l'Fountaine de Jouvence," she murmured. "Nadir asked me to get rid of it, but I mixed up his bottle with mine. I'm very sorry."
There were several tense moments. Suddenly Erik burst out laughing. It hurt him to, but it broke the silence. The laughter did not have the desired effect and sounded cold and harsh.
"You know, it's not a very funny joke, but the thought is amusing. Now really, Madame, what did you give me?"
Mme Giry just glared at him. Suddenly he realized that he had made a terrible mistake. Never had Mme Giry joked with him and he highly doubted she would start at a time like now... What did this mean for him?
It means an eternity of fear and loathing, that's what it means, shrieked an angry voice at the back of his head.
Suddenly Erik leapt to his feet, ignoring the pains emanating from his wounds. He paced, trying to think.
"Bring in Nadir. I would like to know how he came across such a thing."
"But...Monsieur! You are not well," she stuttered.
"Bring me Nadir!" he roared. His face contorted in his rage.
Madame Giry flinched under his gaze, her eyes fixated on the left side of his face. His deformity. It was then he realized that he wasn't wearing his mask.
Erik placed a hand over the left side of his face and knelt beside Mme Giry.
"I'm sorry, Minette. Can you please fetch Nadir for me? That cursed daroga has some explaining to do."
"Y-yes. Of course," she replied. Mme Giry got to her feet and went to open the door.
"What?" Mme Giry turned to look at him questioningly.
"Please do bring my mask," Erik said.
With a curt nod, she disappeared behind the oak door.
Erik sighed and looked around the room. It was the manager's quarters. Fancy that, he thought. Surely Firmin and André would not allow the Opera Ghost, who had caused them quite some trouble, to recover in their office.
Suddenly, Erik's mind seemed to remember the previous events of the night before...or was it still night? He couldn't tell and decided to make it a point to ask Nadir along with the many questions that would follow. How did he find the Fountain? Why would he want to be rid of it? What was the purpose of it? How long had he had it? Did he ever drink from it? What was the fool thinking?
As Erik resumed pacing he winced in pain and found himself beside a mirror. Usually, Erik avoided looking in mirrors but now he could not restrain his curiocity and he looked. What he saw horrified and sickened him.
The bruised monster that lie in front of him could not possibly be poor Erik. But it was and it was ten times as horrible as ever. It's eyes were still slightly red from previous events. Blue and black bruises spotted his face and all around his neck and face where muscles had strained for oxygen. There was a deep purple bruise that snaked around his neck where the rope had cut into. Obviously the fools did not know how to properly use a Punjab, otherwise his neck should be snapped. He felt incredibly lucky and he should feel relief, but didn't. Once again, he'd cheated Death.
He was jolted out of his thoughts when the door opened tentatively. A rather tall Persian entered the room. His skin was the color of ebony and his emerald eyes shone with a kind light, ready to help those in need.
"Greetings, Erik," smiled the Persian. "You summoned me?"
"Enough with the formalities, Nadir," Erik snapped. "Enlighten me, what day is it?"
"Well, you have been unconscious for a week, so let's see...it would appear to be a Tuesday," said the Persian.
Erik maintained a stony expression, but there was a spark of surprise inside that was so well hidden that only one who had known him for years could see it. Nadir Khan was one such person.
"Erik, are you alright?" asked Nadir.
Erik debated whether or not it was worth saying anything. He had never felt more vulnerable or weak or crazed as that dreaded night. That night when everything he clung to, every last thing he held to, from his sanity to his insecurities, were destroyed. Damaged beyond repair. His love had betrayed him. Had unmasked him in front of all of the audience, the gendarmes, the managers, and the Vicomte de Chagney.
The audience screamed in terror and the gendarmes had seen him. They were meaning to capture the Opera Ghost, but he had no intention of being caught by those fools. That was when it happened. When every last piece of sanity he had clung to was lost. He had clung to his sanity by a thread and he had let go...and embraced it, excepted it.
Erik remembered guiltily of how he dragged the young prima donna below into the catacombs that served as his home. Down once more to the dungeons of his black despair. Down below to the prison of his mind. By some chance, the de Chagny had found them and he, for some reason unknown even to him, was glad. Was gleeful that the boy had come. He felt murderous. He wanted to hang the boy. Perhaps that was the cause of his joy, his twisted and mad joy.
He had come so close, oh so close, to ending the fop's life, but Christine, wonderful Christine, had done something. She showed him what it meant to love. To not feel alone and, all at once, Erik felt reality along with his sanity return with a force that shocked him beyond comprehension.
In his shock and understanding of what he was doing was sick and twisted, he had released them and that's when the mob came. The chase and the mob and a terrible headache.
"Erik?" Nadir repeated. Erik was jolted out of his thoughts.
"You wished to speak with me?" he asked.
"Ah, yes. Another question, did you know what was going on that night?"
"What night?" Nadir asked innocently.
"You know! The night of the attack on my sanctuary," Erik growled.
"I did know, actually," Nadir replied loftily.
"Then why did you not come and Madame Giry did?"
"Should I have come?"
"Did you know Minette was coming to my aid?"
"You let a woman go down there alone?! And with those madmen lose? She could very well have gotten hurt if she had gotten in the way."
"It was quite unexpected, I'll admit. She seemed determined to go alone. Her daughter, actually, had followed her mother against her wishes," Nadir added.
"The ballet rat?" he asked, mildly surprised.
"Yes. She actually came to help find Mademoiselle Daaé. She found your mask and very nearly convinced the mob you had disappeared."
Little Meg Giry? Erik thought. Surely she had not done so. After all, she was a hopeless romantic and had a love for tragedy. The very idea that the Phantom had vanished after kidnapping the lovely prima donna and almost killing the vicomte only to release them was tragic, romantic and totally appealing.
Seeing the look of surprise etched on Erik's face caused Nadir to laugh a bit, albeit nervously because even he could not deny that the distortion on his old friend's face was, in a word, disturbing.
"Actually, she did truly believe you were gone and refused to believe you were still alive when a member of the mass saw a flash of your cloak. Any other questions?"
Erik thought about it. He could just ask him about the water and get it over with. Or, he could ask about what happened after he fell consciousness. It was soon decided that he would work his way up.
"What happened that night after I lost consciousness?"
"The gendarmes rescued you from the mob. They heard laughing and some screaming, no doubt from Madame Giry. Jacques and the others were arrested for attempted murder. The gendarmes brought you up into a dressing room. Madame Giry was able to convince them that you were not the Opera Ghost and that your face was a result of the attack."
"Of course they believed her and insisted upon calling a doctor. Had she not insisted you would be in good hands, a doctor would have been called, questions would be asked and before you know it you'd more than likely wake up in jail. Even with my meager medical experience, it's obvious you were born with the disfigurement."
Erik was silent.
"Anything else?" he finally asked, quietly.
"Yes. I have your mask and the mob destroyed most of your possessions. I took into inventory all that had been destroyed. Most of it is easily replaceable and I daresay you know the majority of your scores by heart. I've already restored a few."
Erik remained stony, silent. Then finally, "My dear daroga, there was no need. According to Madame Giry, I now have all the time in the world to compose more."
There was a tense silence. Erik was the first to break it.
"So, tell me Monsieur, how did you come across such a thing? How did you, a humble Persian, find the Fountain of Youth?"
Nadir sighed. "Well, I suppose I will just have to start from the beginning."
As the Persian plunged into his tale, Erik's expression remained emotionless, but the light in his eyes revealed all. By the time Nadir finished he was quite out of breath and Erik released the breath he had not realized he'd been holding.
"So...all these years?"
"Since before you were born, Erik. I will live for another two centuries until I will begin to age normally," Nadir mourned.
"So, it's not permanent?" Erik asked, hopeful.
"Of course not. Nothing can permanently stop death. Only slow it. To live as long as I have is torture."
"And that makes me feel all the better, I'm sure," Erik grumbled. "I wished for death, Nadir, I know it is and will be tortuous. I never wanted immortality."
Nadir felt his heart break at Erik's words.
"I just wish to die in peace."