Disclaimer: Unfortunately, as much as I would like to, I own nothing about Paris or l'Opera Populaire, or le Phantome d'Opera. All that I own is my main character and any characters associated with her.
Alright, this is the first chapter of my Phantom of the Opera fanfiction. It starts quickly, so hold onto your hats. The beginning is a bumpy ride!
In case you wonder at some point in the story; yes, I speak, write, and read French, so there is a chance that a good many terms will be in 'la langue d'amour.' Since I know going to a translator for anything while reading a story is hell, I'll put a translation in parentheses after any terms that aren't immediately obvious.
The dialogue will all be in English to make things simpler to read, but it will specify whether the characters are speaking in English or French. While speaking in each language, some words will be 'specifique pour le langue ils parlent (specific for the language they speak).'
Chapter One: Pursue and Destroy
Her feet made no sound as she raced along the Parisian streets, darting in and out of alleyways, trying to lose her pursuer. Was it really necessary for him to follow her all the way to France? She'd tried time and time again to lose him, throw him off her scent. Alas, each and every time she'd thought she'd finally outsmarted him, he came to meet her at her destination and the chase began anew. It was as if she was allowed no rest. Of course, this made perfect sense to her. He was the deadliest of her colleagues – for the simple reason that he chased his quarries until they became too fatigued to fight, then took their lives in whatever way he deemed fitting. Which meant that she'd most likely die in the way that his unfortunate servant had. It was truly the servant's fault for upsetting her, he should have known better. Besides, he probably needed a better serving boy than that one, anyway.
It was as if she could feel his eyes boring a hole in the back of her skull. She shook off her discomfort and focused on her escape. A huge building loomed in the distance, and she recognized it from pictures – l'Opera Populaire. She'd always wanted to go there, but with her busy and demanding life, had never found the time. What better time than the present? She smirked at her own idea. The pace of her feet increased as the rain began falling around her, causing her feet to make small splashing noises as she ran. Cursed rain! This was going to make her escape far more difficult – it was easier to catch a target you could hear as opposed to one as silent as the night surrounding them.
As they neared the building, she feinted running for the doors, only to run for the side of the building instead. All buildings have a back entrance, right? Her speed made her able to lose him for just a moment before she heard his heavy steps echoing in the alley behind her. A quick turn of the corner and her escape route lay before her – not the back door; that would be too easy. No, she was aiming for the small gate next to it that she knew must lead to the Populaire's underground lake. It was well-known for that lake, she'd heard it talked of often. It supposedly supplied all of the opera house's running water, and she had to admit that it was a brilliant plan, unlike anything else in Paris. She liked it even more because she knew it could hide her for a while. At least, she hoped it could.
The gate opened without a sound, much to her surprise. For a gate that she thought would be little-used, it was certainly well oiled. Her feet crunched on the sand as she neared the lake, hearing the steps of the man behind her echo around the corridor. They sounded far nearer than they should have been. Suddenly, someone tugged on her arm and she found herself face to face with the one she'd been running from.
"Caught you, ya lil' wench," he growled, and she writhed in his grasp.
"Let me go, you fool!" she demanded in flawless English.
His breath reeked with the stench of alcohol and tobacco – a deadly combination. It meant that she'd put up a good chase, for which she was undeniably proud of herself, but that he was not only experiencing the temporary high of tobacco but the loss of inhibitions attributed to alcohol as well, increasing his rage to a frightening level. She'd always avoided those substances, for the simple reason that she didn't want to lose control of herself like he had done. This did not bode well for her if she lost her senses and allowed him to get the better of her. But she wouldn't make that mistake. He may have the brute strength of an ox and the nose of a bloodhound, but he lacked the agility and speed that she was quite well known for. This could, if used correctly, give her a potent advantage.
"I'm gonna flay ye alive, girl," he sneered.
A dangerous smile spread across her lips. "Are you? Because I believe we are of a differing opinion about that."
She pulled one of the knives from the pocket of her trousers and stabbed him quickly in the gut with it, causing him to release her with one hand. It wasn't a bad enough wound to kill him, but enough to temporarily distract him so she could tear herself free from the grasp of his other hand. In two quick steps, she was at least a yard and a half away from him – just out of arms' reach. Enraged, the beastly man lunged at her, but she swiftly sidestepped and he punched the air where she had been standing. A low, inhumane growl came from his throat as he spun to look at her, eyes narrowed in his anger.
A wicked smirk that more resembled a grimace marred his usually tolerable features. "Come 'ere, kitty cat," he jested, but she simply shook her head slowly, the smile seeming to stay fixed upon her face.
His smirk became a face that looked as if he'd eaten an entire grapefruit and then washed it down with lemons. It took all the self-control she had not to laugh. Instead, she kept her face perfectly calm excepting for the smile that she always used when confronting her victims. The man charged at her again, only for her to duck under his arms at the last minute and slam the hilt of her blade into the back of his neck. He fell on his face and her smile grew. Looks like he's not going to be so hard to kill after all. She knelt on his back and leaned down, placing her lips right next to his ear.
"Who's going to flay who now?" she whispered in a low, almost seductive voice.
"Ge'off!" he exclaimed, his hands reaching behind him to grab her.
She cocked her head to the side. "It seems all men need to learn to keep their hands to themselves."
In one quick movement, she pulled another blade from her pocket and stabbed through both his hands, leaving gaping holes in his palms. He screamed in agony as his hands dropped to the rocks of the bank around them. Her smile now was almost sardonic in nature.
"Now, was that so hard?" she asked in a mock-sweet voice, "I thought not." She cleaned her daggers on the cloth of his shirt, then replaced one in her trousers as held the other to the back of his neck, leaning down to his ear again. "I have a knife resting at the back of your neck. Do you know what's at the back of your neck?" The man shook his head – a bad idea, as it caused the tip of her blade to cut through the layers of his skin. "Right here, located at the base of the skull, is something called the medulla oblongata. Do you know what that does?" Again, he shook his head, and the knife began cutting at the first layers of muscle, making him cry out in pain. "The medulla oblongata controls basic things such as breathing, the beating of the heart, and motor functions. If it were to be damaged, it is highly likely that you would be paralyzed from the head down – if it didn't stop your heart or lungs first. At least… that's what they say. Shall we test that theory?"
"Nuuuhh," the man moaned against the ground.
"What's that? 'Yes,' you say?"
The man moaned again, louder this time. "Nuuuoh!"
"Well, who am I to deny the last request of a dying man?" she hissed, before slowly pushing her knife into the nape of the man's neck.
His yells became so loud that they echoed around the chamber, bouncing off the walls and ceiling. Suddenly, his body went rigid beneath her. Obviously, this was the paralyzing she'd hoped for. She twisted the knife in as far as the hilt then, as the man's last breath caught before it left his body and his heart stopped. A sigh escaped her mouth as she pulled the blade from the body, cleaning it on his shirt again before replacing it in her trouser pocket. The stones scraped together beneath her feet as she stood up, dusting off her once-black clothing before looking down at the corpse that had once been a friend of hers.
"What a shame," she muttered aloud, "He was so useful. Right up until he decided that killing his manservant was a crime against him. Never listened to me, the fool. But then, I suppose cats and dogs never do get along."
A slow clapping noise invaded the space around her, bouncing off the cavernous walls in a way that made it impossible for her to determine what direction it was coming from. She spun around, searching for the source of the applause, but saw nothing excepting the shadows around her.
"Who's there? Reveal yourself!" she commanded, first in English, then in French, keeping her voice as calm as it had been while she murdered the man.
A man's low chuckle seemed to come from all directions. "I must applaud you, mademoiselle, for your striking display a moment ago."
"Thank you, monsieur," she replied, bowing – for she was not in a dress, "Though I was not aware I had an audience. Will you not come forward and congratulate me in person for my performance?"
"And fall prey to the same fate as he? I think I prefer to remain ici (here)," the voice said in an amused tone.
His voice was silky and musical in a way that she greatly appreciated. It was obvious that he was a wonderful singer – to have a voice like that and not have a beautiful singing ability was nearly impossible. After the years of associating with the gruff-voiced men of her trade, he was a welcome relief.
"Where, pray tell, is here? Surely you cannot simply be an enchanting voice without a face."
The voice paused for a moment. "You think my voice to be enchanting?" he asked in a prideful tone, though she thought there was just a hint of hope there.
"Why ever would I not? Yours is truly un voix beau (a beautiful voice)," she replied honestly.
There was a movement in the shadows to her right, and suddenly, the silhouette of a man wearing a cape was before the corridor leading to the lake. He was quite tall, and although she could not determine his build, she knew he had moderately wide shoulders.
"I take it you are the voice I have had the privilege of speaking to?" she said in the voice she used when speaking to whatever royalty she encountered.
"I am," he answered simply, the echoing quality of his voice lessened, but not diminished.
She took a few steps forward, testing how close she could get to this individual. After two steps, his booming voice ordered her to stop. Her feet ceased to move towards him, her hands held out slightly in front of her.
"Alright, I've stopped, and shall not come any closer unless you wish me to," she promised, as she had the strange feeling that this individual was as dangerous as she – an enemy you could not see was a frightening one indeed.
"No, you shall not," he agreed, "unless you desperately wish to end your life. Basing off your efforts with that man behind you, I can assume you do not."
Her nod reassured him. "You are correct in your assumption, monsieur. I would much prefer to live for a while longer, at least. If I were to die now, I would leave so much undone."
"Had the man you killed done all he wished to in life?"
She froze for a second. That was a pointed question.
"Non, he had not, for I have it on good authority that one thing he wished to do in life was murder me – as you can see, he did not exactly achieve his goal," she mentioned, smirking as she gestured to herself.
"Not exactly, non. You look quite alive to me, mademoiselle," the shadow agreed, again amused.
Suddenly, the yelling and shouting of multiple men came from behind the shade before her. He swiftly turned to look at them, then backed into the shadows, becoming invisible again. The group of men caught sight of her and began running faster, yelling all at once.
"There she is!"
"Get the lil' witch!"
"She killed 'im! She killed ol' Wolfe!"
"I'm wantin' chat (cat)fer supper!"
Her eyes widened as she viewed the mob coming at her. "Merde," she whispered, before running into the shadows.
I don't think I need to explain what that last term means, though if you would like me to reveal it, let me know.
What did you think? Let me know what you liked, disliked, things to change, things to keep the same, things to explain - though I imagine that last one has a long line of questions at the moment. I promise, everything will be explained in time. Eventually you'll understand. It'll just take a while.