Ten years after the events of the opera, a tragedy befalls the de Chagny's with the murders of Raoul and Christine, forcing the long thought dead Phantom out from the shadows to avenge his beloved....
Paris France, 1906
Their home was in hot flames and wind around them did not help calm it. With air thick with black smoke, a woman and her young son stumbled out of back door. She painfully moved towards the stable close by, pulling her son along by the arm.
Reaching the stable, the woman went over to the closest horse and slipped the bridle that hung on a post, over its face and quickly fastened it in place before she gave her son a boost onto its back then climbed on herself.
"Charles, hold on!" she ordered him as she kicked the horse's flank and they took off in a gallop.
They followed a road leading away from their home en route to the heart of Paris with the sound on thundering hooves beneath them and pounding beats of their hearts as the only sounds they could in the eerie silence around them.
The boy, Charles, clung to the horse's neck, closing his eyes tightly against the fear he felt. The sky burned a fiery reddish-orange with the late afternoon sun, but it only reminded his young mind of the horrors he experienced at home, or was left of it if the flames ever died.
No matter how hard he tried, his closed eyes only kept repeating what happened in his mind in a vicious cycle, there was no escape from it.
The rocking movements of the horse did not stop soon enough and the boy managed to crack his eyes open as his mother slid off behind him before she pulled him off, though, none too easily.
She led him to the steps of a small townhouse where she staggered before she beat her small hands door repeatedly while she leaned heavily against the frame. After was seemed like and eternity, the door opened to reveal the worn face of Madame Giry, who's expression creased with worry at the sight before her.
"Christine?" she breathed.
"Madame," was all Christine de Chagny managed to say as her strength gave out and she collapsed into the Antoinette's arms, who barely managed to support her.
"Erik!" Antoinette called towards the back of the house, only to find he was already beside her, taking the Comtess into his arms.
Christine looked at the masked face she had not seen in ten years. The man she had long thought dead. She buried her face into his shoulder and wept as he carried her into the next room.
"Christine, what happened?" he asked with anger and worry apparent in his voice.
"Please, please take care of Charles! Raoul gave his life for him! His father owed a terrible debt and now they are trying to kill us all!" she begged hurriedly, she knew she had so little time. "They....they came to the house and burned it," she cried when he laid her down on the chaste, but she would not her arms fall from his neck. He tried to pull away, but she would not let him. Not yet. "They tried to kill my baby but Raoul saved him at the cost of his life."
Erik managed to pull away enough to see the terrible swollen bruises on her once angelic face and pale skin now so terribly discolored.
"Oh Erik! Raoul loved Charles so much! He raised him as his own," she said, as Erik's eyes quickly took the rest of her only to see the deep gashes and the gunshot wound. His heart tightened and tears began form in his eyes when he realized her wounds were mortal. The gasps from Antoinette and Meg told him they knew this too.
His eyes went back to her face and brushed the sweaty strains of her hair out of her face.
"Charles is yours Erik," Christine said more calmly, she felt her end coming. "He's, he's ours. Please, please promise me to take care of him."
Erik was too much in a shock to say anything, tears flowing freely.
"Promise me Erik!" she demanded, her voice cracking.
He nodded to her as they stared into each others eyes for what would be the last time as Charles bolted in to Christine's arms and buried his face into her neck, crying. She kissed his forehead, the life draining from her eyes. "Always remember Raoul and I love you," she said.
"I love you mama, don't leave me!" he begged.
"I'm sorry Angel," she whispered sadly. "Now promise me you'll be a good boy for Aunty Meg, Grandma, and Erik."
Charles only nodded.
She looked up at Erik and snaked her free hand into Erik's, and spoke with her eyes how much she loved him.
He held her hand tightly, bringing it to his lips and kissed it softly. "/Christine I love, you,/" he sang to her softly as her eyes fluttered close and her hand went limp in his own.
He distantly heard Meg and Antoinette give a sob of mourning behind him, but the pain he felt in his chest was too much to bear as he wept for the loss of his Angel.
Several hours later, well into the evening, Charles sat in the vacant hall of the Giry house staring vacantly at the well-worn wooden floor. The light from the few gas lamps wavered on the walls, most of the light coming from the den where his mother laid.
Antoinette worried for him, because he had not spoken, much less acknowledged anything since his mother passed on. When Meg pulled out of her grief, she tried to coax him to come into the kitchen and eat something or talk. Her admirable attempts proved to be futile.
The former Ballet Mistress had dealt with the sorrow of a child's loss of parents many times during her years of taking care of the girls of the ballet, but the anguish Charles displayed only reminded her of the man who had vanished shortly after Christine's passing, the man who helped Charles come into existence.
Erik was in terrible anguish, but she knew he had matured enough in that regard to pull out of it just enough to be functional for a short time, no matter how short it was. He was perhaps the only one who came close to understanding what exactly young Charles was feeling. All she knew was that the blank stare showed nothing of what must be going through that tortured mind.
Before, they bathed Charles and tended to his minor cuts, his face bruised and his wavy black hair matted with grime. His usually pristine clothes suffered stains from small amounts of blood in different areas. The tears in clothes revealed the minor cuts and severe bruised he sustained in what ever took place at the de Chagny estate.
With a small sigh, she returned to the kitchen, brushing her hands against the black skirt of her dress.
Meg was sitting at the kitchen table, her cooling untouched tea before her. Her blue eyes were again glassy with tears. Antoinette patted her daughter lovingly on the shoulder as she passed her to make more tea.
"Do you think he will honestly return?" Meg asked absently.
"He has always kept his word," she replied. "He could be doing numerous things now, or he needed some time to sort through his own grief."
"He really loved her then."
"Oh, heavens yes child. As unusual his displays of love were, he loved her as if she were the only thing that existed. It was his downfall."
When the old clock chimed eight times in the house, the quiet rapt on the back door made Madame Giry to hurry over to the door and opened it after peeking out a window to make sure it was Erik.
He stepped in with a slight nod to his head before he hung up his cloak and fedora on a nearby coat rack. "I have no where to take him tonight," he told her softly. "My home is far out from the city."
She nodded quietly. "Yes, the boy needs to rest tonight- if his mind will let him have a bit of piece."
"I have a few things which may assist in that." He glanced around. "Where is he?"
"This way," she replied leading him to the hall. "Meg and I cleaned him up, and tended to some of his wounds, but he hasn't spoken or eaten at all."
He only gave a nod. His silence only told her that this sudden burden of a child was far from his areas of expertise. Luckily, for him and perhaps boy, Charles was not an infant or toddler anymore. With asupportive pat on the former Phantom's arm, she said, "Collect your son and Iwill take you where he can sleep tonight." With that, Madame Giry started up the stairs to the second floor with only the light of her lantern to prepare the room.
Erik watched her for a moment as she left him and the boy alone. She did it on purpose, he knew. This was by far nowhere close to his understanding, and he did not like feeling stupid in the least. It was like an insult to himself. However, he had little choice now.
Regarding Charles, who still stared at the floor, Erik pursed his lips together in thought of how exactly he would accomplish this task.
After a moment, he spoke softly, "Charles."
The boy gave no indication that he heard him.
"Charles," he said more firmly with a tone that only his voice could muster.
He blinked several times and slowly looked up at the masked man clad in a black suit.
"You need to rest."
"I don't want to close my eyes," he said after amoment. "I'll see it again...over and over."
"I could give you something that can help with that,"Erik said with a small idea coming to mind.
That got his attention.
"Only if you will eat something first. If you do not, I will merely take you up to bed and let you decide there," he said simply with a tilt of his head. "And do not think I won't either."
Charles stared at him a moment to see just how far this very strange man was willing to go. When he gaze only met with emotionless, almost colorless, eyes with a slight amber tint. The stark white mask that hid all of Erik's face save for his jaw, which did not help in reading the older man's intent.
With a defeated shrug of his shoulders, Charles slowly stood and Erik gestured him to go ahead to the kitchen. The boy only eyed him amoment before he did so, placing a hand against the wall to help keep balance.
Upon seeing Charles and a nod from Erik, Meg jumped to her feet and prepared some leftovers for him to eat.
Within a few short minutes, Meg set a small plate of food on the table in front of Charles. He slowly picked up a fork and poked at it absently as he took a few small bites every few minutes.
The former Phantom watched him a moment thoughtfully. At least he eats something. I cannot blame him for his disinterest in it, but it anecessary task. Erik looked to Meg with a graceful gesture to the teakettle on the stove. "May I, Madame?"
Meg gave a quick nod. "Yes yes, of course," she said meekly.
He went over to the emptied teakettle and started anew brew, with a special ingredient for Charles.
A short time later, the boy finished his meal and Erik had given him the tea laced with a tranquilizer. It was not one that was considered to be addictive unless under prolonged use, which he planned on avoiding. From there, he took the Charles upstairs to the only room on the narrow hall that possessed the flicker of candle light.
Inside, Antoinette finished making up the small bed for Charles and she offered him a kind smile when she saw him. She shuffled him to bed as Erik conveniently vanished from the room. That trick would only work for that night though, since he had too much information and a new burden drop on him. This would probably be the first time he would have to take care of something other then himself and various pets.
She smiled softly when Charles instantly seemed to fall asleep the moment his head hit the pillow. No doubt, Erik offered him assistance in that regard.
Bending down, she kissed the young boy on the cheek before leaving the room.
Erik was waiting for her in the hall, which of course gave her a slight start when he spoke right when she shut the door. "I went to the estate," he informed her simply.
Antoinette looked at him, pulling her shawl around her shoulders more snuggly.
"What did you see?"
"The house and the servants' quarters were burned, with no witnesses."
Erik arrived at the estate some time later as the sun was almost set. It was eerily quiet with little signs of life. The house lay in smoldering ruins with smoke still floating sky ward from select hot spots. The servants' quarters laid to waste as well, only he could see a few bodies in the grass.
"I scouted the area--"
He was at the forest line, just out of sight when he dismounted his black Friesian. From there, he moved along the border of the cleared property to scout out the area before moving closer. Whoever did the deed would more then likely still be there.
"--and found the men by the stable. They knew Christine and Charles escaped."
The men were still there, lingering by the stable. He was too far away to over hear them and the sun was still to high to move closer without detection just yet, however, he knew they were hunched over a map and bickering where to go next.
"When they left, I went closer to see if anything useful was left."
The lighting was with him by the time the men left. He crept closer to the remains of the stable to see if they left anything. He scanned the area with a trained eye.
"I found this," he held up a golden crucifix ring with a small ruby embedded its center. "Then one of the men returned, and gave chase."
A faint glimmer in the grass that caught his attention, catching the last failing rays of sunlight. Moving quickly over to it, he knelt and picked up the object, a ring. Before he had to a chance to examine the ring, the sound of hoof falls in rapid succession caught his attention.
Erik looked up to see one of the men returning, charging at him upon his galloping horse. Freezing for a half second in mental calculation, Erik ducked behind a wooden post as a bullet struck where his head had just been.
He quickly went deeper into the remains of the stable, luring the other man in, hopefully on his mount. And sure enough, he did and Erik darted out the back as the shadow he was, and slammed the double doors shut and locked them. Granting himself a few more moments that it would cause the man to come out and around, Erik gave a single sharp whistle.
His Friesian mare, Duchess, flew from the spot he left her and galloped over upon his command. She got close enough to him just as the other man came around the side of the stable. Erik ran along her projected path and grabbed her long mane as she came up to pass and swung up onto her back.
He sat heavily on her back, which caused her to slow severely, and instructed her to turn towards the charging man with his legs. After receiving a swift kick to her sides, Duchess charged forward, much to other's surprise. In his charge, Erik pulled out the knife he always kept with him.
In a swift blur of movement, he cut the man deeply in the arm as he flew past. Instead of turning around and Punjabing the man to finish it, Erik kept Duchess in pace towards a shallow slope of a hill that led into a narrow trail that neither ran to or away from the Parisian city. There was little time to loose considering the attacker's comrades more then likely heard the gun shot intended for his/head./
There were shouts behind him as he turned Duchess up aslightly rocky slope and into a small opening between the clusters of trees. Sitting heavily on the mares back, she came to a quick halt. Erik slipped off her back and vanished into the trees.
Three of the men, the only ones trusted to give achase, soon appeared. The injured leading them.
Erik was crouched on a branch just over their heads. His black cloak wrapped around his elegant frame and a black leather mask now covered his face.
He waited for the most opportune moments before he struck. When the last one in line passed beneath him, Erik let himself fall from his perch as he sliced the man's throat with his knife in a fluid movement before he landed on the ground.
By the time the surviving pair turned towards the thump and whinny of a spooked horse, their comrade was lying on the ground dead. "What the....?" the injured leader breathed as he looked around frantically for the cause.
"I'm over here!" a haunting voice called from the brush to his right.
The pair looked towards the brush while a shadow moved behind them.
"No! Not there!" the voice called again, this time from behind. "Here!" Now it was beside the injured leader.
He spun his mount around to the sound and gave a start as his horse reared up in fright. There, in front of him, hanging from a tree branch was his other comrade, staring at him lifelessly.
That was when the disembodied voiced whispered from everywhere and nowhere. Beside, behind, in front, above, and below. The survivor looked around frantically in all directions, his heart pounding his chest from adrenaline and fear combined.
The trees, the trees were talking! As were their leaves, which sang as a breeze swept up the trail. His mount spooked and took off at a gallop, leaving the rider where he was, for a split second before he landed on the ground. Wildly, he raced to his feet, spinning on his heel, looking for that disembodied voice. "Where are you!" he demanded in fear and frustration, all because of a ghost that seemed to haunt the forest now. He stopped turning, to listen to any whisper he may receive in response.
"Here." this time, it had to be real, he even felt the breath on the back of his neck.
Slowly, he turned around and gave a start at sight of a faceless man whose eyes burned amber. Before he could react, or even think, his back collided against a tree. Catching the breath which had be knocked from him, he looked back up to the faceless man as his hand fell to his sword, threatening to draw it.
The faceless man stood stoically, staring at him with those haunting eyes. A faint gleam of light caught the metal of the sword that he brandished.
With a roar of anger, the injured leader drew his rapier and charged the faceless man.
The other merely sidestepped the brash move and held his weapon in an offensive position. He only waited a moment for the injured leader to turn and face him because he launched a quick attack.
The injured man barely managed to parry the attack, and a fight went on with a quick exchange of strikes that displayed their fencing skills. However, the fight did not last as long as the injured leader had hoped. When he lunged for the faceless man's midsection, the specter merely dodged the action and caught his wrist tightly in long fingers. There, the specter brought him close and thrust a knee into his gut, causing the injured leader to drop his rapier.
From there, the specter threw him back against a tree, causing him to fall from the pain of it. The faceless man came at him in an instant, throwing his mask to the ground while he wrapped his hand around the injured leader's throat.
The leader's eyes widened with horror at the sight that befell him. "Who sent you!" death's head demanded.
"I..! I don't know!"
Slamming the leader's head against the trunk of the tree to make a point, he again demanded, "Who!"
"I swear I don't know!" the leader cried.
"Why did you attack the de Chagny's!" he growled impatiently.
"I don't know anything! I only get paid when they're all dead."
Erik narrowed his eyes when he saw he would get nothing useful from this, thug. Knowing that the man in his death's grip was too dangerous to keep alive, he tightened his grip with a low growl. The man's eyes bulged from their sockets as a sickening pop sounded in the silent forest as his crushed his throat.
The man went limp and Erik released him. He remained still for several minutes, breathing in and out slowly, his amber eyes slightly glazed over.
He blinked several times before he retrieved his mask as he stood, fastening it securely in place before he vanished with a twirl of his cloak.