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Name: Lynn Rossignol | Gender: Female | Age: 40 | Posts: 30 | Roses: 10
Old 09-16-2014 at 08:39 PM
Wandering Child
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Nightingale Series testreader request  Post [1] »

Nightingale Strain manuscript has been completed and sitting for a while as I attempted to figure out what I wanted to do with it. It is easily the length of a full novel, and I have just (as of last night) written the epilogue for the sequel. There are two more novel length stories beyond the two I have completed planned. I am hoping to get these ready for publication, but need feedback from serious Phantom fans.

If interested: I have the manuscript uploaded to GoogleDoc and would grant you access via your email address to it. Send me a PM with the address you would like to use... All I ask is that you provide me with valuable feedback of what works and what doesn't work. :) I can take the criticism or I wouldn't be asking for it. Oh yes, and of course please don't go spreading it around the net. :D

The novel is loosely based on Kay's expanded history of Erik, it is a historical fiction with some accurate tidbits tossed in, and is a sequel set in Manhattan in the year 1891. I HAVE explained how Erik is still alive despite having kept true to most of the elements of the end, if you are curious, well ... you'll just have to ask to read it! :D

Here is the synopsis: Ten years ago beneath the cellars of the Paris Opera, Erik's heart stopped … at least that was what he wanted the world to believe! Having fled to the island of Manhattan this strange masked man spent the decade painstakingly building a new life as an architect and master stone mason, a monumental task for a man hiding a severe facial deformity in the Victorian era. As one of the contractors on Andrew Carnegie's Music Hall, Erik's genius becomes impossible to conceal as his ambition to create the perfect tribute to music over takes any attempt at restraint. In the final weeks before the opening music festival Erik's world is fractured by the arrival of the one person he had died for, the woman he had sacrificed everything for and ultimately surrendered. When Christine is confronted with the ghost of her past she is not the one who is haunted … Erik must face the unforeseen consequences of his deception. Whispers of the scandalous behavior behind the Paris singer and the masked man swirl in a current that threatens to destroy the most famous Music Hall in America before the doors even open. Carnegie knew Erik was a man of conviction when first they met, what he didn't know was the role he had played in that Paris cellar—the Phantom of the Opera. Has ten years of exile changed him enough to control his obsessions, or will the Angel of Music once more execute a reign of terror?

I will post the first chapter in a separate post for your consideration ...

Thank you in advance!

"The only way to ensure a dream withstands the torrents of time is to lay the foundation in hard work and skills. Anything less and the accomplishment is not worth recognition."-Erik- from my novel ~Nightingale's Strain~
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Name: Lynn Rossignol | Gender: Female | Age: 40 | Posts: 30 | Roses: 10
Old 09-16-2014 at 08:50 PM
Wandering Child
Opera Performer

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Roaming Dungeons
(Performer Is Offline)
 Post [2] »

Prologue has been left out, you guys know the backstory. Please do not redistribute or repost the material in this chapter, thank you! If you want to read more, just ask, the novel is written and as this time in editing mode.
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Nightingale's Strain
Chapter 1

A burgundy hue hung like a pall on the storm torn horizon. Hours ago the sun's harsh rays descended below the jawline of the city, the buildings that lined the avenues were broken teeth jutting up into the sultry night air. Utterly denying their earlier promise of relief parting clouds had framed the death of day. The humid streak that pervaded late April had not been deterred by the powerful storm that had rumbled through late evening. Indeed the evaporation only produced more of the unwelcome accompaniment to the typical warmth of New England's spring. Beneath my right hand I could not help but sense the cruel remnants of the lengthening days that lingered as residual heat in the stone balustrade of my dwelling above Manhattan. Gazing down upon the flickering gas lights of the bustling city the weight of the punishing years that had comprised my journey thus far pressed upon me. My birth not being cause for celebration, I could never be certain precisely how many years it been since had I arrived as a curse to my poor mother. By a rough count I could safely assume the sum was around six decades by now, give or take a year.

All at once it seemed the tragic events occurred yesterday even though time counted just shy of a decade since I had fled Paris, desperate to leave behind me the horrific past I had penned in the blood of many. In a smoldering shamble I had left my beloved lair and creation, the Paris Opera—and not singularly that creation alone.

Not now. With a shake of my head I turned my eyes toward the future. Just within my gaze dwelt the corner of my newest legacy to the world. No glance over my shoulder at the plans had been required to have witnessed her promising splendor, the structure was now nearly complete. The ornate stone facade a beloved tribute to all the beauty of the old world spirit I had left behind. The most spectacular splendor that architectural studies from my travels encompassing the whole of Europe and Asia could produce. And the acoustics, oh the acoustics! The shiver ran up my spine anew just as it had when first I had penned out the auditoriums within this blessing to the new world. America was a new canvas, a new place that had yet to find a unique voice. How could I but resist the urge to gift it with a temple to experience every nuance of the grandest art known to man—music.

The truth was, I couldn't resist.

However, this time I vowed it would be different. The tragedy of the past simply could not be repeated. Rubbing my hand upon the stone I felt it anchoring me once more to the present. None of it could be repeated. There had been no more sulking in shadows, no hidden lairs, no phantoms pulling strings. Employing some forethought I had been able to avoid the issue of intrusive neighbors forcing me to move on as they had in my prior attempts to live above ground. The solution had been exceedingly simple. I owned the entire block that held Clef de Voute Manoir, my Beaux Arts mansion. Located in what was considered the outskirts of town on the block of seventh ave and Central Park south street with three stories at my disposal, I chose to dwell nearly entirely in the upper stories of the eastern wing that held everything I found essential: my private chambers were comprised of an oversized study, bedchamber, library, laboratory, solarium, and the rooftop garden. I only required brief sojourns to the main floor to conduct business before the hearth of my sitting room or sessions in my music room. For some reason I had constructed the western wing as a collection of various sized rooms that might some day come into use. However, I rarely if ever roamed through the vacant halls.

Whenever my unusual presence gained unwanted attention it took but a few slams of my door in nosy faces before the vast majority of society learned to leave me to my eccentricities. As I had once been a reluctant captive of the gypsy's I felt there was a striking similarly about the entire human race. Regardless of how much I attempted to overcome my instinct I could never completely abandon the distinct impression that I was a prisoner of human society. A victim of the obscure definition of what it was to be normal. Only through confidence in my ability to control and manipulate the weak human will did I find the courage to walk amongst a species whose vile actions time had taught me to despise.

I felt a small tug at the corners of my mouth as a smile formed. It had been no meager amount of effort to keep all my handiwork and tricks within the sight of those I worked with. Somehow self control had won, and to my relief had continually rewarded me with silent patronage of this grand project under my construction company, Shadowcrest Industries. Well, mostly silent. Most of this past year had been spent overseeing the crew on the building site, working closely as adviser to the public patron and his eager public architect. This project had progressed with significantly more ease and grace than working with Garnier on the Paris Opera. Of course it was largely due to not having a lengthy revolution and a troublesome government constantly interrupting. Armed soldiers attempting to demolish a construction site in a drunken riot while one is trying to hide from persecution does cause for some significant delays. Fortunately for my unbending pride, both Carnegie and Tuthill had been gracious in accepting my eccentricities. Such were my obsessive tendencies when passionately invested in a project that rarely over the past year had I spent a night in my home during the whole of the construction phase. I had only done this the past three nights of late.

“Good travels, Nadir?” As he entered the study he could not possibly have seen me yet with my back to him out on the second story balcony, but I had heard his muted footsteps on the carpet. Even now I perceived his halt in sudden surprise. Though I had strictly banished the servants from wandering my private rooms, Nadir was permitted in the whole of my dwelling. I owed this man too much.

“Erik?” The alarm in his voice was unguarded. “I thought you might be sleeping.”

Without turning to face him I chuckled. “My friend, your puerile efforts after all these years to sneak up on me are truly charming in their entirely unavailing fashion.”

A small laugh escaped him. “You must have eyes in the back of your head the way you can sense things.”

“Nonsense. People are just noisy oafs.” I remarked with a wave of dismissal. “Did you secure the contracts?”

The shuffle of papers hitting the mahogany desk that resided just within the open balcony door was the only answer I required, but it was accompanied by a weary sigh from the aging Persian. The man was slightly older than I, however in our past together I had inadvertently ignited a great love of travel in him. Despite his years, he seemed ever eager to experience a new part of the world. “Indeed. I was left to chase after many a signature, but my efforts were at last rewarded. Erik, was all this essential?”


Decades ago in Persia this man had foolishly proclaimed himself my conscience. People often profess a need to kill their conscience. For me to do so would involve an act of murder. When the nagging voice, that for most existed inside their heads, grew entirely too burdensome for me I had the luxury of sending my conscience on business trips with ulterior motives.

“What are you going to do wi … ” He respectfully cast his eyes down, his words abandoned him as I slowly turned from the outside world to face him. A stiff breeze blew in to caress my naked face, it was only then that I had recalled my mask lay upon the desk. As I had been left to my own devices for some time I had taken the liberty of going unmasked within the sanctuary of the upper floors of my home. A few steps carried me back inside to the edge of my desk buried in sheet after sheet of architectural drawings haphazardly flung about amidst the throws of creation. My right hand gracefully arched down and collected the shield of my dignity. A nervous tremor struck his voice as he tried to cover for the embarrassment. “All these years, I am sorry Erik. I was not expecting you without the mask.”

“Enough of that. I do not ask for sympathy.” An edge of old acid clung to the words despite my vain efforts to quell it. A lifetime of being reviled for my deformity had lead me down some rather dark and unwanted paths. I understood human nature sufficiently by now to have accepted human reaction as ungovernable by any form of logic. In truth, it was as uncontrollable as my temper had been known to be. Somehow knowing this still did not make such situations any easier.

Nadir swallowed and glanced away, clearly scrambling for some safe topic of discussion. We were both well aware though the years had blunted the edge from my temper it was still lurking in the dark waters of my undeniable past. His eyes wandered about the familiar walls of my study which was never known to be neat and organized. Lit by a variety of gas wall sconces and candles, I preferred the softer hue over the garish burn of the newer electric light, the shelves of my unkempt workroom were overflowing with a vast variety of my tinkering and compositions. The notes of musical strains carefully penned out upon vellum draped over the mechanical devices my hands created when they desired to not be idle. This was a constant state, sliding from one project to next, often simultaneously employing my attentions to more than one art form at a time. Which was precisely how one of my automatons in process had wound up in pieces spread across the top of the Steinway piano I had purchased years ago. When the grand piano had been delivered I had been forced to break open the second story wall to admit the crane access to lift the instrument in. The stonework had slid back into place masterfully enough and the newer mortar hidden by a tasteful cut of the Merlot hued curtains that concealed the breach from my sight. As with the rest of my household, there were no mirrors within this room. Upon the black leather sofa before the great hearth various musical scores were scattered from a task weeks ago to assist in the selections for the opening gala. At last his eyes settled onto the drafts, the moment he found his safe conversation written upon his olive-toned features. “How is the hall coming along these past weeks?”

This was why I kept him around, my precious friend Nadir. Time had taught him how to navigate the treacherous labyrinth of my moods. He would not be alive now if he had failed to learn. Welcoming the inquiry with a relieved smile I knew he would observe from below the cut of the white mask I replied, “On schedule. So much simpler than the last one. A year, only one year. I had hardly conceived such a time line given the years it took to construct in Paris. Honestly, it has been entirely too simple from the groundbreaking up.”

Returning the smile, his frame abandoned a bit of the tension it had carried. “Than the original grand opening is also on schedule?”

My answer was a simple nod.

“Fantastic. How many nights of music was it they had planned?”

“Five. Five days with a culmination of six concerts worth of glorious music rising to the heights in the acoustical genius of my musical hall. Those attending will be immersed in such a spectacle only previously known in Europe's grand halls. And in truth, not even there!”

One eyebrow rose ever so slightly. “Then … ” He began tentatively. “Whatever is wrong?”

I cocked my head to the side feeling the sensation of my own eyebrows brushing the back of the mask in my surprise. “Wrong? What brings you to such a suspicion, dear Daroga?”

A scowl abolished his previously intrigued expression. “I told you never to call me that.” At one time the word was his title in Persia, a position of honor—or royal abuse, depending upon the whim of the court. In my years serving in Persia the poor man had most certainly undergone an abundance of the latter.

“And I told you never to play games with the master.” I quipped, “Now answer the question, you suspicious old goat!”

Pointing to my left hand he observed. “It's the only time you have your magician's orbs out, when something is bothering you and you're trying in vain not to think about it.”

Indeed, he was right! How long had my fingers been tossing the three crystal balls into a tireless array of patterns? By the tension in my left arm it had been some hours since I had subconsciously taken up the activity.“You know me too well.” I sighed, forcing my hand to still and return them to their place in a silk lined box. Almost intolerable was the sensation of trembling that followed. Or was it the uncomfortable silence as I slowly drifted my eyes from him, contemplating refuge in some safe corner of the contents of my new life. Inexplicably my eyes were drawn to the Stradivarius violin I had cast aside last night after assaulting the fine instrument in an impotent fit of rage. So furious had I been with the bow that not one, but several of the strings had been savagely rent in twain. Every string would require replacement in the aftermath of that unsuccessful session. The grand piano in my study was not enough, I longed to have my pipe organ once more, pounding on those keys always seemed to ease my tortured soul. I had yet to use my clever tricks to conjure a method to install one in my home. Thus far I had always drawn the conclusion the structure was entirely unsound for such a grand instrument. Of course, I had not spared sufficient time on the dilemma, so oft distracted by my various projects. Only recently did I gain the promised access to a pipe organ; though not my personal property, the Music Hall had installed one in the main auditorium. I had yet to hear her as there always seemed to be activity in the hall. My eyes were drawn back to the aged figure before me who waited impatiently for my reply. The same ploy he had successfully used utterly failed me. There was nothing I could dredge up that would convince Nadir that all was well.

“Erik. Answer me.” The firm reply was more suited spoken to a child than a silver-haired man of my assumed age. However, I could never overlook just how much I owed him. The man who on more than one occasion sacrificed everything to help the ungrateful wretch that I am.

I tried to conjure up something, but the words would not come to me. How could I tell him? My mouth was dry even as I opened and closed it wordlessly, unable to even glance in his direction.

The silence stretched for eons, so it seemed, before I heard him inhale to the rasp of a single sheet of paper sliding across the desk. “No … Erik no.” His hushed voice held a chill, one born of dread. “Tell me you had nothing to do with this!”

There would have been no hiding it, his nosy nature would have uncovered that list eventually. A tremble stole through me, one I failed to suppress as my hands came up in slow motion to catch my falling forehead. “Nadir … ” damn that tremble! There was no way it was undetectable. “I swear to you I had no knowledge of this. No influence … ”

“Not again!” Desperation clawed into his voice as he flashed the paper in the air. “You swore to me never again!”

“I did not arrange this!” I retorted, feeling a surge of anger beginning to build. Unburying my face I glared directly into his eyes.

He shook his head in disbelief. “Of all the singers in this world—”

“Why her?” I finished for him with my fist slamming down on the desk. “It was not my doing. I was not even consulted! My attention had been fixated on finishing the structure on time! Ask the crew whom I have been whipping on a daily basis what a relentless task master I have been!”

The Persian's shoulders fell as he tossed the paper aside. “Now I see it. The plague hiding in your eyes. You did not just learn this, Erik. How long have you known?”

I let my frame collapse into the chair in sheer exhaustion. At least now I would not bear this news alone. “That the ghost of my past was coming back to haunt me?” The jest had fallen abysmally short at the attempt of mirth I had intended to cover my raw emotions. I let my eyes rise to the ceiling to study the fine gold leafed moldings with little interest. “Three days ago.”

“Three days? Have you eaten? Slept?” There dwelt unbridled concern in his words.

I tried to smile, but knew it was merely a flicker of one, all I could muster in my melancholy. “No. Not since I learned Christine was to sing here … ”

“Dear Allah, for three days you have not slept nor eaten?” He crossed the room in short purposeful strides and placed his hands on my shoulders, forcing me to look at him. His tone firm and clipped. “She thinks you dead. You must remain so, Erik! For your own sake and hers. Remember, we both agreed it was for the best.”

“I know.” It had been but a timid whisper. “I know, Nadir. Yet, how can I stand in the wings and hear my greatest creation without revealing I am there?”

Sorrow bore into me from his eyes. “You will have to find a way. She must not know we both deceived her that night on the shores of the underground lake. It has been ten years, Erik. Ten years! We agreed that leaving her with Raoul was better for the poor girl.” Beneath his hands I stiffened, the anger threatening to build once more. My jaw tightened, but not as much as Nadir's grip on me. He narrowed his eyes and stated firmly. “She was never yours.”

Will power can only hold back the dark waters of the past for so long, I fought desperately to quench the fire that threatened once more to consume me. It was a war I could never have hoped to win. Nadir knew enough to release his hands and step back, I trusted he had felt the muscles in my shoulders tense like a cat coiled for the spring right before I exploded out of the chair like a raving lunatic. “Never mine!? Her heart always belonged to me! She did not love that insolent fool, Raoul!” Even now after all these years I could not utter his name without a sneer. “I should have killed him when I had the chance! How could I have let you talk me into leaving her to his care? You and your insufferable bleeding heart!”

He waited only for me to steal a breath before interjecting calmly. “Because for a moment in your life you were rational enough to see that her adoration for you was destroying her.” I stood there, mouth hanging open with words once more failing me, trembling with the rage I still felt even though I knew he was recalling the night in question correctly. I had consented to the entire plan to let her believe I had died, even to the point of instructing Nadir in the proper dose to reverse the effects of my morbid illusion. Let her move on without guilt over her feelings, make it clean. “It's been ten years, Erik. How much time do you need to dull the edge of that knife?”

“How long has it been since your son Reza was helped to his grave? Has time dulled that pain? At least yours is truly dead and gone! Christine Daae still lives!” I snarled before I was able to rein in my temper, far too late.

Nadir's eyes closed tightly in visible anguish. The verbal knife had been cast, my skill at naturally harming others once more executed in reckless abandon. Why had I said that to him? The silence in the room was only broken by his ragged breathing, a man on the verge of tears. Long ago he had been greatly inconvenienced, orders from the Persian shah sent him on a mission to locate me, at the time a renown traveling magician with a Russian fair. I was to be a special request of the court lured by the promise of wealth and power. This task took precious time away from his ill son, Reza. In my obstinance I had taken great pains to delay him at every turn on our path back to his home, unaware of the damage my selfish indulgences were inflicting. Once I had met the boy it was readily apparent he would never recover. Gifts of every kind I had showered on the boy, hoping to make his last days as filled with wonder as possible. Automatons of all kinds I created and laid before him around my courtly duties. When at last the day came where the boy's fate was undeniably revealed I ordered Nadir to leave the room. I had rendered it merciful and quick, more graceful then his disease would have allowed him. Dignity I left for him fully intact. I was truly the Angel of Death back then; this was the only passing I could attribute to kindness.

Yet there was a greater edge to this slight, the young boy was rumored to have favored his mother, Rookheeya. Though the custom of the Persian culture allowed a man to take more than one wife, Nadir was so devote to the memory of this woman that with her death he never took another as wife. Many an evening we had sat beside the hearth as he spoke longingly of her beauty and grace; to the cadence of his wistful narrative my memories would drift back to traverse the nights where Christine had dwelt by my side. He would never confess it, we were not so different after all.

A silent tear rolled down his cheek before he turned from me, his head fallen to his chest. “Daroga … ” I uttered softly, trying to mend my careless mistake.

“Don't call me that.” The reply was soft, and overflowed with bitter pain. “It is because of you that my life in Persia ended, or have you forgotten what I did for you.” He took a few shaking breaths before continuing, piling on due shame to my already epic blunder. “I sacrificed everything I had and spent time in prison for losing you on the road. I swore by letting you escape certain execution I was preserving a genius of such scale it would have been a shame to destroy. And here you dare to throw at my face how you murdered my son. I had hoped you had grown beyond such immature slights by now. Beyond the selfish boy I once followed around Persia like a well-trained dog.”

He flinched as I laid a hand on his shoulder. Age had taken none of my abilities to move with complete silence, usually I performed this little trick as a game. The skill had been invaluable for the Opera Ghost, highly effective in convincing the company of my ethereal presence. However today there was no premeditation, no motive. Moving silently was simply something I did naturally. “You cannot fathom how much I long to unspeak those words, my friend. You know my temper and I fear that exhaustion has brought us to this folly. Please, forgive me.” I bowed my head finding it difficult to utter the next words, “Please help me find a way through this situation … three days of my ceaseless plotting has produced no viable solutions.”

The nod was almost imperceptible as I withdrew my hand from him.

“Thank you, old friend. I knew you would not abandon me.” With a weary sigh I sank back into the chair, Nadir remained still for some time recollecting himself before he crossed the room to pour himself a drink from the decanter of whiskey, his vice. The vice I had driven him to over the years despite his former religious devotions which strictly forbid the consumption of alcohol except under certain conditions. I had been a bad influence; under my constant grating I had worn those conditions down to include a daily ration to calm his ragged nerves. Just as I had my addiction, so he had his.

His eyes locked onto the violin before he took a stiff swallow. “Erik, did you do that intentionally?”

I shrugged, attempting to shed the tension still contained from my latest surrender to my primal rage. “Yes and no. I had hardly intended to be so harsh when I picked her up. Tell me, Nadir, how do you think a pipe organ would look downstairs?” I pondered the previous train of thought. “I would of course need to remove a good deal of the existing music room. And the fireplace might require relocating. The larger pipes require venting up here on this floor, but that remedy is simple enough by placement of a hole in the floor … what?”

Had I gone completely mad he may have stood there in a similar fashion as he did now; drink in frozen hand, posture rigid, expression of one completely astounded. “A pipe organ?” He blinked and let the silence extend between us. “A pipe organ next to my room? You cannot be serious. Have you lost your mind?”

“No. That is right here where it belongs.” I gestured idly to my head. “And I have been contemplating the addition for some time. How much I miss the one in my old home beneath the opera house. Of course the sounds would never be as rich as they were in the echo chamber of the underground lake. There is simply no recreating that, not even the Music Hall can accomplish that effect.” With one hand I issued a dismissive wave. “The organ itself would nest in the inner walls of this sanctuary quite nicely with a little work.”

Downing his drink in one gulp, he immediately refilled the glass with a more generous portion. “Now, this is what I am used to. The conversations that twist and turn at such a rapid pace as to be untraceable. I will never be able to figure out precisely how your mind bridges the unspoken gaps.”

“Best not to even attempt such an improbable feat. Sometimes … ” would it reveal too much? Not to the man who knew me better than anyone on this earth. “ … it is like the dance of a flame. If you hold a substance close enough to be touched by the light you risk burning it. A brief glimpse may be all we can afford before dashing back into the safety of the shadows.”

“You truly are at a loss of what to do.”

I could only nod. Would I be able to resist seeing and hearing her once more? I could not possibly avoid the grand opening of the new Music Hall. I had to be there, at least in spirit. This time I had been compelled to do things right. I longed to stand in the illumination of the stage lights and bask in the glory as one of the contributors. But my heart warned me I demanded far too much of my own delicate willpower. Was it a gamble I would risk? Would I truly be capable of leaving well enough alone?

“How long before she arrives?” He asked gently, swirling the glass in thought.

“Tomorrow the rehearsals are set to begin. She is scheduled to arrive in the morning direct from France.” Idly my fingers inched their way to an ornately carved box. Opening the lid I removed the ivory pipe and prepared the sweet opium that had brought me some relief these past days.

In observance of my actions Nadir frowned. “How much have you been smoking lately?”

“Not enough.” Lighting the pipe from the gentle candle light I preferred, I inhaled deeply and began to feel the tension ebbing; a wash of deceptive euphoria coated my raw nerves. “I have not even indulged enough to have had a proper sleep.”

“Take care, Erik. You need your wits about you.” He warned.

Laughter escaped me regardless of my futile efforts to suppress it. A false sense of well-being wrapped me in a blissful blanket as I lay back in the chair. It didn't matter that I knew the effects were all a shameful facade, a temporary escape from the ticking trap that once more threatened my world. I needed this, and though I would never admit it I appreciated the company watching over me.

“You should have eaten something. Gotten some sleep, first.”

I clicked my tongue and smirked lopsidedly. “Oh Daroga, shall I fetch you an apron? If you truly insist upon acting as my nursemaid you really should dress for the part.”

Placing the now empty glass beside the decanter, Nadir shook his head trying to hide the smile that threatened to betray his scarcely concealed amusement. “I need to unpack while you indulge yourself here. My friend, please try to get some sleep. We will talk in the morning of how to handle the grand opening.”

“Grand opening of a grand house.” I giggled, if there was but one way to kill my damnable pride truly the breath of the dragon was capable of it. “Nadir . . . do you like magic tricks?” Suddenly one of the orbs appeared in my hand from a puff of sweet smoke. “Oh look . . . I am quite upside down.”

An amused smile spread across his entire face. “Erik. Get some rest.”

“Ahh … there is my old friend.” I grinned into the surface of the orb, my distorted reflection grinned back upside down. “Phantom of the Opera. Hehe! Now you see him … now you do not.”

__________________________________________________ _______
There is MUCH more ... wanna be a test reader? You know you do!

"The only way to ensure a dream withstands the torrents of time is to lay the foundation in hard work and skills. Anything less and the accomplishment is not worth recognition."-Erik- from my novel ~Nightingale's Strain~
Follow the series Nightingale's Odyssey
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Name: Lynn Rossignol | Gender: Female | Age: 40 | Posts: 30 | Roses: 10
Old 09-27-2014 at 12:35 AM
Wandering Child
Opera Performer

Nightingale's Avatar

Roaming Dungeons
(Performer Is Offline)
Excerpt from "Gilded Cage for a Nightingale"  Post [3] »

Recently I completed the first draft and rough edit for the second book in the series set in 1896, five years past the events in the first book. Here is a short pull off the text from the first chapter:

We never truly know how rich we are until we face loss. Even as I sit at my desk in the torturous light of a single candle flame casting my eyes over those written words they seem trite. Perhaps because far too often in this world we take everything so completely for granted, we need to be constantly reminded. Enjoying good health, a loving family, a respectable home, the means to make a living, everything that defines us … we rarely take the time to contemplate how swiftly these elements can become compromised, stripped away from us. Only in that stark light do we finally observe how precious our lives really are. Outside the window, the winter storm is releasing its fury while the quill in my hand contemplates my uncertain future. Fear has walked beside me before, a companion that drove me onwards to higher heights and to the cusp of my greatest achievements. This time is different. Fear's paralyzing grasp has sent my thoughts back to where this all began, when I was but a naïve fool believing I still possessed limitless power. Had I only opened my eyes sooner, perhaps this may be ending differently … for me now, it is too late.

It was well into the night when we found the last stragglers of our gathering in Carnegie Hall's foyer ready to depart for our homes. As I put my cloak on Damrosch chuckled. “I daresay you shall have one hell of a headache on the morrow.” His breath caught for a moment as he tried to suppress a drunken belch. “As apparently shall I. Oh dear, Erik, don't tell me you will be working tomorrow.”

“If I am to keep a schedule close to that which I have laid out for myself, then yes. The Ballard mansion has some recently requested modifications, which requires my presence on the site whether I am hungover or not.” I shrugged, still feeling pleasant from the drink as Christine tucked herself into my arms. “It matters not to the rest of the world that today was my anniversary.”

Pulling out his pocket watch, Damrosch observed the time. “You mean yesterday. It's past midnight.”

“Details.” I waved it away.

Outside a sharp crack caused every head to turn in unison. There was no storm outside, the entire day and into the evening had been clear. That could only mean a handful of causes for the sudden disturbance. We darted towards the door. In the flicker of the street light, stretched out in a growing puddle of blood lay the body of a man in a black suit. Beside him, where he dropped it, lay the violin case. A case I knew well from the rehearsals at the hall. Everyone froze, staring in wordless horror as Adam Walleck's eyes gazed heavenward. Less than ten minutes ago we had all waved to his laughing figure as he had departed the upper foyer, intent to go home to his wife. Hesitantly, I stepped forward kneeling beside him I tried in vain to find a pulse. My heart sank, there was nothing. As I stood once more my eyes shifted up to Damrosch who searched me for some sign of hope, a sign I could not give him.

“No.” He gasped out. “How can this be? What happened?”

I cast my gaze for any sign of what might have occurred, some shadow fleeing in the distance. But the streets were deserted. No sign of the source of the close ranged gun shot which ended Wallbeck's life prematurely when it blew open the side of his neck. The streets were deserted aside from those of us who had only just been in the foyer. Despite the warm summer night air Christine shivered in my arms, burying her face into the folds of my coat as I embraced her. Dismally I replied, “I do not know, Damrosch. But the world has lost an incredible violinist.”

.... and the plot just gets darker from there!

"The only way to ensure a dream withstands the torrents of time is to lay the foundation in hard work and skills. Anything less and the accomplishment is not worth recognition."-Erik- from my novel ~Nightingale's Strain~
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Name: Lynn Rossignol | Gender: Female | Age: 40 | Posts: 30 | Roses: 10
Old 10-03-2014 at 04:51 PM
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Excerpt from "Lament of the Nightingale"  Post [4] »

Working hard on the third novel in the series, this one set in the year 1899, two years post the events of book two. This is a pull off the first chapter of the book. I am still looking for readers to let me know about book one and onwards if interested, shoot me a PM.
__________________________________________________ _________
Lament of the Nightingale:
Third novel in the Nightingale Series

Chapter 1

Applause exploded within the theatre as the audience rose to their feet, eyes focused down upon the singular figure in the middle of the floor offering a little bow.

“Thank you. Thank you.” Slowly Doctor William Wright edged backwards, gesturing towards the door. “It has been a lengthy lecture and I thank you for your attendance. There are refreshments provided, if you will follow me.”

A general buzz of conversation filled the surgical theatre that had been used as a lecture hall disgorged the crowd comprised mostly of finely dressed men. As this had not been an actual surgical procedure demonstration it seemed a few men had brought their wives to listen to the esteemed doctor speak.

Just outside the door of the surgical theatre, Wright stood amongst a crowd of gentlemen engaged in a discussion concerning the lecture. He did not notice as a solitary figure hovered in silence on the edge of the crowd. Minutes ticked by until at long last the gentlemen excused themselves for refreshments just down the hallway. Only then did he glance to his left to discover her presence.

“Doctor William Wright.” The gaze of her bright blue eyes was strong, but he detected a note of weariness as she took a step toward him. “I am to understand through your lecture that you are a man who discovered success with a good percentage of, shall we say, challenging cases. Am I correct?”

Flashing her a bright smile at the compliment he rubbed his fingers of his left hand on the lapel of his dress jacket. A man married to his work, the only ring upon his finger was an inherited signet ring. He had slicked back his hair with a little gel, adding a sheen. Everything about him was polished and refined. “It seems I have an admirer in you, young miss … ”

“Madame.” She corrected him quietly, her eyes momentarily dropping to the impression on the wedding band concealed by her gloves. “I assure you, Doctor, my interests venture only in so far as your expertise in the medical field.”

Straightening up, he took a step back from this strange women, evaluating her with his eyes. She was of moderate age, perhaps approaching her late thirties or closer to forty. It was difficult to tell. Dressed in a finely tailored gown that followed her trim figure to the waist, the fabric alone told that she came from a household with significant money. The brocade was a shimmering tone-on-tone in a midnight blue trimmed with black lace and intricate bead work. The tailoring itself was a masterwork and would have cost a fortune for the labor fee. Wearing her blond hair bound up high, she let a few tendrils curl out from the jeweled binding. Whomever had managed to wed this lovely women was indeed a lucky man.

Wright cast his eyes out into the crowd searching for the husband, however no one seemed to be hovering around. Setting his gaze back upon her, he cleared his throat. “My apologies, Madame it is. Tell me, what is it that interests you so in my work?”

Glancing over her shoulder, she gave a quick surveillance of the room to ensure that no one was listening before she replied with her voice as low as possible. “I wish for a diagnosis.”

“Madame?” His eyes widened in surprise before he laughed at the request. “You seem quite healthy to me. My expertise is in neuroscience. I can tell by the blushing upon your cheeks that you are in fine health.”

Clasping her hands in front of her, she grew rigid studying the floor for a long moment before she dared to raise her head. The eyes which before had been so strong, trembled with the weight of a great burden. “It is not for me. I implore you, Doctor Wright, to accept the challenge that I have to offer you. You will be well compensated for your time away from Massachusetts General Hospital.”

Wright lifted a hand to brush against his mustache in thought. “What precisely are you asking? Where would I be going?”


A bout of laughter left him, no wonder she seemed so weary! The cities of Boston and Manhattan were over two-hundred miles apart. That was quite a long way, even by train. “Manhattan? Oh my, what a nice little day trip. That is an amusing request. Where is that husband of yours who put you up to this little jest?”

His words only stiffened her, grasping the fold of her dress she did not look away from him, instead her head lifted in a firm resolve. “My husband was unable to attend. A journey from my home to Boston is assuredly not an inconsequential trip to take upon a lark. What I offer you is a chance to unravel a mystery none of your colleagues have managed to begin to understand. It appears I have chosen the wrong man of science, you appear to be disinclined to the inconvenience.”

“Now now, Madame.” He held out his hands placating her. “Pardon me, I meant no disrespect. I don't often get requests of this nature as the majority of my patients come here to me by manner of an appointment … you have however, peaked my interest. A mystery you say? Others have tried and failed?” This was sounding interesting. Wright's career had found its rising surge when he oversaw a number of exploratory surgeries right here at Massachusetts General Hospital. He enjoyed surgery as a process, but the cases that pushed things to the next level, the cases where he was doing that which had not been tried before — that was what he lived for. If he could resolve what other fellows in his field could not, well now … that was just one more stroke to his growing genius.

“Not here.” She shook her head resolutely. “I will tell you more once we reach Manhattan. If you agree to accompany me I will make the arrangements for the train straightaway. We can leave tonight.”

Raising an eyebrow he brought his hands together before him. “Tonight? You are in such a rush … is there a reason?”

“I have been gone too long already.”

* * * * *

“Well?” Wright stretched his legs as far as the brougham would allow. The horses pulled through the cobblestone streets at a brisk pace. “You said you would tell me more once we arrived. We're in Manhattan. Will you at least tell me your name?”

Her eyes remained locked outside the window as the buildings of Uptown Manhattan flew past. It was a beautiful April day with the budding trees along the boulevards casting a green hue to the world. Winter had been so cold and dreary. She shivered at the memories when Wright's voice broke the turbulent silence. “Madame Christine Daae.” The train ride with Doctor Wright and her manservant had been long. The entire time she had remained locked in silence, not out of rudeness but because she could not seem to find an answer for his endless string of questions. It seemed so much simpler to sit as a statue locked in stoney silence. Soon enough they would arrive, soon enough he would find his own answers.

Rounding the corner the brougham carried them past the east side of Central Park, south a few more blocks and once they turned the corner she would see it again. Home. Clef de Voute Manoir, the stone mansion dominated an entire block on the corner of 57th street and 7th avenue. The Beaux Arts building stood three stories and stretched into two wings adorned with elegant carvings. Both the second story balcony above the entrance and the entrance itself were guarded by immense gargoyles arching their heads into the sky.

Trotting past the main entrance, the carriage carried them toward the stable entrance. When the door opened, Christine dropped down and hurried towards the servant entrance. “Follow me, they will get your things.”

“Madame Daae,” Wright glanced about the unusual debarking. “What is the meaning of this? Is there a reason not to use the front door?”

“Yes.” She waved a hand to him, beckoning him through the door in haste. Once he was inside, she glanced out the door before shutting into the more confined space. “Good, no one saw. Please follow me.”

Beginning to feel like he truly was the subject of some extremely elaborate prank, Wright narrowed his eyes as he watched his peculiar host open a cellar door and begin to descend. “I must ask where we are going. If this is some kind of a joke … ”

“It is most certainly not. Now you must heed my words.” She called over her shoulder. “Keep your distance, if you enter it is completely at your own risk. It would be better if you didn't this first time. Keep your voice down. And if you hear us tell you to run, just do it without question.”

His eyes opened wide for a moment as he saw her pause before a thick iron door with a hefty lock securing a bar in place. What in heavens name was something like this doing in an upper class cellar?

A strange intermittent tapping sound echoed through the corridor stealing his attention. The flicker of a shadow cast against the wall by a swaying lantern was just one more bazaar element in this strange adventure. These people, though it appeared were well off, he was beginning to question what manner of mansion this place was. Perhaps, a madhouse? At last the mystery of the tapping presented itself when a short gaunt man came around the corner on a pair of crutches. His lower right leg having been wrapped securely in a single thick strip of wide linen with the evidence of a splint on either side showing. He put no weight upon the injured limb as he slowly made his way towards them, a set of keys hanging from one hand and the lantern handle from the other. The poor old man was struggling to maneuver the crutches at the same time, but managing it. Straggling strands of long gray that escaped his partially bound hair at his neck dangled into his face.

“Finally.” He gasped. “It's about damn time you got home.”

“How has today been, Nadir?” She reached out a hand and gently took the lantern from him.

Nadir's shoulders sagged despite the crutches. Bloodshot eyes bagged from exhaustion stared blindly at the door. “Bad. Very very bad.” At last he spied the new arrival. His eyes slowly drifted up and down the doctor's figure. “So, this must be the esteemed Doctor Wright. Has she given you the warnings?”

Mutely, he nodded. There were no words to describe what he was feeling. Apprehension? Suspicion? Dread? What were these people up to? What had happened to this man's leg?

Hobbling over to the lock on the door, Nadir sighed as he lifted a key from the ring. “Then, let's get this over with.” The lock opened with a heavy clank. Removing it from the latch he required Christine's assistance to slide back the bar that kept the door from pivoting on its hinges. When at last it was free to move on well oiled hinges the foot thick iron door swung into the room.

From the corridor the large chamber that at one time had been a storeroom appeared to be empty. The light cast by the lantern only reached so far. Wright was about to berate them for this ridiculous joke when he heard the sound of a metallic scraping from inside the room.

“What the … ” Deep in the shadows, was there something in there? His eyes adjusting to the dim light there was the outline of some object lurking in the shadows. He heard it again, the scraping of iron across the floor. A clinking like … like the links of heavy chains.

“Doctor Wright.” Christine held up the lantern gesturing toward the door. “Meet my husband. Erik.”

Nothing prepared him for the sight. The moment the dim lantern cast its rays over the figure, it shrank back, covering eyes with two heavily shackled hands. Under the worn clothing that hung in disrepair on his frame he was thin, bone thin with a pale cast to his flesh that eerily reminded him of cave dwelling creatures entirely unaccustomed to the exposure of the sun. Bare foot, around his ankles another set of heavy shackles bound him to the wall on short chains. Each of the four chains that held him fast to the wall were a meter in length, secured with a thick bolt driven directly into the stones of the cellar itself. The figure wasn't standing, so much as half crouching against the wall. Slowly he lowered a hand revealing the second shock for the poor doctor as he laid his eyes upon the deformed face. The man had no nose of which to speak of, from below his overgrown silver hair the skin that covered his face down to the malformed upper lip was extremely thin leaving the contours of the skull visible. Eerily as the mismatched eyes filled with hostility stared up at him he had the feeling there was a demon lurking behind them. Wright wasn't particularly a religious man, and yet he wondered if calling for a priest would be a far better solution.

“Good God!” He gasped out. “What have you done to him?”

Nadir lowered his head murmuring. “I assure you, all this is necessary. We have had no choice but to continually strengthen his bonds as he found ways to escape from them.”

Daring to glance around the room he noted there was nothing in it. Just the strange man in his iron restraints. “Where is his bed? A blanket?”

Christine shook her head sadly but it was Nadir who answered. “Anything left with him swiftly becomes a weapon.”

A low maniacal laugh echoed in the chamber. Wright looked up with a start to realize the chilling sound came from that man. He was smiling, a strange twisted smile infused with that crazed glimmer dwelling in his staring eyes. There was something very wrong with this man, but he could not look away.

The lips opened, it was like watching a skull speaking some other language, a haunted voice from beyond the grave.

Wright shook his head. “He's spouting nonsense. Complete and utter nonsense.”

Tensely Nadir shook his head, his own eyes locked upon Erik, but he was not entranced by what he was seeing. He was watching every slow move the chained figure made. “That is not nonsense, Doctor. He is speaking Persian … though it is slurred, it is still distinguishable. He bids us welcome.”

“Persian?” Wright took a step over the threshold watching as Erik's eyes followed him, he lowered a shackled hand to the floor leaning on the arm with the cold smile.

He spoke again, lower this time and the tone much more sinister.

“Erik!” Nadir snapped. “I will not translate that rude suggestion! Have some manners! I wish you would stop this game.”

Erik's reply was a grim mutter with a forefinger flicking up at the doctor.

“That's it, I'm tired of this.” Nadir was about to turn and leave when Christine laid a hand on his shoulder.

“Please. Ask him.”

Sighing, Nadir hobbled back a little closer to the door. “Want to see something that no one can explain Doctor? Listen to this … Erik, speak English.”

To which Erik began to laugh and continued to interject his bouts of insidious laughter with Persian snippets that only Nadir was privy to.

Taking a deep breath, Nadir shifted his gaze towards the doctor before he made the exact same request in Persian.

Erik crouched a little lower against the wall, the chain securing his wrist swinging in the shadows. “But, Daroga, where is the fun in that?” His words were halting, labored, and slurred.

“You have a visitor.” Nadir pointed to Wright. “Now, behave.”

“Since when has that request done anyone any good?” Erik chuckled before turning his hostile eyes to Wright. “So, the Daroga has brought a fresh offering for the Angel of Doom in his pit of horrors. Very well, very well, my patron of the art of death. Step closer and we can commence.”

Wright involuntarily took another step into the room. “Remarkable. But I must give you full disclosure. I am primarily a neurosurgeon not a psychologist.”

Shifting his leg from discomfort, Nadir let a breath out wryly. “A lot of good that consult did … Erik drove him into becoming his own client. I believe he is still a patient at Bellevue.”

Freezing, Wright cast a worried glance over his shoulder before once more returning to Erik who was now rocking back and forth on the floor setting the chains to clink in a wild rhythm as he giggled sinisterly. Those cold mismatched eyes—the right of an almost pupil-less brown and the left an icy blue—were utterly consumed by a blazing madness. But his body looked so emaciated, he could hardly get very far with those heavy chains. “He's clearly delusional … locked in some made up fantasy.”

“Delusional, yes.” Nadir confirmed. “However, it is not a made up world. I can assure you I am well aware of precisely the point Erik's mind has latched onto in his personal history. It is what makes him the most dangerous. For whatever reason, he is convinced he is back in the courts of my native Persia. He does not recognize his wife or his own son … only me, and only in the role I played back in those courts. The danger comes from what his role was.”

Taking a fascinated step forward, Wright watched as Erik reached and tugged on his own silver hair almost forming a forelock. Every motion the man made was beset with a series of tiny tremors leaving each gesture to be executed in a jerking pattern.

Laughter filled the air as he pulled hard on the hair. “Death awaits all who enter my kingdom! Come and meet your end in a dance of writing agony at my hands. These hands … these hands … oh how skilled and gifted! The darkness will come and take all of humanity away drowned in the filth of what comprises it … will you try to glimpse the monster? Will you try and outwit him? Oh come, please come! Come closer … ”

Wright leaned forward drawn in by the whispered taunts. He stared with his mouth open as Erik's hand slowly untangled from the silver hair. Stretched between his fingers was a single shimmering strand. The iris of his blue eye rapidly broadened, pushing his pupil to near a pin point, it was too dark in the room to see how the deep brown iris was performing. But his lips, the corners of his lips contorted into a shivering grin the moment before he lashed out!

Leading with the fingers spread, the strand of hair slipped around the doctor's wrist as Erik lunged. Away from the wall, the weight of the shackles drove his body to the floor. But the moment the startled doctor tried to pull back he found a sharp pain constricting against his flesh. Thrashing, Erik was pulling back on the strand, indentations showing where he had twirled it around his fingers. He was laughing! Evil and filled with malice, he was laughing as he watched the doctor struggle to free himself from a simple strand of human hair.

Christine darted into the room, pulling back the hood on the lantern. The moment the full force of the light hit his eyes Erik scrambled back against the wall, covering his head with his arms. Wreathed in his chains he continued to rock back and forth, laughing uncontrollably to himself.

The moment he felt the tension released, Doctor Wright flung himself out into the corridor, panting for breath. He tore the strand of hair from about his wrist and flung it away, staring in horror at the huddled figure inside that room. There was no sympathy for the man's plight now, only terror at what he had just experienced.

Wordlessly, Nadir and Christine shut the door, pulled the substantial latch into place and reset the lock. Their heavy eyes at last turning to the doctor on the floor. She offered him a hand helping him to his feet. “Remember, I told you entering the room was at your own risk. Come, the staff will have prepared tea for us in the study.” Stiffly, she turned to head up the stairs with the lantern.

Wright cast a hesitant glance at Nadir as he adjusted his grip on the crutches. Casually, the Persian replied, “You are far from the first doctor to have met him. The staff has grown accustomed to how this proceeds. Let's hope it fares better for you than it has for the others.”
__________________________________________________ _____________

... not even close to the end. Want to know how Erik got to this state? Well... ask to test read and you can find out, as well as his dark journey onwards.

"The only way to ensure a dream withstands the torrents of time is to lay the foundation in hard work and skills. Anything less and the accomplishment is not worth recognition."-Erik- from my novel ~Nightingale's Strain~
Follow the series Nightingale's Odyssey
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Name: Lynn Rossignol | Gender: Female | Age: 40 | Posts: 30 | Roses: 10
Old 11-29-2014 at 02:35 AM
Wandering Child
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Roaming Dungeons
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 Post [5] »

<<crickets>> Sigh ... don't everyone rush at once. :(

"The only way to ensure a dream withstands the torrents of time is to lay the foundation in hard work and skills. Anything less and the accomplishment is not worth recognition."-Erik- from my novel ~Nightingale's Strain~
Follow the series Nightingale's Odyssey
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