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On Men and Mysteries--An Adventure in the 19th Century (2)

Author's Note: Okay, so I know it's been a loooooong time since I updated this. I'm really sorry about that. If you want to read the first chapter, you can find it here. Hope you enjoy!

***

“What a fine fix you’ve gotten yourself into, Mr. Finch.” I muttered to myself in the style of Samwise Gamgee, although visiting Paris’s Opera House in the middle of the night was probably not as dangerous as the long journey to Mount Doom. As I looked out over the city from one of the ballroom’s balconies, I couldn’t help feeling like it came close. The party was nearly over and I was certain my presence wouldn’t be missed by anyone, so I made my way towards the exit. A new sense of urgency gripped me. I had to snap out of it, had to help Doctor. Even if trying to find Erik at midnight was probably not safest idea, what did that matter compared to the fate of the entire Universe?

Consoling myself in this way, I made my way down Paris’s cobblestone streets to the Opera House. At least I had studied the area enough that I knew the way. I really wished I could change into something less…unwieldy. 19th century Paris fashion was beautiful, but not the most practical or inconspicuous. Still, it was dark and late enough that I didn’t draw many stares. Eventually, I was there, standing in front of Opera House. Even in the dim light, its grandeur was unmistakable.

I figured it wouldn’t be smart to just go waltzing in through the front door, so I walked around the building until I found a side entrance instead. Surprisingly, this was a lot easier once I stopped thinking about the fact that I was willingly trying to find a man who would probably kill me before I even had the chance to explain what I was doing there. Assuming I found him in the first place.

Flames flickered on the walls as I silently made my way through the corridors, taking care to make sure my dress didn’t catch on anything. It was hard not to think about the fact that Erik could easily sneak up on me at any moment if he wanted to. Part of me wanted to call out, just to get this over with, but I immediately convinced myself that was a terrible idea. I found myself clutching the TARDIS key hanging around my neck as if it was a charm that could ward off evil, even if such a thought was utterly ridiculous. In the meantime, I looked for a way to go down and eventually found my way to a staircase. There was no light down there, so I took a candle off one of the lights. Hand at the level of your eyes, I reminded myself, but after just a few steps I realized that I needed to use my other hand to gather my skirts. There was no way this could possibly end well, but I had to try.

Apprehensively, I descended, a small part of my mind screaming at me about how insane this was. I did my best to ignore it, concentrating on avoiding a fall. But my relative peace didn’t last for long. Any moment now, I found myself thinking, Any moment now, something is going to ha— My thought was cut off, suddenly, as I was pulled up by the neck so I was standing on my toes. I dropped the candle instinctively, clutching at the rope that was constricting my breathing. I struggled to take it off, even though I knew exactly what it was and that my actions were pointless.

“Who are you?” said a voice that sounded like it had to have come from a different world. “And what are you doing here?”

“Doctor—“ I managed to gasp out. “Doctor—needs—help.”

The red behind my eyes was already beginning to fade to black, my attempts to free myself becoming weaker. In my barely conscious haze, I felt the pressure on my throat lessen. I collapsed to the floor, shuddering and gasping for air, but it wasn’t enough to keep everything from turning black.

***

Doctor woke with a start. She looked around, but in the faint light she could only make out a few vague outlines. Something was cutting her wrists, and she realized she was wearing handcuffs. Wooden ones.

Figures. She thought, sighing. She was also restrained, strapped into some sort of chair, but again they were made of wood. Whoever had done this had obviously put a lot of thought into it. She couldn’t help wondering, however, about how they thought she’d even be able to use her sonic in the first place. Assuming they hadn’t taken it already.

She tried to remember how she had gotten here. She had been chatting with some old friends – they always loved hearing her talk about her adventures. She had made her way to the table of refreshments and appetizers, wondering if they had one of those pastries she adored. She had glanced at all the dancers on the ballroom floor, smiling when she spotted Radha with a group of other young women and men. She had just made up her mind to tell Radha “I told you so,” the next time they interacted, when –

“Good. You’re awake.” A voice startled her out of her thoughts. She looked around, but she couldn’t tell where it was coming from. “I must say, I’m honored to be welcoming such a…distinguished guest under my roof today. I’m afraid the hospitality may not be as wonderful as you’re used to, but my father always did say I should live within my means.”

“Let me go!” Doctor shouted, frustrated because she didn’t know where she was or what she was doing here and this man was just talking about pointless things that didn’t even matter.

“Oh, I’m afraid I can’t do that, dear. That would ruin my plan.”

“What, for world domination?” Doctor managed a scoffing tone. “Since you seem to know so much about me, you have to know this world is protected.”

Suddenly, a bright light turned on, momentarily blinding her. As she watched, a figure stepped into the light. If she hadn’t known any better she would’ve thought it was Erik, but his mask color was different.

“World domination?” The man chuckled, but it was a sound she instantly disliked. “Not at all, dear – I don’t have nearly enough time. My own aim is far smaller. Revenge.”

“Revenge? I’m sure I would remember you if we had interacted before—“

“You flatter me, dear.”

Doctor rolled her eyes. “What do you mean, ‘revenge?’”

“I’m not looking for revenge on you. You are simply the bait.” Something about the way he said the last word was very unpleasant, and she shuddered involuntarily.

“Bait?” She asked. At least he seemed to be entertaining her questions for now…although she got the feeling that he was only answering her because these were things he wanted her to know, anyways. “Bait for who?”

“Who do you think,” He said slowly, as if he was savoring every word. “Docteur?”

“If you hurt Erik, I swear I’ll—“

“Do what, exactly?” He said, giving her an evil smile. “The way I see it, you’re in no position to question me or make any demands.”

“What makes you think he wouldn’t realize this is a trap?” Doctor said, ignoring him. “For that matter, what makes you think he’d come here to rescue me in the first place?”

“Oh, your friend is taking care of that.” His tone was deceptively casual.

“My fri--Radha? What did you do to her?” She felt her confidence evaporating, only to be replaced with more rage. “If something has happened to her, you’ll have far more than revenge to worry about!”

“She is simply paying a visit to our old, mysterious friend. If anything has happened to her, I would think it was his fault, not mine.”

“You sent her to the Opera House? In the middle of the night? To find Erik? Alone?” Doctor said, a mix of anger and horror. “He doesn’t even know her!”

The man gave her a bit of a rueful glance. “Yes, well, from what brief time I had with her, she certainly seems to be good at talking.”

“If he lets her talk.” Doctor muttered, cursing herself. She hadn’t wanted to bother Erik about their visit to Paris, but now she realized she should’ve told him they were coming. She realized how silly it was now to have wanted to surprise him, because at least then he would’ve been expecting them.

“For all our sakes’, you ought to hope she will succeed. Otherwise, there will be consequences.”

Doctor drew herself up, as much as was possible in her restrained condition. “Oh, I believe in Radha. They’ll figure something out. You’ll see.”

I hope, she thought to herself, her words echoing in the empty room.

Tags: Phantom of the Opera, adventure, Story, Doctor, Radha

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