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The Phantom and the Magician

By Neil Troon

Mystery / Drama

The Marble Lair

It began with a ravaging rip in the ceiling. Which was accompanied by a chilling wail as a body fell through and crumpled in a heap on the floor. The smooth piano music came to an abrupt end. The pianist rose slowly from the bench and peered over at what had transpired before him.

His entire clothing was black, as dark as the sky at midnight. His suit consisted of slacks, a vest, a coat that was typically worn by an orchestra conductor, complete with the coattails too. His long black cape was draped over the coat hanger, the cape cascaded down off his frame when it was worn by him. The silk spilled off his shoulders and appeared to be made of water by the way it rippled. The underside of it had a slightly lighter black color variation. It caught faint rays of light and produced a minuscule shimmer and glow. The other side had captured the stars within the fabric. Flowing sheen across the shoulders and down the spine were traces of reflective material that were viewed as tiny gems of light. Reaching down the sides it glimmered too. The folds of his coat also held the light of stars. Resting on top of the rack was his black fedora, a silky black ribbon was wrapped around it. His only other color was white of his long sleeved dress shirt underneath and his small white bow tie. And the porcelain mask could not be forgotten.

The white mask worn on the right side of his face was not a mere decoration. It was perfectly crafted to every feature. The curve of his brow, the scale of his forehead, the size of his eye, the form of his nose, the shape of his cheek, and the slant of his jaw. Everything about it was tuned to his features. The precision of the craftsmanship was without question a work of art. In some light it appeared bone white, others it was the color of snowfall. It even was shown with a steely silver hue to it. The dim light portrayed it as a metallic variation.

He stood, with his left hand resting on the edge of his magnificent black grand piano, and let his gaze rest on the mass that had fallen in the center of the room. The piercing cry shattered the music of the piano. The strident shriek tore him from his composition. There was an icy tone as the body crashed onto the dark marble floor below.

With silent steps he inched closer. His paces were wary and tentative, as if he would shatter the floor beneath him. The space between him and the body drew to a slow close. The faint light from the fire burning on the far side of the room cast an ember glow. He did not shy away or flinch from what he saw, not even when it moved. The body toppled over and was lying face up. He saw that it was a young female.

She lay there still as stone. Her dark brown hair had no curls and was fanned out to the side like the wing of a bird. Her eyes were closed and her face was peaceful like she was asleep. One arm was flung up by her head the other was reaching off to the side for a broom. The broom did not look to very adequate for its job, it came to a point rather then a flat end. The hand by her head was clutching a long slender stick. Further examination revealed it to have intricate detail. Her clothing was a peculiar matter. She was wearing robes. The first was dark forest green in color, the outer and heavier one was black. She wore a charcoal grey wool blouse under her robes and dark trousers in a fashion he had never seen before. Not to mention that typically only males wore such things. She wore rich brown chestnut boots with a small heel. They looked vaguely like the ones equestrians used for English riding.

After he had a brief look at her, he reached down to feel for a pulse. His fingers brushed on her neck with the weight of a feather. Her skin was cold and he felt the faintest of pulses. He did not think she was going to last. She drew no breath at all while he watched her. The fall had surely caused substantial damage to her, yet not enough to grant her a quick death. She was to have an agonizingly painful one, if she could feel anything at all. The force of the impact had most likely broken bones and her skull.

He gingerly reached his hands to lift her head, he did not worry about causing spinal damage for he had felt no swelling, and felt for any gashes. He was greatly surprised to feel it was all intact. His fingers laced through her hair searching for any signs of injury and none were discovered. He carefully lowered her head back down to rest. His hands gracefully cupped the sides of her face, so gently as if she were to crack if held too tight. He focused his attention to her eyes next. They were still closed. He delicately lifted the lid of her right eye open. It was green in color but glossed over. He held it open as he felt again for a pulse with his other hand. He felt none. Mournfully he slid her eye back to a close. The lid was almost shut when she snapped to attention.

Both of her eyes flashed open and were wild. Her mouth gaped open in a desperate gasp. A hand shot out and grabbed a fistful of his coat, the broom left aside. All of this happened in the blink of his eyes. Before he could even react she was on her knees and pushing him backwards. She straddled him and her robe draped over them. Her knees held to both sides of his rib cage. Her fist was still clutching his coat and her other hand had her stick at his throat.

"Who are you?" She asked him. The sound of her voice reminded him of the hautbois instrument.

There was no opportunity for him to respond or surge against her grip on him because she slumped down onto him. Her whole body went lax and she released his coat and her stick. She came to rest with her head on his shoulder and once more entered her dormant state. However, this time she was warm to the touch and had a moderate heartbeat pattern. He was able to slither out from underneath her and gathered that she was sleeping. Her deep breathing continued as he carried her to the only room with a bed. He placed her on the soft sheets and removed her boots. He drew the blankets over her shoulders and tucked her into his own bed.

"Bonne nuit, mademoiselle, et de beaux rêves." He whispered to her as he drew the drapes to a close and silently left his room. He left with his mind running rampant with the thoughts of the mysterious turn of events unraveling before him.

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