Orchestra Del Masque
rating: +13+x

The stage was where she lived. Sure, she might exist outside, but on the stage, she came alive. When the candle light dimmed, when the audience grew quiet, she truly shone. It was just her, the orchestra, and the music. The sweet fire of the candelabra being extinguished, the curtain rising, the feeling of elation as she raises the conductors baton. Lyre's ninth tonight, a sad song. One less of passion of the heart, but one of the soul. Despite the elation, they could all feel something tonight. A feeling of malaise, one of danger and death. Not thrill, but the deep human attraction to suffering and fire, the same sort of masochism that attracted the performers to the stage. This special breed of terror bled through the soft, moist streets of London, as a black sludge pooled beneath the feet of a member of the audience. In the darkness of the theaters seats, a Masques nonchalant frown turns to a smile.

When the last violin had been packed away, the last singer sent home, she slumped to the ground in exhaustion. The spasms had gotten worse, the poison that saved her from the seizures was killing her. Laudanum, the supposed miracle cure, ran thick in her veins. She knew that it was useful; it kept her from dying. As she withdrew the black-tinted bottle from a pocket in her overcoat, the soft sound of footsteps echoed down the hallway, punctuated with the sound of a dripping fluid. She quickly stuffed the bottle back into her dress before shakily rising. A man stood there, dressed in a polite red suit jacket, his hands visible atop a cane. He would have been handsome if not for the white, ceramic mask adorning his face.

"Simply gorgeous, miss. I've been traveling these great continents for a great long time, and I have never heard that piece quite like that. And I've heard it from the man himself."
As he spoke, a drop of fluid ran down the mask, before dropping to the floor. Francesca shifted her wait to her side, apprehensive of this mans demeanor and the cockiness of how he spoke.

"Pardon me sir, but I really must be going. I have an appointment to keep." As she spoke, the man's head tilted sightly to the side as another drop leaked down the mask.

"Well, I mustn't keep you, in that case. I must let you know that I'm gainfully employed at a theater company, and we have been searching for an accompaniment." Drip. At this, Francesca glanced at her time-piece.

"If you wish to discuss such matters, I might expect you to make an appointment." Drip. At this, she slid a calling card from the pocket of her bag. The man's hand left the cane to nimbly slide the card from her grasp. Drip.

"I'll be in touch, Miss…?"

"Morsine."

"Well, good evening then, Miss Morsine."

With that, the masked man spun around, and left the room. Francesca sunk to the floor, and finally had a moment of silence to drink a few sips of the opium. Drip.


Francesca awoke with a start the next day as the almost uncomfortably warm sunlight soaked through her bedroom window. The sparsely furnished room bled with light yellows and oranges from the harsh rays, sapping the room's calm with a dryness, the same way an out of tune instrument can steal beauty from the night. The young conductor shakily strode to the nearby washroom, heart pounding irregularly. Her stomach burnt like acid, bile rising. She stumbled to grab the bottle of sickly sweet medicine off the counter, only for it to crash to the ground as her hand shuddered. Francesca shook in uncapping the green-glass bottle, before taking a sip from the poison.

It had come to her from a doctor, a Frenchman with the face of a crow. He had seen her in her youth, sickly and shuddering from the plague, from that terrible pestilence that swept the world. He offered her his healing skills, but cautioned it may not be an effective cure. It had worked well enough, but those days were coming to an end.

Francesca glanced at the card on the side table, considering her few options. Stay and die, or go forth into the world and find the doctor that had saved her this long. With that, she slid the card into her coat pocket, and set off into London's streets.

Drip.

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