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Vahid rubbed at his temple nervously, making his scrutiny of the lamplight below waiver. The monster trembled with some unarticulated frustration. He sensed it. It manifested in the slight twitches to Erik’s hand. That letter made matters worse—far worse. He cursed himself for delivering it.

“Do you have any idea what risk you put your children in? You made the choice to put them first when you took them out of the security of that monastery. You can’t run off half-crazed right now.”

Erik touched his temple. He leaned in slightly. “I am half-crazed. What would you suggest I do?” With one graceful leap he pounced upon the railing and began to walk, stabbing the air with a finger. “My fuse is smoldering and every minute that passes without her is a minute of absolute agony. I am growing angry, Daroga.”

“You’re not in the position you used to be—”


“You go running out onto those streets right now after her and you are as good as dead!” Vahid uneasily eyed Erik’s twitching hand. “There is not a shadow in this city that doesn’t know the Phantom, regardless of this fair. You have children here to think of and clearly your state of mind can’t handle a thing right now.” His eyes shot from Erik’s hand, to his mask and back to his hand. Erik balanced precariously on the edge of the rooftop. The wind snapped his cloak sending arrows of tension up Vahid’s neck.

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting, On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming…

He swallowed hard. “You stay here. I will return to the comte and attempt to leave with Anna.” Erik’s eyes shifted abruptly, moved, and glowed at him from an even higher spot. Vahid spun, searching high and low for his evaporating specter. “I will Erik. When have I ever backed down on my word to you? You can’t have the control when you are the one out of it. Don’t do anything stupid. Do you hear me, Erik? Stay burrowed like the mole you are until I come to you to let you know all is clear. You have children to consider, you colossal fool!”

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