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The two men walked at a steady pace as they moved down the flight of stairs that led to the stage below. Behind them the sound of dozens of footsteps could be heard running, marching, reloading, all intent on avenging their fellows that now lay either dead or dying in another very similar staircase just a short stroll away. So many robed men were now either burning or bleeding respectively. Ahead was the sound of music, the sound of actors singing, the sounds of an opera. Before long the two worlds would collide in a bloody marriage of song and bloodshed. Caleb stopped suddenly, cocking an ear to the performance on the nearby stage.

"In sleep he sang to me, in dreams he came..." Caleb sang, beginning to mime the words being preformed on the upcoming stage. Johnny followed still shaken, slowly beginning to rationalize the context of his actions and get over his initial experience. "That voice which calls to me and speaks my name..." Caleb continued, reaching the bottom of the stage and stretching out a hand to the door which would then lead to the area behind the stage. He twisted the door knob and walked inside. The only thing separating him, the audience, and actors now was a length of red cloth. "And do I dream again?" Caleb persisted, checking again to see if his sawed off was still loaded. The footsteps proceeding down the steps were becoming louder. The Cultists were catching up with them. They could no longer run anymore.

Caleb spotted various wooden boxes arranged in the centre of the room and hurriedly hid himself behind them, Johnny following suite. "For now I find the Phantasm of the Opera is there..." Caleb proceeded to sing, the men coming closer. "Inside my mind!" Five robbed men entered through the stairway, firing their weapons erratically in Caleb's direction. Caleb took steady aim and fired repeatedly, taking down four of them with only two shots. "Sing once again with me our strange duet..." Caleb's voice boomed. "My power over you grows stronger yet." More and more cultists flowed into the room, each being slaughtered while bringing another one in tow. But still some did survive long enough to successfully hurl their abuse, firing back as best they could, undying fanaticism empowering their cause. They were using overwhelming manpower to overcome inexperience, and although Caleb would never like to admit it, they could very well succeed.

"And though you turn from me to glance behind..." Caleb continued, still firing, still killing. Johnny sat behind the boxes, shots whizzing over his head, trying his best to summon up the courage to bring out his gun and fight again. "The Phantasm of the Opera is there..." Caleb called out, lobbing a stick of dynamite over towards his enemy. He had been saving this surprise ever since he had inadvertently stumbled upon a case of it in the Monastery's storage room. "Inside your mind!" One of the brighter of the robed men quickly ran forth and somehow managed to extinguish the charge. Johnny took in a long deep breath before popping up from behind his cover, firing a large flare towards the dynamite which promptly ignited again upon contact.

All hell broke loose. The explosion was deafening, creating a large crater which led beneath the stage. Sparks from the explosion set the curtain on fire, revealing the chaos to the unsuspecting public which up to then had remained largely ignorant of the carnage that was now unfolding before them. The Cultists scattered, forcing Caleb to seize the opportunity to run towards the rapidly emptying stage. "Those who have seen your face draw back in fear..." Caleb sang again, now purely on his own without the aid of his more experienced accompaniment. "I am the mask you wear!" Johnny ran beside him, his flare pistol ready to fire again. The screaming crowd grew even more frantic as they approached, running and stomping over each other like a herd of wild antelope.

People were trampled, thrown off balconies, pushed into walls, thrown over chairs, as hundreds of desperate people ran out of the room in order to escape the ever growing carnage. By this point the Cultists had reordered themselves and were intent on pursuing Caleb once more. Caleb leaped off the stage and into the array of seating that just a short while ago provided for the viewing audience's pleasure. Caleb swerved and ducked around the chairs, dodging and rolling around them to hide from the Cabal's bullets. "It's me they hear..." Caleb vocalized quietly, before popping out from behind one of the chairs with his guns blazing. "My spirit and your voice in one combined!" he screamed, his voice carrying throughout the building. "The Phantasm of the Opera is there, inside your mind!"

The Cultists were more than prepared for Caleb's latest barrage. Only a few moments after he began firing he had to duck yet again, only this time to avoid an even bigger threat. A blazing burst of napalm cut through the row of chairs, missing Caleb by mere centimetres. Before long another burst was sent hurdling through the auditorium, setting several of the chairs on fire, sticking to them like a burst of red hot jam. Caleb started running as fast as he possibly could to towards an open door that he somehow had managed to spy to his right. "He's there, the Phantasm of the Opera!" he called out yet again, mostly to focus more than anything else. "Beware the Phantasm of the Opera."

Johnny had become lost soon after Caleb had jumped into the maze of chairs, and was currently trying his best to find his way out. This was a complicated matter, mostly because he now also had to play dodge ball with searing bursts of jellied gasoline. Somehow he did manage to find his way again by Caleb's side, using luck more than anything else. "In all your fantasies, you always knew that man and mystery were both in you" Caleb added, trying his best to outmanoeuvre around another burst. It exploded on contact with a nearby wall with such force as to bowl Caleb and Johnny over. They started to roll towards the open door.

"And in this labyrinth where night is blind, the Phantasm of the Opera is there..." Caleb began to finish, rolling inside the doorway. "Inside your mind!" Another burst of napalm hit the spot where Caleb and Johnny had been tumbling just mere seconds before, causing the doorway to collapse and trapping the dynamic duo in the lower levels of the theatre. The Cultists stopped firing. In the hall below, Johnny and Caleb breathed deeply. They had survived this round, but no one knew how their luck would turn the next time, with them now trapped all alone in the dark.
Some might recall that I had previously made mention as part of the Blood Wiki's sixth anniversary that I had plans to once again invest some of my time in an area of Blood fandom that I had formerly been quite involved in. To that end I present Scroll, a story I originally began in the summer of 2008 as a kind of retelling of the story behind Cryptic Passage in an attempt to bring it further in line with the main Blood canon. Designed to be published in multiple parts, I shall endeavour to release a new instalment of Scroll every Sunday from March 9th on until the story is complete.
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Submitted on
May 25, 2014
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