The Tale of the Bloodline

The Heart Inspired

a novel by Etienne de Mendes

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The Tale of the Bloodline, third in a series of books from Etienne de Mendes, takes the reader on a harrowing new adventure. Departing from the nineteenth century world of the first two novels, the story remains closely tied to the main character, Erik the former Phantom of the Opera.

Awakened in a new millennium, no longer a man with the face of a ghoul, the Phantom of the Opera discovers he stills has a heart and it beats for the same woman that it always yearned for – Christine. Plagued by memories that haunt every corner of his life, he searches for a way to bring her back to him. In the process he discovers not only his past, but the identity of the creature who shadows and guards him, the very personification, the source, of a new life. Natura non facit saltum - Nature makes no such leap. Or does it?


Mindful of the newly acquired clumsiness embracing his head, Erik followed the Daroga. He felt obligated to go wherever Khalil directed, but would have preferred to visit the metal smiths and make adjustments to the helmet. Ignoring his discomfort, he trailed the Persian to a distant corner of the palace; past the kitchens, into the great storehouse of food and supplies consumed in the rooms occupied by the monarchy and their servants. They stopped at a hatch-like trapdoor lying level with the floor. Taking note that no obvious lock or trick undid the entrance, Erik wondered what the Daroga pressed to release the catch. Pausing to light a torch, they peered into the hole. The light revealed a winding flight of stone steps descending deep into the earth. Erik hesitated, his instincts fearing to venture where two sides of stone left no way to flee but up or down.

“Come, my boy,” urged Khalil. “Let us meet the Magus Rakesh Mizoram. He’s descended from an ancient hereditary class of priests. In times long past, up to this very day, they know no borders. Among those of his order, he is deemed one of the wisest.”

Freeing himself of the garish helmet, Erik reluctantly entered. He snaked a hand along the walls, appreciating the stone and counting the number of stairs they tread. Despite the fact they were underground, a chill moved through the air, blowing out their torch.

“Oh, for the sake of sanity, relight the thing…quickly.” The Daroga dreaded slipping. A fall could be disastrous.

“No need,” Erik’s sharp eyes were adjusting. “The dark is our companion. Place your hand on my shoulder and I’ll guide us down. The passage seems to curve to our left.”

In a minute the dim glow of a fire, the flames not yet visible, appeared on the stones at the base of the stairs. The flickering illumination revealed the lower walls were covered in Mongolian Cyrillic writing and ancient Coptic glyphs. They descended a total of seventy steps into the earth before entering a sparsely furnished chamber. Here, in one of the oldest levels of the buildings, an obscene body odor mingled with tobacco smoke and saturated with the sweet smell of opiate filled the air.

Before the meager blaze of a central fire pit sat a thin nearly naked fellow, bony ribs jutted from beneath the dark brown skin of his chest. Sooty-faced with a short scraggly beard set upon his chin, he sucked on a hookah. His head was bald directly on top. What remained of his straight gray hair was oiled and drawn back, flat at the temples, into a shiny tail that fell along his spine. He favored a sleek greyhound whose crown had been shaved. On the floor beside his hip sat a worn turban with a large central emerald fastened in the yardage of twisted cloth. Not a hint of expression could be viewed on the peaceful face. His eyes were closed as if he rested.

On the wall directly behind the ascetic male was an image painted in bright fluorescent pigments and gilt. The mural depicted a Hindu deity: a barefoot man with four distinct arms and a jeweled pointed hat who rode atop a lavishly draped white pachyderm.


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