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Lord of Mysteries 2: Circle of Inevitability
Chapter 157 - 157 Ancienne Cage à Pigeons

157 Ancienne Cage à Pigeons

Monsieur Ive, a theater actor as well? Or merely an enthusiast? Lumian pondered the enigma.

His immediate impression was, as proprietor and landlord of the Auberge du Coq Doré, Monsieur Ive could be classified as affluent. Moreover, he managed several other enterprises, so the notion of him dabbling in acting appeared improbable. Nevertheless, taking into account Ive’s proclivity for hoarding wealth and his frugal tendencies, Lumian couldn’t completely rule out the possibility of the man dabbling as a minor actor during his idle hours. It was an opportunity, after all, to rake in a few more coins and avoid squandering valuable time.

Once satisfied that the small-time character indeed was Monsieur Ive, Lumian’s eyes drifted to the poster’s title: Forest Fairy.

From the additional script, Lumian deciphered that this was a classic production from the Théatre de l’Ancienne Cage à Pigeons, occasionally revived for new runs.

The actress portraying the Forest Fairy boasted distinct facial contours, an ethereal and captivating aura, and lake-blue eyes filled with innocence and sanctity.

However, Lumian found her less than bewitching, given her adornments of bracelet, necklace, and belt fashioned from tree branches and verdant leaves, topped off by a floral laurel crown. She stirred memories of Ava, the Spring Elf from his dreams, and Susanna Mattise with her cascading turquoise tresses.

For Lumian, these were not nostalgic musings. Especially the latter, bereft of the unusual allure her hair had once commanded, now evoked an eerie and revolting image.

Charlotte Calvino. After noting the actress’s name, Lumian scrutinized the other posters for more clues.

Ultimately, he deduced that Monsieur Ive had performed in three plays at the Théatre de l’Ancienne Cage à Pigeons, yet in each, he was but a mere supporting actor, easily replaced.

Entering the theater with a thoughtful demeanor, Lumian forked out ten licks for a ticket.

The Théatre de l’Ancienne Cage à Pigeons was a well-designed edifice. A large stage dominated the far end, illuminated by gas wall lamps, cloaked by lofty curtains and equipped with several steam-powered machines.

Neat rows of seating lined the theater, progressively ascending like terraced staircases.

Lumian took his ticket stub and located his seat.

The ongoing play was “Princess and the Beast”. The actors’ attire tended towards the liberal, with hints of risqué—entirely in keeping with the aesthetic sensibilities of Le Marché du Quartier du Gentleman.

Watching the performance unfold, Lumian was struck with an internal gasp of awe.

Could this be Trier’s standard for acting?

Such theatrics only earn them keep in Le Marché du Quartier du Gentleman? What caliber do the theaters in Quartier de la Maison d’Opéra hold?

Lumian wasn’t a stranger to the world of theater. Despite Aurore’s homebody tendencies, even she occasionally craved the outdoors. Sometimes she borrowed a pony from Madame Pualis, or chatted with Cordu’s old ladies, narrated stories to local children, and occasionally she’d even take Lumian to Dariège to attend plays, opera, circus performances or visit the underground book market for creative inspiration.

In comparison to the Ancienne Cage à Pigeons, those theatrical performances seemed akin to amateur efforts.

The lead actors on the stage were simply spellbinding. Whether through their facial expressions, physical gestures, or delivered lines, they were as though plucked from the narrative’s pages and set into the world of the living. Lumian, initially focused on scouting for anomalies, found himself unexpectedly engrossed in the unfolding drama. He felt a pang for the Beast’s tangled turmoil of self-doubt, brutality, and torment, and for the Princess, her unspoiled innocence, kindness, and heartfelt distress.

Any one of these principal performers could easily steal the spotlight in a Dariège theater.

As the curtain fell, Lumian found himself rising to his feet, clapping his approval, a twinge of disappointment in his heart that the performance had concluded so swiftly.

He detected nothing suspicious with the actors, nor could he discern anything out of the ordinary within the theater itself during his regular sojourns to the restroom during intermissions.

Madame Fels had hinted that Monsieur Ive cultivated a rooftop vegetable garden as a cost-saving measure. Lumian deduced that the Ive residence must, therefore, be on the apartment building’s top floor, the sixth to be exact.

After a brief scrutiny, Lumian’s gaze landed on the faintest of the glowing windows.

In keeping with Ive’s penny-pinching character, he probably refused to light an additional gas lamp.

Finding a secluded, dark corner, Lumian set himself up, his focus locked onto the dimly lit window, a silent sentinel awaiting any sign of activity.

As the hours wore on, a homeless man wandered by, hoping to claim this sheltered nook as his makeshift bed for the night. However, catching sight of Lumian’s shadowy figure, he reluctantly shuffled off elsewhere.

Such encounters barely registered with Lumian anymore. Unperturbed, he maintained his vigil.

Close to 11 p.m., the feeble light in the window blinked out.

Roughly fifteen minutes later, Monsieur Ive, garbed in a faintly dark suit and chestnut-hued tweed trousers, materialized at the apartment door.

With cautious glances cast about him, clutching a carbide lamp, he made his way along the street’s shadowy cloak towards the Underground Trier entrance a stone’s throw away.

Lumian bore witness as a living statue, observing the retreating illumination of Monsieur Ive’s lamp until it was swallowed by darkness.

Several minutes later, with no signs of official Beyonders tailing Monsieur Ive, Lumian arose, dusted off his attire, and crossed the Avenue du Marché towards the hidden stone staircase leading underground.

Lumian did not attempt to follow him. First and foremost, he had no source of light; his only candles were those used in ritualistic magic, their scent too conspicuous. Second, he lacked knowledge about Monsieur Ive’s true capabilities, his motives for venturing into Underground Trier, or the extent of power he might command.

Retracing a few steps, Lumian melted into the shadow of a nearby building’s pillar, shrouding himself in the comforting dark.

A tedious wait ensued. As midnight loomed, the blue radiance of the carbide lamp punctuated the darkness at the underground entrance.

The elongated shadow of Monsieur Ive once again graced the scene.

Just as he came to the bottom of the stone staircase, Lumian tugged his cap lower over his eyes and stepped forward, barking out, “This is a hold-up!”

The strategy behind this sudden ploy was to gauge Monsieur Ive’s strength. Should the landlord be a formidable force, Lumian suspected he would merely dismiss the mugger with lethal efficiency. In that case, Lumian would have the opportunity to make a swift exit, his greatest risks being some minor injuries and a dent in his pocket.

If, however, Monsieur Ive failed to exhibit significant ability, the faux robbery would quickly morph into a real kidnapping. Lumian would then corner the landlord in a remote pocket of the Underground Trier, demanding answers about his secretive behavior around Room 504’s tenant and his nocturnal trips to the underground world.

At Lumian’s gruff demand for a ‘hold-up,’ Monsieur Ive visibly flinched.

Seeming to accept his fate, he pulled out a worn brown leather wallet, extracting a single silver coin valued at 1 verl d’or.

An unexpected surge of avarice flooded Lumian at the sight of the silver coin. Its intricate design, with the cherubic relief on the surface and radiating lines, drew him in.

Almost against his will, he found his right hand reaching out to snatch the coin from Monsieur Ive. With a swift pivot, he spun on his heel and took off, playing the part of a robber to perfection.

Five or six steps into his escape, a niggling thought started to bother Lumian.

What sort of robber would flee after pilfering a solitary 1 verl d’or coin?

And why did I even seize the coin?

Lumian’s senses abruptly reignited. Channeling Dancer’s agility, he made a forceful twist of his frame and skidded to a halt.

He noticed Monsieur Ive was also on the run.

The landlord of Auberge du Coq Doré darted across Avenue du Marché and made a beeline for Théatre de l’Ancienne Cage à Pigeons.

Lumian, originally preparing to pursue, abruptly dropped his pace.

Monsieur Ive, now a victim of robbery, didn’t aim for the sanctuary of his home nor the aid of law enforcement in the bustling market district. Instead, he elected for the theater, situated at an angle from his dwelling!

Could it be that he perceived a more effective guard there? Lumian’s brow furrowed in contemplation.

Then, within the span of a heartbeat, he spun around and resumed his faux robber’s role.

He was anxious that Monsieur Ive might rally a force capable of reclaiming his pilfered silver coin.

Given Monsieur Ive’s infamous miserliness, such a response was within the realm of possibility!

Although Lumian was not particularly concerned about losing a single verl d’or, getting caught would undoubtedly unmask his identity.

Exiting Avenue du Marché, he nonchalantly flipped the silver coin to a destitute vagabond dozing at the street’s edge.

At the metallic ring, the man’s eyes flickered open, resting on the gleaming piece nestled under the nearby lamplight.

Once back on Rue Anarchie, Lumian peeled off his cap and coat, tucking them under his arm as he resumed his leisurely stride.

His test had confirmed his suspicions: Monsieur Ive was no ordinary man. He possessed Beyonder abilities, albeit seemingly ill-equipped for combat. He had elected to “gift” a silver coin to an apparent burglar and retreat.

This little episode filled me with a sudden, overwhelming desire for that silver coin. A desire so fierce, I nearly abandoned my true intentions, almost succumbing to madness… Lumian reflected on the strange encounter.

It was a sensation he recognized.

He had experienced a similar one when facing Susanna Mattise.

One filled him with paralyzing fear, the other stripped him of rational thought, substituting it with raw hatred.

The similarities of these abilities’ manifestations… Could Monsieur Ive be linked to Susanna Mattise? What fate could have befallen Room 504’s tenant… The Forest Fairy, the foliage, laurels… Does Théatre de l’Ancienne Cage à Pigeons have ties to Susanna Mattise as well? Lumian speculated as he retraced his steps to Auberge du Coq Doré.

He slipped into the underground bar to find Charlie, glass of beer in hand, belting out a tune with a few of the inn’s tenants.

“We impoverished souls, dwelling in the attic…”

Catching sight of Lumian’s return, Charlie excused himself and ambled over to the counter, heaving a sigh as he began,

“You wouldn’t believe what transpired this afternoon. The hotel manager nicked my drinks twice, and then had the gall to say that because of Madame Alice’s situation, he couldn’t promote me to an official attendant. I’m stuck as a lowly handyman. How utterly odious. Just how unlucky can I get?”

Suddenly, Charlie fell silent, muttering to himself, “Unlucky, unlucky…”

After repeating it a handful of times, he glanced up at Lumian, a look of surprise registering on his face at the sight of Lumian’s subtle smile.

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Lord of Mysteries 2: Circle of Inevitability Chapter 157 - 157 Ancienne Cage à Pigeons