Paris is a woman’s town….

The writers from high school lit classes didn’t know what they were talking about. “Oh, London is a man’s town, there’s power in the air; and Paris is a woman’s town, with flowers in her hair….” Dana muttered under her breath. “Typical.”

They were full of shit. Power resided here; it did in all the places where humanity congregated in mass. At three in the morning, when even the drunks had put out their cigarettes and only the homeless remained out, Paris was powerful.

People just had to figure out how to harness it.

The Michodiere was of course closed at this point but the night guards were more than accommodating. The first opened the grate while the second pushed open the gilded hall doors bowing as he went. Dana smiled, enjoying the rare feeling that things were right with the world.

The theatre was meticulously upkept and that suited her purposes perfectly. Hundreds of stories and tales of humanity’s farces performed and housed within its walls left their mark. The whole place resonated with the drama and the struggle. Dana almost berated herself for not thinking of it earlier.

Beneath the stage half packed props from the most recent show turned cave like rooms into carnivals filled with masks and headless mannequins. She needed something, and Dana had a feeling she wouldn’t know it until she saw it.

Dana ran her fingers across velvet gowns and over the lacquered surfaces of the masks, waiting for something to strike her.

When something did it was unexpected.  The rustle of cotton on floor was the warning she received before black silk filled her mouth and strong hands pulled her backwards and away.

Minutes later, hands tied behind her back and ankles bound someone pulled the silk magician’s bag from her head. Dana blinked in the low light of a dozen candles.

Three masked figures, a demon, a wolf and a king, each draped in the faux richness of the stage, watched her from around the border of a drawn circle. The first, the demon, leaned down to turn her chin. “How did she get in?” His gloved fingers were strong and flushed with blood, overly warm against her cheek. Dana frowned; of course there were others who’d recognized the power of this place.

The snarling wolf, this one’s robes ill-fitting on his narrow shoulders, leaned over his shoulder. “Does it matter?”

The demon shrugged. “Fate provides for the faithful.”  Next to them, the third man in a crowned waxy mask removed a knife from a simple wooden sheath. Dana’s breath caught, her gaze fixed on the blade. That was it.

If the men were unnerved by her sudden fixation and the lack of fear their masks hid it. At least until the king drove the knife deep into the belly of the second.

The wolf collapsed moaning. The king stepped over him, swiping wildly at the other man. Red soaked the demon’s sleeve before he drove a shoulder into the king’s stomach and the two tangled themselves on the ground.

The struggle was short; the king’s head hit the ground, mask cracking with his skull as he drove the knife into his fellow’s back. By the time Dana twisted her ankles out of the cords only the wolf remained alive, gurgling. She left him to the stomach wound, pushing herself awkwardly to her feet so she could tug the knife from the demon’s spine.

Small runes over the handle were smooth from centuries of use. First as a weapon and then a prop, Dana wondered how many lives it’d taken and then played at taking. It was artful in a cruel simple way, and thus perfect.

The night guards saw her out into the city and locked the gilded doors behind her with smiles.


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