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Happy Wednesday, everyone!
I’ve been getting a lot of reader interest in Corcitura lately (Thank you!), and thought it was time to share a short excerpt. This scene comes from one of my favorite chapters in the whole book, and was actually one of the first scenes I wrote before being a good little author and writing the book in order from the beginning. Working chronologically…what a novel concept, eh? 😉
I hope you enjoy it!
Taken from Corcitura, Chapter 8, A Tavern in Venice
“A toast to you, my brother,” he said, lifting his glass. “May your eyes be opened on this night, and may you see as you have never seen before. Knowledge is a very powerful thing. Drink and be free.”
Red light shot through the glass, red light reflected from the candle guttering in its holder above my head. My eyes darted up toward the ceiling. First impressions are tricky things, and mine had been wrong—horribly wrong. There were no angels in these panels. What had I been thinking before?
Demons cavorted in a pit of rocks and shattered skulls. Fire licked their hellish bodies as they danced through one torture scene after another. In the center panel, a huge, black-winged beast devoured something that was still kicking as it was being forced down the devil’s gullet.
How could it still be kicking? Or, more importantly, how could I see it kicking?
The figures in the panel were moving.
Their movements were slow, tortured, dreamlike, but real—undeniably real. I watched, entranced, unable to turn away, as one poor soul after another was raked across hot coals or had its ashen flesh stripped by one of the devil’s overseers.
I put my hand to my mouth, but still my eyes remained riveted to the ceiling. The other panels did nothing to cure my nausea. Eleven horned beasts—looking like crosses between satyrs and devils—formed a circle around a giant creature, half dragon, half man, that held a severed head aloft in its clawed hands. Blood dripped from the stump, falling into the waiting mouths of some of the beasts, as the others caught the liquid in black chalices.
The fresco was blatantly hellish, but its living replica was even worse.
I had lied to myself from the very beginning, deceived myself into believing that I was being fanciful and overly imaginative. Surely such monstrosities only existed in nightmares? Yet I had lived through a nightmare these past months, and that was no dream at all.
I was still fighting against the awful truth, not wanting to give in, searching my mind for a logical explanation—but there was none. And the most horrible realization of all was that I had known, somewhere deep inside, ever since the day I first set eyes on that silver-tongued devil in Paris.
Drainer of life.
The phrasing did not matter. No euphemism could strike fear into the hearts of men the way that single word could.
And for me, the uninitiated, that single word meant death.
(c) 2010, 2012, 2017 by Melika Dannese Lux