Another week begins and I'm very excited to welcome Adele Abbot to One Thousand Worlds. Adele has written The Pope's Magician and here's her first one thousand words.
The Pope's Magician-
Rome – around 1300 AD
The Amaranthine – families of immortals scattered across the known world – live unnoticed amongst us, the Ephemerals. They are happy with the world as it is: somewhat chaotic, governed covertly by themselves or by kings and princes with only limited powers.
This world is under threat once more.
An arrogant Pope has found a man with a talent for sympathetic magic and uses his talent to prosecute a generations-long feud between two families – the Caetani and the Colonna. Max of Schonau, an Amaranthine, finds himself unwittingly drawn into this struggle when the Pope’s Magician – an Amaranthine himself, uses his capabilities on the Pope’s behalf in such an ostentatious manner that the immortals’ veiled existence is threatened and the balance of Ephemeral power put at risk.
About this author-
I’m Adele Abbot, one of the team at Archimedes Presse UK – three writers who help each other and collaborate. I guess I’m the fantasist, my previous novel: “Postponing Armageddon” was shortlisted in the 2011 “Anywhere but Here/Anywhen but Now” competition sponsored by Sir Terry Pratchett and Transworld publishers and gained third place in the final vote. It was published by Barking Rain Press in the US (you can get 35% off the paperback at –http://www.barkingrainpress.org/dd-product/postponing-armageddon/) and it’s also available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
Collina Della Vedova was not as refined or as elegant as it might sound. It wound its way down the hillside, full of vicious steps and sharp corners. In the heat of the early afternoon sun, the stink from the runnel of viscous slime down the center was overpowering.
Widow’s Hill had probably been a torrent of fresh cold water carving out its course in bygone days, before the Palatine had been somewhat leveled and built upon. Now the ancient streambed was as dry as old bones and made treacherous by the passage of a million feet.
Widows’ Hill ran a crooked path behind the church of San Marino. It climbed from the corner of the piazza to the cemetery beyond the tavern they called the Widow’s Cup.
Below the inn there was a baker and opposite the baker’s, a butcher’s and just below that, tucked into one of the many tight little corners, an old woman sold fruit – cheap because it was the last and most bruised from the market. All three of them sell their wares to the residents and businesses in the bent and twisted little street. Other small enterprises included the armorer whose stock was two and three generations old, the tailor at the bottom only three doorways away from the sharp turn into Via Piccola Santa Croce, the potter and the coppersmith and the laundry…
It jigged from side to side and I had to step across that drain at each bend to stay in the shadows. And around one of the bends, I came across the effigy. It was rudely fashioned from a tree limb, perhaps a yard long and a span in width, it was crudely painted to depict a pair of arms down the sides, two black daubed eyes and a mouth as red as fresh blood; a groove did duty as a neck twixt head and torso. It seemed to stare malevolently.
I snorted with amusement at this parody of a child’s toy and stepped across the drain. There was a brief sound of movement behind me and I half turned for I had not been aware of anyone following me. As I turned, I was assaulted; so cruelly that I was pitched into a nearby door with a thud and clatter and I fell to the ground. A second blow was delivered, bruising, if not breaking some ribs and twisting around I managed to deflect the bludgeon that was already plunging down again.
“Hey now, what’s…”The attack ended as someone came to see what the commotion was about and hands tried to lift me to my feet. I was fast losing consciousness as I was dragged through the doorway; in my hands, I grasped that crude doll that had been used to do me harm. Then the sunlight dimmed and awareness fled.
`When I became aware once more, I was on a couch. There were small sounds – steps, a far off murmured conversation, even a muted chuckle. But I could not see. There was a bandage around my head though not across my face and rub my eyes as I might, there was not the slightest glimmer of light to be seen.
I was blind!
I am not a man given to despair, life throws a good many troubles and seemingly insoluble problems at a man but at that moment, I reached my lowest ebb. I think I would rather have died than wake to a life of blindness. I think I may have sobbed in my despair.
I must have lost consciousness again, in fact, several times I think. While I was insensible, my ribs had been strapped tightly with what seemed to be linen bandages and I remember turning laboriously and painfully onto my back and forgetting for the moment that my sight was gone.
When I remembered, I wept like a small child. I was bereft of all reason and could think of nothing but my loss.
Something touched my forehead, a hand; small, cool, slim fingers on my skin.
“What hurts, Signore?” It was a youngster’s voice. “Tell me so I can help.”
“The hurts don’t matter. I’m blind, my sight has gone.”
“I will get the infirmarian.”
Another came and I felt more hands – older, experienced – touching my head. Suddenly I felt a cool air on my forehead and eyes but my eyelids remained immovably closed. “Now, the cloth.” Said an older voice.
There was a sound of water then the touch of a warm, damp cloth. My eyes were sponged and gradually, I felt my eyelids begin to move.
“It is the middle of the night Signore,” said the young voice.
“Yes, don’t expect to see much.”
But I did see much. I stared upward and wondered if, in fact, I had died.
Directly above me was a swirl of stars and luminous clouds so wonderful that I had never seen their like before. Gradually, I realized that I was no longer blind, that I had never been blind and that what had been the matter was dried blood or scabs or something simply sticking my eyelids together. Now the night sky was brilliant with stars and shone through two tremendous windows in a roof that seemed far, far above me.
“Thank you,” I said with great feeling. “I was close to despair.”
“It is an hour yet to Lauds, do you want some water.”
“That would be good.”
“The boy will bring you a cup then you must try to sleep.”
The boy went away; I could hear bare feet on a stone floor.
I drank, said thank you and when everything was quiet again, I lay there and enjoyed the miracle of returned sight and waited for the hammering in my chest to subside. When had I last seen so wonderful a night sky as this? I could not remember. Was it… or… Nothing came to mind, nothing; there was nothing there to remember. My name, my family, my business, nothing; my past was just a yawning blank.