by Rion Wilhelm
Sometimes and inquisitive mind can get you in trouble.
|Elial di Giovanni Bartolo lay back against the mounded pillows and idly studied the ornate frescoes overhead. He was bored. He glanced toward the bare shoulders of the young dark-haired beauty asleep beside him. The Lady Lucia was a lovely creature true, and certainly a most creative lover. The fact that she was wed added a certain delicious danger to their affair. Her husband was a prominent noble in Venetian society and only incidently Elial's patron. Lady Lucia was not looking for commitment and neither was he.
No, a momentary diversion was all he had the patience for. Already, after only a week, the lady's charms were wearing thin. One could not stay in the bedchamber forever. At some point, you had to engage in meaningful conversion. He had to confess he would be happy when the Lord of the Villa returned only three days hence. The endless discussions of the latest fashions were becoming trying.
Elial took the ornate cup from the table beside him and drank deeply. He sighed. It had always been so. No woman had ever been able to hold his attention for long, no matter how talented, how sensual. It was a failing that no doubt troubled his parents who were anxious for grandchildren from their only son. Female companionship, while delightful in the short term, was woefully inadequate to fill the emptiness that had always existed inside his soul.
He glanced toward the velvet draped window. It was almost dark. Soon, he would return to the rooms he had taken and resume his studies. Studies that were much more stimulating than any bed companion. He had already neglected those studies for too long.
He was close, so close. He could feel it. Soon, he would have it all, despite the obstacles. Then there would be no more hiding. In truth, it was not acclaim he sought, although he would not turn from it. It was said that knowledge was its' own reward. But with knowledge came power. He would risk all for the power. Only that could fill that ever present and bottomless hole.
Abruptly, the hairs on the back of his neck and arms stood up as the room turned electric. The cup in his hand became hot enough to burn and he almost dropped it. He swallowed the pain along with his outcry. No. Not now when he could almost touch the final secret. He was far too close to consider retreat.
He forced himself to calm and gently returned the cup to the table as he slipped out of bed to don his pants.
He had just slid into his shirt when he heard the sound of the door downstairs being broken down. He stomach muscles clenched.
They were coming for him.
The woman in the bed stirred, awakened by the commotion downstairs.
"Elial?", she murmured, still groggy from sleep.
He paid her no heed. Forcing his feet into his boots, he snatched a small leather bound book from the folds of his cape. He leafed through a few pages then began to mutter ancient words long gone from the world. He had miscalculated badly and now it would cost him.
The shouting grew closer. None of the voices was that of the husband. The Church? Who else. Elial caught a glimpse of his reflection in Lucia's ornate dressing mirror, her most prized possession. His dark hair was disheveled from sleep and his eyes looked haunted. Still chanting, he ran toward the window casement.
Lucia sat up and looked at him, her dark eyes frightened. "Oh, Elial--What have you done?", she whispered.
A sliver of light fell across his eyes as the chamber door shattered and a voice called out, "Halt, by Order of the Holy Office! Stop where you are on pain of death!"
The edges of his vision were beginning to darken as his words began to have the desired effect. At least he hoped it would be the desired effect. It was a new ritual and the book had not been that specific about the results nor had Elial had time to test it.
The room and its' contents seemed to recede and a loud buzzing filled his ears. This was no time for caution. Whether the results were as desired or not, any outcome would be better than the one offered by the Inquisition. He must trust his power. He whispered the final words of the ritual as the floor became transparent beneath his feet and the darkness quickly descended.