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Gothica - the Angel of Death

Gothica - the Angel of Death

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Gothica - the Angel of Death

Lungime:
248 pages
3 hours
Editor:
Lansat:
Apr 6, 2019
ISBN:
9781547580156
Format:
Carte

Descriere

Who's the Angel of Death? What terrible secrets hide behind his appearance in Gothica? In the megalopolis of a possible future, dominated by the members of the Schism and the Church, Frederick Volk, president of a genetic industry mutlinational, is carrying on a program of genetic manipolation of plants, animals and man's DNA. Many suspicions are concentrated on the Mimesis Corporation's activities, but it is needed to find the proves of its abominations. Moving among experiments of chimerism and xenografts, in a web of interests that involves even who should be foreign to it, Helena Wolff investigates on Volk's activities, until the last, defenitive clash.

Editor:
Lansat:
Apr 6, 2019
ISBN:
9781547580156
Format:
Carte

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Gothica - the Angel of Death - Francesco Falconi

Falconi

Gothica

The Angel of Death

© 2015, Francesco Falconi

Ebook edition rivisitated and corrected respect the first papery edition 2010

This is a fantasy work. Any reference to events or real people is to be considered purely coincidental.

To Marcello,

even if you are too little to read it,

With love

uncle Francesco

Gott ist tot

Friedrich Nietzsche

Prologue

The Angel of Death

«Gott ist tot!»

«Gott ist tot!»

Dark screams bounced between the walls of the houses, echoing inside the tortuous alleys of the village.

«The day of the Beast has come!»

The doors of the windows slammed, the doors suddenly closed followed by the sound of latches.

«The Devil has come!»

Groans, moans and sighing of desperation. Low litanies, prayers.

«It’s him, the Angel of Death!»

Then, there was only silence.

A low and thick mist slipped into the streets, it crept into every fissure, licked the trees and snaked on the pavements of the arcades. It swooped slowly on the asphalt as if it were something alive and palpable.

Every now and then some lap came off the ground, swinging in the air like a tentacle. On its passage, the lights of the street lamps immediately lost intensity, turning off with an annoying buzz. Like the undertow of the sea, the haze slowly retreated, merging with the darkness that, little by little, swallowed every corner of the village.

Wrapped by the darkness, two figures walked briskly. They turned into a crossbar, crushing themselves against the wall.

«Bastian, we must divide» murmured a man, breathless.

The other one was a young boy, he didn’t even reach the age of twenty. He inhaled deeply, resting with his hands on his knees.

«Divide? Now?» he said, breathing deeply.

«Now»

«Brother Ernst, what are you talking about?»

«Do not debate.»

«But you can’t ask me to leave you here, alone! We will stay together, like always» he answered the kid, when an acute stridor, just like a blade that scratched a sheet of stone, made him jerk. His eyes widened and, trembling, he made the sign of the cross.

Brother Ernst grabbed him by the shoulders, shaking him vigorously. «Bastian, it’s time to act!» he said with a rasp but firm voice.

«There must be a solution! I can still help you, we can...»

«We can what? Don’t be a fool!»

Bastian looked around, lost. «I know some shortcuts. We can make it»

«Make it against him?»

«We will be faster.»

«Faster than a ghost?»

Bastian swallowed, while a drop of sweat ran down his forehead, disappearing into his thick eyebrows.

Brother Ernst approached and stared straight at him. «In Heaven’s name, listen to me! You have to go, there’s no more time to lose. Now! »

Bastian gasped, immobilized by terror. «Go? Go where?»

«In the city. To Gothica. To the Curia. They have to know. They will know what to do.» Ernst sharpened his sight, trying to crack the darkness before him, which had become even more dense and impenetrable.

«The Curia can’t do nothing against the Devil!»

The friar heated his face, his features twitched into a stern expression. «Never again! Never dare to curse God again!» He shouted, pointing a finger at him.

The other one put his head in his shoulders, suffocating his sobs.  «It's the end. It is the Apocalypse.»

«Faith! Where is your faith, Bastian!»

A sound of crashed glasses came from a house not too far away.

«He... He is here» murmured the frightened boy.

Ernst pushed him away. «Go! Don’t waste any more time!»

A woman’ screams broke the silence.

«May God be with you» said finally the friar, kissing him on his forehead.

Bastian nodded, then slipped away disappearing into the darkness of the alley.

Brother Ernst started running.

The short breath, the lungs that burned from the effort, the legs that gave away along the rough road that continued upward, becoming more and more impervious.

He won’t dare so much. He won’t dare entering the house of the Lord.

Thoughts were overlapping each other, interrupted by prayers that implored the Virgin to grant mercy to each of her fellow citizens. A cold and impetuous wind had started to scourge on the hill , dispersing the few words he could pronounce.

His throat was burnt, his lips dry, his forehead drenched with sweat, his habit stuck on him like a shroud.

But Ernst didn’t stop.

He couldn’t let the fear take hold of his mind, couldn’t let evil weaken his interior strength overwhelming his will. He held his rosary on his chest and he bit his tongue until he could feel the taste of his blood.

No, the night wouldn’t win. Faith would have guided him to the light, self-denial and a life dedicated to renunciation would have been sufficient to infuse the strength necessary to fulfill his mission. At every cost.

The bells were close. The Lord’s voice would  wipe out the mist of the devil, defeat the darkness, smash the seed of evil.

More times Ernst stumbled and fell to the ground, but he didn’t stop even for a minute. He worked up his courage and he got back up, though the pangs were so unbearable that they clouded his vision. With his lacerated sandals and his scratched feet every step had become a calvary.

He finally collapsed upon a rock, under a cross made of ash tree high more than five meters, that stood out against a sky as dark as an ocean of liquid lead. Webs of lightning went through it in every direction, pulsing like veins, breaking it with light wounds.

Ernst inspired deeply. He soaked his hands in the mud and he dragged himself forward a few feet, until he noticed the cathedral.

Massive columns stood upwards, joining sharp arches and crushing against rosettes and stained glass, to thin in sharp spires that seemed to pierce the clouds.

The friar smiled. He was almost there. He had made it. The entrance for the house of the Lord was just a few footsteps ahead of him. Salvation was near.

Then, a sound behind his back made him shiver. He hoped it was the rumble of thunder, but the noise had appeared to him too dark, almost unnatural. Malevolent, suggested his incouncious to him. Just like a voice that seethed from the bowels of the earth.

Ernst jerked horrified, making the sign of the cross.

And the creature was there.

Shadow of shadows, silent in the howl of the wind, it emerged from the darkness and advanced slowly on the gravel that darkened under every footstep.

«Who are you?!» screamed Ernst with all the breath he had left.

The creature towered above him with its glance fixed on the cathedral.

A face with a dark complexion and livid lips, chiselled features, black hair similar to filaments of darkness. The eyes were two narrow fissures, purple and shining like gems from hell. It wore a pair of black trousers, bare arms and chest showed deep and vermilion scars, similar to the furrows of a pit. The hands were a tangle of scars and the nails were stretched into claws.

«You’re a demon» the friar murmured backing till the base of the cross. «An abomination. A course against God!»

The Angel of Death bent, approaching his face. Terror gripped Ernst, deleting whatever prayer he had inside his mind. He found the strength to grab the rosary and hoist it in front of his face.

The creature let out a roar. It grabbed the chain, crumbling it in its fist. The it let the fragments fall on his forehead.

It was then that Ernst saw something strange. A symbol impressed in the palm of its hand. An indelible sign that left no doubt.

«Father... » murmured incredulous.

The creature opened its mouth. A thick and dark smoke dripped at the sides of its lips.

«I can’t believe that» pressed on the friar, «it can’t be you! What happened? Tell me it’s not true, tell me it’s just a nightmare! »

The Angel of Death tightened its fingers around his neck.

«May God forgive you... »

The Angel tightened its grip. Its voice reached distant and feeble like a moan.

«God is dead» it said before opening its jaws.

A scream echoed between the columns of the cathedral.

Then, there was only darkness.

1

A new awakening

––––––––

Faust, wake up.

I slowly opened my eyes. My head weighed me like a rock and my temples pulsed with pain.

I took a long breath.

A blade of light filtered from the curtains that descended from a wide window, illuminating the dust that fluttered in the air.

Silence.

The room wrapped in the dim light. A simple bed, of raw wood. White bed sheets. Bare walls covered by a wallpaper yellowed by time, with ivy decorations that run along the angles of the walls. A vertical mirror, dusted, by the wrought iron frame. A bedside table at my right hand, with a carafe of water on it. A book with a cover of black leather. The Bible.

Father Faust?

I touched my face, my forehead wet with sweat. I brought my fingers around my neck. Where was my crucifix?

I flinched when I noticed of being completely naked. I got up on the bed, pulling the bed sheet over my chest. I moaned, I had nausea and an annoying sense of dizziness.

«Slowly, you’re still weak.»

I jerked suddenly towards an angle of the room. A figure rose from the chair and approached with a slow proceed. She wore a black skirt up to the knees, a grey shirt and a simple sweater of the same color. Her hair were tied up under a dark veil, that descended lightly on the shoulders.

A nun.

I carefully observed her, trying to recognize her features. Minute hazel eyes, hooked nose, ruddy and wrinkled face. Who was she? Did we know each other? No, that face told me nothing. I had no idea who she was. As it often happened after every awakening, after the blackout.

Realizing my disconcert, the nun bowed and opened a bedside drawer. She put at the bottom of the bed a pair of blue trousers, a shirt and a white band for the collar.

«Praised be Jesus Christ» she said to me.

«May he always be praised.»

«My name is sister Hilda» she continued carefully bending the clothes. «They asked me to wake you up until you recovered.»

«I’m... Faust. Father Faust.»

The woman nodded, sketching a smile. «I know. Your cheeks resumed color. The fever passed, you’re already better.»

I raised my eyebrows. «You know my name? So we have already met?»

«No, I don’t think so. When you were sleeping, while you were delirious, you kept saying your name. You said: I’m father Faust... can you hear me? Julia where are you? Julia wait. Julia I’m coming. I’m father Muller.»

I frowned. Julia. Who was Julia? A shiver ran down my spine.

«Where am I?»

Sister Hilda looked at me sideways. «At the convent.»

«At the convent» I repeated confused. «Convent of which town?»

She frowned, surprised by my questions. «Where? In Gothica, obviously.»

I remained silent. How did I get to Gothica? It was a hundred kilometers distant from the village were I was born. It was impossible that I had walked all that way since my last blackout? Or maybe it was? After all, the passage of time was no longer indicative, not always.

«You had a bad fever. You stayed in bed for almost a week. How do you feel?»

«I can’t remember anything. I never remember anything.» I interrupted her, tightening my grip on the edge of the bed sheet.

Sister Hilda, curious about those words, came closer to the bed. «Nothing? What do you mean?»

«I don’t know.»

«Maybe it’s better if I call mother Helena» she said bowing her head.

«How did I get to this convent?» I asked her before she left the door.

«A week ago some sisters found you unconscious, in an alley in the suburbs of Gothica. Your clothes were ragged, and your face was bleeding. You had nothing with you. Not a document, not a suitcase. I think you had an aggression, father Faust» she said with preoccupied tone.

«An aggression?»

«You had a wound, just near the temple.»

I touched just over my ear. My fingers hesitated for a minute, then found a white gauze that arrived behind the back of my neck.

«You were lucky to make it. God only knows what could have happened to you. It’s never cautious to venture alone in the suburbs of Gothica, it’s by reckless! Or worse, we feared you had been a victim of the Angel of Death. In that case you’re really lucky you’re still alive.»

I shook my shoulders, I didn’t know what they were talking about. I had never been in Gothica in my life. Or at least before the blackout. Indeed, the Angel of Death wasn’t a foreign name.

«The Angel of Death?» I repeated.

Sister Hilda frowned. «You really have never heard it before?»

I stayed silent, trying to remember.

«We will have the chance to talk about it again.» she said to me shaking her shoulders. «However, the Lord has been close to you. The wound did not even get infected and healed very soon. Well, the sisters of the convent know how to cure people. Or... Or I don’t know. It just healed like the others» she concluded, indicating my chest.

I squeezed my eyes, I didn’t understand what she meant. I moved the edge of the bed sheet and remained stunned. My skin was a tangle of wounds, light lines that intersected with more deep signs. When I raised my head, sister Hilda was already gone.

With the white band between my fingers, I came closer to the mirror. I fixed it on my neck, closing the last bottoms of my shirt, that was wide for me. I was tall and frail, hard finding a dress that fit well. And in the last period I had lost several weight.

I observed my image in the mirror. Emaciated face, light blue eyes edged of grey. It seemed like I didn’t sleep for days, even if I had been unconscious in bed for a week. What was happening to me? I gave a quick fix to my hair, they were growing too long. I had to cut them. I had to shave. And make a shower, as soon as possible.

How did I get to Gothica? What was I doing before losing consciousness? Was it possible that nobody had helped me? My friends, some relative? Had they all disappeared?

No, that’s not true. I remember my family. Maureg.

I clenched my fists with anger, I couldn’t keep going like this. I was risking of losing my mind. After every blackout a part of my life disappeared. It was erased forever.

God, I beg you, help me.

When was the last time that had happened? It had been two weeks, maybe a month?

I had to find a solution. I narrowed my eyes, trying to calm myself. The more I agitated, the more the memories became confused. Where did I live in the last period?

I was in a village. The memory slowly reappeared, almost with pain. A village of workers and farmers. It was called... It was... I hesitated, shaking my head. I didn’t remember it. It was though a little city centre, Just a few houses on the slope of a hill, but there was a beautiful church. Too much big for the few souls of that town. Yes, now I remember. In front of it there was a crucifix made of wood. High, massive.

I scratched my chin, focusing. For how long had I been in that place? Months, years? Why did I abandon it coming up to Gothica? Had I become the priest of the village, or had I looked for refuge after the previous blackout?

Ernst.

While that name reverberated inside my head. His face emerged from the darkness that wrapped my memories. Eyes injected with red and a face contracted in an expression of terror.

May God forgive you...

«Ernst?» I stammered, clutching my arms to my chest. I didn’t know what bond united us. Was he a friend? An acquaintance? He wasn’t a familiar, not even a person of my past life. I had no doubts about it.

I heard knocking at my door.

A young woman came inside, tall and slim. She had chiselled features, long and green eyes, thin lips, blond hair hidden under a white cornet.

With a secure walk she came closer to me, bowing briefly her head as a sign of greeting.

«Be blessed... » I began.

«I’m happy you’re alright.» she interrupted me. «My name is mother Helena.»

«Father Faust.»

She briefly nodded, she came closer to the window and opened the curtains. The amber light of sunset ran over the room.

«Sister Hilda talked me about your problem» she continued, staring at the curtains on the wall.

I sighed. «I thank you for what you’ve done.»

«It’s our duty. The convent exists for this. Otherwise it wouldn’t have been built here, at the borders of this town, don’t you think?»

«Gothica» I whispered.

Mother Helena observed me for a long time and with indecipherable expression. She put me in awe.

«The wound has already healed, right?»

I shrugged, without answering. The woman set on the edge of the bed. «Good, it was less deep than expected. There was the risk of

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