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Friday, January 11, 2013

#Italia Snippet

All week long I've been working on my brand new top secret WIP codenamed #Italia. Set in the years of the early Reconnaissance in Italy ITALIA is a steampunk novel that explores what would have happened if science defeated the black plague... and then there are witches for fun. And a tower that eats souls. And glass horses with golden gears and souls of aether.

Our principle characters live in Siena, Italy, under the Torra del Mangia - the Tower of the Eater (Yes, that's the tower on the cover and it is a real place). The di Tomme family is caught between two rival city-states, on one hand is Siena, a city where science and "magic" are welcomed, on the other hand is the hyper-religious Florence.

Antiono di Tomme is trying unsuccessfully to keep these two bitter rivals from going to war. His family is both a help and a hiderance. Nonna Magdalena, the Little Empress, rules the family with a steel fan, an iron will, and a touch of the old magic. Aquila di Tomme is Antonio's little sister, an aether-weaver touched by the poison of the tower her magic is now only good for foreseeing death. Rudolpho is Antonio's uncle, a priest in the city-state of Florence, a fanatic who wants to use the fires of war to purge the sins of Siena. Sebastian and Ginvera are Antonio's cousins, Rudolpho's children by his magic-wielding mistress, they both have secrets to hide.  

This snippet is from Nonna Magdalena's point of view on the night she goes to worship the old gods under the crescent moon...

“Magdalena,” Ventura di Siena raised her hand, beckoning. “Stay with me a moment longer.” They waited for the others to leave the glade and then Ventura dropped the hood, revealing hair gray as a sword blade and skin too dark to be truly Tuscan.  “Rumors are coming to me. They say di Tomme means to give Siena to his kin in Florence. The stregharia will not allow this to happen.”

Magdalena’s nails cut into her hand as she resisted the urge to strike the older woman. She was a weak witch, but there was enough magic in her blood to make a good sacrifice to the Hunt God. The temptation passed. “My boy knows who rules the road between Florence and Siena. He will obey me.”

“Blood binds to blood. Your granddaughter is not here tonight.”

“Aquila is unwell, and she has little magic.”

“But she has loyalties, Magdalena.” The older woman patted her hand. “I have a grandson, Dino d'Benevuto di Siena, he is a good child baptized in the font of the snail. He will make a good husband for her. The marriage will settle the matter of loyalty.”

Magdalena shook her head. “Aquila is not fit for marriage. Her health is too poor.”

“She needs to wed my grandson. A long life after that is not necessary.” Ventura turned and walked to the still glowing altar of the goddess. “I wish we had other choices, but there are none. I have seen the future, a strong alliance is all that will save Siena.”

“You have my loyalties, leave the children out of this.”

Magic light crackled along the altar turning it red. “Do not play games with me, girl. I stood in the circle when you were still a virgin bride.” Power ran up Ventura’s arms until she was swathed in a red light. The scent of hot metal burned in the air. “You will bring the child to me by dawn.”

Magdalena stretched her hand and noticed that the shadows of the trees made them appear claw-like. “This is not the place for an argument.”

Ventura turned. “There is no argument. You will obey.” She pointed at Magdalena and the light arced off her finger.

Magdalena looked down at the red fire burning her bosom. Her magic absorbed it. “You forget yourself. You stand at the head of the goddess’s circle, but I am the priestess of the god of the hunt.”

1 comment:

  1. That's a beautiful photograph! It sounds like an interesting story too. =)