Alchemist Gift – Before Maria Lillo could continue, the guard had his arm around her neck and his hand over her mouth. He forced her to the ground and onto her back. He put his boot on her throat. Maria looked up at him with a serene, almost dreamy expression on her face. The guard looked to the bishop for direction. The bishop, who was still drying his face, looked at the guard then down at Maria Lillo with an intense and cruel stare. Bishop DiMars gave a chilling nod. The guard slowly brought the weight of his body down until he felt the delicate cartilage of her throat collapse with a hollow crack. He kept his foot there until the bishop gave a wave of his hand. When he took his boot away Maria painfully gasped for air. With the help of another guard they jerked her to her feet. The two took turns beating her with their fists. This drew an approving murmur from the crowd. The two men dragged the bloodied and barely conscious prisoner to the stake. They tied her so tight she could barely breathe. Eventually she passed out and her head slumped forward.
The contessa rose from her seat and looked out onto the curious and stunned crowd. The bishop approached her; he wore an apologetic expression. “I am so sorry contessa, as you can see how depraved and possessed these terrible women are.” He dabbed at his face with his hanky even though it was dry.
The contessa tried to collect her thoughts. She was disgusted. She was also frightened by Maria Lillo’s curse. Part of her wanted instant vengeance and see the “witch” burn for what she did and said and part of Rosalba wanted to set her free along with the others. She looked at the bishop coolly, “Terrible? I would think more desperate and bitter at their fates. All they have left are words. Would you go to your death without calling out your accusers?”
The bishop answered thoughtfully. “Dear contessa these women have sealed their fates by their actions and their confessions, confessions that had to be painfully extracted tis true, but given none the less, confessions that were duly recorded by Father Eduardo in front of witnesses, and a legate from Rome.”
“I’m sure everything is most legal and proper. But now I must leave. I am not feeling very well. I must leave.”
The bishop’s brow furrowed with sympathy. “Yes, yes of course.” He looked beyond the contessa and called out to his servant girl. “Annamarie, Annamarie come quickly.”
The young girl peeked around the corner of the contessa’s chair.
“Come my dear, run and fetch the coachman for the contessa.”
The girl curtsied and hesitated for a second in front of the contessa. Annamarie held out the straw doll that so mysteriously captivated her attention. “For you and your baby.”
Rosalba gave the girl a quizzical smile. How could the little girl know she was pregnant? But the kind gesture was a flicker of light on this very dark day. Annamarie then hurried off to find Alfredo Amalfi. In a few moments the coach appeared. Armando jumped down from his perch at the rear of the coach and bounded up onto the dais and offered his arm to the contessa.
The men crowded around Rosalba. The mayor, who until now had said very little, took a deep breath and looked ready to give a long and Gratuitous goodbye. The contessa cut him short. “Thank you for your hospitality, and goodbye.” The mayor let the deep breathe escape; he gave the contessa a disappointed little smile. Monsignor Petri bowed as did Father Eduardo. Rosalba gave a halfhearted wave to the crowd who gave her a muted but affectionate sendoff.
She took Armando’s arm. Rosalba could only see the coach door or more exactly the gleam of its polished brass door handle. She quickly descended the few steps of the dais and waited what seemed a lifetime before Armando opened the door. With one step up she escaped. Armando closed the door. She sat. The inside of the coach was warm. Sitting on the dais Rosalba hadn’t noticed how cold she was. The warmth felt good. The familiar scent of the coach’s leather interior was soothing. She pulled the curtains; they subdued the mid-day sun to a pale yellow glow. She felt the coach rock as Armando climbed to his perch and was gladdened when Alfredo turned the coach and headed away from the crowd and the clergy and the condemned.
Rosalba sat back in the seat. She just then noticed the little straw doll. She smiled at its simplicity. As she turned it over in her hand she felt a prick. Rosalba pressed her thumb against the tip of her index finger and forced out a drop of blood to cleanse the tiny hurt. The crimson dot fell on the doll. On closer inspection Rosalba found a fine golden needle in the straw. She put the doll into a basket on the seat next to her and closed her eyes.
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The Alchemist Gift is a book about the lives of people in the Renaissance and the alchemy that brought them together with its repercussions on our modern-day hero, Roland.
I am writing the novel Alchemist Gift online in real time. I will share a few paragraphs of the book with each blog. I am still writing the book. I’d like to know how you like what you are reading. Please use the comments section to share. If you make suggestions in your comments, I may incorporate your ideas into the book. We hope you will enjoy the process as much as I do, follow the saga and share it with your friends and colleagues.
copyright 2013 Mark D. Giglio, www.theartofgiglio.com
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