Author Topic: The Fate of the Damned - Adult Fantasy  (Read 131 times)

Offline Athenian

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The Fate of the Damned - Adult Fantasy
« on: June 10, 2021, 04:19:14 PM »
Chapter 1:
The Reaper Comes
 
On Lucrezia’s otherwise immaculate silken pillow were small bloodstains, little remnants of past abuse from her husband that she, nor the maids, could scrub out. The windows of her villa were often open, almost driving out the scent of cigar smoke with the warm Neapolitan breeze. The glossy marble floors and high ceilings carried the soft hymns of the summer birds, and encapsulated the cacophonic pop of gunshots and the following chime of the empty shells ringing on the floor. The vineyard’s rich soil in which the villa rested was perfectly fertilized by the enemies of her husband.
       But all of that would be wiped away by the bombs — if Lucrezia’s maid was telling the truth.
In the lofty kitchen, Lucrezia was watching this particular maid prepare supper for her husband. The sun was setting, casting a pink glow over the vineyard and through the kitchen. With a rattling hand Lucrezia poured a glass of wine for her husband, spilling a dash on her shirt. She nearly dropped it at the sight of the red soaking into the white. Lowering the bottle to the countertop with a surprising clang, she brought her hand to the stain and doused it fervently with water.
“Please, signora,” the maid said, taking hold of her trembling arm, “let me clean it for you.”
“It’s not the shirt I’m worried about.” Lucrezia held particular disdain for this maid, Giovanna. Her Italian was old, and her accent differed from Lucrezia’s own Naples dialect. The other maids bowed to Lucrezia like obedient retrievers, but this one forgot her fear. She’s new, Lucrezia thought, she doesn’t know who my husband is. Although Lucrezia felt the courage to order maids about the house, she was equally as fearful as them. Remembering Berto’s fury at slacking staff gave Lucrezia an imperial cut in her diction when she addressed them. His fury at his wife was far worse.
“Is it the wine?”
“No — partially,” Lucrezia let out. “It’s Berto, he hates when I waste it.”
The maid let out a small laugh. “Wine is not how your husband makes his money, signora.” The maid paused for a moment, letting Lucrezia absorb what she was hearing. “I know everything.” She lifted a hand onto her mistress’s shoulder.
But Lucrezia threw it off. Her eyes widened, and mouth hung open. “What did you just say? How dare you accuse my family—”
“I accused you of nothing.” Giovanna confidently poured vinegar onto a cloth and attempted to wipe the stain from Lucrezia’s shirt. “But I know everything, signora. I know that you are in danger. I know that your husband has inherited— from his father— the reigns of the Mafioso regime controlling Napoli. I know that he beats you at night—”
In a flash of rage Lucrezia swiped her open hand hard across the maid’s face, only to cover her mouth upon hearing the clap. “How do you know these things? I hide my bruises. I keep my mouth shut. How do you know?”
The kitchen reeked of vinegar and wine.
Giovanna was unaffected despite the flagrant rouge appearing on her cheek. “I know everything.”
Lucrezia leaned in close, strands of her dark hair dangling before the fearless, smug maid. “You tell me how you know, or I will tell my husband how clever you are. Berto is not a kind man… as you claim you already know. Do you know what he does to people who run to the polizia? He—”
“Breaks their arms and legs and tosses them in the river one kilometre from here. I do know.” Before Lucrezia could speak again, the maid continued. “You’re asking yourself why I am here, aren’t you, signora? And how I know these things? I can see them, I can see what will come tomorrow or the next day, or the years and decades to come.”
“You’re lying.” Lucrezia’s eyes narrowed. “Get out of my house before I—”
“I know that you’re a Jew.”
That was it, the words Lucrezia dreaded to hear, even from herself when she wept over it. Lucrezia’s spine tightened and her arms flung from her sides to the maid’s throat, pressing her against the wall, clenching down on her windpipe. Her fingers were cracking and she could feel the blood pulsating in the maid’s narrow neck. It didn’t matter how she knew, it only mattered that she did. “How dare you.”
“Mama?” a young voice called from the entrance to the kitchen.
“Silvio…” Lucrezia released the maid, trying to compose herself. “Silvio, bring papa his drink.” Dark wine sloshed against the sides of the glass as she handed it to her son. He did not blink once at his mother, looking back and forth from her and the maid. “Go,” she yelped, sending him bolting from the room with the wine in hand.
The maid rubbed her neck. “Your sons are in danger, Lucrezia.”
This woman knows, Lucrezia thought to herself. She knows long-buried secrets of my family. She can’t be lying. Why would she? Does she want money? “Why are you doing this to me? If you can tell me what tomorrow brings then tell me…tell me who will win this war. Will Mussolini— will Hitler win? Will Italy be invaded?”
“No… and yes.”
A rush of relief flooded through Lucrezia, yet anxiety remerged. She thought of the Nazi’s marching through the streets, the Gestapo knocking at her door. Whenever she collected the paper from her husband she saw a fresh, horrifying picture on the front of the suffering of the Jews, and her husband giving a satisfied nod.
“But many Jews will die. Many are dying right now.” The maid tried to place her hand on Lucrezia’s, but Lucrezia retracted it. “You and your sons will die if you ignore me. Your house will fall.”
The thought of her boys having any harm done to them made her stomach lurch.
“Berto cannot know, my husband cannot know what I am.” Tears swelled in Lucrezia’s eyes. “I’ve done this to my children. My god I’ve made them like me— Jewish too, like it’s some disease running in my blood. My husband once killed a Jew, you know, he’d kill me too.”
“He will try.”
A dry tackiness took over Lucrezia’s mouth as she took in quick, trembling breaths. “Will he know?” She pressed her fingers into her eyes, sobbing now, trying in vain to quiet herself. “How will he find out? Tell me, please! There has to be something I can do.” Do I really believe her? Doubt jabbed her, but if her sons were at any risk she would take being fooled. A con artist could take all her money if it meant Silvio and Salvatore were safe.
Laughter bounded through the door from Berto playing cards with his brothers. A small victory— Lucrezia realized— in that Berto had not discovered the missing wine.
      “He already knows,” Giovanna said. “A letter came, detailing the truth you’ve kept hidden for so long. But he won’t react, not until you are alone.”
“I— I have nothing to give you. My husband—”
Now Giovanna grasped her hand. “I want nothing, signora. I tell you this because you have to harden yourself. He will beat you and threaten you because he doesn’t know what else to do. You’ve taken his legacies. You’ve made his sons Jews, Lucrezia, in a time where that is a death sentence. The blood of the mafia is thicker than the darkest wine, more precious than one thousand barrels. He will blame you for poisoning it.”
      “It’s not my fault.”
“I know. This world is treacherous.”
“Where will I run?”
“I’ll show you.”
Lucrezia saw rat poison in a cabinet and pondered lacing his wine, or even snuffing him out while he slept with something so mundane as a pillow. My God, I’m considering murder because a stranger’s musings. But she knows so much…
“He will hurt you,” Giovanna said, swallowing in discomfort. “Tonight. It will be angrier than before, but endure and your sons will be safe. This is the only way through.”
Lucrezia caught her breath, deciding still if she could be trusted. She knew it was best not to toy with fate, not while in a dragon’s den. “Stand outside their door,” Lucrezia said solemnly. “I’ll make them warm milk to put them to sleep. Sing them a song, or read—”
“Signora—”
“Tell them a story, do you hear me? Don’t let them hear or be scared.”
Giovanna gave a slow but dutiful nod.
Lucrezia, light headed and exhausted, made her way up the stairs that night. She walked by Silvio and Salvatore’s room, seeing them both already asleep, drifted off into some painless land, she hoped. She kissed them both softly, wiping the sweat from her hands before she stroked their smiling cheeks. “Goodnight, I love you,” she said as she pried her hands from the doorframe and made her way to her bedroom like a lost ghost.
      She pulled the sheets over herself as if it were burial shroud. This will be the test if I can believe the maid. Maybe I have nothing to fear at all.
But soon the suffocating scent of liqueur and musky cologne, and the drunken stomping ploughed its way through the villa, looming over the doomed Lucrezia. Though she was too disturbed to sleep, she pretended to, closing her eyes tight as his shadow swallowed her.
“You lying bitch,” he barked, swiping her off the bed.
The first strike was always the worst. Lucrezia said a prayer, not for herself, but for her sons to stay asleep.
Berto’s fist was bloody. Lucrezia only noticed the red when he pulled it back and waited to get in another powerful strike. She thought it was over until her swollen eye allowed her to see his white knuckles splattered with his and her blood before it cracked against her face again. She heard her body being flung to the floor. Her feet lifted from the ground before her head crashed down against the wood, an inch short of the rug.
She thought about her sons the whole time. It was an ugly art she had mastered. Every hit was a test of endurance for their sake, she told herself.
Unsure if hours or minutes had passed, Lucrezia’s left eye slid open to see Berto’s silhouette against the moon through the window. His face was buried in his hands and he was crying. The moonlight cast a blue film over him, illuminating every tear that soaked his flushed face. The shaking of his hands rocked his entire monstrous frame, rattling his jaw so that his sobs fumbled forth in several octaves. His fingers pulled down on his eyelids in exhaustion, then he took another slug of rye he had perched on the nightstand.
Drool— or maybe blood— rolled from Lucrezia’s mouth. She was too terrified to cry. Entirely unsure of what she could do, she laid there on the floor with her nightgown pulled above her bruised thighs, her aching knees curled over one another like a sleeping infant. So she stayed still, praying it was over.
The beating had never been this severe, nor had Berto ever cried. Lucrezia wondered if it was remorse that made him sob like that. But when he looked down on her, there was no room for remorse in his eyes. You’re a monster. Just kill me. Or God, strike him down to Hell if you’re going to leave me here any longer.
Upon noticing Lucrezia regain consciousness, Berto rose with his fist clenched and dug his foot deep into her chest with a stern kick. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done to my family?” he roared, tears still running. “My sons are Jews!” His eyes rolled into his head and he raised his arms in defeat, saying, more quietly, “My sons are Jews now. They’ll kill them.”
“Berto…” she pleaded, “we can hide it. Nobody has to know.”
He pelted her with an ashtray, spilling them all over her gown. “When Hitler comes to Italy, you think we can hide it? You think they won’t look at our history? Your parents? Their f**king parents? I’m known here; people see me as much a leader as Mussolini. You’re a f**king idiot! You ruined everything my family built.” Blood pulsated through the veins on his clenched fist. The moonlight still glistened on his skin. The musk of his cologne and sweat was throttling.
Just as he raised his foot to stomp on her, a solemn knock on the door petrified him. Berto stopped, his heel still in the air. His mouth locked open as he stared at the door, belly sucking in air and expelling it with fumes of the old rye.
Giovanna opened the door, her eyes glancing down fleetingly at the bloody Lucrezia for only a second.

Offline rivergirl

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Re: The Fate of the Damned - Adult Fantasy
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2021, 07:43:08 PM »
On Lucrezia’s otherwise immaculate silken pillow were small bloodstains, little remnants of past abuse from her husband that she, nor the maids, could scrub out. good first line but the remaining para doesn't explain where she is in relation to this room. I feel like the character needs to be a part of the scene The windows of her villa were often open, almost driving out the scent of cigar smoke with the warm Neapolitan breeze. The glossy marble floors and high ceilings carried the soft hymns of the summer birds, and encapsulated the cacophonic pop of gunshots and the following chime of the empty shells ringing on the floor. The vineyard’s rich soil in which the villa rested was perfectly fertilized by the enemies of her husband. nice world building
       But all of that would be wiped away by the bombs — if Lucrezia’s maid was telling the truth.
New para?In the lofty kitchen, Lucrezia was watching this particular maid prepare supper for her husband. the bedroom scene with the pillow suggests the Mc is in the bedroom The sun was setting, casting a pink glow over the vineyard and through the kitchen. With a rattling hand comma Lucrezia poured a glass of wine for her husband, spilling a dash on her shirt. She nearly dropped it at the sight of the red soaking into the white. nice Lowering the bottle to the countertop with a surprising clang (I personally don't hear a clang. I heard a clank that is less bell-like), she brought her hand to the stain and doused it fervently with water. The para indentions didn't translate here so I won't point them out
“Please, signora,” the maid said, taking hold of her trembling arm, “let me clean it for you.”
“It’s not the shirt I’m worried about.” Lucrezia held particular disdain for this maid, Giovanna. Her Italian was old, and her accent differed from Lucrezia’s own Naples dialect. The other maids bowed to Lucrezia like obedient retrievers, but this one forgot her fear. She’s new, Lucrezia thought, she doesn’t know who my husband is. Although Lucrezia felt the courage this sounds off maybe had the courage, but then why would one need courage to order a maid? to me to order maids about the house, she was equally as fearful as them. Remembering her husband Berto’s fury at slacking staff gave Lucrezia an imperial cut in her diction when she addressed them. His fury at his wife was far worse. I'm having trouble marrying these two thoughts. What does one have to do with the other.. you want to tell the reader he's an angry dude, but you've done that nicely
“Is it the wine?”
“No — partially,” Lucrezia let out. “It’s Berto, he hates when I waste it.”
The maid let out a small laugh. “Wine is not how your husband makes his money, signora.” not sure I'm following? can you spell out more clearly so reader doesn't have to guess what's happening The maid paused for a moment, letting Lucrezia absorb what she was hearing. “I know everything.” She lifted a hand onto her mistress’s shoulder.
But Lucrezia threw it off. Her eyes widened, and mouth hung open. This scened of showing us Lucrezia pulls the reader out of being Lucrezia “What did you just say? How dare you accuse my family—”
“I accused you of nothing.” Giovanna confidently poured vinegar onto a cloth and attempted to wipe the stain from Lucrezia’s shirt. “But I know everything, signora. I know that you are in danger. I know that your husband has inherited— from his father— the reigns of the Mafioso regime controlling Napoli. I know that he beats you at night—”
In a flash of rage comma Lucrezia swiped her open hand hard across the maid’s face, only to cover her mouth upon hearing the clap. “How do you know these things? I hide my bruises. I keep my mouth shut. How do you know?”
The kitchen reeked of vinegar and wine.
Giovanna was unaffected despite the flagrant rouge appearing on her cheek. “I know everything.”
Lucrezia leaned in close, strands of her dark hair dangling before the fearless, smug maid. “You tell me how you know, or I will tell my husband how clever you are. Berto is not a kind man… as you claim you already know. Do you know what he does to people who run to the polizia? He—”
“Breaks their arms and legs and tosses them in the river one kilometre from here. I do know.” Before Lucrezia could speak again, the maid continued. “You’re asking yourself why I am here, aren’t you, signora? And how I know these things? I can see them, I can see what will come tomorrow or the next day, or the years and decades to come.” I'm not sure what the maids' suggesting
“You’re lying.” Lucrezia’s eyes narrowed. “Get out of my house before I—”
“I know that you’re a Jew.”
That was it, the words Lucrezia dreaded to hear, even from herself when she wept over it. Lucrezia’s spine tightened and her arms flung from her sides to the maid’s throat, pressing her against the wall, clenching down on her windpipe. Her fingers were cracking and she could feel the blood pulsating in the maid’s narrow neck. It didn’t matter how she knew, it only mattered that she did. “How dare you.!
“Mama?” a young voice called from the entrance to the kitchen.
“Silvio…” Lucrezia released the maid, trying to compose herself. “Silvio, bring papa his drink.” Dark wine sloshed against the sides of the glass as she handed it to her son. He did not blink once at his mother, looking back and forth from her and the maid. “Go,” she yelped, sending him bolting from the room with the wine sloshing in hand.
The maid rubbed her neck. “Your sons are in danger, Lucrezia.”
This woman knows, Lucrezia thought to herself. She knows long-buried secrets of my family. She can’t be lying. lying about what? so sorry this isn't clear. iMO long internal dialogue doesn't go over very well. consider having her say some of this stuff aloud Why would she? Does she want money? “Why are you doing this to me? If you can tell me what tomorrow brings then tell me…tell me who will win this war. Will Mussolini— will Hitler win? Will Italy be invaded?”
“No… and yes.”
A rush of relief flooded through Lucrezia, yet anxiety remerged. She thought of the Nazi’s marching through the streets, the Gestapo knocking at her door. Whenever she collected the paper from her husband she saw a fresh, horrifying picture on the front of the suffering of the Jews, and her husband giving a satisfied nod.
“But many Jews will die. Many are dying right now.” The maid tried to place her hand on Lucrezia’s, but Lucrezia retracted it. “You and your sons will die if you ignore me. Your house will fall.”
The thought of her boys having any harm done to them made her stomach lurch.
“Berto cannot know, my husband cannot know what I am.” Tears swelled in Lucrezia’s eyes. “I’ve done this to my children. My god I’ve made them like me— consider an edit Jewish too, like it’s some disease running in my blood. My husband once killed a Jew, you know, he’d kill me too.”
“He will try.”
A dry tackiness took over Lucrezia’s mouth as she took in quick, trembling breaths. “Will he know?” She pressed her fingers into her eyes, sobbing now, trying in vain to quiet herself. “How will he find out? Tell me, please! There has to be something I can do.” Do I really believe her? Doubt jabbed her, but if her sons were at any risk she would take being fooled. A con artist could take all her money if it meant Silvio and Salvatore were safe.
Laughter bounded through the door from Berto playing cards with his brothers. A small victory— Lucrezia realized— in that Berto had not discovered the missing wine. what missing wine
      “He already knows,” Giovanna said. “A letter came, detailing the truth you’ve kept hidden for so long. But he won’t react, not until you are alone.” ugh oh!
“I— I have nothing to give you. My husband—”
Now Giovanna grasped her hand. “I want nothing, signora. I tell you this because you have to harden yourself. He will beat you and threaten wouldn't he just kill her as suggested above? you because he doesn’t know what else to do. You’ve taken his legacies. You’ve made his sons Jews, Lucrezia, in a time where that is a death sentence. The blood of the mafia is thicker than the darkest wine, more precious than one thousand barrels. He will blame you for poisoning it.”
      “It’s not my fault.” didn't she knowingly deceive her husband?
“I know. This world is treacherous.”
“Where will I run?”
“I’ll show you.”
Lucrezia saw rat poison in a cabinet she's looking in a cabinet? I thought she's talking to the maid. make her remember the poison and pondered lacing his wine, or even snuffing him out while he slept with something so mundane as a pillow. My God, I’m considering murder because a stranger’s musings. But she knows so much…My God. She could hardly believe she'd even consider murder simply because of stranger's musing. But she knew so much...(IMO so much thought doesn't work)
“He will hurt you,” Giovanna said, swallowing in discomfort. Omnipotent POV? How does Lucrezia know the maid is swallowing “Tonight. It will be angrier than before, but endure and your sons will be safe. This is the only way through.”
Lucrezia caught her breath, deciding still if she could be trusted. She knew it was best not to toy with fate, not while in a dragon’s den. “Stand outside their door,” Lucrezia said solemnly. “I’ll make them warm milk to put them to sleep. Sing them a song, or read—”
“Signora—”
“Tell them a story, do you hear me? Don’t let them hear or be scared.”
Giovanna gave a slow but dutiful nod.  Consider a chapter break here( #)
Lucrezia, light headed and exhausted, made her way up the stairs that night. She walked by Silvio and Salvatore’s room, seeing them both already asleep, drifted off into some painless land, she hoped. She kissed them both softly, wiping the sweat from her hands before she stroked their smiling cheeks. “Goodnight, I love you,” she said as she pried her hands from the doorframe and made her way to her bedroom like a lost ghost.
      She pulled the sheets over herself as if it were burial shroud. This will be the test if I can believe the maid. Maybe I have nothing to fear at all. Again my opinion only but too much thought.
But soon the suffocating scent of liqueur and musky cologne, and the drunken stomping ploughed its way through the villa, looming over the doomed Lucrezia. Though she was too disturbed to sleep, she pretended to, closing her eyes tight as his shadow swallowed her.
“You lying bitch,” he barked, swiping her off the bed.
The first strike was always the worst. Lucrezia said a prayer, not for herself, but for her sons to stay asleep.
Berto’s fist was bloody. Lucrezia only noticed the red when he pulled it back and waited to get in another powerful strike. isn't it dark? If not, you might explain She thought it was over until her swollen eye allowed her to see his white knuckles splattered with his and her blood before it cracked against her face again. She heard her body being flung to the floor. Her feet lifted from the ground before her head crashed down against the wood, an inch short of the rug.
She thought about her sons the whole time. It was an ugly art she had mastered. Every hit was a test of endurance for their sake, she told herself.
Unsure if hours or minutes had passed, Lucrezia’s left eye slid open to see Berto’s silhouette against the moon through the window. His face was buried in his hands and he was crying. The moonlight cast a blue film over him, illuminating every tear that soaked his flushed face. The shaking of his hands rocked his entire monstrous frame, rattling his jaw so that his sobs fumbled forth in several octaves. His fingers pulled down on his eyelids in exhaustion just say he rubbed his face in exhaustion, then he took another slug of rye he had perched on the nightstand.
Drool— or maybe blood— rolled from Lucrezia’s mouth. She was too terrified to cry. Entirely unsure of what she could do, she laid there on the floor with her nightgown pulled above her bruised thighs, her aching knees curled over one another like a sleeping infant. I'm not sure this simile works. It sounds like you're comparing her knees to infants when I think you meant she was curled up like an infant which would work So she stayed still, praying it was over.
The beating had never been this severe, nor had Berto ever cried. Lucrezia wondered if it was remorse that made him sob like that. But when he looked down on her, there was no room for remorse in his eyes. You’re a monster. Just kill me. Or God, strike him down to Hell if you’re going to leave me here any longer.  Which thought is true? I"d suggest one or the other
Upon noticing Lucrezia regain consciousness, Berto rose with his fist clenched and dug his foot deep into her chest with a stern kick. digging a foot and kicking feel like two very different actions “Do you have any idea what you’ve done to my family?” he roared, tears still running. “My sons are Jews!” His eyes rolled into his head and he raised his arms in defeat, saying, more quietly, “My sons are Jews now. They’ll kill them.”
“Berto…” she pleaded, “we can hide it. Nobody has to know.”
He pelted her with an ashtray, spilling them ash all over her gown. “When Hitler comes to Italy, you think we can hide it? You think they won’t look at our history? Your parents? Their f**king parents? I’m known here; people see me as much a leader as Mussolini. You’re a f**king idiot! You ruined everything my family built.” Blood pulsated through the veins on his clenched fist. how does she know? It seems she'd only observe the clenched fists The moonlight still glistened on his skin. The musk of his cologne and sweat was throttling. great descriptions
Just as he raised his foot to stomp on her, a solemn knock on the door petrified him. why in the heck would a mafia leader be petrified of anything and how does she know he's scared. only her observations unless this is omnipotent povBerto stopped, his heel still in the air. His mouth locked open as he stared at the door, belly sucking in air and expelling it with fumes of the old rye.
Giovanna opened the door, her eyes glancing down fleetingly at the bloody Lucrezia for only a second.

Sorry I'm fixating on the POV's, I just want to make sure this is intentional. I'm guessing LUcrezia can't see much from her vantage point. This would be more powerful imo only that Lucrezia sees her ankles as she's overwhelmed by pain. This is a very powerful piece with wonderful descriptions. All the stuff I pointed out is all easy fixes (if you happen to agree with them) Good look with your submissions!

Offline Kjk

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Re: The Fate of the Damned - Adult Fantasy
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2021, 03:31:22 PM »
Along with rivergirls recommendations I just wanted to say good job overall. lovely language, vivid descriptions and the emotions are very clear and descriptive.