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Bk 1, Pt. 2: Preface

Underjordisk Elv

Underjordisk Elv

Chapter Excerpt from The Codex Lacrimae, Book 1: Part 2, The Book of Tears

by & © 2013 A. J. Carlisle


This is the moment, Urd shouted, the Codex Lacrimae returns!

More stalactites fell around Clarinda as the Four Winds started to hurl cadavers and werewolves against the limestone walls and into the rivers.

Lightning flashed in the cavern. A peal of thunder boomed through the walls.

“Pellion!” Santini screamed, and electrical discharges then cascaded everywhere, scoring into stone and bursting apart warriors with disintegrative power.

Il sono il Lacrimae Codex, Servius Aurelius Santini… .

Urd was gone now, but Clarinda heard the other woman’s voice in her head, alluring and potent. However, any remaining words were lost as a mighty tremor vibrated through the underground, threatening to shake apart the foundations of the earth.

A terrifying thought occurred to her — was he somehow causing both the storm and earthquake?

“Get out of my head!” He shouted as he rose to his feet, found Hela, and began running toward her, the stave burning bright red in his hand as he swiped at a cadaver.

“Servius! Mio cuore, ascolta me! Prega di, listen to me!” she repeated, moving even closer. The situation was dire, but she needed to remain calm and imitate the serenity of the Norns even in the hellscape the cavern had become. Santini’s enraged silence seemed worse than anything in the battle thus far.

“NO — she dies!” his shout was primal, the anger cutting the air with irre- pressible violence, as he reversed the heel of the blazing crimson staff into the throat of a Halbe-troll behind him. “I’m not a pawn! They’ve killed Pellion,

Clarinda! I felt it — Morpeth…that archer back at the Krak. He’s killing everybody, and he just killed Pellion! I’ve got to…what?”

The knight stopped talking and didn’t move.

Clarinda stared at him. Was he talking to someone? To the Codex? Why couldn’t Clarinda hear its words anymore?

“Servius? We’re leaving,” she said calmly, retreating to the river. She remembered the dead birds at Andvari’s house. Something was going very wrong inside the young knight’s mind. She could almost feel things breaking loose and she had to stop it.

She heard the roar of the rapids behind her as the black river sped by, its waters unabated in the same course they’d run for millennia, rushing forth from the deep parts of the world.

Clarinda suddenly knew what she had to do, and fear momentarily immobilized her.

How could she possibly survive the cold waterways under the mountain? Did she even want to survive without him? No — he’d have to make a choice, succumb to the power of the awakening Codex, or rescue her.

She tried to remember what Andvari had said about holding her breath; was it a full minute through a subterranean water-chute, and then maybe surviving Franang Falls? She began inhaling more deeply as she reversed another step to the water’s edge.

O, ti capitano di mare idiota, l’acqua è il tuo amico!

Hoping that water still, indeed, remained her friend — and that she could swim in underground channels as well as her beloved sea! — Clarinda took a last gulp of air, clasped the quarterstaff, and fell backwards into the river.

She heard Aurelius shout something at her, but there was nothing now except the frigid torrent and pain.

Clarinda’s last sight was of the young knight’s anguished face. For not the first time during their adventures together, she thought, Oh, God, am I in love with him?

Then she knew only a claustrophobic, panicked oblivion as the icy current of the Underjordisk Elv swept her from the battle and into the airless crawlways beneath the mountains… [end excerpt]

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