I am absolutely obsessed with the tragic tale of Beatrice Cenci! I have decided that my next book, when I finish with my Richard III series, will be a retelling of this true story, and today on my way to work I was struck with inspiration. Here, below, is the prologue to my next novel (for which I have no title yet), the first draft, unedited and unabridged!
Far up in the mountains, nestled amongst the woodland and fauna of the Latium wilderness, there perched upon a crag an idyllic sort of castle from a bygone era, a fortress known to the villagers cowering beneath its shadow as La Rocca di Petrella Salto. Its stone keep and imposing towers, its staunch curtain and terrifying portcullis, lent little credence to the civility of those who, from time to time, inhabited the place. Its entire construction bespoke of an era wracked with violence, a barbaric time populated by barbaric people whose sole purpose, it seemed to those of a more civilized century, was to make war.
But perhaps, if one had known the nature of the man who owned the impressive, if decrepit, castello, they would have understood why he enjoyed the gloomy, echoing halls, the whispers of torture in the donjon’s dungeon, the crenels through which archer after archer had impaled hapless victims upon their arrows.
As it was, rumors abounded regarding the nature of the castello’s owner, for it was culture as well as corruption that civilized a man. But those few who were invited to dine in the imposing keep forced themselves to assume that their host kept occasional residence in the fortress looming over Petrella Salto because of the peace of the surrounding mountains, the beauty of the surreal landscape, or the sun that pervaded the fog drifting dreamily across the fern-covered ground. They, or indeed no one, would say a word in public against Signore Conte Cenci.