Studying history and applying this knowledge to my historical fantasy series ‘The Crystal Crux’, I learned that the Mouth of Truth (bocca della verita) – a large, mysterious marble mask believed to have been used to intimidate and prevent lying, is kept at the basilica of Cosmedin in Rome. And as was fated for me, the bishop-who-would-one-day-be-pope that I had chosen early on to be a childhood friend of the treacherous Fabbro family, was in fact, Giacinto Bobones, the cardinal-deacon of Santa Maria, serving in the basilica of Cosmedin at precisely the right time.
When Gherardus Fabbro is in desperate need of an ally after assassinating his parents and taking rule over Parthenope, he turns to Giacinto who demands his confession and loyalty in return for his help.
Below is an edited and condensed excerpt from The Crystal Crux : Cold Knight (Book 3), Chapter 9 – Christmas Spirits.
The accusations rained down from several quarters, chiefly and most odiously from the Church, notably Bishop Milvio Manco.
There were small protests and leaflets going about, commoners plotting and chanting their disgruntlement, lifting the rumors to plausible heights.
Gherardus and Turstin Fabbro, understanding fully their tenuous grip on power, sought allies to stem the tide and avoid civil unrest.
Gherardus packed his pride. He left his brother in charge of Parthenope and visited the basilica of Cosmedin in Rome and was received by an old childhood friend, Giacinto Bobones.
The light and airy venue was a deceitful masquerade for the superstition hidden in the darkest hall. Unlocking several doors, descending a mountain of stairs, Giacinto led Gherardus by torchlight to an ominous figure, a grotesque face, a talisman of dread.
Looking at it in the miserable guttering torchlight, Gherardus swore he saw dried blood dripping down its beard.
“Place your hand inside the mouth and confess,” Giacinto ordered Gherardus in no uncertain terms. “If you want my help, my son, leave nothing out. Tell me everything.”
Nervous, anxious, the Lord Commander of Parthenope who had slain hundreds in battle, placed his right hand inside the gaping maw of bocca della verita and confessed. He confessed his culpability in the deaths of his parents, the desertion of Avenel, and the bloody slaying of several scapegoats to wash away the crimes.
Gherardus Fabbro left that audience with the cardinal-deacon’s promise to silence the troublesome bishop and the assertions leveled against him. Poor Bishop Manco was promptly reassigned, exiled to the farthest reaches of the known world to preach to heretics and wild men in Abyssinia.
His replacement, Bishop Iago Bruni, had no allusions concerning his new assignment. He was not going to make the same mistake as his predecessor. Providence had generously opened a door for him and he walked through it with eager subjugation steeled in his heart. Ignorance was bliss. If he played his cards right, Iago Bruni figured he could live a long and happy life in Parthenope, growing fat and satisfied.
For those who still haven’t read the books but are interested, this is where Gherardus Fabbro also receives a gold ring he wears without fail, the name of his dear mother Meliore etched inside.
Anxiously, the thin white fingers of his left hand spun and fiddled with a band of gold on the index finger of his right hand. This costly and yet simple treasure was a bequest which outwardly solidified his fidelity to a childhood friend and former pope, Celestine III. Subconsciously, however, the golden ring was meant as a reminder of the duke’s unending perpetual enslavement to the passive religion of the Christ, an alliance he resented to this day. (Excerpt from Book One – The Crystal Crux : Betrayal – Chapter 3)
Three books so far in the Historic Fantasy Adventure tale …
BETRAYAL – BLUE GROTTO – COLD KNIGHT
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