The blue grotto, a cave beneath the island of Capri, is a famous tourist destination nowadays. It is nearly 200 feet in length and 25 feet wide. It is one of the few caves in the world that creates a blue hue depending on the manner in which light enters and reflects.
In ancient times, caves and grottos were nearly always associated with magic and monsters. A grotto like the blue grotto, carried extra superstitions. In time, people used it as a temple while the less superstitious merely enjoyed the waters for relaxing swims. It is illegal to swim in it today.
While experimenting on how to do the cover for the second book in The Crystal Crux series, Blue Grotto, I actually built a cave of plaster, water and light in my basement. I burned incenses, and adjusted the lighting etc… but it never quite worked out the way I wanted it, and ended up doing more fidgeting with photoshop than I wanted.
In The Crystal Crux: Blue Grotto, Rugerius Fabbro steals Anthea Manikos from Capua and takes her to the blue grotto.
Rugerius was assaulted by Anthea’s intended, Pero de Alava. And while he thinks Pero is already dead, killed on Eagles Pass, he still wants to punish the caballero, in this life and the next.
Anthea Manikos was once engaged to Rugerius – an arranged marriage. Rugerius ruined that arrangement on the very first day, failing to meet her boat at the docks, caught having relations with two young women in Suadela, an upper hall of the palace.
Before any other arrangements could be sorted out, Pero met Anthea accidentally that night while she wept in a chapel. He proposed on the spot, unsure who she was or why she refused him.
The next morning, Pero went directly to Gherardus and Anthea’s father, Nikitas, and came to terms. Pero promised to protect her and allow her time to decide for herself whether or not they would wed. Anthea, surprised to have a choice in the matter, rode north for Capua with her new fiance. She swore she’d never step foot in Parthenope again. She despised Rugerius Fabbro calling him a swine.
Rugerius enlisted the aid of the court magician, Sinibaldus, for his dastardly plan.
Sinibaldus, with the aid of a Bellerophon Crystal, had the ability to destroy men’s minds, preying on their guilt, transforming them into obedient slaves.
One powerful beam of pure white light being generated by the Crystal shot directly into the space between Anthea’s eyes, above the bridge of her nose. The intensity snatched her face, tearing through her skin and mind, forcibly removing her thoughts from her head.
Rugerius watched on in awe as Sinibaldus performed his magic, shocked when the trial ended and the giant magician collapsed before him.
Sinibaldus continued to shudder and quake as if suffering a seizure. He snapped out of the meditation violently and nearly dropped the Crystal, falling hard to his knees to catch it. The whole cave went black. The fire inside the Stone died and the kaleidoscope was reabsorbed.
Rugerius demanded to know what happened.
Sinibaldus didn’t know, didn’t understand.
“She is not alone. There is someone else in there, with her.”
Sinibaldus had encountered people with strong wills over the years but never had one been so resilient as to expel him. Sinibaldus was actually fearful of this “other being” whom he now saw as a challenge. Life had been mundane at best for the giant magician. Scrambling minds was easy. Anthea posed a unique test.
Sinibaldus realized that Rugerius was far too impatient to permit him the time he required to break Anthea’s defenses down. He decided to send the Castellan of Parthenope on a wild-goose chase.
Sinibaldus reveals that Pero de Alava didn’t actually die on Eagles Pass like everyone supposed. He tells Rugerius that Anthea and Pero’s spirits are so entwined, she is obviously still drawing power from him. Sinibaldus knew this wasn’t true but it was enough to inspire the thick-headed Rugerius to ride out for Eagles Pass and the Sanctuary prison where Pero was believed to be hiding.
Sinibaldus, in Rugerius’ absence, would have all the time he required to experiment on Anthea and her untapped powers.
One of those powers Sinibaldus had regarded, which Rugerius ignored in his rage, was a healing. Sinibaldus had used his own red handkerchief, dipped in the blue waters, to clean blood from Anthea’s wounds. Her injuries were all gone. She was immaculate and re-energized. Sinibaldus knew there was more at work here than he could ever explain to Rugerius.
Sinibaldus felt an uncomfortable chill and Sinibaldus never got chills before today. Wait, that was not completely true. He did get chills one other time. When he warred with the elementist, Herophile, and was driven into exile by a powerful storm. ‘Is this girl, a crone?’
Blue Grotto is the second book in the epic fantasy series, The Crystal Crux. Readers can start with any of the three books. There are more yet to come including a “PREQUEL” which will feature more happenings in the blue grotto decades before Anthea, Rugerius and Sinibaldus enter it.
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