Forewards sometimes remind me of Chorus in Shakepeare's Henry V, or Rumour in Henry IV, Part Two. Certainly Shakespeare did not use these devices in all his work, not even the majority of his work; so why did he here? Hopefully he did not think his audience was so dense that they had to be told they were going to use their imaginary forces to see horses Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth? It seems that Shakespeare did not have to tell his audiences that they were going to have to imagine Rome, or Scotland or Denmark, or that they would be transported back hundreds of years.
I had considered not having a Foreward in To Know Evil, as I had seldom ever used them in my other works. But I left it in figuring some readers would do what I have been known to do from time to time when confronted with a Foreward; just skip over it and get right to the story.
Since To Know Evil was recently published on Kindle, I thought I would put some of the book on my blog and I thought I would start with the:
In northern Italy sits a small unassuming coastal town on the Ligurian Sea. Surrounding the town are low-lying hills that stand like silent sentinels, with heads bowed and hands folded in front of them in what would appear to be an almost pious posture. Leading northeast out of the town is an old dirt road that meanders into the hills. The road wanders almost aimlessly for sixty-six kilometres into the rugged countryside and comes to a sudden end at a river that flows past the base of a small mountain. The top of the mountain presents an excellent view of the entire area. Sitting atop the mountain is a partial wall of cut stone, rising above a mound of similar cut stone that has long since fallen into ruin. Aside from this account that follows, it is all that remains of a terrible tragedy brought on by an unspeakable evil.
One such outpost was built atop a low mountain, referred to in ancient Etruscan legend as Serpent’s Mountain. The Romans knew little of the Etruscans and paid little heed to the reference, since no snakes were ever seen in the area, but those who knew the folklore about the site did not take the strange tales lightly. Stories of human sacrifice, sexual perversions, demon worship, and heinous tortures kept all but the very foolish—and the Romans—from treading in the shadow of the mountain.
It was not until the coming of the barbarians, more than three hundred years after this mysterious tragedy, that the distant outpost was used again, yet no army would dally there for long. Sometime before the fall of the Roman Empire, the station was found abandoned and claimed by an obscure order of Christian monks known as Gnostics. Over a period of two hundred years the Gnostic monks built an elaborate stone monastery atop the original outpost. These monks were renowned for their skills in masonry and carpentry, and other arts that are little known today. The monastery itself was a combination of Roman, Byzantine, and Gothic architecture. Its shape was basically square, with different buildings joined together, surrounding a spacious courtyard. The structure displayed an elegant simplicity, and was supported by tall columns and arches. In its day it could easily have been considered an architectural marvel.
It is worth noting that during the barbarian invasion in the third, fourth and fifth centuries, there is no record of the monastery ever being attacked by hostile forces. The Gnostic monks received few visitors from the secular world and were most particular about whom they allowed into their sect. It was this very particularity that condemned them to extinction. By the time the Benedictines discovered the monastery in the year 580, only one Gnostic remained, a Brother Alamar, who claimed to be 114 years old.
The Benedictine order was founded early in the sixth century by Benedict of Nursia, who established many monasteries in Italy, including the one at Monte Cassino. Benedict believed in a purposeful and ordered life, balanced by equal portions of prayer, work, and sleep. To guide monks in their search for salvation, Benedict penned a monastic legislative code. Known simply as the Rule, it spelled out in great detail the practices monks were to follow so they might earn a place in Christ’s kingdom.
What follows is the story of what took place in that Benedictine monastery in the year 999 A.D., the incredible secrets buried there, and the terrible tragedy that brought an end to that fellowship of brothers.
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