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All the Plagues of Hell: Chapter Twenty Seven

       Last updated: Saturday, December 1, 2018 20:56 EST




    In Venice, Marco Valdosta was experimenting on his patient. He felt as if he was both losing and gaining ground at the same time. The necrosis around the puncture had halted, and gradually the flesh itself was healing and the wound drawing closed. She would have a nasty scar, but the leg itself now had almost normal circulation. Unfortunately, that was the only real victory he’d had. The wound was healing, yes, though not at the pace a normal healthy person would heal, but with a glacial slowness. And her breathing and heartbeat too had gone from fast and weak, to slower… and no less weak. She’d come in fat. She wasn’t that any more.

    He was finding that having a pregnant wife was hard on the whole household, and him in particular. A war on the northern borders, even if Venice was not involved… Yet, at least. Marco knew there were those on the Council of Ten saying quietly and in the senate calling loudly, for Venice to take up arms, to punish its old enemy and make territorial gains while it could.

    That was worrying enough. But the very idea of the plague was deeply disturbing–and he hadn’t heard back from Francisco. He’d even been to ask the undines if they knew if the message had been delivered… and been told yes, but that Francisco was no longer in Milan. So Marco had decided to try some experiments on the de’ Medici girl, before she slipped away completely. Marco, and her attendants, massaged her limbs gently every day. At first that had been to insure the circulation of blood, and possibly to keep up a little muscle tone. But he noticed that after the sessions, she stirred slightly. Tiny movements of the fingers, a twitch of the cheek. This would last a few minutes and then she would return to lying like the dead. She did suck, weakly and swallow of her own volition. But it could take an hour to get a cup of broth into her.

    He’d tried scents, and sounds, and even pricking her with a pin. That was futile. But she did respond to music and smells. She turned her head a bit toward the music, and her nostrils flared slightly with various odors. He’d tried pleasant, and unpleasant. Rose-water and ammonia, burned hartshorn, vinegar, garlic… she had actively sniffed at that.

    It still had not woken her.

    He’d tried saints’ relics and prayers, spells of healing, and small doses of various stimulants.

    He not winning, and felt that there was something he’d missed.



    Violetta de’ Medici knew she was somehow trapped in a dark and terrible place with a serpent. At first, she had been so full of that paralyzing weakness that she’d been barely able to feel anything at all, not even terror.

    She was dimly aware of the lion walking down in the darkness. She was not sure how she knew that it was a lion, but was certain of it. She knew that she should have been terrified of the vast and savage beast, but was not.

    She wanted, desperately, to warn it of the serpent. But she had no breath or strength to scream.

    And somewhere, somehow she caught the smell of osso busco… at least of the garlic. That was good, and comforting.




    It was all about sparring for position, Count Andrea Malatesta knew. They’d pushed Sforza’s forces back, and even had a minor victory against one of his captains, to make up for the reverses suffered by that idiot Duke Umberto Da Corregio. The big difference, of course, was that Milan was outnumbered and largely surrounded. His allies in Venice assured him that the Republic would join in the war just as soon as the fleet arrived back.

    To improve things, and the morale of the troops, was the news via spies out of Milan that Sforza had been taken sick, and had come back to the city with his personal physician. That was sweet music to the ear of Count Andrea, although he was irritated by the fact that his allies and his troops gave such weight to the legend of Sforza, the Wolf of the North. Venice and Ferrara had humbled him in the past, had they not? Surely, with all the allies Malatesta now had and Venice together with Ferrara, they would break him. They greatly outnumbered his troops already. And there was word that a thousand more men would be joining them from Naples. They all wanted a piece of the loot.

    Even that coward Cosimo would be there eventually, like a carrion crow after the eagles had made their kill. If Andrea had his way, the Florentines would get precious little. The money-grubbers were already owed far too much.

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