BLACK SUN - The Age of Apollyon Trilogy #2

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BLACK SUN

Book Two in The Age of Apollyon Trilogy

By Mark Carver


PART I.

For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel.

- Martin Luther


CHAPTER 1

The wind made a crackling sound as it rustled through the raven's black wings. The bird angled its left wing upwards and banked sharply to the right, swooping towards the ground. Moments before impact, it pulled up out of its plummeting dive and glided effortlessly over the expanse of stones and corpses.

Dark, sinister clouds hovered above the ruins, and they seemed to be pulled up into a funnel of some kind, as if something massive had just receded into the sky.

The raven's sharp silhouette sliced through the wind and its oily-black eyes scanned the desolation stretching beneath it. No sounds came from the mangled, bloody bodies strewn across the square. The cracks widened as the raven approached the center of the devastation which yawned into a great chasm where the Cathedral of Our Lady once stood majestic and invincible.

Now only a crater remained.

The raven flew into the gaping hole, and it emitted a piercing cry that no one could hear. As it swooped over the broken statues and shattered pillars, a slow, rippling streak of lightning flashed in the sky above. The ruins were bathed in a harsh white glow that seemed to twist and lurch, and the bird cackled again. Its squawk was answered by a snap of thunder that cracked like a whip.

With an abrupt flick of its wings, the raven halted in the air and landed among the stones. Heavy raindrops began to splash down upon the ruins. The bird shook its head to fling away the falling water, and it began to spring lightly among the shards of rock as another bolt of lightning split the sky.

The raven hopped through the maze of rubble for a few moments, then stopped. A nameless saint gazed down at the black bird with lifeless stone eyes. The raven squawked again, then jerked its head towards the base of the statue.

It stared at another pair of lifeless eyes, but these were not made of stone. Blood trickled through the gorgeous black hair and seeped over the beautiful face. As the blood spilled out onto the stones, the rain water quickly washed it away.

The raven hopped closer, leaning forward and peering intently at the girl's face. A hand, porcelain white, protruded from beneath the statue's crushing weight. The bird regarded the delicate hand, then stepped forward and pecked it lightly. It waited a moment, as if expecting a response. Then it pecked again, this time more aggressively.

Lightning seared the swirling clouds and thunder rumbled as the raven's pecking became vicious. It gouged and gashed the lovely hand, and blood began pouring from the savage wounds. The raven shrieked with bloodlust as it stabbed the hand with its razor-sharp beak again and again and again...

"Isabella!"

Father DeMarco bolted upright, gasping for breath. His chest heaved violently and he was covered with sweat. His hands clutched the bedsheets in a death grip. Each breath burst from his lungs and every muscle in his body was tense.

"Father! Be still!"

The voice was gentle but firm. Father DeMarco turned towards the darkness, and his eyes slowly focused on a face shrouded in shadow.

He was surprised to find himself unable to speak. After several moments, he managed to whisper, "Who...who are..."

"It's me. Donatella."

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