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INTRODUCTORY: FILLETING NEMO

Filleting Nemo Anthony P. Schiavo, Jr. “Yes, the entertainment industry’s got nothing. The creative juices have dried up. Their spark of genius has been doused under a gusher of raw sewage. When they’re not producing the ugly and offensive, all they’ve got left is the shallow and derivative.” In early 2005, Christians around the world were aghast but hardly surprised when The Passion of the Christ—a brilliant cinematic achievement in any previous age of the silver screen—was snubbed by the Academy Awards. What a difference a year makes? In this case, no difference. In 2006, the run-up to the Academy Awards became a three-week long public service announcement for an “alternative lifestyle” that a sizable majority of Americans find revolting. It is perhaps neither new nor surprising that the entertainment industry is dominated by narcissistic hedonists who seem to be in a race to see who can destroy themselves and those around them in the most spectacular way. The difference between this current crop of Hollyweirdos and those of previous generations, however, is that the talent well seems to have finally run dry. I find myself uttering exactly this sentiment time and again as commercials for sequel after prequel after re-make after spin-off pop up unsolicited on my TV. You know things are bad when they’re making Miss Congeniality II. And not only did they remake Cheaper By The Dozen, but the remake was hardly out on DVD ten minutes when Cheaper By The Dozen II arrived in theaters. Yes, the entertainment industry’s got nothing. The creative juices have dried up. Their spark of genius has been doused under a gusher of raw sewage. When they’re not producing the ugly and offensive, all they’ve got left is the shallow and derivative. It’s gotten to the point in my house that we actively joke about how pathetic, pedestrian, and predictable Hollywood productions have become. They can't even slide their jive by a pre-schooler anymore. I recently made the mistake of allowing my 3-year-old to watch the seemingly innocuous Finding Nemo. Of course, the precocious lad immediately picked out some of the fishier aspects of Nemo’s character and I was soon peppered with questions like “Why did Nemo say ‘I hate you’ to his dad?” After explaining that Nemo was a smart-mouthed little smolt who got into trouble specifically because he didn't listen to his father, I decided to try a different tactic. A week or so later, I opened a can of sardines and announced, “Guess what we're having for lunch today? Nemo!” And let me tell you, I’ve never seen a kid eat a sardine with such gusto. After he was done, he proudly announced, “Nemo was delicious!” As the movie was a box-office success, I have no doubt that the next seven sequels to Finding Nemo are already in production. However, unless they’re called Catching Nemo, Baking Nemo in a Honey-Mustard Sauce, and Eating Nemo, we won't be watching them. Yes, the creativity gap in writing for big-screen films is striking. But it is equally bad on television. Based on what passes for dialogue on many of these shows, I can only assume that a prospective writer, when applying for a job, must prove that he can crank out at least 20 scato-jokes per half-hour and insert at least 3 not-so-cleverly-disguised left-wing political

statements in each script. And what, exactly, is their problem with the family? You remember, the one-man-one-woman-and-children family? On the rare occasion that such an anomalous family does make a brief appearance on either the big or small screen, they are invariably portrayed as a collection of pathologies who manage to stay together only because no one else could tolerate them. Every time I see such a dysfunctional family on TV, I hear a producer somewhere saying, “Here's what we think of you peons. And you’re so stupid, you’ll actually watch it and laugh!” And what is the underlying message in all the offal that Hollywood continues to crank out? Simply this: “Follow your own desires—however sick and twisted they may be—and let everyone else rot.” I’d wager that this is the main theme in about 90% of the Disney movies made since 1970. Parents and authority figures in general must be the antagonists in such a set-up by design. Pounding this message home day and night has proven a clever way to subvert the family. Diabolically clever. How many times has the demand “accept me for who I am!” been broadcast over the past 40 years? No doubt, this puerile refrain will be echoed by children and adolescents who imbibe this stuff on a daily basis. But my question always was, “what if who you are is a dope-smoking, two-timing, verbally abusive sociopath?” Inevitably, “accept me for who I am” is a nice way of saying, “I demand that you accept and affirm my wretched behavior.” In his excellent book, It Takes a Family, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum identifies this pernicious attitude as “no fault freedom”—that is, the belief that freedom is the ability to do what you want, when you want, where you want, to whoever you want. As long as no one is physically hurt, bad actions need not have consequences. This vision of “freedom” is nothing like the liberty the Founding Fathers embraced. They would have immediately branded this beast for what it is: license. And no republic in history has ever long been able to govern a nation of licentious scoundrels. Such a ship of fools requires a somewhat more forceful hand on the tiller. And that brings us back to Hollyweird. Those of us who yearn for a rebirth of liberty based on personal responsibility, honor, piety, generosity, hard work, and courage have reason for hope. The current crop of entertainment media intelligentsia are mere shadows of their predecessors. Whereas in the past, malevolent messages could often be hidden within magnificent writing, production, and acting, such is hardly the case today. Even in some of the biggest budget productions, the writing is atrocious, their foul themes displayed without subtlety and applied repeatedly with a baseball bat. Artistic mediocrity has never inspired anyone to do anything, except laugh derisively. Indeed, bad message art tends to have exactly the opposite of its intended effect. That is why I'm perfectly content to let the anti-Christian, anti-family, antiAmerican entertainment media continue to create works which win few converts to their cause but lose lots of money. That said, it is past time for a new alternative arts and entertainment scene to arise which cherishes and promotes our common Judeo-Christian ideals. There are faint glimmers on the horizon as religious-themed songs continue to have robust popularity in country/western music and movies like The Exorcism of Emily Rose find box office success even though critics are horrified by the sympathetic Catholic overtones. As patrons of the arts and entertainment media, it is imperative that such endeavors be given our public appreciation and support.


Contents Essay Filleting Nemo, by Anthony P. Schiavo, Jr. ......................................................... inside front cover

Short Stories Historical Fiction—Bread and Circuses, by Paolo A. Belzoni............................................................................................ 2 Historical Fiction—Shades of Mercy, by Kristen Davis ................................................................................................ 7 Fantasy—The Curse of Borello, Part IV by Robert F. Kauffmann. .................................................................................. 13

Poetry Saint Joan of Arc, by Anastasia Alexander ..................................................................................... 9

Humor If Bigfoot Could Vote, I Know Who He'd Vote For by Claudio R. Salvucci ......................................................................................11 Cover Illustration: Colossal head of Constantine, Museo del Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome. Photo taken and enhanced by Anthony P. Schiavo, Jr.

The Tarpeian Rock is a free periodical published annually by Arx Publishing, LLC, P. O. Box 1333, Merchantville, NJ 08109, USA. Tel. (856) 486-1310 • Fax: (856) 665-0170 For a complete listing of books offered by Arx Publishing, to place an order, or to advertise in future issues of The Tarpeian Rock, please visit our web site: www.arxpub.com To request a back issue of the 2003, 2004, or 2005 editions, send $3.00 per issue to Arx Publishing at the above address. All editorial, artistic, submissions, or quality concerns should be directed to Claudio R. Salvucci at the above address. All production, advertising, and distribution questions should be directed to Tony Schiavo at the above address. Unless otherwise noted below, all material is Copyright © 2006 Arx Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, transmitted or otherwise disseminated in any form without prior written permission from Arx Publishing, LLC. All opinions expressed in The Tarpeian Rock represent those of the authors of the articles in question and not necessarily those of the management and members of Arx Publishing, LLC. The Curse of Borello is Copyright © 2006 Robert F. Kauffmann. All rights reserved. For further information, contact the author directly at 2401 Arden Road, Cinnaminson, NJ 08077 • rkauffma@csc.com Shades of Mercy is Copyright © 2006 Kristen Davis. All rights reserved. Saint Joan of Arc is Copyright © 2006 Anastasia Alexander. All rights reserved.

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HISTORICAL FICTION: BREAD AND CIRCUSES

by Paolo A. Belzoni The reign of the Emperor Justinian I is seen by many historians as the last dying gasp of the Roman Empire—and the birth of the Byzantine Empire. During his reign (A.D. 527–565), Africa, Italy, and parts of Spain were restored to the Empire after nearly 80 years of barbarian rule. This incredible reconquest may be credited almost exclusively to the military genius of Belisarius, Justinian's brilliant general. With armies most noteworthy for their small size, Belisarius accomplished feats of military skill that were as amazing as any in recorded history. The following is taken from Belisarius: The First Shall Be Last (due October 2006, Arx Publishing), a historical fiction retelling of the early life of this fascinating man. In this passage, an 18-year-old Belisarius and his comrades have just arrived in Constantinople, having found employment as soldiers in the household guard of the emperor. A.D. 521, Spring. Third year of the reign of Justin, Emperor of the Romans at Constantinople or over 500 years, the city of Rome had been the largest, most beautiful city in the world, utterly without peer. However, Constantine’s establishment of a New Rome on the foundations of the old Greek city of Byzantium had created a bipolar empire. His eponymous city had been built to serve as a new capital for a renewed Roman world, and as emperor after emperor lavished adornments on the city, Constantinople quickly cast Old Rome into its shadow. The old Queen of Cities became a dowager, shamed and forced into retirement, patiently enduring nearly a century of neglect and abuse. She had been forsaken by the feckless Western

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Roman emperors who preferred the safety of Ravenna. She had been pummeled by Alaric and his Goths and ravished by Gizeric and his Vandals. And for the past fifty years, Old Rome moldered away meekly under the rule of Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, while her empire went on without her. New Rome, meanwhile, flourished and grew to unprecedented size and wealth. To ensure the success of his city, Constantine had cajoled some of the greatest Roman senatorial families to emigrate with him, building exact replicas of their houses in Byzantium. He also constructed a new Senate House, forum, baths, fortifications, public buildings, and a multitude of magnificent churches. It was rumored that he had even removed from Rome the legendary Palladium—an ancient wooden statue of Athena that the hero Aeneas had brought from Troy to Italy—and buried it somewhere in Byzantium. Thus, the symbolic, historical link between the new Rome and the old was firmly established. Constantine’s decision to forsake Rome as the capital of his empire in favor of Byzantium was not made for frivolous reasons. Situated as it was in central Italy, with no natural defenses and miles from the nearest port, Rome was a city difficult to defend and even harder to keep provisioned in the event of a siege. Her enormous size and sprawling suburbs made the city’s walls ridiculously long, requiring a large army to defend properly. Furthermore, Rome was far distant from the major theaters of war on the frontiers, making nearer cities like Ravenna, Milan, or Trier more attractive as bases of operation for emperors in the West in Constantine’s day. In contrast, Constantinople was uniquely well-situated on a peninsula with easy access to the sea and a well-protected harbor. Byzantium also enjoyed a dominant economic position, sitting at the crossroads of trade

between the Euxine Sea and the Aegean. With Constantine’s encouragement, Byzantium quickly became a world marketplace where East and West came together to do business. His immediate successors made the city an impregnable fortress as well—a mighty new colossus in the East with one foot in Europe, the other in Asia.

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elisarius was assigned to quarters in a district of the city known as the Strategion, nearby the farfamed Hippodrome. Though marginally smaller than the Circus Maximus at Rome, the massive Hippodrome could seat 100,000 spectators for the chariot races and sported a passage which allowed the emperor direct access to his

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private box from the nearby palace. This passage was well-traveled in this consular year of the emperor's nephew, Petrus Sabbatius Justinianus, who lavished incredible amounts of money on races and spectacles, including a showing of 20 lions and 30 leopards. The Hippodrome was the nexus of sporting life for the citizens of Constantinople. Outrageous amounts of time, money, and energy were expended cheering for the colors in the chariot races, the most important being the Blue and the Green Factions. Indeed, for many of these die-hard Factionists, the races became an all-consuming passion: all pretense of Christian charity was immediately discarded if one heard his faction demeaned. For some, the faction became their religion, the races their sacraments, and the Hippodrome their temple. These suffered from a foul disease of the soul—a malady which disregarded all of the important things in life and made the trivial paramount. “I can’t get used to all this,” Belisarius said as he and Florentius made their way down a narrow street, packed with Green fans headed to the Hippodrome. “Have you been to the races yet?” “No. I have no interest in them at all,” Florentius replied. “I can’t believe you wasted a whole furlough day there.” “What a spectacle!” Belisarius continued, using his hands for effect. “I’ve never seen such a mass of drunken humanity in one place before. The noise was unbelievable!” “Who won anyway?” Florentius asked, trying to feign interest. “The Blues, and there was a great outcry from the Green benches. All manner of filth pelted the Blue driver even before he crossed the finish line. A few Blue rough-necks made their way to the Green section and insults soon led to punches. It was a near-riot!” “I’m told this happens at every race?” Florentius interrupted. “I asked Bessas the same question,” Belisarius continued. “He just laughed and said that as long as these rogues fought each other, they’d have little energy left for planning criminal or seditious activities.” “So you paid to see the races and got to see several gladiatorial contests free, eh?” Florentius quipped. “I suspect that even gladiators had more honor than those wretched fighters,” Belisarius laughed and shook his head. His stomach growled loudly. “Where shall we have breakfast this morning?” “I told Uliaris we’d meet him at the

PAOLO A. BELZONI

Belisarius Book I: The First Shall Be Last

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column in the Forum of Theodosius,” Florentius replied. “I'm buying breakfast today.” “Really?” Belisarius eyed his friend with suspicion. “Yes, really,” Florentius said, but did not elaborate.

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liaris already had a flagon of wine in his hand when his two comrades arrived at the triumphal column which twisted magnificently over his head. A large bronze of the emperor Theodosius II gazed out from the top over the city he had embellished a century before. “Morning, fellows,” Uliaris called upon seeing them. “Already hitting the grape juice, Uliaris?” Florentius chided. “What of it?” Uliaris barked back at him. His pallor and bloodshot eyes betrayed his activities of the previous evening. “Only that you should save some room for the bread and cheese which our friend here is going to buy us,” Belisarius said. “Buy us?” Uliaris perked up. “Excellent! I’m sick of the annona bread. I swear it tastes like wood!”

“That’s because they mix sawdust in with the flour,” Florentius quipped. “You’re serious?” Uliaris asked, his eyes widening. “Wouldn’t surprise me in the least,” Belisarius added. “Free bread tastes like what you pay for it.” Florentius ambled off in the general direction of the cheese shops, counting some coins in the palm of his hand, leaving Belisarius and Uliaris to chat at the column. “I hear you made tetrarch,” Uliaris said. “Yes,” Belisarius replied tersely, somewhat embarrassed. His promotion, while deserved, had been completely unexpected. “Should I address you as ‘my magnificent, ever-victorious lord of the three continents and all the seas’ or will a simple ‘my lord and master’ suffice?” “The first one if you please, slave,” Belisarius responded, assuming an air of phony arrogance. Before Uliaris could continue, a young man approached Belisarius from behind and landed a hard punch on his left shoulder. Wheeling around, any wrath Belisarius may have felt at the unprovoked attack quickly melted away. The fellow was of medium height and build, dark and handsome of face, with a flashing eye and jovial nature. He was clad in the same patterned soldier’s tunic, belt, and knee-length trousers that the oth-


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HISTORICAL FICTION: BREAD AND CIRCUSES

ers wore. “Hail John!” Uliaris shouted. “Here’s the money I owe you, Thracian,” John said to Belisarius, flipping him a half-follis. Belisarius eyed the coin carefully, and then bit it. “Not counterfeit this time, eh, Armenian?” “You insult me!” John replied, feigning injury. “What’s this about?” Uliaris interrupted the transaction. “I bet our friend here, that he couldn’t hit a sea-gull with a rock the other day,” John explained. “And?” Uliaris asked. “And what?” John continued. “He did!” “Did he kill it?” Uliaris asked, amazed. “Well, it dropped like a brick into the harbor,” John said. “Food for Porphyrius, I guess.” “Porphyrius?” Uliaris asked. “Good heavens, but you are thickheaded today,” John replied. “Porphyrius is the great whale that wrecks ships—the bane of merchant mariners for 20 years now. You know, when I first sailed from Antioch to New Rome, I actually saw him on the Sea of Marmora. The sailors were so terrified. I’ve never seen men turn from profanity to prayers so fast in my life!” “Ach, another reason for me to hate

the sea!” Uliaris moaned. “You’ll never get me on board a ship. Never!” As the words escaped his lips, Florentius reappeared bearing a cloth napkin overflowing with crusty bread, hard cheese, and dried fish. “Hey, is there enough for me, too?” John asked, hungrily eyeing the repast. “How could I turn away such a humble beggar?” Florentius replied, handing John a small loaf. “Take this, you poor, unfortunate soul, that you may survive another day.” John was more than willing to trade his pride for the delicious bread, which he devoured greedily. Indeed, all four remained silent for several moments as they tore into the food with gusto. “What brings you here this morning, John?” Florentius asked in between bites. “I'm on my way to Hebdomon for some riding and archery practice.” “Honing your skills even on your furlough day,” Uliaris said, his voice dripping with condescension. “How impressive.” “A few extra drills and a few less loaves would do you good too, fat boy,” John retorted, snatching a half-eaten crust from Uliaris’s hand as it was headed toward his mouth. Before Uliaris could react, the bread was in John’s mouth and down his throat. “Besides, I want to

be better prepared for the next round of drills. I don’t think I could bear another month of Vidimundus’s insults.” “We’re headed that way too,” Florentius said, ignoring his friends’ antics. “We are?” Belisarius spoke up. Florentius had yet to explain the purpose of their excursion this morning, nor the reason for his uncommon breakfast extravagance. “Where are we going, exactly?” “To the Church of St. Ia to speak to the holy man who lives within,” Florentius replied. “What?” Uliaris cried, taken aback. “Count me out.” “To what end?” Belisarius asked, genuinely curious. “Because it is natural for young men to seek wisdom,” John replied sagely, preempting Florentius. “Especially otherworldly wisdom that only a holy man of God can provide. Am I right?” “Is he a holy man or a sooth-sayer?” Uliaris burst out. “Do I have to remind you that sooth-saying is punishable by death?” “Certainly, he is no charlatan soothsayer, spinning fabrications to beguile the gullible,” Florentius replied. “I have been asking about him and have been impressed by what the people say. His name is Antiochus and he suffers for the glory of Almighty God, fasting, and


BY

PAOLO A. BELZONI

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praying constantly. He survives on the pittance that is brought to him, and allows no fire to be lit in his cramped abode save a candle to read his prayers. They say he hasn’t stirred from his cell for seven years. In return for his suffering, it is claimed that God has granted him the gift of foresight and the sanctity and grace to cast out demons.” “Well, my demon and I get along just fine,” Uliaris said. “I’d just as soon leave well enough alone.” “Suit yourself,” Belisarius said. “I’m with you, Florentius. How about you, Armenian?” “Count me in too,” John replied.

T

he Mese, a wide avenue with porticoed shops on both sides, was the main thoroughfare and backbone of New Rome. It passed through most of the major fora and stretched almost the entire length of the city, from the Hippodrome to the Golden Gate. That particular morning, the Mese was a bustle of activity, packed with an unusual amount of traffic moving in the direction of the Hippodrome. Belisarius, Florentius, and John struggled to make their way against the human current and it took them considerably longer than expected to reach the derelict Church of St. Ia, which was located in the immediate vicinity of the Golden Gate. Upon reaching the church, the three young men were surprised to find the entrance occupied by a dozen or so stoutlooking ruffians. Their clothing marked them immediately as die-hard partisans of the Green faction, and though ostensibly Romans, they wore their filthy hair after the fashion of the Huns and in all things acted the part of the barbarian. Several of them stood loitering around in front of the church, while a few urinated against its side. A couple of them had taken the liberty of raiding and devouring the victuals that had been left for the holy man as alms. Incensed, Belisarius and his companions approached the scene with clenched fists. “You there!” he shouted at no one in particular. A dozen heads turned in their direction. “Are you pagans that you treat a holy place so outrageously?” “We are better Christians than you, it seems,” a tall, lanky man with a bowl haircut and several missing teeth called

out, mocking Belisarius’s highly accented Greek. “You dare to judge our actions? Who are you to judge? Are you not a sinner yourself?” “Hypocrite!” a hulking Green brute with a dirty beard shrieked. “You are no friend of Christ!” Several of the other Greens murmured their approval and assent. Belisarius was momentarily flummoxed by the sheer audacity of the charge. “Who do you think Christ would recognize as his friends,” Florentius picked up the thread. “Those who come to seek advice from one of His holy men, or a

rabble who devours the provisions of His holy man and makes water on his doorstep?” “Look to your own sins before condemning what we do,” another Green shouted, even as he jammed a handful of ill-gotten bread into his mouth. “Be ye Greens or Blues?” the tall Green challenged, tiring of religious talk. “Neither,” replied Florentius forcefully. “You men be gone from here.” “Come, come,” another Green replied smugly. “Surely you biscuit-eaters must favor either the Blues or the Greens. Don’t tell me you’re a White? Or a Red?”

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HISTORICAL FICTION: BREAD AND CIRCUSES

“They’re Blues! I seen ‘em in with the Blues at the races!” a drunken pimplefaced youth lied, looking for an easy pretext to resort to fisticuffs. “Blue maggots!” another called out in support. “And what would you do if we were Blues?” Belisarius said, stepping forward boldly with his arms folded across his chest. “Let me show you,” said one of the Greens. He then tried to lay hands on Belisarius—but immediately regretted his attempt. Grabbing the offender’s arm with his left hand, Belisarius landed a hard right on the bridge of the Green’s nose, sending him sprawling to the ground. The others rushed to his aid, but Florentius—a full head taller than any of the Green brawlers—gave a loud shout and began laying waste with his fists and elbows, sending spittle and teeth flying in every direction. John joined the fray as well, tackling a man who attempted to jump Belisarius from behind and driving him hard to the pavement. Before the Greens could attempt to use their numbers to their advantage, a man in authentic Hunnic garb arrived, leapt

off his horse and joined the fray. He was short of stature but fought larger men with an audacity and skill that betrayed years of practice. The fighting prowess of the four was such that the Greens soon lost any desire for battle and fled away down nearby streets. Belisarius and the others didn’t bother to give chase, but instead regrouped to take inventory of their scratches and scrapes. “Thanks, friend,” Belisarius said to the newcomer. “Rotten dogs,” the man muttered in barely intelligible Greek. “They dare raise fist to soldiers of emperor?” “They respect no law,” John stated plainly, gasping for breath. “I am Belisarius and these are my friends and comrades, John and Florentius. What is your name?” Belisarius asked, wondering at the novelty of a Hun in Byzantium. “Aigan my name,” the fellow replied. “Of Massagetae people. Friends of Romans. King send me to trade gold for Massagetae horsemen.” “If all the Massagetae fight as well as you do, it will be a poor trade for your king,” John quipped.

“Apologies. Massagetae fight better by horse than by foot,” Aigan replied humbly, missing the humor. He moved toward his sturdy pony and with a single bound was seated comfortably in the saddle. Belisarius noted how he used a strange scala or step that hung from his saddle to accomplish this move with such ease. “We are going to speak to a holy man of God,” Florentius mentioned. “Would you care to seek his counsel as well, considering how valiantly you fought to preserve his house?” “I delay with fighting long enough,” the Hun replied. “Perhaps if fortune smiles on Massagetae trade, we fight together again?” “We can only hope. Go with God.” Belisarius said, extending his arm. The Hun took it and gave him a fierce smile. “Farewell, then, Roman friends,” Aigan cried. Strong grip, he thought as he rode away. There are some powerful men yet left among them. Paulo A. Belzoni is the author of Belisarius: The Last Shall Be First. He may be contacted at pbelzoni@yahoo.com.

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The Life of Belisarius Lord Mahon [Philip Henry Stanhope] Originally published in 1848, this volume chronicles the remarkable career of Belisarius (AD 505(?)-AD 565), the last great general of Imperial Rome. Rising from obscure beginnings, Belisarius became the right-hand man of the emperor Justinian I in his 6th century bid Vo l u m e 1 to reconquer the lost western provinces of the Roman Empire. Lord Mahon’s detailed, well-researched, and referenced biography of Belisarius is perhaps the only work in existence which focuses so authoritatively on this fascinating historical figure. March 2006 ~ paperback ~ 264 pp. ~ ISBN 1-889758-67-1 ~ $19.95

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Charles Christopher Mierow The Origin and Deeds of the Goths is the earliest surviving work of a Gothic historian. Jordanes wrote in the mid6th century and was believed to be a Vo l u m e 2 bishop of Gothic ethnicity residing in Constantinople—possibly an associate of Pope Vigilius. His work recounts the history of the Goths from their legendary origins in Scandinavia, to their invasion of Scythia and their mythical connections to the Amazons. This translation was originally published in 1915. April 2006 ~ paperback ~ 188 pp. ~ ISBN 1-889758-77-9 ~ $19.95

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by Kristen Davis “DeVere was wrapped in a long, tattered black cloak. There was no glint of gold or gem about him today, nothing but his aristocratic bearing to distinguish him from the commoners filling the square, but when he moved, Hugh saw the sword strapped to his waist. Hugh was similarly arrayed, dressed for adventure.”

H

ugh DeWellesburn stepped into a world of luxurious splendor. There was the man he had come to see, elegantly reclining on lush oriental cushions of velvet and silk, loosely holding a goblet of wine. Stephen DeVere inclined his head in greeting, but did not rise. Hugh was stunned by the stark contrast between his own austere existence and this knight’s. Finally he shook off his wonder and spoke. “I have heard, sir, that you were once the best swordsman in all Outremér.” “What of it?” DeVere languidly replied. “I need your aid. A wicked knight named Sir Waltham has stolen away my betrothed and keeps her prisoner in his castle, trying to force her to marry him. I have sought out every possible solution. He refuses to listen to reason or to her will, for she cares nothing for him! I haven’t the strength to wrest her from him by force and no one wishes to cross him to help me. You are my last hope.” “Jerusalem has fallen, the Crusade has failed, and you worry over the fate of a single girl?” Hugh thought he saw a shadow of pain pass over DeVere’s eyes, but it was gone as quickly as it came. “Sir—I love her!” “Much as I hate to disappoint you, my answer is no.” “I will pay you handsomely, if that’s your desire.” DeVere laughed. “I doubt whether all your wealth is more than a drop in the ocean to me. But I am no mercenary. I have had enough fighting.” “Coward!” cried Hugh, his temper lost

in despair. “What kind of man are you, wallowing in your gold and velvet, letting injustice rule the world?” “A lazy one,” DeVere answered calmly. “There has always been wrong in this world, and there always will be. My efforts wouldn’t make any difference.” “But they would, at least in a small way. You could make a huge difference to me! Have some mercy!” DeVere only shook his head. Hugh could no longer contain his anger. He’d tried so many things, begged help of so many people. He could not give up. His hand went to the hilt of his sword and he began to draw it, intending to threaten DeVere at its point. Before he knew what had happened, his sword was flying across the room and DeVere

KRISTEN DAVIS

7

was standing, sheathing his own blade. Hugh’s hand stung from the force of the twisting blow. He backed away, sorely regretting his unthinking rage. With crossed arms DeVere studied his terrified guest. “You’re going to get yourself killed if you can’t handle a sword any better than that,” he sighed. “Sit down. You have courage, at least. Oh, don’t be afraid,” he said, seeing Hugh eye him warily. “I forgive your rudeness.” Hugh silently obeyed. DeVere settled back onto the cushions beside him and continued. “You remind me of what I would rather forget, with your fervor and innocence. Memories I have tried to drown in this….” He gestured to his surroundings. “But perhaps it is not for me to forget—and not right that you should suffer at the hands of him who wronged me. Tell me, are you willing to die for this woman you love?” “I am.” “Then I will shake off my sloth and give you the aid you desire.” As he rose to his feet, Hugh admired the lithe body moving cat-like despite years of idleness. “We’ll slip into Waltham’s castle in disguise,” he planned, beginning to pace as halfforgotten energy seeped into his veins. “Just you and me—any more, and we’ll

Immerse yourself in the exciting early history of North America as seen through the eyes of those who actually lived it! No need to worry that the material you’re reading has been dumbed-down by a politically-correct editor or creatively interpreted by a modern academic with an agenda—The Colonial & Early Frontier Bookshop offers a generous selection of original source material ranging from books on poorly-known colonial wars of the 17th & 18th centuries, to biographies of the great pioneers, to the culture and customs of the American Indians.

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8

HISTORICAL FICTION: SHADES OF MERCY

be too easily spotted. Here’s what we’ll do…”

I

t was late that night when Hugh left Stephen DeVere. He walked through the streets of Acre with a light step, hope filling a heart that had long been desolate. At noon the next day, he met DeVere in the marketplace as they had agreed. DeVere was wrapped in a long, tattered black cloak. There was no glint of gold or gem about him today, nothing but his aristocratic bearing to distinguish him from the commoners filling the square, but when he moved, Hugh saw the sword strapped to his waist. Hugh was similarly arrayed, dressed for adventure. At a signal from DeVere, a man led up two fine horses and disappeared again. “Are you ready?” asked DeVere. “Oh yes!” Offering the reins of a bay gelding to Hugh, DeVere swung into the saddle of a black Arabian stallion, who had been restlessly stamping and tossing his head, but quieted at his master’s gentle touch. Together they rode out of the city and across the burning desert sands. A pair of gazelles bounded lightly away at their approaching hoofbeats. They traveled in silence, neither having much to say. Hugh was a little nervous still in DeVere’s presence, not out of fear but in awe of the amazing power latent in the man. Mysterious though he was, Hugh had felt from the first that he could trust him with his life. As the day wore on, he wondered about Claudia. How was she faring in bondage? Would she appreciate his rescue or had she, perhaps, abandoned him for another? Far off in the distance, the castle rose solemnly in the dusk. DeVere drew close to Hugh. “We’ll leave the horses in that gully,” he said, pointing out a darker line in the darkening country. They hurried down the hillside and tethered the horses, then shared some bread and cheese from DeVere’s saddlebag and walked on to the castle. They were welcomed at the gate, as it was Waltham’s custom to admit all comers to his table, thinking thereby to gain back some of the popularity lost by his cruelty to the fellaheen who worked his lands. It was easy amidst the general chaos to join a group of drunken peasants at one of the lowest tables. As people moved around and the evening degenerated further, Hugh worked his way into the kitchens, where servants were still scurrying to and fro, trying to keep up

with the loud demands for more ale and wine. Just as he had hoped, there was a passage leading to the private rooms in the keep. Surely he would find Claudia there. Clinging to the shadows, he reached the dim stairway unnoticed. He ran up, his heartbeat pounding in his ears, grateful for the paucity of torches that kept him hidden. At the top of the stairs, he listened a long time, watching both ends of the hall for any signs of human presence. It seemed to be clear, so Hugh cautiously ventured forth. The walls were covered with rich tapestries. Hugh noted where each ended and the next began, counting on them to conceal him if it became necessary. The door of the first chamber he came to was open. All was dark within. Gambling that Claudia would still be awake, he went on. From down the hall came the dreaded sound of footsteps. Dashing into the nearest room, Hugh secreted himself in the corner behind the

heavy wooden door. He heard a man’s voice and a woman’s, sharply bickering. They were approaching quickly. Suddenly someone was shoved into the very room where Hugh was hiding and the door slammed behind her. It was Claudia. Stephen DeVere watched as Waltham stood and headed for his rooms. Carefully noting the positions of the guards, he waited until no one could think him suspicious before rising himself. As those of the revelers who were still conscious pushed the tables against the walls and made their beds in the straw covering the floor, DeVere quietly followed his old enemy upstairs. Claudia’s eyes were huge when she saw the cloaked figure confronting her, but as soon as Hugh threw back his hood, she flew into his open arms. “I knew you would come,” she said softly, “but how will we escape? Sir Waltham will be com-

Arx Publishing is pleased to present a series of five devotional booklets on the lives and heroic deaths of the North American Martyrs. These brave souls left comfortable lives in France in order to propagate the Catholic faith throughout the primeval wilderness of the New World. Under their spiritual direction, the tribes forged an authentic American Catholicism, animated by an intense fervor and heroic constancy seldom seen since the days of the Roman persecutions. Booklets in the series include: The Life of St. Jean de Brébeuf

The Martyrdom of St. Gabriel Lalemant

by Father Paul Ragueneau, S.J.

by Father Paul Ragueneau, S.J.

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by Father Pierre Cholenec, S.J. Paperback booklet ~ 27pp. ISBN: 1-889758-68-X ~ $3.00

by Father Paul Ragueneau, S.J.

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The Martyrdom of St. Charles Garnier


BY

ing up soon, and he’ll sit here a while and try to persuade me to marry him as he always does. Oh Hugh, he only wants my family’s lands in England! He cares nothing for me! But if he finds you here—” “Don’t worry, we’ll be all right,” he reassured her. “I’m not alone. I’ve a friend here with a strong sword to protect us, and mine too. Let’s go!” About her shoulders Claudia swirled her green cloak, which she fastened with a brooch pulled from the back of a drawer. Hugh recognized it as one he’d given her. Slipping her rosary into the pouch hanging from her belt, she returned to Hugh’s side. “Lead and I’ll follow,” she said. “Have you a dagger? We might need it before this night is through.” She shook her head with a smile. “Waltham took it after I told him I’d stick it in his black heart if he touched me.” “Here then, take mine.” DeVere tiptoed along, keeping his eyes on Waltham, avoiding the pools of candlelight that shone at intervals along the tapestry-lined hall. He meant only to see that Hugh had succeeded and would be able to get away, but a slight misstep caused his sword to shift in its sheath. Waltham whirled around at the whisper of steel on leather. “So. You decided you wanted revenge after all. I wondered if you’d ever recall your former spirit. Seems the last time

SAINT JOAN

OF

I saw you, you could hardly show your face for shame.” “This isn’t about me and you. Another matter brings me here.” “Surely you haven’t forgotten that girl who was bleeding in your arms? I thought you felt more strongly than that, even if she was only a Jew.” Hugh and Claudia jumped at the sudden clash of steel without. Drawing his own blade, Hugh cracked open the door to discover what was happening. Despite all he’d heard about DeVere’s prowess, he hadn’t quite believed it until now. Waltham was a powerful warrior, but DeVere matched him stroke for stroke, constantly pressing his opponent, refusing him space to get force behind his thrusts. Waltham was bleeding already from several shallow cuts. With a mighty blow, DeVere sent Waltham’s sword skittering to the ground. “Pick it up,” he ordered, backing off. “Pick it up! I’ll not harm an unarmed man. Not like you did to her.” “Like I did, eh? Not ignoring the facts, are we?” A crafty glint darkened his face. “Not forgetting whose fault it was?” DeVere wavered, averting his eyes. “You know as well as I how it was,” he said, his voice rough and low. “I do know. You betrayed us to protect her. Good knights died because of you. You can’t deny it and you can’t kill me

ARC

by Anastasia Alexander As night gives way to dawn, A little shepherd girl stands strong. Bearing the emblem of France and Christ, Leading an army of France to fight. Resisting the evil of the invading English, With the voice of St. Michael to uplift. Through bloody battles their faith prevails, Because with the help of God they can not fail. As the night gives way to dawn, The Maid of Orleans is standing strong. Captured by the enemy, Betrayed by her own country. Bearing the heat from the burning flames, Crying out His Holy Name. Convincing all around her to believe, That faith in Christ is victory.

KRISTEN DAVIS

9

when you’re as guilty as I.” DeVere lowered his blade. “That was long ago. I will not allow you to ruin more lives.” Waltham bent to retrieve his sword, smirking. “Of course, I wouldn’t have had to kill the girl if she hadn’t known that I told the Saracens where we would be.” He lunged at DeVere, catching him off guard. DeVere thought for a second his end had come, but Hugh leapt before him, blocking the blow. DeVere leaped upon his foe again with a rain of fierce blows. Sparks flew from the raging steel as Waltham strove with the last of his fading strength. “Mercy!” The word was torn unwilling from Waltham’s lips as he fell to his knees, panting for breath. It was clear he could fight no more. DeVere kept his sword ready. Waltham glanced up fearfully. “I beg you—spare my life! I will let you go, only spare me!” DeVere was silent a long moment. Then he sheathed his sword with one smooth motion. “I forgive you, and I will let you live. But I advise you to consider what you have done and think of your soul. Come, Hugh, Claudia. Let us be away!” No one stopped them as they walked out into the warmth of the night. Kristen Davis is nineteen years old and lives in Virginia.

A Book for the Beginner in Anglo-Saxon John Earle Originally published in 1877, this elementary-level grammar and reader features 30 pages of extracts from the Anglo-Saxon Gospels. 2005 ~ pb ~ 95 pp. ~ ISBN 1-889758-69-8 ~ $19.95

First Middle English Primer Henry Sweet This elementary handbook of Middle English was originally published in 1884. It covers late 12th and early 13th century English and was written by one of the premier authorities. 2005 ~ pb ~ 95 pp. ~ ISBN 1-889758-69-8 ~ $19.95 For more information, or to order, visit:

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by Emily C. A. Snyder Praise for Niamh and the Hermit...

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“...beautifully written, morally sound, thoughtful, compelling and entertaining.” —Favorite Resources for Catholic Homeschoolers (http://www.love2learn.net) “Fantasy lovers will embrace this opportunity to glance into another world, alive and complicated. Catholics will find many familiar themes. It is not only an exciting adventure through a new fantastical world, but a literary jewel worthy to stand beside the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.” —The Arlington Catholic Herald

2003 ~ 288 pp. ~ 3 maps 21 illustrations Paperback ~ 1-889758-36-1 $14.95

“When I first saw this book, I feared that it might be just another effort to hook on to the Tolkien wagon. It is not. Very far from that. It is wholly original, and all I can say is that it is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.” —Thomas Howard, Author of C.S. Lewis, Man of Letters “Emily C. A. Snyder expands the classic style of the fairy tale into a delightful novel brimming with believable impossibilities.” —Romantic Times BookClub Magazine

New from Emily C. A. Snyder . . .

Emily Snyder’s mythical world of the Twelve Kingdoms, introduced in the fulllength novel Niamh and the Hermit, is brought to life again in Chaming the Moon. This little tome features a pair of short stories which elaborate upon the ancient history of the Twelve Kingdoms, hearkening back to the Perpetual Twilight when there was no Day or Night. In the first tale, Brigglekin the Dwarf is called upon to free a beautiful girl trapped within a silver sphere. Once she is in his possession, however, he is unable to liberate this precious treasure and watches as she slowly wastes away within her protecting globe. Östrung the Giant tells the tale of the pining young Sun who longed to be reunited with his love the Moon, enlisting the help of a kindly giant to carry him to the very western edge of the world. 2005 ~ 72 pp. 4 illustrations ~ Paperback 1-889758-76-0 ~ $9.95

About the author: A graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Emily C. A. Snyder is the creator of the Christian Guide to Fantasy website. She teaches drama and has directed performances ranging from musicals to Shakespeare.

Arx Publishing, P.O. Box 1333 Merchantville, NJ 08109, USA

Tel.: (856) 486-1310 • Fax: (856) 665-0170 info@arxpub.com • www.arxpub.com


HUMOR: IF BIGFOOT COULD VOTE, I KNOW WHO HE'D VOTE FOR

11

Young Writers Humorous Essay Contest In 2005, The Tarpeian Rock sponsored a humorous essay contest for youth ages 12-18. Considering the interest which our poetry contest (2003) and our short story contest (2004) generated, we felt confident that our model for a humorous essay contest would attract just as many entries. Well, we were wrong. Horribly wrong. The humorous essay contest went over like a concrete pteranodon. And for this we blame only ourselves. To remind us never to do this again, we assigned our editor, Claudio Salvucci, the task of writing the essay himself, following our criteria, as punishment for helping to create such a lousy contest idea. The fruits of his penance may be read below. For the 2007 issue, we will be going back to our bread-and-butter—a short story contest. Details for entering may be found at: http://www.arxpub.com/TarpeianRock/TR_2007_StoryContest.html

LOSER

If Bigfoot Could Vote, I Know Who He’d Vote For By Claudio Salvucci If there’s any constituency that’s woefully underserved in this wretched feed trough we call a political system, it’s the giant forest humanoid. You know who you are. Wherever you hail from, whatever color your fur is, whatever dialect of grunt you speak, you’re the silent, and invisible majority. You may be a Northwest Coast Bigfoot, a Florida Skunk Ape, even a lily-white Tibetan Yeti who swallowed a whole stack of temporary worker visas when a snippy Customs Official insisted that importation of half-gnawed yak carcasses was strictly prohibited.

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And I may be just your average human-American, but I know what you are going through every November in this country. You feel frozen out of the process to such an extent that even treating you like second-class citizens would be an incomparable improvement over where you are now: secluded in some vast wilderness waste, enjoying the clean mountain air and a tastily rancid slab of meat only to have some snot-nosed cryptozoologist poke through your morning’s business, stick a camera in your face, and launch terribly embarrassing blogs revealing intimate personal details about your shoe size and problem body odor. And then, you don’t have a soul. Which kinda stinks also. So this crummy earth is all you got, and you gotta think to yourself that you really want a few guys out there in Congress sticking up for your rights. But who’s gonna do it? Well, first ones you might think of are the Democrats. And I’m sure the Dems would be glad to have you: I know Emily’s List is out looking to add a more attractive demographic to its ranks. And there’s the whole entitlement gravy train. Hook up with some high-ranking limousine liberals, and before you can say “pork barrel,” 62 federal agencies are sweeping into the woods dispensing every perk under the sun. That high will only last you, however, the few months it takes the Internal Robbin' You Service to inform you that you are in technical violation of Statute 1,848,499.007 for not filing Schedule Cx4Qn regarding the failure to declare all monetary assets held in trust in a supine repository—i.e., the living room sofa. Dems are nice if you’re big on big words. But you, my friend, certainly ain’t one of the “little people”, and last I checked, “grrraaarr” wasn’t in Webster’s. So the second option is the Republicans. Well, I’m sure they’re glad to have you too: anything vaguely brown in the GOP gets shoved in front of anything vaguely resembling a lens at every possible opportunity. If you go this route, you’ll lose a bit on the entitlements, in that instead of the Dems’ 62 programs you’ll only get a paltry 61 1/2, but to make up for this hideous travesty of justice, the Pubbies set you up with one thing the Dems won’t touch—firepower. Hook up with some high-ranking NRA types, and before you can say “lock ‘n’ load” you’re in the woods patiently demonstrating to Tex the Mighty Huntin’ Man what a 12 gauge looks like from the muzzle end. See how he likes it when you open up on his Humvee till his engine block leaks like runny Swiss cheese. Yet, again, while this may be fun for a while, it’s also pointless, because it only takes a few UN resolutions for Tex to come back with a squadron of B-1s and 10 megatons of instant parking-lot-in-a-can. So if we can cross off the major parties for the modern sensible Sasquatch, what about the Reform party? Well, the problem


12

HUMOR: IF BIGFOOT COULD VOTE, I KNOW WHO HE'D VOTE FOR

there is, once you’re on their mailing list, you’re contractually obligated to run at the bottom of their ticket at the next election cycle. And, historically, what good has the Vice-Presidency ever done for a mute, hulking, painfully shy apelike creature? And the Socialists? Well, they got long hair, that whole welove-the-forest thing, and the pungent aroma of protestor eau de bee-oo that was in a bygone era exclusively the official fragrance of men who, ya know, actually did real work for a living. But jet-setting around the world, marching in staged rallies that are about as grass roots as Jacko’s fourth nose, and fomenting world revolution day and night, is just too urban, too crowded for you shy, retiring creatures. Plus, I’m thinking lunchtime could be a bit awkward when the vegans are nibbling their cruelty-free organic flax chips while your incisors are sawing through what’s left of a mule deer’s gastrocnemius. So what’s the upshot of all this? Well, my friend, America’s a human country. Solidly human. And so there’s not one single party in the political system tailor-made for an eight-foot, forest-dwelling hairy primate that skulks unknown at the margins of human civilization and whose animalistic notion of personal conduct is completely unbounded by any semblance of moral order and self-discipline. One that isn’t the Libertarians, anyway. Claudio R. Salvucci, the hairless, smaller, and slightly less malodorous Italian version of Bigfoot, is believed to exist in the environs of Mount Holly, NJ, where he routinely battles the Jersey Devil.

Angels in Iron by Nicholas C. Prata “Prata brings this fascinating tale to life by giving the characters real personalities....The overwhelming theme is courage, honor, and the Catholic faith....The book is a real page-turner.” —Favorite Resources for Catholic Homeschoolers

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“In addition to being an exciting action/adventure yarn, a page-turner, Angels in Iron is valuable as a miniature history lesson as well....This is a book that belongs on the bookshelf of every Catholic man, should be read by every Catholic boy (11 or older probably), and stocked by every Catholic school library.” —John Moorehouse, editor of Catholic Men's Quarterly 2005 ~ 313 pp. + map ~ Paperback ~ 1-889758-56-6 ~ $16.95

Dream of Fire by Nicholas C. Prata “Dream of Fire is a powerful epic fantasy that sweeps the reader along with its exciting story line and two fabulous lead characters. Redeeming Kerebos seems almost like converting Hitler....The doubting Antiphon is sort of like Moses feeling he is too inadequate to do the task....The battle scenes that are vividly described and action-packed pale next to the hook that keeps the audience wanting to finish this work in one sitting.” —Harriet Klausner, #1 Reviewer on Amazon.com 2001 ~ 256 pp. ~ 2 illus. ~ Paperback ~ 1-889758-28-0 ~ $16.95 Order Angels in Iron and Dream of Fire together and save! For details, visit: www.arxpub.com/literary/Angels/AngelsinIron.html Look for KEREBOS, the prequel to DREAM OF FIRE, to be released in 2006. Arx Publishing, PO Box 1333, Merchantville, NJ 08109, USA To order, visit: www.arxpub.com


BY

by Robert F. Kauffmann Two monks, Solkek and Ballion, through their correspondence, are translating St. Lonias’ strange account of the history of Baron Borello XIV. The history so far may be summarized as follows: A foreigner, known as the Vassal, has arrived in the court of Borello with a gift and promises of friendship with his powerful master, Ollock, Tyrant of Umbra. The gift is a platinum mandible said to have the power to lead its owner to wealth and treasure. Through this gift, and his wit and guile, the Vassal seeks to overthrow the Baron according to Ollock’s wish. The use of the Mandible does indeed lead to the discovery of gold in nearby hills, but the newfound wealth has proved a curse: to mine it, vital workers are diverted from the farm fields, and a crisis in the food supply is imminent. The Vassal has maliciously counseled the Baron to raid the aboriginals to the north to gain slave labor. Our account now turns to this campaign. My dear Brother Ballion, By now, you must have received the news I have received which should allay any doubts you harbor as to whether or not we should proceed with translation. I speak, of course, of a letter received from the Holy See positing the cause of our saintly forebearer, Lonias, who penned the manuscript we now hold. Our translation will be necessary to their deliberation, so I have already been commanded under Holy Obedience to give this task precedence over all others. Perhaps, to this end, you might be loaned to this monastery so that we might collaborate directly—thus speeding up our progress. On a related note, a rather generous donation to the Church has been made by the Crown in order to finance our work. It seems that your translation has been well received in the royal court. I pray that Our Blessed Lord my guide you in your endeavors. —Yours in the Lord, Brother Solkek

VII It was often forgotten that the Baron had an heir, A young boy yet sixteen summers of age. For seldom together were they seen in public Nor yet even in private of late these years. For broad was the Baron and hale in full years An expert huntsman and master of arms. And, while lacking in policy, yet savvy in war craft, He could forge a fiefdom through force of arms But different, in sort, was Borello the Younger, Versed in history and learned in lore. Where his Elder saw statecraft in strategy and war, The Younger sought wisdom in studies of history. He gathered his knowledge under the guidance Of a tutor learned in the lore of antiquity, As well as in matters of spiritual wisdom, A priestly missionary from far distant lands. The boy and the monk were currently engaged In a speculative discussion about history’s cycles:

ROBERT F. KAUFFMANN

13

How forgotten lores written of long ages past Reflected events ongoing in recent years. The youth was proclaiming an incisive insight He gleaned from patterns observed in lore: “Perhaps cycles of history foretell as a rule The shape of the future as an augury divine.” But the flush of passion the young boy felt then At this evident breakthrough of understanding Was quickly quelled through gentle remonstrance Firmly delivered by that wizened monk: “Nay, vicious cycles of human history Are slaved to the flaws of our fallen nature. For we are driven not by deities rolling a die, But by our foolish subservience to our baser passions. “Consult not your histories as heathen oracles, But as a student and observer of human nature. Such knowledge, once gained, is more valuable than facts, For, armed with such insights, you’ll study the signs In the eyes of your friends and foes alike, And so armed, stand ready for all twists and turns That future events might take in your time.” Then, so having spoken, both paused in thought. But their quiet contemplation was suddenly squelched


14

FANTASY: THE CURSE OF BORELLO, PART IV By a hand rudely rapping upon the door of their study. Stunned for a second at such brazen interruption, Neither called the knocker to enter at once, So they burst through the door with a forceful thrust: It was the captain of the guard, retainers in train. And caring not for niceties he bellowed forth his message: “I seek Young Borello for whom the Baron bears a summons!” Clenching his teeth in royal umbrage, Young Borello spat his answer in bitter words outward: “O rude and unruly barbarian soldier! Unworthy of service to so noble a barony, I am he whom you seek as well you may know! How dare you burst hence upon my private peace, Unannounced, unsummoned, most certainly unwelcome! Have you no decency nor courtesy toward your future liege? “But, as here you now stand beyond reason and right, Speak forthright this summons, then begone from my sight!” And the captain in arrogance sneered in sarcasm: “Your word is my command, O high and mighty lord! So says the Baron in solemn decree: ‘To my milksop son, the day has now come To earn the red stripes that manhood now brings Upon the milky-white skin of a sheltered little lad. “‘Gird therefore thy loins, for we go forth at dawn Upon heathen hordes to march, residing to our north To conquer and tame them to our greater glory. This foray shall I lead, riding at the fore, And, you, O my son, whom I blush to acknowledge Shall serve as my squire, riding at my rear. You shall learn what you may of manly warfare That shall serve in good stead when you sit in my chair.’” And the youth froze in fear of his father’s decree, For the day had arrived that he dreaded most oft: That drawn would he be into warmongering ways That his father long favored and dreamed of indulging. And, seeing a blank stare upon Borello’s young face, Inspired the captain to sarcastic wit Designed to inflame his youthful hot temperament. And, armed with this irony, the captain then quipped: “Like you so little the decrees of your sire To whom you owe all for his providence and forbearance To a sickly little son who disgraces his house? Or does it curdle the milk that runs through your veins?” The insolent mockery of the captain of the guard Boiled the blood of Borello the Young. And it was all he could do, that humble monk, To restrain that lad from foolish assault. And, when calmed, he gained speech and intoned a retort With the bitter edge of rage and wrath in his voice: “Pray your days end ere I assume the chair Of my father and his forebears more worthy than he. For I’ll send you away in ignoble disgrace In exile ignominious along with your kin, For your impudence and ignorance invites upon you The curse of your liege for all time to come!” Then, snickering and smirking among his cohorts, The captain tossed the scroll to their table at hand. And without uttering one word more, he marched through the door To report to his liege how his summons was received, And the lad exclaimed, “I’ll go not to war! I’ll rebel his rule!

The Starman Series The future – the way it used to be! Do you remember the great series books of the 1950s and 1960s? Those were the days when Tom Swift Jr. was the inventor of the day, Ken Holt was writing stories for the Global News Service, Frank and Joe Hardy were helping their father solve cases, and Rick Brant was using science to foil bad guys near home on Spindrift Island or various places around the world. Sadly, today the adventures of Tom and his pals are long out of print and there isn’t anything available quite like those good oldfashioned adventures—that is, until now! Three fans of the old-style books have joined together to write a new series, set in the middle years of the 22nd century but written in the same style and with the same moral values as the great series books of the past. The Starman series has been crafted with an eye toward beauty, adventure, and a sense of wonder—all the things that made the 1950s books great and which has largely been forgotten today. The Starman saga consists of eight novels, one novelette, and six short stories, now issued in two large volumes, each with more than a quarter million words. Here is an epic adventure of courage, loyalty, bravery, and determination in the face of overwhelming odds.

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BY

ROBERT F. KAUFFMANN

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For he’s a butcher unworthy of most meager following!” But the monk contradicted his hot-headed pupil: “Nay, away shall you go, for there lies your duty.” In shock and askance, the boy stared in reply. So, seeing his speechlessness, the monk made his point: “Even if, emphatically, you oppose his policies You must follow and learn whence they came, where they go, If ever you hope to steer them aright. And never will you learn to lead as you ought, Unless you learn to follow with perfect submission, Be he even a barbarian of surpassing brutality.” And Borello the Younger bowed his head, Hot tears of pain scalding red cheeks. And the monk placed his hand upon the youth’s head, Saying, “Take courage young lad, for a blessing I give thee, That the Almighty will keep thee from hurt and harm And shore up thy strength for thy work before thee.” Then, wiping away tears, the youth went his way Leaving his studies to take up the sword. Dear Brother Solkek, This latest passage you have sent me is strangely comforting. It seemed to allay my doubts and buoy my efforts. And, indeed, they needed to be buoyed, for I have found the contents of the text I have translated to be inexplicably disturbing. It is not that I am any stranger to reading accounts of even the most brutal and tragic wars. No, it is an inexplicable odor I detect in the air to which the act of translating the following has made me acutely sensitive. There is a hint of coming war in the air, wafted from far away, but unmistakable nonetheless. Say a prayer that I am wrong, and that this is merely weariness finding a voice in my pen. —Beati Michaeli Archangeli, ora pro nobis. Brother Ballion

VIII Bright burned the fires upon an evening horizon Where silhouetted figures danced naked before them In a drunken weaving, intoxication-driven Giving homage to elements governed by gods Who gave of their bounty if amply appeased Or their thunderous wrath upon the heads Of unbelievers foolishly withholding due honor: So they believed, these heathens of the plains. And upon those fires cast from far afield, Was the bloodthirsty stare of Baron Borello Who about him, arrayed, stood soldiers at ready

And upon those fires cast from far afield, Was the bloodthirsty stare of Baron Borello... To rush in to rape and slaughter those natives Who were dancing drunken and unsuspecting. Foreknowledge of the opportune time to strike Was bestowed by Cuzcho his native guide Who was formerly a dweller of Qendacuandu. It was when roaming the plains as a youthful boy That he came upon a party hunting kine All clad in armor and bearing the crest Of Borello’s high house most proudly displayed. Killed he’d have been had they been so inclined, As alarm he’d have raised had they let him run free. So, seized him they did, and held him to service: A decision in wisdom by the Baron’s sire made. So over many years served Cuzcho as native guide When they occasioned to wander, as was often the case, Through the plains of Qendacuandu, savage and dread. He had guided them through counsel to fairer game, And also as ambassador as the need arose To deal with the natives on more certain terms. These days, now craggy with age and long service, He led Borello to deal doom upon his own kin. “Upon fall’s first full moon,” he had told his liege, “The warriors of my people dance to the gods. Imbibing herbs most sacred in species, That allows them to traverse to the planes of the gods. There, in their presence, their spirits perform To appease the demands of divine instigation, While their bodies, disconnected, cavort to the rhythms Of music made on tombos held by our elders.


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FANTASY: THE CURSE OF BORELLO, PART IV “And this sacred dance extends nigh unto dawn, When, one after another, will each warrior swoon Dancing to exhaustion for the sake of their gods. And, when the last of them fails and falls to the ground, You may strike unopposed and take whom you will.” And for this the Baron stayed his battle-starved soldiers. So all were held back till they saw crimson dawn, When, at last, the final dancer fell drunken aground.

Then the lad’s tortured ears were filled with the din Of a maiden’s shrill shrieks sounding from that mud-caked hut Imbuing his brain with ineffable horror. Next, wide open nostrils were filled with the stench Of lingering red carnage and brutal death bestowed, Till he buried his head in dust which he felt on his face, So that his tongue now tasted the misery of disgrace. Then, finally, he swooned, his senses overwhelmed.

On a signal given by the Baron’s upraised arm, The soldiers raced suddenly en masse to their enemy. And the thunder of their hooves was as the roar of a storm: As the wrath of the gods set on disfavored followers. And the natives, thus mistaken, trembled in terror Dropping to their knees to sue mercy from their gods. It was not till the first of their fellows were felled That their eyes were then opened, seeing invasion upon them.

Later woke the lad, and their homeward march began. They rode their horses flanking a sorry line of souls: Womenfolk and children from the plains of Qendacuandu Weary, lost, and devastated, a stumbling train in chains. And the eyes of Young Borello were turned away in pain, His numbing sense of sight now clung to grassy grounds, And the Baron boasted exploits to fill his weary ears. But he nodded empty acknowledgment, heeding not a word.

It was all Young Borello could work with his strength To hold to his horse and stay with his sire, While enduring the speeds of those wrath-driven steeds, Until suddenly they reared and checked their charge, As they fell upon their quarry to commence the slaughter. The women and children they netted and snared, While the warriors aswoon were skewered with spears, And the old and infirm were cut down and trampled.

So the smells of late summer flora wafting in the airs Tingled not his nostrils to reach his mind in torment. And the feel of riding steeds, free wind upon his face, When learning the love of riding, manly deeds of horsemanship, Were lost upon his senses, scathed by recent outrage. And all his self-same faculties had fallen fully numb By his suffered loss of innocence as party to unjust slaughter— Save the taste of empty victory, bitter on his tongue.

And Borello’s son, frozen, gazed on in fear Fixed to his place at the eye of this storm. He beheld, in horror, this whirlwind of slaughter, This dread storm of death his father had fostered. Then the lad’s wide eyes, weeping, were filled with the sight Of Borello the elder as he slaughtered the chieftain Who fell headless as a stone as he held ground at his hut, And the Baron then entered over his blood-laced body.

To be continued... Robert F. Kauffmann is an artist, writer, animator, and computer programmer from Cinnaminson, New Jersey. The Curse of Borello is the sequel to his book, The Mask of Ollock. Contact him at rkauffma@csc.com.



The Tarpeian Rock, Volume 4, 2006