An Echo in the Darkness [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Francine Rivers
eBook Category: Historical Fiction/Spiritual/Religion
eBook Description: Turning away from the opulence of Rome, Marcus is led by a whispering voice from the past into a journey that could set him free from the darkness of his soul.
eBook Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers/Tyndale House
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2005
8 Reader Ratings:
O N E Y E A R L A T E R
Marcus Lucianus Valerian walked through a maze of streets in the Eternal City, hoping to find a sanctuary o0f peace within himself. He couldn't. Rome was depressing. He had forgotten the stench of the polluted Tiber and the oppressive, mingled humanity. Or maybe he had never before noticed, too involved in his own life and activities to care. Over the past few weeks since returning to the city of his birth, he had spent hours wandering the streets, visiting places he had always enjoyed before. Now the laughter of friends was hollow, the frenetic feasting and drinking exhausting rather than satisfying.
Downcast and needing distraction, he agreed to attend the games with Antigonus. His friend was now a powerful senator and held a place of honor on the podium. Marcus tried to still his emotions as he entered the stands and found his seat. But he could not deny he felt uncomfortable when the trumpets began blaring. His chest tightened and his stomach became a hard knot as the procession began.
He hadn't been to the games since Ephesus. He wondered if he could stomach watching them now. It was painfully clear that Antigonus was more obsessed with them than he had been when Marcus left Rome, and he was betting heavily on a gladiator from Gaul.
Several women joined them beneath the canopy. Beautiful and voluptuous, they made it apparent within moments of their arrival that they were as interested in Marcus as in the games. Something stirred in Marcus as he looked at them, but disappeared as quickly as it came. These women were shallow, tainted water to Hadassah's pure, heady wine. He found no amusement in their idle, vain conversation. Even Antigonus, who had always amused him, began to shred his nerves with his collection of ribald jokes. Marcus wondered how he had ever thought such obscene stories amusing or felt any pity for Antigonus' litany of financial woes.
"Tell another one," one of the women laughed, obviously enjoying the crude joke Antigonus had just related to them.
"Your ears will burn," Antigonus warned, eyes dancing.
"Another!" everyone agreed.
Everyone but Marcus. He sat silent, filled with disgust. They dress up like vain peacocks and laugh like raucous crows, he thought as he watched them all.
One of the woman moved to recline beside him. She pressed her hip against him enticingly. "The games always stir me," she said with purring softness, her eyes dark.
Repulsed, Marcus ignored her. She began to talk of one of her many lovers, watching Marcus' face for signs of interest. She only sickened him further. He looked at her, making no effort to hide his feelings, but she was oblivious. She simply continued her intended seduction with all the subtlety of a tigress pretending to be a housecat.
All the while, the bloody games went on unabated. Antigonus and the women laughed, mocked, and shouted curses down on the victims in the arena. Marcus' nerves stretched tight as he watched his companions . . . as he realized they relished the suffering and death going on before them.
Sickened by what he was seeing, he turned to drink for escape. He drained cup after cup of wine, desperate to drown out the screams of those in the arena. And yet, no amount of the numbing liquid could hold off the image that kept coming to his mind . . . the image of another place, another victim. He had hoped the wine would deaden him. Instead, it made him more acutely aware.
Around him, the masses of people grew frenzied with excitement. Antigonus caught hold of one of the women, and they became entangled. Unbidden, a vision came to Marcus . . . a vision of his sister, Julia. He remembered how he had brought her to the games her first time and laughed at the burning excitement in her dark eyes.
"I won't shame you, Marcus. I swear. I won't faint at the sight of blood." And she hadn't.
Unable to stand more, Marcus rose.
Shoving his way through the ecstatic crowd, he made his way up the steps. As soon as he was able, he ran—as he had in Ephesus. He wanted to get away from the noise, away from the smell of human blood. Pausing to get his breath, he leaned his shoulder against a stone wall and vomited.
Hours after the games were over, he could still hear the sound of the hungry mob screaming for more victims. The sound echoed in his mind, tormenting him.
Copyright © 1994, 2002 By Francine Rivers