The narrative is set in C18 England & Italy, whereby striking differences exist. Set against this background, the narrative involves a full account of periods in both countries, covering twenty-three years of Cornelius’ life; his abandonment as a child, his rescue and education by an Alchemist, Sneep, his further education by the prodigious Count Amati, and eventual rescue of Cornelius’ mother. There are several life changing events of both sinister and auspicious dimension and a series of murders, which have a devastating impact upon Cornelius’ life.
Excerpt from the book:
“Within one of the ornamented chambers on the upper levels of the castle lay a more subdued tone. It was suffused with charming candlelight, which for the most part momentarily improved the countenance of those there present. Several large circular game tables were employed for the purpose of cards and other amusements in which to squander away time, yet all were abandoned, save one. At first glance, the spectators appeared gathered amidst an idle game, but on approaching it still further I there perceived two gentlemen fixed within the complexities of a game. The first of the two gentlemen were attired in the most garish, and dare I say ludicrous of costumes. However, respecting his masque, this was no extraneous feat. Ghoulish in its design and extraordinary in its poise, it took the mould of a griffin’s head. I at once examined the gentleman’s left hand to determine the existence of a ruby ring, and there to my profound horror, it resided upon his little finger. My deduction had set forth a notion of clarity, and I was acutely intent on ascertaining the identity of this individual, but before I was disposed to make inquiries respecting this gentleman, I became distracted by the person of whom stood positively peremptory to his left. He was tall in stature and his costume and masque were decidedly diminished in vulgarity, yet his bearing disposed an eerie quietude. I there had occasion to investigate amongst the throng of whom were in close proximity, intelligence pertaining to the identity of the seated gentleman, and the startling truth affirmed that he was in fact Orsino di Moze; thus assigning the gentleman to his left to be his father, the Baron.
Seemingly, this particular contest had been protracted at length and his adversary, Guido Contarini — the youngest son of our hosts — was substantially overthrowing his opponent. It was at this point that my companion, the Count, joined me for the sole purpose of partaking in the public observation which had evidently absorbed. Naturally, I discretely furnished him with the crucial intelligence I had then recently procured, which elicited a somewhat horrified response. The source of Amati’s suspicions educed a far more recondite deduction and I was convinced of him being privy to knowledge of which he was averse to relinquish. The game and its pervading tone then took a somewhat unexpected turn. Di Moze, there began to display an excessively restive and petulant state, with no palpable indication of abating; both of which his opponent became lucidly aware.
“You appear altogether piqued sir!” said Contarini, with an air of levity. “Have I somewhat offended?”
With a steady mechanical glare, Di Moze penetrated his adversary with no rejoinder, yet muttered intractable profanities under his breath.
“Come now, your supposition has surely not ripened into the certitude of being duped?”
“Insolent upstart!” returned Di Moze, “The fact that you allude to the latter only convinces me further. Do you not deny that I have been rendered a duped recipient of your infantile devices?”
“You sir, are embittered by the unqualified truth that your abilities have been most seriously misplaced!”
His cognition upon this remark, of which was now transparent to the throng of guests, ascended toward a florid pique now visible beneath his vile masque. Outraged by this personal affront, Di Moze unseated abruptly, throwing himself violently across the full extremity of the table which impeded his advance, and forthwith instituting an altercation of the most immoderate design.
“Unhand me immediately sir, and act with some decorum!” Yet, this command was disregarded with the utmost defiance. Several efforts were induced in an attempt to separate the embroiled rivals, yet regrettably withholding thus temporarily. No furtherance of a wordy remonstration was uttered from the lips of Di Moze, but with insane fury he unsheathed a dagger and apprehended his foe with rabid intent inflicting multiple labours of the blade, deep into the breast of the recipient.
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