The Crystal Crux
A Long Time Gone
Looking back at the dates of my previous Hubs, I see it has been nearly seven years since I published anything on here and it looks like the rules have changed a bit since then. Not even sure if all the old friend contacts still exist or will receive this. I actually became close to several outside of Hubpages who have now passed away - may they rest in peace.
So now that the formalities of reintroduction are completed, I'm going to thrill you will much of my research while writing my first novel, THE CRYSTAL CRUX - Betrayal.
Time and Place
The Crystal Crux - Betrayal is the first book of an Adult Historical Fantasy series. The ten-day tale is chiefly focused on western and central Italy, chiefly Parthenope (Naples), Capua, Capri and the Solfatara in August 1198.
The Holy Roman Empire, which was neither Holy or Roman, had German Emperors at this time. The seat was ruled by the Hohenstaufen family who made bitter enemies of the Roman Catholic Church concerning the Investiture Controversy, a question of who had the power to "invest" or "place" officials to vacant seats. On September 23, 1122, the Concordat of Worms was signed but it was not by any means, a measure of peace. Future emperors continued to break it including Frederick Barbarossa (Red Beard). His son, Henry VI followed suit.
During this time of Robin Hood folklore, Richard de Couer, the Lionheart king of England was taken prisoner by Leopold V, Duke of Austria. Leopold eventually handed the King over to Emperor Henry VI. Richard was the Roman Catholic Church's number one asset. With him locked behind bars in a prison in Trifels the Emperor wielded a great deal of power.
This power is used in The Crystal Crux. Henry begins placing his "pawns" on the European map in places the Church disapproves of. The protagonist, Pero de Alava, is one of these pawns. He is sent to administrate the keep at Capua, in Italy, in the heart of the enemy.
The only problem with being a pawn is the lack of importance many players place on them. They are often, too easily sacrificed. When Emperor Henry VI dies on September 28,1197, civil war erupts throughout much of Europe. Even the Germans can't decide who should lead them.
The Roman Catholic Church also, at this time, begins one its most dramatic transformations throughout its history. Pope Celestine III dies less than four months after the Emperor. The new pope is Innocent III, one of the most authoritative pontiffs ever, claiming moral superiority over all the kings of Europe, laying down the groundwork for what would one day be a papal state.
In Germany, in 1198, two candidates emerge to be the next Holy Roman Emperor.
Philip of Swabia is Henry's brother, Frederick Barbarossa's son, and therefore another Hohenstaufen. Pope Innocent and the Church do not want to see another from that line rise to power so they support the other candidate, Otto of Brunswick, a Welf, related by marriage to Richard Lionheart. The lines are drawn. In Campania, the region encompassing Parthenope and Capua, there is no choice. You side with Otto or you are declared an enemy of Italy.
Pero de Alava is an asset to the Campania region. Being a Spaniard, I have him re-establish lost trade routes with the Almohad, Berber-speaking people who lived throughout southern Spain as well as most of Northern Africa.
Proud, confident, believing he is among friends, Pero announces at a banquet thrown in his honor, that, in the battle for the throne, he sides with Philip of Swabia. A quick series of events gets his expelled from Parthenope.
The Caballero retires to his home in Capua where his concerns over reprisals are mixed with a sudden eruption of nightmares and visions, doom unlike anything he has ever experienced before. He can't shake the sensations and they negative effect his daily performance, messing up his relationship with his best friend and estate steward, an English knight known as the Griffin, Francis Whitehall; as well as his relationship with his bride-to-be, a Greek, Anthea Manikos.
Pero thinks he is going mad. He thinks he is cursed. He is ready to break and run, leave everything behind and forget all his responsibilities.
The Bellerophon Crystals
To add some magic and fantasy to the story, I interjected a Bellerophon Crystal. And you ask, 'What is a Bellerophon Crystal?'
Bellerophon was considered by many, to be one of the greatest Greek warriors, mythically-speaking. A son of Poseidon, he used a golden bridle to lasso Pegasus and rode into battle to kill Chimera, a monstrous beast with several heads and a snake's tail.
Bellerophon was proud and decided one day to ride Pegasus to heaven. Zeus, not wanting the arrogant hothead up there, sent a horsefly to bite the horse's backside, sending Bellerophon plummeting back down to earth.
I decided to use this myth in my favor. I decided that Bellerophon was going to heaven to demand a kingdom of his own, and during his fall, he managed to grab in his grasping fingers, esoteric particles from Paradise.
Bellerophon was badly injured by this stupendous fall back down to earth, crippled. But he had the particles. I then have the Greek warrior take the particles of Paradise to a Hephaestus, a deformed god also tossed out of heaven. Hephaestus is the blacksmith who created the weapons of the gods. He is angry and lives beneath the earth, inhabiting volcanoes and caves, an army of Cyclops and silver dogs at his disposal.
Hephaestus tells Bellerophon he can use the esoteric particles to make five special crystals which alone, are powerful, but together, make the bearer a god on earth, a soul reaper able to read the minds and memories of every living soul on earth.
Hephaestus enlists the aid of five metallurgists from different parts of the world to create the five stones. The Crux, or center stone, that sits on the other four, is fashioned by a Norse blacksmith who accidentally awakens Ophis, an old black dragon.
The Norse haggles for his life, telling Ophis all about the crystals. The old black dragon suddenly sees himself taking possession of the five crystals and ruling the earth.
In His Madness
Pero de Alava does not comprehend the powers working against him.
The powerful Fabbro family who rule Parthenope and the Campania region have the aid of Sinibaldus, a giant, white faced magician who operates a city of tents near Vesuvius called Sin Circus. He has the crux of the brother stones, the Bellerophon Crystal created by the Norse. Alone, this crystal gives Sinibaldus great powers. He is old now and physically, spiritually drained from using the crystal. He has no desire to rule a kingdom of men. He serves Gherardus Fabbro and the court of Parthenope, helping them destroy their enemies - enemies like Pero de Alava.
The Crux of the tale are many fold. We all have roots, reasons that ground us to our beliefs, whatever those beliefs may be. While I am a Christian, I wanted to explore all the facets of humanity, for we are all sinners, all prone to fear and anger, indifference and hate. No matter what kind of pedestal our loved ones put us on, there are things going on in our brains we are glad no one else knows.
But what if someone else does know? What if someone could look inside our mind and see our mistakes and the guilt we lock away, the ugly truths we keep even from ourselves?
Seers were people who could supposedly "see" into places others could not. They could talk with otherworldly beings who could tell them what you had done and thought to do.
I think, in the end, The Crystal Crux will be a story of being honest, not just with the world, but with ourselves, about who we are as individuals in a flawed and unjust world. Do we have the fortitude to rise above our shame and errors to make the world a better place for those we love? Or do we give into our pettiness and arrogance and imitate the evil we loath just to succeed, just to live at peace with corrupt officials?
It is an ugly world out there, always has been. I begin the book with a text from Scripture, one I fear many Christians do not take into higher regard.
Matthew 5:45 'He maketh the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.'
None of us were ever promised a rose garden. We live in a world where, I believe, it is our duty to be just when others are unjust, merciful when others are unmerciful, kind when others are mean, and charitable when others are selfish. We are love and we can't hide what we are, for if we do, we lose ourselves - and that is hell.
"I have fallen so far. It is so dark out here. I am all alone. No one can save me now."
- Pero de Alava
A M Werner
- A M Werner – Author of The Crystal Crux series
Author of The Crystal Crux series