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The Borgias

Lucrezia Borgia
Cecilia Gallerani
Cesare Borgia
Jofré Borgia
Bartolomeo Rossi

The Ottomans


The Orsini

Isabetta Orsini
Luisa Orsini
Giulia Farnese

The Sforzas

Ascanio Sforza

The Medici

Clarice de' Medici
Afonso das Neves
Catarina de' Medici
Renata Ferrari


 Part I

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Ascanio Sforza

Ascanio Sforza

Posts : 9

Part I Empty
PostSubject: Part I   Part I Minicl10Sat Mar 05, 2011 4:11 pm

For posts preceding the election of Rodrigo Borgia as the Bishop of Rome.
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Ascanio Sforza

Ascanio Sforza

Posts : 9

Part I Empty
PostSubject: Death of a Pope   Part I Minicl10Sat Mar 05, 2011 4:13 pm

Teodorina Cibo stood outside the entrance to the Pope’s bedchamber. Her dark hair was coiled around with cords of gold, and woven with pearls; she wore a gown of the darkest purple velvet, the colour of a cloudy night, slashed with gold brocade, and the most magnificent pair of trailing sleeves he had ever set eyes upon. At first, Cardinal Ascanio Sforza had mistaken the Pope’s daughter for his mistress, and on reflection came to the conclusion that they were almost uncannily alike. The fact that she was dressed in a prince’s ransom did little to clarify the likeness.

She saw him, and her elegant face grew cool. Teodorina Cibo was a mite drawn now for Ascanio’s taste, and that unnatural smile of hers had worn faint lines upon her famous complexion, but they had been intimate, once, and the customary look on her face showed that she had not forgotten it.

“Madam,” he greeted her elegantly. “Are you the Pope’s bastard daughter or his guard dog?”

Some part of her must have wanted desperately to return that insult, but Teodorina had been well-raised, as all these illegitimate daughters were, so that she could marry any half-witted son of a Duke. “You mustn’t come in. He wishes only to see us, his children.”

“Ah, some last-minute nepotism to see to, I suppose.”

“Do not disrespect my father, Cardinal Sforza.”

“I have no intention of doing so. Let me in.”

“Not for the world. My father requests privacy.”

“I wasn’t aware that the Vatican Guard was accepting bastard daughters among its rank. Now let me enter or be gone.”

He pushed past the indignant lady, entering the elegant bedchamber. Painted angels peeped out from between struts in the coffered ceiling, gazing at the scene of mortality below. The air seemed to vibrate with the constant drone of murmuring voices, intermingled with the tentative Latin of nuns at vigilant prayer.

Within, the Pope was surrounded by the sombre faces of his family. He was a benign old man who loved rather too much, a fact attested to by the sixteen bastard sons and daughters who now crowded along the walls in the solemnity of their vigil – fourteen of which were passed off as nephews and nieces. Of the two lucky enough to be regarded as the Pope’s natural children, one stood outside his door, apparently too full of grief to attend upon her father. The other, Franceschetto, knelt by his father’s bedside, and held the old, withered hand in his.

And Teodorina had lied, of course, for here also assembled was the Neapolitan party in its entirety, led by the prickliest of them all, Giuliano della Rovere, who had his eye on the Papal throne. The fatal enmity between the Sforzas and the Neapolitans would now shape the events of the Conclave to come. The Neapolitans had chosen an aging Portuguese Cardinal, Jorge da Costa, as their candidate, mostly by virtue that his grand age made it likely that there would be another Conclave in the near future.

The confessor stood at Pope Innocent’s bedside, and delivered the last rites. Ascanio heard his faint weeping, a wheezy sobbing that terminated in a choking cough. Something vaguely intelligible was uttered by the dying Pope; which Ascanio interpreted as, “My office....I have not....used wisely...for nobler ends.”

The chamber was completely silent.

Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia stepped through the door and came to stand next to Ascanio as the Pope breathed his last in silence.

“Thus we are thrown into great heights,” murmured the Vice-Chancellor to Ascanio. The quiet was broken.

“Let us pray that we do not fall unprecipitously,” Ascanio replied. “Remember the fate of Icarus, my friend. Your wings of wax may melt before you know it.”

A wave of persons began to flood the late Pope’s chamber: clerks, cardinals, bishops, priests, nuns, laywomen and servants. In the ensuing chaos, Ascanio felt Borgia tugging him sideways by the sleeve of his cassock. They were outside in a moment, pushing through the agitated crowd of mourners, trying to weave a clear path to the wider spaces of the hallway.

Rodrigo Borgia smiled elegantly as they came to stand beneath a lofty archway. “We have not yet won and already you preach of caution. Wait a little, you troublesome Sforza. Wait, and let us savour our victory.”

Ascanio laughed. “Conclave could begin as soon as next week. Are your people ready?”

“They will be shortly briefed according to our terms. And yours?”

“All bribed and buttered as a pudding. We shall show those Neapolitan swine how a deal is made.”

Their alliance would be formidable, thought Ascanio. Borgia with his flair for smooth-talking the prickliest collegiates, and he with his Sforza mind and heart. There was only one matter that was as yet undecided – which one of them would be Pope?

“And our families united. My granddaughter is already your niece.”

“I’ve a mind to make a cousin of your daughter too.”

Borgia regarded him coolly. “My Lucrezia is not ready to wed.”

“Girls blossom faster than their fathers would care to admit,” said Ascanio, with a tinge of mischief. “I wager you should know that better than I, for all the virgins you’ve stolen from beneath their fathers’ noses.”

The elegant Catalan grinned somewhat roguishly. “And how is my granddaughter? I trust your devil of a brother hasn’t had her strangled yet.”

“She is pregnant with child.”

“May the Lord protect her! She is too young to be in the fanged maws of your family.”

“She is a ripe young woman of seventeen, and she had best hope that she can deliver that child safely. My nephew has been wanting an heir for these last two years.”

“An heir that your brother would as soon murder as his nurse would swaddle him.”

“You have formed an altogether faulty opinion of my brother, Cardinal Borgia. We Sforzas are of honourable stock. I don’t deny that Ludovico is as hungry for the Duchy as you are for the Papacy, but he would not harm his own nephew, nor his heir.”

“Of course not. You are his brother. His all too loyal little brother. And it is that loyalty that makes you so powerful, and makes half-plucked chickens like Giuliano della Rovere quiver at the thought of you as Pope.”

Ascanio laughed. “Which is why I won’t be Pope, not at this Conclave at any rate. And that is why I need you. We will vote for Cardinal Carafa.”

Borgia sucked in his breath, gaining a momentous pause. “Yes,” he replied. “We will vote Carafa.”
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Giulia Farnese

Giulia Farnese

Posts : 7
Location : Rome

Part I Empty
PostSubject: A Bored Lily   Part I Minicl10Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:43 am

Leaning up against an elegantly woven tapestry of gold and red silk embroidery, wearing a dress of much the same color, with her hair swept up in a mass of golden curls and precious pearls, Giulia Farnese, peaked out her window to stare at a pair of doves plucking the ground looking anxiously around for any worms that they may capture to bring home to their young babies.

Up above, the sky was a brilliant shade of blue with the sun poking its golden rays through white, puffy clouds, and the sounds of Cardinals chanting some place broke through the silent morning. While the world waited for its new Pope that Giulia Farnese had no doubt would be her beloved Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia.

In fact Giulia was so sure he would soon be Pope that she had begun to call him so. Thus; pleasing him greatly. She leaned out the window and threw a few crumbs of bread she had saved from breakfast for the poor doves, and then sat on the window frame. Twisting a delicate pearl necklace around her neck, she sighed, staring at her lost embroidery work. Her own work was nowhere near as good as the tapestry on the wall, or at least she didn’t think it was. Everyone loved it; however, Giulia was convinced that they were just being kind.

She gracefully, as if in a dream, glided across the bare tiled floor, of her bedroom over to where the forgotten embroidery lay and picked up. She pricked at it a bit, but then, slowly sat it back down. Oh when would Rodrigo come to see her again? She was always so lost without him near.

Just as she was about to go mad with boredom, her maid Tessa quietly walked into her chambers. The girl’s hair was slightly tussled, her dress a little wrinkled and her face just a bit flush. Giulia knew exactly where she had been.

“How is Bartolo?” She asked while Tessa bent down to pick up a pair of stockings that Giulia had flung to the floor in her boredom.

“As much as a bull as he was earlier.” The girl replied casually, making Giulia giggle.

“Has he heard anything?” Tessa shook her brown curls.

“No. Nothing has been decided yet as far as we can tell. As soon as it is, however, I shall inform you.”

“Do not worry, I am sure that Rodrigo will tell me himself. If he is not too terribly busy. Do you think he will come tonight?” Tessa smiled sweetly at her mistress.

“The Cardinal is a busy man. But never too busy for you.” Tessa gently took hold of Giulia’s hands and led her to a chair were she began to brush her fine curls. “And if he does come to visit, we cannot have him see you such a state.”

“ Yes, I supposed I let my appearance go this morning, but really Tessa, I am quite loss as to what to do with myself when you are not here. Just look at my chambers.” Giulia replied with a wave of her hand.

“You would think a five year old had a tantrum.” Tessa replied, causing Giulia to laugh.

“A five year old, did not have a tantrum, however, I nearly did. It is far too quite. Perhaps we should go into town?”

“No, I do not think that would be a wise choice. Rome may not be the safest place for us right now. We should stay here. Maybe Bartolo could come and play his wooden flute for us.”
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Afonso das Neves
Afonso das Neves

Posts : 21
Location : Rome, Italy

Part I Empty
PostSubject: Alliances   Part I Minicl10Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:48 am

The Cardinal Costa’s office was sumptuous and very well decorated. As he was waiting for him, Afonso couldn’t avoid touching some of the artefacts of decoration his uncle had on the heavy shelves, curious. There was a small collection of golden roman coins and after making sure no one was at the door, Afonso put them in his jacket pocket. His uncle was rich, he wouldn’t even notice if these little things were gone.

“Afonso…” The Cardinal received his nephew with open arms, happy to finally see with his own eyes the son of his dear sister. There were other nephews, of course, but Afonso was the most talented and clever, the one who looked more like a Costa himself, than a das Neves.

“Uncle, it’s good to see you.”
The Cardinal made a sign for Afonso to sit down, and for a moment of silence he studied his nephew. “I see those years at the sea changed you.”

“If you’re referring to the hair, I intend to cut it. I just didn’t have the time, because on your letter you advised me to hurry here.”

“Yes, time is not at our favour, soon there will the conclave and preparations need to be made.”
There was no secret his uncle wanted to become the next Pope. For that, naturally, he needed supporters and alliances and Afonso suspected he was part of his uncle’s plan to succeed.

“I count on you, Afonso, to help me on this quest. Once I become a Pope it will be with a pleasure to have you at my side, and we can share all the power and glory of the holly duty that awaits me.”

“Uncle, you shall not forget about the Spanish…”Afonso told his uncle.

“Rodrigo Borgia, yes. It will only make it more interesting once I won the conclave and he will have to get down and kiss my ring.” Costa was obviously convinced he was going to win this conclave. Afonso wondered what type of allies he might have to feel such confidence. “God will pick the most dignified man to represent Him on earth. We all know about Rodrigo’s mistress, we all know how women influence his head, so we all know he won’t be chosen.”

Afonso did not contradict his uncle. Instead he just waited for more, to know exactly what the price to pay was for being in his uncle’s graces, later when he became a pope. His mother had warned him about a marriage, but he needed to hear the words to believe it.

“The Medici family is at my side. I have their support, Afonso. Still I had to give them some guarantee that they would be in my favour once I’m a pope.”

“What guarantee?”

“You.” There was silence for a moment and then the Cardinal moved on. “You’re going to marry Lorenzo de’ Medici’s fourth daughter, Clarice. Everything is almost settled now and once the alliance is made I will have the Medicis’ full support to my cause.”

“Clarice…”Afonso said, trying to think if he had ever heard of her.

“Very beautiful, and talented, I heard. Here is her portrait.” Afonso glanced at the small portrait his uncle took out from a drawer, but he put it aside right away.

“Why don’t you want to see? She is beautiful.”

“I am going to spend the rest of my life looking at her face. I don’t need to see her now, uncle.”

Costa studied his nephew and finally he said, “You knew this day was going to come.”

“And I will do my duties and marry her, uncle, like you ordered. I just don’t want to think about that now. ”

The idea of a marriage displeased him, because he knew he couldn’t keep living the life he had been living so far. Afonso was a natural sailor; he loved to spend his time on the caravels, feel the salty breeze in his face, the feeling of freedom. The idea there was a world to explore out there, waiting for him, and now he had to stay home and take care of his wife.

“I know how much sailing means to you Afonso. But see things this way: why would you want to conquer new lands, when you’re exactly in the center of world: Rome. You won’t need to make an effort to be recognized if you marry this girl and support me. It will all be in the palm of your hand.”

Afonso smiled.

“I like that.” He admitted.

“Your bride will come with a large dowry, something you will be in total control of, of course.”

Costa’s eyes glowed once he knew he got his nephew. It was not a secret that he loved to gamble. Unfortunately his luck was very low and so he had a considerable number of debts. Having access to a good sum of money right away would be a great incentive for Afonso to marry Clarice Medici. The Cardinal was aware of that; he knew his nephew‘s weakness as well as qualities.

Finally Afonso committed himself to the marriage with Clarice de’ Medici. Pleased the cardinal sent for the best wine he had and they both drink to the future couple and to the day Costa would be named Pope and humiliate Rodrigo Borgia, send him back to Spain where he belonged.
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Afonso das Neves
Afonso das Neves

Posts : 21
Location : Rome, Italy

Part I Empty
PostSubject: Primavera   Part I Minicl10Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:50 am

Afonso touched the back of his head. There were no remains of his long hair now, the one he let to grow up during his time at the sea. He looked at his reflection on the mirror, wondering how the artist his uncle hired had painted his hair on the portrait that would be sent to Clarice de’ Medici, his future wife. It did not matter, he concluded.

Afonso’s mind then went to last night’s game and how he lost every single coin he stole from his uncle’s office. Maybe if had not kept the ace of diamonds until the last minute, maybe if he had risked more he would have won…He sighed and sat on a chair, leaning back and closing his eyes.
He and his uncle were at the Palazzo di Orsini. Cardinal Costa wanted Afonso to meet Giovanni de’ Medici, Clarice’s brother and his uncle’s ally. Afonso knew this was a test, by the way Costa had chose what he should wear and had told him to choose his words carefully.

They gave Afonso a small room to rest and wait as the Cardinal and Giovanni discussed some important points on the conclave. Afonso was thankful not to be invited for this conversation, he considered all the religious matters extremely dull.

Suddenly he started to listen music and giggling from the balcony. They started to become more intense and the Portuguese nobleman could now even recognize words.

“You need to turn with more delicacy, Contessina!”

“You can’t do better than I, Clarice.”

“No? Let me show you then.”

He heard someone giggling and the music started again from the beginning. Amused, Afonso went to the balcony. He found himself looking at a group of children. There was no other word for them, because the way they giggled and the way they moved represented such innocence, happiness and vigour that no adult had.

His eyes focused on the central pair that was dancing. She had this light auburn hair falling down her shoulders and she moved with such delicacy in her light, white dress. Afonso understood right away why his uncle did not want him to meet Clarice de’ Medici yet. She was so young, so pure, so innocent…Yet he felt like going downstairs to the courtyard, take her from her brother’s arms and show her how it was to dance with a man.

“My lord?”

He woke up from his torpor when a servant showed up announcing that his presence was requested at Giovanni’s office. He took a glance one last time to the courtyard but there was no one there. As he walked through the large corridor, following the servant, Afonso wondered if he had just witnessed a vision of Botticelli’s Primavera taking life in front of him, Clarice being the only one wearing white, the most beautiful of them all.
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Cecilia Gallerani
Cecilia Gallerani

Posts : 45
Location : Rome, Italy

Part I Empty
PostSubject: Il Moro   Part I Minicl10Sun Mar 06, 2011 3:59 am

Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan in all but name, advanced towards the chamber of his nephew’s wife; the Duchess of Milan by name, but in practice anything but. There was no resistance by the hired physicians, swaying in their trailing black robes like characters from a Commedia, nor the gaunt and frantic chambermaids, as he pushed towards where the useless young bride lay on her bed. She, like the sheets, was pale and damp, save for the blood stains on her chemise.

Weakly, she gestured at a bundle of soiled linen that a chambermaid was hastily wrapping. “There,” she spoke, her voice surprisingly cool for one in her predicament. “There is the heir you wanted.”

Sforza smiled at her gently. “Hush, my pretty one. I’m certain you’ll have another one if my nephew can be persuaded to come to your bed once in a while.”

“Perhaps, if he did so anywhere near as often as you do.”

The room was filled with servants, retainers and doctors, but not one of them looked up or paused their activity.

Ludovico took her clammy hand, tracing a pattern on her colourless palm. He saw her flinch slightly at his touch. Her fear was strangely arousing.

“Don’t tell me you resent my company? After how many nights you begged me to scorn my wife and visit you instead.”

“I was a fool.”

“A fool, yes, but you can’t help it. You know better than I that that child was not your husband’s. He was still a Sforza. You are still my Cecilia.” He leaned her head back and kissed her neck. “I wonder if he knew you were soiled goods when you were first delivered to him...”

“You can’t keep this up. Beatrice is so jealous that she will poison me.”

Ludovico laughed. His wife was not the one who kept a poisoner in her pay in this court.

“I promise you, if any harm comes to you from her, I’ll have hellebore mixed into her perfume. Or better, I’ll send her to a convent.”

“Where is my husband?” she asked in a dry-throated whisper.

“Hunting. Or Whoring. Take your pick.”

She grimaced. “Your vulgarity does not amuse me.”

“Hush, sweet creature. Close your eyes. I have had my apothecary make you a good brew, so you can dream the days away...”

He clicked his fingers, and forward came a valet with a silver tray in hand. The de facto Duke of Milan reached for a pewter goblet, filled with spiced, fragrant wine.

“Drink this, my pretty ferret, and all your troubles will be over.”

There was no resisting the cup at her lips, nor the sweet brew that came trickling down her throat, gentle as warm honey, but inexorable as a landslide. Its powers were almost immediate.

Ludovico Sforza waited until the last fluttering of her eyelids had passed, and left his lover's apartments. There would be no heir to the Duchy of Milan, for now at least. His work was done.
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Bartolomeo Rossi

Bartolomeo Rossi

Posts : 6
Location : Rome, Italy

Part I Empty
PostSubject: If Only   Part I Minicl10Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:03 am

Milan, 1490

Cold fingers passed over his bare shoulder, making Bartolomeo wake up from his sleep. He opened his eyes and trembled, a chill of cold passing down his spine.

“Are you cold, valet? Let me warm you,” Lady Isabella said, her arms covering her lover’s torso. She observed his pretty face and then kissed his lips. Bartolomeo laid on the bed quiet, not responding to the duchess passion. “If only my husband was like you!” She continued to kiss him between long sighs.

Bartolomeo did not say a word to accompany her moans of pleasure. Isabella did not mind. It had been that way since the first day she ordered the handsome valet to stay the night in her chambers. Reserved, he made only a perfect bow asking her what she required from him. She would have no problems at all telling him what she wanted by taking off her delicate gown and inviting him to her bed with a sign of her hand. When the morning came he would leave, only to return again moments later to perform his servant duties.

Ever since Isabella had set her eyes on him, she had desired him. He was all she had to console her, even when he seemed to suffer from lack of passion. Sometimes she would wonder if he was mute, even deaf, because he would not make a sound. Although one thing was certain: he was not ignorant, because she could see more than a glimpse of intelligence in his eyes.

“Kiss me valet, let your lips set me on fire,” she joked, shoving her long blond hair away from her neck so he could kiss her on the indicated spot. Bartolomeo kissed the back of her neck and Isabella moaned again with pleasure. She would place his hands on her body, ordering caresses. He learned fast and soon she did not have to order him around.

“Come back to me tonight.” It would be her goodbye as she leaned on the pillows and watched him with lust as he got dressed.

For some it would be an honor to be the lover of the duchess. To spend the night in a good mattress in the arms of a beautiful lady. But not for Bartolomeo. He had never liked the duchess, and it was with disdain that he shared her bed. As her cold, fishy fingers touched him, as she ordered him around he would started to conceive endless poisons that would end with her life in an instance. The ingredients, the doses, the way of making it, the instruments needed, all passed over his mind.

One day he sneaked into his father’s laboratory and made a poison. He tested it on one of the caged rats. The animal died with no mercy. He could already see Isabella dead on her soft bed, her face white as the sheets and her golden hair spread around her head like an angel’s halo. She would be beautiful in her death, like she had not been in life, he thought.

Some days later, after someone broke into Ludovico Sforza’s poisoner’s laboratory, the duchess died, victim of some strange illness. Rumors were muttered in the corridors and among the servants that her last words were about a valet who worked for her. If they were words of accusation or love no one could tell.
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Cecilia Gallerani
Cecilia Gallerani

Posts : 45
Location : Rome, Italy

Part I Empty
PostSubject: First Signs    Part I Minicl10Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:07 am

Subiaco, The Papal States, July 1490

The lonely, midsummer heat of Subiaco forces its residents inside for the midday hours, lulling them into their restful beds. The summer of 1490 surprised no-one living in the small Roman town, with its great ruined aqueduct and its humble abbey. Thick, stifling atmosphere – it quashed high spirits and repressed all mirth.

It was during this slow repose, when their nurses and guardians had retired to sleep out the heat, that the children of Cardinal Borgia’s household indulged in their vices.

Nine-years-old, Don Jofré Borgia would reliably be found destroying the Cook’s herb garden – if not raiding the pantries for prohibited snacks.

Ten-years-old, Donna Lucrezia Borgia could be found terrorising her assortment of puppets. For now, her little court was made of felt and cloth: she manipulated the lives of these inanimate knights, ladies, stewards, condottieri, bishops, and popes, tugged on their woollen hair, pulled out their button eyes; only time would tell if she would ever be given the opportunity to do the same to their flesh-and-blood counterparts.

Fourteen-years-old, Don Cesare Borgia would be lurking in the cellars, torturing the rats which had found themselves a permanent residence there.

And fourteen-and-a-half-years-old, Donna Cecilia Gallerani would be looking for the only cousin not thus far accounted for: Don Juan Borgia.

He was fifteen; on an ordinary summer’s day like this, he could be found with the taggle-on gang of teenage sons of Subiaco who customarily followed him everywhere, looking for an idle slut with whom to pass the time. He had the run of the best whorehouses in Subiaco, of the young village women, of even the odd, unlucky serving maid – his appetite was already legendary, which made his father smile, for in this matter he had taken entirely after the unswervingly carnal Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia. He had been to the brothels on his father’s orders – best to get the boy acquainted with the love of women within the safe regularity of the brothel, under the watchful eye of the Signora, than let him run amok across town on his own accord. It could not have been suspected that he would develop an unnatural lust, within his own home, for a member of his own family.

His sister, Lucrezia, might still have been a skinny, petulant child, but his cousin, the cuckoo Cecilia, had ripened early, like the first summer fig. His fascination with her had begun when she had first arrived in their house in his father’s tow, a girl of nine, with barely a word of Italian. Her wide brown eyes were quite guileless: he enjoyed making them cry. The bully of her childhood, she was used to being pinched and teased, used to bruises all over, used to being pummelled into the trimmed lawn. She endured this treatment without complaint, for, even at her tender age, she knew that somewhere in his violence, Juan acted out of a need to possess her. And more than anything, this cuckoo child needed to be wanted, and wanted to be needed.

Thus began the first signs of trouble in Cardinal Borgia’s young family.

Last edited by Cecilia Gallerani on Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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Cecilia Gallerani
Cecilia Gallerani

Posts : 45
Location : Rome, Italy

Part I Empty
PostSubject: Husbands and Wives   Part I Minicl10Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:08 am

It was not unusual, in this despotic heat, for the children of Rodrigo Borgia to be found in the cool shade of the acrid-smelling cellars, deep below the Cardinal’s grand Palazzo. Two big children stood amongst the casks of wine. The heat poured off them; their bodies were so close. An onlooker might have thought they were just staring at each other, as they did as children. But the boy’s hand that had discreetly been unlacing the girl’s bodice a moment before paused on the last eyelet as she whispered a secret truth into his distracted ear. A revelation of some magnitude, to him.

“You are my...niece?” asked Juan Borgia.

Cecilia closed her eyes. “Yes. Your father’s grandchild.”

Silence, as Juan attempted to determine whether this changed the significance of the hand that was by now halfway up her petticoats. She was leaned against a cask of his father’s best Sangiovese, eyes half-lidded, desirous. She obviously liked what his fingers were doing down there.

“And how long have you been keeping this secret from us?”

“Papa knows...” She felt his lips on her neck with a blooming realisation of pleasure. “He has always known.”

“I wanted to marry you,” he confessed. “What will happen now?”

She was worldlier, in some ways, than he. “His Eminence will give you a dispensation.”

His hand disengaged itself from her skirts, clenching instead around her neck. She felt the pressure of his fingers against her skin. He used to enjoy bruising her – something told her he still did. “Then we will marry now.”

She thought it was a game, like those they had once played, when they were younger children. She would don a little housewife’s apron; he would come home, waving his wooden sword mightily after his imaginary conquests – that was all he wanted, wasn’t it? A game of husbands and wives?

“We can pretend there is a priest,” she suggested helpfully.

“No. There are other ways to make a marriage vow.”

“Other ways?” She looked at him; her dark, liquid eyes were more knowing than her question implied.

Innocent, but entirely corruptible. “We can lie together.”

Two sets of brown eyes stared into each other – Borgia eyes locked on Borgia. What was it, in their lustful constitution, which drew this cursed family so much to their own kind?

Some invisible, unnameable string severed in Juan’s conscience. As he pushed her into the packed dirt ground, she thought apprehensively of how the earth would stain her gown. Presently, she felt him nudging her thighs; she heard him draw a breathy sigh of desire at the confirmation of her maidenhood. He did not leave her the leisure to reflect; her virginity must have repulsed him, she thought, by the livid look on his face. She cried out, but felt his hand stifle her mouth, as he thrashed above her. His vigour only increased with her protesting whimpers – she had not thought it would hurt this much – but slowly the pain subsided, fading under a tide of heady pleasure. She felt his hands fumbling around her breasts, and realised, for the first time, her own desirability; felt aroused by his complete selfishness, the way he took ownership of her body, to sate his own needs. He bore down on her as though he wished to reduce her to the compacted dirt on the ground, that she might mix with the earth and his seed. Their two bodies shook and melted together; he came into her with a thick, gushing rage, poured all the lust that had gathered in him, into the ripe, forbidden body of his niece.

She felt an immense, reverberating emptiness.

“I have made love to a Borgia,” he bragged later, as they detangled their heaving, tired bodies, as though his cocksure friends were standing around them, leering. They had fallen to the ground, a tangle of febrile limbs. Cecilia felt a bloodstained stickiness on her chemise, and a faint, stinging ache.

“You hurt me,” she said quietly. “See here, the scratches on my shoulders...”

He laughed lowly, full of corporeal contentment, and grinned at her. There was something savage about his mouth and teeth, carnivorous. “But you enjoyed it. Like a whore.” She could see in his eyes that the thought pleased him greatly. “I might hire you out to my friends.”

She tried to pretend that this was a joke. “You don’t have friends. You only have Cesare.”

There was an abrupt, echoing shuffle in the damp resonance of the cellars. Cecilia sat up suddenly.

“Someone’s here.” She knew who it was, hiding between the wooden sea of reds and whites.

Juan sat up slowly behind her; she felt his lean, adolescent musculature across her back. He kissed her bare neck, the short, soft, dark curls of her nape, pulled down the décolleté of her gown as his wanton lips followed the sensitive ridge of her spine. “It’s only the mice...little mice.” His hands imitated a rodent scuttling up her back; she shrieked, he stopped her. His fingers traced the edge of her lips, those voluptuous, petulant petals, still deep red with lust.

His young arms were strong, and kept her anchored to the ground, to him, like a lead weight.


Thank you to Uncle Cesare for sparking the idea for this post. You are so deliciously perverse.
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Part I Empty
PostSubject: The Moon's Lover   Part I Minicl10Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:29 pm

The godless interior of Asia Minor offers no hospice for pilgrims from the civilised West; the odd caravanserai can occasionally be found clinging to a crumbling mountainside, the innkeeper of which would as soon fleece you like a spring lamb as offer you a bowl of lukewarm mutton soup. The wolves in this land are hungry, and their marrow-chilling howls fill the long autumn nights.

The exiled prince and his companions trek eastwards, towards the Seljuk territories, where they might be given respite from the pursuing Ottoman army, and the Türkmen tribes who have harassed their caravan since Konya. With each successive robbery, they have lost their gold, their food, their packhorses – now they ride through the barren wilderness, foraging for food, sleeping under the stars. The nights are cold; they barter with an old peddler, a wizened, crow-like man with skin like an apple that had been left in the sun, who gives them a toothless grin and a pile of sheepskins, and drives his mule back on its way.

At dusk, shepherds appear on the horizon; for a moment she thinks they are more Türkmens, and that they will finally carry her off to their round yurts covered with skins and rape her. She wonders who will be the first victim: her or her sister. She thinks that she has always been the prettier – and lo! now has come the time to pay for it. For a moment, she thinks of noble Istanbul, of clove-scented carnations and elegant-stemmed tulips, and shudders. She remembers the hours spent in the steaming baths, her stepmother’s Ethiopian slave who spent hours scrubbing and massaging her shoulders, rubbing scented oils into her hair. She remembers, still, the look of untarnished gold – how yellow, like the sun; but not this pale, winter sun that is like a dying flame, or like a glare from a dead man’s eye.

It is the month of Kasım; she expected the shepherds to huddle them around a bowl of soup, sprinkled with herbs and with a dollop of good yoghurt. But these peasants bring nothing but a rank, amniotic cheese, and skeins filled with mare’s milk. Kımız, kımız, they say in their bewildering Central-Asian dialect, exhorting their urbane guests to drink. The sound of sloshing milk makes her stomach churl, and she watches as Cem takes a laughing gulp, thin rivulets of white milk running down his reddish beard.

They are all bearded now – her father’s neat moustache has turned into a wild man’s mane, and even the immaculate Korkut Efendi has grown a scraggly blond beard. The only clean faces in the company belong to the only women; Ezel and Evren. They have lost their stiff silks and damasks in the hot weeks preceding this present cold spell, their veils have been left hanging from a tree, having become cumbersome. She thought it merciful that she and her sister were still considered children, as the discarding of their heavy veils and outer coats was not met with any comment. But now, in the sharp, sudden chill of early autumn, they march only in their șalvars and gömleks – the price of immodesty, perhaps. A goatherd takes pity, and gives them the wool yeleks from the backs of his own daughters – the herds have plenty more wool for them, he says.

It is well-and-truly dark before they settle in the sheltered side of a knoll, and make arrangements for sleep. The cavalrymen tie the horses to the low patch of scrub – Ezel wonders whether they will even be there in the morning, or if the Türkmens will cut their tethers and ride them off into the night. A Sipahi cavalryman helps her dismount; she stands a while and kisses her horse’s muzzle, and thanks him for his faithful servitude, just in case this is her last chance.

The camp fires burn out quickly; darkness eats the companions of Cem Sultan.

She lies there until late in the night, feeling her breath stir the long hairs of the wolf pelt against her face, huddled for warmth under blankets from a shepherd’s yurt, that smell strongly of wood-smoke. The hunger-howls of the wolves keep her far from sleep.

She hears soft footsteps moving behind her head. When she looks up, she sees a lone figure moving slowly towards the small hillock. The figure sits down, and watches the pale disc of the moon rising above the horizon. Inexplicably, she rises from her bed, and moves up the steep hill to join him.

Korkut Efendi hears her approaching, and turns; he is no less tense when he sees it is only her, Iskender Pasha’s girl.

Wordlessly, she sits on a boulder, watching the thin moon gleam like the eye of a starved wolf, a glint of light against the expanse of its midnight pelt. It is so cold that she worries her teeth will chatter if she speaks; she cannot find the courage to say anything, and he seems to have no inclination to. She isn’t certain if he is even aware of her presence; or if she is, it seems that she is as insignificant to him as a fly that has settled on a nearby rock. His eyes are fixed to the moon; hers to him. There is a striking beauty to his moonlit profile, his expression of serenity.

She thinks of this solitary prince. She thinks of how the first question asked by any of the men in their company upon entering a town is Where is the brothel district? But not this prince, whom she has never seen in the company of women, whose only love, it seems, is the moonlight. A little smile nudges her, and she is reminded of a story about a Chinese poet who fell in love with the moon that he drowned, trying to embrace its reflection in a lake.

And she wishes she could write a poem about him in this moment, how he is embraced by his lover, the moon; how she kisses his face with her light, and trails tendrils of her inky-black hair across his skin. In her tender embrace, he does not feel the cold as the girl sitting adjacent to him does.

She shivers, and hugs her knees, wishing she had bought those musty blankets with her.

The prince rises, takes off his coat. He places it around her shoulders, and she can hardly mutter a thank you for her numb lips, frozen with shock and cold. Silently, she watches him descend the incline, returning to the camp below.
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