The Wrath of Horus: The Judgment of Flavia Borgia

Here’s another excerpt from The Wrath of Horus, shortly after the characters end up in Dantes’ Inferno:

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Flavia’s anger crested as the stream of spirits marched forward to the being larger than life on the throne of skulls, a horned demon with a tail. The tail darted forward into the mass of souls and pulled one out, plucking it like heather from the ground, pronouncing a one-word sentence, and casting the soul into a pit. The tail groped near them and encircled around another unfortunate. “Gluttony,” the creature said, and then threw the soul away.

Before Flavia could register the motion, the tail darted in, wrapped around Pavan, and pulled him up into the air. She paused. Again, the voice in her head. Leave him. Come to me.

Flavia shouldn’t care—Pavan was a distraction from her purpose—but she did care. Even if she decided to stay in Hell, she promised him she’d get him out. Flavia was not her father. She made good on her promises.

Before the demon could pronounce Pavan’s sentence, Flavia ran forward. She heard her name in the distance and glanced toward the sound, seeing Marc off to the side. Marc was here. Her temper burned bright inside of her. She’d rather Greg see her new powers, but Marc would do. She hoped he would be impressed. “Demon!” she shouted. “Drop him!”

The demon’s tail flung Pavan to the ground and hovered above Flavia like a hungry snake. “You come to be judged,” it said.

“No,” Flavia announced. “I am here to judge you.”

The giant tail wrapped around Flavia’s ankles. The gem in her neck flashed like lightning. The demon’s hands shielded its eyes and Flavia grabbed a length of its tail. She could see the seams where she could tear and she followed the lines, pulling the tail apart with a satisfying, wet rip. Blood oozed over her hands, feeling warm and comforting.

The demon’s scream dissolved souls into smoke and mist. Flavia tossed the torn flesh and scales aside, grabbed another part of the tail, and exerted her new strength. The demon lurched forward and wrapped his arms around her, hugging her to his chest. She plunged her hands into his midsection.

“Anger,” the demon announced. He would not let her go, so Flavia pulled her hands out, dropping gobs of gore on the ground underneath them. She laughed. Flavia placed her palms on either side of the demon’s head. With thumb and forefinger, she plucked one of his eyeballs from its socket, but still Minos relentlessly moved her to the end of the pit. She didn’t care. She drove two fingers under the remaining eye. Minos pushed her away and tossed her into the air. She hung for a second, gazing down into the darkness. Air rushed past her and she plummeted into the pit.

Terror penetrated Flavia’s anger as she tumbled. She could find no purchase, nothing to grab to stop her fall. Spirits howled and screamed around her, and she screamed with them. For a moment, her sanity locked into place. What was she doing, challenging Minos? Rescuing Pavan was the right instinct, but this desire to attack, Flavia knew, was coming from Hell itself. She had fought Minos and she would have won, if she’d had a little more time. Sanity slipped away like mercury.

Since she had arrived here, Flavia felt alive in ways she had never felt before. Having powerful magic of her own to use made her want to use it. And why shouldn’t she? She could crush anyone with her magic, take them all on, remake the underworld in her image.

First, she had to survive. Her hair flew about her like a banshee’s. Souls darted in and snagged her, cutting her. She grew her claws and sliced back. She was like the creature in the forest, angry, sharp, with the power to take blood. She cackled and trilled. She would make her way in this bold new world destroying everything in her path. She was so much more powerful than a mere Binder. Oh, she would set everyone straight. She would fight and claw and kick and scream and everything would submit to her. The small voice in the back of her mind that told her this was madness, like her mother’s, she squashed ruthlessly like a cockroach. She was so hungry for this, having been told she was unworthy for so long.

She came to the end of her fall and smashed into the ground. Her legs snapped and an arm shattered, and she died for the first time. Then, she stood and began to fight.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.