The Wrath of Horus: Marcellus and Diana in the Maelstrom

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This is the third and final excerpt from The Wrath of Horus before Saturday’s big cover reveal. In this scene, Marc and Diana are reunited in the Maelstrom of Dantes’ Inferno.


Marc was buffeted by the howling winds. He slammed into the rock walls of the chamber, passing through other floating souls, and despaired in the absolute darkness and the continual roaring of rushing air. Alexander had sacrificed himself so Marc could live, and Diana had burned before his eyes. Flavia and Galt had been cast into the pit. He had no idea where Greg even was.

After his parents were gone, Marc had tried so hard to make sure there was no risk, to make everyone safe, but everything had slipped through his grasp, no matter how tightly he clenched his fists. He couldn’t save anyone. He was dead and this was how he would spend eternity, in failure and despair.

You are still alive.

Thoth’s thoughts pierced his mind. “Am I?” Marcellus’ voice flew back to him, the wind so loud he could barely hear it. “I fell. I saw Alexander and Diana die.” Alexander had asked for Marc to be sent where Diana had been sent. Was she alive, or was only her soul here? “Thoth? Are they alive? Can you tell me?”

You remember, you cannot remain dead here. None of you can.

Marc had endangered them because his powers had failed. “My magic is not working. What good am I?”

I do not waste my time or my gifts. That is your answer. If Alexander and Diana gave you the gift of their sacrifice, you must give them back your courage. Nothing has ever been in your control, Marcellus. You must stop pretending it ever has been.

Thoth saw more than Marc could see in the darkness. “Is this one of your visions?”

No. You are in the Maelstrom.

The Maelstrom. The level of lust. There was nothing to see or touch. Marc could barely hear himself think.

You must use the gifts you have.

The gifts he had? Shadows were closed to him. What gifts was Thoth talking about?

“Diana!” he shouted into the noise. He knew others were screaming, lovers blown apart by the Maelstrom, unable to touch. “Diana!” He couldn’t hear her. She couldn’t hear him. She wouldn’t know he was here.

He loved her, had loved her ever since they were children. He had forsworn other women based only the memory of her, real and imagined. All he wanted when she had come back to him was to shower that love on her, but he was afraid of his vision, that she would die by his side. Better, though, by his side, than alone in the dark, because he thought maybe she loved him too. They were both here, which was telling.

It was the pinprick of light in the absolute darkness which made him aware of her. The lights of her rosary were white stars in the winter sky over the heath. The wind blew her toward him. He tried to grab her, knowing how unlikely it would be to touch her, how extraordinarily lucky he would be if he could. She sped by and he grasped at air. The distance between the two of them grew. Tears were blown dry on his face as soon as he cried them.

Then he was jerked backwards as a thin string of beads looped around him. He laughed uncontrollably. Their situation was dire, but this was one tiny spark of hope. A pop beside his head as a bead exploded, its magic forcing him closer to the light. Again, another pop, another few feet, and he could see her. Then one more burst and they were face to face as she entwined the rosary around the two of them, wrapping their bodies closely. He could see her face glowing in soft pink light, could feel the closeness of her, could smell her above the cold wind and stone. All the things he wanted to say to her and couldn’t. He pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her as the wind tossed them like autumn leaves.

Marc cried for Alexander and Diana kissed his tears and cried with him.

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.