Excerpt for The Chronicles of Sin: The City of Magic by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Part One

Of the Trilogy that includes

The Valley of Shadows

The Last Battle

Domenic Marbaniang

The Chronicles of Sin: The City of Magic

© Domenic Marbaniang, 2013

A Mysterious Encounter

The dim lights flickered on the street as I turned in the key and got inside my house. It was dark. So, I reached my hand to turn on the lights when I heard a strangely sweet but cynical voice,

“Would you really do that? For the moment you do that you’ll die!”

My heart stopped for a moment and chilly sweat drops broke onto my forehead. I felt numb and powerless. I shuddered, wanting to open the door and flee but was motionless. Then into the pale moonlight creeping through the window walked the tall silhouette of a woman dressed in a dark robe and a hood pulled over. By her waist hung the appearance of a sheathed sword.

“Sit down!” she ordered. I slumped into the chair.

“Who are you?” I mumbled to ask.

She walked out of the silhouette and came closer to me. She had the venomous fragrance of a thousand roses from the vale of death.

“Would you really know me? Yet, I am not unknown to any human and my praise echoes in the corridors of the darkest regions. Light and wisdom are dalliances of leisure. I reign in the deepest realities of mortal hearts. And, deep beneath the outward mask of their talks of reason, boils the volcanic furnace of my invincible treason. I am the invincible one, the all sovereign, the orchestrator of all vice, the mother of Death! By me are wars raged, cities ravaged, and histories erased. By me is order and confusion, darkness and light. For me are cities built, economies constructed, markets invented, and commodities made. My voice do all mortals obey; princes and paupers, sinners and saints, preachers and hearers, the wise and the fool: they make no difference to me – all have bled under my blade. My kingdom is the largest and my servants as numerous as the stars of the sky. Would there be anyone who would heap up words and statements to despise my strength, I would meet him in a place that he considers safest and there watch him turn pale, numb, powerless, and fall before my face. I invalidate their reason and falsify their beliefs by turning their bestial passions over them. My name is dreaded in the monasteries and shunned in the universities. Yet, none can escape my power; my venomous arrows lay plunged like barbed hooks in their hearts. They know me by different names in different lands. Some call me good and some call me bad, some call me natural and others call me infernal [she laughed sinisterly here]; a few think I am a kind of disease that must be cured…”

She touched the hilt of her blade, pulled it a little and pushed it back – my heart thumped.

“I am Sin.” She said.

At this moment my mind felt like a black hole; it almost felt that it would explode from the pressure of confusion and tedious emptiness that increased with every word I heard.

“Sin?” I muttered.

She unsheathed her sword and it dazzled in the moonlight. She raised it towards me, I cringed; she said:

“Shouldn’t you see the world of the neither-not,

Where ideas live and where battles are fought?

To a world unseen; to the world of thought;

To the world where now rests your lot

To remain with me and be conveyed across

These fringes of time to Death’s Dark House!”

And, she turned her sword and there seemed to be worms of light rushing over the blade in such velocity that within the twinkling of an eye there were sparks, a blaze, a crackling explosion and I found myself standing on an endless bridge over an endless ocean. There was no sun or moon or star above, but the sky was filled with a pale reddish light resembling a dusky evening all over. The only difference was that this evening seemed to be endless. There were people of all sorts walking over the broad bridge, and there were dim lamp posts, sign posts, every here and there. Many people were reading the posts as they walked; some looked confident, but most appeared confused. For a moment, I was caught away in watching the people and the things around, but then my eyes fell on two young men fighting with each other with switchblades in hand and I remembered the lady and the vision, but couldn’t understand what was happening. I thought to myself, “This must be a dream” and so pinched myself to wake me up, but I was still there on that endless bridge, seemingly all lost.

The two young men had now reached at a handbreadth of me as they yelled and struck at each other. One of them was about to tip over me, but I held out my hands to hold him and cried, “Stop! Stop! Stop it! Why do you fight?”

He pushed me away and I staggered to fall, but then I felt that some hands had come behind me and restored my balance. I turned around and saw a heavy-built man who appeared to be a police officer. He didn’t look at me but rushed towards the young men, who on seeing him began to run away. He chased them for a few yards and then stopped and returned. I said, “You should have caught them; for, they’ll get away and find another place to fight and kill each other!”

“If one of them really needed to be defended, he would have submitted to me,” he replied. “If both of them really want to kill each other, then let them kill each other and die; for, we can’t keep them perpetually in jail anyway.”

“But shouldn’t you stop them from such evil, seeing that they are bent on killing themselves?”

“What difference is it to you and me, if they are up for a duel and have agreed to kill each other? They are a law unto themselves,” he replied.

“But, then if you allow this, then by the same token you ought also to allow it if everyone decided to kill each other; then, wouldn’t that be the greatest self-destruction of people, society, and humanity?”

He stared at me with a vexed glance and then said, “I think, stranger, that you’re wasting both your time and mine. You seem to have come here to tour this country and so seem to be having plenty of time; but I have none. Sorry, I have to go.” And so saying, he proceeded to go away in the direction from which he had come, opposite to that in which the two young men had gone; but then turning around while walking backwards away, he quipped, “If everyone in the world decided to kill each other, no law or law enforcement would be able to prevent them from doing so.” So he said and then turned around and walked away into the twilight.

I watched him disappear and was very much perplexed by what he had said. I didn’t feel it right that the two young men were left to the fate that their passions had triggered in their souls. Yet, I also knew that every man couldn’t have a policeman after him to stop him from an evil that he felt he had reasons to do, or at least, couldn’t avoid doing. “Don’t such ‘reasons’ solidify into rules and, when accepted on a major scale, become laws of society; so that what was once considered noble is today considered to be oppression?” I began to walk in the direction in which the two boys had fled, not knowing where to go. There were a greater number of people walking in that direction and it seemed safer to me to be with the crowd. I walked for a little while in this manner, but the more I walked, the longer the bridge seemed to grow, and I began to feel anxious and tired. I thought to stop and rest for a moment, and so went to the rail of the bridge and leaned on it with my arms, looking out at the vast expanse of the ocean.

“Are you lost?” a voice asked, and I turned around.

The Bridge of Time

The man was old and had a stern, rigid face. His flowing gray hair and beard were neatly groomed, and his robe was plain and dazzling white. The furrows on his forehead were deeply cut, seemingly produced by intense and constant thinking, and in his right hand he held a stone tablet with something engraved in it.

“Sir, some strange events have happened to me today,” I said, “You seem to me to be a wise man and perhaps you can solve these riddles that I’m entrapped in. I saw a lady dressed in black who called herself Sin [at this moment his eyes became tense, and my voice as well]; and all of a sudden I find myself in this bridge and can’t tell if it is a dream or if it is real. I do not know where to go and what to do!”

“Did you see the face of Sin?” he asked.

“No!” I answered, “She stopped me from turning on the light.”

“That’s right, for light quickens her fatal powers, and only Death can live in the presence of Sin.”

I was puzzled. He continued,

“Either Sin brings you to Death or Death takes you away from Sin; there is no other way around.”

I was perplexed. “Am I dead, then?” I asked. It seemed I had more reasons to think this so; though I was still wondering about the events that had only transpired a few moments ago.

“You are on the Bridge that leads to Life or Death,” he answered.

“Which is the direction to Life?” I quickly asked.

“There are no directions here. It all depends on what you do.”

“What I do?”

“Yes, what you do. There are many lamps and sign posts here that people of all kinds, wise in their own eyes, have hung or nailed in behind. These do the simple and unwise keenly peruse, admire, and try to emulate. But, they only tend towards confusion. The wise read my instructions and walk into the domain of Life.”

So saying, he walked to an empty post on the railing and inserted the stone tablet that he held into a casing on it, and suddenly out of the tablet beamed light. A few passersby stopped to look at the light and as soon as they had seen it, I saw a dark cloud envelop them, and in a moment they were gone. My knees trembled in confusion and fright.

The old man stared at me with cold indifference. “You may have wondered what has happened to them,” he said “They have looked at my light and have been claimed by Sin and Death. Everyone who looks at me sees himself as he is; and he who has seen himself is done with the Bridge of Time.”

“Who are you?” I asked.

“You’ve chosen to know me; and when you’ve seen me as I am, then you’ll know yourself and pass over this Bridge without having to decide what to do and where to go.”

“Who am I?” my lips uttered, in doubtful hesitation.

He laughed, and he laughed, and the laughter grew louder and wild till the whole bridge shook and I sat down to prevent losing balance. Then he looked at me with a piercing glance and said,

“You are nothing apart from what I declare of you. And, yet it is not I who make you. Every man is his own craftsman. For, like a potter who guides his hand over the clay to give it its shape, so does every man guide his actions to give his life its shape; and a man’s actions declare his identity. Mortal men choose to hide from my light under lamps they burn instead of me. They call themselves by names and titles that have no significance for eternity. They heap praises and amass praises under a delusive identity. But, every man’s action is brought to light; for no man can from my fiery eyes hide. I rule over brute nature, and the strongest and the fiercest in the distant galaxies submit to me. Yet, my scepter is stayed from the world of humans by their defection to my most hateful enemy, Hamartia, the dark robed lady who is also called Sin. With dark sorcery she blinds the eyes of these mortals so that they lose sight of me, and her dazzling sword spills the life from within their veins; and, yet do both her son and she know that her strength of destruction derives from me; for, it is not until she brings them under my bare light that she can carry them over this Bridge of Time to the Kingdom of Death. In fact, it is through me that even Sin has her identity.”

“What is your name and where do you live?” I asked.

“My name is Law and I am the code of this universe. By me do the heavenly bodies know their respective paths and revolutions, by me does the sun shine and the stars know to twinkle. I live in the velocity of the winds, the charge of the lightning, the sound of the thunder, and the dance of the waves. By me do the fish learn to swim, the deer learn to leap, and the birds learn to fly. By me are the colors of the rainbow, of the lily, and of the butterfly. It is I who determine the age of the moth and the mammoth alike. I am the code of Reason and the code of Nature; I am the code of Justice, of Pain and of Pleasure. I am the blueprint of the universe. By me are the foundations of great civilizations laid; departing from me, they crumble and fall. He who is spotless in me will live forever; but he who falters by a jot is unshielded to Death’s darts. I am blessing to the obedient and curse to the rebels; delight to the angels and distress to the devils. He who has known me has the key to the riddle of the universe. He who has known me has known himself.”

As he spoke those words, his countenance began to grow bright and his garments radiated such light that my eyes had difficulty to behold. Suddenly, his light beamed into the like of a giant luminous mirror and I saw my reflections on it in every contorted semblance. The light of the images pierced my soul with such heavy shafts that I pulled my arm over my eyes and fell to the ground with a loud cry. Then, a dark cloud enveloped me and everything blacked out.

The City of Magic

“Welcome!” said the voice.

I lifted up my eyes; Sin sat before me on a dark maroon throne. I was surprised because I could see her face now, and it didn’t look unfamiliar. She wore the airs of autonomy and the contours of carelessness; her eyes wore a rigid frown of despisal and distrust. She looked energetic, elegant, and elite. She wore a dark maroon royal robe and had a crown of sparkling diamonds on her head. The throne she sat on had engravings of different living creatures; the hood over the crest bore the semblance of a peacock’s feathers widespread, the resting arms projected with the heads of two lions, the apron or waist of the throne was girded with the semblance of a viper, and on the two outer sides beneath the arms were engravings of goats and swine in various postures; the footstool was shaped like a toad, and six statues of lions guarded the steps to the throne, three on the right and three on the left. Over the canopy and on the walls around were oil lamps flickering with dim flames; the lamps had the appearance of tortoise shells. I saw that the walls were draped with hangings of intricate and exotic design and the floor was a glassy mosaic of yellow and brown resembling a chess board. The room was palatial and vast.

“You like this place,” she observed. I noticed that I didn’t have any fear. She didn’t look unfamiliar.

“I don’t know,” I replied.

She smirked. “It doesn’t matter,” she said with a smug, “you’re already here.”

“What is this place?” I asked.

“This is the City of Magic,” she said, “where dreams come true and thoughts ride on wings of fantasy; where objects appear at the wish of the heart and images walk out of paint into reality. Here Time is unknown and Boredom is a name despised. This is my City on the fringes of Time, the shelter of angels and the stronghold of man. Here children grow wise and the young acquire skill; they ride on fire and on the wings of the wind.”

“Why am I here?” I coldly asked.

She smiled and said, “Because you belong here!” I felt confused. But she continued, “Don’t be afraid of anything. Feel at home and be at ease; for in a moment of this sequence you’ll see everything.”

I didn’t like her smile because it looked like the smile of triumph over me, and yet somehow it also seemed that she had triumphed. I felt like I had lost my world to her. She smiled again as if she read my thoughts and said, “You think too much, young man; it will hurt your brain. You need to forget the past and learn to live in the present.”

“I must go back,” I said.

“You ask for the dripping rain drops to return to their clouds.”

“But, don’t they someday?”

“If a bullet fired can return by itself to its barrel and an arrow shot can return to its bow, then may Time be reversed and you return to the place you wish to go.” I despised the talk but felt helpless, yet also knew now that it was worthless talking to someone who I believed had caused this all. She, apparently, read my feelings and sneered.

Then she smugly said, “I can read hurt and hatred in your eyes; this is a good sign – they are my marks of strength.” I scowled. She smiled. “Can’t you see that you’re entering my world,” she said, “You’ll find this one much more meaningful.” Then, placing her fingers on the heads of the lions on the arms of the throne, she began to softly brush their heads; and suddenly, it seemed that all the heads of the lions twisted and gave a growl. She smiled. Then, they began to roar and it seemed that fire came from their mouths, but in that very instant she and her throne with the lions and the entire chamber faded like the blending of images into the view of a heavily trafficked street with high buildings on both sides of the road, and I saw that I was standing in the pathway of the pedestrians leaning against a railing facing the road. There were big cars and motors of various kinds madly rampaging the streets; while men, women, and children were running as if they didn’t have time. There were shops and offices of various kinds in the buildings by which I surmised that this may be a market place. It was also dark and there were heavy street lamps burning profusely and lighting up the street.

“No beggars are allowed here,” I heard somebody shout. I turned right and saw a short, stout, man who by his uniform appeared to be a policeman. He was looking at me threateningly. I caught the direction of his eyes and looked at myself and was surprised that my clothes were torn and murky and all rags. I felt deeply embarrassed. He looked rudely at me and I understood his gesture to move away from that place. The lights were beaming thick and hard; and, I had an urgent desire to hide from the world. I felt my hind pockets on the ragged trousers and was amazed that my wallet was there. I took it out thinking, “I may not have removed it when these things happened.” I examined the few notes in it and was surprised that they were different and had the image of Sin in it and the signature of a Governess named Avaritia. Things looked confused and it was hard to say if the world felt really unreal or unreally real.

After a little while, I reached the end of the street and saw a garments store. It had a luminous name board over it with the words “Liberal Garments”. I entered in and saw that it was certainly a huge store with clothing departments of various kinds. But, since I was in great embarrassment because of my condition and didn’t like the way I looked in the mirrors all over the store, I quickly turned to a place where there weren’t many people and began searching for a shirt. I picked up a shirt and trousers and went inside the trial room to try and change.

In the trial room, I looked in the mirror and saw the rags. They looked horrible. So, I caught hold of them to remove them, but I couldn’t. There was something that made it difficult for me to remove them. I began to sweat and shiver, and was doing all I could to remove the rags, but nothing helped. I tried in that manner for perhaps 30 minutes; then, suddenly I heard some voices outside.

“It seems somebody’s inside!” a voice said.

“It’s been locked for over 15 minutes now,” another replied.

“Knock the door! A queue is building up,” I heard someone say.

There was a rap on the door. At that instant I looked in the mirror and a lion’s translucent face growled off my rags on the mirror. I shut my eyes. Then, immediately I put on the shirt and trousers just over the rags and came out of the room trying to act as normal as I could. I went to the counter, paid the price and walked out.

A Cop and a Map

I felt thoroughly uncomfortable with the rags inside, but tried to appear as comfortable as possible on the outside. Someway, however, it seemed too difficult and I was afraid to be embarrassed. The chain of events was a tangle too hard for me to resolve and I wished to get out of this dream world. But, it didn’t look as much as a dream anymore. I was afraid it was real. I was walking on the footpath thinking of all these things when I spotted a policeman. So, I walked up to him to make few queries.

“Hello, Sir!” I greeted, “Do you know where I can get a map or something that’ll help me know a bit about this city. Also, I would like to find a place to stay for the night.”

“What do you mean by “night”?” he asked.

I raised my brow in surprise. “Why, night is the hour when the sun is not up and it is dark,” I said.

“And, what is this sun?” he returned.

I was a little puzzled and it first seemed that this might be a joke; but, he looked stern and serious, so I wondered if the people here never saw the sun.

“Is it always dark here?” I asked.

He looked at me angrily and said, “Go away to your home, young man! You seem to be overdrunk.”

“I don’t have any home here, “I replied, “aren’t there any hotels?”

“Hotels?” he retorted with a questioning look on his face, “What gibberish are you talking? Get away from here, or you’ll be put to bond-work for losing your mind!” he shouted.

“Okay, okay!” I said, “At least I can get a map!” I said.

He looked irritated. “Keep your eyes on your head, young man! There’s a book store there,” he pointed to a shop across the street.

“Thanks!” I replied and left in the direction of the store. I found a little book there with the title “City Guide”. It had maps in it and what appeared to be rules of the city. I bought the book, and sitting down on a little bench on the sidewalk, opened it to peruse. The maps depicted the city as one which was very well-planned. The city appeared to be a regular hexagon with a diagonal measuring 60 miles. It was divided into 7 divisions with what seemed to be the Administrative Block called Superbia in the center. The Market area was a 3 miles thick area that ran around the periphery of the Superbia. From each side of the hexagonal center around the Market began each of the other 6 divisions of the city. Two main roads separated the Market from the divisions and the Administrative Block. Six other main roads branched off from the upper main road to separate each block from the other.

I tried to locate myself on the map and observed that I had walked up to here from somewhere on a street that branched off from the road that ran around Superbia. I was sitting on the street whose direction was straight towards Ira, and I was four streets away (around 5 miles) from the main road that ran through the Market between Ira and Luxuria. I calculated that I might be around 2.5 miles away from Ira and, so turning to the page of its map found that it was interplay of several buildings divided by little streets. There was a page that talked of the administrative structure of the city, and I noticed that each block was governed by an official by whose name that respective block was also called. There was also a square in each block, and a great amphitheater in Superbia. In Superbia, also, was the palace of the King Sarx and his wife, the Queen Hamartia. When I read her name, a hateful feeling ran through my nerves and I shut the book down. I absent-mindedly gazed on to the street for some time; then, suddenly, my mind returned and I noticed that I was gazing at the policeman across the street. I opened the book again, this time to the page where the rules of the city were mentioned and began to read these lines:

Rules for the Citizens of the City of Magic

1. Each block is governed by a governor who is appointed by Her Excellency, the Queen of Magic. Every citizen is expected to submit to the rule of the governors without any exception of any kind.

2. No citizen is to engage in any discussion or conversation that repudiates the reality of Kingdom of Magic and/or the authority of the Queen. Any citizen found involved in such treason shall be declared a traitor and his fate resolved in the Court of Ira. May the ire of infernal fires fall on and destroy such an inhuman being! He has confederated with our Archenemy, and may his end become a horripilating warning for others!

3. No citizen is permitted to be seen outside his home in rags.

4. All markets, businesses, jobs, and generation of income are under the purview of the King. No citizen will withhold any information regarding his income and possessions nor fail to pay the due taxes to the King’s treasury.

5. Littering is strictly prohibited. Citizens must cooperate with the government to keep the City clean.

6. Citizens are prohibited to climb over or attempt to peep over the walls surrounding the City.

I stopped here. “So, this city has walls,” I thought. “There must be a way out!” The rags inside made me feel very uneasy and uncomfortable, and I squirmed. “I must get rid of these, first,” I said to myself and looked here and there not knowing what I was looking for. I turned to the map of the City again and looked at the main road leading to the end and culminating near the wall. I placed my finger there and said to myself “I must get there!” I wondered if anybody else had ever tried an escape; and I also still wondered if it was worth attempting this in case this was just a dream. But, the last rule that I had read drove this curiosity deep.

“You think you have figured it out, don’t you?” I heard a voice ask. I turned aside and saw a man standing above and at my side with a hood pulled over his head almost covering his eyes. I studied his face for a few seconds and thought that I had seen him somewhere. Then, all of a sudden I remembered something and my face grew pale.

The Red Book

“Come with me!” Law said and turned to walk.

I followed his quick steps on the sidewalk. From the corner of my eye I could see people pulling out their umbrellas, and there were flashes of lightning and a deep thunder roll. The sky moaned, groaned, rumbled, and turned moist; then, thick drops of water started pattering on my head and hands and my back as I kept my eyes and pace fixed after Law. I didn’t want to miss him. My mind thought, “If he could only get me back to the Bridge; perhaps, there could be some reversal… he certainly knows the way out; or else, how could he reach here…” He seemed to be running now, and I was amazed at his agility as he dodged pedestrians, vendors, benches, and stalls and trotted through complex streets and alleys. The raindrops had grown bigger, heavier, and faster, and people began to run helter and shelter, some going inside the shops for cover from the rain. We entered a dark alley, and I had the feeling that I was being followed, but didn’t dare to look back since I didn’t want to lose sight of the one before me. Suddenly, Law jumped into the right into a dark entrance, and I jumped after him.

We heard voices outside. “Where have they disappeared?” someone cried.

“Why has the sky eaten them up?” another rebuked. “You shouldn’t have lost sight of them!”

“What were YOU doing?”

“They went in here somewhere!”

“Can anyone run through a thick wall?”

I heard a stick tap on the entrance; it seemed like the sound of a tap on a stony wall.

“Somewhere here,” I heard a voice say. Then there were the sounds of fading footsteps. There were cracklings and flashes of light.

“Who are they and why were they after us?” I asked him.

“The Mystery of Lawlessness,” he replied “they are the agents of Sin, the men of iniquity.”

“Why were they after us?”

“To annihilate me.” There was that same sternness and indifference in his eyes. “But, that is impossible; for, I pervade the universe and to try to annihilate me is like trying to cut the branch one is sitting on. I was not running for myself, but for you.”

“For me?” I replied. I was drenched in the rain and now began to shiver as the rags inside began to chew on my flesh. I just wanted to remove and throw them all off. I looked at Law in the flashes of the lightning and was surprised that he was not wet at all. The rain didn’t touch him.

He was looking at me as if reading my thoughts. “I must be quick here,” he said. “As for your curiosity about the walls; they are not the way out.”

“Then, why does their rule book prohibit it?”

“Is it a rule book at all? The rules of this city are all farce; they are meant to only cover the treacherous nature of Sin and Flesh, whom they call here Sarx… They prohibit it to keep the people in deception; there is nothing beyond the walls; it’s an absolute void out there.”

“So what is the way out?” I was grave and was shivering.

He held out his right hand and placed it on my shoulder. Immediately, my clothes dried; but the rags tightened hard over my skin. I almost felt I would cry out in pain; but, I only grimaced and he sternly looked at the pain in my eyes. He removed his hand and began to say,

“I am the Law of sickness and the Law of healing, the Law of rifting and the Law of sealing. I am the Law of the crest and also the Law of the trough, the Law of the rain and the Law of the drought. Wiser and prudent are they who consult me for answers to their problems instead of resorting to the governors of this City; for he who has known Law has found the gemstone that unlocks the mysteries of the universe.” He put his hands on both my arms and caught them in his palms. “Look into my eyes,” he said “and you will find the answer.”

I looked and behold his eyes were windows looking into the black outer space with whirling galaxies. The whirling started slow, then intensified, ending up in a giant explosion, a boom and then there was silence and absolute nothingness. Then, I saw a flood of light that flooded the universe, and could see a boat sailing over the light. I looked closely and could see the face of the boatman. It was Law. He sailed and he sailed rowing with the oar once this way and then that way. The oar looked like a sword. Suddenly, I saw that his oar was ripped away from his hands and flew and was caught by a giant shadow. The shadow grew large and I saw that it grew into a monster that began to swallow up the flood of light. There were shrieks of laughter and shrieks of war. I saw Law standing tall, straight, with outstretched arms while his boat kept drifting in the current of the flood into the mouth of the monster. Then, suddenly the sun appeared like a fiery ball and covered Law so that what appeared now looked like the figure of a man made of fire, and then I saw that they both drifted closer to the mouth of the monster. There were fiery flames darting off from the sun, and as they drew close to the mouth, I saw the figure of fire reach out his hand like a dart of flame and snatch away the sword from the shadowy monster, then plunge it back into the monster’s head. There was a mighty quaking; then the whole flood of light along with the sun and Law gulped into the throat of the shadow, and there was darkness everywhere. Suddenly, there was an explosion of brilliant light and it seemed that the shadow of the monster, which now appeared only for a twinkling of the eye, was fully swallowed up by the exuberant brightness of the light; and, in an instant there was such strong radiance everywhere that I turned my face and closed my eyes with my hands over them. Then, there was absolute silence and I began to hear the pattering of the rain.

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