Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death!

Fiction By Libby // 9/28/2018

April 25th, 1422
On the edge of Milan, Italy, in a stone dungeon, a large, silent shape made its way down a stairway by moonlight. The eleventh hour had just struck. The shape shuddered, almost imperceptibly, then continued on its way.

Two stories below him, an old, withered man slept, curled up against the cold walls of his imprisonment. A wrinkled hand clutched a small, dry piece of bread. A ridge of tooth-marks dug into his frostbitten fingers. His figure was pitifully slight, his strength sapped from long captivity. He slept undisturbed among the rubble.

The steps continued, patting the stonework lightly with leather thongs. The man awoke.

Alert to the shuffling noise above, he sat up.

A lamp flickered, casting a deep shadow of a man onto the crumbling walls of the cell. Suddenly, it sputtered and the light disappeared—the man did not.

“Old man, get up!” A gruff, demanding voice shattered the peaceful night. Obediently, the wizened man, back bent with fatigue and hunger, wearily struggled to his feet.

“Come with me.”

Up the flight of steps, and up another—then into the black of night, where stars, like pearls, gleamed in a velvet sky. With no light but the moon’s silver shadow to see by, the prisoner stumbled. Grunting, the old man, unaided, regained his footing and, breathing heavily, pursued the vanishing profile of his guard.

Around the streets of Milan they wove, in and out of the blanket of night. Then abruptly, they stopped.

The guard opened a wooden door in a side street, shoved his prisoner into the light beyond, and departed.

“Ah, so you’ve come,” said a smoothly silken voice from the fireplace. In a simply made, masterfully crafted oaken chair, a darkly handsome man with ebony hair, dressed in the garb of a priest, was reclining. A contented look rested on his face.

“Sergio!” the old man spat, the very name tasting acidic on his lips. “Do you run the whole city from this hole? Or do I now underestimate you?”

A dangerous gleam shot into the Sergio’s eyes. He smiled.

“You underestimate me, my friend.” His words dripped with mockery, a sardonic curl of the lip adding to the remark.

“You are a disgrace, Sergio! A disgrace to Italy, a disgrace to mankind! Your poor mother would roll over in her grave, I’m sure, if—”

“STOP!” Terror and rage stormed across the beautifully sleek countenance of the young man. “Never speak of her, you imbecile!” he snarled. “I have brought you here to ask you a question, not to hear your remonstrances! Now listen!” The fire in his eyes died down to a smolder, and his breathing grew forcibly calm. “Listen. If you pledge to me your life,” he stopped. “And your service, I will let you…live.”

Profound silence reigned.

The old man breathed laboriously.

Finally, he spoke. “Would I be free?”

“You would be alive!” shouted Sergio, struggling to hide his impatience. Gaining control over himself again, he added, “You are valuable – would be valuable to me. But you are much too valuable to be left alive if you choose to reject my terms.”

The stifled breathing continued. Suddenly, Sergio laid a tender hand of the man’s shoulder.

“Father,” he said, and his voice was soft. “Father, join me – and I will not need to kill you.”

The old man looked up.

“Sergio, how can you do this?” he whispered. “To yourself, to me, to your mother?”

Sergio swung his hand and knocked back his chair, rising to his feet. Anger seethed in his eyes. “What is your choice?” he demanded harshly. “Well?”

The old man rose to his feet, leaning on the wall for support. A solitary tear ran its course along the wrinkles of his withered cheek.

“Sergio, my son.” He stretched out a hand, but Sergio ignored it.

“Well, Father?”

“I…cannot, my son.” Sergio’s jaw tightened. For a moment, neither spoke, each staring into the other’s eyes.

“You know you will die.” It was Sergio who said this. He meant it to be stern, but it came out as a weak plea.

“I would rather die than live the life you offer,” his father said. There was no hatred in his words, only immense sorrow. “There are doubtless other who would take my place, Sergio, to serve you. Look elsewhere. But as for me,” he raised his chin for the last time, a proud gleam flashing in his eyes, “give me liberty, or give me death!”

Comments

I like it! It sounds really

I like it! It sounds really exciting! Makes me wonder what the surrounding story is. This would definitely be a good prologue for a book, as it sucked me in.
I’m not sure what you mean by ‘too obvious’. I can definitely tell what the famous quote is, but it fits with the context.
One typo at the very end. “There are doubtless other...” Probably should be ‘others.’ : )
Nice job, Libby!

Jill Levine Tyler | Mon, 10/01/2018

Jill L. Tyler

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

Oooh I like this Libby! Very

Oooh I like this Libby! Very well written! You captured the reader from the beginning! I also think that the quote does fit well in the context of the story as Jill already mentioned. I thought that it was well incorporated!

I do have one suggestion. Where it says:
"In a simply made, masterfully crafted oaken chair"

It almost seems like a contradiction to me when it says it was simply made but then masterfully crafted, but I could be wrong. Just a suggestion to think about. :)

Well done! I really liked it!

Joy J. | Fri, 10/05/2018

C.H. Spurgeon - "God’s mercy is so great that you may sooner drain the sea of its water, or deprive the sun of its light, or make space too narrow, than diminish the great mercy of God. "

Thank you both! I've

Thank you both! I've actually done a lot of work to revise this, but haven't posted those revisions yet, so I'll to get around to that. Thank you for your feedback - I do understand about the "simply made, masterfully crafted" line and will work on that. :) Thank you so much!

Libby | Mon, 10/08/2018

“The gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation.
Therefore, suffer, yes. Be misunderstood, yes. Be shamed, yes. But do not be ashamed. For the joy set before you, take up your cross, follow Jesus, be shamed and despise the shame!" -- John Piper

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