This is the prologue to the book I wrote. It is the first book in the series, The Four Brothers. If people will be interested i'll upload more chapters. PROLOGUE - CROSSING WORLDS Luigi peered at the dark street from a crack in the door. He squinted his old eyes at the darkest corners, alert for any motion or sound. There was none, just as the night before and every night for the past month on his street in Florence. Slowly, he closed and locked the door, then leaned a heavy wood beam against it to ensure that no one could enter the small house. Staring at the barricaded door, he recalled how he had become so afraid in his own home. But, he did not have time to ponder that. He took a few steps in the darkness and lit a small candle that was near the door. The feeble dancing flame spread a faint yellow light around the room. The light was so weak that it faded to nearly nothing. It was important that no light escaped through the windows. He climbed fifteen slender steps to the second floor and crossed through his small bedroom to an even smaller, darker room, his study. Here, too, he closed and locked the door behind him. He shoved a chair under the door handle for extra measure. Luigi glanced around his study where he wrote scholarly articles and texts. His small desk was usually covered with book manuscripts and other papers; however, a month ago, he moved all the papers to the floor to clear his desk for a new task. With shaking hands he lifted the candle and nervously approached a tall mirror covered by an old quilt in a corner of the room. He moved the candle slowly around the mirror to check that the quilt was covering every inch, so no part of the glass was visible. Then he walked to the desk and placed the candle on it. Again, he looked around the dark room and strained to hear any suspicious sound from the street below. When Luigi was sure he was alone and that the street was asleep, he lifted up one of the floorboards, revealing a hidden compartment. He pulled a thick book and an old scroll from it and slowly stood up, leaving the compartment open. 'If I hear anything, I may have enough time to hide the book again, and save my life,' he thought. He took the book and scroll to the desk, sat down, and opened them to where he had left off the night before. This was his last night with the scroll. He had to finish copying it before sunrise, as instructed by "the shadow" exactly one month ago. Recalling his meeting with the shadow made the skin on his back crawl. He anxiously glanced at the mirror again, then dipped his quill in the ink and gently placed it on the fresh vellum pages of the book. Luigi did not understand the language of the scroll. As a scholar, he had contemplated this many times over the last month. It was not Italian or Latin, or the language of the Jews or Muslims. It was written from left to right; that he was sure about. He wondered if it was a language brought by sailors from the end of the world, beyond the sea. He even tried to identify the hide of the scroll, but like the many colorful drawings in it, the hide was something he had never seen before. It was a very high-quality material that did not match any of the scrolls in his study or any he had seen in the Great Library. When he finished copying the last page, Luigi leaned back and slowly leafed through the two hundred and ninety pages of text and drawings. Other than the vivid colors of the drawings, which he could not re-create, he had made a very good copy of the original scroll. Good, but not perfect. For self-preservation, he did not copy every detail of the drawings -- like the naked women with horns bathing in the river, and the plants with eerie human-like faces and hands. Rumors of the return of the Inquisition and their interrogations compelled him to omit those details so as not to offend the Christians. He did not want to stand in front of the Pope’s guards and explain his "devil-worshiping" book. Although he did not know what the book was about, the drawings could not be explained in any other way. His fear of torture won out over his fear of the shadow. Just as Luigi closed the book he heard a small squeaking sound. It did not come from the street or from the room beyond the locked door. It was there, in the dark study, with him. He lifted his eyes and looked at the quilt over the mirror. With no windows in the room, there was no reason for the quilt to move, but it did. Like a wave on the sea, it rolled and swayed until it revealed part of the mirror. A hand, dark as the night, reached out of the mirror as if it were an open window and pushed the quilt away. A dark figure in a long, black cloak slowly stepped through the mirror into the room. Its face was hidden by a large black hood, but two shiny sapphire eyes were visible in the darkness. Luigi had met this figure before – a month ago, when it gave him the scroll and instructed him to copy it. Refusing to believe in demons, he referred to the figure as “the shadow.” The shadow glided to the desk and bent his head over the book and scroll. As if a hundred men were whispering in unison, he said, “I see that you have finished.” Luigi only nodded. Fear prevented him from speaking to the shadow. The shadow stretched out his dark hand and took the scroll. “You did well, Mr. Luigi. You are a free man," he said, dropping four gold coins on the desk. The coins were Roman, but a new Ottoman Empire impression covered Emperor Constantine’s profile. A sour taste filled Luigi’s mouth, the taste of betrayal of his people and country. He could no longer be silent. “Is this a book of witches and demons to help the Turks conquer Constantinople?” he asked with contempt, more for himself than the shadow. “No,” the shadow whispered in his shivering voice, “The new empire of the East is unified behind another book in their quest to destroy and conquer. The book you have copied is much more important. When the time is right, it will save your species!” Shivering with fear, but determined to learn more, Luigi asked, "What is this book? What name shall I give it?” “This is the third scroll of Acheron. But it would not be wise to name the book, as the Great Plague will find it.” After saying this, the shadow placed the scroll inside his cloak, turned, and glided back to the mirror. “What should I do with the book?” Luigi asked, knowing how dangerous it was should the book be discovered in his hands. “Keep it!” The shadow commanded before vanishing into the mirror. Luigi watched the empty mirror until his fear abated; but it was immediately replaced by a strong suspicion that something very bad had happened. He sat and stared at the devil’s book he had created until the candle burned out.