Inferno by Dan Brown
Along the banks of the river Arno, I scramble, breathless … turning left onto Via dei Castellani, making my way northward, huddling in the shadows of the Uffizi.
And still they pursue me.
Their footsteps grow louder now as they hunt with relentless determination.
For years they have pursued me. Their persistence has kept me underground … forced me to live in purgatory … laboring beneath the earth like a chthonic monster.
I am the Shade.
Here aboveground, I raise my eyes to the north, but I am unable to find a direct path to salvation … for the Apennine Mountains are blotting out the first light of dawn.
I pass behind the palazzo with its crenellated tower and one-handed clock … snaking through the early-morning vendors in Piazza di San Firenze with their hoarse voices smelling of lampredotto and roasted olives. Crossing before the Bargello, I cut west toward the spire of the Badia and come up hard against the iron gate at the base of the stairs.
Here all hesitation must be left behind.
I turn the handle and step into the passage from which I know there will be no return. I urge my leaden legs up the narrow staircase … spiraling skyward on soft marble treads, pitted and worn.
The voices echo from below. Beseeching.
They are behind me, unyielding, closing in.
They do not understand what is coming … nor what I have done for them!
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