Page 1 of Also by Diana Gabaldon (in order of publication) THE OUTLANDER SERIES OUTLANDER DRAGONFLY IN AMBER VOYAGE. #2 An Echo in the Darkness: Turning away from the opulence of Rome, Marcus is led by a whispering voice from the past into a journey that could set him free. An Echo in the Darkness. Mark of the Lion. by Francine Rivers. ebook #2 An Echo in the Darkness: Turning away from the opulence of Rome, Marcus is led from the past into a journey that could set him free from the darkness of his soul.
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An echo in the darkness by Francine Rivers; 2 editions; First published in ; Subjects: In library, Protected DAISY, Women slaves in fiction. An echo in the darkness. by Rivers, Francine, Publication date Borrows. 4 Favorites. DOWNLOAD OPTIONS. download 1 file. Read An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers for free with a 30 day free trial. Become a member today and read free for 30 days. Download to App.
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This classic series has inspired nearly 2 million readers. Both loyal fans and new readers will want the latest edition of this beloved series. This edition includes a foreword from the publisher, a preface from Francine Rivers and discussion questions suitable for personal and group use. Turning away from the opulence of Rome, Marcus is led by a whispering voice from the past into a journey that could set him free from the darkness of his soul.
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Taking up the towel, Alexander wiped the blood from his hands and walked calmly toward him. He leaned against the iron-grated gate and looked out at the hot sand. She was too far gone. How long will this match last? The guard assessed the opponents. Thirty minutes, maybe more.
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But there will be no survivor this time. Alexander frowned with feigned impatience and tossed the bloodstained towel aside. As he walked past the table, he picked up his leather case. He strode along the torchlit corridors, curbing the desire to hurry. His heart beat more quickly with each step.
As he came out into the sunlight, a gentle breeze brushed his face. Startled, he glanced behind. He had heard the words clearly, as though someone whispered urgently in his ear. But no one was there.
His heart pounding, Alexander turned toward his home and began to run, urged on by a still, small voice in the wind. Rome was depressing. He had forgotten the stench of the polluted Tiber and the oppressive, mingled humanity. Or maybe he had never before noticed, too involved in his own life and activities to care. Over the past few weeks since returning to the city of his birth, he had spent hours wandering the streets, visiting places he had always enjoyed before.
Downcast and needing distraction, he agreed to attend the games with Antigonus. His friend was now a powerful senator and held a place of honor on the podium. Marcus tried to still his emotions as he entered the stands and found his seat. But he could not deny he felt uncomfortable when the trumpets began blaring.
His chest tightened and his stomach became a hard knot as the procession began. He wondered if he could stomach watching them now. It was painfully clear that Antigonus was more obsessed with them than he had been when Marcus left Rome, and he was betting heavily on a gladiator from Gaul.
Several women joined them beneath the canopy. Beautiful and voluptuous, they made it apparent within moments of their arrival that they were as interested in Marcus as in the games. Something stirred in Marcus as he looked at them, but disappeared as quickly as it came.
He found no amusement in their idle, vain conversation. Tell another one, one of the women laughed, obviously enjoying the crude joke Antigonus had just related to them. Everyone but Marcus. He sat silent, filled with disgust.
They dress up like vain peacocks and laugh like raucous crows, he thought as he watched them all. One of the woman moved to recline beside him. She pressed her hip against him enticingly. The games always stir me, she said with purring softness, her eyes dark. Repulsed, Marcus ignored her. She only sickened him further.
He looked at her, making no effort to hide his feelings, but she was oblivious. She simply continued her intended seduction with all the subtlety of a tigress pretending to be a housecat. All the while, the bloody games went on unabated. Antigonus and the women laughed, mocked, and shouted curses down on the victims in the arena. Sickened by what he was seeing, he turned to drink for escape. He drained cup after cup of wine, desperate to drown out the screams of those in the arena.
And yet, no amount of the numbing liquid could hold off the image that kept coming to his mind. He had hoped the wine would deaden him. Instead, it made him more acutely aware. Around him, the masses of people grew frenzied with excitement. Antigonus caught hold of one of the women, and they became entangled. Unbidden, a vision came to Marcus.
He remembered how he had brought her to the games her first time and laughed at the burning excitement in her dark eyes. As soon as he was able, he ran—as he had in Ephesus. He wanted to get away from the noise, away from the smell of human blood.
Pausing to get his breath, he leaned his shoulder against a stone wall and vomited. Hours after the games were over, he could still hear the sound of the hungry mob screaming for more victims. The sound echoed in his mind, tormenting him. And a terrible, black emptiness. Have you been avoiding us?
Antigonus said a few days later when he came to pay Marcus a visit. Everyone was looking forward to seeing you. I had work to do. Marcus had thought to return to Rome permanently, hoping against hope that he would find the peace he so desperately longed for. He looked at Antigonus and shook his head.
And why do you look so annoyed? What happened to you there? You need distraction from these dark moods of yours. He became so cajoling, Marcus knew he would soon be asking for money.
All right, all right! Graciously said, Antigonus said mockingly, then rose to leave. He swept his robes around himself and made for the door, then paused and looked back at his friend in annoyance. Antigonus had neglected to tell him that Arria would be in attendance. Within moments of arriving, Marcus saw her. He gave Antigonus an annoyed look, but the senator merely smiled smugly and leaned toward him with a sly expression. She was your lover for almost two years, Marcus.
He laughed low. You look displeased. You did tell me you parted with her amicably. Arria was still beautiful, still intent on gaining the adoration of every male in the room, still amoral and eager for any new excitement.
However, Marcus saw subtle changes. The soft loveliness of youth had given way to a harder-edged worldliness.
She glanced across the room then, looking at Marcus in question. But he knew that smile for what it was: Antigonus leaned closer. See how she looks at you, Marcus. You could have her back with a snap of your fingers.
What he lacks in wit, he more than makes up for in money. Her book created quite a furor. Marcus said and gave a sardonic laugh.
Our little Arria had secret talents unbeknownst to us. A do-all, tell-all collection of stories.
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One senator lost his wife over it. Not that he minded the loss of the woman, but her family connections cost him dearly. Rumor has it he may be forced into suicide. Arria has never been what you would call discreet. She has scribes working night and day making copies of her little tome. The price for one copy is exorbitant. But of course, Antigonus said with a laugh. I wanted to see if she would mention me. She did. In chapter eleven. To my dismay, it was a rather cursory mention.
He glanced at Marcus with an amused smile. She wrote about you in detail—and at length. No wonder Sarapais was so enamored of you at the games the other day. She wanted to see if you were all Arria said you were.
He grinned. You should buy a copy for yourself and read it, Marcus. It might bring back a few sweet memories. Antigonus said, measuring him. I never loved Arria. Marcus turned his attention to the dancing girls undulating before him.
The bells on their ankles and wrists jingled, grating on his nerves. Rather than be aroused by the boldness of their sensual dance and transparently veiled bodies, he felt discomfited. He wished their performance would end and they would depart. Antigonus reached out to grasp one of the women and pulled her down onto his lap.
Despite her struggling, he kissed her passionately. When he drew back, he laughed and said to Marcus, Pick one for yourself. Others were watching Antigonus, laughing and calling out encouragement. Drunk and provoked, Antigonus became rougher in his determination to have his way.
The girl screamed. The room fell silent, all eyes staring at Marcus in astonishment. Laughing, Antigonus raised his head and looked at him in mild surprise.
His laughter died. Alarmed, he rolled to one side, releasing the girl. Antigonus regarded Marcus quizzically.
An echo in the darkness
My apologies, Marcus. Nor any other in this room. Gritting his teeth, Marcus bore their presence. She talked about their love affair as though it had ended yesterday and not four years before.
Merula glared at Marcus, who felt pity for the man. Arria had always enjoyed tormenting her lovers. Her eyes flashed. I lied about you, Marcus, she said, her face contorted with rage. You were the worst lover I ever had! Marcus grinned back at her coldly. Turning his back on her, he strolled away. Ignoring the names she called him, he left the garden.
Returning to the banquet, he looked for distraction in conversations with old acquaintances and friends. He heard the pettiness behind the amusing remarks, the relish as new tragedies were recounted.
Leaving the group, he reclined on a couch, drank morosely, and watched people. He noticed the games they played with one another. They put on masks of civility, all the while spewing their venom. And then it hit him. He had relished them.
Antigonus approached him, his arm thrown carelessly around a richly clad, pale-skinned girl. Her smile was sensual. She had the curves of Aphrodite, and for an instant his flesh responded to the dark intensity of her eyes.
It had been a long time since he had been with a woman. You like her. I knew you would. Removing his arm from around the woman, he gave her a gentle nudge, though she needed none.
Antigonus smiled, obviously pleased with himself. Her name is Didyma. The woman looked from him to her master in question, and Antigonus shrugged. He waved his hand carelessly in dismissal. You perplex me, Marcus.
No interest in women. No interest in the games. What happened to you in Ephesus? How have I offended you that you take on such a condemning air?
Damnable life! When Hadassah had died, something within him had died with her. How could he explain the wrenching, profound changes within himself to a man like Antigonus, a man still consumed and obsessed with fleshly passions?
How could he explain that everything had lost meaning to him when a common slave girl had died in an Ephesian arena? But no peace was to be found there, either. No matter how frenetically he worked, he was still tormented. Finally, he knew he had to be clear of the past, of Rome, of everything. He sold the rock quarry and the remaining building contracts—both at sizable profit, though he felt no pride of satisfaction in his gain. He met with managers of the Valerian warehouses on the Tiber and reviewed the accounts.
Marcus offered him the position of overseer to the Valerian holdings in Rome, with a generous percentage of the gross profits. Sextus was stunned.
There was subtle challenge and unspoken distrust in his words. Sextus assessed him through narrowed eyes. He had known Decimus well and had been long aware that Marcus had brought his father little but grief. What game was he playing now? He forced himself to remember this man had been a loyal friend to his father.
My father and I made our peace in Ephesus. The blood of my father runs in my veins, Sextus, he said coolly. You know by name the men who unload the ships and store the goods.
You know which merchants can be trusted and which cannot. Who better for me to trust? He held out the parchment. Sextus made no move to take it. Accept or decline, as you see fit, Marcus said, but know this: It was his sweat and blood that built this enterprise. Not mine. If you refuse my offer, I will sell. Have no doubts about that, Sextus. Sextus gave a harsh laugh. Rome is struggling to survive.
Right now, no one I know of has the money to buy an enterprise of this size and magnitude. Sextus saw he meant it and was stunned by such opportunistic thinking. How could this young man be the son of Decimus?
You have over five hundred people working for you! Freemen, most of them. Do you care nothing about them and the welfare of their families? I doubt you would carry this through.
And you would go so far? If what you said is true and you made your peace with your father, why would you tear apart what took him a lifetime to build? In the end, Father saw it all as vanity, and now I agree with him. He gestured toward the parchment. What is your answer? Sextus stiffened at such arrogance. Then he relaxed. His mouth curved faintly. He let out his breath and shook his head on a soft laugh.
You are very much like your father, Marcus. Even after he gave me my freedom, he always knew how to get his own way. Perhaps he had made his peace with his father after all and now regretted the wasted years of rebellion.
He took up the parchment and tapped it against his palm. Remembering the father, Sextus studied the son. I accept, he said, on one condition. He tossed the parchment onto the burning coals in the brazier and extended his hand. Over the long weeks of the voyage, he spent hours standing on the bow of the ship, the salt wind in his face. There, at last, he allowed his thoughts to turn again to Hadassah. He remembered standing with her on a bow like this one, watching the soft tendrils of her dark hair blowing about her face, her expression earnest as she spoke of her unseen god: God speaks.
Just as her voice seemed to speak to him now, still and small, whispering to him in the wind. He was torn between wanting to forget her and fear that he would. Her voice had become an insistent presence, echoing throughout the darkness in which he now lived.
Disembarking in Ephesus, Marcus felt no sense of homecoming or relief that the voyage was over. He was greeted by a surprised servant, who informed him that his mother was out but expected home within the hour. Weary and depressed, he went into the inner courtyard to sit and wait. Sunlight streamed down from the open roof into the atrium, casting flickering light on the rippling water of the ornamental pool.
The water sparkled and danced, and the comforting sound of the fountain echoed through the lower corridors. Yet there was no comfort for him as he sat in the shadows of a small alcove. He leaned his head back against the wall, trying to let the musical sound wash over and ease his aching spirit.
Instead, haunted by his memories, his grief grew until he felt almost suffocated by it. It had been fourteen months since Hadassah had died, yet the anguish of it swept over him as though it had been yesterday. She had often sat on this same bench, praying to her unseen god and finding a peace that still eluded him.
He could almost hear her voice—quiet, sweet, like the water, cleansing. She had prayed for his father and his mother. She had prayed for him. She had prayed for Julia! He shut his eyes, wishing he could change the past. If only that was all it took to bring Hadassah back again. If only he could speak her name, as an incantation, and make her, through the power of his love, rise from the dead.
What good did prayer do her? She had stood so calmly as the lion charged her. If she had screamed, he had not heard it above the din of cheering Ephesians. Now his pain was a constant solid mass within him, weighing him down. Sighing, Marcus stood.
Not today when he was so tired, bone-weary from the long monotonous sea voyage. Going to Rome had done nothing to obliterate the inertia he felt; it had only made life worse. Now here he was, back in Ephesus, no better off than the day he had left. The house was filled with silence, though there were servants in the household. He sensed their presence, but they had wisdom enough to keep their distance. The front door opened and closed.
He heard soft voices and then hurried steps coming toward him. You look well. He bent to kiss both cheeks. His smile lacked heart. Phoebe looked into his eyes, and her expression softened.
She lifted her hand gently to his cheek, as though he were a hurt child. Oh, Marcus, she said, full of compassion. He stepped back from her, wondering if every mother could look into the soul of her child as his own could. Phoebe followed his lead. Not in all cases, he said heavily and then veered his thoughts away from his sister. Iulius informed me you were taken with fever for several weeks. Marcus assessed her more closely. He said you still tire easily. You are thinner than last I saw you.
She laughed. You need not worry about me. She took his hand. You know I always worried when your father was on one of his long journeys. I suppose, now, I will be the same with you.
The sea is so unpredictable. She sat on the bench, but he remained standing. She saw he was restless and thinner, his face lined and harder.
How was Rome? Much the same. I saw Antigonus, with his retinue of sycophants.
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