After the harrowing battle with the men chasing Nizar we patched everyone up as much as possible and rested up for the next days ride on our way back to Verona. The wagon of pitch was slowing us down but the next couple of days went without incident. Of course the respite was not too last.
We made camp a bit off the road and before it was my time for guarding I was awoken and told riders were coming. We had to wait only a few minutes before hearing the hoof-beats and moments later the tremble of the ground from a pack men and women on horses driving their mounts at an unforgivable rate. The horses were lathered and some looked near death as the mass of riders approached. Someone saw that they were the horde that was chasing Nizar and that the front rider was one of the dual-scimitar wielding nightmares. He has tons of small cuts that appeared to still be bleeding all over him. Nizar said the horses they are riding were built for long days of travel and that they were faster than our horses here. He said they had to pushing them at a run for close to 8 hours for them to look as they do.
When he told us this I got a knot in my stomach. They were running. These men who, like Nizar, did not seem to fear death and who are unbelievable in their speed and skill with those blades, those men, were running. It was fear that drove them. I knew it, because I am well acquainted with fear. I do not want to see what has driven these men to the point of driving their mounts to death just to get away.
Nizar’s raven flew back and the poor things was obviously scared out of it’s little mind. I thought I heard it say “RUN! NOW!” in Arabic. Ha, now whose out of their mind? But even the bird seems smart enough to be afraid. The others do not have quite the sense of fear or perhaps borderline panic that I and the bird have. They want to take the fancy glass tube and see if they can spot what is chasing them. I am staying with the wagon and Dominic. We head out while Nizar and Fredrich head to the hilltop and try to get a look at what is chasing them.
They catch up to us very shortly after they left and said that the horse was panicked and trying to buck the rider and then it finally collapsed and the rider appeared to kneel down and begin eating it. EATING IT!!! What in the world? A plague victim caused this much panic. No way. Those riders would not have run from one single plague victim. There must be more too it.
I do not want to know though, so on we ride. We ride through until dawn and then rest until after noon. We then get back on the rode and make it to Verona just as the dawn is breaking.
Home sweet home. Ahh to finally be back in our house and to sleep in my own bed. Carine makes a wonderful breakfast and we head to bed for a few hours of rest. When I get up Nizar says that Rosa stopped by like we asked and that he told her what happened on the road and about the next mission Cangrande is sending us on. He said Rosa thought is was a plague victim and said they would be sure and not let them in the city.
A plague victim?!! “Did you mention how an entire horde or what was left of them were running their horses to death to get away from this little plague victim? A man whose skill with those scimitars is frightening, THAT man was running in FEAR? Did you mention that to Rosa?” sigh He did not tell her about that. He mentioned him eating the horse but not THAT!! I do not think this is over.
We took care of some selling and repairing and such and got the new armor appraised. It must be good because Nizar seems happy about it and he is never happy about anything. We look into getting more pitch and it turns out that stuff is really expensive. Apparently we will be picking it up in the morning before heading out of town. The men took care of all that and we returned home. That evening we all went to sleep in our own beds. ahhh
What would a night be without a blood curdling scream to wake up to? But this seems different. This sounds like the men in the barracks and Carrine. They are terrified. Oh no HE must be here! The plague victim that no one seemed overly concerned about is now terrorizing all the servants and guards of our home. And none of the men are ready for a fight.
I ran to Dominic’s room to help him get his armor on as fast as possible. He tells me the plate will take to long and grabs his chain shirt instead. I only hope the others are preparing as well. I can’t imagine anyone slept through the screaming. I was adjusting Dominic’s armor ….
Why is it raining in my bed? No not rain what is it? The drops are black and not wet, but cold. I scramble back and pull the covers up tight to my chin and wait. What am I waiting for? The droplets are swirling now they are forming something…
It is a man, he is shadow and darkness, he terrifies me. I can’t move!! panic He is reaching for me. I want to yell but I have no voice I can not speak or move and sit paralyzed in my own bed. My skin is tearing along my veins and blood vessels….oh the agony…all over my body the blood is running now…why? Who is this man? NO! It can’t be…how has he done this to me…I am dying.
The image becomes clearer and it is a man in the red robes of a Cardinal in the Church of Christ. It IS HIM!! NOOOOO!! Help me. Dominic help…Nizar My blood is is leaving the tears in my skin and joining the swirling…
He is speaking but it sounds like the crackling and hissing of coals in a fire. “All that is done cannot be undone. What I have taken will remain mine until the end of days when brother will fight brother and the heavens are torn from the sky. It is I that will bear witness to the ascension of those wrongly cast down.”
No he is coming closer again. What is that about his neck? The cross it is wrong. It is upside down but what or who……cringe
He is fading he is leaving. Will I live? He is saying something as he fades…
“You will be the first martyr for your failed cause!”
Where am I? Why am I on the table? Where is everyone? The screams, oh no my friends. They are screaming. Is that man killing them all? I must get to them I need to help. I have let them down. He is going to take all my friends from me. “It is the Cardinal! It is the Cardinal, he did this.”
What in God’s name? There are plague victims everywhere and they are awful. They look like they should be dead already. I must help! Some of my friends are terrified and I don’t see Nizar or Dominic. Oh please be okay.
I say a prayer to my lord for courage and inspiration and I sing with all that I have in me.