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A Return From the Crusade of Varna
“Denique reverses in domus sua,” loudly announced Egnatius as mounting off his horse. His heavy brown boots sank in the soft, mud-like ground, getting the leather finish on the bottom of the boots wet and muddy. Lightning and oceans of rain had been coming down all night; thus, creating seas of puddles and mountains of mud all throughout the landscape. He was standing under a large apple tree whose fruits were acting as food for the birds and bugs that had been awakened by the morning sunshine. Egnatius quickly took his sword out and turned around with agility and fear; false alarm, no one was there. He lifted his vision and pointed his sword at an apple growing on a tree above him, then in one powerful hit at the stem, made it fall at his feet. Together with the apple, fell all the dew that had been resting on the tree's leaves, making Egnatius’s knightly cape humid.
Ever since unsuccessfully trying to stop the expansion of the Ottoman empire in the Crusade of Varna, Egnatius had been trying to travel back to Rome. He had been a very successful crusader, killing dozens. These achievements on the battlefield were not positive for him in the long run, having a conversation with anyone was now a challenge to him, and no matter the circumstance he always felt attacked. He had gone through over two years now of travel, and after having experienced the freezing weather of the Alps, nothing could stop him anymore. He was almost at destination, but what he was about to find was unexpected and unpleasant...
Egnatius mounted back on his horse and took off towards his home, the victorious city of Rome. The sun was shining above him as he arrived at the outer border of the city. He led his horse through the streets of the capital all the way to his house. In his mind he wondered why very few people were outside, and how much the people had become colder while he was gone. He finally arrived at his villa, and for the first time in several years, entered it. He spent the following day resting in his Cubiculum. Egnatius woke up several times throughout the night with an anxious feeling that there was a traitor in his bedroom ready to assassinate him.
Cortisol and adrenaline were flowing in his veins, despite he was still trying to sleep, which were the leftover of his long crusade. As the sweat of paranoia flew down his face, he decided to go on the patio and get a glass of red wine. He stood for minutes in front of the anaphors, scared that someone could have poised them. He picked up an amphora and drank directly from it, he now felt more relaxed and went to sleep.
The next morning Egnatius woke up and decided to go for a walk. He grabbed his dagger and exited. He started walking towards the colosseum to get a better idea of what had happened during his absence. The streets were empty and frighteningly silent and his childhood memories could not match any longer the present. Although he was afraid of people, he was looking for someone to tell him more specifically what had happened. He knocked at the door of his old friend Augustus. He knocked on the door three times, but no one came out. He knocked three more and finally, Augustus' wife came out. She was wearing all black; this could only mean one thing; Augustus had died. They looked at each other in the eyes for several seconds, until Egnatius dropped on his knees crying. Augustus' wife invited Egnatius over to eat some grapes in their garden. Her name was Aurelia and had been a good friend of Egnatius ever since their childhood. She explained to him that Augustus had died a couple of month before, due to a new sickness that had hit them called the black death. Egnatius stared at her frightenedly; there was a pandemic going around Rome. Egnatius and Aurelia kept talking for a while, as Augustus' son was playing with his dog in the garden, then suddenly the dog jumped over him. In a hurry, Egnatius dived on the dog and started strangling him. Aurelia stood up and loudly announced his name, he looked at her and backed up in fear. He had just killed the dog.
Egnatius headed back home in shame of what he had done. As walking back, he noticed a body on the floor in front of a house. He went close and took the cape off the body, his arms were all black and rotten, he had the black death, in fear, Egnatius ran home.
In the days that passed, he spent lots of time with Aurelia, learning what had happened. Every day he had the same struggles of integrating back in the community, the level of stress, post the traumas on the battlefield had shown their effects. Another never-changing thing was the anaphors from which he drank every night right before going to sleep.
One day, as putting his clothing on, he noticed a black spot on his arm in pain. He leaned toward the pain-zone and noticed it smelled horrible. He quickly rushed to the closet medic center. As running, he kept seeing people lying on the floor dead. When he got there, he noticed two large men grab a woman with force. The two man threw the woman into a courtyard full of other sick people. He did not want to end up like them and therefore headed back home. On his way back he went to Aurelia informing her he had gotten the sickness. She told him she could try to cure it as she had already tried once with her husband, so he agreed to stay at her house.
The spots on his arm kept increasing in size and the pain kept getting harsher, he did not have the energy to continue.
One night he was playing a game of latrunculin with Aurelia. He was not winning, his previous few moves had tripped him over, and it was now inevitable for him to fail. His arm in the meantime had almost become completely covered of black. He moved the last piece he had on the board, and in a matter of seconds, Aurelia’s black piece ate it. It was over. He had lost. He took a last sip of wine; he had finished it. It was over. He fell on the floor, leaving behind him only his faith in god left on the battlefield.