The Demons of Constantinople – Snippet 32

But these guys were a solid half-century away from that sort of thing. There was a flash in Pucorl’s dash cam.

That arrow was enchanted.

“Behave,” Pucorl said in demonic. But the arrow didn’t seem to understand. For that matter, Pucorl didn’t recognize the sort of demon that was in the arrow.

That was when Pucorl used the new phone system. He called Wilber and asked who or what it was.

Wilber spoke in demonic and the arrow glowed. “I’m not entirely sure, but I think it’s a djinn. An extremely minor fire djinn.”

“What are you doing, consorting with djinn?” Pucorl asked the soldier in Greek. “You being a good Muslim and all.”

In fourteenth-century Turkish, which Pucorl didn’t understand, the man answered, then a moment later Wilber told him, “I believe you have been consigned to the Pit of Hell there, Pucorl. You being a demon and all.”

Pucorl gave the guy a honk that would have done a Paris cabby proud. The horse reared in fright.

And the arrow came out of the bow at a forty-five degree up angle. It landed in a tree which immediately started to burn.

“Say,” shouted Annabelle, “Someone want to put that out before we start the forest on fire?”

Several of the riders rode over to the tree and started splashing it with water.

“Grab the arrow! You won’t put the fire out as long as the djinn is embedded in that tree,” Pucorl shouted. Then he started forward again and the troop fled.


There wasn’t much out here, Wilber noted as Leona flicked from tree branch to tree branch scouting ahead of them. It looked like the Ottoman force was still treating John V as a scared child hiding in his room, which wasn’t a totally unreasonable position to hold.

He looked over at the scout. “Murad seems to be marching on Tzouroulos with no scouts out. That doesn’t strike me as the canny military commander that Murad was supposed to be.”

“Why should he put out scouts? These are his lands, and they have been for over ten years. What does he need with scouts?” The man, one of Bertrand’s picked men, grinned.

Wilber got on his phone. “We’re coming in,” he told Pucorl. “We should be at Tzouroulos in around an hour.” The only reason that Wilber was here was because Igor was needed to stay in contact with the main army.

Location: Army of Emperor John V, Southeast of Tzouroulos, Byzantium

Time: 12:02 PM, November 20, 1372

As Bertrand rode out of the trees, he saw Pucorl at the edge of the city, stopped and waiting.

A moment later, Andronikos rode out and started complaining. “Why didn’t your tame demon stay here as he was told to? Your forces have no discipline. Someone should take a whip to that van.”

“You’re more than welcome to try,” Bertrand said. “But I would point out that Pucorl is the lord of his own domain and in no way under your authority.” As Bertrand knew perfectly well, the burr under Andronikos saddle was that Bertrand, not he, was in command of this expedition. Partly because of Bertrand’s reputation, freshly polished by the siege of Paris, but mostly because John V was still pissed over his son’s refusal to pay for his release from Venice in 1369.

“Meanwhile, let’s get inside the city. Walls or not, it’s still the most defensible place in the area. And with us in it, not a place that Murad can bypass.”

It took them the rest of the day to establish themselves in Tzouroulos. Which Andronikos, with arrogant ceremony, renamed back to Tzouroulos from Corlu.


The next day, the first of Murad’s scouts came in sight of the city, took one quick look, and rode hell for leather back to Murad’s army.

Meanwhile Wilber inscribed a pentagram in a vacant lot next door to an Orthodox church that had been converted to a mosque when Murad took over the first time. In the pentagram he placed a small statue of Themis and a model of a phone.

The phone was a piece of wood carved into the shape of a landline phone, headset, and base, with little depressable buttons on the base. It didn’t connect to anything except that it was inside the pentagram. There was a matching pentagram in Themis’ lands.

The phone wouldn’t contact Themis. Instead, it contacted Iris, who would listen to the request and decide if she would bother Themis with it.

Neither the priests nor the mullahs were happy to see the thing. But Wilber made it clear that they got to keep their altars only so long as Themis got to keep hers.

Wilber was working on a theory. One that he wasn’t at all sure was valid. His idea was that prayer from the mortal realm acted as energy in the netherworld. He was working under the theory that if the worship of Themis could be reinstated, then her energy level would increase. The few hundred followers that Themis now had, mostly in France, weren’t enough of a sample to truly test the theory. She would need hundreds of thousands of followers to produce any real change in her energy level.

The other reason for the pentagram large enough for a small building with an altar was to give Wilber a route into Themis’ lands.

He used that route to take earth, oil, grain, and nightsoil into Themis’ lands from the mortal realm in an attempt to rebuild her. Her agents took the stuff and “plowed” it into the soil of Themis’ lands.