The Demons of Constantinople – Snippet 36

Chapter 11 — Battle Damage

Location: Inn Converted into Hospice, Tzouroulos

Time: 4:15 PM, November 22, 1372

Andronikos had a broken arm. Which to hear him tell it was because of Bill Howe’s cowardice in failing to support him. He had lost almost ten percent of his knights, again the fault of the twenty-firsters, their cowardly demons, and Bertrand du Guesclin. This time because Pucorl was late in coming to his defense. His cousin Demetrios was dead because Pucorl had abandoned his duty and because, instead of defending him as was her clear duty, Jennifer had run off seeking glory. And Roger, with his famous Sword of Themis and almost as famous longrifle, had proved completely useless. Yes, they had won, but it was in spite of the French contingent with its twenty-firsters and its demons. It would have been a much greater victory with much less loss on their side if he had been placed in command as was his right by virtue of his birth.

Roger, who was in the next bed having his arm and his nose looked after, heard it all for about the fifth time, and said, “You remind me a lot of Philip the Bold.”

Andronikos looked at Roger in shock for a moment. “How dare you threaten me? You . . . you . . . peasant! I’ll have you whipped through the streets of Constantinople.”

They were both in the hospice, not having been magically healed because their wounds weren’t severe and could wait. The triage imposed by Raphico and Monsignor Savona had much to do with severity of wound and gave short shrift to rank of the wounded. Raphico might have made an exception if Roger had asked. Roger had not only failed to ask, but had insisted that he be treated no differently than any other soldier in the army.

Either army.

The Turkish wounded were also being treated, without regard to their religion, through a combination of magic and modern knowledge of germ theory. There wasn’t enough knowledge of modern medicine among the twenty-firsters to produce much of anything like modern medicine in the here and now. The good news was that they were no longer strictly limited by the information brought back in the heads and the computers of the twenty-firsters. The University of Paris School of Medicine was a phone call away.

Yes, it had only had the modern notions of medicine for less than a year, but it wasn’t one man studying on something for less than a year. It was hundreds, some clever, some not, some innovative, some hidebound, some trying to adopt all the innovations and find more, and others trying to justify throwing it all out and going back to bleeding, bad air, and balancing humors.

All of which made for an often volatile mix, but one that was self-selecting toward the more accepting of modern concepts when consulting on the phone about wounded Turkish soldiers.


In another room in the same hospice, six Turkish soldiers lay in bunked pallets with various injuries. Mohammed ben Sahid, born in Italy under the name of Giuseppe Caldrone, groaned under the pain of the compound fracture of his left humerus. The bone had been set, the wound treated with sulfur, sewn up and wrapped. The heathen healers insisted that it wouldn’t putrefy, but he had his doubts.

They also said he was no longer a slave. For Mohammed was a janissary. He was taken as a slave from a trade ship out of Genoa, but that was fifteen years ago. For seven of those years, he had been a dockworker in Bandirma, then he was taken for taxes and made a janissary. The janissaries were a new unit introduced by Murad less than ten years ago. Mohammed was one of the first. They’d almost killed him, forced his conversion to Islam, and whipped or beaten him for the slightest infraction. You got tough or died, and a lot died. Mohammed got tough. So tough that he was one of those janissaries who was made cavalry.

Mohammed wasn’t sure how he felt. By now he had fought in several battles and he was a tough man. Murad and his captains had done that. Mohammed was a janissary and that was a thing to be proud of. He wasn’t at all sure that he wanted to go back to being a Genoese sailor. And it was hard to concentrate with the pain in his arm.

Then the priest came in. He was a tall, ascetic man with dark hair starting to go gray. He was wearing an alb and stola with fringes, but his alb had a pocket sewn onto its left breast, and in that pocket was the thing Mohammed had been warned about. One of the demon-enchanted slates.

He made a warding away gesture and the slate spoke in Turkish. “You have no need of warding against me. I will do you no harm, neither your body nor your soul.”