The Demons of Constantinople – Snippet 37

“Allah protect me!”

“That will be up to Allah, I would imagine,” the slate said. “I am simply here to examine your wound and see if it is becoming infected.”

That was a whole other fear, to be without his left arm. It would end him as a janissary, probably end him period. Fear for his life warred with fear for his soul, and it was fear for his life that won. He let the priest examine his wound with the phone.


“There is a bit of infection, but not much yet. If we treat it now and seal the wound, he should be all right,” Raphico said, and Monsignor Savona nodded, looking at the screen that showed a colored transparent image of the arm that showed torn muscle, blood vessels, and damaged bone.

“You should bond the bone as well. Not fully heal it, but something to hold it in place while it heals.” He pointed at a bone chip that was away from the rest of the bone. “If you can put that back in place, it will speed the healing.” By now, Giuseppe Savona was familiar with the internal workings of the human body, and he had learned triage in more than one sense. He knew that he could spend every moment of his life healing the sick and still not make a dent in the problems of illness and injury. He knew that he, and even Raphico, needed to pace themselves and spend part of their time on other things. So they didn’t heal the Turk, but treated him enough so that he might, in time, heal himself. Then they went on to the next patient.

Location: Prisoner Camp, Outside Tzouroulos

Time: 4:25 PM, November 22, 1372

After the rout, a lot of Murad’s army had surrendered. It was that or be ridden down, and most of Murad’s baggage train and camp followers were captured. The janissaries included cavalry. Murad’s entire force was mostly cavalry, but once your horse is shot out from under you, an armored cavalryman is only another foot soldier, and no more capable of outrunning a horse than any other. And the point of Murad’s central column was almost entirely janissary. They were his toughest, most disciplined troops, and the ones he could most afford to spend in forcing an objective. So more than half the captives were janissaries, and most of the rest were mercenaries. There were only a sprinkling of noble knights in his army.

In a way, the mercenaries were the greater problem. They were willing enough to change sides, but they expected to be paid and John V didn’t have the money to pay them.

The janissaries, as a relatively new Ottoman force, were not paid. Not in money. They were fed and equipped, trained and treated, even paid a sort of allowance, but that was the largess of their owner. The discussions among the prisoners were ongoing, and the discussions about how they were to be handled were ongoing as well.

Location: Constantinople

Time: 4:35 PM, November 22, 1372

Pucorl was doing sixty kilometers per hour as he drove through the outer gates of Constantinople. He was then slowed by traffic, but he was still out-speeding a galloping horse as he pulled up in front of the royal palace.

He opened his side door and Bertrand du Guesclin, general of the armies of Byzantium, hopped out and strode up the steps to the palace entrance to cheering crowds. Byzantium hadn’t had a victory against the Turks in a long time. After the reconquest of Tzouroulos and, more importantly, the defeat of Murad, Bertrand was the golden boy of the Constantinople mob. And the golden girl was right behind him.

Jennifer Fairbanks, the girl who killed Murad in mortal combat. The fact that she was a woman delighted the mob. Not because of what it said about her, but because of what it said about Murad and his whole line. If he could be defeated by a mere slip of a girl on the field of battle, God must truly be on their side.

Bertrand spent most of the trip here convincing Jennifer to let that part of it go, and not to go around explaining that she could defeat Christian nobles and kings as easily.

Jennifer saw their glee as an insult to her. But they needed that glee and the adulation that came with it, to make the rest of their program more acceptable to the people of Byzantium.

Location: John V’s Apartments, Royal Palace, Constantinople

When Bertrand and Jennifer entered the emperor’s private apartment, they found a mob. A small mob, but a mob. Aside from John, there was his wife, who doubled as the royal treasurer, Manuel II, the co-emperor of Constantinople and a slightly larger chunk of what used to be the Eastern Roman Empire than they’d been emperors of a few days ago. Tzouroulos was back in the fold, and if they kept pushing they ought to be able to get back a lot more. That was why he was here.