As clouds of civil war gather over a dying empire, two friends and generals find themselves on opposite sides of the factional divide. Now, they must sacrifice everything to save themselves from their realm and their realm from itself.
Ten years, two months and this morning, Kyrus thought, blinking away drops of sweat. Yet still… still it’s not any easier.
For the thousandth time, his hand slid to a blade’s hilt, body braced against a gust ripping through the sweltering berry thicket. Wide eyes scanned the crush of steamy greenery all around him, ears hearing only his own short breaths and a heart that pounded like a drum. Even as the wind petered out, his anxiety held firm, held him frozen in place.
Ten bloody years of this… a wonder I’ve any wits left about me at all. He grunted. Or do I have any?
He’d grayed since then, since his first days in Valogar. Wrinkled too. Bones ached from the constant marching, mind frayed from the perpetual fear of knowing they were out there, somewhere, always itching to add another Rokhish scalp to their belts…
What is the most interesting thing that's ever happened to you?
The most interesting thing that’s ever happened to me occurred during my long-awaited trip and tour around Italy a few years ago. It was my honeymoon, in fact, and my wife and I were reaching the end of an amazing two-week blitz around the country, during which span we’d toured Rome, hiked the Cinque Terra, imbibed at an ancient winery in Tuscany, took the classic gondola ride in Venice, and too many other things to mention. Every stop seemed better than the last, each one containing a simply astounding display of cultural heritage, and I think it would take a few dozen trips there to see everything (hopefully, that’s in the cards for me!).
But none of the above compared to our last stop.
As we made our way back up the western coast towards Rome, leaving behind the beauty of Amalfi and Positano, we arrived at Pompeii, our final site on our epic journey. Now as a bit of context, I am an ancient history fanatic, as anyone who has visited my site or read anything about me would know. Specifically, I’m a sponge for any and everything Ancient Rome (equally so for Ancient Greece). Thus, I knew of Pompeii – I think everyone does to some extent – read books about it, read Pliny’s memoirs on it. This is all to say that I expected Pompeii to be a special experience, but it exceeded every level of those expectations.
It was hands down the most amazing site I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting. It’s one thing to read that the city was essentially flash frozen in time by the sudden eruption of Vesuvius, one thing to know that they discovered residents 1,700 years later in the exact position they were in when they sought shelter, or that stoves still had food cooking in them; but it’s another thing to see it all in person, which was simultaneously singular and haunting. It was enlightening to see and walk through Roman homes, see how Romans lived, worked, played, and protested. Yet it was also tremendously sad to think about these 20,000 souls wiped out in an instant, only to be confined to the dustbin of history for nearly two millennia.
I could have spent a week at that site alone, and to this day it remains the most interesting experience of my life.