You can only protect the liberties in this world by protecting the other mans freedom. You can only be free if I am free - Clarence Darrow
The almighty sun shone brightly down upon the weathered shoulders of Romulus as he stood among the swaying crowds of the busy marketplace. Hundreds of peasants, merchants and those of a more dignified class, gathered around the many stalls and shops.
Tall buildings of stone and wood lined the courtyards.
Narrow alleyways, clustered with people, ran off in every direction.
Patrolling guards, ever watchful for cunning thieves
Peasants chatting away in their many groups. Merchants announcing the quality of goods found at their business. Music playing, children laughing. The sounds of life overwhelming the senses.
So this is what the world is like, Romulus thought as he gazed at the activity around him. So very different from the peaceful life he had once enjoy in the simple and quiet village.
It had now been several weeks since he left his former home and what little traveling money he had with him was used up long ago. His clothes were now reduced to dirty rags, and he no longer carried his broadsword. After a heartbreaking decision, he decided to sell it so that he could pay for a weeks accommodation.
That was many weeks ago, he was now forced to sleep under bridges at night
The journey had been a lonely one for Romulus thus far, but not until now, standing out like a dirty rock on a clean white beach, had he felt so distant and alone.
The lingering smells of richly spiced lamb and savory beef filled the air.
Large baskets full of fruit and fresh vegetables were tantalizingly displayed along the many shops.
Romulus's mouth began to water. His stomach churned with excitement. He had not eaten in days.
Mesmerized by the intoxicating smells, his trance was broken when a poor, old woman dressed in rags, pulled on his sleeve.
" Please, kind sir. Do you have any money? My family is poor and starving ".
Romulus shook his head. " I am sorry. I have no more than you".
Romulus watched the disappointed woman quickly walk away. In pitying her, he realized he was just like her.
Poor. Hungry. With no job or purpose in life. He had left the village in order to find something for himself.
Now it appears he is more lost than ever.
Wondering down a narrow alleyway, Romulus came across the sounds of clapping and cheering coming from the courtyard ahead. Upon closer inspection, he noticed a large group of people forming a circle around the center of the courtyard.
A pair of swordsmen, dressed in elaborate and brightly colored battle garbs, paraded around the middle of the circle provoking the crowd to cheer louder.
Between the two swordsmen, in the very middle of the circle, sitting on the ground, was a poor, young, slave girl.
She was chained, shackled and wearing only roughly cut rags. Her dark reddish hair was tangled and full of dirt.
Her arms and legs were scratched and bruised. A result of being forced to walk bare footed for many miles.
Her face was wrought with despair. She was a portrait of pure misery.
The scene shocked Romulus to the core as images from his past quickly swept up in his mind.
He remembered when he was a slave, a mere puppet, for a group of sailors traveling from harbour to harbour.
At each port they would sale him to the highest bidder who would force him to do the most deeming of tasks.
One of which had been entertainment for a cruel sadist who enjoyed watching people dance as he threw knives at them. Remembering the torment forced Romulus to touch a scar the stretched across the side of his shoulder. A painful reminder of how cruel people can be.
The cheers from the crowd grew louder, waking Romulus from his thoughts.
The two swordsmen stalked around the poor slave girl who now had a apple sitting on top of her head.
They circled her like a pair of hungry wolves about to descend upon a kill. They moved with steady grace and the sheerest of confidence.
Until they paused, facing each other, with the slave girl in the middle.
Within the blink of an eye, the swordsmen charged. Their swords flashed in the sunlight, the crowds gasped with anticipation.
When it was over, the swordsmen were standing at opposite sides of the girl, facing outwards.
The apple that had been on her head was now lying on the ground in four evenly cut pieces.
The crowds cheered and screamed for more as they tossed their money toward the triumphant swordsmen.
Only one of them was not cheering.
Romulus looked around at the cheering crowd, unable to fathom how they could enjoy seeing such a cruel and embarrassing act.
His eyes feel upon the girl as his heart suddenly felt very heavy within his chest.
Unable to swallow, he sensed an sympathetic bond with the poor, little slave girl. Her pain, was now his pain and it hurt deeply.
She is suffering from the same twisted fate that once imprisoned me, Romulus thought.
He gazed upon the girl with a pity so deep it forced him to drop to his knees in sorrow. As he looked closer, he could she her small shoulders begin to heave. A volley of teardrops began to run down her youthful face, landing on her scraped knees.
Just then, Romulus noticed that his heart was beating faster than it had in days.
His breath welled up like fire inside his chest.
Images ran through his head, pictures of himself on the boat being whipped, of the little slave girl crying.
Pictures of himself being forced to dance on hot coal. The sounds of her chains rattling, as her shoulders began to heave.
Pictures of himself with knives flying past his head. Her cries and sobs playing loud in his ears.
A flash of lightning, a sudden realization. Romulus knew what had to be done.
He sprung to his feet, collecting a large rock from the ground as he did so, and tossed it with all his might into the face of the swordsman furthest away.
The crowd stopped cheering.
The other swordsman turned to see what had befallen his comrade, only to find a hard and dirty elbow crashing into the bridge of his nose, dropping him instantly.
The crowd went crazy.
Confused by what was happening, the young slave girl looked up to see Romulus quickly leaning down toward her. Using a knife he had taken from one of the swordsman, he broke to chains around the girls wrists and ankles.
" Come with me, you are free now ", Romulus said as he tried to soften his voice, hoping not to scare the child.
The girl stared at him through the haze of the sunlight above. She smiled, thinking that she had finally been allowed to die. That an angel had descended from heaven to take her to a better place.
Blindly, she took Romulus's hand and the two of them dashed out through the crowd and into the alleyways.
" Stop that man. That thief has stolen a slave ". The people in the alleyways dived for what cover they could find as armored guards gave chase to Romulus and the girl.
Unable to keep up with his pace, Romulus was now carrying her on his back.
Up until a few moments ago, they had found a place to hide in a closed market stall. While there, the girl could see that her savior was no angel, but was no less thankful. He was her hero.
Her name was Chandra, she had been a sideshow for those two swordsmen ever since they killed her parents many years ago. Romulus's heart immediately grew deep for the girl, and he promised to protect her for as long as it takes.
Chandra shouted warnings and directions over Romulus's shoulder as they headed for the town stables.
A gauntlet of alleyways littered with guards stood between them and freedom.
The clustered streets turned to chaos as the guards came charging from all directions.
The people, both rich and poor alike, ran for their lives as the guards ploughed their way through the crowds.
Rooftop archers fired relentlessly upon the fleeing couple. Arrows whizzed by, with inches of their heads.
But Romulus was undeterred, he ran like the devil, ducking in and out of shadows.
The guards soon realized that stopping a rampaging bull would be easier than stopping the fleet footed Romulus.
Leaping over crates, ducking through alley ways, Romulus proved to be quite elusive.
An archer upon a rooftop, surveying the maddened people below, failed to see Romulus approach from behind.
With his hands holding Chandra on his back, Romulus delivered a vicious headbutt that sent the bewilded archer flying off the rooftop.
By leaping from building to building, unseen by the guards below, they made quick work getting to the stables.
Breaking into the shed, they untied all of the horses, saddling upon only one of them.
The doors to the stables bursted open like flood gates as a wave of wild horses stampeded through the crowds.
The guards, unable to control the chaos, could do nothing but watch as the two fugitives fled the town and entered the mountainous forest region that surrounded the market town.
Had they been able to keep up, they would of heard something that sounded like laughter.
Chandra, who had almost forgotten what it felt like to be happy, exploded with an uncontrollable joy as she clung around Romulus's waist.
Romulus, with his eyes focused and hands on the reigns, couldn't help laughing as well.
In his mind, he thanked the heavens for sending him a little angel to help him find his way. He knew now what it was that he was meant to do and was thankful that he now had someone to join him on his journey.
High above the city streets, were things were just getting back to normal. A dark and imposing figure leaned out a window, and through a telescopic device, watched Romulus and Chandra as they rode through the forest.
" Is that the one from the village? ", the man asked without turning.
Behind him, Sümer knelt down on one knee with his head lowered. " Yes, my Lord. That's him. I will assemble the men immediately ".
" Don't disappoint me again, Sümer ", the man said, his voice low and menacing.
Without another word, Sümer stood up and before leaving the room, noticed the jars of green liquid that ran upon a shelf on the far wall.
He knew that if you looked closer, you would see the severed heads of those who had gotten in his masters way. There was one jar that was left empty.
Sümer swore that it would not be his head that filled it.