“Sit up straight, Tony, and tell my why Jesus and his adoring cult outside are about to tear our walls down and take you to your ultimate, and likely well-deserved, fate?”
She was wearing an exotic perfume, one that he had never previously encountered. The scent came to him softly, arousing something like a pleasant memory, or the hope of one.
“We have our love of history to bind us together. If we make this journey, we will only have each other to depend on. I pledge to you, Mary Solomon, that I will do my best to see that nothing happens to you, even at the cost of my life.”
He smiled, a twinkle in his eye, understanding that the centuries had not changed human behavior or the appeal between the sexes.
“She loves one or both of you. I wondered about that, and now the fact is evident. Is it proper for a woman of high birth and so gifted by nature to be drawn to two lowly ranked Romans as yourselves?” he asked with sarcasm.
He glanced backwards toward Antonius and saw him sitting erect on his horse, looking down the road toward whatever fate awaited them, determination carved crisply into his face, his red cloak extending away from him like a flag, cracking in the wind.
Yes, he was about the right age to be Jesus, and the way he carried himself, there was something special about him. The young man was aware of the attention and turned to look directly at them. The effect was vastly different than was seen radiating from the Antichrist. A feeling of peace and contentment, which was hard to explain, came over Mary and Cos.
“I’m in love with you, Mary. I can’t help it anymore than you can help loving him. There is no jealousy in me, but I can’t make my heart behave as well as I can my words. Virgil said ‘No day shall erase you from the memory of time,’ and I can add ‘or from my heart’.”
The cry became a chilling shriek, but during lulls they could hear Mary’s soft, comforting voice. The men looked at each other trying to determine if their comrades felt the same unmasculine sympathy that they did.
A deep guttural sound, panting, huffing, was coming toward them, accompanied by faint footsteps from someone running. Then there was the sound that they had been fearing, close and closing. A growl from a large predator, angry, hunting and close. He was coming. The demon was at hand.