Many want it. Others don’t, believing it’s a curse. Either way, Malchides is the only one who has it.
He doesn’t know why, but he just can’t die.
He has been alive from the beginning of human history, been known by many names. His legend had spawned religions. His deeds had destroyed armies. He had affected people and nations world-wide, setting the course of cultural evolution even beyond Earth.
UNDYING LOVE is Malchides’ story through his encounters with three women separated by thousands of years of time, Candace Amanirenas of Nubia, Tamara Jennings of Florida, and Sage Kolene of Tau Ceti Epsilon-Basalt.
Meroe burned with Roman flames. Pillars of smoke rose into the pre-dawn sky carrying flickering cinders from the carnage behind this Nubian city’s breached walls. Horrific shrieks from those who couldn’t flee pierced the clamoring of swords and shields.
By dawn, it was over. Their battle won, exhausted and wounded Romans slowly emerged through the city’s gates, joining their brothers in encampments around catapults and ramparts. Most were satisfied by the bounty looted from their latest conquest. Some amused themselves with feasting and wine. Still others watched their commanders apply their mastery of interrogation techniques on their Nubian prisoners.
Five of the defeated warriors lay naked on their bellies side by side with their hands and feet bound by leather straps, preventing them from easily raising their faces from the ground. Terror tied their insides in knots as a band of three horsemen drove their mounts back and forth, hooves trampling the sand only inches from their heads.
Legatus Gaius Petronius and Tribune Marcus Lindrium sat patiently on their mounts awaiting answers. Lindrium lifted his hand, halting the reckless jaunts of his horsemen, but all he heard was silence. He turned to a Nubian guide standing at the side of his horse.
“Ask them again. Where is their Candace? Where can we find her?”
The guide yelled out the same questions in the prisoners’ native language. His hope was to hear any utterance, but the prisoners only turned their heads to breathe air that was without sand.
The guide turned back to the Romans. He knew they wouldn’t grant mercy without cooperation, so he turned his pleading eyes back to the prisoners.
“Where is the queen? He won’t ask again! He will set you free! Please! TALK!” The guide and Romans heard nothing from them. The guide continued his pleas.
Lindrium turned toward Petronius who listened a last time for any response from the Nubians. He never became angry.
“Enough,” Petronius ordered.
The guide bowed and stepped back. Petronius then turned his cold eyes toward his Tribune. Lindrium nodded to his horsemen and soldiers. Without a word, they knew his orders and acted on them without hesitation. Six infantry men unfurled a broad leather sheet over the prisoners. Other Roman soldiers gathered to watch, anticipating a brief but satisfying glimpse of their homeland’s blood sports.
Obeying Lindrium’s silent command, his horsemen lowered blinds over their horses’ eyes, turned and walked them across the sheet. Hooves pressed into flesh, crushing skulls and snapping bones on every pass. They then heard the Nubians voices in cries and screams. Some of the horses, startled by the sounds and the feel of their footing, reared-up only to descend on their blanketed victims with death blows, silencing their voices one by one.
Petronius and Lindrium watched until the horsemen had trampled the Nubians three times. Some of the Roman spectators wanted to cheer. Some felt remorse. None showed emotion, because it was not the Roman way in a war of conquest.
A praefect rode up to Lindrium’s side and pounded his chest once in salute.
“I beg your pardon, Tribune.”
“What is it, Manius?” Lindrium asked.
“The city is clear, sir. If the Candace is still in there, she’s dead. Only bodies remain.”
Before Lindrium could respond, Petronius spoke over him, “Check the bodies!”
“Sir, many of them are unrecognizable –” Lindrium said.
“I said, check the bodies,” Petronius repeated. “I want confirmation of her death.”
Lindrium relented, and nodded to Manius, “You have your orders.”
“Yes, Legate — Tribune.” The Praefect pounded his chest again and rode off toward the city’s demolished main gate.
Petronius turned back to the flattened bodies of the prisoners.
“The gods will be merciful with them. Get five more.”