[ Now the city is under furious assault. Heraclius visits his dead brother, laid out in the nave of the Temple of Zeus Pankrator. This section goes between "you look as poorly as he does." and "BOOM!" ]

            Heraclius climbed the altar steps wearily. Even that much effort began to tire him. He could not afford the luxury of a chair and bearers today! On the marble slab, laid out, arms tucked in at his sides, was Theodore’s corpse. The face was covered with a golden cloth, hiding the ruined eye and savaged throat. The Boatman, Heraclius supposed, knew each man’s face, as he was supposed to know the names of all the dead. The Emperor was still unsettled by the injuries. A dull feeling of dread pressed on him, filling the air. Some sorcery was at work, overwhelming the ancient wards and patterns that had defended Constantinople for the last four centuries. Looking down at the cold pale body of his brother, Heraclius was filled with confused outrage.

            “You are the younger man,” he whispered to himself, brow furrowed in despair. “You should be alive. I was the one dying and crippled. You were strong… Fool, fool of a boy. Riding out in armor of gold, like it was a parade! Reckless child!”

            Heraclius put his hand over his brothers’, feeling the cold clammy flesh. There was no life left here, only a cast aside husk. “In the songs, they will praise you, brother. I will keep the memory of your failures, your stupidity, your misguided chauvinistic loyalty, to myself. History will only remember that you died in battle, a hero, leading a doomed army bravely in a doomed cause. Maidens, I think, will swoon at your legend, leaving roses and love-notes on your tomb.”

            At the same time that he bent down, kissing the cloth of gold and his brother’s forehead, Heraclius felt a curious relief. The tension that had marred his relationship with Martina would fade, now, and the hatred between the niece and the uncle would be a thing of the past. Even his estranged son Constantius would return to him, freed of the envy and malice that Theodore had inculcated in him.

            “All we must do,” Heraclius said, stepping back from the altar, saluting the dead, “is win.”