Attila Volume 2 by G P R James Page 1 of 260
Shift we the scene, and return to the kingdom of Attila! It was the fourth day after Theodore had left the country of the Huns for that sweet distant land where happiness, as we have seen, awaited him, and a bright gleam of sunshine was destined to checker his dark fate, when, at a short distance from the bank of the Tibiscus, two barbarians, who had left their horses with their followers by the stream, walked slowly on among the trees, wading through the long grass and tangled bushes.
At length, suddenly, from a spot before them, came the flapping of heavy wings and a hoarse arid scream from many a foul beak, while five or six large vultures rose up, crashing through the branches above, and leaving open to the sight all that remained of the unfortunate Arab, Cremera.
From some cause, a nail, which had fixed one of the hands, had fallen out, and the skeleton, for to such a thing was the corpse now nearly reduced, hung by the other palm; but two arrows were still seen hanging amid the fleshless ribs, and telling the manner of the freedman's death.
"Lo!" said the shorter of the two strangers - "lo! I have now seen it with mine own eyes! And this man's crime was but that he had obeyed my commands, and saved the life of the man that I loved! Shall this be suffered, Ardaric? Shall it last another hour, to ring in the ears of my people, to sound in their inmost hearts, that Attila avenges not his own, that Attila cannot protect those who perform his bidding? Think you it was really Bleda's doing?"
"Doubt it not, oh king!" answered Ardaric. "Was not the Roman carried to his village? Would not death have been the stranger's portion, too, had he not escaped? Some one bore thy brother the tidings of the youth's journey, and they waylaid him, to cut the thread of life on which they fancied thine depended."