By Harry Turtledove
In a universe during which Constantinople by no means fell, the Byzantine Empire has flourished via constructing know-how and spreading its effect yet unearths itself on the mercy of its jealous enemies.
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A thin thread of smoke was rising from the grass, which had begun to char where the point of light rested. A moment later, the clump burst into flames. The Roman sprang away in alarm. ” he gasped. Triumph on his face, Orda methodically stamped out the little fire. Argyros felt about to burst with questions. Before lie could ask any of them, a shouted order drew him away from the shaman. A nomad used many gestures and a few words of Greek to set him repairing bird nets made of rawhide strips. By the time the plainsman was finished telling him what to do, Orda had gone off to talk with someone else.
He looked through it again. The image was even worse than it had been before, which Argyros had not thought possible. He refused to let himself grow disheartened. He had changed things, after all. Maybe he had been too forceful with his push. He drew the smaller tube out halfway. ” he breathed. The picture was still blurred, but it had cleared enough for him to see branches and leaves on the trees on the far side of the creek—and they looked close enough to reach out and touch. He pushed the tube in a bit, and the image grew less distinct.
Only you can save yourself here; I cannot do it for you. ” “You also talk too much, Orda,” Tossuc broke in, which seemed to amuse Orda mightily. The khan gave his attention back to Argyros. ” Ice walked up Argyros’s back. Tossuc was not joking; the Roman thought him incapable of joking as his shaman had. The ex-commander of scouts said, “I am no spy. ” “Who knows what a Roman spy would be fool enough to do? If you are no spy, why are you here? ” “I have no falsehoods to make up,” Argyros replied.