Brother Zotikos realized that he could not just accept what had happened. Innocent people had been slaughtered while they peacefully pursued their humble lives. Pious and devout women had been defiled in a church—before being butchered. Men had been murdered for defending their homes, their livelihoods, and their daughters.
How could they just go back to praising God as if nothing had happened? Why should he praise God at all? For what? For letting this happen?
Brother Zotikos’ blood was boiling. He could neither sleep nor pray for fury. His rage was too great, and it kept growing. Who were these men who had worked such destruction? What right did they have to destroy the lives of others? Why were they allowed to break the laws of civilization and Christianity with impunity?
When his rage had built up to the point that he could contain it no longer, Brother Zotikos burst in on his abbot and exploded. “We can’t just suffer this! We can’t—shouldn’t—‘turn the other cheek’! They are monsters! Worse than Saracens! We must fight them!”
Father Eustathios was hunched over his desk reading something, and he slowly turned to face his outraged subordinate. His eyes were piercing and they bore into Brother Zotikos, making him feel both naked and uncertain. “You want to fight the Franks?” he asked coldly.
Brother Zotikos already felt a little foolish under the abbot’s gaze, but he persisted. “Yes! We can’t allow them to just slaughter us as if we were less than sheep! Mere insects! They have treated us worse than infidels, worse than livestock! As if neither we nor they were Christians!”
“You are aware,” Father Eustathios asked in a low but clear voice, “that these Franks have just fought Saladin to a standstill?”
“That was the English King—who promised us we would be left in peace, only to betray us by selling Cyprus first to the Templars and now to the Lusignan!” Brother Zotikos shot back furiously. “King Richard might have been invincible, but Lusignan lost his kingdom in a single day! He’s an idiot as well as a monster!”
“Maybe, but he is supported by a pack of greedy wolves who have lost their lands to the Saracens and have come here to steal ours in compensation. That makes them both greedy and desperate. Desperate, greedy men are notoriously vicious, tenacious, and very dangerous.”
“And for that reason we should just roll over and offer them our throats?” Brother Zotikos shot back indignantly. His dark eyes burned over his thick black beard.
“No,” Father Eustathios answered, adding in a voice that was so low it was hardly more than a hiss, “for that reason we must not bellow like a wounded bear but remain silent as a cobra—until we strike.”
Brother Zotikos felt as if he himself had just been seized by the deadly fangs of a poisonous snake, and his eyes widened in sudden understanding. “You mean . . . ?”
“Do you think you are the only man on Cyprus with a sense of honor? The only Greek with spirit and courage? Don’t be so presumptuous! But silence and stealth are our best shields. We must collect our strength, and we must await the right opportunity. When it comes—whenever it comes—we must strike without noise or warning. We must survive to strike again and again and again—until one by one, handful by handful, troop by troop, they are all as dead as the nuns of Agios Kosmos.”
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