The year is 1289 and through the land the crusades are coming to an end. Knights and foot soldiers are making their way back home. None have won and both sides have lost.

A false knight is making his way north. He was a foot soldier that stole an armour and horse from a fallen knight. He defected under that guise, because no one dared question a man in an armour.

It was said that Italy was the best way back into Europe and his kin. Truth or lie, he was heading to the mediterranean either way.

Crossing the dessert towards the Carthage, he sits to rest until the scorching sun starts setting in the desert. Low on food, but still well rested, his mind insisted on playing tricks on him.

A figure begins to grow from the horizon. A traveler or merchant? As the figure comes closer, he sees a man with nothing but a walking stick. Seeing the knight, with his armour packed in the horse, the man sits next to him without saying a word. The soldier is restless, but acts calm and touches a dagger on his side to make sure it’s there in case he needs it.

The beggar doesn’t speak, and the soldier is confused. He gets up, goes to his horse and comes back with a bladder of water that he extends to his strange companion. The crusades were nothing but shit anyway, might as well start building bridges.

The beggar opens a huge smile with brownish yellow teeth.

This unusual trip continues towards the mediterranean, with both men sharing water and food they find along the way, trying to learn each other’s language and scrapping to keep a conversation.

And they spoken the same language, the soldier would have learned about his culture, about the tales of the Jinn, and even the war from the enemies’ perspective. Yet this barrier also bridged the two men. The beggar was travelling away from the remaining front lines of the crusade, he had been around most of the earth. From the Mongolian steppe, to the shores of the Atlantic, and places yet to be mapped into our world.

The city begins to grow in the horizon and the beggar signals that this is where they split paths. Offering a coin and trying to explain that if he throws the coin up, he changes the world.

The soldier dismisses this as a talk about good and bad luck, and worries more about finding a boat that will take him north. It’s easy enough to find, for a man willing to trade a horse for safe travel.

It’s among the quiet waters of the mediterranean that he finally takes a long look at the coin. He does not recognise the face, or even the numbers. He flips the coin up in the air.

A city is on the horizon, it looks quite different but it is Rome, and the year is 2015.

João Filipe Mateus

Deixar decisões importantes para que a sorte decida, é para quem se pode dar o luxo de o fazer. E os dois tinham o luxo de soltar um cara ou coroa, para decidir o futuro. Não queriam o peso de tomar a decisão errada. Pegaram numa moeda e lançaram-na sobre a mesa. Nem a sorte decidiu. A moeda, por mais estranha das proezas, ficou de pé, a mostrar as duas faces para quem as quisesse ver.

António Lopes

The adventure begins. #3wordstories