This was planned long ago. They had waited since 678 and now they were going
to attack again. But this time they would be successful. They were done with eating their
own camels’ and horses’ caresses, even their relatives’ bodies. Finally, they would get
their revenge on the Byzantines, for the hunger of their nation, for the starvation. For
that speciﬁc acidic taste in your mouth when you have just eaten your daughter’s frozen
dead body, for the cold air entering their lungs, squeezing every organ in their body,
for the automatic shaking from the heartless wind, going through their skin, for the
sound of snow under their uncovered feet, for the feeling when you go to bed extremely
hungry and frozen. They had imagined this war in so many different ways, dreamt of
this moment billions of times. It was about time to get revenge; to kill them slowly and
look them in the eyes while doing this, so that they could feel all the pain and the death
the Arabs had undergone.
The situation in Constantinople was difﬁcult. Everybody knew that they would
come back. Leo and the military were really organised, creating tactics and weapons.
When they attacked by land, the Byzantines were going to use the “Walls of Constantinople”, which Constantine The Great had had built. They surrounded the city and protected it from enemies both by sea and by land.
There was a rumour about a “Greek Fire”. People told stories about it. Some of
them said that it was a magical weapon, containing many chemical elements. When you
poured water on it, the ﬁre burned more violently. Others said that these were all words
of somebody’s imagination and it was not possible for such a powerful weapon to exist.
But it was a fact that Leo’s people were working really hard on plans for winning
against the Arabs. Besides all the hard work, the people in the capital were still scared.
It was even forbidden to mention “their” name, because it would bring them bad luck.
The main topic of every conversation was their future attack. The Muslims scared the
people. Day by day they tried to survive. Every night they told their children “Good
night” like there would be no tomorrow.
Unfortunately, other rulers joined Constantinople. The Bulgars’ Khan. A year ago,
Tervel had managed to establish a fake friendship between the Bulgars and the Byzantines. The Byzantines thought that they had them as real friends, but actually the Bulgars
just preferred them to the Arabs. Khan Tervel was clever. He and his people knew that if
there is an opportunity for taking over Constantinople they would take advantage for
sure. Luckily for the Byzantines, they planned to ﬁght for Constantinople only if the
Arabs overpowered Leo and his people.
Byzantium had everything- powerful weapons, good tactics, army, a clever ruler.
Everything, except its people. The biggest problem was that they didn’t want to join the
ﬁght against the Muslims. And Leo knew it. He realised that when he and his advisors
worked, they left the citizens “in the dark”. They lived in stress and fear. Leo could feel
it. He felt this separation between the government and the citizens. He knew that this
should be ﬁxed, because without having his people’s trust and without them ﬁghting in
the war they would lose. And he made a decision. On the very next day he thought that
what a good ruler would do in such a situation was to talk. To…