Manuel had just found out that was to set off once again, this time to the court of the great sultan of Rum. What he had to bring from there was a holy rose whose petals once touched always compelled people to tell the truth. But this flower was heavily guarded and there were not many who would dare to venture and take it from the place where it lay?
Yet, again, Manuel put aside all fears and rode across the mountains until one day he arrived at the gates of the sultan’s city, which he entered pretending to be a Persian a merchant.
When night fell Manuel struggled to
find a way inside the palace, but everywhere he looked heavily armed guards
were watching it from high up on the stone walls. A silver crescent moon then
rose up a brightened the darkness, making Manuel’s quest even harder.
But then, out of nowhere, the blows of
a thousand horns shook the midnight air. A great host of soldiers coming with
their emperor from Constantinople surrounded the city and started wreaking
panic among its people. How was it that such a great army had passed unobserved
by their scouts, no one understood? But now it was too late. The city had to
defend itself. In the confusion that followed, many of the sultan’s guards left
the palace to go fight on the walls. It was then that the mysterious sight
Manuel had acquired when he sacrificed his eye led him to a small door behind
the palace. It their frenzy, some of the guards who rushed out through it had
left it open. Manuel entered that door and walked around a palace he had never
seen, knowing its every corner, its every hallway, and its every room. This is
how, unseen by anyone, Manuel found the holy rose hidden in a lavish inner
court with its pillars, and arches, and four whispering marble fountains. Under
the light of the moon the turmoil of the fight subsided in the distance. All
Manuel could hear now were a few crickets and the lazy trickling of those
fountains. The rose stood in the middle, surrounded by its thorny wreathing
bush. It had only one majestic, glowing bloom right in the heart of all those
entwined branches. To get to it, Manuel had to pass through its sharp thorns
who scratched and stung him without mercy. Ah Manuel, why was it that right
here your second sight had to fail you?
The boy picked the flower and hid it in
his shirt. He then got out of the palace the same way he got in and, eluding
both armies, he climbed down the city walls, stole a horse and rode way back to
Once he crossed his city’s gates he went to Isabella and gave her the rose. It was a beautiful summer morning. The girl gazed at her charming Manuel and, ignoring everyone around, she embraced the boy. But only a few seconds after a terrible shiver took over Manuel, throwing him to the ground. A thick, white foam started to pour from his mouth and the youth coiled in pain. With a desperate grimace, he looked for one last time at Isabella and screamed her name, then, after some excruciating five minutes he died killed by the holy rose’s poisoned thorns. That had been the real secret behind the great sultan’s rose safety.