"My Lord, thank you for giving me the chance to create such a worshipping place."
- Emperor Justinian I, 537 AD December 27th
If Constantinople, Nova Roma, Byzantium, Basileuousa or what ever people call her name, is one of the greatest metropolis of her time in Europe since the very first foundation marble stone is laid, then it can be said that Hagia Sophia dominated the very central of the metropolis after the breath taking building project is accomplished.
The most remarkable pearl donned on the crown of the queen of all cities is undoubtedly the Hagia Sophia, decorating the city with the architectural masterpiece, being the residence of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch and the most scared holy land of Roman Orthodoxy. It can be said that if God himself, is to choose a place that he would descend and reside walking along the sides of men offering them guidance to eternal peace, the residence would be Hagia Sophia. Since the day of its accomplishment Hagia Sophia offered Constantinople a since of holiness, making Constantinople a truly holy city.
After the building is completed, its main funder and contributor Justinian the First was utterly shocked and speechless when the emperor got his eyes on the medieval Roman engineering marvel, he exclaimed the famous quote. "Solomon, I have outdone thee!"
And indeed, he has.
Antonius' feelings are just the same as Justinian standing in the same position as he was a thousand years ago.
It has to be said that this is not the first time Antonius' eyes have met this long enduring symbol of the cosmopolitan city, but this is the first time he has came this close to it. The entire basilica shading over him blocking the rays of sunlight and the sky is simply astonishing, he has never seen anything as enormous as this back in Genoa or anywhere else he went for the past twenty five years of his life.
Part of a purpose for Justinian the First to build this Basilica is to shock foreign legates, travelers and merchants showing them the might of the Roman empire giving them an impression that the Imperium Romanus is forever powerful and strong, it is better not to mess with some state that can build something like this, or else they will build a force to overrun their lands. It can be said tht the builders and designers achieved a job way too successfully that it achieved the same effect a thousand years later on this Genoese man called Antonius.
The citizens of Constantinople coming here to do their prayers seems to have already gotten used to this site, they pointed and laughed at the man halted and gaping at the basilica failing to recognise that this is the man that led their army protecting them. During the siege the Hagia Sophia was used as a shelter for civilians to yield the Ottoman menace, till now there are still plenty town folks whose homes got devastated during the siege residing inside the walls of the basilica, making this originally empty holy land bustling with people from all walks of lives.
It took Antonius a while before he is finally awake and realised his gaffe, his rugged face blushed red and hurriedly went towards the Imperial Gate, where he was stopped by a Roman guard.
"Stop! Foreigner! This gate is only for the entrance of the protector of the people his most prestigious majesty!"
Antonius halted his step appearing to be a bit surprised by the guard suddenly yelling at him and with the instinct of a warrior he quickly got into combat posture reaching out for the cutlass hanging by his side, which quickly spurred another around of the sentiment of nervousness to the people around passing by.
Just as people are gathering to witness a possibly unfaithful barbarian duel with a Roman soldier, another Roman guard stepped forward and stopped his pal before things turn into the worst possible outcome.
"Hey! Are you… The mégas droungarios?" The Roman guard stepped forward grinning widely bowing towards Antonius with his right hand on his chest.
"Ah, yes, I am." Seeing that he has made another gaffe for today, Antonius quickly adjusted his defensive posture and forced a smile on his face making him not appearing that hostile. "You know me?"
"Yes! mégas droungarios! I will never forget about you…. It is only because of you that my parents' lives are preserved from those crumbling rubbles and wicked Ottoman bombardments…" The guard exclaimed excitedly for meeting the idol of his life, but after a while his emotions quickly turned depressing after recalling some thing. "…Although it is a pity that my wife and my child did not manage to make it out, but I still got to thank you, and your men."
Antonius drew a cross before his chest and sighed. "Glory to Jesus Christ, please accept my deepest condolences, may I know what happened to your wife and child?"
"They got caught in a difficult time when the Ottoman shelling came, my wife was in home breast feeding my child and thus they both got trapped in the rubbles… And died afterwards, but I still got to thank you for helping me catch a last glimpse of them covered in pale ashes… It is a true honour to be consecrated by the chantry, shown as the icon of femininity…"
Antonius nodded, stepped up and hugged the guard patting him on the back. "Thank me not, thank this man called Julian."
The face of the guard dimmed for a bit but quickly recovered as he smiled, leaned back and spoke. "Thanks, mégas droungarios, I now feels much better."
"You are welcome." Antonius swept his eyes through the guard before him. "What is your name?"
"My name is Markos, mégas droungarios." The guard, Markos, stood firm and answered the admiral's question with pride, he truly takes his name with honour.
"Alright, Markos, please lead me to the Ecumenical Patriarch, I have some things to consort him."
Just realised that the 'Formidata' is not a really great ship name thanks to our friends who knows the language (ಥ﹏ಥ)