It was a beautiful sunny and calm Spring day in Sardinia. Taking advantage of the forecast splendid weather, Lady Francesca Countess of Santa Sofia had arranged a 2-day archaeologic excursion in countryside, along with a small entourage of scholars and friends of her, with the aim to explore some of the mysterious local nuraghi megaliths Lady Francesca was so keen of.
As a matter of fact, some of those young Countess friends weren't as interested in such "chaotic accumulations of old stones" (as they used to say privately) as in Lady Francesca herself. Not strangely though, because she was of that kind of women always attracting all eyes like a magnet. Besides of being a countess, she was still unmarried at her 27 age, so one of two among these young men were actually hanging around, expecting she could take a decision at regard one day or another. For she'd have to, or wouldn't she?
She knew and didn't care. Her time for such things hadn't arrived yet, albeit... well, there was one not that ugly in the end, or even two perhaps! She discreetely smiled at her own shamelessness and quickly forgot it, for the imposing nuraghe was already at their sight, on top of a hill a few hundred yards ahead. She excitedly accelerated pace:
--Here you have the nuraghe I told you about, Sirs! Isn't it beautiful? --She said triumphantly.
Little afterwards, the group had arrived in the megalith vicinity and started scattering around, in search of the small archaeological remains an eventual old flood might have revealed. Suddenly, one of the entourage scholars stopped and started looking in the distance, far beyond the hill where they stood.
--Isn't that a smoke column? --he asked loud enough to be heard by anyone.
The man was pointing to a hill extending to their right, between their own location and the coast line that one could guess should be some half mile away. A tall, dense column of black smoke was lazily rising up skyward.
--It seems as if from shore itself, doesn't it? --Francesca asked.
--Hum --one answered--. Unless wrong, there's a village in that direction.
Prisoner of an odd feeling, the group hurriedly climbed up the hill adjacent to theirs, and watched the landscape that stretched at their feet. As some of them had started suspecting, the small village below was burning in flames while a myriad of small black dots ran in all directions, as frightened ants whose nest had just been smashed. By the shore, two large galleys moored indolently. Several large boats roamed around, apparently carrying people from the village aboard the war sharks. Deep red ensigns waved at sterns, and bright green pennants hanged from masts, both showing a strange white device that looked like a scissor in the distance.
--"Zulfiqar", the double bladed sword --one muttered.
--Oh Lord, Barbary pirates? --a terrified Francesca asked.
--Let's go, go away!! --another one shouted-- Before they can spot us! ...authorities must be warned. Hurry up, for the sake of God!!