June 2, 455

“My lord, a delegation has arrived from the city. They would speak with you.”

“Bring them.”

Genseric dismounted his horse and awaited his visitors. He hoped that Maximus would be among them so that he could cut his head off personally.

Genseric recognized one of the delegation immediately. He swiftly knelt and, taking the proffered hand, kissed it. He rose.

“Holy Father, I am surprised and honoured by your presence. It was not you that I expected to meet here today.”

“There is no other who can negotiate terms, Genseric. Rome has been expecting and dreading your arrival for weeks. There has been panic in the streets and many have fled the city, including Petronius Maximus himself. He was abandoned by his guard and died three days ago at the hands of his own citizens. Rome is in disarray. We cannot defend ourselves.”

“Why this meeting then?”

“I urge you to spare the city and its citizens. If you so agree, Rome will open her gates to you and many lives on both sides will be spared.”

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