The rain fell heavily outside this 16th century castle with its gothic architecture, where the Spanish Inquisition kept its prisoners until they confessed their heresies, in some cases, under torture. That was the case of three prisoners trying to escape, silently walking through the castle's dark halls. One of them was Vano, a Romani with an olive skin tone and dark hair and beard. The other two were a jew merchant, David, and an old midwife, Beatriz. Throughout their bodies were visible marks of chains on their pulses and feet, scars of whips on their backs, scars of burning on several parts of their bodies.
"David," said Vano, "how you convinced that soldier to open our cell?"
"He's a jew too," David said with a sad smile.
"And how would you know that?"
"He showed me his star of David."
"Silence," said Beatriz, "someone is coming."
They entered a dark room to wait until the path was clear again.
"Oh my God," said Beatriz, muffling the voice with her hand.
"What?" said Vanon, turning around. Then he understood her reaction, they entered in a torture room—tools for strappado, rack, and other tortures, all stained with blood, vomit and urine. The smell of blood, sweat, and piss dominated the room. Stains of old and recent blood painted the walls and the floor, a macabre decoration that matched the intention of the room. A large brown bag rested in a corner of the room, a terrible smell emanated from it, and a small pool of blood formed around it - none of the three had the courage to see its contents.
"Let's get out of here," said Vano, embracing a shacking Beatriz, "Everything will be fine. They won't hurt you anymore."
"Path is clear," said David looking through the half-open door.
So, they left the room and continued their path. They reached a spiral stair at the end of the corridor. As they went downstairs, David said, "What are your guys' plans for when we leave this place? I'll meet my son, Tobias, and never come back to Spain."
"I'll just keep my nomadic life in another country," answered Vano.
"I don't know, son," said Beatriz, "I'll just try to keep alive. I'm too old for adventures."
"Don't be like that, Bea," said David. He thought in silence for a while and said, "look, I don't know what will happen, so I'll tell you where I hid my fortune. Listen carefully."
They finally left the castle through a small gate on its back, a dark forest surrounded the place.
"Now, let's hear-" a musket shot stopped Beatriz's speech. She fell with blood going out of her back, her eyes wide open with shock.
Vano looked to the walls and saw soldiers up there, aiming their muskets. "Run, David! Run!" He grabbed his friend's arm, dragging him to the forest's direction. Shots hit the ground around them as they try to reach the forest.
The storm got worse as Vano and David ran into the forest, thunder drowning out their footsteps on the muddy ground. They were running for a few minutes when they heard the first bark.
"Hunting dogs!" said David, his eyes filled with terror.
"Just keep running," said Vano.
Vano looked behind and saw the dogs getting closer, followed by soldiers with muskets. He tried to run faster, his legs burning by the effort, and his breath getting heavier. Suddenly, he heard a plunk and a scream.
David tripped over a root and fell, the taste blood and mud getting mixed in his mouth. Before Vano could react, a dog jumped over David, bitting the arm he raised to defend himself. David gave a final look to Vano and screamed, "Run!" That was his final word before the other dogs reach him. They bit everywhere, pulling pieces from his arms, legs, and torso.
With tears on his eyes, Vano kept running, haunted by the screams of his friend, which ended a few minutes later. A shot hit a tree next to him, just after he passed by it. He looked behind and saw that his pursuers were getting close. He tried to increase his speed even more, desperately trying to put some distance between them, but his body was already at its limit.
Then he reached a cliff. He ran to its edge and saw that a rived passed under it, the current running furiously because of the storm. Pretty high, but I can survive. The noise of his pursuers' steps was getting closer. He needed to make a decision. Bem alto, mas posso sobreviver. O barulho dos passos de seus perseguidores estava se aproximando. Ele precisava tomar uma decisão.
Then he jumped, just before the first soldiers arrived at the cliff. He fell in the tempestuous water, fighting to not drown. A shot passed near to his face, cutting it a little bit. The soldiers were trying to shoot him from the cliff with their muskets. Vano decided to hide underwater, holding his breath as long as he could while the shots hit the water around him. But as the river carried him, he left the soldiers' range.
The soldiers tried to find him for day, but they never found even a vestige. Eventually, they considered that Vano was dead.
After this, no one ever heard about the Romani Vano. However, a new traveling merchant named Tobias was seeing selling his products in the region, heading to France.