The port-town of Svetac Juro sits in a semi-circle facing South-South West, with the town square plaza partially facing the bay, partially facing the isthmus with the lighthouse, to look beyond to the open Adriatic.

Around the town square plaza is the shopping district, town hall and an inn. There are some other shops on the second street up the hill, and the third, but they are mostly trade shops and frequented more by locals. There is a public school on the third street, and a park on the fourth street behind the houses.

The park has a boardwalk down to the South-East beach where a tall ship had been rammed into the cliff by a rogue storm wave centuries ago.

The ferry to the mainland, one or two fishing boats and some small sailing skiffs are all that really venture in and out of the port-town these days.

An enceinte or thick curtain wall, surrounds Svetac Juro to the North and the West. It used to surround the whole town, but over the years the South and East walls crumbled and their stones were sought for use elsewhere.

The road to the North gate splits the park in two, beyond lies a winding dirt road through forest on the ridge that leads to the field stone complex with red roofs called the Abbey.

The Abbey has hilly pasture to the edge of the North-Eastern cliffs, creamy flocks kept by both lay shepherds and Brothers. The trade of fine wool and other sheep product used to provide the only outside income for the Abbey, as the buildings and the people are well-kept by their own trades people, forest, fruit orchard and vegetable-and-herb gardens. The Abbey market is famous though, and brings many mainlanders and foreigners to the island during season from late spring to early winter.

From the West gate, across a high stone bridge to a private estate that used to belong to the Duchy of Illyria as a summer residence. This has a barbican before the main gate, its own enceinte around the estate, a four storey castle keep, and impressive gardens that extend up a steep mountainside, including an ancient forest.

The Fortuna Carnival and Circus Animal Sanctuary uses most of the land on the estate. Its staff live in the castle keep.

At least, that's what I remember.

October 11, 2001

News media everywhere didn't hesitate to remind us that it had been exactly a month. From the silence on the street I guess even the mainlanders were still thinking back to their own most horrific memories - 1990 was not the end of the Cold War for us:

"Twenty-three really pales in comparison to three thousand or so." said the skeletal girl behind me as I hobbled along the ferry dock on my crutches, pushing a dark curl behind her ear with a shaking hand when I looked at her. She was probably a year younger than me and she was very, very sick, one way or the other. Her skin was so pale it was almost transparent; her hair oily and brittle; her brown eyes were almost glossed over.

I hadn't stopped thinking about the twenty-three lives lost on Svetac Juro when I was eight years old. But I really hadn't been thinking specifically about them since I heard the news. Nobody in the area had been immune from some form of ethnic cleansing or revenge and though it hadn't been called officially a civil war, it was still civil war.

She then apologized to me, "I'm sorry. That sounded callous, didn't it?"

"No. Not at all. It does pale in comparison, " I replied and then realizing it probably wasn't a good idea to continue smoking around her, stopped to butt out my cigarette against a railing post. "Though Father Abbot is probably going to say we shouldn't place importance on grieving for larger numbers above the smaller or vice-versa in his next Mass."

She grimaced.

"Have you lived on Svetac Juro?" she asked.

"It's been about eleven years." I wondered if she was a resident of Svetac Juro. "Do you live there?"

We were now walking side by side as we reached the end of the dock. The ferry wasn't in yet, so I set my gym bag on top of a nearby bench.

"As you can probably see, I pretty much live at the hospital here on the mainland."

"So I guess you can't tell me if Dr. Ambrosius Nikolic is still the head of the Sanctuary."

She sat down on the bench carefully. "My uncle still is the head, yes."

Uncle? Wait, so was she several years younger than me?

She was slowly turning a gastly white with blue tinges to her lips and fingernails.