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Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 11-25-02 15:53 EST (US)         

A STRONGHOLD HEAVEN ADVENTURE STORY



CRUSADE OF THE HEART


WRITTEN BY:
Civis Romanus, Jayhawk, Lady Arcola, Micah Aragorn, Ring Wraith and Tonto_Tantive





PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS

ALESTA DE CORBIERES: Twin sister of Jaufre. Married. Ward of Arnaud. Warm highlighted brunette hair hanging to middle of back. Blue-green eyes, 5' 7in, medium boned, beautifuly featured. (Lady Arcola)
ARNAUD: Waldensian Cleric working with the Cathars. (Lady Arcola)
BALIAN: Principal among the Lords of Outremer; a knight in the service of the King Guy of Outremer. Survived the Battle of the Horns of Hattin by promising Saladin he would not combat the Saracens in the future. Seeks to extract his family from Outremer.(Micah Aragorn)
DANYEL DE BELLIEVRE: Husband of Alesta de Corbieres. Just turned 20 yr old; 6'1 tall, lean, muscular, strong arms; kind, deep blue eyes. Of Norman lineage, nephew of Arnaud. (Lady Arcola)
ELTHON: Ferdinand Elthon II Richileau de Hasburg, Prince, Knight, 25-years old; has brown hair worn slightly longish for a man and green eyes. Heighth is 6.0 ft, strong man, muscled but not obviously so. Known as Sir Elthon, only his parents, who dissapeared mysteriously when he was 10, know of his real name. (Tonto_Tantive)
GEOFFREY HORKWOOD: Disenfranchised English knight. (Ring Wraith)
JAUFRE DE CORBIERES: Twin brother of Alesta. A squire to a knight in the Crusade against Saladin and the Saracen Turks. (Lady Arcola)
JAYHAWK: Spirit with ebony feathered wings hidden by a "glamour" that gives him the appearance of being a tall, green-eyed, dark haired mortal human. His eyes change to blue, gold or red when applying powers. He is immortal but not all-knowing. He cannot cure mortals who have consumed poison. He is charged to observe but not interfere with human decision-making. (Jayhawk)
MARYAM: Saracen maiden and younger sister to Rashim. (Civis Romanus/Lady Arcola)
RASHIM: A Saracen merchant and eldest brother of Maryam. His two younger brothers are SELIM and MUSA. (Civis Romanus/Lady Arcola)
SUDIJAR HEMMON: Scimitar Warrior of the Saracens. 6 ft. 2 in. with black hair that is vieled to an extent by a kaffka made from some of the finest silks in Egypt. He fights well, but retains a certain respect for the enemy.(Tonto_Tantive)
THIBAULT DE MONTFORT: Knight of France. Younger son of the Occitanian de Montforts family. Handsome, clever, jovial, broadshouldered, average heighth. Dabbles inexpertly in the lute. (Jayhawk)





Attention Readers and Writers: This thread is for story posts only. To communicate with the writers, please use the following link to the STORY DISCUSSION THREAD

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 07-28-2007 @ 11:36 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 11-25-02 16:26 EST (US)     1 / 149       
THE HORNS OF HATTIN

The silence was interrupted by the cackling and screeching of the vultures. Only these black birds moved, heads dipping into the offal of a torn body or withdrawing with bits of human flesh dangling from clenched beaks. A quick, sharp lifting of their heads and the pieces of flesh make their way down the inside of their garrishly colored necks and into their indiscriminately caring craws.

Suddenly, two birds take flight from the ground when a body they perceived as dead moved upon their arrival with the intention to feast. The body groaned and a hand reached up and felt for the source of the pain. The hand came back encrusted mostly with dried blood and here and there a bright red spot indicating where the blood still flowed ever so slightly.

Cautiously, tentatively, Jaufre de Corbieres, a squire, pushed himself up, rolled slightly and elevated himself to a sitting position to survey the field around him. What he saw dismayed him. They were dead, all dead. Slaughtered at the hands of the Saracens of Saladin. His master's misgivings turned out to be well founded. His master! Where was he! Jaufre fought dizziness as he swiveled his head around to see if he could see anywhere the banner or colors of the knight he served.

____________________________________________________________

The morning sun was still low on the horizon in this land of the French. Though calm outside, inside the cottage it was not, for Alesta de Corbieres had just experienced the most horrifying, most vivid nightmare of her life.

It was her twin brother Jaufre who she saw suffering at the hands of those unseen foes with their curved swords; and it was her husband who lay on the ground crumpled, unmoving, while her tortured brother stood above him crying out her name, pleading with her to do something to save his life and the life of her husband.

She lay there, her breast rapidly rising and falling, her stomach knotted, her brow moist with perspiration. Alesta had followed her instincts before and these had proven to be excellent guides. Was this dream another manifestation that she should follow? She didn't know... And the uncertainty was as painful to her now as the nightmare had been just moments before.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 11-25-2002 @ 04:35 PM).]

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 11-26-02 01:19 EST (US)     2 / 149       
Alesta rose and walked to the window. Chateau de Carcassonne appeared shrouded on the morning mist, she closed her eyes and prayed for divine guidance.
Arnaud! Friar Arnaud of course. Why hadn’t the thought come sooner. Arnaud a long time friend of the de Corbieres family had taken the twins in after their parents had died years earlier.
Alesta dressed and dashed out to find the cleric. Out of breath she found him in the garden
observing a bee alighting on a rose. “Brother Arnaud!, Brother Arnaud!”Alesta breathlessly called. “What is it my child?” he spoke gently to her. “ I awoke in a terrible fright my friend, a dream like no other I have ever had has taken my soul and twisted it into a torment I can not describe.

«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»
Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~
«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 07-28-2003 @ 02:51 AM).]

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 11-26-02 02:52 EST (US)     3 / 149       
The dead lay everywhere, most of them Frankish as the saracens had taken away their own dead. The pride of Outremer lay slaughtered at Jauffre's feet. Dead chargers, their massive frames stilled forever. Knights and squires with whom he'd eaten and feasted all resting now in the bosom of the Virgin and her Son. Footmen, lying where they had fallen trying to defend the King and stop the Saracen tide.

He remembered the night before, the eerie sounds of trumpets and drums from Saladin's camp, the stench of unwashed bodies all around him, the dryness of his throat. The Saracens had poisoned the well at Hattin, and then set fire to the undergrowth, the acrid, pungent smoke adding to the thirst, hurting eyes and lungs, like they were in Hell rather than God's Land.

He'd slept fitfully, only catching moments of sleep before dawn broke and the Saracens came streaming down the mountain.

He remembered some of the Knight breaking out from the trap they'd found themselves in, but they'd failed to break the enemy.

He remembered fighting, trying to get close to the King, defend him from the infidels.

He remembered standing back to back with Sieur de Montfort, surrounded by howling men with dark faces, weapons licking out from every side.

He remembered...nothing more until the sun of the new day, a new day? burned in his eyes.

Jauffre staggers, falls to his knees and vomits. Nothing's left in his stomach but bile and the pain makes him pass out again.

The sun has risen a few spans more when he regains consciousness. The young man tries to stand up again, using a broken spear for a crutch, the tatters of a banner wrapped around his head, as he slowly makes his way down hill and down the valley.

He must find his master.


Angel Jayhawk
EyrieCaesar 4 HeavenChildren of the Nile HeavenStronghold HeavenCaesar 3 HeavenEmperor HeavenPharaoh HeavenZeus HeavenMy Deviations
Support your local HeavenMy RecommendationsEXCOHALO
I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence. — The Dalai Lama
Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 11-26-02 03:16 EST (US)     4 / 149       
Jaufre prayed that Alesta would never find out what he was enduring at this moment... in his weak state and he looses consciousness again....

Alesta looks at Arnaud, who had been a comfort to the twins after the loss of their parents. He lookes at Alesta with a pained expression on his face. "I know." came the quiet reply. He then told Alesta the dream before she could tell him, and he watched her grow paler and paler. Alesta could feel the dizziness starting in her knees as the realization of what Arnaud had said sunk in. Arnaud barely had time to catch her before she crumpled to the ground.
“Alesta! Alesta!” Arnaud’s voice called from the other side of the darkness that enveloped her. “Come child; do not faint on me I need you to wake and listen to me,” he said . Alesta struggled and opened her eyes, consciousness slowly returning. Arnaud held her gently in his fatherly arms and called her again. “I knew you were coming before you did child. Listen and I will tell you what I feel has happened. I believe that we were both given the same dream as a sign from our Lord that you must leave and go to them. I went straight to the scriptures and could only find one chapter that I could read; the 91tst Psalm. Listen and I will retell it to you:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.
"Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you make the Most High your dwelling--
even the LORD, who is my refuge--- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

I believe that an angel brought us our dreams and by allowing me to read only this verse I have been given the Knowledge that Jaufre and your beloved are under the care of an Angel. Have hope Alesta, have hope.”

«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»
Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~
«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 12-04-2002 @ 03:35 PM).]

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 11-27-02 03:24 EST (US)     5 / 149       
Jauffre stumbled.

The thorny brushes seem to willfully wrap themselves around his legs, his hands are lacerated by stone and thorns, silent witnesses of many a fall.

The sun, a bronze demon in the sky beats down relentlessly on the young man, burning deep into his tender skin, sucking the moisture from him. The air around him shimmers in the heat.

Jauffre's mind is far from his body, cursing the country he's in, the Saracens, their faith and even god for sending him to this blighted excuse for a country, so far removed from the lush fields and green forests of his beloved Occitan.

The sun drops and with it the temperature drops and the cold-hearted moon finds Jauffre shivering from cold, curled up in a tight ball.

When morning come, the young squire sucks bits of moisture from his clothes and stumbles on, the scarf forgotten in the hollow where he slept.

By noon he's no longer cursing god, but begging for his life to end, begging for the Lord to put an end to his suffering. His eyes are almost swollen shut, his skin has started to blister in places and flies swarm incessantly around him, feasting on his blood.

He doesn't realise the when the landscape changes and his feet touch what looks to be a path beaten, a road even. The sun seems to grow inside his head and fill it to bursting.

He falls and does not get up.

Carcasonne, Occitan
A tall minstrel with dark blond hair and green eye watches the crowds move by as he sips his wine.
Something called him here, something besides his love for music and good wine. Now if only he knew what.


Angel Jayhawk
EyrieCaesar 4 HeavenChildren of the Nile HeavenStronghold HeavenCaesar 3 HeavenEmperor HeavenPharaoh HeavenZeus HeavenMy Deviations
Support your local HeavenMy RecommendationsEXCOHALO
I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence. — The Dalai Lama
Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 11-27-02 19:26 EST (US)     6 / 149       
Something presses against Jaufre's face. It is cold and wet. Moisture trickles down his cheek. The coldness comes and goes as does the pressure. It moves from place to place. First his forehead, then his temples, then his cheeks. His eyelids quiver and open slightly. Briefly he sees a figure before him. It has no face, just eyes... That is... The face is covered, entirely covered, except for its eyes. They are dark brown with black pupils. The covering is woven cloth the color of earth, the same color as the earth at Hattin... at Hattin... the place of death.

A hand bearing a moist cloth passes before his eyes on its journey about his forehead and face. Now and then the cloth disappears below and returns, water dripping from its surface. The hand is young, smooth, dainty... and darkly colored with a hue that is like the earthly tone of the woven cloth. There is a fragrance around and about the hand that is accentuated with each movement. It is a pleasant fragrance, exotic, eastern, maybe precious. The scent teases his nostrils as the water soothes his burning face.

A voice speaks to him from the wrapped face. The voice is high pitched, young sounding, but with a mature timber that implies... Yes, it is the voice of a woman. But he cannot make out the words. They are strangely foreign to his fogged mind. He listens more closely as she speaks again. The fog surrounding his thought lifts somewhat and he begins to recognize the words for what they are, but not their meaning. It is a question she asks that he cannot answer, for he is filled with revulsion and fear. The words are spoken in a tongue he last heard before the weapon wielded by the warrior struck him on the head. The words are in the tongue of the Saracen.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 11-28-02 03:17 EST (US)     7 / 149       
"Maryam, get away from that infidel"
"But Rashid, he's hurt. He'll die here."
"Let him die, his kind caused the death of countless of our people"
"So we have to be as bad as they are? And answer death with death? That's not the way God wants us to be, is it?"

Rashid sighed, Maryam had the same stubborness her mother had had. Once she got that look in het eyes and that small frown there was no way he was going to change her mind.
He also had to admit the infidel, with his sunburn and wounds made a pitiful sight.

"Selim, Musa, help me carry him to the shade"


Angel Jayhawk
EyrieCaesar 4 HeavenChildren of the Nile HeavenStronghold HeavenCaesar 3 HeavenEmperor HeavenPharaoh HeavenZeus HeavenMy Deviations
Support your local HeavenMy RecommendationsEXCOHALO
I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence. — The Dalai Lama
Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 11-28-02 13:37 EST (US)     8 / 149       
The two Saracens, slightly shorter than Jaufre lifted him from the ground, arms supporting the 17 year old's back and legs in a kind of human chair. A nearby trio of palm trees provided the shade Maryam indicated for the infidel.

"Sister, what are we going to do with him when you finish your ministrations?" asked Rashim. "Take him with us? Woman, we travel to Aleppo and then to the camp of Saladin with supplies. The infidel will not be welcome there in Saladin's camp. Die now, die later, for him what will be the difference?"

"Saladin will not do that," said Maryam never ceasing placing the cooling cloth with water on various places around and about Jaufre's face.

"You know him so well, do you?" retorted Rashim. That earned him a quick turn of the girl's head and narrowed eyes. Rahshim could imagine the expression under the wrap. He saw it on those occasions Maryam was permitted to show her face.

"Put him in the cart, Rashim, with a cover over his face to ward off the light of day."

There was no dissuading the woman Rashim concluded. He nodded to Selim and Musa. Their eyebrows lifted and they looked at each other, but they obeyed. It was their duty to obey their elder brother, even if the cause of their distress was their sister, the youngest among the four.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 12-02-2002 @ 09:19 PM).]

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 12-02-02 01:43 EST (US)     9 / 149       
Carcassonne, Occitan
“Never loose hope my love...” Danyel’s heartbroken words crashed into in to Alesta’s mind like a fire.
“Arnaud! He can’t be gone before we ever have a chance together. I will not allow my heart to give up the hope that has been asked of it. Evil will not over take the love that the Lord allowed, I will not doubt..., I will not doubt...!”
Tearfully she looks into the gentle eyes of the kind face bent close to her, and realizes if anyone could understand it would be Arnaud.

The twins had come into the care of Arnaud seven years ago after the death of their parents.
He was a complex man of many talents who had suffered through many a trial in his life. His parents had been martyred when he was a lad of 15 for following the teachings of the Scriptures, and defying the authority of the Papal Church. His knowledge of the Word often amazed the twins as he taught them from memory, and upon checking him they found him to never be wrong.

When they arrived, Arnaud's sister was living there waiting to be taken to her new home in Laurac, where her husband and son had been busy building a home for them. She had helped Alesta deal with her grief and gently schooled her in the art of forgiveness before she went to her new home.

Several years had gone by since her departure and one day she had surprised the twins and Arnaud by arriving with her family. During the course of the visit the twins learned that Danyel would be staying with his uncle to study with them. Little did Alesta know at that time how this would change her life.


«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»
Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~
«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 12-04-2002 @ 03:33 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 12-02-02 21:50 EST (US)     10 / 149       
The four Saracens drove their pack animals north towards the city of Aleppo. They had been there before. In fact, it seemed all who travelled the caravan routes of that land had been to Aleppo. They talked of it frequently, how ancient it was, how it had always been there and of the peoples who ruled it in centuries past. There were Egyptians, Assyrians, Hittites, Persians, Macedonians... Then came the Romans who pushed out the Parthians and for centuries controlled this city.

Then came the peoples of the East, Arabs and Turks, under the banner of Allah to wrest it from the infidels who charged too much for the conveyance of goods. It was the will of Allah that minarets should be built throughout so that all who lived there or were passing through would hear and heed the call to prayer. Of course it took monies to pay for the construction of the minarets. That is why Allah, speaking through his messengers, declared that Aleppo should be conquered and the fees once collected by infidels should be collected instead by the servants of Allah. And further, the cities to the south, should also be freed of the touch of the infidels from the west.

Rashim poked at a balking beast, prodding it to speed up its pace. We must hurry to Aleppo and return, he mumbled to himself. Saladin is in need of new supplies to prepare for his campaign to free Jerusalem in the name of Allah. And what does his sister do? She causes us to carry one of the infidels in a cart. Has she no thought about what it shall mean when they enter Aleppo and this infidel appears among us? Woman! If you were not my sister and in my care you would be left alone at the next oasis!

Eyes watched the caravan as it proceeded north on the road to Aleppo. These eyes were light blue, not the dark color of the Saracens, and their vision was sharp. He knew this caravan as he had seen it before when it carried supplies south to Hattin and the camp of Saladin. Yes, three men and one woman... and now one more lying in a cart. Five pagans against his comrades and himself. Whatever they could do to forestall the siege of Jerusalem were their orders. Today it would mean attacking a Saracen caravan so that Saladin would get no supplies for his men.

The knight pushed himself backwards until the edge of the overlook properly hid him from view. It was then he stood up and motioned to his two comrades that there was work to be done. They were mounted infantry, not cataphracts or knights. Their armor was light, protection sacrificed for mobility. The knight was more heavily armored, but not such that he could not gain his horse's saddle on his own. All three mounted and galloped north to intercept the caravan.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 12-03-02 02:41 EST (US)     11 / 149       
After a day of wandering across town the minstrel still hadn't a clue what he was supposed to do here. As the setting sun was beating golden highlights of the many roofs, he though.
'Arnaud, I might as well visit my old friend Arnaud. He might even point me in the right direction.'

Lengthening his not inconsiderable stride, he turned toward where Arnaud was living.


Angel Jayhawk
EyrieCaesar 4 HeavenChildren of the Nile HeavenStronghold HeavenCaesar 3 HeavenEmperor HeavenPharaoh HeavenZeus HeavenMy Deviations
Support your local HeavenMy RecommendationsEXCOHALO
I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence. — The Dalai Lama
Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 12-03-02 15:49 EST (US)     12 / 149       
"Infidels!" bellowed Selim. "Infidels!" he cried out again and pointed to the north where three armored men galloped their horses onto the road and directly towards the caravan.

Rashim uttered a Saracen oath and reached for the sword at his belt. Infidels! How can they be this far north? Didn't Saladin rid this land of these vermin? He motioned to Maryam to seek refuge under a cart, the very cart where Jaufre lay sleeping.

The three infidel soldiers were upon them in what seemed an instant. Their swords were drawn as well. Rashim readied himself for their attack. It never came. Instead, the apparent leader of the trio approached him, sword ready, but not threateningly so.

"There is no need to die for Allah's sake this day merchant," said the most heavily armored of the three in broken Saracen. "You have neither the numbers nor the weaponry to defeat us. And we know you have a woman, there, hidden under the cart. We have been watching you."

"Why then do you confront us with weapons drawn?" said Rashim, his hand gripping his sword tightly. The knight, for that is what Rashim guessed him to be, was right. Neithr he nor his brothers were military trained and most likely would fare poorly against trained soldiers. There was Maryam to consider.

"To convince you to surrender your animals. We will leave you water and your mounts only. The woman will be unharmed." One of the other infidels said something loudly in a tongue called Frankish or French or something like that. The knight answered back in a similar tongue, but forcefully. The other soldier frowned but said nothing more. "As I said, the woman will be unharmed."

Jaufre awakened when the cart ceased to move and shouting in Saracen filled the air. He heard someone or something move underneath the cart, and then he heard someone speaking his native language. He threw the covering off his face and sat up in the cart to see who it was that spoke his language. At the same moment, the armored knight who had just chided one of his comrades saw Jaufre and recognized him as a countryman. Jaufre heard an exclamation in French and then an accusation in the same language. "They think to make him a slave!" exclaimed the knight.

Then the knight repeated the accusation in Saracen. "You carry one of my countrymen into slavery!"

"We do not!" countered the Saracen. "He was hurt and we were giving him care, or more correctly, Maryam our sister was seeing to his wound. If we were taking him to be enslaved he would be shackled and tied. He is neither."

"You! In the cart! Are you bound in any way!" called out the knight in French.

"No, Sir Knight. I have been well treated. I am not a prisoner."

"That is good," said the knight returning his attention to Rashim and the others. "Then my offer remains, except the boy in the cart shall go with us as well."

Rashim was most troubled by a suspicion that these three soldiers were not acting alone. More men might be hidden up ahead and these three were merely emissaries. He couldn't take the chance. They could acquire more animals, but his brothers and his sister were irreplaceable, and it was not their time to meet Allah, so far as he, Rashim, was concerned. "Take them. Take the boy as well."

"Lower your swords and place them at your feet," said the knight. The Saracens did as they were told. The knight motioned to his two comrades to take control of the caravan's animals. Maryam stepped out from under her cart and ran to the side of one of her brothers. She watched as the infidels gathered up the animals of the caravan and began to guide them south.

Jaufre said to one of the soldiers, "Who are you?" The soldier answered harshly. "Get down in the cart, boy. We will speak of it later."

The knight saw that the animals were secure and that the mounts he promised were left in place where the Saracens could reach them. He put his sword in its sheath and spurred his horse to join his comrades. As he passed by, he said to Rashim. "Not all of us are Templars, merchant. You were fortunate today." Rashim watched the knight and the others take his animals and their loads with them to the south.

"May the sword of Saladin find you!" he cursed as he spat on the ground in the direction the soldiers had gone.

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 12-04-02 06:21 EST (US)     13 / 149       
The day had passed slowly for Alesta, Arnaud had talked to her in his gentle fatherly tone quieting her fears. Slowly she thought over what he said;

"Remember what Danyel and you share Alesta, a love that can not be broken. Remember the training the boys received from Lord de Bellievre, before they journeyed to Outremêr. Danyel, as a young Knight does not have the years of experience, but he is strong with a fierce will to match his faith. Focus your mind Alesta, do not let the seed of doubt to take root. Trust in our Lord, believe on the promise he has given." Arnaud’s council played over and over in her mind and slowly her resolve had set.

The sun cast a golden glow over the patio as she set the meal and poured the wine into awaiting glasses. From the corner of her eye she glimpsed a tall form walking towards the door of Arnaud's home. Arnaud’s voice could be heard happily welcoming the visitor, by the sound of the exchange she knew the man must be a old and good friend. Slipping into the cottage she peered around the door of the kitchen to see who had visited the cleric.

Before her stood a man she had never seen, with green eyes that were full of warmth and kindness. Overwhelming strength and gentleness played across his handsome features as she observed him. Instead of feeling uneasy Alesta suddenly felt a deep comfort fill her heart and for the first time that day a ray of warmth filled her soul.


«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»
Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~
«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 12-04-2002 @ 09:27 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 12-05-02 19:58 EST (US)     14 / 149       
The knight urged his men and the captured animals south as fast as they could possibly travel. Jaufre was feeling much better. He did not know if it was the care given by the Saracen girl, Maryam, or being in the company of fellow soldiers that was the reason for his improving bodily state. Riding hard nearby was the knight who freed him from the Saracen merchants.

The knight was riding a white warhorse bearing lightweight armor. On his white cape was the red cross that marked him a Crusader. In the upper left of the cape was a light blue fleur-de-lis that signified that the knight's origins was in the land of the French. Though mounted on a powerful horse an indeterminate number of hands high, the knight did not seem exceptionally tall. In fact, he seemed average in heighth. He was broadshouldered, manifesting strongly muscled biceps and forearms. His somewhat slender waist and hips emphasized the powerful thigh muscles that rippled as he guided his horse. Jaufre speculated with some conviction that the knight might not tower over his comrades but would be to any enemy of any size a force to reckon with in a clash of weapons.

"Sir Knight!" called out Jaufre to his rescuer. "What is your name? At least tell me that!"

"Sir Thibault De Montfort!" answered the knight. "And yours, Squire?!"

How did he know he was a squire? "Jaufre De Corbieres, Sir Knight!"

"Well met, Squire! Now be silent! We shall talk later! We must reach Jerusalem as soon as possible with these animals!"

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 12-06-02 12:07 EST (US)     15 / 149       
Rashim gathered the remaining animals from the caravan, the mounts left behind by the infidels, finding every opportunity to curse the Crusaders and their bloodlines. Finally Maryam had heard enough. "Brother! Cease your cursing! We live! This could have ended far worse than it did!"

Rashim bristled immediately. "Look around you, woman! Everything is gone except what you see. They have stolen it from us."

Maryam laughed derisively. "Stolen it, Brother? And do you not remember how we came to acquire all of these beasts? Taking them for ourselves from infidel caravans raided by Saladin's soldiers? Did we not steal these as well from their rightful owners?"

"Woman! Allah provides in many ways! Do not blaspheme!"

"I said not a word of blasphemy, Rashim! I merely stated how we acquired the beasts. You did not like what you heard so you declared it blasphemy, just like some of those in the mosques who want one view only, their's alone!"

"Woman! I warn you!"

"I shall be silent after this," answered Maryam. "Infidels they might be, but barbarians they are not. They left us mounts, water and our lives. We gave them no reason to do so, yet they did. I do not see where Allah would find as much fault in these infidels as you seem to think by your curses."

"THEY ARE INVADERS!" bellowed Rashim.

"So are we," said Maryam calmly. Purple faced, Rashim stared at his indomitable sister. He could find no words to answer hers.

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 12-06-02 16:10 EST (US)     16 / 149       
Back In Carcassonne, Occitan
The evening air gently wisps in and out of Arnaud’s humble home, bringing with it the scent of roses from the garden. Alesta listens as Arnaud tells his guest of the things that have transpired since their last meeting. Smiles and laughter mingle with looks of empathy and concern as the men talk. Alesta not wanting to intrude, busies herself with the evening meal, keeping a ear trained on the voices coming from the other room. Her mind keeps drifting to thoughts of Danyel and Jaufre. Hoping Arnaud will soon call her to meet the guest she finishes with the meals preparations.

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Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~
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Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 12-09-02 15:53 EST (US)     17 / 149       
There were no signs of Saracens and therefore, as the sun was setting, Thibault thought it safe to halt and camp for the night. They found a secluded area between rocky overhangs where they could camp and not be seen unless tripped over accidentally.

One of the soldiers examined Jaufre's wound. "Superficial, boy. Most of the blow missed you. You bled like a pig 'cause that's what head wounds do. The Saracen wench did a decent job of cleaning you up and bandaging. I couldn't have done any better myself. Strange for a Saracen wench to do that. I'd sooner expect her to cut my throat than try to heal a cut anywhere on me. What did you do to her to make her act like a decent wench instead of a Saracen..."

Jaufre guessed what word was coming next and interrupted the soldier, "Nothing." The soldier said the word anyway but Jaufre's answer drowned it. The soldier blinked. "Alright boy, no harm meant if she means anything to you."

"She means nothing to me; but she behaved as would my own sister, that's all... Thanks for checking the wound."

Before the soldier could answer, Jaufre heard Thibault speaking to him from his place near the cooking fire. "You were at Hattin, Squire?"

"My name is Jaufre, Sir Knight. You are entitled to use it."

Thibault's left eyebrow lifted slightly. Spirits are high in this boy. Good. "Jaufre, tell us about the battle."

"It was not a battle, Sir Thibault. It was a killing field. We found the oasis water poisoned, unusable and attempted to escape. We met the Saracens on a plateau, our backs were to an unnavigable drop and before us, blocking our only way off the plateau, were massed barbarians by the score. We fought bravely but futiley. We were outmatched and outmanuevered. I was struck by the hilt of a sword, but not its blade. When I awoke the only soldiers of Sir Guy left on the plateau were dead. I never saw what happened to my master. I crawled on the ground, too weak and thirsty to walk. That was when the girl and her brothers found me. A few days later is when you found me."

Thibault nodded. "A killing field indeed..." His voice trailed off as he thought of comrades he would never see again. "Who was your master."

"Sir Leon de Marseilles."

Thibault's head came up when he heard the name. He made the sign of the cross, as did the other two, and all three bowed their heads briefly in prayer. "Restum in Pace" said Thibault, using the ancient tongue of ancient warriors. "He was a friend, Jaufre, and a great knight. It was an honor to be a squire to such as he."

"I felt so as well and looked forward to the day he was to declare me ready," said Jaufre.

"And when was that to be?" asked Thibault.

"By the next full moon, he told me the day before the battle at Hattin."

Thibault looked the boy over appraisingly. He decided he would not talk of it that night, but would do so either on the road the next day or within the gates of Jerusalem. By then he would be sure. Squire to Sir Leon, he says? There is a certain spirit about the lad, no doubt one of the reasons he was chosen by Sir Leon. Maybe... Just maybe he would be willing... We shall see, concluded Thibault.

Jaufre wondered what was being mulled in the mind of his rescuer. He would find out on the morrow.

Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 12-11-02 03:13 EST (US)     18 / 149       
"And this is my ward Alesta," Arnaud spoke as he entered the kitchen with the tall stranger close on his heels. The girl could here the pride in the priest's voice and blushed.
"My lord?" She curtesied.
"No lord, young lady, but a minstrel. My name is Jayhawk"
The stranger swept her an elaborate bow, his accent was slightly old fashioned, but his words were well chosen, neither too sparse nor too flowery.

"Alesta has had a dream that worries me, my friend, for even as she dreamed I had a similar dream. It concerned her brother, Jauffre, and her husband, Danyel. The two of them are in Outremer fighting for God, but I fear somethings happened to them.

The minstrel looked at Alesta and briefly she felt drawn into the man's green eyes, she felt the world dissolve around her momentarily, then return to normal. She gasped slightly and stumbled, but before she could fall the minstrel had reached out and held her steady.
"I'm... alright... a bit dizzy..."
The tall man smiled.
"You are alright, but sit down for a moment."

As she sat, he turned back to Arnaud.
"Obviously this is what called me here. I'll need your help, though."
"Anything, my friend."
"Then after we've had dinner we should go to the ruined monastary. Bring what you need fo rtrael, but travel light."

Dinner passed quickly and wine flowed freely while the priest and the minstrel swapped stories. It was strange Alesta felt, he seems to young to have travelled so much, even stranger, he seems to young to have known Arnaud as a young man. She shook her head, the wine must be stronger than she though and she must be mishearing things.

As evening fell the three of them were nearing the over-grown ruins of the old monastery. The place was build on a spot where older temples had been before, but only one of the three travellers was aware of that fact. The misntrel led them into the abandoned church and spoke with the priest, who first paled then nodded.

Taking water from the font he traced an elaborate pattern on the floor. To Alesta's amazement the water seemed to turn into silver rather than sink into the stones floor and disappear. A soft humming reached her ears and she saw the minstrel sitting on on the old altar, his lips moving, speaking words she'd never heard before, words that seemed to flow and weave like water, like the wind.
Were they practising sorceries? Momentarily she felt scared, then thought, I've known Arnaud for all my life, he would not do something God frowns upon nor would he hurt me.

As Arnaud stepped back. the minstrel stopped his chant, the silvery lines faded slowly as a shape coalesced at their center. It seemed all pale and winged, dark eyes and pale skin.
"A...an angel?" Alesta breathed.

The minstrel's hearty laugh broke her reverie, Arnaud too smiled and said.
"No, dear one, not an angel. I would not presume to call up on a Messenger, this is a sylph, a spirit of the air, it's mostly mindless, but will obey orders.
It will take us to Outremer."

The minstrel spoke to the creature of air and darkness and Alesta felt herself wrapped in fingers, cords of air then lifted of the ground at a dizzying speed, she wanted to scream then fainted.

Several hours later, a short distance North of Tyre
Alesta felt cold water upon her lips and shivered.
"What..."
As she opened her eyes she saw Arnaud's face close to hers, offering her more water.
"You fainted."
"I...where are we?"
"Just north of Tyre, " spoke the minstrel
"Tyre? But Tyre's in ..."
"in Outremer, we're here to look for your brother and your husband."

Alesta looked around in wonder at the landscape around her, it was more barren than she was used to, and even though the sun had not yet shown her orb the air seemed different.
"Outremer...Danyel..."
She smiled. Things were going to be just fine.


Angel Jayhawk
EyrieCaesar 4 HeavenChildren of the Nile HeavenStronghold HeavenCaesar 3 HeavenEmperor HeavenPharaoh HeavenZeus HeavenMy Deviations
Support your local HeavenMy RecommendationsEXCOHALO
I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence. — The Dalai Lama
Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 12-11-02 15:47 EST (US)     19 / 149       
There was nothing attractive about the city of Jerusalem. The walls were in disrepair, stones from the battlements appeared tumbled down onto the ground below. The stones themselves were mismatched as if quarries separated by great distances in opposite directions were their sources.

Some said that the older, blackened stones were once part of a great structure torn down over four decades after the crucifixion of Christ, hundreds of years before the present day. The Romans were said to have been the ones who tore it down. Retribution was the reason cited, retribution for one Judean revolution against them too many.

Guards wearing the crusader's red cross eyed them as they passed through the gate and into the city. One nodded in recognition of Sir Thibault. No acknowledgement was directed Jaufre's way. No one recognized him or cared who he was. After they passed through, the gate was closed and barred once again. It seemed no one was leaving and few were entering Jerusalem. The surrounding lands were just too dangerous.

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 12-12-02 01:27 EST (US)     20 / 149       
North of Tyre
Arnaud holds his young ward in his fatherly arms as Alesta leans against him. Her eyes close peacefully as thoughts of Danyel and Jaufre slip into her consciousness, and without warning sleep overtakes her. Daybreak is sending glimmers of gold into the predawn sky as Jayhawk gazes around the area. The minstrel knows that they will need to reach Tyre, for the sun soon would be bearing down upon them.

“Arnaud, do you think you are able to travel the distance needed to reach Tyre?” Jayhawk asks.
The older of the two laughs heartily.
“Do you think because I have aged and you have not, that I can not keep up with you?”
“The thought had crossed my mind.” comes the laughing reply.
“The only trouble I have at this moment is Alesta, who as you can see, is sleeping soundly.”
Arnaud tries to lift her as he stands, “Give me strength Lord!”
With laughter the minstrel watches Arnaud struggle, “Wake her my friend.”


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Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~
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Jayhawk
Eminence Grise
posted 12-12-02 02:52 EST (US)     21 / 149       
The three of them cross the lands around Tyre, walking towards that great city. It's defenses are nigh perfect guarded by the sea from attacks overland, with only a single causeway connecting it to the mainland.

The minstrel remembers when that causeway was made by a young warrior king on his way to Egypt. Refusing to allow a town, and soldiers, at his back that had not sworn featly to him. His arrival had brought many changes to the world. Jayhawk still felt sad his departure had been so ignomiuos.
Even his tomb in far away Alexandria, the port that bore his name, had disappeared.

"What ho!" a voice boomed, distorted through a pot-like helmet. As the minstrel looked up from his reverie, he cursed softly under his breath. Here was trouble.

Two knight in the white and red of the Knights of the Temple, sitting high on their destriers blocked the road.
"What are three infidels doing on the outskirts of our fair city?" one of them asked raising his helmet, showing a sunburned face and a scraggly beard.
"Pray, Sieur, " Arnaud answered, "we are christians on our way to the city."
"Christians?" the other one guffawed.
"Yes, kind Sieur, pilgrims from Occitan."

The face of the templar darkened.
"Heretics and boy lovers, all of you."
He pulled his horse closer and looked at Alesta.
"They even have their own catamite with them.
Wait, not a catamite, this one's a wench."

The burly templar dropped off his horse and grabbed the confused girl's wrist. He grinned and she could see his uneven teeth, and smell the wine on his breath.
"You and I are going to have some fun, and then we'll kill you heretics..."

Arnaud made a move forward but was stooped by a gentle hand from the minstrel.
"Wait..."

Then a new voice sounded
"By Saint George, a damsel in distress.
Verily I have found a quest!"


Angel Jayhawk
EyrieCaesar 4 HeavenChildren of the Nile HeavenStronghold HeavenCaesar 3 HeavenEmperor HeavenPharaoh HeavenZeus HeavenMy Deviations
Support your local HeavenMy RecommendationsEXCOHALO
I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence. — The Dalai Lama
Ring Wraith
Archer
posted 12-12-02 19:53 EST (US)     22 / 149       
"What do you think you are doing Sir Knight, this is most un-knightly!"Yells the strange Knight."I am ridding the world of these scum, which are trying to tell us they are worthy of admitance into Tyre" laughingly replies the surly knight.

"You and your drunken friend here shall leave these fair people alone, or else face the consequences, you drunken fool of a Knight!" Orders the Sir.
"Haha, you expect me and my friend to back off, when there is two of us, and only one of you? Haha, I think we have found a boy looking for a mans fight." The drunken Knight says, "I think it would be smart, seeing as I, was once one of the greatest swordsman in my lands back in England. I will not think of you as sheepish if you back off, seeing as you are blind drunk, haha".

Arnaud notices that he has a sigil on his right shoulder, a burning golden oak.He tries to think of its origin family, but cannot.

"That's going to far you big-mouthed boy, you are about to learn a hefty lesson in obeying your elders." The drunkard screams as he lunges at the Knight. "You call that a lunge, haha, I've seen better perfomed by women." taunts the Sir.

"And for that, you end will be very slow, and painful! Come Ox, lets show him how a Templar fights!" As both swing at their prey, the three watchers notice that their defender is only parrying, not trying to attack. "Arnaud, should the Knight not be trying to attack as well as defend?" Alesta asks. "Child, in a battle, there are many ways of attacking, this is one way that isn't easy to do, but this young Knight seems to be able to. It is called wearing your opponent down."

Alesta tries to find the meaning of the answer, but can't. As she turns back to the fight, she hears a scream and see's one of the drunken Knights has gone down, and lost an arm.

"You have won for now Sir Knight, but do not think overmuch of this, we have many friends here, WATCH YOUR BACK!" Yells the remaining surly Knight as he drags away his friend.

"M'lay, are you and your companions unharmed?" Asks the Knight. "We are fine, thankyou brave Knight. May I ask your name?"

"Why yes, my name is Geoffrey Horkwood, and I am a Knight from England."


Damn i want IMG to be enabled......

[This message has been edited by Ring Wraith (edited 12-12-2002 @ 07:55 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 12-12-02 21:34 EST (US)     23 / 149       
Alesta paused a moment before answering, appraising the young knight leaning from his horse to address her. "I am Alesta de Bellievre, nee de Corbieres of Occitan. My husband is Danyel de Bellievre, a knight in the service of King Guy."

The young English knight's expression changed twice during Alesta's self introduction. First, when she mentioned the name of her husband, and second when she identified him as a knight in the service of King Guy. Disappointment washed over his face at the former, and sadness replaced it during the latter.

"Milady, I am so sorry for you. I am sure it must be difficult at so tender an age to have heard such news."

Even Jayhawk was taken aback by Horkwood's comment; for though he had "vision" it was not necessarily so focussed as to see every detail, especially detail about mortals who themselves were not in positions to effect historical change. "I am the minstrel Jayhawk, Sir Knight. What do you mean by that?"

"Greetings, Minstrel. Do you not know about the Battle of the Horns of Hattin? King Guy was captured and his army destroyed. Those who were captured were either executed or sold into slavery. Not a Templar nor Hospitaller escaped, except their leader." Horkwood looked at Alesta with sympathetic eyes. "Was your husband a member of either of these orders, Milady?"

Alesta's heart was in the pit of her stomach but she managed an answer regardless. "No, Sir Horkwood. My husband was... is... merely a knight pledged to the Crusade and serving King Guy of Outremer as I said."

"Then be of good cheer, Milady!" exclaimed the ebulient knight. "Though the losses among the knights were great, it was greatest among the Templars and Hospitallers. There is a fair chance that your husband survived if his wounds were not too severe!"

"That is why I am here, Sir Horkwood: to find my husband and my brother."

"A brother too?"

"Yes, a squire to one of King Guy's knights, but not my husband."

"Hmmmm. Squires are not the Saracen's typical prey as they are viewed to be the same as servants, though slavery is not out of the question. Hmmmm. I should think there is a fair chance he lives as well... But where, of course, is the question." Horkwood straightened up in his saddle and his eyes regained their unbridled radiating enthusiasm. "By the crown of King Richard! This is indeed a noble quest! And my liege will appreciate the return to service of two Crusaders, one a knight and the other a knight-to-be! May I be so bold as to ask your permission to join your Quest and make it mine as well, Milady?"

Alesta looked at Arnaud and Jayhawk. The tall man's lips curled at the edges as a small smile threatened to reveal itself. Both nodded. It would be good to have a knight at their side.

Alesta smiled. "Welcome to our Quest, Sir Knight." She offered her hand. Sir Geoffrey Horkwood, Knight of England, took it gently and placed light pressure on it to signify the pact was made. "Do you have any suggestions, Sir Knight?" said Alesta.

"If you are low on supplies, I would suggest we stop first in Tyre. Then we must hurry south to circumnavigate Saladin. I am told he is advancing towards Acre. Where goes Saladin, there might your husband or brother be."

"It will be dangerous in Tyre for you after the incident with the two knights."

"Hah! Only in the dark of night maybe... And we shouldn't tarry there that long," retorted Geoffrey.

Alesta looked at Arnaud and Jayhawk for their agreement or counter suggestion.

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 12-14-02 14:18 EST (US)     24 / 149       
Jayhawk gazed at the young knight for several seconds assessing the situation as his mind flooded with the knowledge the Lord placed therein. Yes, Sir Horkwood needed to have a cause that would let him redeem his bruised esteem.

“Sir Horkwood, do you have knowledge of a place that we can safely rest and prepare for the next step of this journey?”asked Arnaud. He was concerned that Alesta with all that had transpired was growing weary. The sun was also in full measure beating down with a fierce brightness.

The blue of the Mediterranean Sea gleamed off to the west and Sir Horkwood led the group to that side of the city of Tyre. As they journeyed Arnaud gazed at the City of Tyre with wonderment, Paul the Apostle had been in this very city as he journeyed as a missionary. Great leaders had conquered this same city after the time of the apostles. He looked ahead to his friend and watched as memories played across Jayhawk’s face. Thankfulness filled his soul as he realized the honor that the Lord had given him to have full knowledge of the identity of the Minstrel.

That thought brought back the memory of the first time he had encountered his friend, twenty long years ago, standing in the flames of the fire that was consuming his parents. Arnaud had held his sister so she would not see their death, but could not tear his tortured gaze from them. He had been amazed as the flames engulfed them to see a peaceful joy shine from their faces. More astonished still to see figures comforting them in the flames as they gazed heavenwards.
For one brief moment he had locked gazes with a figure in the flames and with that glance the memory was imbedded in him. Moments after his parents had been consumed a tall stranger had led them away. Arnaud had looked up to thank the man and locked eyes with the same gaze that had looked out at him only minutes ago. Arnaud, in that instant understood what the Lord had allowed.

Gazing ahead at Jayhawk he was truly thankful of the times that Heaven gave him the honor of his company. Arnaud watched as Alesta walked beside him and marveled as he recalled the words from scripture “For He shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways."


«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»
Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~
«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»«..»º©º«..»º©º«..»

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 12-14-2002 @ 06:33 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 12-19-02 15:49 EST (US)     25 / 149       
Arnaud heard laughter from an unexpected source. He turned to see that Jayhawk was struggling to contain something that threatened to result in a broad grin on the minstrel's face. Arnaud was puzzled. What could Jayhawk be thinking that is so humorous? The cleric looked around but saw nothing obvious. It must be that the man is responding to personal thoughts on a subject known only to himself. Arnaud shrugged his shoulders and continued to trudge with the others towards Tyre.

"Full identity indeed!" thought Jayhawk. "Why do these mortals always grasp at the unknown and try to define it with concepts invented within their own folklore? Why can't they broaden their perceptions and let the possibility of something new, something outside of their realm of experience, be the definition. "Angel" Arnaud calls me. My Father and Mother would find that to be amusing. I am no more an "angel" than they are "shades", though we seem to have the appearances attributed to these other entities. Well... Maybe that is the reason. Hmmm. Oh well, if it gives the mortals comfort to think of myself and others in that way, so be it."

Jayhawk, with his long stride, easily kept pace with the young English knight on his horse, the young woman Alesta and the cleric Arnaud as they made their way to Tyre.

____________________________________________________________

Saladin fiercely concentrated on his sheepskin map of the region. Then he closed his eyes as if communicating with someone deep inside and known only to him. When his eyes opened again, it was with the mark of decision embedded in them. "We attack Acre!" he exclaimed. His subcommanders bowed, touching their hands lightly to their foreheads, lips and hearts in single smooth movements. The next day, the city fell into the hands of the Saracens.

____________________________________________________________


Thibault, Jaufre and the two soldiers wondered if they appeared as slack jawed and staring as those they were staring at. Along the main street into Jersusalem, within its mighty walls, the returning Crusaders saw only these things: crippled men, ghost-eyed children and women-many, many, many women. Now and then they saw a soldier wearing the red cross, but very seldom... And in some areas, not at all.

"What has happened here!" cried out Thibault as he made his way to an inn where they hoped there would be rooms.

"Hattin has happened!" cried out one of the crippled men. They have gone to Hattin and will never return!"

The full magnitude of the disaster at last began to sink into the understanding of Sir Thibault de Montfort, the only knight left in the capital city of Outremer.

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