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Excerpts from the novel Knight of the Temple
by Nathan Sadasivan

From Chapter 7

     Some time later, Godfrey awoke. He had no memory of going to sleep, but his mind was much clearer. Clearer…except for an image and a thought on the edge of his memory. He had been dreaming, dreaming very vividly, and he had dreamt something about…
     Godfrey tried to call the images into his mind:
     Conrad and Adelaise…and me. Jacques was there too, but not with the rest of us. And old Otto of Freising. He was telling something to Adelaise and me…
     Godfrey’s heart ached, but he could recall no more. The dream faded, and Godfrey let it go wearily.
     How long has it been?
     It was still dark, still night. He was lying on some torn piece of cloth next to the fire. Someone was sitting next to him. His vision was a little blurry, but he stared for a few seconds and it cleared. It was Humphrey. Humphrey still looked battered and wounded, but there was a broad grin on his face.
     “I was bloody right, Templar.”
     Godfrey frowned, but quickly went back to staring. Frowning hurt.
     “About…what?” he managed.
     “You do have some of Godfrey de Bouillion in you.”
     Godfrey smiled weakly. “I’m not a saint…only crazy.”
     “It seems to me,” said Humphrey, “most of the saints had a touch of madness in them. I think it’s a sign that God loves them.”
     Godfrey tried to laugh, but it came out as a weak gurgle.
     “If you are mad,” continued Humphrey, “we need more madmen. A few more fools like you and we’d have had the Ishmaelites running.”
     Godfrey could remember now what had happened. You fool, he thought with a sinking heart, You’ve gotten yourself too deep in for even Blanchefort to get you out now.
     He had been waiting with the knights of Tripoli. He had at last convinced Jacques that it would be wrong to fight, so the two of them were waiting at the rear. Godfrey had seen the infidels come, and had watched, shocked, as Tripoli began riding up and down, shouting out to his men.
     ‘Knights of Tripoli, do you know what the king wants you to do?’ Tripoli had roared, visibly angry. ‘He wants us to run! He wants us to flee, to try to deceive the infidels. Then his knights will crush the Ishmaelites and return to Jerusalem with tales of the cowardice of the men of Tripoli. What do you say to that?’
     The knights of Tripoli had not approved of the king’s orders. Their uproar had drowned out Tripoli’s voice for a while, and Godfrey had caught only snatches of his speech. He caught words like ‘glory’ and ‘honor’ often. Finally the noise subsided, and Tripoli had ridden to the head of the line.  All the men of Tripoli had waited in silence as Tripoli faced the infidels. Then the count had given the order to charge.
     Godfrey had sat there on his horse, still not fully believing what he was seeing. The knights of Tripoli had surged forward towards the Saracens, leaving the rest of the army behind. A few minutes later, the knights of the Hospital had broken formation to charge, and then the knights of Ibelin. Jacques had made some insulting comment about the Hospitallers, but Godfrey had been too surprised to really notice.
     So Godfrey had watched as a third of the kingdom’s knights charged up the hill, while the rest of the army sat and watched. He had kept looking up towards the king’s banner, to see if Amalric were going to come to their aid.
     It was then that he had realized what was happening. To Amalric, this battle was no more than his bloody game of thrones. Tripoli and D’Aissailly and Ibelin had committed treason, so those three must die. If two thousand others must die with them, so be it.
     Godfrey had grown angry at that, and in his anger had thrown caution to the winds. He still felt dizzy remembering it. He had spurred forward, drawing his sword and shouting incoherently. Then he began riding up to join the knights of Tripoli, forgetting any past resolution to stay out of the battle. As he rode up the hill, Godfrey had thought he was leaving them all behind, the king and the Army and Jacques, but to his surprise he had heard the sound behind him as others followed. By the time he had reached the top a dozen others had joined him, and most of the army was behind him.
     A sudden thought jerked Godfrey back to the present. He frowned again. It hurt less this time.
     “Humphrey,” he said, his voice anxious. “Where is Jacques? Is he…alive”
     “He’s alive,” said Humphrey. “He was in camp when I woke up. He’ll be somewhere nearby.”
     Godfrey breathed a sigh of relief. “I think I can stand now,” he said. Slowly he pushed himself up onto his elbows, then he began to struggle up.
     As soon as he did, he felt the pain lancing through his thigh again. Wincing, he reached down and felt where the pain was. His hand came away slick with blood. Vaguely he remembered a Saracen spear piercing him there.
     How much blood have I lost?
     Godfrey tried again, putting as little weight on his left as possible. Slowly he struggled to his feet.
     “Sir Templar!” came another voice from behind him. Godfrey did not try to turn around; he would have fallen again if he had. Instead, Tripoli came around to face him.
     “Well done, Templar,” he said. “I was told about your valiant charge. It is quite possible you saved us all.”
     Saved you all, maybe, but I have won the enmity of the king. If Tripoli knows of this, so will Amalric…
     “He saved me, that much I know,” said Humphrey. He laughed. “I should have been dead there. I had lost my shield, and I was cut in my left arm and my right leg. All alone, with Saracens coming from all sides. Then Godfrey comes riding down, trampling through the infidels. His face was a fearsome thing to see, and him all arrayed in white like some hero from a troubadour’s tale.”
     “All Templars wear white,” murmured Godfrey, but no one heard him.
     “He was shouting for me to grab on,” Humphrey continued. “So I reached up to catch on, but it never occurred to Godfrey to stop. I dropped my axe and caught his stirrup, and we went bouncing along like that for a good hundred yards. Just when I thought my arm was going to come off, Godfrey reins in sharply, and I clambered up behind him. By then, all the other Franks were gone. No one but us and the bloody Ishmaelites. So we rode like hellfire was at our backs.”
     Godfrey smiled slightly. “I got lost,” he said, a little louder. “It’s only luck that I found the camp when I did.”
     “Godfrey?” Jacques seemed to materialize out of the darkness. “You’re alive!”
     “Barely,” murmured Godfrey.
     From a campfire a little ways away, there came an uproar. Humphrey stared out in that direction.
     “Mass,” he spat. “It’s the king himself.”
     Tripoli stiffened. “Amalric? Humphrey, I want you to go gather as many of my knights as you can. Bring them here.”
     “As for you,” said Tripoli to Jacques and Godfrey, “you’d better get moving. If I found out about your insubordination, so will Amalric, and I don’t think he’ll find it half as amusing as I did. The horselines are a few hundred paces to the left. Get two horses and ride. Make for Jerusalem and the Temple. Once you’re there, your names will fade back into obscurity and Amalric will forget about you. But if he catches either of you here in the camp.…Anyway, there is something more important: when you reach Jerusalem, tell the master of the Temple to prepare the defenses. Shirkuh may not realize it, but the way to Jerusalem is open. If the Saracen moves fast, he can smash through the southern principalities and besiege Jerusalem.”
     “Thank you, Lord Tripoli, for your hospitality,” said Jacques. “I will inform Grand Master Blanchefort of your aid to us.”
     “You shouldn’t have made the charge, Lord Tripoli.” Everyone turned to stare at Godfrey, who had spoken. “You shouldn’t have charged,” Godfrey repeated. “I shouldn’t have charged either. It was an act of pride, sacrificing a piece of the army to humiliate Amalric.”
     Everyone turned to stare at Godfrey. Tripoli’s face darkened. “I have aided you and given you hospitality, and protected you from the king. Is this your only gratitude?”
     Humphrey, who had been lingering a few moments to listen, burst out laughing. “Leave it, my lord. He’s sincere, and that’s something you rarely find. Save it for the Ishmaelites. You’re dealing with a hero here; that or a madman; and you must make allowances for either.”
     Godfrey bowed his head. “I beg pardon, my lord. I did not speak to offend, merely to admit my…mistake.”
     “Apparently to admit my mistake as well,” said Tripoli. “Nonetheless, I will let it pass. We part in friendship then?”
     “If my lord so wishes.” Godfrey made as best a bow as he could.
     The noise was growing closer.
     “Go now,” said Tripoli. “The king draws nearer. Humphrey, you too. Hurry.”
     Humphrey rushed off into the darkness. Godfrey took a few stumbling steps and winced, doubling over. Each step sent pain lancing up his thigh.
Tripoli looked at his limp, alarmed.
     “I will have one of my knights help you. De Ridford!”
     Godfrey’s face darkened at the name. “My lord Tripoli, we will be—”
     “Caught in Amalric’s iron fist unless you accept some help. De Ridford!”
     De Ridford appeared by the campfire, his face cherubic as it had been that morning.
     “De Ridford,” said Tripoli, “help this Templar to the horselines. Help him mount and see them off.”
     De Ridford smiled, angelic as ever. “Yes, my lord.” He moved over to Godfrey, who scowled at him.
     “I don’t need—”
     “I’m sure you do,” said De Ridford calmly. He took Godfrey’s arm and put it around his neck. “Walk,” De Ridford commanded.
     Reluctantly, Godfrey hobbled forward, supported by Gerard de Ridford. Jacques ran ahead to get the horses. As soon as they had passed out of earshot of the count of Tripoli, De Ridford began to talk quietly.
     “You need not be ashamed, Templar. I am told that true men would not accept help of this kind, but I do not think that applies to eunuchs.”
     Godfrey made a move to throw De Ridford off him, but the pain shot up again, and he bit his tongue to keep from howling.
     You are a Templar, he thought. You do not have enemies. Well, maybe you do, but you must love them.
     But with each step, Godfrey found himself loathing De Ridford all the more.
     It was a great relief when Jacques appeared again, leading their horses. He nodded to De Ridford.
     “I can help him from here. You’d better get back to help your count.”
     De Ridford smiled knowingly and left without saying a word. With a little help from Jacques, Godfrey scrambled up into the saddle. Silently, the two turned and rode off into the darkness.
     For a few minutes they rode in silence, though Jacques kept glancing over at Godfrey. Finally he spoke.
     “What was that about?”
     “You had no right to tell the count of Tripoli he did wrong in charging. Tripoli was put in authority over his men, but the men you led on a charge were not even yours to command.”
     Godfrey nodded. “As I said; I should not have charged either. I was more in the wrong than he was.”
     Jacques laughed. “Godfrey, you are the one person I know who always puts into practice anything he believes to be right. I think it scares me. You defied the king of Jerusalem to save Tripoli, and then you angered Tripoli by declaring that both you and he had done wrong. If you go on much longer, you’ll make enemies of everyone in the kingdom. I hope you aren’t planning to rise high in the ranks of the Temple. It’s going to take a good deal more diplomacy than you have.”
     “No,” said Godfrey, “I’m happy as I am; I wouldn’t make a good seneschal or marshal, and certainly not a good grand master.”
     “But,” said Jacques, “you really believe that Tripoli did wrong in disobeying the king? The king has never been the absolute ruler of the kingdom; Tripoli was within his rights.”
     “Legally, yes,” said Godfrey stubbornly. “But to do as he did, forcing the battle on Amalric by threatening to destroy half the army? That was pride.”
Jacques only laughed. Neither of them spoke again that night. They fell into pensive silence as they rode on through the desert. Godfrey’s leg throbbed a little with each heave of the horse’s flanks, but the pain was not overmuch. Soon Godfrey’s thoughts were turning to Jerusalem, the city which had always been home for him, even during his long years in Italy. The Outer City, the noisy, crowded city streets, filled with people: Arabs, Jews, Syrians, Greeks, Franks, a hodgepodge of nationalities; the Inner City, the peace and quiet of Jerusalem Temple. Jerusalem was home.
     There would be work to do there, too, but that was the work he was used to, the work he loved. He and Jacques de Maille’s first task, when they got back, would be to report to the master of the Temple, Bertrand de Blanchefort, for Jacques and Godfrey had been entrusted more than the ordinary tasks of a Templar.
     A year ago, shortly after the two of them had become Templars, the master of the Temple had picked them out. Neither Jacques nor Godfrey knew why they had been picked, but Master Bertrand de Blanchefort must have seen something in them, for he immediately began training them to be his agents, his eyes and ears in hostile places. The hundreds of factions all vying for the Holy Land, Latin, Greek, Shi’ite and Sunni all had their spies scattered throughout Palestine, Arabia, Syria and Egypt. The Fatimids, the Assassins, Nur ad-Din, Amalric, Tripoli, the Greek empire, all had their agents. Even the Master of the Hospital had his network spread through the Holy Land. So the master of the Temple could not afford to be left blind and deaf. There were many others who reported to Blanchefort, but Jacques and Godfrey were the only Templars, so far as they knew, who were used as the Master’s agents. Since they had been chosen, they had traveled all about the Holy Land, going wherever the Master of Jerusalem Temple required them.
     Suddenly, Godfrey felt himself slipping. He flailed out wildly and caught on the reins. He had fallen asleep even as he rode. He shook himself fully awake and glanced around at the endless wastes of sand. The young Templar prayed fervently that he would never have to return to Egypt again.

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