The Prisoner of Temple Mount

Set just after the establishing of the Knights Templar, succeeding the First Crusade. ;D I'mma enter this into the Hidden Power comp.

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2. 1 – Judgement

1 – Judgement

 

You will hardly ever find a captive that will refuse to be captured.

Often, after seeing much bloodshed and trouble, one is inclined to submit to an overlording power – in such a manner as to not incur its wrath, anger or even disappointment. One would usually just accept one’s fate, and concede to the life of a slave or a prisoner (indeed, both words almost meant one and the same thing). It’s a very rare occasion to find a captive that refuses to be one.

As it proved on this occasion.

 

 

Hugh de Payens sat in his study, engrossed in a religious manuscript, stroking his ample brown beard which was heavily streaked with grey. He was a man of fifty or sixty, but bore the physique of a soldier who’d witnessed many wars. Indeed, just one look of his hands – though speckled with the brown spots of age – would make one think twice about incurring his ire.

Despite this, he retained the demeanor of a church-father, calm and welcoming, though his pale blue eyes bore an intense mesmerizing effect. He wore long white robes – spit across the front, and back which made horse-riding an easier task – clasped by a simple belt ‘of chastity’. He was a man of great cunning, and a man of great standing in the realm of the Holy Land.

In his place, Hugh de Payens had to be all these things at once, and lack in none of them.

 

He was the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, and that demanded a regiment of religious piety, military discipline, and the ambition of a cunning zealot. The Knights Templar could be easily described as monks in armor. Along with rigorous military training, members were required to be as pious as monks – thus upholding oaths of poverty, a frugal lifestyle, chastity, and so on. Hugh believed that the Christian failures in the Holy Land were due to the sins of the kingdoms of Christianity which incured God’s Wrath. His mission was to abolish sin in Christian Europe and in the Holy Land, and call for another Crusade that would obliterate the Muslim threat.

 

The Grand Master was to be left undisturbed in his study (especially at this time of day, the sun being so high up). He had a liking for silence and for study, and his Study was lined with books withering with age and use.

But when he heard much scuffling and two men barking orders, he looked with mild interest at his door. It was only when he heard the angry wailing of a woman, that he rose from his seat.

Master Hugh was furious.

There was no place for a woman in the Order. If these men were doing what he thought they were doing – they would be flogged for longer than just one lifetime.

He strode up to his study door, and pulled it open, bellowing: “Explain yourselves!”

The two men looked up, their faces blanched immediately and their mouths set into thin lines in fear. Even the woman they were manhandling looked slightly surprised at the Master’s interruption.

 

Hugh’s repeated himself, “What is the meaning of this?”

One of the men gulped, and then said shakily, “This prisoner, master, she’s offered us a challenge.”

“Young monk, we do not take prisoners! We have no need to change this scum of the earth. And, pray, why should you bring a woman into our ranks as a ‘prisoner’? We need no temptress amoungst us!”

The woman mumbled, “Scum of the earth, he says,” she shook her head, “If only he knew…”

“Keep your silence, wretch!”

 

“Make me!” the woman spat at his feet, “For generations you Crusaders have robbed us of our land, of our homes, of our pride and honor. Our people live in fear of you. But there are some who have finally grown a pair and decided that enough is enough! And they are the ‘scum of the earth’? For wanting their home back? Oh, and do not be afraid of ‘temptation’. It will take a legion of your monks to force me into anything.”

The Grand Master regarded her, his anger clear on his face. The woman was an Arab – perhaps Syrian – but she spoke a very high level of Norman. She wore a dress that had seen far too many days, and the end of its long sleeves, neckline and hem were thoroughly frayed; and it retained the color of a burlap sack. Her shawl (as was customarily and religiously worn by the Arab women on their heads) was missing, revealing her knotted hair, that may have been silky if it had been well-kept. Her face – though not of any particular beauty – was one that was difficult to ignore, or indeed to forget.

 

“Silence, woman, you know nothing of what we speak!” was Hugh’s reply, “This land is our Holy Land, we and we will rid you infidels of it and purify its Sanctity once more.”

“Purify? Will you purify God’s Holy Land with the blood of the Muslims and the blood of the Jews and the blood of even the Christians you have killed? The blood that ran up to the ankles of the horses in Jerusalem? The blood of the women and children and elderly, the worshippers and rabbis and monks?”

“And soldiers,” one of the young monks pointed out.

“And soldiers,” she conceded, “Is this your method of purity? It’s no wonder that my people are loathe to become one of you! They might fear you, but they hate your guts worse than anything!”

 

Hugh regarded the woman for a moment, his nostrils flared by her words, and then said: “Very well, this captive seeks an audience? She will receive one, later. Tie her to one of the pillars and, for the love of God, keep away from her. All of you.”

 

* * * * *

 

The woman was disappointed with audience she received. It hardly comprised of fifteen people, but it would have to do. Boast as they might, the Knights Templar was only in its starting years – and thus did not have as many members as it might have liked to. Not yet. But before her were the nine founders, only two of which the woman knew by name: Grand Master Hugh de Payens and his most loyal companion Godfrey de Saint-Omer. The others, she felt, looked no more important than these two persons (which wasn’t saying much, as they all wore robes, their belts of chastity and two of them had a ventail on their heads). The others that were in the room were guards and servants to these men. Two guards in heavy armour stood to each side of her, whilst the woman herself sat on her knees, her hands bound behind her back. The room they stood in was bare, the walls the color of light wooden beams, and the ceiling had a high arch, so that everything that was said, echoed.

 

“Pray,” said Godfrey, “The Grand Master tells me you have a challenge to offer? What is this challenge?”

The woman ignored the question, “Are you not the same Godfrey de Saint-Omer who had a young monk, one of your own, flogged for seeing a succubus in his dream? Who then later died of infections?”

“Yes,” the man smiled as if this was a comment of praise, “The demon in that monk needed to be beaten out.”

The woman shook her head, “And you think this demon will not make a reappearance?”
Godfrey stared at her, “He might.”
“And you think anyone will actually come to you to tell of you of dreams like this ever again?”

He said, “If they are of faith,” after a pause.

“So this demon is gone then?”
“I should think so.”

“Well, that’s a relief,” said the woman with a mock sigh, “I thought for a moment that perhaps I was talking to him just now,” she looked at him for a long time deliberately.

 

Godfrey scowled, but the Grand Master raised a hand signalling him to be silent, “Enough banter,” he said, “What is your challenge, woman?”

“Must you address me so?” she retorted.

“It seems we must. You are a fugitive in the realm of men.”
“A fugitive of what crime? Is it my fault your people can barely control themselves?”

One of the other founding memebers replied, “Rich, coming from one who’s religion pemits polygyny!”

“At least it is a legal, recognised arrangement,” she snapped, “As opposed to your famous brothels, lust-filled marriages, secret marriages, adulterers, sodomites, and of course your well-known ‘Knights of the Realm’ who feel the need to infest all their captives with their loins! Sharing a husband with some dignity seems a much better prospect for us women, but of course my saying that is treason in your ‘mens-only’ realm, isn’t it?”

 

“Silence!” said Hugh, “Speak of your challenge and be done!”

“Very well,” said the woman, “Your men attacked our village not many days short from now. What crime had they committed that you should burn down our houses, destroy our crop, our livestock and leave no survivors – not even the women and the children?”

“Did any of your folk traverse and attack the roads that we protect?”

“How should I know? Perhaps and perhaps not.”

“They had, master,” said one of the guards to her left, “Which was why we chased them and destoyed their homes.”

“Is that not answer enough for you?” said Hugh.

“You destroy a whole village for the crimes of a few? Such is your justice?” said the woman, incredulously.

 

Godfrey intervened, “How is it that you came about to survive?” he said with slight intrigue.

The same guard replied, “She saw the bloodshed, and as the knights advanced her, she cried: ‘Swear in the name of your God that your deeds here are acceptable in His eyes’.”

“And you became hesitant?” asked Godfrey.

The guard looked nervously at the man, but the woman said, “Pray, would you swear in their stead? Remover of demons, as you are?”

Godfrey glowered at her, “The name of God should not be taken in vain.”

“Aye,” said Hugh, “We must not tempt God.”

Aye,” said the woman mockingly, “We know that what we have done is wrong and are afraid to admit it, hence we make excuses!”

“You have cheek, woman!” growled Hugh.

“And you have no shame!” snapped back the woman, “To take our lands and homes and claim as your own! Are we not human like you?”

“God gave us these lands, heretic.”

 

“No,” said the woman, “God did not give you these lands. You took them by force.”

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