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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5. 4 – Salvation

4 – Salvation

 

“Show me a place I will not weep; God, give me peace in my sleep,” the woman caressed the deep nail-marks in her palms, lulling herself into slumber again as she tried to block out the pain pulsing through her bloodied back.

She never could block it out.

The door of her cell creaked open a little, but then shut quickly (heavy as it was). The woman turned her head slightly.

“Knight-Priest!” she croaked, “You left the door ajar!”

There was a pause, and then she heard footsteps coming towards her.

 

“I do not understand you, woman,” said a soft voice.

She did not turn to see its owner, “What is it you wish to understand?”

“Why do you not just leave, when I left the door ajar?”

“I cannot walk, and if your superiors – with one exception, perhaps – find this door open, they will punish you.”

“And you would not delight at that?”

“You, who gives me food and water? Why on earth would I delight in your suffering?”

 

The guard walked around her, so she could see him. He was a man in his late-twenties or early-thirties, grim-faced and rather lean for a knight, “Why will you not let me pity you?”

“I need not let you. This is my cross, I will bear it alone.”

“You’ve bared enough! Have you lost your mind?”

“I have lost everything, Knight-Priest – my home, my family, my wealth, my health, my pride, my dignity. What is the use of a mind, now? A few days will go, and I will die – and that will be the end of my suffering. There is no need for you to intervene and start some suffering of your own.”

 

“No,” said the guard, “I will do as you told Harold of Hereford. I will do the right thing.”

“You will be doing a great detriment to yourself,” she snapped.

He ignored her, “You need to see a doctor. Someone who can fix this,” he hauled her over his shoulder, “The stables aren’t far. I can find you a healing place.”

“You are making a mistake.”

 

“No, I am doing the right thing.”
 

* * * * *

 

Three days after depositing her in a hospital run by nuns, the guard came to visit the woman. He found her lying on her back, her eyes closed, her body covered in a sheet. He would have thought she was asleep, if she wasn’t humming the tune that had grown to his liking: “Show me a place I will not weep; God, give me peace in my sleep.”

 

She heard his approach, and smiled at him, “Ah, Knight-Priest.”

He smiled sadly back at her, “My name is Thierry. Thierry of Rouen, Knight of Jerusalem.”

“Well, thank you, Thierry, for bringing me here. For showing me kindness.”

“It is as you said: ‘Am I not human like you?’ Perhaps I did not pity you from the beginning, but it came to me slowly, steadily.”

“Well, you’ve restored some faith in me, of humanity in general. But, if I may ask, what will you do now?”

“Go back, of course.”
“Thierry, be sensible,” she let out a soft laugh, “They’ll castrate you, burn your eyes out and then flog you – like me and the monk that dreamt of a succubus,” she said the last words in a very sardonic manner.

“Then what do you recommend that I do?”

“Whatever you feel is right.”

 

“So become a Muslim and lead a war against my brothers?”

“I’m not going to say no to your accepting another faith, that is a choice you must make on your own and one no one can force on you. It was not what I was referring to. Change your identity, stay away from the Templars – that’s a good starting point,” the woman sighed, “As for war against the Franks, that is a long process. The Muslims will not regain what’s theirs until they can break divisions between themselves. I pray that one day there will be a leader that will unite them,” she turned to Thierry, “A leader that will pity you, also, as you pitied me.”

 

 

She sighed and smiled, “There is a demon in all of us, Thierry. The greatest power you can have is to fight that demon. And we all have the will to fight it. Hidden within us, is that great source of power – to know what is right, to act on it and to endorse it. And at the same time – to know what is wrong, to abstain from it and to forbid it. If you follow this, we need no hero, no man of steel. The hero is within us all.”

 

 

“It is hard to believe… that your faith is yet so strong,” said Thierry, “After you’ve been good, and so many tribulations have crossed your path.”

“Life is never easy for the good, Thierry. Wasn’t Christ good? And, according to your own belief, look what became of him. This life is no Euphoria, no Utopia. It is a test. All goodness is in the Utopia to come: in the Kingdom of Heaven that you Crusaders so desperately seek,” the woman looked around her, content, “Now that I think about it, this place isn’t such a bad place to die.”

 

Thierry stood up like a startled rabbit, “What is this you speak?”

“Thierry, please–”

“Not a word more! You will live, I will make sure of it, at my own expense.”

“Thierry, calm yourself! Hark, what you speak! Not all the jewels in the world can buy a second of life more than what each of us have already been granted. Is it not plain to you? Do you not see? My task is done. My purpose is fulfilled. There is nothing more I want than to be at peace.”

Thierry was bewildered, “Then be at peace in your sleep!” he tucked in her sheets hastily, bowed quickly and walked away.

 

* * * * *

 

There is no guarding against Fate. What is meant to be, is done.

Thierry found that the woman’s prayer had been answered in the morning when he came to see her again: God had given her peace in her sleep.

 

He sent for a ‘Muslim priest’, who came stumbling over his long robes. The body was washed, but nothing could be done about the condition of the hair, and so it had to be cut short. Thierry watched the Janazah prayers for the dead woman, and sat to a side – tears in his eyes for a reason he could not quite explain. He barely knew this woman, and yet he felt as if her respite was so short-lived. As if his effort to remove her from torturous clutches had gone to waste.

The prayers ended, and the body fully buried in an unmarked grave.

 

The imam came and sat next to him.

Thierry said nothing.

“Who was she to you, lad?” he asked.

Theirry ignored the question, “Do you not mark the graves of your dead, father?”

“No. That is not our practice. And even if we did, we do not know who this woman is.”

It was only then that Thierry realised that he didn’t even know her name. It made him weep – that such a soul would go unremembered.

“Who was she? A beloved?”

“No, sir. I do not even know her name,” his voice wavered, “She went through much hardship, and I did what I could to spare her. But she died yet.”

“God guide you, son,” said the imam, “She died well. To God we belong and to Him we return. Her suffering is over. She is at peace.”

 

Thierry watched as the imam rose to leave. It was then and there he decided the story will not go unheard. The nameless woman who’d suffered would not be forgotten, “She was the prisoner of Temple Mount. Of the Knights Templar. They flogged her because they could not answer her challenge, weekly. Weekly became daily when she refused to give them a passage into Tyre.”

The imam raised his brows, “And you are one of them?”

“I used to be.”

“They will show you no mercy if they find you. God protect you from them.”
“Amen.”

 

“What is your name, son?”
Thierry remembered the advice of the woman: “Gavroche. Gavroche of Jerusalem.”

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