The Black Knight

The Crusades. In medieval times, these were nothing but military campaigns to the world leaders. But to the knights that took part in it, the journey of their lives. What was written in the history books is what we call truth, but they call a simple cover up. Even though there was no such thing as a fire-breathing lizard called a Dragon or a hybrid of an Eagle and Lion known as a Griffin, the Knight's Christianity was more than just a belief.


1. Origins

“Brothers!” Lord Montagu called from the front of the ship.


We all looked up at King Montagu of England who was about to give us a speech. He was a mighty and brave king who had led us through this long and bloody crusade which was finally near its end. We were crossing the Mediterranean sea to march on the land of Jerusalem and take back the Holy City from the Muslims who had captured. If we succeeded, then we would finally be allowed to return home to our families.


Montagu was an unusually tall man and had a thick build. He was wearing a red habit with a golden cross on his chest that reached from arm to arm and the bottom of his neck to his legs. His shoulder pads were silver from the shiny steel used to forge them. His golden chainmail shone from his neck, arms, and legs. He also had golden armor plates covering his forearms, hands, shins and feet. On his waist was a brown belt which held the sheath for his long sword and in his left hand he held his acorn shaped white shield which also had a large red cross that reached from right to left and top to bottom. Instead of wearing a bucket-shaped helmet like us, he wore a golden helmet that was shaped round like a human head with a large opening in the front for his face and was dipped in gold and had a gold and jeweled crown melted on top as though he was wearing it normally. The other knights and I had identical armor. Gray bucket shaped helmets, silver chainmail hoods, white habits with red crosses, steel plating for our shins, hands, feet and forearms, a white kite-shaped shield with red crosses on them and crossbows on our backs with a small quiver full of bolts. Unlike the other knights, however, my oldest and dearest friend Solomon, had a unique black crossbow and steel sword with a black leather handle and a black hilt.


“Today, we march on the Holy Land and take back the great city of Jerusalem from the Muslims! We will not stop fighting until all their blood is spilled on our blades!” he cried out to motivate the other knights.


“YEAH!” we all cried out in excitement and agreement.


“When we land, we will march across the Holy Land, and straight into Jerusalem! We will force our way into the city and flush out every unholy warrior that plagues God’s city!” he cried out in anger, “And we will strike anyone down who dares to stand in our way!”


“YEAH!!!” Solomon cried out louder than the other knights while raising his sword like the others.


“For King Arthur!” Lord Montagu cried out, raising his sword.


“FOR KING ARTHUR!” we repeated.


After another couple hours of sailing, we finally saw the land of Jerusalem. It was a large and immersive subtropical land that reached across the horizon as far as we could see. It wasn’t long before our ships reached the shores and landed at the abandoned docks there. As the small armada beached on the docks, every Templar either unloaded the heavy artillery we were bringing or saddling the horses for each of the knights. Solomon and I decided to work in the heavy lifting and guide the artillery down the ramp and move it onto the beach in a line. Even though the armada consisted of about twelve ships, they were large enough to hold around a hundred horses for the Templars that ride them, four trebuchets and eight catapults. The King knew didn’t need this large of an army to take back Jerusalem, but to him and the other lords, it didn’t matter. He wanted to show the Muslims who they were dealing with and wanted to ensure Jerusalem’s safety in the future. We walked back down to the bottom of the ship to unload ballistae from the ship with two other knights we didn’t know.


“Do you think it will be an easy battle?” one of the knights. I couldn’t see his face but I could tell that he was Italian due to his accent.


“Of course! The king’s army is unstoppable,” his British friend replied greatly encouraged, “Besides, with Lord Montagu with us this victory is already ensured.”


“I wouldn’t be so sure of that,” Solomon jumped in as we approached the lower level to move a catapult, “The King’s army may be strong, but sometimes numbers can outmatch the strong.”


When we reached the closest catapult to the entrance we heard a strange noise from the back of the room. Stranger than the groaning of the ship. All four of us drew our swords with our shields in front of us and slowly moved towards the back of the room with caution. When we reached the back, we saw nothing but the artillery and crates that held all our crossbow ammunition.


“There’s nothing here,” I said turning around, relaxed.


Just then we heard a loud crash from behind me and when I looked back, there she was. My younger sister lying in the broken crate covered in crossbow bolts. She was wearing a standard habit like the rest of us with a sword sheathed on her side, steel boots and gauntlets. Her pale was covered in dirt from the voyage here. Her light green eyes sparkled from even the dim light coming from behind us and her long brown hair was tangled in wooden bolts but still reached down to her shoulders.


“Alice?!” Solomon and I asked in unison.


“What are you doing here?” I asked sheathing my sword to help her up.


When she stood up, we realized that she hadn’t grown one bit. Even for being in her mid-twenties, she still was only as tall as my shoulders. But when she stood up, instead of answering me she went straight to Solomon and hugged her husband.


“Sorry, but I couldn’t help it with you guys away,” she said holding Solomon’s hand and looking up at him smiling.


He took his helmet off to reveal his short brown hair and dark blue eyes and handed it to me to hold it for him, “I missed you too. But you shouldn’t have come here! This is a war we are in! Not some game!” his voice deep and drowned in frustration.


“Hey,” I said pulling Solomon away with the other two knights out of earshot from my sister, “What are we gonna do? We can’t have her here in battle. But we can’t stay here either to watch her,”


“I know,” Solomon whispered looking at me, “How about we put her in the back with artillery? She knows how to work the machines.”


“Ya but think. That’ll be the primary target for the enemy,” I snapped.


“Cavalry maybe?” the Italian knight suggested.


“Oh yeah, let’s put my wife in with the group that’ll be charging in first straight into enemy lines,” Solomon replied angrily.


“Well she only trusts you, Solomon, I say she should stay with you,”


“Agreed,” the British and Italian replied at the same time.


“Damn,” Solomon whispered in defeat even though every other day he would love to be stuck with Alice.


“Alice,” I said as we all turned to face her, “If you’re staying here then you’re gonna stay with Solomon. No exceptions.”


She shrieked with joy. No surprise. We gave her one of the bucket shaped helmets to help conceal the fact that she was a woman since they weren’t allowed on the Crusades and made her help us unload the catapults via the large wooden elevator that was invented by some Italian named Da Vinci. It was great because we wouldn’t be limited to one piece of artillery per ship and we could just fill each ship with different cargo. While we were unloading the first catapult onto the elevator, I looked at my sister who was on the other side with her husband.


“Alice,” I called getting her attention. She looked at me in response, “When we get up there, don’t talk to anyone up there besides us. But even then you have to whisper so the others don’t hear you. Because if you get caught, Lord Montagu will send you back home in chains faster than he could kill you with his blade.”


Guessing that she understood after only seeing a simple nod, we finally reached above deck. Everyone was busy with either unloading weapons or horses. As we slowly moved the catapult down the large ramp onto the port, one knight approached us from the deck. He was one of the rookies that always tried to make everything perfect even though he was one of those knights that everyone treated like crap and always “secretly” told Lord Montagu of every small mistake he saw from any of the other Knights. He noticed my sister helping us and must have noticed her small body compared to the rest of us because he was moving toward us like he meant business even though he looked like one of those stick thin people that tried to act like the toughest knight in the crusades. But before he could reach us I improvised.


“Hey, rookie!” I yelled at him over the overlapping noise going on around us. He looked at me with his light blue eyes and short blonde hair. His habit was the smallest size we had for him at the time but was hilariously still too big on his scrawny self. I don’t even know why Lord Montagu accepted him, “There’s a broken crate of crossbow bolts down below. Go clean it up will you?”


He groaned with anger and frustration as he ran past us to go down below deck.


“Damn that was close,” Solomon whispered in relief.


The rest of the afternoon consisted of unloading all the equipment and marching towards the City of Jerusalem. When the sun had set, we had all made camp in the desert hills only a few miles from Jerusalem. Where we camped, we could see Jerusalem on the horizon like a dim candle in the distance surrounded by massive fields spotted with patches of palm trees all over and rough terrain that would make it difficult to maneuver the artillery. But once we got passed the rough terrain, it would be no problem to bring down the walls and pour into the city streets. Half of the knights set up camp around the artillery on the other side of the small canyon between the mountains while the rest of us set up camp with the horses which we had to use makeshift posts to hold the reins while we slept. The land itself was very similar to an actual desert. The ground was a shade of brown that almost looked like soil but you would know it wasn’t when you would sleep on it or walk on it during the daytime. The heat from the sun was always immense. If not for the random oasis’ here and there, traveling this land would make it seem the exact opposite of ‘Holy’. Our tent was higher up on a small ledge because we always like the privacy. I made the short walk up the slightly steep hill to reach our small two tent settlement.


Our tents were both small personal spaced tents shaped like triangles placed side by side with their backs facing the open edge. Solomon and Alice had left to some secret waterfall they found and went to go explore. I was too tired from the long march to do any exploring so I leaned my sword and shield up against a large rock just outside my tent and crawled in with my crossbow and armor still on. I was probably one of the only Templars in history besides Solomon that actually liked sleeping in their armor especially on hard ground. As I lied down in the ten, I took my helmet and habit off to wrap around my helmet and use it to soften my helmet a little bit as a makeshift pillow. I placed down my crossbow next to me so that the bow part was placed behind the helmet. I had barely made myself comfortable before I was instantly asleep the second I closed my eyes.


* * * * *


I woke up a few hours later to see that it was still dark. After trying for a short while, I got out of my tent in the defeat of not being able to sleep. I looked over at to see that Solomon and Alice’s tent was open and empty, which could only mean they still haven’t returned.


“Where are you guys?” I whispered to myself.


I picked up my sword and shield and began walking in the direction where Solomon & Alice’s footprints led. It took me about half an hour to walk through the long tunnel which eventually opened out into an open cavern with a waterfall that poured from an opening at the top of the cave which filled up the bowl shaped pool below it. Around it was a stone walkway which formed a circle around it which led to other tunnels going in all directions but were dark as night. From the walkway around the pool, a steep hill was formed as a sort of walkway down to the pool.


I looked around and noticed Alice lying unconscious at the base of the walkway from where I was. I quickly slid down the hill and stopped at her side. Her face was pale as snow with blood trickling down the side of her cheek from her temple.


“I’ll find who did this, and I’ll avenge you, Alice,” I whispered after closing her lifeless eyes.


I heard groaning from the edge of the pool off to my side. I looked over to see Solomon crawling out, weak and bloody all over.


“Hey hey hey. Easy,” I said running to his side to help him out of the water.


“Cave… demons… hive…” he whispered weakly skipping a few words.


“Hey, save your energy,” I said leaning his head up against a rock.


He grabbed my arm with his strong group and looked into my eyes with his eyes which were weak and bloody, “He’s… coming… back! I can’t fight anymore…,” he groaned weakly, losing his focus in staying awake.


“Such a shame,” a man’s voice said from behind.


In an instant, I stood up and turned around, shield in front and sword by my side pointed at the man. He was a skinny middle-aged man, maybe around his mid 30’s, and he had shiny black hair pulled back to reveal his large forehead. He wore black robes lined with small rubies with the likes of which I haven’t seen before as well as his black shoes. He was just standing there with his fingers interlocked up against his stomach.


“They fought well if that makes a difference. But let’s just get this over with. My boss is in need of soldiers, and you Solomon are an excellent example!” he commented with joy, “You, on the other hand, are just annoying, jumping into business that doesn’t concern you.” he lifted his left hand in a fist except for his index and middle fingers which were extended and kept together. He put his hand out with his palm facing him and flexed his fingers inward. At first, I thought he was crazy until I felt a sharp blade enter my back. My legs began to lose strength as I fell on my back which forced the blade to be shoved right through my chest and right past my ribs, missing my heart by inches. I looked down to see that it was Alice’s dagger that she kept in her boot. How it ended up inside of me, I’ll never understand. But as my vision faded, I saw the strange man walk over to Solomon and squat down next to him. Although it was difficult to hear since I was dying, I still tried to focus and listen.


“Now Solomon, I can save either your best friend,” he said looking at me chuckling,”Or you can bring back your wife. But whatever you choose, you must pay this… not so cheap price.”


“What… price?” he asked.


“Your soul. However, when you die, your soul will be put to good use like I mentioned. My boss is building an army, and he specifically asked for you. Now, make your choice. Because I’d rather not go back empty-handed,” he said looking over at my sister.


“Go… to hell,” Solomon struggled to whisper.


“Been there… done that,” the man replied annoyed, ”But now… it’s your turn. Now choose!” he raised his voice in slight frustration.


“Solomon…” I struggled to speak, making eye contact with him when he heard my voice, “Save… Alice…,”


I could feel my strength fading and my vision darkening. My eyelids began to grow real heavy real heavy and my breath was weakening, fading as my body was so close to death. But as I struggled to keep my eyes open I saw the strange man place his hand in front of Solomon as though to help him up. Solomon grabbed it and after shaking it, the man pulled him up with ease as though his wounds were completely healed. I noticed in the distance that Alice had taken a huge breath of air and was instantly healed and sitting up. Solomon ran to her side to make sure she was ok. Then Solomon gave me one quick glance with fear and sorrow in his eyes. As my breath was near its end, I mustered to whisper my last words to Solomon before my life ended.

“Thank you…”

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