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Thread: The Damned Crusader

  1. #1
    Member Member CrackedAxe's Avatar
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    Default The Damned Crusader

    I havn't been around on this forum for some time but thought I'd mark my return with a new short story. Will be around a lot more soon to review and crit other stories!

    The damned Crusader

    The city of Acre, 1191 ad.

    Roland stood, bloodsoaked, beneath the city walls, watching the smoke stain the sky with its acrid touch. He could hear the fires roar within the city, their hunger to purify this pagan place driving the flames to an inferno.

    Before him were nearly three-thousand Turks, kneeling and bound. Some were doubled over in fear, foreheads pressed to the bloodied sand, while many wept and cried out in utter anguish. Others prayed frantically, while a few looked with steady contempt at their executioners.

    He smiled as a hot wind brought the smell of their burning city and the flesh of those within to them, a reek of failure. It mingled with the metallic stink of fresh blood.

    A number of Turks lay still, frothy blood spilling from their necks and hissing into the sand, their heads lying beside them. Wind ruffled their hair like mockery. Up and down the ranks of these kneeling Turks strode men in mail and armour, sweating and cursing at their labour. They heaved swords at the necks of the infidels, a silver flash marking the end of each.

    'God's work is thirsty work,' Roland muttered to himself, as he lifted a leather flask to his lips. The motion brought a stabbing pain to his left shoulder. He clutched at the pain with a mail-gauntleted hand. It had troubled him since the exertions of battle yesterday, and refused to leave.

    He corked the flask and dropped it to the sand, pushing the pain out of his mind. Once again he drew his bloody sword. Roland had already marked his next victim, an infidel who glared through dark eyes at him unceasingly. He strode up to him and drew back the sword, at that moment the Turk spoke.

    'Will your God love you for this? Crusader? Murderer?'

    Roland paused his stroke for a moment, taken aback as the Turk had spoken English. He had been a trader at some point, no doubt. He replied, 'why don't you pray to yours, infidel? Though he won't hear your pathetic pleas, false god that he is. Then where will your soul be when I hack off your head?'

    The turk grinned, 'Even if that is true, your soul will meet mine there, for this evil.'

    His defiance sparked a rage in Roland. He brought the sword down and across the Turk's neck with all his strength, its blade cracked through muscle and spine easily. As the head rolled away, blood trailing behind it, a keen pain lanced through Roland's shoulder.

    He dropped his sword and knotted his fist in the mail over his shoulder, teeth clenched with the pain. Staggering, he slumped to the sand, splashing up the fresh blood of the Turk.

    The smoke of the fires seemed to billow into his vision, obscuring the stained sand before his face. Soon he could see nothing, his mind's grip on the world seemed to fray away like the smoke in a desert wind.

    Then he woke up, or at least it seemed so. The scene in which he awoken may well have been a dream. He stood in the centre of a long stone bridge, both ends of which were too distant to be seen. He could feel a scorching wind scouring his face, reaching through his mail.

    He looked around frantically. Beneath the bridge, a vast inferno reached to all horizons. Roland gasped at the endless and cracked wilderland of heat-tortured rocks and fissures. Towering fires tore through them as if fanned by some malevolant wind.

    Panic seized him, he looked down the bridge for some means of escape, and saw a dark figure standing there.

    It was completely cloaked and hooded in black. Roland stood transfixed, but it didn't approach, just lifted one arm to slowly beckon him closer.

    Despite his fear, he walked over, a feeling of compulsion overcame the reluctance in his legs.

    The figure was tall, a good two feet taller than Roland, its face could not be seen beneath the hood. As he came to stand before it, a deep voice exhaled from its dark shape.

    'Hail, Roland of Northumbria, Crusader and Knight Templar, your death has brought you before me, now you must judge yourself.'

    Rolands voice caught in his throat, he coughed it into the wind.

    'Dead? Dead...I knew it, knew it! But...judge myself?'

    'Yes, your fate is not decided. The actions of your life have brought you to this crossroads. You must justify yourself.'

    'Crossroads?'

    At this, the figure lifted one arm. The black clouds that had presided overhead parted, revealing a shaft of light that pierced both the pervading gloom and Rolands soul.

    Roland gasped at the light, clasping his hands together he beseeched it.

    'Oh, my Lord, I have served you, served you all my life and with my life, take me from this place, I beg you.'

    The dark figure gestured again and the clouds swarmed over the light, severing its radiance from sight.

    The dark figure spoke again, 'that is not yet decided.'

    'Decided? I have decided it! I have served Him, fought for Him, as true as any other holy warrior.'

    'And killed in his name, murdered and butchered. Do you think He loves you for this service?'

    'I was doing His work, they were heathens and infidels all! How could he forsake me for that, I only ever did this for Him.'

    'No, you did this for yourself, your own enrichment and self-righteousness. To plunder and to be superior. To exploit and to dominate. How much treasure have you secreted away from your exploits, crusader?'

    Roland shook with rage and raised a fist at the figure, 'For myself, myself? How many years have i spent away from home, away from its warm hearths, away from the caresses and care of loved ones? How much of my life have I spent dragging myself wearily over nameless, dusty lands and hostile nations, bereft of love and kindness? Only to be attacked and hated. Do you think I did that for myself?'

    'Nevertheless, the crimes of yourself and your comrades have brought you here, and you must do better than this to reprieve yourself.'

    Roland was silent for a moment, then spoke, 'Comrades? My fallen comrades? where are they?'

    The figure said only, 'Their souls burn.'

    Roland's shoulders slumped, his head bowed and he sobbed,'Noble warriors all, how could we have been forsaken like this, by such an ungrateful God. Damn you infidel, damn you for being right.'

    He jerked up his head and snarled at the figure, spitting at its feet, then savagely tore off his knights tabard that bore the holy cross of his order.

    'Then damn you, and damn Him for spurning our service, for letting us, without guidance or forgiveness, do what we did in his name, losing our lives and even our souls for Him. He did not deserve that sacrifice.'

    The crusader ran to the parapet of the bridge and vaulted onto it. He grimaced for a moment at the flames below, then jumped.
    Last edited by CrackedAxe; 07-10-2005 at 01:25.

  2. #2
    agitated Member master of the puppets's Avatar
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    Talking Re: The Damned Crusader

    very good, well written and entrancing, more please.
    A nation of sheep will beget a a government of wolves. Edward R. Murrow

    Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. —1 John 2:9

  3. #3
    The Abominable Senior Member Hexxagon Champion Monk's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Damned Crusader

    Poor delusional Roland. He damned everyone but himself for his own actions. There can be no pity for one who slays in the name of his god and then damns him with his final free act.

    nicely done CrackedAxe, good to have ya back

  4. #4
    One of the Undutchables Member The Stranger's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Damned Crusader

    cool!

    We do not sow.

  5. #5
    Bringing down the vulgaroisie Member King Henry V's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Damned Crusader

    Very good story, my sincere compliments!
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    "Man, being reasonable, must get drunk; the best of life is but intoxication" - Lord Byron
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