The Third Crusade 1191 A. D.
The sun shone down hard, and hot burning the sand in the mid-day sun. Rowan could feel the heat through his thick leather shoes and armor. For months, he had spent in this cruel place of desert, sand, and what some called the “Holy Land.” How could so many call it that when it was a barren wasteland now littered with death? He questioned his reasoning for taking up this crusade. For glory, for absolution of sins, and for God? The sea of death he had just experienced, was most overwhelming, a sight a few could stomach.
Rowan had started this adventure with a fairly large company. He was now left with a few scattered foot soldiers, and his five most trusted men. For a medieval knight of status was always assigned at least five soldiers for his well-being and safety. He was fortunate that they were also some of his best and most honored friends.
As he stumbled back wiping the sweat pouring off his brow, hair plastered against his already drenched head; he gazed across the sandy bright plain at the dead and dying. The sand in some places was blood red, soaked with blood littered with bodies, and then in other places dry as a bone. Men were putting horses out of their misery from arrow wounds, slitting their throats as they moved to check one after another. Their dying screams rang deep in to his soul. As he tried not to think about it, his hand tightened the reins of his steed, which cautiously followed closely behind him, sensing the unknown and fear that loomed in the air of uncertainty.
He saw a fellow knight across from six piled dead bodies, dead. Riddled with arrows. He must have been in the first charge. No protection from the first wave of onslaught. He was lucky to not have taken an arrow in any vital organs during the battle, yet the graze wound on his shoulder was enough for him. He could feel the blood ooze through his mail and thick tunic. He needed to visit the camp medic. Wine should clean it up okay.
“Fitz-Simmons, how many dead do you think?” He called to one of his men who was surveying the dead and assisting the peasants who had come out to move the bodies.
“My Lord, many dead…. I am afraid. Even the enemy has lost many men this day. I pray God is forgiving for this massacre.” He said wearily, as he peacefully closed the eyes of a dead foot soldier.
Fitz-Simmons could tell he was a young lad. How and why he came on crusade, he didn’t know. An orphan maybe? He could tell by the skin on his face, and the youth of his features. Maybe 17 or so. Too many died.
The moans of the wounded seem to follow him as Rowan made his way back to camp. How he wished to return home. The journey was loosing its luster. Tomorrow he would speak to the command and to the Holy Bishop himself. How could God approve of this, he did not want to comprehend or even try to understand. Rowan kept walking his men wearily following behind him. One complaining about an arrow to his arm, fearing he would loose it. His companion Fitz-Simmon’s was certain he would be okay, yet he really did not know. Only God would know how things would turn out. The injured man, Brie, as he walked chanted the Lord’s Prayer over and over. Rowan was about ready to sock him in the jaw to get him to shut up. His head was pounding from the heat.
“Brie! We all grieve for the potential loss of your arm! We assure you that you will not loose it God willing, now please let the Lord’s Prayer rest, man?” Rowan barked.
Rowan liked Brie, but there were times when he just wanted to get as far away from his men as possible and just think. Decompress, to think about other things. Think about Clarise, his parents, home, and his future.
“I’ll be needing the medic before you Sir?” Brie stated, panting as the neared the tent.
“Not if I walk faster, than you Brie.” Rowan said with a grin as to taunt Brie for his unrelenting chanting. Rowan drew back the tent curtain. On the table surrounded, and covered in blood, was the commander, dead. His gut slashed open, an arrow deep in his chest, and his head split open. Unexpectedly, Rowan lunged to the side of the tent, sick.