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12+ Violence

Ramla Final

by GodfreysBouillon

Estienne rested his bloodied hands upon carved brown stones, gazing out the top window of the Tower of Ramla.

Ramla was burning, many of its markets and warehouses looted to feed the gaping maw of the Fatimid army. All of the citizens had surrendered to the Arab horde, and almost all had remained unharmed because of their compliance. They were a people of the Holy Land, used to regime changes and wars sweeping the sands they farmed and worked. It was only a few years ago when the armies of the Crusade had done the same thing, looting food and supplies, holding the populace.

Estienne slowly blinked his grey-flecked eyes, he was exhausted. After the nerve-wracking fight in the courtyards below, he had followed King Baudouin to the Tower and explored its levels. They had spent the last night and most of this day in sheer terror, fearing the Arabs would just knock down the doors and finish them off immediately. But the Fatimids had simply encircled the Tower, content to wrangle the inhabitants of the city instead.

Now the remaining group of knights were alone, trapped in the impenetrable walls of the Tower.

Although the Fatimids couldn’t get in, the knights couldn’t get out.

Estienne, when first falling back into the Tower, counted only three others with him. The hundreds of knights that formed King Baudouin’s hand-picked personal guard were now all dead upon the field, their corpses undoubtedly looted by the lower ranked infantry of the Egyptian army.

One of the only ones left was Conrad, bleeding from multiple cuts along his arms, although still smiling in his infectious manner.

Hugues had survived as well, and had been the one to first enter the Tower, preparing a defense of broken down tables and chairs to blockade the multiple doors that sectioned off the staircase leading up the Tower. He remained unscathed.

King Baudouin’s neck had been patched up by Conrad, though he still bore dried wounds all along his body. Half of his bejeweled crown was torn off, making the King’s otherwise perfect features lopsided by the crown that was torn asunder.

Estienne’s thoughts were interrupted by a giant, friendly hand on his left shoulder. It was Conrad, giving a sad smile.

“Estienne, we’re gathering down at the bottom level. The Fatimids have prepared their efforts to get inside the Tower, and we’ll need your skills, friend.”

Estienne gave a smile to match Conrad’s before losing himself back in the view of the city.

“I’ll be there in a second. Any idea what they’re planning to do?”

Conrad thought for a moment. “Probably just hack the door down, they definitely have more manpower than we do, and all the time in the world..”

J'ai pensé ainsi….” Estienne hardened his features. “...Conrad? About yesterday, before the battle-”

Conrad shook his head in shame.

“Don’t even start. I did the wrong thing by lying to you about our death sentence, I should have just told you straight on. I didn’t know what I was thinking, I guess...I just didn’t want to tell you the bad news.”

Estienne smiled again, looking back to his friend.

“I did the wrong thing too, flying into a fury. I’m just glad I didn’t kill you!”

Conrad shared the grin.

“Well, it doesn’t matter now, does it? It seems we are now damned to the Tower of Ramla, instead of the Tower of David.”

Estienne nodded, Conrad leaving to help the King and Hugues. The Norman heard Conrad leave the room, his spurred boots jingling down the steps. Estienne looked out to the burning city a few seconds more before finally turning away.

It was unlikely the Kingdom of Jerusalem would be sending any troops to help them, there were no survivors of King Baudouin’s bodyguard. A citizen of Ramla might have escaped in the chaos, or a farmer from Jerusalem might see the smoke in the distance. But even then it would take nearly a month to muster a force big enough to destroy this immense Fatimid army, even if they had taken heavy losses in these past couple days due to the bravery of Baudouin’s knights and Savio’s militia.

Estienne regained focus, his thoughts fading away with the breeze that blew in from the window. He noticed a small mirror laying on a mahogany chest, and playfully picked it up.

I must look like one of Lucifer’s fiendish imps after all this fighting, he thought.

The mirror showed a man, quickly aging past his mid thirties. His tired eyes were fair, colored blue with grey flecks and bits. He had a long nose that extended far over his lips, thin as a banshee’s scream. Estienne hated his nose, and quickly shifted the mirror downwards. His beard had grown in long after days of neglect, and the feathery hairs were lined with dried blood like morning dew on a juniper. He ran a hand through it, but the blood was stuck to the hairs. Whether it was his own or someone else’s, he didn’t know.

Yes, impish indeed, he thought, throwing the mirror down to the ground with a shatter.

Estienne slipped his mail mittens on, much of the fancy silver coating chipped off during the hours of hellish fighting. They fit easily over his knuckles, the chain links forming around his fist.

He grabbed his helm, laying it upon his skull, over the protective layer of padding and his chainmail hood. Pulling the straps tight, he banged the forged steel with his fist.

He strapped on the yellow Arab shield he found just earlier that day, though it seemed like ages ago. The light, strong metal was dented in many places but it was still usable. He would have preferred the kite shield he had trained with for nearly thirty years of his life, but this was still a fine piece of equipment. Although much of the Fatimid army fought with little to no armor, their shields and weapons were quality pieces.

Estienne bent over, lifting his sword and scabbard from the stones on the floor. He buckled the leather belt around his waist, feeling the comforting, familiar weight pull on his hips once more. He drew the sword, marveling at its perfect balance. In the dying light of the evening, the engraved cross on the hilt seemed to glow and glimmer. Although still sharp, the weapon was dented and nicked from slamming into bones and blades.

Estienne smiled, holding the sword up in the air.

+ ﹳﹳؐض➵ ﹳﹳؐض  +

King Baudouin pushed back against the door, anchoring his boots to the tiles. He grunted in exertion as he shoved back against the door with all his strength.

“Damn it, German! Get the crates over here!”

Hugues threw himself against the door as well, heaving his body against the cedar planks of the heavy door.

With a sickening crack, the door shook with tempestuous force, shock waves throwing Hugues and King Baudouin to the ground. The two recovered quickly, bracing themselves against the door once more.

A panicked voice echoed down the stairs, the heavy accent German.

“They have a battering ram?

King Baudouin grimaced, his shoulders aching from the force of the ram against the door. He could only wait for the next impact.

“Yes! Find something heavy!”

Hugues cringed, the anxious quiet behind the door as menacing as the roars of a thousand lions.

With a crack of thunder, the door reverberated with incredible energy, sending the two upon the floor once more. King Baudouin looked back to the door. It was cracked, the heavy cedar planks splintered. Hugues heard Arabic voices from outside, yelling commands in their guttural dialect.

King Baudouin drew his sword, scrambling back from the ruined door.

“It's too late! Fall back to the second floor!”

Hugues ran up the stairs, stumbling over the steps.

In came a flailing wave of Fatimids, pushing through the splinters of the ravaged door. King Baudouin cut the first two Arabs down as they struggled through the wooden debris, his sword wreaking havoc. He walked backwards up the stairs, keeping himself facing towards the onrushing wave of attackers. His sword arced up and down, splashing muslim blood along the walls of the compact passage.

Estienne rushed down the steps, coming across Conrad as he struggled to rip a mounted weapons rack from the wall. Conrad roared with anger, but the rack was not moving, even under his crushing strength. Estienne stepped forward, wrapping his arms around it. He tugged with Conrad, and the rack snapped from the wall, dropping into Conrad’s impressive wingspan. Hugues ran into the room, breathing heavily. He turned around, grabbing the second door’s handle.

Estienne flew towards the flight of stairs that led below, waiting on the top step. He shouted above the struggling screams of the Arabs a floor below.

“Conrad, drag the rack close to the door, and be ready for when the King comes up!”

King Baudouin scrambled up the steps, the growing surge of Fatimid heavy infantry proving too much for him. He parried a few of their blows, tripping on the steps in the process. One of the Arabic sabres darted past his defense, stabbing into his boot. The King roared in anguish, the searing pain fueling his wild slashes that held the horde back. The Arabs hesitated, their advance halted by the king’s ferocity. They stepped back down the steps, safe from his attacks. The King saw his opportunity, whipping around to hobble up to his companions. The Egyptians chased after him, trying to catch up.

King Baudouin clambered up the steps on three limbs, dragging his bleeding foot behind him. Estienne watched the King crawl up, and stepped forward, waiting to hack towards any who were trailing behind the King. He waited behind the central pillar, aiming towards any targets that came around the curve in the staircase. King Baudouin limped into the second floor, falling into the arms of Hugues.

Estienne sensed movement around the curve of the staircase, and swung his sword in the general direction his heightened senses told him to strike. The blade bit deep into the forehead of a Fatimid, catching him completely off guard. His skull was crushed inwards with the force of the blade, and he collapsed backwards upon his comrades behind him, soaking everything in a hot mess of blood.

Estienne rushed back through the doorway. It was shut behind him by Hugues, and Conrad pushed the weapons rack against the door, solidly pressing it against the cedar. The four could hear the angry voices of the Fatimids as they pushed past the twitching bodies of their comrades to find the door shut in their faces.

The knights all caught their breath, and Conrad kneeled down to help King Baudouin with his foot.

Estienne turned towards the open window of the second floor, and saw that the sun was now set. The sky seemed to darken with every minute, and the fires in Ramla glowed brighter in the coming blackness. Estienne spoke to his companions.

“Let's hope the Fatimids call off their attacks for the night. After all, they have us surrounded, and can afford to rest their men after a day of subduing the city’s inhabitants. We cannot escape, they have nothing to lose.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say that yet. Perhaps there’s still a way we can get out of here. Let's rest at the top level.” said King Baudouin, putting his boot on over a makeshift bandage.

Following the king that leaned on Hugues’ shoulder, they made their way to the very top level of the Tower, passing three levels before making it to the final room. Along the way Estienne and Conrad made sure every door was locked shut, and secured with a heavy object. Making it to the top, they spread around the small area, most of them sitting down with the walls on their backs to rest.

King Baudouin stood, using his sheathed sword as a crutch. His eyes lit up with excitement as he noticed something lying on the floor.

“German, what is that to your right?”

Conrad, startled out of the doze he had slipped into, blindly reached to his right. He grabbed the end of a rope, its blackened end melted in flames long ago. Tugging it up from the floor, he saw it extended hundreds of feet, most of the rope hidden under the scattered crates and weapons that lined the walls. Conrad blinked in disbelief.

King Baudouin smiled, laughing to himself before mumbling a prayer of thanks.

“Well, it seems that even after a day like this, God is always looking out for us!”

Hugues shook his head back and forth, crossing his arms. Estienne clutched his forehead.

King Baudouin pulled himself together, stroking his reddish goatee back into place.

“Let’s wait until the night reaches its darkest point, somewhere around two hours after midnight. From my experiences, that's when the Fatimids have their change of the guard. If we’re careful, we can sneak out, with the new moon aiding us. That’s another stroke of luck going our way.”

Soon, the party split off to separate sections of the room. King Baudouin and Hugues fell asleep, leaving Estienne to take first watch over the night. Conrad lay in one corner, unmoving and quiet, but far from sleep.

Estienne paced back and forth through the shadows, his mind racing through a string of thoughts. Everything is prepared for our escape. Everything is laid out perfectly for our survival.

Conrad turned over to his side, thinking the exact same thing.

Then why do I sense something off? Why do I feel I cannot leave?

Estienne pondered similarly. They were asking themselves the exact same questions, but neither knew it.

Is this it?

Conrad’s eyes shot open, the bloodshot orbs staring off into the darkness.

Is this my chance for salvation, Lord?

Estienne fell to his knees, raising his head upwards to look out the window into the clear night sky. He saw the open expanse of the heavens, the shining stars in the night sky serving as glorious manifestations of God’s craftsmanship. Estienne poured all he had into a prayer.

Oh Lord up in Heaven, I ask you to confirm to me my feelings now.

Conrad continued the prayer they were unknowingly giving together.

Show me that it is your plan for me to regain my lost honor here and now. Give me a sign to show I have interpreted your intentions correctly. I..I am afraid to go down the path I believe you have chosen for me.

Estienne and Conrad’s vision faded away, their minds being filled with the cleanest blank slate of whiteness they had ever witnessed. It was whiter than a fresh snowfall in the mountains of Francia, and more peaceful than a Sunnenday morning. The whiteness took form, molding itself into the form of a person. They saw the clear outline of shoulders, then a torso and head. Behind the figure formed many more, as the multitude swelled in size. Soon they were gazing upon hundreds, then thousands.

Each was garbed in white robes, the beautiful folds and wrappings fluttering in some unearthly breeze. Though the faces remained shrouded in the glory of the pure whiteness, he could see they were of different ages and genders. They saw thousands of women, with groups of children huddled around them. They saw the occasional man, close to their wife.

A voice filled Estienne and Conrad’s minds. It was not loud, booming or thunderous. It was quiet, still, and calming.

Peace I give to you, and peace I leave to you.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in me.

Estienne and Conrad trembled, the sheer power of the quiet voice seeming to puncture, pierce and fill every crevice of their mind and soul. The vastly ultimate power of God held them still. They heard the voice, but could see nothing but the endless crowd of angelic souls before them, pointing and smiling in their direction.

It suddenly dawned on each of them.

This crowd of women, children, old men. These were the thousands who had died because of their cowardice. The thousands who died as Conrad and Estienne fled from their sacred, sworn duty to protect them.

Estienne expected a feeling of hatred, he expected the crowd to revile him for his sins. But he felt peace. He felt forgiven, he left loved by all those before him. They had forgiven him for the past, and now looked forward to his future.

The voice spoke again, ridding Conrad and Estienne of any other thoughts besides what the voice was saying.

Your prayers were received. Here is your chance for forgiveness, my sons.

Fight for me. Show me your love, and I will welcome you into my presence.

I ask you to give up your mortal lives in exchange for an eternal one.

Estienne and Conrad now noticed each other in the vision, and they turned to find each other dressed in the same white robes as the expansive crowd before them. They looked into eachothers eyes, glad to know that their friend was with them in this final deed.

The voice echoed through their minds even as the vision faded off, the endless happiness becoming farther and farther away.

Wherefore take unto you the whole of My armour,

that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, 

and having done all, to stand.

+ ﹳﹳؐض➵ ﹳﹳؐض +

Estienne found himself on the floor, wide awake. Conrad was in the same position, his eyes open to the night. It was now a little after midnight, they had been out of it for multiple hours.

Both instantly sat up, and noticed each other across the room. Estienne could see Conrad in the starlight, and looked him directly in the eyes. Conrad did the same. They silently shared their experiences with each other just from a look, and were assured that it was no dream, it was a vision.

Their prayers were answered, their thoughts guided, and their souls prepared.

Suddenly, a whisper pierced the tranquility.

German! Norman! Get up, it's time! We must go now or else we’ll be caught!” King Baudouin waved his arm in the darkness.

Estienne looked back to Conrad, who nodded in approval. He stood up from the floor.

“My King, we will not be joining you in your escape.”

King Baudouin stayed silent a moment before bursting out in laughter.

“...You’re not serious, are you? What, you’re just going to stay in this tower until they finally break down every one of the doors? What are you going to do then?”

Conrad stepped forward.

“We will fight, your majesty, until every limb is hacked off, and every drop of our blood spilled.”

King Baudouin’s laughter silenced.

“If this is some sort of attempt to prove your bravery, you’ve already done it. I’ll forgive you of any past war crimes, you’ve already proven your loyalty to me. You are hereby forgiven for all sentenced crimes, by my authority as King of Jerusalem.”

Hugues clutched the rope to his chest, prepared to throw it out the window, down the side of the tower. He turned back to the knights, watching the conversation.

Estienne responded, his face completely stone still.

“All due respect, King Baudouin, but we aren’t looking for your forgiveness.”

The King was furious, in utter disbelief of their blatant refusal for a chance to escape and live another day.

How dare you? I forgive your crimes and offer a chance to survive and you...refuse? Come with me, we will escape back to the safe haven of Arsuf. There we will gather all of the crusader states against this Fatimid army! We will be heroes. If you’re looking for glory it is to be found in saving the Kingdom, not in throwing your life away here.”

Estienne stepped forward, his hands at his sides, completely content.

“I have found my chance for salvation, my lord, and I know this is the right path for me.”

Conrad continued his words.

“We have sinned too deeply, and escaping now will help nothing. Neither of us could live the rest of our lives knowing we fled once more when we should have stayed to fight. It is commanded of us.”

Estienne nodded to his friend, giving a sincere smile. He was glad Conrad felt the same way.

“God be with you, my King.”

King Baudouin was abashed, not understanding why they would choose suicide. He turned to Hugues, waving his arms to express his words.

“Are you going to join them in their fanatical last stand as well?”

Hugues opened his mouth to speak, but Estienne talked first.

“No, Hugues has done nothing wrong and God expects nothing more from him than he does from any other knight. We have sinned, my lord, and now is our only chance for true forgiveness. We have prayed for this opportunity, and we know what must be done.”

King Baudouin turned back towards Conrad and Estienne.

“Are you going to tell me you had some sort of biblical vision?”

The two stayed silent.

“Bah! I don’t need you anyways. Hugues, lower the rope slowly. Hopefully these two haven’t stalled enough for us to get caught.” King Baudouin marched off towards the window, helping Hugues with the escape. The rope was tied to another weapons rack mounted to the wall.

Estienne turned to Conrad, the two talking in hushed tones as they made their escape.

“Conrad….I’m just glad you’re here with me. I would hate to die alone.”

Conrad gave a sad smile, his hand reaching over to Estienne’s shoulder.

“You wouldn’t be alone, Estienne. You’d have the limitless angels in heaven watching down, and you’d have Christ witnessing your bravery. But you’re right. It doesn’t hurt to have me too!”

Estienne laughed, his old friend making this scary situation much better. He was silent for a moment before he spoke again.

“....How are we going to…you know-”

Conrad interjected.

“-How are we going to die? Well, I was thinking we’d let them tire themselves out as they knock down all the doors in the lower levels.”

“And then we should charge out to meet them at this last door. Not only will it catch them by surprise with a battering ram in their hands instead of a sword, it won’t be us trapped in the room, it’ll be them trapped in the hallway.”

Conrad nodded his head.

“I’d rather be on the offense than on the defence.”

Hugues disappeared down the rope. King Baudouin swung his boots over before lowering himself down the ledge. His arms clutched the stones, and he looked towards Conrad and Estienne one last time.

“...I am sorry for my words. Although I do not yet understand what you're doing and why you’re doing it, I will make sure others hear about your bravery.”

Estienne rested his hands on the rope, making sure it was secure. Conrad gave a slight nod.

“Thank you, my king. God be with you.”

King Baudouin looked the two over, admiring what they were about to do.

“I will gather an army worthy to avenge both of you. The Fatimids won’t know what's coming. God be with you as well, my knights. It was an honor to fight by your side.”

King Baudouin disappeared over the ledge.

Conrad and Estienne waited till dawn in the Tower, giving their final prayers in gratitude for this final opportunity.

As the light of dawn greeted them with a warm stream of light beaming through the open window, they heard the second level door be battered down.

Estienne put on his armor once more, watching Conrad do the same. He spoke to his friend, his voice low and thin.

“Which weapon will you choose, Conrad?” he said, eyeing the racks of axes, spears, crossbows and recurve bows that lined the walls.

Conrad drew his sword, marveling the glittering Damascus steel blade as it danced in the sunlight.

“I think I’ll stick with this one.”

The third level door splintered open, the impact shaking the Tower.

Estienne smiled, drawing his sword as well.

“Then I shall do the same.”

Conrad slowly walked towards the door, taking up position near the handle.

“How many do you think we can drag down to Hell?”

Estienne followed, giving a chuckle.

“How about a contest?”

The fourth level door shattered open.

Conrad raised an eyebrow.

“A contest, Estienne? You know I’ll win.”

Estienne smiled.

“I’m not sure, you’re looking a little tired this morning. Something keeping you up all night? I don’t think you’ll be able to beat me this time.”

Conrad faked an angry expression.

“Well, it's hard to sleep when a vision keeps you up for most of the night.”

The fifth door broke open, the noise louder than a cacophony of war drums. They heard Arabic voices raise in volume, and listened to their footsteps as they approached. The Fatimid breaching crew set up at the door, prepared to knock it down.

Estienne whispered to Conrad, his beard grazing the stone on the walls as he tensed for action.

You ready?

Conrad’s yellow mustaches quivered in excitement. He gripped his sword tightly.

“Let's do this! I’ll see you in Heaven, Estienne.”

Estienne's heart filled with joy. Forgiveness was about to be his.

“On three, alright Conrad?”




+ ﹳﹳؐض➵ ﹳﹳؐض +

August 27, 1105                        Ramla

“They say that once the German pulled that door open, the flames of Hell flickered and Satan himself shook in his velvety red slippers.”

King Baudouin rode along the front line of his army, shouting out to his men. He held his sword up in the air, so that even the ones at the back of the 3,000 would see him. He looked at each of his soldiers as he galloped past, seeing the determined faces of some of the finest knights the Kingdom of Jerusalem had to offer. He could see the divisions of infantry in the back, banging their shields with their swords.

“The German shot through the open door, followed by his Norman friend. The two cleaved past the battering rammers, hacking them to pieces as they clumsily fumbled for their weapons. In the confines of the staircase they were an unstoppable force, pushing through the fifty Fatimid infantry that lined the staircase.”

King Baudouin pulled on the reins, bringing his horse back for another pass down the face of his army.

“The Arabs were astonished at their charge, and any survivors fled like children down the staircase in a maddening stampede to escape the two whirlwinds as they carved a path through the staircase. They funneled out of the tower, screaming for help. The Fatimids at the bottom heard their cries, and readied an arrow volley for the two martyrs.”

King Baudouin stopped his horse in the center of his men, letting his steed stamp about in circles.

“The heroes ran out of the tower, their blades painted in the blood and entrails of many of the heathens. The damned Egyptians let an arrow volley loose, and the knights were struck with arrows. The Norman fell to his knees, the arrows proving to be too much. His friend picked him up, carrying his friend in a charge into the mass of Arab archers. Today I want all of you to do the same. Look out for your brothers that stand with you against this Islamic horde, aid them however you can! Never leave a brother behind.”

King Baudouin pulled his horse around, looking out to the combined Fatimid-Seljuk army that waited along the road from Ramla. They numbered to be nearly 7,000, twice as many as the crusader army. Most of them were cavalry, combining the deadly light lancers of the Fatimids with the fast-moving horse archers of the Seljuk Turks.

“The German, with his dying friend slung on his shoulder, cut down ten more Fatimids. The Egyptians ordered yet another volley, and the heroes were stuck with more arrows. The Norman finally slipped away, his bloody sword slipping from his grasp. The Arabs surged to take his body, but the German protected his fallen friend from all who dared approach. In a glorious display of chivalrous bravery, the German took out fifteen Fatimids. Finally, the Egyptians stopped. They called for a translator down to talk, halting the attack. The German knelt down to his friend. The Norman had finally found his forgiveness, redeeming himself for what he had done in the past.”

King Baudouin called out to his multitude of his men as loud as he could, sheathing his sword and grabbing a lance from one of his servants.

“Today, men, is the day for your own salvation! All grisly deeds, all sins and sorrows, all mistakes of the past will be forgiven here and now if you give the Lord all you have! Fight for Him, my brothers! If you fight as hard as those two heroes you will soon find yourselves among the gardens in God’s palace, the aroma of roses sweet in the air!”

King Baudouin raised his lance into the air, and the knights around him cheered. Their grouping of voices was heard by the entire army, and soon yells and shouts were raised all along the formation.

“The German was overjoyed to see his friend find salvation, and he envied the eternal peace he had just received. When the translator arrived to talk to him, he offered to spare the German’s life if he surrendered to the treacherous Fatimid Caliphate, pledging his service. The German stood still for a moment, and the Arabs around him watched his every move. He looked again to his brother in arms, the Norman, who was lying in a pool of blood at his feet, black Fatimid arrows all along his body. He thought of the angels in heaven who were watching him now, angels made up of the innocents who he had let die and had now forgiven him. He realized what he had to do. The German whipped around, decapitating the translator in a single slice. As his head rolled to the ground and his robed body sagged to the floor, the Fatimids went up in an uproar. The German fell down upon his friend as arrow after arrow volley tore into his flesh. The German struggled to rise again, but his strength failed him. As the pain faded away into nothingness, he realized he had finally done it. Salvation was his.”

King Baudouin gave a signal to two of his captains in the knights, who organized their men for a charge.

“Three years ago, on this very field, I had the privilege to fight with those men. They were unstoppable, dauntless knights of the Lord. They had the same look in their eyes as you have now. Can you feel it? That indescribable feeling that floods your senses on the dawn of battle? Harness it men. Channel it until you become the fighting machines those two heroes were on that valiant morning. The German took the lives of sixty men that morning. The Norman took twenty more. Tell me, knights of Jerusalem, cavalry of God, how many will you drag down to Hell today?!

With another echoing cheer, the entire army of three thousand went into a frenzy. Even those who couldn’t hear the speech felt the energy from those who could, and the electricity spread throughout the army like a wildfire.

“This evening, we will either meet around a campfire, Islamic gold and riches in our hands, or we will meet in the glossy, shimmering golden pools and pillars of Heaven. Whether victory or defeat, we are all champions in the end! Ride with me, my knights!”

King Baudouin urged his horse towards the immense horde of Islamics on the field ahead, and he heard the rumbling thunder of hooves behind him as his men followed. The King felt his saddle pulse underneath him as his horse gained speed, soaring over the grasses of the plains outside Ramla.

He filled his lungs for one more battle cry, gripping his lance tight.


Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18

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59 Reviews

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Reviews: 59

Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:53 am
SirenCymbaline wrote a review...

That was nice and dramatic. I'll get two little nitpicks over with. The first one is you were spelling Hughes as Hugues for almost the whole chapter and it was more than a little distracting to me.
Also Sunnenday. I googled it, learning that it is indeed a real world, albiet old-timey, and not a typo. I get that it helps set the scene a little more if you know what it is, but if you don't it just makes you have to stop and check google. Eh, that's probably the most minor complaint I have left in a review all month. Not even close to how distracting Hugues was.

Your action is once again nice and solid. I understand what is happening, I can feel impact to each movement, and I feel like it's really happening, with real people.
I can buy the tension in the tense moments, and I can buy the mood in more subdued scenes as well.

So the vision from heaven was a little weird. I thought this was more on the realistic historic side, seeing as nothing sensational like this had happened up until this point. But I won't demand justification for adding a biblical vision into a story about, you know, crusaders. Especially since it's such a personal thing.
I just felt that maybe it would have been just a bit more tense if they didn't actually know for sure what God wanted them to do, and had to just trust that they were doing the right thing.

Edit for that part, I re-read the chapter, and much like Savio's speech, I feel this complaint less on the re-read. Maybe I was more immersed in the feels that time. I don't know.

I liked Conrad and Estienne's interactions, I like what great bros they are, I enjoyed their last moments of cheerful banter together, and I feel as though their deaths were sufficiently badass.

At first I was gonna complain about the climax being relayed to us by King Baudouin instead of us actually getting to see it firsthand, but the way he told it was so good that I changed my mind. I liked it as a speech, and I feel like he really got into it, despite having (perhaps rightfully) questioned their sanity when he last saw them.

Yeah, it was a satisfying conclusion. Everything important comes full circle.
(I was mildly disappointed that Hughes' final appearance isn't memorable, but I'm not sure what you could have done with him anyway, save perhaps a quick goodbye.)

Good job seeing it through to the end! This is a series to be proud of. Anyway, hope my feedback can help your future writings, see you around.

I thought I put his name as Hugues for the entirety of the story!
It isn't a typo, its the Old French version of the name, and was used at the time. Did I say Hughes ever? Cause thats not what I meant to type, its always been Hugues.
Also yes Sunnenday is another old word, and I'm sorry it interrupted the flow but hey, you learned something lol Thats what I'm trying to do with a lot of the old language, references, and historical bits.

And I'm also sorry if the vision was sudden, drastic and a bit too immersive but thats real history too. There are countless records of crusaders having visions, and undoubtedly these real people had visions as well. I'm happy to hear you liked it more on the re-read.

Sufficiently Badass? Thats what i like to hear! hahaha
I was hoping I made their deaths satisfying enough to readers who had grown attached to them.

King Baudouin's speech was used to show that he did indeed raise an army to avenge their deaths in a sort of way, and I also really liked the premise of their deaths becoming a sort of legend between the crusader ranks, and not just unknown. I worked really hard to make the speech seem empowering and not just a story, and I'm ecstatic that you liked it.
I based it off the movie 300 in fact lol if you've seen that, with a survivor telling the story of his fallen comrades as a way to raise the spirits of the soldiers in his army before a great battle.

Yes I thought the same on Hugues' departure, but he never really interacted with the two heroes, never liked them, and never even spoke a single word if you look carefully. Everything he does is in motions or thoughts, hes just that kind of guy. Not the type to do a final farewell.

Thank you so much for everything you've done to help me, your advice will fuel my next series for sure.

Oops, you were spelling it as Hugues the whole time and I've just been misreading it as Hughes. That's a little embarrassing.
Yeah, there probably wasn't anything you could have done with his last appearance that would have felt organic.

Also, after the re-read and some time for hindsight, I don't mind the vision anymore. It did make the story less tense, as it removed any uncertainty as to how this was going to end, but eh, the ending was good, and the vision serves its purpose. And its so close to the ending that there's kind of no point in keeping the ending a secret.

I'm glad you found this useful! I'll be looking out for that influence in your next work. ;)

Once again thank you. Have a great night, or whatever time it is in NZ lol

I should have another story up in a couple weeks, I'll make sure you love it.

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45 Reviews

Points: 1335
Reviews: 45

Sun Jul 01, 2018 7:53 pm
Lives4Christ24 wrote a review...

Hi, @GodfreyBouilon. I am here for yet another review.
Note: I hope that I don't offend anyone with my reviews,my only intent is to edify and encourage other writers through constructive criticism. Please ignore anything that I say that you you deem unhelpful, untrue, or feel doesn't apply to your work.

I really like your story and was captivated by the first sentence. I like the bible verse at the end and can't wait to read your next work. Happy Review Day.

Thank you, happy review day to you as well.
I'm glad the first sentence brought you in, I'm sure you know thats one of the most important parts of writing anything.
Yes, that bible verse was on my mind for a long time while i was writing, and i decided to put it there at the end because it fit with the overall theme of the story so perfectly.

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5 Reviews

Points: 67
Reviews: 5

Wed Jun 27, 2018 3:57 pm
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saifmmlp2 says...

Wow i reaallly lliikkee this concept and i like the ending with the Biblical quotation and all that its overalll a reallly nice story and an amazing, wonderful readd thaat I am sure many people will enjoy. thank you very much for doing this and keep up the good work.

Thank you so much! I'm glad you like the quote at the end, that was something i put in without knowing how it would be received.

I have never seen you on this website before. Are you new? If so, then welcome! And if you liked this chapter you should check out the other parts I've written these last few months.
I'm surprised you liked this chapter without reading the other ones, that awesome!


Too often we crave the extraordinary in life, without even learning how to cherish the ordinary first. Friend, I promise you this: if you can learn to take joy in the simple mundane things in life, the extraordinary will take care of itself, it'll be on its way, hurrying towards you. But if you skip the first part, it'll ever evade you.
— Arcticus