The Telemachus Story Archive

The Crusader
Chapter 1 - Summoned to the Sheik's Quarters
By Amalaric (Illustrated by Amalaric)
Email: Amalaric


../../amalaric/amalaric_young_crusader.jpg The young crusader, captured three weeks before on the outskirts of some God forsaken krak in the Syrian desert, thought he had endured all that could be expected. The Saracen guard hadn't asked him to talk, no information was had or required to be given; it was simply sport, slapping him around, plying the lash to taut muscles as he hung stripped of armor and tunic, nearly naked, but for a filthy loin cloth, from the beams of his cell. Worse torture followed and, it's true, eventually he had cried out for mercy, in between groans of agonized anguish, but was no less of a man for that. Throughout, a shadowy spectator, richly garbed and clearly important, observed the proceedings, unseen by the strapping soldier sweating harsh agony so far from home.

He dreamed of his village in far away Europe, wondering at the zeal that had brought him to this place, praying for relief, eventually praying even harder...for release of any kind, even death, for that, at least, would end the pain.

They stopped in the second week and, left alone in his cell, the handsome soldier shook his head, flexed healing muscles, paced the worn stone flags and waited. For what? Ransom, perhaps or, better, a pack of wild comrades to the rescue.

Though he had lost track of time, it was at the hour of latest afternoon on the first day of his third week in captivity that the old oak door of his cell groaned open, heralded by a rusty jingle of scraping keys. Surprised, he rose from his pallet, stretched newly supple muscles and waited. Conscious of his near-nakedness, he wished they would give him something- even one of the ridiculous, lice-ridden Saracen garments- to wear but, instead, he was led to a bath and told to strip. The Crusader, used neither to bathing nor being stripped before strangers, reluctantly complied and, commanded to sluice the tepid water over the golden planes of his body and scrub...he obeyed, wondering all the while at the strange turn of events, hardly daring to hope that some impossible reprieve was at hand.

../../amalaric/amalaric_led_to_torment.jpg Eventually all was accomplished and his hope was tempered, if not destroyed, when the dogs still witheld his clothing, handing him, instead, the flimsy loincloth that barely rose to cover the rich patch of hair at his groin. 'Where are you taking me?' He suceeded, barely, in masking the mixed tremor of fear and confused expectation that had his young heart hammering wildly. One of the guards glanced knowingly at his companion and winked. Licking purple lips, he turned to the Crusader and haltingly replied, 'I...almost pity you, dog. Your pain, it will only now truly begin.' WHAT???? The unspoken question raged behind widened blue-gray eyes...and the guard, reading the prisoner's fear, continued, 'You have been summoned to the Sheik's quarters.'

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