The Telemachus Story Archive

The Crusader
Chapter 2 - Waiting for an unknown future
By Amalaric (Illustrated by Amalaric)
Email: Amalaric

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The young Crusader was a valiant warrior, one of the bravest soldiers in all the Christian Army. In spite of his young age he was not frightened by the idea of suffering and even giving his life, if necessary, for his Honour, his King and his Faith. But he didn’t know why, at those words of the guard, whispered very slowly and accompanied by a devilish grimace of pure evilness, that he instinctively felt a chilly shudder running through all of his body. However, he noticed also that the so far intentionally very brutal manners of his enemies, aimed clearly to hurt and humiliate him in every moment and action, seemed suddenly almost slightly changing. While they were changing the rusty and very heavy chains that for weeks had painfully immobilized his aching arms and legs, with newer and lighter ones, made of shining steel, the Crusader had the impression that, even if they continued to call him “infidel’, “filthy dog” and “pig”, the touch of their vigorous hands had become somehow less brutal. ….. like if he were no more a hated infidel enemy to be tormented in all possible ways, but almost something suddenly precious, that they were forced to treat with an incomprehensible care. Very strangely, even when he hesitated a few seconds in offering his wrists to his new shackles …even when he had an instinctive gesture of reaction and modesty, when they stripped him of his dirty loincloth, leaving his body completely naked ….. even then, very strangely, the guards did not use on his helplessly exposed nude muscles their short but horribly painful hand-whips, that, in the past weeks, had been cracked so frequently and so ferociously on every part of his body at all moments, without any reason or cause.


When the handsome Christian captive was ready, four guards surrounded him. The young officer leading the little platoon – a tall but skinny youth of the Syrian mountains with an aquiline nose and wild eyes like a bird of prey- grabbed the chain of his wrists and whispering again with a malicious sneer: “Come with me, infidel dog …… the hell is waiting for you,” lightly jerked the chain and started to drag him though the dark and humid corridors of the dungeons.

The Christian warrior didn’t remember how long and how far they walked, how many stairs they climbed and how many endless corridors and rooms they crossed.

The more they proceeded, the more the look of the various parts of the Palace seemed to change: from the dark stones of the dungeons, dripping humidity and stinking of moulds and of rotten things, to severe walls made of grey basalt, where they met only guards and soldiers, all wearing a simple black service uniform…..probably the military quarters of the Palace guards. Gradually the scenery changed again, becoming more and more elegant and finally even sumptuous, like in a real Royal Palace: variegated, precious marbles lined the walls and the floors, forming the most beautiful arabesques; artistic fountains sweetly sang, creating delightful plays of water; heavenly perfumes filled the air, arising from the many flowers that adorned every corner.

And the more they proceeded, the more crowded seemed to be those magnificent galleries and halls. There were still many soldiers; but now all of them were wearing elegant uniforms and stood perfectly motionless like statues, guarding immense, closed doors. However, most of the crowd that filled those luxurious rooms were clearly servants or slaves, they too were dressed in the most elegant and precious silk uniforms. All of them were apparently extremely busy, rushing here and there, carrying things of the most varied nature, even if the young Crusader wasn’t able to understand the real scope of such apparently frantic activity. But the two strangest and most inexplicable things that the young prisoner noticed were the fact that he did not see any other European man among that the numerous busy servants and slaves; and, second and even stranger still, was the fact that nobody, among guards and servants, seemed to take notice of the passage of the little platoon of soldiers dragging a chained and completely naked Christian captive. Nobody turned his eyes towards them, nobody cast at them even the quickest or most furtive glance. They passed through that numerous and frantically busy crowd, completely ignored, as if they were fully invisible, like ghosts.

Finally, the five soldiers and their Crusader captive arrived in a vast and sumptuous internal courtyard. Along its four sides, thin columns of precious marble of Cyprus supported elegant arches decorated with black and white arabesques. To one of those columns, the guards tied their captive, with his arms raised and chained behind his head. The young officer, with his wicked eyes like the those of a wild beast, gazed again at his hated young Christian enemy and once again murmured with intentional malice: “The worst luck to you, infidel pig! Now you are entering a secret area where unfortunately I cannot enter. But one thing I can assure you, for certain: this is the entrance to HELL …. the worst Inferno, beyond all of your possible imagination and fears, the endless and most inconceivable tortures that infidels like you have well deserved……. Welcome to YOUR HELL , infidel dog ! ” The Syrian officer burst into roaring laughter that echoed in the large courtyard. Then he quickly motioned to two servants, that the Crusader had not yet noticed, almost hidden in the fresh shadow of the arcades. The two men quickly arrived and bowed, waiting for orders. Among the many strange things of that Palace, the prisoner noticed a further oddity, i.e. that –differently from all the other slaves, dressed with the most elegant and precious uniforms- those two servants wore the poor clothes and turbans of Bedouins.

The young officer rapidly and imperiously told them something in a language the Crusader did not understand, showing them first the tied Christian warrior and then a sort of letter or of instructions he held in his hand. The two servants, nodded two or three times, to show that they had perfectly understood, but their mouths uttered only dull and meaningless grunts, showing that their tongues had been cut out…… another instinctive shudder of fear ran along the whole body of the Crusader. Who was the evil Lord of those servants, who removed the tongues of the men that served him and his pleasures in his most secret quarters? Then they bowed again, taking the paper and kissing it as a sign of respect and obedience, while the soldiers went away. Around the chained young Crusader, the crowd of busy servants continued to rush here and there crossing the courtyard, still completely ignoring the naked Christian captive chained to one of the columns. Close to him the two dumb slaves were also engaged in frantic activity, stuffing things inside five large wicker hampers. The Christian warrior recognized chains and shackles; he recognized also canes and whips of different materials, length, thickness and shapes; but he also saw a huge jumble of unknown tools, mainly made of metal or of leather, that offered the sight of the most unbelievable variety of forms and structures and whose possible scope and use was completely unknown to him and even difficult to imagine. At this moment, suddenly the young Crusader felt an obscure feeling and impression in his mind and his heart. Even among that running crowd, even among that ceaseless frenzied activity, he abruptly felt completely alone …… far and abandoned not only by his comrades and by his King ….. but perhaps alone and abandoned even by his courage and bravery, perhaps abandoned even by his God.

A nearby slave, filled by a titillating excitement of what would shortly occur as the muscular young captive began his ordeal of torture, sidled up and whispered in his ear, ‘Prepare yourself, pig, for pain that defies the imagination and do not trouble yourself wondering why…it is simply for the sheik’s pleasure and there is nothing, nothing at all, that you can do to mitigate its impact.’ The young crusader bowed his head, determined to stifle the fear that overwhelmed him. The slave noticed, and disapproved. Shaking his head and grinning with a sly smile, he continued, ‘But that, poor boy, is only the beginning. You will not die, though soon enough you will beg for that boon…it will, nevertheless, be denied. Why, you wonder?’ The Crusader had remained silent, battling tears of rage and shame, but the slave, unable to resist, uttered a final remark that shattered the young man’s spirit, ‘Indeed, lad, though you are naught but a dog…you are a very handsome dog. Care will be taken, though shortly you will descend to flames of agony beyond telling, not to mar or permanently destroy what the sheik desires above all. And what might that be?’ He flicked at a biting fly crawling over the rounded, salt-slick bicep of the naked prisoner. ‘Let me tell you. When all is finished here in the courtyard and the sheik’s appetite is whetted, not sated; it is then that you will be removed to a yet deeper and far darker hell than this one. Have you ever…ah…known a man, boy?’ The reaction was immediate, as the captive’s head snapped up, blue-gray eyes filled with widening comprehension. ‘Yes,’ the slave happily continued, ‘when all is accomplished here, you will be removed to a special place, washed and oiled carefully, and finally, refreshed by invigorating drugs, brought to the sheik’s bed chamber. There you will submit- oh, I can promise that at least; you will definitely submit- as he takes his own hot sexual pleasure from your muscular flesh in a way that may make you long for the simplicity of the lash or brand…’


The edge of a bottomless abyss of ineffable horrors suddenly yawned before his eyes. For the first time in his life a spasm of superhuman terror shrank his fearless heart. His strong legs weakened; his muscular nude body slowly slipped against the smooth, chilly marble of the column, hanging from his chained wrists; his head bowed over his brawny, bulging chest ……. and his eyes instinctively closed, in the desperate but useless attempt to drive away the awful vision of an unknown but certainly horrendous future.