This is actually the first time I started using the name ‘Baldwin.’ I was bored one night and couldn’t fall asleep, and was recently reading some historical writings on the Crusades, so what was I to do? lol I’m still deciding on whether or not to add this to my main story, though I am planning on bringing in all the characters. I was thinking a possible engagement with some Saracen Scouts or something along those lines during their return to the Holy Land, but I have yet to decide a complete storyline. Please excuse the violence. It’s what you get from watching Lord of the Rings and Braveheart. lol.
The sun rose high above the Arabian Desert, as a small troop of soldiers wearily tread down the Pilgrim Road. The attacks and raids upon the European Pilgrims had doubled as of late, with the ever tightening noose of war. Baldwin guided his men down the barren road; each carrying the familiar coat of arms on their shields, the Jerusalem Cross. They rode on in single file with no utterance of a word from any of the soldiers. Various thoughts and memories flooded Baldwin’s mind, from several of his victorious battles, to his knighting by a king who bore the same name as him, Baldwin IV of Jerusalem. He was knighted for the heroic act of risking his own life to save that of a nobleman’s during a Saracen attack. Baldwin then swore an oath that he would do all he could to defend the Christian Pilgrims and secure the roads to Jerusalem, which was his reason for riding along the lonesome road during the burdensome heat of the day. Reality soon returned as Baldwin sighted figures in the distance, the heat of the day giving them awkward shapes. He ordered his men forward and they were soon upon the figures who turned out to be pilgrims; but to the crusader’s surprise, they were running towards the approaching knights. Baldwin stopped his horse alongside one of the pilgrims. “Whom do you flee?” he asked in his usual stern voice. The shaken pilgrim looked up at the brave knight, giving his dreaded answer, “Saracen Raiders!” Baldwin went to reply, but the pilgrim swiftly joined his fellow travelers down the road. The knights gathered together to form a plan of action. Suddenly, a loud horn echoed over the desert plains, and the figures of charging Saracen horsemen appeared over the heated horizon. “Battle formation!” Baldwin ordered his men, “We’ll meet the charge!” The knights then led their horses into a charge, facing the oncoming Saracen force, “God Wills It!” They cried as they coaxed their steeds into a full gallop. The ground shook with thunderous vibrations, as the desert heat made Baldwin’s armor nearly unbearable. But by some supernatural strength he drew his sword and let forth a gust of air from his lungs, once again uttering the famous cry, “God Wills It!” Baldwin looked through the narrow slit of his helmet, the sweat on his brow nearly blurring his vision, at the oncoming cavalry as the yards between them melted beneath the swift legs of the soldiers’ steeds.
The two opposing forces collided with sudden impact, and the cries of war mixed with the accompanied sounds of battle. Baldwin’s sword met its first victim, an older Saracen with the darkest attributes for a face. An agonized scream escaped the Arab as Baldwin’s sword cut into the man’s side, a wave of blood ensuing from the fresh wound. Baldwin swung his sword for another strike, but to his surprise he felt a sudden jolt, as his horse gave way to a Saracen arrow. Losing his balance Baldwin fell from his noble steed and landed in the hot dust of the desert. He lay on the ground dazed for a few moments. Recovering from the blow he slowly stood up to face a Saracen charging from horseback, lance in hand. Baldwin lifted his shield to block the attack. “Thud!” The spear struck the shield with its utmost force, snapping in two pieces. The sheer force of the collision knocked both the Saracen and Crusader to the ground. “Baldwin!” the cry forced the man to roll and face the source. It was one of the younger soldiers under his command. The knight jumped to his feet and ran to the mounted soldier, but before reaching the young man, Baldwin saw him fall from his horse, as a violent rush of blood erupted from the man’s torso. “No!” Baldwin charged forward, sword in hand, as the young man fell to the ground; a projectile deeply embedded in his chest. Running towards Baldwin at full speed were two dismounted Arabs, their swords glistening with the crimson red of their victims’ blood. The knight swung his sword with all the might he could muster in his aching body. One Arab fell dead by Baldwin’s blade. The other Saracen stood poised for attack, slowly circling Baldwin and the wounded soldier at the Crusader’s feet. The Arab lunged forward with his blade. Baldwin parried the attack with his sword, struggling to maintain a firm grip on the slick blood stained hilt. The Arab jumped back, releasing a sinister laugh from behind his garmented face. Suddenly, he jumped forward at Baldwin, “Die you dog!” Baldwin swung his blade across the Saracen’s path. The man fell headless. The desert once again returned to its eerie silence, the metallic smell of blood rising from the dust and mixing with the day’s wind drifting towards the gleaming sun. Baldwin surveyed the battlefield, searching for any sign of survivors. There were none. He then knelt in the red sand, saying a fervent prayer for the souls of the men who had just departed this life. “Baldwin…” Then knight turned to face the young man who had been hit with the arrow trying to pull himself to his feet. He made it, but his legs gave way due to loss of blood. Baldwin rushed to the soldier, carefully inspecting his wound as best he could. The young man had broken the arrow in his fall, and it was now nothing more than a wooden stub emerging from a bloody hold in his chest. This was the newest member of Baldwin’s troop, having been transferred to his command a week before. “What is your name?” asked the knight from inside his iron helmet. The wounded boy raised his pain stricken eyes toward Baldwin, “Edgar…” The name rolled off his lips as he faded off into unconsciousness. Baldwin stood up, searching for a nearby horse. The only surviving beast was of Saracen breed, its white hair gleaming with a red stain in the sunlight. It will have to suffice. The knight thought as he carefully approached the horse, so as not to frighten it. He grabbed the reins firmly and led the creature over to Edgar’s silent body. Ever so gently picking him up, he placed the boy onto the horse, tying him securely with a leather strap on the saddle. Taking the reins in his hand, Baldwin led the horse away from the scene of the carnage, heading south at an appropriate pace. Baldwin knew in his mind that he had to find help for the young man. He had to find it soon.
The heat bore down wearily on the lone travelers, it was nearly six hours since the engagement with the Saracens, and already Baldwin felt the agonizing pains of thirst. He refused to allow himself drink, knowing that Edgar would need every last drop when he would awaken from his unnatural sleep. Lord, give me the strength! Every step Baldwin had now made had become a short prayer, Why don’t you find some shade and rest your aching body? He fought off the temptation, keeping firmly in mind that the life of his fellow soldier depended upon him. By the grace of God the knight continued on. The road had begun to look familiar again, and Baldwin remembered that there had been a family situated no far from his current position.
Pressing onward, Baldwin led the horse around a small hill where he came upon, most oddly the same home which his troop had passed earlier, but that which was now deserted. “Hello?” Baldwin called out, leading the horse to the stone dwelling. “Anyone?” There was no reply. Baldwin then carefully removed the wounded Edgar off the horse and carried him inside, setting the body on a table. After closing the door, Baldwin stopped to remove his chain mail shirt and his surcoat, setting them upon a nearby wooden chair of simple origin. The home had apparently been deserted, and in a rush. Things were scattered and overturned. Finding a knife on the ground, Baldwin quickly retrieved it and approached the silent body of Edgar. He carefully inserted the knife into the wound, and tried to work the damaged projectile out of the boy. To his surprise, it came loose rather quickly, and the knight removed it from the wound. Having removed the arrowhead, Baldwin quickly set to dressing the wound, using whatever assets he could come by in the home. Some wine, cloth, and water. With the wound clean, Baldwin sat down in a chair, with his sword by his side. He soon fell into a peaceful slumber, free to escape the troubles of the world for a short time.