All Things Are Lights – Day 66 of 200

Roland charged with the second rank.

Almost at once four lances from his own side converged on him. The suddenness of it stunned him. He had expected to be attacked, but not so soon and not so openly.

He brought Alezan up short, and with rein and spur made the horse wheel while he swung his lance in an arc that struck aside the weapons of his enemies and knocked two of them from the saddle.

But Roland was in the center of a solid circle of mounted men, all like himself wearing black strips of silk on their helmets.

Now that Amalric has seen me joust, he has decided he needs help. Who the Devil are these bastards? he thought angrily.

Some of the men pressing him wore nondescript helms and carried plain shields. Others were elaborately, expensively arrayed, doubtless in captured accoutrements. On the edge of the ring he saw the silver wolf’s head, also with a black ribbon tied to it. Among the shields facing him was one painted with the red and white bands of de Coucy.

There were no longer any questions. It was simple now. They were trying to kill him, and there was only one thing to do — strike down as many of his attackers as possible.

And if Amalric joined the attack, surely Nicolette’s command did not mean that he must die rather than defend himself.

Three lances stabbed at him from the right. One slid past him, but two struck him hard in the side under his lance arm, knocking the wind out of him. He managed to club one of the attackers with his own lance, bringing him down, but he felt himself losing balance and toppling out of the saddle.

He hit the ground on his feet and drew his blunt-edged tournament sword. He chopped at the lances jabbing him from above and slashed at the hooves of the war-horses trying to trample him.

“Beauseant!” The deep-voiced shout lifted above the din of battle was the war cry of the Templars. Guido Bruchesi was riding through Amalric’s men, cutting a path with his longsword. He wore the white silk ribbon of the happy. The professional tourneyers Amalric had recruited to help him fell away from Guido. Roland’s heart leaped thankfully.

Then Enguerrand de Coucy engaged Guido. The tide of battle swept between Guido and Roland, and he was once again fighting for his life, alone.

Riders wearing white silk, followers of Robert d’Artois, were attacking Amalric’s hirelings. Among the attackers Roland glimpsed the shield of the English knight whose arms he had returned. The professional tourneyers ignored the knights who were supposedly their opponents and continued to strike at Roland.

Roland heard cries of “Foul play!” from the stands as the crowd began to see that something was amiss.

Beyond the steel ring closing in on him, Roland could see Robert d’Artois riding against Amalric. Amalric was armed with a mace. He swung it at Robert’s shield, and the King’s brother fell and disappeared from Roland’s view.

The fighting had driven Roland and his attackers to the edge of the field. Roland knew that he could touch the wooden barrier and thereby be allowed to leave the field in safety. But he was sure that Amalric’s men would never let him escape that way. He was close enough to the spectators to hear their shouts of encouragement for him and their angry protests at his enemies.

Feeling that the crowd was with him gave him fresh strength as he hammered furiously at his attackers, driving them back inch by inch.

He took a stunning blow on his helmet, where it covered the back of his neck. He blacked out momentarily, and when he could see again he was lying full-length on his back. From all sides the heavy blades hammered at his body, not sharp enough to cut through his mail, but hard enough to break his bones.

Only half conscious, he sat up, despite the merciless shower of sword strokes.

A momentary break in the ring of enemies around him gave him a glimpse of the gallery. He looked for Nicolette — this might be his last sight of her — but saw only King Louis on his feet, gesturing and pushing his way down the gallery steps. Then the dust and the forest of mailed legs closed in again.

The outcry of the crowd, shouting at Roland’s assailants to spare the fallen knight, drowned the clangor of arms.

Above the screaming of the crowd rose a clarion blast. Roland heard the heralds calling for a stop to the melee. Am I saved?

Amalric roared, “Fight on! Fight on! Kill him!”

As Roland struggled to get up he saw heralds riding in among Amalric’s men, trying to drive them back. The trumpets and clarions shrilled again, in vain.

A pair of steel-encased legs appeared before him. He lifted his head, and there, in the small oblong of sight permitted by his tilting helm, was Amalric, towering above him, mace upraised.

The thick staff, topped with its spiked iron ball, was coming down on Roland’s head. Desperately he tried to twist out of the way, knowing there was not time.

From somewhere a figure struck Amalric’s legs. Roland heard the shout, “Stop! He is fallen!” and glimpsed Perrin, unarmed and unarmored, at Amalric’s feet.

Then the mace smashed down on his shoulder. Agony shot through him. He felt bones shattering.

His shoulder was crushed. He collapsed. The pain, sweet Jesus! The pain in his shoulder filled his whole body. He could barely cling to consciousness.


  1. TurtleReader Identiconcomment_author_IP, $comment->comment_author); }else{echo $gravatar_link;}}*/ ?>

    TurtleReader wrote:

    The black and white standard of the Knights Templars. (more details here)

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