No sooner had Alan and Simon stepped through the gates than they saw crowds of people lining the road, jostling for position closest to it. The sheer numbers pressed them back until their legs were slammed up against a shrine.
Two small boys had clambered onto the shrine and were shouting to each other in excitement
‘What’s happening?’ Alan asked them.
‘King Guy,’ cried the youngest boy, ‘King Guy is going to war.’
Almost immediately a trumpet sounded from deep within the city. A heavy and regular beat sounded in the distance. It got louder and louder and soon the reverberation of it jarred the ground beneath their feet.
A huge cheer rose from the crowd and the children shrieked with delight. Alan and Simon followed their gaze. Riding through the gate came two lines of armoured knights, pennants high, bright armour glistening in the sun. The knights closest to them wore red surcoats with white cross emblazoned upon it. The knights in the far column wore white coats emblazoned with stark red cross.
‘Who are they?’ Alan asked.
‘Knights of the Hospital and of theTemple,’ cried the youngest boy. ‘I am for the Templars but Claude-Yusuf is for the Hospitallers.’
‘Gerard is too young to know better,’ explained the older boy with what he thought was a condescending look.
Behind the last of the knights there was a gap of ten yards before two men on great horses rode alone, side by side.
The older man was a red-head with rough beard and close-cropped hair. He sat forward in his saddle as if hoping by his stance to make it go faster. His eyes were wide and shining, and he glanced about him with an exultant look.
‘Who is that?’ asked Alan. He did not say but he was disturbed by the look of the knight.
‘Raynald of Châtillon,’ said an old man in the crowd. He leaned closer. ‘If you are wise you would make no comment about him, no matter what anyone says, good or ill.’
Alan and Simon exchanged wary looks.
‘And the other?’ Alan stared at the man who rode beside Raynald.
He was tall and slim, with thick, flowing hair and neat trimmed beard. His face seemed carved from stone. He was handsome and dignified, with regular features and strong chin. His eyes were bright and imperious and he glanced about him at the crowd and acknowledged their cheers with a courteous bow.
‘That is Guy of Lusignan,’ said the old man.
‘King Guy, King Guy,’ cried Gerard. ‘Hooray for King Guy.’
The king, hearing the cry, searched out the owner of the voice and held out his hand. Gerard gasped and reached up for the king’s hand. Guy took it, shook it in a sign of triumph and smiled.
Delighted, Gerard grinned at Claude-Yusuf. ‘King Guy has shaken my hand,’ he cried, ‘King Guy has shaken my hand.’
The king was followed by long lines of knights and foot-soldiers. The boys became even more excited than earlier and Claude-Yusuf began to yell at the top of his voice.
One of the soldiers heard his voice and turned, searching the crowd. His face lit up and he waved with wild enthusiasm. He called to the boys but could not be heard.
‘Goodbye, father,’ Claude-Yusuf cried, ‘goodbye.’ But his voice was lost in the tumult.
Eventually, the last company marched through the gate and disappeared down the road that had brought Alan and Simon to the city.
- Opening part of Vainglory. #SampleSunday #amwriting #Kindle Hope you like it. (martinlakewriting.wordpress.com)