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Pagans crusade, p.1
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       Pagan's Crusade, p.1

           Catherine Jinks
 
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Pagan's Crusade


  THE PAGAN CHRONICLES

  ‘Full of the richly-textured, high-smelling, highly individualistic atmosphere of the Middle Ages, Catherine Jinks’s Pagan series offers unforgettable characters in an extraordinary setting and time, presented in crisp, pungent prose.’

  SOPHIE MASSON

  ‘Humour, romance, adventure, violence – who would have thought Medieval Jerusalem could be so much fun?’

  LILI WILKINSON

  ‘The Pagan Chronicles are a kind of medieval version of Tin Tin, meticulously researched and told with a delightfully slapstick, cinematographic vigour.’

  URSULA DUBOSARSKY

  ‘What a romp! Not since Don Quixote took up with Sancho Panza has a knight had a squire like Pagan Kidrouk.’

  Voice of Youth Advocates

  ‘There have been few characters in recent historical fiction more vibrant than the street-smart, fast-talking protagonist of this series.’

  School Library Journal

  ‘Rich, vivid storytelling, with a sturdy base in historical events, and undercurrents both comic and serious. ’

  Kirkus Reviews (STARRED REVIEW)

  ‘Jinks dramatically evokes a historical time that was particularly dark and dirty . . . Along with the drama and darkness, readers will find intensity and, yes, humor. Series fans may find other books set in the Middle Ages pallid after this one.’

  AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION

  ‘Pagan is a real, live boy who leaps off the page and compels you to listen to his story.’

  KIRSTY MURRAY

  ‘Humour? Rage? Agony? Spiritual journeys? Murder? Moral turpitude? Twists both welcome and dismaying? This decidedly unique historical saga has it all.’

  Kirkus Reviews (STARRED REVIEW)

  ‘Brimming with wit and fascinating details of medieval history, with its vividly drawn characters . . . this emotionally satisfying epic brings the Middle Ages to life.’

  The Horn Book

  CATHERINE JINKS is a scholar of medieval history and a prolific author for teenagers, children and adults. Her books have been published to wide acclaim in Australia and overseas and have won numerous awards. She loves reading, history, films, TV and gossip, and says she could write for eight hours straight every day if she had the chance. Catherine lives in the Blue Mountains of NSW with her husband and daughter.

  www.catherinejinks.com

  THE PAGAN CHRONICLES

  Pagan’s Crusade

  (shortlisted CBCA and Victorian Premier’s Literary awards)

  Pagan in Exile

  Pagan’s Vows

  (winner CBCA Book of the Year Award for older readers)

  Pagan’s Scribe

  (winner Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for children’s literature)

  Pagan’s Daughter

  (notable book CBCA Book of the Year Award for older readers)

  Catherine

  JINKS

  The author would like to thank John O. Ward for his assistance.

  First published in 1992

  This edition published in 2007

  Copyright © Catherine Jinks, 1992

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. The Australian Copyright Act 1968 (the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or ten per cent of this book, whichever is the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) under the Act.

  Allen & Unwin

  83 Alexander St

  Crows Nest NSW 2065

  Australia

  Phone: (61 2) 8425 0100

  Fax: (61 2) 9906 2218

  Email: [email protected]

  Web: www.allenandunwin.com

  National Library of Australia

  Cataloguing-in-Publication entry:

  Jinks, Catherine, 1963- .

  Pagan’s crusade.

  For ages 12 and over.

  ISBN 978 1 74175 231 1 (pbk.).

  1. Orphans – Juvenile fiction. 2. Crusades – Third, 1189-1192 – Juvenile fiction. 3. Knights and knighthood – Juvenile fiction. 4. Jersualem – History – Latin Kingdom, 1099-1244 – Juvenile fiction. I. Title. (Series : Jinks, Catherine, 1963– Pagan chronicles ; 1).

  A823.3

  Cover & Text Design by Zoë Sadokierski

  Set in Celestia Antiqua 11.5/15pt by Midland Typesetters

  Printed in Australia by McPherson’s Printing Group

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  To John O. Ward

  Contents

  Part One May, 1187

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Part Two July, 1187

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Part Three September, 1187

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Part One

  May, 1187

  In the kingdom of Jerusalem, the campaigning season begins – and everyone prepares for war with the Infidel.

  Chapter 1

  A big man in brown, sitting behind a table. Big hands. Big chest. Short and broad. Head like a rock, face scarred like a battleaxe. He looks up and sees – what’s this? A street urchin? Whatever it is, it’s trouble. Trouble advances cautiously.

  ‘They said I should report to the Standard-Bearer.’

  The big man nods.

  ‘You can call me sir,’ he says. (Voice like gravel rattling in a cast-iron pot.) He pulls out a quill pen. ‘Name?’ he says.

  ‘Pagan.’

  ‘Pagan what?’

  ‘Pagan Kidrouk.’

  ‘Pagan Kidrouk, sir.

  ’ (Christ in a cream cheese sauce.)

  ‘Pagan Kidrouk, sir.’

  Scratch, scratch. He writes very slowly.

  ‘Age?’

  ‘Sixteen. Sir.’

  ‘Born in?’

  ‘Bethlehem.’

  Rockhead looks up. The brain peeps out from behind the brawn.

  ‘Don’t worry, sir. It didn’t happen in a stable.’

  Clunk. Another jest falls flat on the ground.

  ‘Rule number one, Kidrouk. In the Order of the Temple you speak only when you’re spoken to.’

  ‘Yes, sir.’

  ‘Understand?’

  ‘Yes, sir.’

  Rockhead smells rich and rare, like a well-matured piece of cheese. No baths for the Templars. Hot water is for girls and porridge and other soft, wet things. If a Templar wants a bath he can go and stand in the rain. That’s what God put it there for.

  ‘And where did you come from, Kidrouk?’ (The unspoken question: out of a slop bucket?) Rockhead is highly suspicious. You can see what he’s thinking. Just look at this runt! Smells like the Infidel, and looks like a bedouin boy. Skin the colour of braised almonds. Built like a horsewhip. Black hair. Black eyes. What in the name of God is this Order coming to? We’ll be recruiting stray dogs next.

  ‘I’m a local, sir. I served in the Jerusalem garrison.’

  ‘On?’

  ‘The night watch. I patrolled the northern beat. Between the Postern of Lazarus and the Postern of Saint Magdalene.’ ‘You mean the Jewry quarter?’

  ‘That’s the one. Sir.’

  ‘And why did you leave?’

  ‘Well, sir . . . it was the jokes.’

  Pause. Rockhead’s brows roll together like gathering thunderclouds. But the storm doesn’t break.

  ‘It was the w
hat?’

  ‘It was the jokes, sir. In the guardroom. Not that I object to jokes as such. Some of my best friends are complete jokes. But I don’t like leper jokes. Or dysentery jokes. Especially when I’m eating.’

  Rockhead puts his pen down. Game’s over.

  ‘All right, Kidrouk. Let’s settle this once and for all. You’re rubbish. You wouldn’t have got as far as that door if the Order wasn’t desperate. In April we lost four score knights to a Moslem raiding party sent from Damascus. Then the King called his vassal knights to Acre for the spring campaign, which means half our order is on the coast. Meanwhile the pilgrims are pouring in, and we have to man the road forts. See this? This is a report from Jaffa. Another shipload just arrived from France. Three hundred pilgrims – all heading this way. So don’t fool yourself. Someone of your age, your background . . . You’re a last resort, understand?’

  ‘Yes, sir.’

  ‘And I’ll be checking your credentials with the Master-Sergeant of the City Police.’ He takes a deep, slow breath. Now, I’m in charge of all the Templar squires in this kingdom, and you’re on contract as a squire. We’re very short of squires just now, because squires are dispensable. Understand?’

  ‘Yes, sir.’ (I understand, all right.)

  ‘Take a good look at me, because I’m the one who’ll pay you at the end of your six months of service – and I’m also the one who’ll take it out of your hide if you break the rules of this most holy Order. The rules are very simple. A Templar doesn’t sit in idleness, wander aimlessly, or indulge in blasphemy or unrestrained amusement. Remember Templars are Monks of War, and should behave like the lion that lay down with the lamb at all times. Is that clear?’

  ‘Yes, sir.’

  ‘As a squire, your first duty is to your knight’s armour. Your knight’s armour is more important than your own life. If you damage or mislay a single piece of your knight’s armour, I will personally damage or mislay a piece of you. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.’

  Heart? What heart? Rockhead glowers across the table. Face like a fort, eyes like arrowheads. Asking him where the latrines are would be like scaling a watchtower wall.

  He pulls a sheet of parchment from the pile in front of him.

  ‘Your equipment will consist of the following,’ he says, and begins to read aloud. ‘One quilted linen shirt stuffed with flax. One coat of chain mail. One iron hat. One standard issue sword. One standard issue shield. One tunic. One pair breeches. One pair boots. One cup. One spoon. One bowl. One dagger. One blanket. One palliasse. One horse. One set of harness. One saddle. And one knight.’ He looks up. ‘This equipment is not yours. It belongs to the Order. There is no excuse for losing any of this equipment either on or off the battlefield. It is your duty, as a squire, to keep your own and your knight’s equipment spotless. Weapons will be inspected every day before the noon meal while you remain here at headquarters. You will attend all daily prayers as well as your own chapter of squires every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Meals are served twice a day, and meat three times a week. Any questions?’

  (Please, sir, when am I scheduled to pick my nose?)

  ‘Visitors aren’t allowed in these headquarters, are they? Sir.’

  ‘No.

  ‘So if I want to see someone, I have to do it in my time off?’

  Rockhead snorts. A sneer cracks his left cheek open, displaying the jagged black fangs underneath. Fangs like the ruins of burnt-out sentinel boxes.

  ‘You don’t get time off, boy.’ Gruffly. ‘You get seven hours of sleep every night. That’s all the time off you need. Now. I’ve assigned you to Lord Roland Roucy de Bram. Lord Roland comes from France, and he’s been with us for five years. The only reason he’s here at headquarters is because he’s recovering from a wound he got last Christmas. That was at Safed, where the last squire died.’ He flashes his fangs again. ‘Lord Roland’s last squire was disembowelled by the Infidel, and his guts were tied across the road to the fortress.’

  Hip hip hooray.

  ‘Sounds exciting.’

  ‘Lord Roland,’ Rockhead growls, ‘is the noblest of souls and a godly man and a great fighter. He is a gift from our Lord, and his guidance is a blessing. I’m embarrassed to give you to him, but I don’t have any choice. Obey him, cherish him, and follow his example in all things. Because if you don’t . . .’ (Dramatic pause.) ‘. . . you’re going to wish the Infidel had disembowelled you.’

  I’m beginning to wish that already. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.

  ‘Please, sir, is it possible – would you be able to pay me half my hire money in advance? Or even a quarter, perhaps?’

  ‘No.’

  ‘But after I’ve been here for six weeks, say, could you not –?’

  ‘No.’

  Son of a Saracen. Damn, damn, damn.

  ‘Go out that door and turn left, and you’ll find the Marshal’s office. The Undermarshal’s in there, and he’ll fit you up with your equipment. Then come back here and I’ll take you to meet Lord Roland. If he’s available.’

  (Maybe this knight, this Lord Roland, could push it through for me, somehow. Or maybe if I take a pledge to pay the Viscount back in six months time. When I get out of this place.)

  ‘Well? Get going!’ Voice like a whipcrack.

  ‘Yes, sir!’

  ‘And be quick about it!’

  The room isn’t big, so it doesn’t take long to reach the door. But Rockhead waits until the last possible moment.

  ‘Oh – and Kidrouk!’

  ‘Yes, sir?’

  ‘Templars wear beards. So grow one.’

  Grow a beard? (Standing on the threshold, one foot suspended.) Where the hell am I going to get a beard? There’s no beard concealed on my person.

  ‘Of course, sir. At once.’

  * * *

  You couldn’t shoot an arrow from one end of Templar headquarters to the other. It’s as big as a village. Gardens on the roof, all laid out neatly around stone seats and rainwater cisterns and sheltered court yards. You can see practically the whole of Jerusalem, from the western side. Rockhead takes a detour across the roof just to point out those places where squires aren’t allowed. (‘For spitting in Saint Antony’s grotto, a two-day fast; for pissing in the southern cistern, a five-day fast and a week’s confinement.’) To the north, the golden dome of the Templum Domini. Blazing away like a second sun.

  It’s nice, all right, but it’s not for godless mercenary garbage like yours truly. Rockhead’s here to make sure of that. Looking down from the eastern wall, a very nice view of the Valley of Kidron. The valley where the Templars have their exercise field – and where all squires report for their daile dose of fresh air. Squires don’t need roof gardens. If you’ve got time to admire the view from the roof, you’ve probably missed your combat training.

  ‘The stables open onto the exercise field.’ Rockhead leans out over the parapet. ‘You can’t see the entrance from up here. It’s right underneath us.’

  ‘The stables are under here?’

  ‘The cloisters are under here, and beneath the cloisters come the stables. They are the greatest stables in the kingdom – probably the greatest in the world. That’s why they’re so heavily guarded. Some of the horses down there are worth a prince’s ransom.’

  Makes you wonder how much a load of their dung would fetch. Rockhead takes the route through the old cloister, moving like a hog in mud. Head down. Stride short and quick. Shoulders hunched. Past the armoury and the kitchens (‘strictly out of bounds’), skirting the chapter hall, down a long stone tube like a rathole, taking the stairs at a run. Finally, the stables. You can smell them coming. They’re as high as the vaults of heaven, and twice as long as they are high. The horses stand in endless rows like saints on a church doorway. King Solomon never had stables like this.

  ‘Half these horses are from the south of France,’ says Rockhead. ‘They’re the best you can get. The Infidels would kill for such animals.’

&nb
sp; Sounds as if he’s just given birth to the lot. Who needs a wife when you’ve got a gelding? There are people everywhere – squires, sergeants, servants – all raking muck and brushing hocks and filling feed-bins like priests tending a hundred four-legged altars. Squires might be dispensable, but horses certainly aren’t.

  ‘You will be spending a lot of time down here.’ Rockhead makes it sound like a punishment. ‘Lord Roland is very strict about his horses.’

  ‘Which one is his? Sir.’

  ‘He has three. That’s one of them over there. That’s another. And that –’ (A flourish.) ‘– that is Lord Roland.’

  Lord Roland, son of Saint George. He looks like something off a stained-glass window. Tall as a tree, golden hair, wide shoulders, long nose, eyes as blue as the Virgin’s mantle. He’s wearing a white robe (spotless, of course) and a knife at his belt.

  If he’s as good as he looks, I’m in big trouble.

  ‘With your indulgence, my lord . . .’ Rockhead takes the plunge. I have appointed a new squire. From the city garrison. He might be suitable – I don’t know. If not we can always put him somewhere else . . .’

  Saint George takes a good, long look. You can’t tell what he’s thinking – if he is thinking. His eyes are big and blank, and shaped like crescent moons.

  ‘Thank you, sergeant.’ A lilting accent; lazy vowels; soft voice. Rockhead seems relieved. Another job off his hands.

  ‘I’ve put him in your quarters, my lord, but we can always shift him to the dormitories.’

  ‘Thank you, sergeant. You can leave him with me.’

  ‘Very well then. Excellent . . .’

  Rockhead shuffles his feet a bit, nods at Saint George, and shoots off to bestow more joy and delight on other fortunate souls. (You can hear him barking orders as he wends his merry way to the exit.) Saint George ponders his next move. What now, I wonder? More questions or more rules?

  ‘I am Lord Roland,’ he finally remarks. ‘Sergeant Tibald has neglected to tell me your name.’

  ‘It’s Pagan, my lord. Pagan Kidrouk.’

  He absorbs that without a blink. No comment.

  Obviously the strong, silent type.

 
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