KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

Balian peered over the menacing wall of Jerusalem, staring into the blackness and waiting for the first star of light to appear on the horizon. The archery markers stood white against the red soil, anticipating their soon use. His mind wandered vaguely to Sybilla, that one night of bliss they had shared, but then he turned towards the direction of Calvary, where he had buried his wife just a few short months before. He saw her again in his mind, her laughing blue eyes and dark auburn hair, her red lips curving into a smile as she took his hand. Exactly how he remembered her and always would. Then their son, a strong little lad that looked so much like his mother but bore his father's name. Balian smiled at the recollection, but it soon faded, for what had transpired next had devastated his world. Little Balian had taken ill and the fever soon claimed the small life that had brought so much joy. His wife had been distraught beyond consolation and he shuddered as he remembered her lifeless body swinging limply from a rafter of their home. He opened his hand to see the cross shaped scar burned into his flesh. She was not in hell, she would always be in his heart, no matter what any priest said. France seemed so far away now, everything did. He seemed a detached soul floating aimlessly in a dark abyss with nothing to grasp. Ever since his wife's death he had felt so, Sybilla had seemed to provide anchorage for a little while but she did not understand him as she once had. She may have wished him and he her, but he would not cause another man's death with false evidence for a kingdom that would soon fall. He frowned in disgust at the memory of the Templar knights. The cry of "God wills it!" echoed in his ears. How could God will any such thing that would call for meaningless slaughter of innocents only for personal gain? Which side was god really on, or did he let men settle their own petty affairs and simply stay out of it? But if this was God's holy city, the true kingdom of heaven, would he not care what became of it? No, God, it seemed had disereted them. But maybe he would show mercy, Balian closed his eyes in prayer, something he had not done for nearly a year.

"God, spare the people, save the innocents." He whispered quietly. As he raised his eyes, he saw the first lone light of Saladin's army appear over the hill. Soon a flood of lights fallowed. He pictured his son and wife one last time and then called the men to arms.