Just some quick notes on the characters:
Lila and Robert – Balian's half-siblings
Richard – The town priest and another half-sibling of Balian
Emma – Robert's wife (Died in childbirth)
Rachel – Robert's newborn daughter
Jocelyn – Balian's wife
Lila – 17 years old
Robert – 20 years old
Richard – 21 years old
Balian – 22 years old
It's been maybe five or six days since Jocelyn's died
"Balian!" Lila came running into the forge.
Balian looked up from where he worked with Robert. "Yes, Lila?" He said.
"There are people to visit us!" She said.
His brow furrowed. "Who?" He asked.
"I don't know. But they say that they're Crusaders."
Robert snorted. "Pigs hogging glory and bloodshed." He muttered.
"Be quiet." Balian commanded his brother. "Where, Lila?"
"Outside. Here, I'll take you."
Balian shoved the horseshoe into the fire and motioned for Robert to continue. Lila led him outside to where two riders were. "Our horses need shoeing," One rider said to Balian. "And our riders need food and water."
Balian nodded. "You shall have it." He said quietly.
"We shall pay." The rider said.
Balian nodded. "Thank you. Come, Lila. I need you to watch Rachel while Robert and I work."
She sighed. "Yes, brother." She said, lifting her skirts slightly and running back to the house with less grace than their mother had taught her to have. Balian smiled fondly before motioning the riders into the forge.
"She needs her mother," Lila said to no one in particular as she rocked a fussing Rachel outside the forge. "If only Emma were with us." Rachel opened her eyes to stare at her aunt with wide blue eyes. Lila smiled at her as she heard the German ask Balian to explain the crossbeam inside.
"Yours?" Lila jumped with surprise at the strange voice and spun around to see the Lord that had ridden up and asked for shelter. He had a harshly weathered face, but kind eyes that betrayed his otherwise stern demeanor.
She shook her head. "My niece." She said. "Her mother died the other day, in childbirth."
He bowed his head. "I am sorry."
She shook her head again. "It is not your fault. God does not take people before their time." She repeated mechanically; she said those words, but she was not sure if she believed them.
He smiled. "True words of wisdom, from one so young." He bowed. "I am Godfrey, the Baron of Ibelin."
"Lord Godfrey." She curtseyed. "I am Lila, and this is Rachel, the Lady of the Forge." Godfrey smiled. "Those are my brothers, Robert and-."
"Balian." Godfrey finished, a strange look in his eye.
She blinked. "How did you know?" She asked, her curiosity taking over her caution, as it so often did.
He paused uncertainly, then quietly said, "I am Balian's father."
Lila paled with shock. "Oh, my." She looked over at her brothers. They kept on glancing over their shoulders at her while they worked on shoeing the horses. They didn't trust her alone with any man, and these men might not have seen a woman in ages. Now that she looked at them, Balian looked a bit different from his siblings. Robert and Lila had gentle green-grey eyes, but he had blue. They all had dark hair, but his was a lighter shade. She knew he was from a different man (some in the village brought it up every chance they got) but could this man be his father?
She shook her head. "Have you told him?" She asked Godfrey.
"Not yet." Godfrey looked at Balian wistfully. He had wanted to see his son ever since he had become aware of his existence; he had been robbed of the man's childhood, but the least he wanted was to hear him call him 'father', at least once.
"Will you take him away from us?" She asked quietly, her eyes betraying no emotion. "Will you take him on the Crusade with you and your men?"
Godfrey was silent for a moment before saying, "I will ask him. I will force nothing of him."
"We love our brother very much." Lila said, staring into his eyes. "He's kept the family together ever since mother died. And I know he will never willingly leave Jocelyn while there is still breath in his body."
"You passed a burial on your way, yes?" Godfrey nodded. "That was his wife, Jocelyn. They had a stillborn son, and she hung herself when we weren't at home. The next day Emma went into labor and died. She has already been buried by the cherry tree over there."
Godfrey looked at the young girl. She looked very strong, but absolutely lost at the idea of life without her oldest brother. "I am sorry for your losses." He said finally, not sure of what else to say. While he wanted to finally become a father from his son, he was not sure that he had the heart to take him away from this life, this family of which Godfrey himself would never be a part of.
She nodded with satisfaction. "Now go, tell him. I know that look, he's contemplating murder." She playfully stuck her tongue out at Balian, who was watching Godfrey carefully out of the corner of his eye. He smiled at his young sister and returned to his work, wiping the sweat and soot from his forehead with the back of his hand.
Godfrey raised an eyebrow. "Murder?"
"He's very protective, see." She smiled. "I love him so much. Now go!" She shoved the Lord towards her brother and rocked Rachel as she started to fuss. Robert, taking the hint, left the forge and walked over. He was just as his tall as his brother, if a bit more stubborn looking. He and Balian both, however, were a good five inches taller than their sister.
"What did he want?" He asked Lila, wiping his hands and gently taking Rachel. She was the spitting image of her mother already, even though the thought of his wife made his heart ache with grief.
"He says that he's Balian's father." Lila replied, and he looked up sharply. Rachel, sensing her father's unease, whimpered and started to wriggle. "Rob, he's asking Balian to join the Crusade."
Robert grimaced and looked back at the child. "Our brother's not that dim." He said sharply. "He won't go. He knows that we need him here."
"Well," Lila said slowly, not knowing how her brother would react. "Maybe it would be a good thing for him to go. You know how people treat him here. Treat us here. They call him a bastard and mother a whore." She scowled angrily at the thought of how the other children had spit on him when they were young. "Maybe it would be good for him to go to the Holy Land, to start over."
"I will not lose my brother in a mad quest for power." Robert growled angrily.
She pointed up at the crossbeam. " 'What man is a man who does not make the world better', Rob?"
At that moment Balian stormed over, visibly seething with rage. "Balian?" Lila asked timidly. She hated it when her brother was mad.
"You two. Come with me." He said shortly. They followed him obediently, knowing better than to argue. People said that they were stubborn, then they met Balian. After that, they were sweet and agreeable. He went outside and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath as he leaned on the fence and let the cold air sting his face.
"What did he say?" Robert asked him.
Balian looked at his brother. "He says that he's my father." He said slowly. "And asks me to come with him on the Crusades." He looked at his anxious siblings; his sister's round eyes looking up at him, Robert's hard, stony face. Their mother had died five years ago, leaving him to support them, since no one else would dirty their hands with them. He couldn't leave them now, not after the life they'd built up. "I said no."
"Balian-." Lila started, taking a step towards him.
"I said no. I can't leave this place."
"You can start over," Lila said, putting her hand over his. "You've found your father, you can go and make a new life."
"What about you two?" Balian replied. "Rachel isn't old or strong enough to travel, and I don't want to drag you away from your home." He looked at the sky. "No. I'm staying."
Lila sighed and wrapped her arms around her brother. "I knew I had the best brother in the world." She said.
"Oy!" Robert cried with a smile.
Godfrey smiled to himself as the three laughed together, love and joy etched onto their faces. His son had said no to him, but he had tried, and it still brought him joy to see his son smile. "He says no?" His Saracen friend Asad said.
Godfrey shook his head. "He will not leave his brother and sister." He said quietly. "Come. We must take our leave. I can see that we are not welcome here."
Asad nodded. "You will see, Godfrey. Only God can decide what happens, whether he likes it or not." The men laughed, then turned and went to leave.