Empires Of Faith

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Chapter 31: Conquering Storm

15 Shawwal, 1663

Boom! The large wooden door was rammed in, forced open by the incoming warriors. With Muhammad at the forefront, Ishaq to his right and Imran on his left, the Muslims made their entrance into the first sector of Juan’s labyrinth manor. Two guards immediately came rushing over but were quickly taken out with silent arrows shot through their necks.

Muhammad glanced to his left and to his right; off in the distance Obada and Sumama were positioned atop the thin, stone walls, cloaked in darkness. Armed with a bow and about 70 arrows each, they were stationed as the primary lookouts. Overseeing them both was their protective older brother Usama. He gave Muhammad a nod to keep moving and so he did.

Muhammad, Ishaq, and Imran swiftly marched through the courtyard, weapons at hand. When a wave of six guards approached, they prepared to handle it quickly. Muhammad stepped forth, taking out three of the men with a quick flash of red and silver, his spear slicing through their throats before they could even react. Another soldier was felled when Ishaq struck him upside the head with his staff and Muhammad spun his spear over before driving it through the man’s side. Imran sliced up the front of one guard before slicing back down and stabbing through his chest.

When the final guard attempted to flee, Ishaq whipped out the dagger blade attached to his hand-wrap. The blade stabbed through the man’s back and he dropped to the ground soon after. Ishaq withdrew his blade, snapping it back to himself before continuing on with the others as they approached the next door. After a forceful slice down the center from Imran damaged the lock, Muhammad busted the next door open with a strong kick.

Six guards moved in immediately, with a second party of four rushing to the back door to alert the others. “Imran,” Muhammad said, nodding towards the fleeing four.

“Already on it,” Imran replied, taking off running while holding his blade beside him. He charged as fast as he could and leapt into the air, coming down slicing right down the center of one man’s back. The moment that he landed, he was already turning to strike his next opponent, his turban tail lashing behind him in a whirlwind spin. With both hands on the hilt of his sword, he stabbed right through the abdomen of another guard just before an attack could be dealt to himself.

Back at the first entrance, Muhammad and Ishaq were busy in dealing with attackers of their own. Muhammad held up both hands on his spear, blocking an attack from an ax wielding guard. When the ax chopped into part of the spear, Muhammad brought his leg up and kicked the man in the chest. With that guard tumbling backwards, falling onto his backside, Muhammad spun around to parry the blade swung for his head from another man. Ishaq swept his staff upwards, knocking one man down onto the ground before sending the pole jutting backwards into the diaphragm of another. He spun over into a horizontal flip before slamming the staff down on the helmet of yet another guard, rattling his brain inside. As the guard moved to attack, Ishaq quickly pulled his dagger and brought it though his jugular vein.

Taking on little to no harm themselves, Muhammad and his companions managed to clear the area and make their way to another door. Deep inside the fortress, Juan was awakened from his slumber in a panic. “They’ve penetrated the outer defenses,” one of Juan’s guards spoke, urging the governor to get up. Ignoring the sleeping body beside him, Juan sprang from his bed.

“What do you mean they’ve penetrated our defenses?” he spat, ready to strangle the man who brought such worrisome news. “How many are they? What have they come for?”

“We don’t know, they haven’t said anyth-” SMACK! Juan slapped the man across the face, knocking him to the floor.

“Idiota, get out there and defend me!”

“Señor I-”

“GO!” The man scampered from the room in a hurry as Juan stood angrily in the middle of the room. The woman in his bed woke up with a bemused smile, playfully asking what’s wrong. Juan sighed, wiping a warm hand down his weary face. “Nothing you need to concern yourself with. Stay here and sleep under the covers; I will not be returning.”

“Perhaps I should go with you?” the woman suggested.

“No, stay here as ordered. Your service is incomplete.” A befuddled look played on the woman’s face but Juan paid her no attention. He quickly searched through the darkness, looking for some unknown items before storming from the room.

Back outside, a grunt escaped Muhammad’s lips as a blade struck his forearm. With his spear held behind him, Muhammad defended against an attack before trying to push off to gain space to use his spear. When the guard overpowered him, he was nearly struck down before a blade was struck through the man’s spine. When the body dropped to ground, blood pouring forth, Muhammad looked to see Imran standing before him. He gave an appreciative smile that quickly faded into a look of surprise when a guard nearly struck Imran. Muhammad swung his spear around and Imran barely managed to duck in time, letting the blade pass over him and slash the face of the man behind him.

Imran rose up and turned around, slicing the man’s throat with the sword in his left hand. Another was guard defeated. Meanwhile, Ishaq found himself working through a trio of guards. Like an agile fox, he swiftly darted from the clutches of one man before turning a flip over another, kicking him in the back and knocking him into the other. He swung his staff to trip up the third guard before lashing out at a fourth with his dagger whip.

Off ahead, the large wooden door opened and a new wave of guards came rushing through. Twenty-five men strong, there was no way these guards would be going down easily. Ishaq wrapped the dagger to his staff, making a spear to fight the incoming enemies. Muhammad and Imran stood, having each just taken down another enemy on their own. They turned to face the swarm of guards, wiping sweat from their brows and blood from their faces.

“We could use some back up,” Imran said, shaking his stiff arm loose as he prepared to take on more enemies. Before Muhammad could reply, an arrow flew through the door behind them and zipped right between the two, flying straight ahead into the chest armor of one of the guards. The arrow struck into the armor but didn’t land a kill shot. The kill shot came when a second arrow whizzed past and stuck the man in the throat. Muhammad and Imran turned around to see Obada, Usama, and Sumama all running up through the open courtyard behind them.

“Nice shot,” Muhammad spoke to Obada, seeing him wielding the bow that fired the arrow.

“Not really,” Obada replied. “I was aiming for his head, but it’s hard to run and aim.”

“What’re you guys doing down from the wall?” Imran asked.

“We came to warn you guys,” Usama said, catching his breath. “You were getting out of range for their arrows and we could see a sea of soldiers coming your way from the other entrance.”

“Other entrance?” Muhammad and Imran asked simultaneously. Obada and Sumama raised up their bows and began firing on the enemy soldiers from a distance, aiding Ishaq as he fought alone.

“On the other side of that door there’s a path on which we have seen what must have been at least two hundred men going. There were also several hundred heading another direction, though I don’t think it leads to here.”

“Could they be going out for the army camp?” Muhammad asked worriedly. As the talking continued Imran took to action, heading off to fight against the guards while Usama filled Muhammad in on whatever important information he had to share.

“Perhaps, but we can’t worry about that right now; we have to follow through with the plan.”

“Right. But how are we going to take down over two hundred men?”

“We don’t have to kill them all, just stop as many as we can. And you, you need to complete the plan.”

“I can’t leave you guys to-”

“Inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. If we die, Ma Shaa Allah it’s the will of Allah. Our lives will be a small sacrifice if it means that we can achieve our goal and save countless others. Take Ishaq and try to make your way through; we’ll stay back and try to hold off the guards as best as we can.”

Muhammad hesitated only a mere second before Usama gave him a reassuring smile and a nod urging him to go forth. Muhammad gave a responsive nod before charging towards the exit. “Obada, Sumama,” Usama called to his brothers. “Shoot well, fight with all you have, and be strong. Allah is a witness over us this day, and you will prove your worth as men and as soldiers of Allah.”

The two gave a nod of understanding and turned back to firing their bows. Usama himself took out his two curved blades and charged on strong into battle. His movements were fluid and steady, with one blade following the other in their winding path as he carved through the air, slicing away at the enemy guards. He hooked the back of his blades behind one guard’s feet and snatched them from under him, flipping him on his backside before slicing at his neck. When the blood splattered on his face, Usama quickly raised an arm to wipe it from over his eye.

He opened his eyes to see that there were indeed more and more soldiers pouring into the room from the other entrance. They’d only taken out nine of the twenty-five men that came in before and now there were even more coming in. This would definitely be a trying task. But all will be worth it, he convinced himself. In Shaa Allah we will reach Jannah through our deeds of saving the lives of many, or through sacrificing our own for Allah’s sake. This is our goal. Don’t fail us Muhammad.

In the distance, Muhammad had collected Ishaq and was already fighting his way towards the open doors. Taking a cut across the face, Muhammad grunted as the cold, stinging sensation burned through his skin. “Rraah,” he snarled as he swung back, slashing his enemy with the blade of his spear. He spun the spear over before bringing it back through to stab through the man as well. He kicked the lifeless body off of the end of his spear and spun around to swing for another enemy.

Ishaq was just nearby, slashing and stabbing enemies of his own. His thobe had been cut and torn down his back and on his arms during his time of fighting alone amongst the crowds. Still, he carried on fighting with the makeshift spear of his. He dove over the blade of a charging man, rolling over into a crouched position. He jabbed the blade out into the back of a guard who was busy fighting Imran, before turning back to sweep at the feet of two other guards. The two men leapt over the staff but were consequentially knocked from the air when Muhammad jump kicked one in the back while slamming his spear down on the other.

With those guards down, there was an opening near the entrance. Muhammad extended a hand to Ishaq and quickly helped him up. “Let’s go,” he said. The two made their way for the entrance hoping to make it through before more guards stormed in. A single guard stood in their path as they neared the doorway. Running ahead, Ishaq turned sideways and slid down low, coming up just near the guard and driving his spear upwards, hooking him by the armor. Ishaq pulled the man up into the air and spun him over and behind himself where he was then smacked aside by Muhammad as he came running, jumping into the air and swinging his spear horizontally.

With the man defeated, Muhammad landed beside Ishaq and the two proceeded into yet another region of the governor’s fortified quarters. Most of the guards and soldiers had already made their way into the previous room. Muhammad and Ishaq made quick work of the few that remained and were ready to move on. Ishaq paused to give a glance towards the sky; there were clouds of smoke moving in and beyond the stony walls there was a red-orange glow.

“Alhamdulillah,” Muhammad sighed. Just according to plan, Roshan, Nizaam, Farhan, and Asghar had found their way to some of the enemy camps and set them ablaze. Burning down many of the enemy weapons stations and leaving them mostly unarmed, the group made it easier for the Muslims to take on the much larger army in battle.

“Another one down,” Nizaam announced triumphantly as the burning blaze of a freshly lit fire danced before him. Wielding a torch in one hand and sword in the other, he turned to his three companions and smiled.

“I think that’s the last one we’ll get to,” Asghar said, a bit of worry in his voice. “Here come the troops.”

“Bismillah wa Allahu Akbar,” Roshan said, gripping his sword and fixing the helmet on his head. Asghar held up his sword and shield, digging his feet into the ground to make ready for combat. Nizaam and Farhan stood on either side of him, looking out at the approaching enemies. There were so many soldiers coming in that their masses stretched through the town and their marching sounded like a thundering herd. Still, the brave Muslim warriors gave a look of determination and prepared themselves for the fight of their lives.

As the enemy drew nearer, Nizaam stepped forward and tossed the flaming torch into the crowd. As the torch came down and the men spread out, Nizaam, Asghar, Farhan, and Roshan all charged them head on, ready to fight with all their might. “ALLAHU AKBAR!” the four shouted in unison, raising their weapons into the air. When steel came to clash with steel, the Muslim warriors gave everything they had and more.

Their efforts would not go unaided, for under the command of general Saeed himself, a multitude of soldiers from the Muslim army stormed the scene, rushing to combat. The clanking of swords and shields along with the war cries of soldiers on either side filled the night air, even as horrified citizens watched from their homes. The battle raged on before the flames, and the battle raged on within the fortress.

Muhammad and Ishaq made their way into the open space of another sector within the fortress. They were fortunate that no guards had been waiting for them as they reached the final level. Beyond the towering walls and large metal doors ahead lie the building they’d been striving to make it to. Juan’s personal quarters. Rumored to have been built upon the foundations of a former king's fortress during the Great Wars, the defenses proved more than difficult to penetrate. Still, they had finally reached their goal.

Using all of their strength, the two thrashed against the door. They pummeled the thick wood with all their might and still were unable to break through. "We'll have to find another way," Muhammad sighed, exasperated. "This is getting us nowhere."

"Do you have the strength to climb?" Ishaq asked, looking up and down the tall, stone walls beside the door.

"I think so, but what of our weapons?"

"You climb first; I'll hand them to you and climb up afterwards."

"Okay." Muhammad handed Ishaq his spear and turned towards the wall. There were small places where the stones in the wall jutted out an inch or so, giving just enough leverage for him to climb. He raised his hand up to one such stone and began pulling himself when suddenly an arrow flew right past him and snapped against the wall. Muhammad dropped to the ground, turning around in haste. Ishaq quickly tossed him back his spear as the two looked around. There were several archers along a wall far behind them. Further down, coming from some gates far back, soldiers and guards were running through to stop the two.

Another arrow came flying straight for Muhammad but Ishaq managed to see it and deflect it with his spear. "Shukran," Muhammad thanked Ishaq. "I couldn't even see that one." More arrows zipped through the air, missing their targets but getting increasingly close. "We need to make it up that wall immediately; we can't fight the incoming guards and dodge arrows at the same time."

"Go first; I will guard you." Muhammad gave a nod and turned back to the wall. He began climbing when Ishaq began giving out warning calls for arrows coming near him. "On your left, look out." Muhammad removed a hand from the wall and leaned to the side, barely dodging the arrow. He didn't waste any time in reaching for the next stone. When another arrow came for his feet, Ishaq leapt up to deflect the attack with his spear. Following Ishaq's warnings, Muhammad had made it nearly to the top before he heard an agonized grunt.

"Ishaq," he shouted, looking down below. To his horror, he found that Ishaq had been so busy guarding him that he'd gotten shot himself. Down below there was an arrow jutting out from Ishaq's right thigh. Muhammad immediately dropped back down to the ground to aid his injured comrade. An arrow barely missed the tail of his turban as he landed below. "Ishaq are you alright?"

Ishaq leaned against the wall, breathing heavily. He shut his eyes tight as he snatched the arrow from his leg. Taking the other hand wrap from his left hand, Ishaq moved quickly to bandage up his leg. Muhammad picked up his spear and came to Ishaq's side, seeing the soldiers making their way through the last gate. "Go," Ishaq spoke through gritted teeth.

"What? I-"

"As you said, we cannot fight them all while dodging arrows. They are going to catch us. You must go on ahead."

"I can't leave you behind!"

"I can not climb fast enough to escape with my leg injured as it is."

"Then I'll give you a boost," Muhammad offered, leaning his spear against the wall and lacing his hands down low for Ishaq to step into. "Come on, I'll push you up as high as I can and you climb from there. I'll hand you the weapons and then-"

Ishaq grabbed Muhammad's spear and threw it over the wall in one moment. Muhammad looked at him in shock. "Go on over and get your spear before the enemy comes to get it. Leave me be to fight these men."

"You'll be killed!"

"Then leave me to meet my Lord. I would meet him with my first smile."

"Isha-" another arrow came spinning through the air headed straight for Muhammad's chest. Ishaq leapt out to push him aside, knocking him onto his backside and away from the arrow. Despite the pain in his head from hitting it against the wall, Muhammad sat up grateful and was just preparing to thank Ishaq when horror filled his heart and his mind began racing. There were in fact two arrows driven right into Ishaq's rib cage and his right shoulder.

Muhammad scurried to his feet, rushing to Ishaq's side only to be pushed away. Ishaq pulled down his turban from his face as he coughed up blood onto the ground. "Go! Do not worry about helping me; let me help you as you helped me on my mission into the palace! If we are both killed here, the mission is a failure and countless others will similarly be killed by Juan and his forces. For the sake of Allah, and to save those people, go on and find Juan and end this!"

Swallowing a lump in his throat, Muhammad gave a nod to Ishaq and reluctantly turned back to the wall. He drew a deep breath and began ascending the wall as fast as possible. Even then, Ishaq continued to warn him about incoming arrows. Muhammad didn't look down even as he heard a few thuds, knowing that if he looked down to see more arrows jutting from Ishaq's unprotected body, he could not turn away again. As Muhammad reached the top, an arrow skimmed past his hand. He quickly pulled himself over and dropped to the other side.

On the ground below, Muhammad grabbed his spear and gave one final glance to the door behind him. He fought within himself whether to open the door and aid Ishaq or continue on. When he heard the voice of Ishaq proclaiming the shahadah followed by the sound of yelps from injured men, he knew that Ishaq was still fighting strong to hold them off. He had to complete his mission; that was how he would help Ishaq.

Muhammad held his spear behind him and ran on up towards the building. The small wooden door was easy to break through, and that is precisely what Muhammad intended to do. He jump kicked his way into the building and landed in the middle of a ring of guards caught unawares. He made quick work of the unarmed guards, slashing and bashing through them in a wild frenzy. When he knocked the final guard against a wall, he turned his attention to figuring out where to go next.

There were several paths, including a flight of stairs, to go on. When he heard footsteps and the shouts of more soldiers rounding a corner, Muhammad made his decision and took a leap towards the stairs. Dashing side to side with his spear held behind him, Muhammad made his way upstairs in a flash. There were two soldiers up top who fumbled over their weapons just long enough for Muhammad to do away with them. He slashed down the neck of one guard before ducking under an attack from the other. He spun his spear around and knocked the man upside the head before grabbing him by his armor and throwing him over the railing. He then elbowed the dying man down the flight of stairs before rushing up to the top.

Standing in the hall, Muhammad looked further down where there were several doors. There were so many place in which Juan could have been hiding and Muhammad had to make sure that he found him in time to force a surrender. Trouble was, by now Juan must've known someone was coming for him. There would only be little time before he could flee to safety.

And indeed, he'd already prepared himself to do so. On the lowest of floors, Juan shakily rushed into his armor and had one of his men saddling his horse. He'd ordered soldiers out into the path of escape to ensure that it remained clear for him and he awaited news of its security. As he rushed to get dressed, Juan could hear the ruckus overhead and he grew more frightened. One by one, he heard the bodies hit the floor, knowing that they were his soldiers being defeated.

"My helmet, idiota!" Juan shouted at another of his men who'd brought him the wrong item. The more worried he became, the more agitated and enraged he became. When he'd finally been armored completely and assured that his path was safe, Juan demanded one of his one of the soldiers travel it, cloaked in one of his garments and disguised as him to go and summon Gabriel Guerrero to the fortress to defend him. For now, Juan would remain waiting, and impatiently so, down below until the safe return of his substitute.

Back up top, Muhammad was leaning against a wall trying to catch his breath after having battled through another small group of guards. He winced in pain as he raised his left arm to check a large gash he'd gotten just below his shoulder. He tore down his sleeve that'd been cut and used the cloth to wrap it around his arm. After tying up the make-shift bandage, Muhammad sighed deeply. He wiped the sweat from his brow and grabbed up his spear, ready to keep going.

As he ran down the hall and up another flight of stairs, Muhammad was met by another group of guards. He launched his spear up the flight of stairs, stabbing it straight into the chest of the foremost guard. When another guard ran beside that one, raising his sword up to attack, Muhammad took one big step up the stairs and grabbed hold of the man's arm before slamming his knee into the guard's stomach. With the guard toppled over, Muhammad gave him a strong punch in the face before flipping him over the side rail down below.

Muhammad had to jump back to avoid a blade swung for his head from another guard. He ducked down and rose up beside his spear, pulling it from the dead body of the first guard he’d encountered. He swung the back end around and knocked the attacking guard across to the rail. He pulled the spear back and then drove the pointed head into the ribs of one side and out of the neck of the other side.

Retrieving his bloody spear, Muhammad kicked the lifeless body down the stairs and ran up to the top. He barely managed to avoid a fatal blow when he was caught off guard and was forced to take a cut down his back over a neck slashing attack. He stumbled over, barely saving himself from falling by prodding his spear into the ground and supporting himself. When he turned around, he saw his attacker charging forward with his blade at the ready. Gathering up his strength, Muhammad swung his spear out with such force that it curved halfway in the air. When the cold steel and the hard wood came to collide with the guard's face, there was such a loud smacking sound that even Muhammad shuddered a little.

The guard flew over the edge and tumbled down the stairs, screaming in pain the whole way down. Muhammad huffed and puffed, his energy running low. He looked down the hall; there was only one room left to explore and one flight of stairs. This was it, soon he would come face to face with the man who’d destroyed the alliance. Soon he would be battling the enemy commander himself, Juan Gutierrez.

"What is the meaning of this?" Gabriel roared angrily as he barged into a small, dark room facing an impatient Juan. "First you break the alliance and disturb the peace, now you send your men to disturb me in my own home amongst mi familia* at this time of night? You ha-"

"I am your governor," Juan cut him off. "I have full authority over you and all of Madrid. In fact, I have control over half of España, as the others have chosen to follow my command. So you will do as I say, you will obey my orders, and when I summon you, you will come at once and address me with the proper respect deserving of a governor."

Gabriel bit his tongue from replying back. He gritted his teeth, knowing he had indeed been sworn into service years ago and was to obey the governor of this city. Even one as vile and despicable as Juan. With a clenched jaw, Gabriel looked at Juan and forced his reluctant words to come out. "What is it that you have summoned me for, sir?"

"I require your assistance. I need protection and I trust the Leon of España should be sufficient to escort me away from the enemy, no?"

"Protection from who? Haven't you forced your enemies into a surrender?"

"Idiota, have you not seen? They have gone on the offensive, attacking us while most of our men were at ease and not ready for combat. You must defend me while I journey to meet the bulk of my troops back in one of the other cities so that we may launch a counterattack in the morrow when the Muslims will break for their prayer."

"You would attack while they are bowing to God?!" Gabriel questioned in disbelief.

"What do I care if they are bowing down? It only makes it easier to chop their heads off. And it is of no concern to you. Your duty is to protect me from-"

Before Juan could finish his statement there was a noise down the hall. Juan gasped, feeling knots growing in his stomach. His heart began racing. He didn't know how many there were, but he knew that the Muslims had finally come for him. He had but one man to defend him. He looked to Gabriel and his words were stuck in his throat as he tried ordering him to guard the door.

"It-it-it's the Muslims," Juan finally choked out. "Go and fight them!" Before Gabriel had a chance to reply there was thud as a body outside fell against the door. And then, silence. Juan held his breath for what seemed like hours of fright until the silence was obliterated as Muhammad's spear came jamming through the door. A boot slammed through and knocked the door down, with Muhammad pulling out his spear and standing at the doorway.

Juan and Gabriel looked upon the silhouette of the Muslim warrior standing before them. His armor chinked and dented, his clothes torn and shredded, his body bloodied and beaten. The black turban and cape he wore blew to the side as a gust of wind settled through. The dim light showed the brave face of the Muslim warrior, determination gleaming in his eyes.

"Stand and face your enemy you coward," Muhammad spoke, his voice booming through the room. "Let me send you to meet your Lord, despised and defeated." There was blood dripping from his hand as he firmly gripped his fearsome spear. There was sweat pouring down his face as he met Juan with a menacing glare. Juan's instinct to cower kicked in and he ordered Gabriel to attack.

Muhammad grabbed the spear with both hands, digging his feet into the ground with a firm stance. He'd heard the rumors about the strength and skill of the Lion of Spain, and knew that he'd even put up a good fight with Ishaq. In his tired state, Muhammad wasn't sure if he could be much of a challenge to Gabriel, but he knew that he would be ready to give it his all. He looked at Gabriel determinedly, only to be surprised by the words that soon came from his mouth.

"I cannot," Gabriel spoke, laying down his arms. Muhammad and Juan both held the same shock and awe, though Muhammad was more appreciative than Juan.

"What do you mean you cannot fight him?" Juan questioned, almost ready to swing on Gabriel himself from frustration. "You cowardly Leon, I am your governor and I am commanding you to get rid of this scum! Fight him at once or I will have your hide!"

"You have left me declawed. I can neither fight him nor defend you. I will not break my oath that I swore by God on. These Muslims are not my enemies nor the enemy of the Christian people. You have betrayed them and you have betrayed us. I cannot attack you myself, for you remain my Christian brother. However, with my oath before God, I cannot fight against them unless both parties willingly dissolve the peace pact between us."

"Then aren't they dissolving it now by attacking me?! They've turned against the alliance and-"

"No, Juan, it was you who turned against the alliance. Their fight with you has nothing to do with the alliance and thus you and your allies will have to deal with it on your own. You will fight or you will surrender, be we will have nothing of your affairs with them."

"¡Cobarde!*" Juan shouted, gritting his teeth. He was huffing and puffing furiously as Gabriel crossed his arms and stood aside. Juan's eyes caught Muhammad who had a bemused smile playing on his lips. When he realized he'd held Juan's gaze he gave a smirk and a glare.

"So what will you do?" Muhammad asked him, still holding his fighting stance. "Will you fight me or will you surrend-"

"I WILL NEVER SURRENDER!" Juan shouted, lunging at Muhammad with a sword in his hand. Muhammad moved fast to deflect the attack, parrying the blade aside and driving his knee up into Juan's stomach. Juan stood, hunched over and gasping for air as Muhammad now stood beside him. The moment Juan tried to rise up and turn around, Muhammad spun around knocked him to the ground with a quick smack from the back end of his spear.

As Juan fell forward, tumbling over himself on the ground, Muhammad stood, leaning on his spear to catch his breath. He looked up, seeing Gabriel standing just a few feet away from him with his arms crossed. Gabriel nodded behind him and Muhammad quickly turned around, barely managing to block the attack that a now helmetless Juan swung down. Muhammad struggled against the force Juan was pushing down on him and soon found himself knocked back by a kick in the leg.

"You see," Juan spoke as he stood over Muhammad. "Leon or no Leon, Cross or no Cross, I will eradicate the likes of you from this land. And when I reign supreme over this pure and clean Christian nation, I will submit to no authority. I w-"

"Vengeance would be sought against you by the One whose authority you can never escape from," Muhammad retorted.

"Yes well, we'll see whose word is true then won't we. It seems that I have the victory and the upper-hand in this case. So away with you!" Juan stabbed his sword down and Muhammad quickly rolled over, evading the fatal stabbing. When he sprang to his feet, he found that his cape had in fact been caught by the blade. Juan grinned as he reached a hand for Muhammad's armor. When he pulled Muhammad closer, Muhammad came in with a forceful headbutt right in the nose.

Juan stumbled backward, holding his face in agony as he felt his nose throbbing and blood pouring down. Muhammad moved to snatch the sword from the ground and free himself, but alas his strength was beginning to fail him. He saw Juan coming back after him with his hands laced to strike him down. Muhammad tore his cape free and swung a back hand across Juan's face, punching him aside.

Muhammad lunged at Juan before he had a chance to regain his composure, tackling him to the ground and punching his face repeatedly. Juan managed to break free only when he grabbed his helmet from the ground and swung it around, knocking Muhammad off of him. Juan jumped to try and to take control of things but Muhammad kicked him back before springing to his feet. Juan was dazed a bit but regained his footing and came charging after Muhammad with his fists at the ready.

He swung a punch that connected just below Muhammad's left eye. Muhammad hadn't been quick enough to block, but he was quick enough to latch on to Juan's wrist, smack his arm aside with his other hand, and then slam his elbow into his face. Juan could hardly stop blinking after Muhammad's elbow struck right between his eyes. Muhammad released him, only to catch hold of him by the armor on his chest and throw him across the room behind himself.

Juan fell over, sliding on his back as Muhammad searched the dim room for his spear. When he found his spear, Muhammad was nearly beheaded by a surprise attack from behind. It was merely by a thin hair that he ducked beneath the blade and it breezed right past him. Muhammad struck the spear's back end out behind him, knocking the wind from Juan and making him drop his weapon to hold his stomach. Muhammad spun around and brought his spear down heavy, slashing across Juan's face before kicking him to the ground. He moved over and rose his spear up to finish him off.

"Me rindo*, me rindo," Juan quickly blurted out just before the final blow was struck. “I surrender!” Muhammad could barely stop himself from swinging, especially since Juan's voice had been muffled and barely understandable. He was in disbelief, just as Gabriel across the room was. Muhammad peered down at Juan's face suspiciously.

"What was that?" he asked, holding his spear firmly and watching Juan's motions with caution.

"I surrender," Juan muttered, this time with more anger than humility in his submission.

"Once more," Muhammad asked for clarity. He held back a smirk, keeping a stern look as he forced one final testament of surrender from Juan.

"I SURRENDER!" Juan spat, turning his face in resentment. Muhammad let the smile on his face show, sighing in relief. A surrender was more according to plan and allowed for better strategy.

"And you are witness to this?" Muhammad asked, nodding towards Gabriel while still keeping his weapon at Juan's throat.

"Si," Gabriel nodded, uncrossing his arms and walking over slowly.

"Good then. Let it be known that the governor of Madrid surrenders and agrees to all of our conditions without question and without limit."

"I-" Juan began before feeling the pressure of Muhammad's spear on his neck. "Si, si, I agree to all of your conditions without question and without limit."

"Good. I will bring you before General Saeed in the morrow to decide your fate. For now, my condition upon your surrender is that you announce it. You will be taken through the streets where you will proclaim your submission to the Muslim army and call off your troops." Juan had no words, he only gritted his teeth and shut his eyes tightly. Muhammad turned towards Gabriel. "I need an oath from you. An oath by God so that you may not be swayed to treachery."

"You have my word," Gabriel said, holding his hand to his heart. "What is your request?"

"Take this man and announce among the Muslims that he has surrendered. You will take my turban as a sign that you are coming from me, lest they attack you. Then when among them, go out and march into the streets and let him proclaim is complete surrender to all of the people."

"Well enough. Do you have something to bind his arms with, lest he try to fight?" Muhammad took a moment to think before remembering his cape. He nodded towards it and Gabriel understood. He grabbed up the cloth and wrapped it around Juan's two hands. Muhammad let down his spear and Juan was yanked up by Gabriel.

"Strip him of his armor," Muhammad advised. "I do not want his troops to fire on his captors thinking that they have any chance to free him."

"I would have done so anyhow," Gabriel spoke as he began to remove Juan's armor. "This is the armor of the Cross, and it should be worn with pride and dignity; something unbefitting of a traitor." Juan cold only clench his jaws and grumble in despair; he had no say in the matter and no way of escape. And so it was that he was defeated and humiliated, while Muhammad and the Muslims had been made victorious. As Juan was taken out to face what would merely be the beginning of his punishment, Muhammad fell to the ground. He'd stood and he'd fought, and alas the warrior needed rest. His eyes shut slowly as a thankful smile came upon his face. He silently praised Allah for the victory granted even as he dozed into slumber, not knowing he would awaken among heroes...

_______________________

GLOSSARY/TRANSLATIONS

Mi familia: my family

Cobarde: coward

Me rindo: I give up/surrender


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