What We Were
“Forever Knights.” He clarified. “There are a few of us left.” He ducked as the cave ceiling lowered.
The tunnel opened and she gasped in surprise. Seeing it was beautifully arranged war chamber. Well-lit with candles. Books of war tactics on the shelf. A massive drawing of Rosewynn Manor, Phalanx forest and the surrounding grounds. Wood carvings of wolves were stationed near the steps and others in the forest. All marked with initials.
Who they are. And where I’ve posted them.
On another table was the Merwood with Acharius’ hideout marked. Small wooden depictions of the treasures laid out around it.
“What is this?”
“They’re not evil.” He said as if sensing her thoughts. “They’re ancient. From the Upperlands.”
“I know that cross.” She fingered a small wooden depiction of the iron cross. “There was a depiction in the library of knights wearing these.”
She spun to face Deragan.
“Yes.” He unlaced his shirt and peeled the shoulder aside to reveal the same mark burned into the side of his chest.
Over my heart.
Nora managed to squeak one word she recalled from her history lessons of the Upperlands. “Templar?”
“Yes.” He whispered. Surprised at her knowledge of Upperlands history.
The Grier Tutelage must be teaching them now. It was interesting to think how much the people of Ardae knew about the Upperlands. And how little those people know of here.
About how we became Forever Knights?
Staring into those beautiful eyes filled with tears was like a punch to the gut. His hands fisted at his sides in an effort not to touch her. “What do you want to know?”
Where to even start? He sighed. Summoning enough strength to tell her.
I’m true to my word.
“Several hundred years ago, there was a spoiled rich boy. His selfishness knew no bounds. Including getting his mistress pregnant. But becoming father to a wonderful little boy healed all the wounds of losing the rest of his family. We did everything together.”
“And the mother?”
“She’d no wish to have anything more to do with either of us. Disinclined to forgive me for my mistake to begin with. Understandably.”
“What happened to you both?” She asked. Eyes already filling with fearful tears.
Willing to consider the possibility that I’m hundreds of years old. A good sign.
“In a blink my son was gone.” Staring down he swallowed hard.
“Plague.” Drawing a steadying breath, he pressed on. “In my search for a purpose, I crossed paths with the poor-fellow soldiers of Christ, later known as the Templar Knights. Those men tasked with protecting sacred pilgrimages.”
“Why’d you choose to join them.”
“Their conviction.” He sighed. “I gained ranks to Captain because I fought like a man with nothing to lose. I was ordered to recruit my own battalion. I was the youngest of the soldiers but had many friends, extraordinary men I’d fought aside before, back home. I recruited them and they recruited those they knew until our army was built.”
Nora watched Deragan pacing. Like a caged cat.
“I’m sure he’s proud of you.”
“Yes.” She breathed. Sympathy written over her face.
He stopped pacing. Brows lifting.
“As the order grew so did the fear in the Pope and kings. On Friday the 13th, 1307 of October, Jacques De Molay and sixty knights were arrested in Paris and charged with heresy. After that we had to recruit in secret. But over the next hundred years we were hunted by the Pope’s men nearly as fast as we could train our soldiers. We survived until 1408 when the last of us were cornered in Billar Canyon, Europe.”
Nora heard the pained note in his voice. He continued the story ferociously.
“Many of them that’d fought for the people were now forced to confess to the accusations under torture. Pope Clement sent hoards of soldiers to hunt down and murder Templars. They were publicly hung, humiliated before the very people they’d protected. Eventually the order was dissolved and those faithful few that remained and refused to give up the cross over their hearts, were hunted and slaughtered.” His voice cracked.
Arms at his sides. “It was once said the Templar Knights were among those closest to God. No people have protected the faithful longer than us.”
“What do you mean ‘us’, Deragan?”
He gave a weary sigh. “You already know. We Forever Knights were originally Templars.” He added. “When we were mortals.”
Nora stared at him a long time. Then spun and ran like Hell.