This is a short story that I wrote for a competition back in 2008. It is set within ‘The Eden Conflict’ book but had no bearing on the story at all so I never integrated it. It probably needs revising if I ever want to include it in the God’s Warriors series at some point. I thought you might like to read it anyway… so here it is.
Knight of God
By Peter Way
As the plane flew from Uluru to Cairns, Jack’s thoughts had been dwelling on the gift of spiritual sight that he had been given. Jack looked over at his angelic companions; Elisha, his guardian, and Itzal, his sword master. A thought suddenly struck him.
“Have you ever revealed yourselves accidentally?” he asked.
Elisha shook his head, “I haven’t been out of Heaven in a long time. It has been just over two thousand of your earth years since I have had a Saint to look after.”
Itzal smiled and nodded. “I had been put in the situation where I had to reveal myself in order to protect my Saint.”
Jack asked, “Can you tell me about it?”
“There are no rules forbidding it,” Itzal replied, “in fact, I think it will help you to understand where and who I learnt from.”
“Learnt what?” Jack asked.
“The use of the sword,” Itzal replied. “It was back in what you would call the medieval times. It was early in the year 1191 and I was assigned to a young man by the name of Steven. Steven was the youngest son of Aaron, a blacksmith.”
“As the second son, Steven was expected to join the church and become a member of the ministry. He was torn by this as he wanted to be like his older brother and become a knight. Steven was twenty years old and had been studying with the local bishop for almost ten years.”
“Understanding his son’s desires, Aaron did the next best thing he could for Steven. He approached a member of the Knights Templar, Gilbert Horal who he saw in the street one day.
“Gilbert was a Spaniard in the service of the Knights Templar; he had come to England as part of his duty, to keep travellers safe. He discussed with Aaron the requirements and necessities involved. Usually, someone of Steven’s age would not be considered, but because of his training as a member of the church it was a possibility.
“Gilbert agreed only after talking to Steven himself…
Gilbert looked down at Steven as he climbed off his horse.
“Your father tells me you want to be a knight. Why?” Gilbert asked.
Steven looked at the Knight with a mix of awe and respect. “I want to serve God in a more active role,” he answered.
Gilbert nodded slowly to himself. After a moment he asked his next question, “How old are you?”
“Twenty,” Steven answered.
“With all the different roles a man of God can take, why do you desire to be a knight the most?” Gilbert asked.
Steven paused for a moment before answering.
Itzal stood nearby listening to the questions and answers. None of this was new to him. As Steven paused Itzal leaned forward and whispered quietly in his ear, “to be a knight requires honesty and integrity. If you can’t do that now then there is no point talking to this man. There would be no point in wanting to be a knight at all.”
Steven nodded to himself as if he had been listening to some inner voice. “I have been reading about King Arthur and the knights of the round table. I want to be like them. At every chance I get I seek out a knight who has returned from the crusades and has a story to tell. Not all of them are glorious tales but after every one of them, I still want to hear more.”
Gilbert nodded while listening to Steven’s explanation.
Gilbert’s guardian angel, Samson, looked at Itzal. “Is what he says the truth?”
Itzal nodded, “Every word.”
Samson turned to Gilbert and spoke into his ear, “He tells the truth.”
“Something tells me you are telling the truth,” Gilbert said. “I will take you as my knight in training, my squire. However, as you are already twenty you may not become a Knight at twenty one as is the normal custom. You will have to pass all the usual regulations plus those required by my order, the Knights Templar. Is this satisfactory to you?”
Steven was so excited he could not speak but nodded his head vigorously.
“I should mention that there will be times that I must go on missions for my order during which you will have to be left behind. I have a good friend who should be happy to continue your lessons while I am away. He recently married and will be remaining close to home for a few years.”
Steven’s excitement ebbed at this and Gilbert noticed.
“Do not be downcast by this, perhaps you have heard of my friend, William Marshal?” Gilbert asked.
Steven thought for a moment, sifting through the stories he had heard.
Itzal however, did not need to think about it, he even knew who this man was. His guardian was none other than Gideon, one of the greatest warriors in the Heavenly Host.
Steven’s eyes lit up with excitement, “The Marshal?” he asked.
Gilbert nodded, “Si, I believe that is what they call him. Let us go and discuss this with your father and make the final arrangements.”
The arrangements were in place within two days. Steven said his farewells to his father and family and left home. Gilbert took Steven to see William Marshal straight away. It took two days to travel to his castle in Pembroke. It could have been quicker but Gilbert wanted to ease Steven into this way of life that he had chosen.
They were welcomed by William and his wife, Isabel de Clare. Steven was overawed at first but once William started to test what he knew, he soon found that he needed to focus on what he was saying. Gilbert sat and watched, making comments from time to time as he felt it necessary. An hour or so had passed before William and Gilbert retreated to discuss Steven’s training.
During the whole time that Steven had been tested, Itzal too was getting the same treatment from Gideon and Samson.
“If you are to keep this human in one piece in the Holy Land, then you will need to improve your skills too,” Gideon told Itzal.
Samson nodded his head in agreement. “These are dark times but also encouraging ones. The use of the sword is an art. That art gets refined in battle. If you, as the artist, are not up to the standard required, you will soon find that you have failed in your duties to the human. He will be dead and you back in heaven, nursing your injuries.”
That was the beginning of Steven’s training. He was not alone, for whenever he was being trained, so too was Itzal.
This continued for a little over one year. They travelled from time to time, mostly to France, but often returned to Pembroke castle.
As the Third Crusade was winding to a close, Gilbert received a call to travel once more to Jerusalem. They were in La Rochelle in France at the time; Gilbert had been attending to his duties as ‘Visitor of France’ for the Templars, when Robert de Sable, the Templar’s current Grand Master, arrived and sent for him. Robert had travelled from Jerusalem on business. But before he left, King Richard the Lion Heart had spoken to him and requested assistance with some upcoming negotiations. Regrettably, Robert advised that he was due back in France on urgent business. One of the King’s advisors had spoken up, suggesting Gilbert act in his stead. Robert offered to pass the invitation along to Gilbert upon his return and the King agreed.
Gilbert was a little surprised as he had never met the King.
However, he had a sneaking suspicion that William was the advisor that Robert mentioned. Especially since he knew William was currently in the Holy Lands with the King.
This put Gilbert in a tricky spot in regards to Steven. With William away, there was no one else that Gilbert trusted enough to continue Steven’s training. After much consideration and prayer, he decided to take him along.
They made the arrangements immediately. Steven was very surprised when he was presented with a horse to ride. He had assumed that he would remain behind once again. Instead, Steven was ordered to pack his equipment, including the armour that his father had made for him.
Four days later they were in the Alps, making the crossings as quickly as they could, when they suddenly found their path blocked by a rock fall.
Samson was the most aware of the situation and drew his sword as he spoke one word, “trap”. Gilbert, whose spirit was in tune with his warrior/guardian, reacted in the same way by drawing his sword as silently as possible. Steven noticed him reach for his sword as he slowed his horse. Steven and Itzal drew their swords simultaneously.
Gilbert let out a quick prayer, “May your angels protect us O Lord.”
Then the bandits were upon them, six of them and an equal amount of demons. The bandits got the bigger surprise when they saw their targets charge them. One thing that Gilbert and William had continually drummed into Steven, was not to wait for the attack, but to mount the offensive early if possible and take your enemy by surprise.
Gilbert didn’t pause in his actions, but flowed from defence to attack with the simplest of ease. Steven was more hesitant in his moves, almost to his own downfall. Samson was fighting near Gilbert but not in a way that suggested that he was worried about his charge. Itzal however, hovered around Steven and did his best to defend him as much as himself.
The bandits surprise disappeared quickly as they now found themselves fighting for their lives. Gilbert was taking on four at once, swinging his sword in large sweeps and then a delicate little move that come almost totally from his wrist.
Steven was hard pressed fighting one let alone the two that were trying to come at him from different sides.
Samson had removed two demons and Itzal had despatched only one when he saw a demon mirror the move of one of the bandits lunging for Steven. Steven didn’t see it coming at all.
Time seemed to slow down for Itzal.
Samson called out a warning, “Itzal!” as he drew a dagger from his belt.
Gilbert called Steven’s name.
Itzal swung his sword to block the two swords reaching towards Steven’s back.
Samson threw the dagger.
Then Itzal had to decide on which sword he was going to block. The only way he could block the physical sword of the bandit was to become corporeal himself.
Itzal paused for a moment in his recount of the events to explain something. “We angels are not supposed to do such things,” he said. “I broke one of our strictest rules. Why? I believe it was the Lord’s will. It was the answer to Gilbert’s earlier prayer.”
Jack just sat there, waiting for him to continue. When it looked like he wasn’t going to, he decided to prompt Itzal back into his tale, “What happened?”
Itzal smiled, “I blocked the bandits thrust and appeared, fully glorified, an angel in full heavenly splendour. As I knocked the physical sword aside I felt the tip of the demons sword on my arm for only a moment.”
“I looked at the demon and there was a look of shock on his face. There was a dagger sticking out of its neck.
“As I stood there watching, the demon become a swirling cloud of black and red vapour, twisting and turning as if caught in a whirlpool. Then there was the sound of rushing of air as a portal opened between it and the abyss.
“I stood there looking around. Everyone and everything had stopped.
“The bandits were looking at me, terrified, and then they fled.
“Gilbert had waited until his remaining two bandits fled before he fell to his knees in worship.
“Samson had stopped briefly but now was continuing to wage war on the remaining two demons.
“Steven withdrew his sword from the bandit that he had been concentrating on, unaware of me behind him. Then he turned when he heard the bandit that I had foiled, drop his sword and run. Upon seeing me, Steven almost dropped his own sword. He fell back two paces and then seeing Gilbert on his knees, he too dropped to the ground.
“I let Samson continue with his fight, he had a huge smile across his face.
I think that was a result of the worship and prayers that the two men were muttering.
“Stand and do not be afraid,” I said to the two men. “Do not worship me, for I am a servant of the Lord most high, just like you.”
“Why are you here lord?” Gilbert asked.
I answered him truthfully, “I am Steven’s guardian angel. I am here to accompany him and protect him as long as he serves the Lord.”
“Thank the Lord that you were here,” Gilbert said.
“Know that the two of you are being watched over, do not stray from the Lord’s service and He will reward your faith,” I said as I disappeared from their sight once more.
“Then Samson was alongside me. “Well spoken,” he commented.
“After Gilbert and Steven built a small alter on the side of the path to honour God and the victory he gave them that day, Gilbert knighted Steven on the spot. Then we all continued on our journey towards Jerusalem, King Richard, and what would become the end of the Third Crusade.”
All was silent for a moment.
“You’re telling me that two of the Bible’s mightiest heroes had guardian angels of the same name, and they taught you how to use the sword?” Jack asked.
“I already knew how to use it, they refined my technique,” Itzal replied.
“And you are going to teach me what they taught you?” Jack asked.
“Yes, Jack,” Itzal answered.
Jack smiled and then another thought occurred to him, “Who else has taught you how to fight?” he asked.
Itzal smiled. “Have you ever heard of the Christian Samurai Omura Sumitada?”