We amassed around the city gates, ready for battle. This was our city, our land, our country. The Muslim invaders had overtaken Jerusalem and today was liberation day. The archers, like hawks in perches, high upon the city wall raised their bows, but we were too far out to be hit. We waited, waited for the generals orders. "Crusaders!" He yelled,"We made it! Jerusalem is within our sight and within our grasp! It is God's will we take back the city, it is our duty! Today many of you will die, but you will be met by Heaven's finest warriors, waiting to take you to Paradise! Because today we march to the gates of Hell itself! If we don't stand and fight, who will? If we don't stop them here, how long till our own city is captured and our people subjugated and enslaved? How long till our wives are taken advantage of, till your sons and brothers are slain in the streets? Many of you will lose your life, but you will be giving it to your families, to your cities! We will fight till our cries ring through out the city and country. We will fight until our enemies know true fear and understand the depths of our resolve. So rise up you Crusaders, stand and fight!"
We roared our approval in unison. He banged his sword against his shield and raised it high above his head, a glittering beacon of hope, it's shine rivaling the sun. We held our breath, the horses ceased to neigh. It was as if heaven itself had fallen silent, awaiting the next move. The wind, held its breath with us, my hand was shaking, my knuckles white. Sweat blurred what remaining vision my helmet permitted. My heartbeat visible to all, beat in unison with my brothers.
The sword came down. The general raced forward, his horse a golden chariot carrying a deity into battle, no carrying God himself into battle. I snapped the reigns and lurched forward my horse carried me to the gates without ever touching the ground. The infidels met us at the gates. I looked to see what the general would do. He thrust his sword with swipes more erratic than the wind. With each swipe an infidel fell dead. My attention or lack thereof nearly made my fate the same. I blocked and engaged my foe.
Thrust after thrust was deflected. I thought for sure we would die in a stalemate. But no, my horse collapsed, an arrow protruding from its chest. I clambered out from underneath the beast, my shield ready, my sword hungry. I began to hack away the foot soldiers, I had lost sight of the general, but still I fought. The day wore on, more nameless, faceless infidels fell by my blade. They had been pushed back, they no longer engaged us at the gate, but at the city square. They were demoralized, they had lost the will to fight. So they fled and we gave chase. We didn't stop until every single one of them was gone. It was over.
I smiled, a rare occasion as of late. Countless infidels had fallen to me, I was congratulated by many. Proclaimed the warrior of Jerusalem, I sheathed my sword, my pride indomitable. I was met by a grim looking soldier.
"Didn't get your share of blood, brother?"
"No you fool! It's the general, he wants to speak to you."
My mood sombered, I had lost sight of the general, both in battle and after. He was propped against the wall of a building, near the entrance to the city. He was gashed horribly, a mortal wound. A large pile of infidels lay around him.
"I wanted to congratulate you, soldier. You saved our land, your land. You motivated the soldiers, you inspired them. They followed you, straight to the Square. Even my own escorts left me, you won this victory." He coughed and removed his helmet, blood was coming out of his mouth. He looked me in the eyes, "God is good, and his ...will is... Perfect..." His eyes went skyward and glazed over.
He died alone, surrounded by enemies. And it was all my fault. He fought a better battle than any soldier here. He willed himself to stay alive to see the task to its finish. He congratulated me, and thanked me, the person who was the reason for his inglorious death. He deserved better, he deserved to have the roles reversed. My eyes welled up with the realization that he was the warrior, not I.