“Did I understand correctly?” One of the knights opened, continuing in German. “We have here a German in the robes of the traitorous Templars?”
Ullrich could feel the hostility and it made his breathing come a little shorter, but he stood his ground. “I’m Ullrich von Alvensleben and I’m a true servant of Christ—which is more than I can say about the likes of you!”
One of the men thrust a knee into his groin so fast and so hard that Ulli didn’t stand a chance of defending himself. He crumpled up with a short groan, and already the next blow and the one after were raining down on him. The three men closest to him were using the hilts of their swords mercilessly. At the sight of so much concentrated violence, the Armenian horse-dealer backed off in terror—shouting for the watch at the top of his lungs
Ulli’s assailants were shouting “Templar traitor!” and “Templar bastard!” as they pummeled him to his knees. Kneeling, he tried to cross his arms before his face to protect his head, but one of the blows broke his right wrist. He howled in agony and shrank back farther, falling against the upright pillar of the paddock fence. The next blow snapped his lower left arm, and Ulli screamed in pain again. He tried to crawl under the fence, but one of the men grabbed his ankles and dragged him back. They started kicking his ribs, his kidneys.
Hooves landed beside his head and dust blinded him. Someone screamed, and it wasn’t him.
“Stay out of this, Ibelin!” a voice shouted.
“You’re under arrest, Sir Adelbert!” was the answer.
“What the hell?”
“Seize them! All five of them! Don’t even try, Sir Bodo!”
The moment the hooves arrived, the assault had stopped, but Ulli squirmed his way as best he could to the comparative safety of the paddock. Only then did he twist around to see what was happening. A handsome young man on an ugly chestnut horse was holding his sword pointed at the throat of one of the five assailants, who was holding both hands in the air in evident surrender. The horse formed a barrier between Ulli and the other men, but he could see a second man on a horse had drawn his sword as well, apparently in support of the first. As Ulli watched, sergeants of the watch clamped hold of all five men, wrenching the swords out of their hands.
Not that they didn’t struggle, except for the man with a sword at this throat, but the moment they did, the crowd pounced on them. Even the Saracen horse-dealer joined in with apparent enthusiasm. Soon the assailants were being kicked and spat upon with so much increasing violence that the young man who had rescued Ulli called them to order. “Enough! They’re under arrest!” To the city watch, he ordered, “Get them to the city jail before any more of the Emperor’s men or the Teutonics find out what happened!”
“Don’t think you can get away with this, Sir Balian!” one of the men shouted at him as the watch started to hustle him away.
The young man rode his horse closer and spat on the man who had spoken. “Oh, but I can! You’re in Acre, not Aachen!”
Then he spun his horse around and jumped down in a fluid motion to bend over Ulli. “How badly are you hurt, Sir Brother?”
Ulli managed to gasp, “My w
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