“Sir Hugh just—”
Before he could finish speaking, Sir Hugh himself burst into Balian’s chamber. Hugh had been in command of the troops at Paphos. He smelled of sweat, horse, and leather as he announced, “The Emperor’s fleet bypassed Paphos and is on its way here!”
Balian swung his legs over the edge of the bed and gestured to Lucas to get his clothes, even as he asked his brother, “Are you sure they are making for Limassol and won’t continue on to Larnaca?”
“Well, after clearing Cape Gavata they put about and started heading inland.”
“Damn it!” Balian cursed vaguely, pulling his braies up and fastening the ties. Lucas stood by with his hose and Balian sat down again to get these on while Lucas fetched his shirt and aketon. “What time is it?” he asked his brother with a glance at the window. Torches or lamps were moving about outside, creating uncertain, artificial light. Otherwise it was pitch dark and he felt like it was the middle of the night.
“The Templars rang for Matins as we rode past.”
“Did you bring all your knights with you?”
“Yes, but it will take two days for the foot to catch up. How many archers do you have?”
“Eighty-six, not counting the squires.” Balian glanced toward Lucas as the latter handed him his shirt and started tying Balian’s hose to his braies. Balian pulled the shirt over his head and held out his hands to Hugh, who obligingly did up the buttons from elbow to wrist. Then he grabbed his padded linen aketon and pulled this over his head. Lucas fetched his hauberk as he asked his brother, “When did you leave Paphos?”
“It was before terce, we kept pace with the fleet most of the way.”
“Is it as large as Domenico claimed?”
“Oh, yes. We counted 32 galleys and 56 other transports.”
“Jesus God! Why didn’t Frederick send that many troops for the crusade?” Balian asked rhetorically.
“Because he didn’t intend to fight,” Hugh reminded him. “He’d done a deal with al-Kamal before he ever left Sicily.”
“Damn him!” Balian was much more nervous that he wanted to be. Lucas helped him into his mail chausses, and then fetched his surcoat while Balian pulled his leather-lined coif up over his head and pulled the browband tight to tie it at the back of his head. After donning the surcoat, he girded his sword at his hips and stuffed an additional arming coif into the bowl of his great helm before taking the latter under his arm as he ordered Lucas to get armed himself. “Have you sent a messenger to the King?” Balian thought to ask his brother as he started out of his chamber.
“I wasn’t born yesterday,” Hugh answered in exasperation.
Now that he was armed and ready to face his destiny, Balian put a hand on Hugh’s shoulder and suggested, “Why don’t you get some sleep?”
“Sleep? While you face an Imperial army with 600 knights, 800 sergeants, and 3,000 archers with—what is it?—38 knights and 86 archers? They’ll be plenty of time to sleep tomorrow—if we live that long.”
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