BLOOD. GUY DE LUSIGNAN STARED IN horror at the stream of urine the color of Cypriot rosé wine, and his stomach cramped in fear. He didn’t need to pay a physician a pretty price to know that blood in his urine was not a good sign. This, combined with the pains in his groin and intestines, warned him that he was ill. Seriously ill. If only Sibylla were alive. She would have comforted him, but there was no one to turn to anymore. No one he trusted. They all wanted him dead. Because of Hattin, which wasn’t his fault.
The stream of urine had tapered off to a drip, and Guy closed his braies and tucked the tails of his shirt back inside before tightening the drawstring and letting his surcoat fall back in place. He stopped at the basin just outside the garderobe and poured water over his hands. He used a bar of balsam-scented soap to wash them more vigorously than usual, as if by washing his hands he could cleanse away the undefined illness that was eating away at his innards.
His squire, the awkward and bumbling Dick de Camville, was hovering uncertainly at the door to the outer chamber, moving nervously from foot to foot. It still galled Guy that none of his former barons had been willing to put their sons in his service. That they had elected Conrad de Montferrat and then Henri de Champagne King of Jerusalem in his place might have been rationalized on legal and political grounds, but refusing to let their sons serve him was a personal insult. Guy therefore found himself dependent on this semi-moron, the younger son by a second marriage of one of the men Richard of England had left on Cyprus more than two years ago. While the boy was willing enough, he was not the brightest youth Guy had encountered, and he stuttered half the time.
“What is it now?” Guy snapped at him, feeling exposed just because the boy had been so nearby while he urinated blood.
“Th-th-there’s a man here, w-w-who says he is your b-b-brother,” the squire stammered out, getting bright red from agitation in the process.
“My brother? Is Geoffrey back?” Guy asked hopefully. After Sibylla’s death, Geoffrey had been the only soul to wholeheartedly support Guy. He had badgered the English King into recognizing Guy as the rightful King of Jerusalem, and had been furious when Richard abruptly abandoned the Lusignans and accepted Conrad de Montferrat instead. After Montferrat was murdered and Henri de Champagne married Isabella, even Geoffrey conceded defeat. Champagne was the Plantagenet’s nephew, and blood is thicker than water. Still, Geoffrey had seemed willing to accept Cyprus as an alternative to Jerusalem—until he got here. From the start, he hadn’t liked Cyprus. No sooner had the spring sailing season opened than he abandoned Guy. That left Guy utterly alone in this hostile world of treacherous Greeks and greedy Italians.
“N-n-no. Another b-b-brother,” the squire squeaked into Guy’s thoughts.
It could hardly be his eldest brother, Hugh “le Brun,” Guy calculated; he’d returned to his lordship in Poitou even before King Richard departed. That left only the third of the four Lusignan brothers. “Aimery?” he asked in disbelief.
“Yes, it can hardly come as that much of a surprise,” Aimery answered from behind him. Guy spun about as his brother stepped into the room from the balcony.
Guy gaped at his elder brother, completely confused by his own emotions. It was good to see a familiar face, a face that had shadowed him for so much of his thirteen years here in Outremer. But the voice still had that condescending ring to it, and Aimery’s eyes betrayed his continued disdain for his “little brother.” Aimery had never accepted that his “little brother” had been more successful than he, had risen higher, was a king . . .
“What brings you here?” Guy asked warily.
“Well, it seems that—because of you—Henri de Champagne does not trust me anymore, and since he does not trust me, he wanted me removed as Constable. Since I can’t draw on the Constable’s income anymore, I’m penniless—all because of you. Under the circumstances, the good Baron d’Ibelin thought I might find more lucrative alternatives here on Cyprus.”
“The good Baron d’Ibelin,” Guy sneered sarcastically, “who never supported me, who undermined me at every turn, who worked against me—” Before he got more insulting, his elder brother gestured with his head to the youth in the doorway to the balcony, and Guy belatedly recognized Ibelin’s eldest son. Instantly, his resentment boiled. The barons refused to let their sons serve him, but Ibelin—the ringleader of the lot!—allowed his eldest son and heir to serve Aimery! It was ridiculous.
His anger spilled over into his voice as he snapped back, “Well, if ‘lucrative alternatives’ is what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the wrong place! The Greeks and Italians between them have stolen everything of value. Nobody pays me a penny in taxes, customs, or fees, and if I ride so much as five miles outside of Nicosia I have to fear for my life. Indeed, I’m hardly safe in Nicosia, either. I never know when or where an assassin might be lurking with a poisoned knife, ready to send me the same way as that bastard Conrad de Montferrat!”
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