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*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE SARACEN: THE HOLY WAR *** Produced by Greg Weeks, Stephen Blundell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
THE CHARGE
TOWARD DESTINY

Daoud slung his bow across his back and drew his long, curving saif from the scabbard. The noonday sun flashed on it as he held it high. His men roamed and brandished their own swords.

The band had caught up with them, and the trumpets and hautboys screamed death to the enemy while the kettledrums rumbled.

There was nothing left to protect Charles d'Anjou now. There was not even time for the French leader to run. He seemed to know it. He had his sword out and he held up a white shield with a red cross.

Urging the Arabian on, shouting the name of God, Daoud raced toward triumph....

Also by Robert Shea:

ILLUMINATUS! (with Robert Anton Wilson)

SHIKE: TIME OF THE DRAGONS

SHIKE: LAST OF THE ZINJA

ALL THINGS ARE LIGHTS*

THE SARACEN: LAND OF THE INFIDEL*

*Published by Ballantine Books

THE SARACEN:
THE HOLY
WAR ROBERT SHEA
BALLANTINE BOOKS · NEW YORK

Copyright © 1989 by Robert Shea

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States of America by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 88-92181

ISBN: 0-345-35933-X

Manufactured in the United States of America

First Edition: April 1989

Transcriber's Note: Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. Variant spellings remain as printed, whilst inconsistent hyphenation has been standardised.

Thanks to Michael Shea for giving Project Gutenberg permission to distribute The Saracen: The Holy War.

[1]

Prologue

A summary of The Saracen
Book One, Land of the Infidel

A.D. April 12, 1264 / 4th day of Jumada, A.H. 662

Feverish, his arrow-wounded leg throbbing, Daoud ibn Abdallah lies in bed after a night of battle and defeat. As dawn lights the eggshell-white windowpanes in his room, he recalls the events that led him to this bitter hour.

Daoud was born to an English crusading family that had settled in Palestine. Captured by Muslims as a child, he was taken to El Kahira, Cairo, chief city of Egypt, and selected for the Mamelukes, the elite corps of slave warriors gathered from all parts of the Middle East to serve the sultans of El Kahira.

He became a favorite of a leading Mameluke emir, Baibars. Young and in need of comfort, he converted to Islam. He came to love the faith of Muhammad, totally and humbly dedicating himself to its tenets and to the welfare of the Muslim people. He studied with Sheikh Saadi, a Sufi mystic, and with the Hashishiyya, the dreaded sect known in Europe as the Assassins.

In those years the Tartars, invincible legions of mounted barbarians, had come out of Asia, invading the Islamic world. A huge army led by Hulagu, grandson of the Tartar conqueror, Genghis Khan, had already conquered Persia and Syria and was poised to attack Egypt. And Hulagu was sending ambassadors to the pope to urge Christian Europe to join with the Tartars in destroying the Muslims.

Should Tartars and crusaders strike at Egypt simultaneously, the people and faith Daoud has come to love would perish. Daoud has seen with his own eyes how the Tartars obliterated Baghdad, its 200,000 men, women, and children slaughtered to the last soul, the city leveled, a wasteland. He is determined that the same fate not befall his adopted El Kahira.

Baibars—having made himself Sultan of El Kahira—sent Daoud into the land of the infidel. Because Daoud is blond and gray-eyed,[2] no one would ever suspect him to be a Saracen, as Christians call all Muslims.

Daoud's mission was to go to the court of the pope and use every means necessary—from intrigue and bribery to assassination and outright war—to stop Christians and Tartars from forming an alliance against Islam.

He went first to Manfred, king of southern Italy and Sicily. King Manfred's family, the imperial German house of Hohenstaufen, had been at war with the popes for generations, and Manfred had among his subjects many Sicilian Muslims. Manfred agreed to help Daoud. But to protect his own interests Manfred insisted that Daoud take with him Lorenzo Celino, a middle-aged Sicilian warrior, and Sophia Karaiannides, a beautiful Byzantine woman. Lorenzo brought along his huge, formidable dog, Scipio. Journeying northward, the three rescued Rachel, a Jewish girl, from tavern ruffians. Daoud agreed, with misgivings, to let her travel with them.

The pope, threatened by political violence in Rome, had moved his residence to Orvieto, a strongly walled town built on a huge flat-topped rock. Here, Cardinal Adelberto Ugolini, a Sicilian churchman who had long been secretly sending information to Baibars, was horrified to find Baibars's agent on his doorstep expecting hospitality. But the cardinal reluctantly agreed to help.

Hulagu Khan's ambassadors to the pope, Christianized Tartars named John Chagan and Philip Uzbek, arrived in Orvieto two weeks after Daoud. A young French nobleman, Count Simon de Gobignon, commanded their military escort. Daoud had arranged for garbage-throwing hecklers to mar the ambassadors' procession. The arrogant Cardinal Paulus de Verceuil, accompanying the Tartars, was hit by excrement. He ordered the hired Venetian crossbowmen to fire into the crowd, killing two innocent bystanders.

Calling himself David of Trebizond, a merchant from the eastern shore of the Black Sea, Daoud appeared publicly for the first time at a council of Church leaders called by Pope Urban. He spoke from firsthand knowledge of the horrors committed by the Tartars. But Friar Mathieu d'Alcon, the Tartars' interpreter, testified that in his opinion the Tartar empire was no longer a danger to Europe.

The Tartar ambassadors and their entourage were guests at the palace of Orvieto's most powerful family, the Monaldeschi. When Contessa Elvira di Monaldeschi gave a reception for the emissaries, Daoud drew them into drunken gloating over their atrocities and boasting of their plans for world conquest. Pope Urban and many other Church dignitaries were appalled listeners.

With Ugolini's help, Daoud was able to persuade the influential[3] Dominican philosopher Fra Tomasso d'Aquino to write and preach against the alliance. But then, subjected to unknown pressures, Fra Tomasso suddenly changed his position.

Daoud now felt that he could do no more through intrigue. He had been in contact with the Filippeschi, an Orvieto clan who were hereditary enemies of the Monaldeschi family. And through Lorenzo he had been quietly recruiting a company of bravos—armed adventurers. Offering the help of his mercenaries, he persuaded the Filippeschi to attack the Monaldeschi palace. With de Gobignon and the Tartars' other guards diverted, he could enter the palace and kill the ambassadors.

While the Filippeschi prepared for the attack, Daoud discovered that Andrea Sordello, one of his hired bravos, had been set to spy on him by Simon de Gobignon. In Tilia's brothel, Daoud subjected Sordello to a Hashishiyya initiation, using drugs and women to make the spy his slave. He implanted in Sordello's mind a command that if he should see a silver locket that Daoud keeps on his person, he would immediately kill Simon de Gobignon. And henceforth Sordello was to give Simon only the information Daoud wanted him to have.

After the initiation Daoud was troubled. He had been taught how to do this, but had never done it before. Had he truly and completely subjugated Sordello's soul?

On the night of the attack he was dismayed to discover the Monaldeschi ready for a siege. But, garbed in black as a Hashishiyya fighter, Daoud went ahead and slipped into the Monaldeschi palace.

The Tartars, with Simon de Gobignon, Friar Mathieu, and four guards, were in the most secure room in the palace, the cellar pantry, where costly spices from the East were kept behind a thick door with a strong lock.

Trained by the Hashishiyya to use his senses other than sight to fight in the dark, Daoud forced his way into the spice pantry and put out the lantern. He struggled with Simon in pitch blackness and came close to killing him. Swords thrust at him from all directions. He had the Tartars' lives almost in his grasp, but de Gobignon was thwarting him. He tried frantically to kill de Gobignon and was no more able to do it than if the man were a djinn.

Then the old priest escaped from the cellar and came back with a lighted candle. Gripped by the terrible fear that he would be caught and exposed, Daoud raced up the cellar stairs. Despair almost killed him when he felt the searing pain of a Tartar arrow in his leg.[4]

He felt terror when he saw the white-bearded friar on the stairs blocking his way, even though the old man held no weapon in his outstretched arms.

He had been about to stab the friar, who was too useful to the Tartars and the Christians to be allowed to live. But his arm could not move. It was as if a powerful hand held it, and he seemed to hear a voice booming in his head, You dare to murder a priest?

In his dread he hesitated, but if he did not escape Sophia would die. The moment of paralysis passed, and instead of killing Friar Mathieu, he thrust him aside, to fall from the banisterless stairs.

As he lies in bed the following morning in Ugolini's mansion, Daoud forces himself to think. He has extended himself to the limit of his powers and failed, but he must try again. He has to find a new plan, lest his faith and his people, his whole world, meet annihilation.

In a room near Daoud's, Sophia Karaiannides kneels before an icon of Saint Simon Stylites that she herself painted. She is thankful that Daoud escaped alive from the Monaldeschi palace. She is glad that Simon, who coincidentally shares the name of her favorite saint, is alive, too. But how much longer, she wonders, will she have to live here in the midst of enemies with the fear of a hideous death as a spy and an enemy of the Church dogging her day and night?

Sophia was born in Constantinople during the years when it was ruled by French invaders. As a very young woman she had seen her parents and her lover slaughtered by rampaging French troops. She went on to serve the Byzantine general Michael Paleologos, who drove out the French and became the Basileus, Emperor of Constantinople.

Michael sent Sophia as a confidential envoy to his ally, Manfred, and she and Manfred became lovers. But when the blond Saracen who called himself David of Trebizond arrived at Manfred's court, Manfred told her she must help David in his mission of preventing the Christian-Tartar alliance. Manfred hinted at danger to her if she stayed with him. Though heartbroken at being sent away by Manfred, Sophia accepted the undertaking because another French crusade might well lead to another French attack on "the Polis," her beloved home city.

When Rachel joined their party, Sophia, remembering her own orphan girlhood, befriended her. But Daoud insisted, to protect the secrecy of the mission, that after they arrived in Orvieto, Rachel[5] be sent to the brothel run by Tilia Caballo, Cardinal Ugolini's mistress.

After a few months in Daoud's company, Sophia felt powerfully attracted to him. The Saracen admitted that he was likewise drawn to her, but insisted that they deny any loving feelings, because he must use Sophia to corrupt and defeat the advocates of the Tartar-Christian alliance.

And he did so at the Contessa di Monaldeschi's reception for the Tartars, sending Sophia to lure Simon de Gobignon away from the great hall of the palace while he tempted the Tartars to discredit themselves. Sophia and Simon went for a walk in the atrium, and in a dark corner she let him kiss her.

A month after the reception Simon and she had a clandestine tryst in her room at Ugolini's. Though she was ready to take him to bed, Simon insisted that they remain chaste, according to the customs of courtly love, thereby endearing himself to her all the more.

She is surprised to realize that she has come to care deeply for the idealistic, innocent young Frenchman. But her feeling for the Saracen is stronger. More than once the ruthless things Daoud has done in pursuit of his mission have made her almost hate him. Even so, when Sophia is with Daoud she feels a fire building in herself to match the fire she perceives behind those gray eyes.

She glances at an hourglass, sighs, and rises from where she has been kneeling before the saint's icon. It is time to prepare a fresh poultice for Daoud's wound.

Morning at the Palazzo Monaldeschi. The dead are laid out and wept over, the debris of the siege cleared away, repairs begun on the damaged walls. Simon de Gobignon strips off his mail shirt, about to step into a hot bath. He is profoundly grateful to be alive and relieved that he successfully

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