(This is a story I had to write for an elective I am taking in college that focuses around the middle ages. It is due tomorrow, so I wanted to get some input before I submitted it)
Charles de Guille opened his eyes slowly as the sun lanced through the tiny, barred window onto his face. He turned his head slowly to take in his surroundings. Who was he? Where was he? How long had he been here? Why was he here? The thoughts all rattled through his head as the fogginess of his dreams were dashed aside by the crashing reality.
Slowly, he sat up on the wooden slats that passed for his bed and lowered his feet to the cold stone floor. He winced slightly as his feet recoiled from the frigid stone; though whether he was recoiling from the cold, the lingering pain in his body, or the memories of what had been done to him, he did not know. Charles looked down at his body, the rags that passed for clothing were barely hanging onto his thin, starving body. He ran his fingers along a series of scars that crisscrossed his torso. Some of the scars were old, long since healed; whereas others were fresh, the flesh just starting to knit back together.
Shaking his head, Charles tried to clear his thoughts and focus on reality. Who was he? The thought kept repeating in his mind. His name... what was his name? Frowning, it took him a moment to focus and remember his name, just as it did every morning.
"Charles... my name... is... Charles," he muttered to himself. But there was so much more. He wasn't just a name, he had a position. He had respect. Memories kept creeping into his mind of being at prayer in a chapel. Was he a priest? A monk, perhaps? No. No, a clergyman wouldn't have such an intricate array of scar tissue across his body. Was he a warrior? Yes... yes, thinking of war brought back more memories. Memories from decades past; memories from just a few months ago. Memories of war. Memories of death. Men screaming and the clash of steel resounding across the battlefield. The thunder of hooves as his destrier carried him into battle. Was he a knight? Born to nobility? Yes, that all sounds familiar.
"My name is Charles... I am a knight," he muttered again. But Charles was more than just a knight. He was a pious man; a defender of the faith. He had sworn an oath to protect those who walked the pilgrim's road. Once, he was able to wear the Lord's Cross with pride. Now, it is reviled for what it represented.
"My name is Charles. I am a knight of the Lord. I am a Knight Templar," he said, this time with more conviction. As he began remembering more of who he was, he started answering the other questions. He had been riding back to his family's holdings outside of Carcassone when he was taken by armed men accompanying a man who produced a warrant for his arrest. The charge? Being an enemy of the faith. He could have fought them - there were only three of them and they would have been no match for an experienced warrior such as himself. But shedding blood against men who were just following orders was not who he was as a man; it would have been a stain upon his honour. That day, he went from being known as a proud Knight Templar to having more labels levied against him - criminal; blasphemer; heretic. That day, he knew, would echo through eternity.
That day was the 13th of October in the year of our Lord, 1307.
Charles' head snapped up as he heard the sound of booted feet drawing closer to his tiny cell. He shrunk back into the corner as the heavy oak door slammed against the wall as the gaoler strode in, brandishing a pair of manacles.
"Get up, knight," he sneered as his large body blocked the door, standing between Charles and any hope of escape. His presence stood between Charles and any hope, period. Resigning himself to his fate, Charles followed the directions he was given despite knowing what awaited him at the end of their journey. Hanging his head, he didn't even register that the gaoler was putting the manacles around his wrists until he felt the cold steel on his bare skin.
"Move. The inquisitor wants to have a word with you," the gaoler said as he shoved Charles out the open door. He had taken this journey so many times, he was able to anticipate the directions given to him by the large, uncaring man behind him. For six weeks he had been at the mercy of a man whom he only knew as the inquisitor: a man who kept demanding he confess to crimes he did not commit.
Charles stopped at the entrance to a stairwell that descended into the bowels of the hellpit which he now inhabited, as an ungodly scream echoed up from the darkness. He shuddered involuntarily, as the sound was pierced with agony, rage, and panic. Despite everything, he was able to recognize the voice. He had known the screaming man for many years and counted him amongst his brothers. So many of his brothers had passed through these halls, and so many times he heard their pitiful screams and pleas for mercy throughout all hours of the night. Being shoved forward roughly, Charles began his descent.
At the foot of the stairwell, he emerged into a windowless hallway that was barely lit by the rare torch ensconced along the wall. Directly in front of him lay another large oaken door; a door that he had passed through many times and added his own screams to the chorus of voices. Charles refused to take another step further, knowing what agony lay beyond those doors. He could not bear to spend any more time within that room. The smell of stale blood wafted out from beneath the door, causing Charles to wretch and his stomach heave from both the smell and the memories that smell brought with it. His refusal to move towards the door brought on another rough shove that propelled him forward. A servant within pulled the door open slowly, the iron hinges screaming in a mockery of the men who passed through here.
Charles shook his head as he was beckoned through the door. He didn't think he could take anymore. As his eyes adjusted to the dark environment, his gaze darted around the room, falling upon the implements of the inquisitor's trade.
Iron tools thrust into the coals of a roaring fire to be used to pierce his flesh, hooked devices to rend his skin and muscles, the rack. All devices of pain and suffering, and all designed for one thing - to get information or confessions from people by any means necessary.
A voice snaked out of the darkness that was all too familiar in its terrible import, "Are you ready to confess to your crimes, Templar?"
Shuddering, tears falling from his eyes, Charles was unable to lift his head to look upon his accuser. He would do what ever it takes to end this pain, this suffering. The accusations were all false, but maybe if he confessed, they would spare him. Maybe, if he confessed, they would let him live. Maybe, if he confessed, they would grant him a swift death. That prospect, the prospect of death, was the one that gave him the most hope.
Keeping his eyes fixed on the floor, Charles nodded his head slowly as the heavy oaken door slammed shut behind him.