Rare Things for a Rare Life

The Knights of J'shua Book 1

by Tiana Dokerty © 1984-2021

Home | Chapter 9 | Chapter 11

Chapter 10: Revenge

Updated 9/21/23

Roasted Rabbit


Full Moon, Winter

Fairness Crossing

Nearly seven moons had passed, yet Commandant Virgil Greysun was still bedeviled by Otual’s interference, again. He seethed, thinking of the more than one hundred thousand baden he’d lost on the boys. On top of which, he’d had to cover the costs of returning every one of the seventy-seven conscripts to their homes.

He’d carefully avoided Lord Melazera by sending subordinates with regular reports with no mention of that knight. They’d returned messages relating the earl's displeasure that Greysun had not stopped the knight. A dissatisfaction that could still prove lethal.

Greysun gritted his teeth. His rage boiled because the knight was out of reach. He thought of all the ways he’d make Otual pay, sweating out new ideas until…

I’ll not take revenge on merely one knight. I’ll make them all suffer.

Yet, before he could enact his plan, he required his lord’s permission, so he traveled to Farr Castle.

Greysun entered the South Reception Hall. Earl Gaelib Melazera was reclining on a couch, cracking nuts. “Welcome.” The voice carried no emotion, terrifying Greysun.

Whistles and twittering erupted from many birdcages as the commandant passed. Empty, beady eyes stared at him.

In an apathetic tone, the earl inquired, “How are my army assets in Fairness Crossing?” Then, he threw a walnut to a flamboyant red parrot that was tied to a perch with a leather thong.

Greysun watched the bird catch the hard shell in its claw, crushing it easily with its sharp beak, picking the meaty morsel from the bone-like shards. “My lord, the trainees I have left will be ready when you call.”

“That you have left?” Melazera’s icy tone sent a shiver up his spine.

“The king’s proclamation delivered by Jonathan Otual—”

“I am aware of it. Yet, the more pertinent question is, why didn’t you prevent its delivery? You waylaid the other courier.”

“I was going to arrest him—”

After he’d delivered it in Fairness Crossing!” The earl surged to his feet, advancing on Greysun. “What use was that? And how’re you going to make up for not stopping him from reaching River Town, Lorness, and Dunis Glen? Do you have any idea what your failure to stop one man has cost me? I needed time to dispose of those I’d acquired but not yet sold.”

The commandant backed away, stumbling. He gawked at the Earl of Lorness, who was toying with a knife. “I’ve placed a large bounty on the knight’s head. If he’s within Freislicht, he’ll be in your hands soon.”

“That’s…something. Too little, too late, but something. It doesn’t relieve you of responsibility for your failings.”

“We can get revenge, Your Lordship!”


“The Knights of J’shua are zealots. If allowed to continue, they’ll train an army to oppose you.” Greysun rose cautiously hoping he could distract his lord from using the beautiful blade. “They interfere with your noble designs. Let me chastise them. What if, by some happy accident, their school burned down? Because of their own negligence, of course.”

Melazera smiled, eyes glowing as he stroked the jeweled hilt of his dagger, admiring the blade. Then he pressed it against Greysun’s throat. “Very good, Virgil. As the Second Runic Precept of the Alte Regieren teaches: Let thy revenge be strategic.” He slid the blade back into its ornate sheath. “We didn’t have this conversation. However, if such a misfortune occurred, I’d wish to hear of it promptly. We wouldn’t want unfounded rumors to spread.”


Hills of Esthlanis

Jonathan parried, twisting to his left, as his attacker crashed into him and sent them both sprawling. What had been a sword fight devolved into fists, knees, and elbows until he broke free.

Regaining his feet, he backed away, studying the lithe young man he’d underestimated.

The Esthlani dropped into a crouch. A smile played across his freckled face as his foot lashed out.

Withdrawing half a step, Jonathan caught the leg with his right hand and pulled. His other fist slammed into his opponent’s temple, dropping the younger man unconscious to the ground.

Taking a step clear, Jonathan shook his head. “This is nothing like the way we train on the mountain. If he was not wearing a padded helmet, my last blow could have been fatal.”

“It’s why we practice this way,” Sir Fingal, the son of Blake Tolmach, tapped the wooden practice sword. “We don’t pull our blows. We train as we fight, at full force.”

“Cadets must get hurt.”

“They do. But, as I’ve told you often, sometimes that’s the way J’shua teaches us to be quicker.” The Esthlani instructor chuckled as he threw cold water over Jonathan’s unconscious sparring partner.

Jonathan shook his head, sitting on a boulder. He’d been guided by J’shua to remain here to help the new Knights’ School until the end of the season. Then he hoped to meet Rebekah at the School in Freislicht.

Esthlani training was like Freislicht’s Fellowship of Knights. There were also differences. Still, he had trouble striking as boldly as his Esthlani hosts did, causing him to lose more often when fighting on their practice mats.

While not the way he’d trained in Freislicht, it was probably safer for beginners to fight with so much padding. He didn’t need it. He still felt the agility he’d gained from working on mountainous terrain was irreplaceable.

Sir Fingal slapped Jonathan on the back and squeezed his shoulder. “What’s got you pensive? Home? That wife of yours? Or is it your daughter this time?” Fingal sat beside Jonathan. “From what you’ve told me of Rebekah, she’s as faithful as you. The only thing that could stop her from moving heaven and earth to find you is J’shua guiding her elsewhere…just as he sent you here.”


“In the four moons you’ve been here, you’ve taught us fighting techniques, tactics, and strategies we knew nothing of…and learned a thing or two, I pray. You have also piqued our curiosity. Your take on the Writings is thought-provoking. It’s renewed our vigor to discover all the secrets they contain.”

“As you have made me look at passages in a new light,” Jonathan mused.

That was an understatement. The Esthlani perspective had reopened his eyes to the infinite wisdom contained within the Writings. Especially that the God of Truth made every one of us sovereign, with free will, something worth defending. That his small contributions had made a difference was gratifying.

“I know that expression, Freislander. Your modesty is too great,” Fingal teased. “The Premier’s Council has sent agents down here more than once to see what impact you’ve had on our School. According to the most recent visitor, they’ve urged the Premier to encourage closer ties between the Fellowships of Esthlanis and Freislicht. There’s even been talk of the Premier aiding your cause. But, if that happens, it will take many moons, if not years.”

Jonathan looked off into the distance. Help from the rulers of Esthlanis was too much to hope for. Even the suggestion was, or should be, beyond consideration. Yet it warmed him.

“As for that wife of yours,” Fingal pressed on, “unless J’shua guides you back together, how do you expect to find her? There are those who seek your life in your home country.”


“Rebekah can hardly put out notices in every herald station asking to meet you. They would be waiting for you. Nor can you blunder about asking for her without promptly landing in some dungeon.”

“That may be the case,” Jonathan sighed. It was a conundrum. He wanted to know where his wife and daughter were. He wanted to interrogate someone, beat them until he knew how to proceed, who to chase. But he was sure the spirit was telling him to wait.

“In fact,” Fingal grinned, “if you don’t get back to work, your reunion could be delayed for years.”

Jonathan snorted, then picked up the practice sword, tapping the dull wooden blade in his opposite hand. Yet, if teaching and training might hasten the meeting of his wife and daughter, it was time to get back to it. Until he had information, he knew nothing better to do than serve J’shua.


High Keep

Rebekah was again at the capital, her sixth stop on her circuit as a plow merchant. It was different this time. She knew where she’d be staying, had an arrangement with a local stable, and knew which taverns to frequent and which to avoid.

Or she hoped she did.

To her amazement, she continued making a significant profit. She thought her disguise as Tomas Bekh would be necessary to get information, but people were even more open than expected. What’s more, listening to the gossip was a great way to meet new prospects.

The manager of the Poplar Inn greeted her with more than the usual pleasantries. Smartly dressed, he presented Tomas Bekh with eleven messages.

She’d been hoping for one or two. Eleven surprised her. The missive from Major Patrik Gonnels read:

Looking forward to seeing the new models at midday on the quarter moon of the Crab at our location.

That meant the Commander’s office. The quarter moon was tomorrow.

This could enhance the reach of Licht Gegen or destroy it.

The following morning, she walked down the bustling street. Her heart ached as she watched a young man twirl his lady, both happy as could be. She forced a smile.

Where are you, Jon?

She stopped at the butcher shop for some dried meat and at the bakery for bread and a journey cake. As she nibbled on the treat, savoring its sweetness, she studied the passersby, street vendors, shoppers, and soldiers.

Ahead, she saw Patrik Gonnels entering the commander’s office. She inhaled deeply and set her countenance. When Rebekah felt the peace of J’shua’s spirit, she entered too.

“How may I help you?” the corporal behind the desk greeted her.

“I’m Tomas Bekh,” she responded, “a kinsman of Commander Taelor from the south. My mother asked me to pay her respects. Is the commander available?”

“Let me see. Please have a seat, sir.” The corporal gestured toward a chair, left through a door, and returned a moment later. “He’ll see you now. This way, sir.”

Rebekah followed. A large wooden map of the Kingdom of Freislicht, marked with tacks, adorned the wall beside a rack that held the commander’s sword, an axe, and a crossbow. As she entered, a hickory table to her right held a bowl and pitcher. Patrik stood from one of the two chairs before the desk.

“Tomas, how good to see you!” the commander grinned. “Don’t get stuck on formalities. Call me Peter, as you did when we were young.”

She tried to relax. Still, her smile was too tight.

The corporal left, shutting the door behind him.

“Thank you for meeting me, Peter,” Rebekah shook his hand and Major Gonnels’. “And also for your greeting.” She leaned in and whispered, “For a moment, I was sure we’d met before.”

“No matter how this goes,” Taelor motioned to the empty chair, “I have no intention of raising suspicions. The major stands surety for you. That’s reason enough to meet.”

“Major Gonnels also assures me you can be trusted,” she replied, “and that you serve the king, not Melazera. You must not discuss what I’m about to tell you with anyone, not even your wife.”

The commander’s eyebrow rose. He assented with a nod. He kept nodding while rubbing his chin as she told him of Licht Gegen’s strategy, their observations, and conclusions.

“Will you help us?”

Commander Taelor paused. “Mister Bekh, I serve the God of Truth, J’shua, and the king…so, yes, I will help you. We will expel this evil, but it will take time to root out.”

Rebekah handed him a parchment.

Taelor looked at the letter and back at Rebekah. It was nothing special. Someone wrote to their grandfather some pleasantries and said that they were looking forward to a celebration.

“A code?” Taelor noted.

“A letter replacement cipher based on the date mentioned,” she confirmed. “If things become more dangerous, we’ll alter the key. Patrik can teach you the substitutions. This…” she handed over a second parchment that could have been an inventory, “…is an encoded list of nearby locations where Licht Gegen is active. It doesn’t extend beyond your local area.”

“I appreciate your prudence,” the Commander nodded. “Had you given me a list covering the entire country, I’d have had nothing to do with you, no matter how righteous your cause. If you can’t maintain secrecy, you’ll fail.”

“I agree, and had you asked for the full list, I’d have thought you a deceiver,” Rebekah countered. “If you need our aid or to pass on information, let Patrik know. I’ll leave now. It’s best if I’m not seen with people of influence…unless you want to buy a plow,” she grinned.

“No, no need for that.” Taelor laughed.

There were still ten stops to make before moving on to Farr Castle. “If sales keep growing like this,” she muttered, “I’m going to need an assistant.”


Three-Quarter Moon

The Knights’ School

Jonathan went south from Esthlanis through Tarinland and into Freislicht. It would take nine days to travel to the Knights’ School. Even in Tarinland, most wore a blade.

How could our people have lost this wisdom? Very few in Freislicht can wield a sword.

Jonathan rode through the polished oak gate that greeted him with the creed of the Knights of J’shua:

[Endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.]

Upon entering the front doors, memories flooded back. His eyes roamed up the wide oak staircase, imagining the stampede as he and his friends rushed down and out into the cold, fresh air. The quiet reminded Jonathan that the boys would be on the mountain.

It was a demanding five-year training course, but he’d thrived in it. Each day started with prayer and study of the Writings. Later, the boys taught other students what they had learned. In the afternoon, the boys ran to the kitchen, picked up food sacks, and headed for the mountain. No matter the weather, they lived up there for some part of every day and, occasionally, many days straight.

It was a simple matter to leave a letter for Rebekah, which unencrypted read:

Beloved wife,

Know that my love for you and Sarah is never-ending and that nothing except J’shua’s guidance could keep me from searching for you, finding you, and bringing you both to safety. Yet, his voice urges me to continue my mission.

If J’shua makes a way, I will be at the school on the first day of each season. If not, I shall do my best to leave letters here for you.

Leave a letter if you cannot be here on those days. Then I will know you are safe and what has befallen you since our parting.

David is happy with his studies. You and Sarah are always in our thoughts and prayers,

Your husband,


As he rode away from the School to Mestelina, he mused that being on the road by himself was sometimes lonely, but a still, small voice reminded him, You are never alone.


Waning Crescent Moon

The Knights’ School

It was shortly before sunset when Commandant Greysun signaled his soldiers to surround the Knights’ School. Once the placements were correct, he bellowed, “Come out, by order of the king!” His anticipation warmed him against the cold.

Finally, the knights trickled out into the low-walled courtyard in front of their school. Some wore their familiar navy cloaks; others were in plain clothes. The cook folded his apron, tucking it in his belt. The soldiers outnumbered them four to one.

So few? This will be all too easy. What a pity; I’d been looking forward to making a show of this. Still, I’ll control the retelling, so…



Crouched in the shadows, Aldrik, the first-year cadet, peered through his mop of brown hair at the courtyard, hearing the loud voice of the lead soldier. The cook had given him a special job, for Aldrik was exceptional with a bow, despite his youth.

“You must be strong,” the cook had instructed, “as strong as your faith in J’shua. These men have come to destroy our Fellowship. They have surrounded the School. They mean no one to escape. Therefore, I’ll fight to the death willingly to deny them some false story about the Knights being struck down by sickness or some other thing.”

“B-b-but…” Aldrik had spluttered, brown eyes pleading, “Is there no chance?”

“For one or two, perhaps even three. But only if we hold their complete attention.

“Do you recall the gate’s frame being polished daily?” the cook continued. “That was not for the glory of J’shua. It was to embed fresh oils into it. When touched by flame, it will block our enemy’s exit. And keep their reinforcements from entering. Perhaps some of us will survive.”

Aldrik nodded. He knew the smiling cook was trying to comfort him.

Therefore, once I have spilled the barrels, you are to put a single burning arrow into the frame of the gate along the courtyard wall. Then leave quickly and head up the mountain.”

The boy recalled nodding. And thinking, praying, that this was not happening. He had to finish what he started. It was his calling ever since he learned he could become a knight. He would avenge his parents’ murders by ridding the world of evil men. Yet he, Aldrik, had a role to play right now.



Daikon Vale could see that the boastful royal officer thought the courtyard was a perfect trap. It was—just not in the way he expected.

Twenty-four soldiers, all on foot, had spread along the low wall surrounding the courtyard. Armed only with still-sheathed swords, their job was clearly to prevent the knights from escaping.

Two dozen more were within the courtyard, holding drawn swords, hatchets, and knives. Their forward-hunched stances indicated they were waiting to be unleashed. Behind them were the commandant and nine others on horseback. None of whom had drawn their weapons.

It’s all wrong. This is a deployment for intimidation, not assault.

“Why’ve you come, Commandant?” Daikon Vale demanded, his non-sword-hand moving behind him, signaling for his fellows to be ready for action. And for the three boys on punishment detail still within the School to slip away, each via a different rear exit.

 “Vale,” Greysun snorted. “Is this all of you?” He scowled at a mere twelve knights.

“All that’s here,” Daikon Vale replied, signaling for his brothers to keep their swords sheathed. “Why’ve you come, Commandant?”

Daikon Vale scanned the yard and beyond. The first line of soldiers had only outnumbered them two-to-one. That was the last clue. There had to be hidden archers waiting to strike. Lots of them. That meant the only chance of prolonging his knights’ lives, even for a few seconds, was to close. It would also improve the young ones’ chances of escaping.

“You are training rebels against the Crown,” Greysun accused. “Unfortunately for you, a fire broke out while you were sleeping…and everyone died. It was a sign from your god that you’d failed him. Or that’s how the tale will be told.”

Vale barely listened to the commandant’s reply. It was a gift from J’shua. Precious seconds within which to act. He and his fellow knights had known this could occur. His next hand signal sent them charging forward.



Commandant Greysun’s horse shied as knights slammed full tilt into the soldiers before him.

I’d not even finished speaking!

He raised his left hand, clenching it into a fist. His thirty bowmen, concealed in the trees beyond the courtyard, fired. They hit seven knights, including the cowardly cook who tried to run away. With three arrows protruding from his left arm and shoulder, the man crashed into a stack of barrels. The bowmen fired another volley.

More arrows struck the cook’s back as he tried to claw his way to…

What’s he doing?

He pondered the dying man’s actions. But Greysun’s bowmen had not only struck knights. They had also wounded eight of his soldiers, as well as a horse and two riders. One right beside his own horse.

Can’t the damned fools shoot any straighter?

Then a knight broke through the front line.



Daikon Vale shoulder-charged a sergeant who’d stepped forward, blade high.

Too high.

He cut the soldier down. Then the next opponent and the next. A gap appeared before him.

The crash of barrels and splashing of liquid meant the cook had done his job.

Another knight darted through the opening. A horse went down. More arrows struck. Men screamed. Orders rang out. It was chaos.

But the few remaining knights…

How many of us are left?

…were now amongst the horsemen.

Vale felt a burning pain down his left leg and turned just swiftly enough to stab his assailant and then parry a blow from another soldier. Greysun loomed above him.

The hiss of flames brought a smile to the knight’s face as, without blocking, he slashed at the commandant.



The third-year, red-headed cadet, Brayden, darted to a rear exit.

This had to be an exercise, like all the others. He’d show that know-all, Tedric, not to show him up during practice bouts. He’d set the best time ever for getting to the rendezvous.

Pounding recklessly across open ground, he had only a moment to register the soldier that stepped in front of him, a sword swinging, and…

…then nothing.


Aldrik saw the cook spill the barrels, their contents splashing into troughs, igniting, spreading lines of fire that rushed across the courtyard like the spokes of a wheel.

Calmly, Aldrik dipped his arrow into the waiting flame, notched it, drew back, and let fly. He did not miss. But before the gate burst into flame, he nocked another arrow and targeted a horseman.

He kept firing, for J’shua was with him.

He never felt the enemy arrow that struck him in the neck, killing him instantly.



Commandant Greysun urged his horse back from these insane knights as Vale lunged at him. He struck the fool down, but…not before he’d delivered a nasty gash to Greysun’s leg.

The horse beside him screamed, reared, and threw its rider.

Putting his spurs in, the commandant galloped for the gate, abandoning his men. His only thought was of saving his own life.

Flames licked across the courtyard, threatening to block his escape.

The gate became a blazing inferno, burning the men stationed closest to it.

With no alternative, Greysun made his horse jump the stone fence. It landed awkwardly. The fool beast refused to take another step.

 Dismounting, he looked down at his blood-stained breeches. “Blast!” His leg gave way, spilling him onto his hands and knees. Clutching at the wound, he screamed in pain. Fearing for his life, he scanned the battle.

The last knight was defending against two horsemen when a wounded soldier stabbed him in the back.

It was over.

What should have taken only moments had lasted far too long.

It should have been a one-sided slaughter, but seven horsemen were dead. As were almost two dozen soldiers. And three of the surviving horses would have to be put down. If his own was lame, that would become four.

Greysun quailed as his leg throbbed.

If this story ever gets out, it’ll ruin everything.

He perused his remaining handpicked men. No, he resolved. The knights’ actions were impressive but futile. He smiled. “Lieutenant! Have the men carry the bodies inside, recover the arrows, and spread the oil we brought. Keep any souvenirs you find. But be quick. Help me up.”

The commandant tied a leather thong above his wound tightly and twisted it around a stick until it went numb. Then he scanned the mountain as the warmth of the burning building spread through him. He relished sending the report to Melazera detailing the knights’ demise.



The fourth-year cadet, Tedric, inched quietly through the undergrowth. He’d seen Brayden’s death. Had almost called out to warn him.

“Almost.” That word would stay with him forever. He dropped his head, dark curls covering his face. He’d been just far enough up the hill to see the last knight fall. The sight had brought blinding tears to his eyes. Frozen in place, crushed by the weight of what he’d seen, he had not shifted as three soldiers strode past.

“Serves the absurd knights right,” one of them chortled. “They should have surrendered. I wanted to give them the deaths they deserved. Slow and painful. Still, it’s a good thing our sergeant didn’t volunteer us for the front line. Did any of those fools survive?”

“Those fanatics? Not likely. They’ll have met the Warrior’s Death they always went on about. Better them than us.”

Somehow, Tedric had not thrown up or given himself away. Nor did he move until he could no longer hear them. His head felt light. The world was a distant, insubstantial thing. But he had noted the green dragon insignia the soldiers wore.

He prayed J’shua would permit a reckoning someday.


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