The following is an unearthly anecdote of events which surround the fall of Roche-Guillaume, the Templar stronghold in 1298 or 1299 after the Crusades. An invasion of Mamluks in the lands of Armenia saw many Templar banners raised in the midst of what is now considered the last great effort by Christian forces to maintain a foothold in The Holy Land. Not all of the available Knights of the Order hoisted their standards for this particular battle, however. And, as you shall read below, not even all those who did so saw fit to adhere themselves to that pledge.
Document #1: A letter, written by Knight of Templar Guy de Tomrmand to his former ally, Templar Knight Lord Bertrand Horal, on the eve of the battle.
Transcription of actual text from the Knight’s letter:
I have waited for the day that there would be good reason to destroy you. Your transgressions toward the Order are numerous but none so foul as this utter betrayal in the face of our enemies. I give thanks to God, for he has delivered this day to me on what may seem my last.
You swore an oath that you would fight with us this day, and yet you have left our army and our cause greatly diminished on the battlefield. I can clearly now see your purpose in leading my army to its end; we are left to fight against overwhelming odds on this plain of slaughter and will perish, all to your benefit.
So I write this, in God’s wrath of a windstorm, for one purpose – to ensure you a death so brutal, so violent, that men turn at the sight of your corpse.
This letter shall stay with my body until some forsaken man, or army, shall find it. Let my words give them a taste for vengeance, and they will too deliver the following execution:
May your limbs be severed from your torso so that you must be buried in a heap, and a Templar cross burned and branded on your face so black that your own men do not recognize you. And, as you lie waiting, praying, to die, may this letter be pinned to your corpse by a dagger through your heart, and another driven into your throat, so that you cannot scream as you burn in the depths of hell.
I can smell the embers of our enemies’ burning beacons on this night’s breeze and take in each breath as an omen of ash that will one day be your flesh.
This wind might cause the flag to fall all too soon, but until then, the Templar cross glows brightly on my heart. I am a true Knight of the Templar order, and on the morrow I fight for my faith. But tonight my prayers are for vengeance.
Sir Guy de Tomrmand
Document #2: Following the investigation of Lord Bertrand Horal’s murder this document appears to have been written by an anonymous scribe of Lord Horal’s Templar order in secret.
Transcription of actual text from the historian’s notes:
Tonight I pen this message, not because I have been ordered, but to exorcise my own fears, just as my superiors have commanded me to exorcise this from the record. This document should not exist, but the gravity of its contents compel me to make it so. While I am a man of God, what my eyes beheld this night has shaken my faith to its core.
Tonight, I investigated the vicious murder of Templar Knight-Lord Bertrand Horal in his keep.
Lord Horal was on the floor, in a pool of his own blood. His torso was stripped of his limbs, which were strewn around his body. He was nearly unidentifiable due to the deeply burned mark of our Templar order branded on his face by a heated lance blade. The broken remains of the lance were thrust through his chest and driven up into his throat.
Impaled on the spear was a handwritten letter, a missive of vengeance, he should receive, which was exacted to the last horrifying detail. While this alone would bring most men to the brink of what is considered sane, it is with trembling hand that I relate the rest of that to which I bore witness.
In the corner of the room lay another Knight, also dead. I immediately recognized his colors to be those of Templar Knight Guy de Tomrmand, a bitter rival of my Lord Horal. His tattered white tabard was draped over his shoulders, his cross lapel frayed and bloodied on his heart. Through his ribs, as if once skewered, was a vicious and torn puncture wound.
While the battered condition of Knight Tomrmand was significant it was this wound gave me pause, for it was brimming with black, ice cold blood, far from the warm crimson found in mortal men. I quickly attributed it to the dim light and night air.
Logic would conclude the knight came from afar to deliver the murder firsthand. However, there is one detail I have yet to mention – the detail that has given me falter, disquiet in all that I hold to be true.
Templar Knight Tomrmand was undeniably killed in battle 7 days ago some fifty miles away on the field of battle, fallen to the hands of the Mamluks. His body was found on a hill not far from where his standard still stood defiantly posted into the ground. He was pronounced dead and his name entered at the top of the lists of those fallen that day, his body buried on the spot along with the rest of the fallen order.
While these facts remain unchallenged in their veracity they cannot be made to reconcile with that which lies now on the floor of Lord Horal’s private chambers. The unholy truth of what I have seen suggested by both the remains in the room and the contents of the note so brutally posted on Lord Horal is that Knight Tomrmand broke the bonds of the burial mound and indeed came here to deliver his vengeance in a state of undeath.
A man without God would call him a ghost, a revenant. Yet my superiors have chosen to call it foul play, and placed blame on our Mamluk enemies, the result of an assassin’s knife. My resistance to agree is why I write this account, torn between faith and fact, I know this to be the work of the darkest imagination.
Tonight, however, I cannot shake the image of the undead. The black blooded knight dragging his corpse over land and stream, lance through his chest and vengeance in his restless soul. May God wipe his hand over what has transpired here and I hope that one day, a braver man than I may use these words for better purpose.
The implication of the letter from the anonymous scribe seems to be that Sir Tomrmand, who was recently slain in battle, somehow crossed endless miles of desert to deliver his vengeance upon another knight who was both a brother and a rival.
The superstitious nature of the times tends to make one’s interpretation of these accounts skeptical, to be sure. But consider that which we can confirm. Sir Tomrmand, a Knight of the Templar Order, was killed by a Mamluk spear seven nights before the murder of Lord Bertrand Horal. His death and burial were well-documented. Yet, on the night that his rival was found gruesomely murdered, the corpse of Sir Tomrmand, apparently withered by the elements, was found laying a scant distance from the victim.
Consider as well the very nature of the Templar Knights. Theirs was a blind devotion to an order whose calling transcended the boundaries of mortality. Theirs was the quest for eternal life through God by way of holy battle. And theirs was an order in its twilight days, soon to be disbanded forever in disgrace. A blight on the honor of the Order was a blight on the knight himself. Given the necessary passion and the power to do so, could it be possible that a man so possessed could shrug off the chains of death for so long as it took to carry out his holy vengeance on his betrayer?