Disclaimer: Alamut Series and the character of Aidan are the original creations of Judith Tarr, they are not mine. The title is from/inspired by the old Kansas song.
Perhaps he made too much out of the smallest of signs, perhaps it was simply the combination of heat and dust, and the by-now comfortable odor of mingled sweating man and horse that had sunk into both leather and steel armor which was causing his thoughts to drift. Regardless of the source of his disquiet Aidan's attention had been fixated on the small black fly that nosed about just about his line of sight as he sat slumped in the saddle.
The fly was of a kind that Aidan had never seen before in the cooler lands of the West, it was black with a red splotch on its underbelly besides that there nothing else remotely interesting or remarkable about the fly.
After a few moments of staring at the fly Aidan realized why it seemed a tad significant because it was the first insect that he had seen since leaving the desert and upon approach to the city. Water might be within the reach but again the thought struck him he might be making too much out of the smallest of signs. This was a dry, thirsty, and hot land. Water was hard to come by, yet it made him feel hopeful for the first time in a long while.
The long line of foot soldiers, mounted knights, and sundry camp-followers at the outset of the march had been a brave and splendid in its martial finery. However, the long hot, dry March and the rather disappointing campaign had sapped the spirits of the men. Aidan thought 'How can anyone blame them?
Aidan took his attention momentarily off of watching the men and lifted his head to glance up the sky. In his rather bemused state, the sky looked about as clear blue as a plate of blue and white Delft pottery he recalled seeing on his foster home's mantel on Yule, many years and miles away across both oceans of sand and water. Despite this scant reminder of a home that had never really felt was quite ready to call home it could not alleviate the stark reality of being in the Holy Land.
Aidan had wanted this, of course, wanted it badly for almost the entirety of his young adult life and perhaps even as a small boy he had yearned for adventure, for the bright sharp steel of a blade in his hand. Aidan would become a knight even if it killed him. And in his more solitary moments, he often thought, that it just might.
Aidan shook his head freeing one hand from the tangled reins around the neck of his horse, he thought, 'There are all kinds of death, the slow, lingering kind that I might have had if I remained behind where it was relatively safe. Then there are the quick sharp, painful kinds that come out battlefield death.'
Short and quick, and glorious these have become old, familiar friends. There is blood, but then, there is always blood." Aidan wondered about that and sighed. "Yet if I were to be offered the opportunity to go back and change the outcome of my decisions would I do anything differently?' He removed his helmet, resting it in the crook of his elbow briefly noting that his helmet had acquired more than a few additional scraps and dents. Aidan finished regarding the nicks and dents in his helm and plunked back on his head. 'Nothing that can't be fixed." he muttered aloud to himself. The pain that throbbed behind his eyes is a familiar one, one that he had felt many a time before: it is the quiet, but insistent ache of fatigue and the wear and tear on his much-abused body and muscles in the aftermath of a battle.
He rarely felt the blows and counter-blows that he sustained during a battle and Aidan felt remotely guilty about that; he wondered if somehow there might be something wrong with him. Surely he could feel some compassion for others.
Yet, he reminded himself, that compassion is learned at home and while they had always been remotely polite his own family were not what one would call emotive, except with each other. Aidan had always been the outsider, the one who was different, the one that simply did not fit in.
Perhaps it was uncharitable for him to think that way of those who had succored for him during his early childhood but that was the way it was. As the Lord is my Witness, I shall be never become like that if I should ever be granted the opportunity and blessing of becoming a father. "
Aidan shrugged and forcibly shoved the ambivalent thoughts aside. Suddenly trying to force a suitable picture of a face of the woman who might consent to become his wife, and after a few more turns and dips in the track of the road that the convoy traveled gave up the attempt. When was there time to enjoy the companionship of female company? Really, that was almost quite humorous.
Beneath his him Aidan could feel his horse shuffle it's shod feet and swiveled its neck around to regard him with a curious look in its big brown eyes, before looking away once more. "No, no, he whispered. "I knew the risks were substantial before going into this, and for me, the risks proved to be acceptable."
If he had been marked for greatness if his name or even the rumor of his approach chance to reach the ears of his enemies was that not as it should be? Perhaps down the long years, his name would be equated in the same leagues as that of King Richard, the LionHeart. Did he really want that notoriety? What was noble blood really worth, anyway? It was all red and when it spilled out was it not the same?
"Not for me, it is never the same, never." Upon the heels of that thought, Aidan suddenly realized that his horse had chosen of its own accord to cease following the tracks of the horse in front of it which forced Aidan to cease his meandering thoughts and concentrate of getting back into formation and moving once more.