The Zengid Mosque
see also 'The Greifenberg'
A lighthouse on the shore of the great sand-sea the oasis at Al Jibba and its isolated mosque offer a safe haven to the weary
Built by Zengi the famed Seljuq atabeg of Mosul the shrine is one of the newest in Islam, but already one of the richest.
However, that wealth has also attracted the notice of others. A mixed band of raiders - lay-knights from Antioch, Templars from Kerak and Hospitallers from Acre is approaching.
Forewarned, Zengi's successor, Nurredin of Aleppo, has sent Yusuf Ayubb, one of his most promising leiutenants, to protect the shrine.
As their goal comes in sight the crusaders find themselves engulfed in a swarm of horse-archers. The experienced Templar commander,Arnauld De Graspillon, forms his infantry in a hollow square with the knights inside to protect the precious battle-horses.
Untrained in Holy Order discipline it is not long before the lay-knights, many of them new from the west, find the dishonour of skulking behind their inferiors unbearable. They break and charge. His hand forced, De Graspillon has little choice but to support them.
A roar of triumph goes up as the despised horse archers break and flee. Beyond them the Tawashi lancers of Yusuf Ayubb's personal retinue turn and gallop off in retreat. Triumphant the western horsemen thunder after them.
Abandoned by their betters the western infantry are soon surrounded once more then charged down by the ghulams of the saracen heavy cavalry.
Their mounts blown, their one tactic expended, the crusader horsemen are brought to bay under the walls of the very mosque they have come to despoil. Once more the despised archers close in and now the precious battle-horses are defenceless.
The knights of the holy orders fight to the death as their monastic vows decree, Arnauld De Graspillon is brought down in a last desperate charge and taken alive, forbidden suicide by his faith and denied ransom by his vows he will languish in captivity for another sixteen years before being traded for a saracen princess.
The young kurdish general Yusuf Ayubb is hailed by his men for the first time as 'The Righteous Sword' - a title that will one day make him known to all the men of Outremer as...