wins ToTW 47 and is also rewarded with the gold medal for his victory.
The ragged band, all that remained of the Order of St. Lazarus, had been walking
now for what seemed like an eternity across the Lithuanian scrub forest, hoping to
reach the safety of Christian holdings. Their infrequent meals were at the expense
of the locals, who ran off when they saw the horned helms, but there was little fodder
in this grassless wasteland, and the horses were dying.
Every Knight of the Order had fallen in the lost battle. These few survivors were squires
and retainers, clad in the spare armour of their masters, their righteous certainty given
way to despair. Perhaps they were not the chosen of God after all, for the Lithuanian
devils in human form had not been struck down by Divine Anger, and the Holy Knights
had been slaughtered like cattle. God had allowed the brave to die, preserving only the
cowards, who now huddled in their stolen armour, fearful of the future.
We are unworthy, God has forsaken us! wailed Heinrich, chief among the doubters.
Ignaz: monk, warrior and unofficial leader, saw things differently. Wash out thy
foul mouth, God has chosen to test us. Only the pure will return to rebuild our
But Heinrich was unbowed. The Empire is rotten, the Black Death creeps from
house to house, taking virtuous and sinner alike. Not even the Church can offer
sanctuary from its scourge!
Ignaz struck him with the flat of his sword. Silence! Do not presume to question the
judgement of God!
Their conversation was interrupted by a cry from Giuseppe, youngest and weakest
of the squires. No explanation was needed, Lithuanian riders were clearly visible
bearing down upon them. Ignaz bawled at them all to mount up, but they knew
there was no escape.
Ignaz's eyes blazed: This is a happy day, we are to be martyrs my brothers! Let us
sell our lives dearly! and with that he spurred his horse into a charge, followed to
the best of their ability by the rest of the band.
But the charge was quickly spent and a confused fight with the Lithuanians ensued.
Heinrich saw Giuseppe, who had fallen behind, engulfed by a mass of pursuing
In a burst of fury, Heinrich dispatched an overconfident opponent and turned to
help Giuseppe, but he was already dead. A burly Lithuanian was stripping his
corpse of its armour, revealing a pale thin boy streaked with filth, his emaciated
body covered with unhealed sores. As he pulled the hauberk over the boy's head,
Heinrich saw the unmistakable swellings in his armpit, and everything suddenly
became clear to him.
Ignaz had been right all along! They were indeed instruments of God. But it was
neither their swords nor their virtue which God required, merely their death. For by
that death, the Almighty would bring unimaginable suffering and destruction upon
Heinrich ceased fighting, removed his helm and sat, finally content, smiling at the
Lithuanian who would kill him.