God Will Know His Own
In the Year of our Lord, 1209
When I returned to the Ile d'France, I had expected to find my Slayer a
farmer's daughter, or perhaps the daughter of some nobleman, whose household
I would be expected to infiltrate. I had my documentation and references to
back up any story I chose to tell.
I had not expected to find Isabelle d'Houdain in the camp of Philip Augustus
and his crusaders. I understood that Innocent had called a crusade to combat
the insidious heresy that was present in the southern regions that the
Capetians saw as their rightful lands. I stayed quiet on the subject. Living
for so many years in the fiercely contested country of England had taught me
two things: never involve yourself in a war, and never admit to being a
Frenchman. I had hoped that returning home would absolve me of heeding these
The Watcher's Council had educated me after the death of my father. He had
been slain by one of the foul beasts that the Slayers must fight against.
His Slayer had been English, and it had been while supervising her that he
had met my mother. I had been told tales of the Slayer from my cradle, and
now had the chance to prove my skills in education and training. I am
perhaps over young for this duty, but the Council has been short on staff as
King John wages war against his barons.
The previous Slayer had been a strong Slayer, and a careful one. She had
lived for many years, and killed for many more. It was sickness that took
her, and the Council, halfway across the world, had known instantly. The
divination of the new Slayer had taken days, and her location was not clear.
A name, Isabelle d'Houdain, and a location, Lyons, were all the details I
It has taken me nearly a month to traverse the distance from London to
Lyons, but now I am here, I see why her exact location is difficult to
discover. There must be 10,000 men here, not to mention their women and the
squalling brats that seem to follow any troop of armed men. The town itself
has all but shut its gates to the vast swell of humanity that has camped
near its walls. I asked for her by name, and was surprised to be directed to
one of the mercenary encampments.
Isabelle was not to be found among the common labourers and whores. She was
not spreading her legs for the mercenaries, nor preparing their food. The
new Slayer's ability had shown itself in her youth, and she stood before me
"I did not know that women were allowed in this holy army." I was
embarrassed that these were the first words from my mouth. All my speeches
about her duty, her destiny, were forgotten in the face of my surprise.
"Well. Any sword is needed against the heretics. And, God isn't paying me,
is he?" She swung the burnished metal towards me. "Who are you? Another
priest convinced that I would serve God better in a nunnery?"
"I... I am a Watcher. We guide the Slayers." The speech may have come from
my mouth, yet I could not comprehend my saying of it. "I was sent to guide
"And I'm a Slayer? That's a new one. I like that title. Isabelle d'Houitain,
Slayer." She looked at me with bitter doubt in her eyes. "Tell me why I
should be listening to you."
Tradition came to my rescue here. "There is one girl, in all the world, the
Chosen One, who can stand against the demons, vampires and the forces of
darkness. She is the Slayer."
"Vampires? Demons? Father Arnald-Amaury had better not hear you say that."
She turned away.
"You will have noticed a change in yourself lately. You are faster, stronger
and more aware of your enemies and their actions. It is your destiny, and I
can teach you." I had obviously struck some chord in her, as she returned to
"I thought it a miracle when I fled a badly aimed blade during practise."
Her eyes were wild. "I have been dreaming of girls who can do the same."
It was then that I knew that my Slayer and I would be able to amicably
survive together. We headed towards her tent, all her questions being
Isabelle is very independent. She was abandoned as a child, and found
herself in the care of a camp of mercenaries. She has learned how to fight
from an early age, and I am keen to further her techniques with the more
unusual implements of her new trade. We have not yet came across any
vampires, although I suspect that some are following the army as it heads
into the Languedoc. We have patrolled, as part of her guard duties, but have
not seen anything.
She is worried about this crusade. The holy men slow down our march with
their prayers and blessings. They worship the relics they carry with them,
seeing this battle against the heretics as a God given victory. Isabelle is
not as certain, and talks to me of the strengths and weaknesses of the area.
She is very skilled in her knowledge of siege warfare, and I learn daily of
her skills in the other areas of battle.
This area was built to be impregnable. We arrive slowly, spies no doubt
allowing the town plenty of time to stock their cupboards with their needs.
It is our camp that will suffer as we run the risk of camp fever and
boredom. This slow progress has one benefit. Isabelle is free to listen to
my tales, my myths and my training.
She loves the stories. As a child, I suppose she was never told a bedtime
tale as she was put to sleep. My mother, or my nurse were always there,
sliding me into the darkness with familiar tales of kings and queens and
fairies. Whilst the historical tomes that I impart to the illiterate
Isabelle are much drier, she derives much the same enjoyment. Her weapons
skills are formidable, yet she finds that practise with the stake difficult.
She is used to the reach of a sword, and I teach her to make blows to the
head, to decapitate. If all she has is her hands, she will do well.
The time to attack the lands of Trencavel arrive at last. We are guided by
his Uncle of Toulouse to the best areas to camp, to hunt and to march ever
onwards. Our many soldiers mean that our order of march covers more than a
league of road as we penetrate these historic lands. We are set to attack
Beziers, where hills and river make it difficult to surround.
Isabelle and I are to celebrate the feast of Mary Magdalene - perhaps a
Slayer too, and a women whom Isabelle feels close to. An outcast accepted by
the greatest lord of all. It is together that we watch the leader of this
crusade, Arnald-Amaury, raise the fire in our hearts as he tells us of the
wicked deeds these Cathars are performing on God's own earth. We cry for
their blood with them, and listen as he delivers his immortal instructions.
"Kill them all. God will know his own." It is only later that Isabelle fully
comprehends the horror that this will engender.
We settle into the siege comfortably, our austere tents near the east wall
of the city. It does not last. Later this very day, we are allowed into the
city walls by some idiotic youths whose brawn certainly outweighed their
brains. Every member of our crusade burst into the town, killing the
congregation in the churches, the children in the street. Lord or peasant,
the blood crazed fervour was with them all, as I followed Isabelle, as she
did her duty by her captain.
The bells were tolling for the dead, and for aid. It was too late for them.
The soldiers and Isabelle massacred the entire city - Catholic or Cathar, it
did not matter. She weeps now as she swings her sword rhythmically through
the mass of huddled women sheltering in the cathedral at the top of the
city. All must be killed, for God will know his own. It is then that I tell
her that her work has just begun.
The monsters that had followed at the rear of our army now swarmed over the
dead, drinking the rivers of blood that flooded down the streets. Her
exhausted body made sure that the victory was complete for the Church and
God, as she stopped numerous vampires killing the looting men. Her sword was
cast aside in favour of a lighter stake, as she fought and I followed
behind, unable to help.
I found her as the cathedral started to burn. "I started the fires. There
were too many of them. I had them trapped in a house and I cast a brand upon
them." She sank to the mud, cradling her stake against her.
"You did well." I helped her back to the tent, and treated the burns and
cuts and bruises she had acquired. "Many men were saved." She cast me from
her tent then, yelling and cursing.
I encountered her once more watching the fires die down. "We march to
Carcassone tomorrow. They tell me that my soul has been saved. That God will
ensure my place among the saints now."
I do not know what she attempting to say to me, and I settle for a
"I do not know how they can say this. I killed so many innocent people
today. Twenty thousand dead." She stares blankly at the walls, watching her
compatriots casting goods from the walls. A bale of cloth opens and flutters
in the wind as it falls.
"You killed a great many heretics and a great many vampires. More would have
"The streets ran with blood and I helped. I aided. I cannot do this again.
The children." She slumps to the ground, her reclaimed sword clasped between
"You are the Slayer. You have a destiny, a higher calling. I could tell you
that God is loving, and God is forgiving. Instead, I will tell you this. You
are the Slayer, you have a duty to those children, to those innocents. You
have to stop them."
"The soldiers?" She looks puzzled.
"The demons. The vampires. Serve in that way."
Isabelle and I left the encampment that very day. We have travelled south
across the border to Castille, and we hunt the vampires here. She seems more
content with her role everyday., A proper womanly role.