“What may interest you most,” Sidon opened without further prodding, “is that Salah ad-Din is attended only by his own slaves and his brother al-Adil. Most of his emirs have dispersed, and I overheard remarks that suggested Salah ad-Din was annoyed and disgusted with what he felt was a lack of zeal on the part of his subjects. ‘They think the war is over just because we hold Jerusalem,’ he scoffed, adding, ‘Until we have driven the last enemy of Allah into the sea, we have not finished the task He has set us!’ To which his brother answered, ‘And who failed to take Tyre?’ Then they noticed I had entered the room and instantly dropped the conversation.”
“Do you think he is driven by religious zeal, or greed?”
“Both. He sees our presence as an insult to Islam, but he also wants control of the remaining ports—and Antioch—for the income and prestige they would bring him. He will certainly try to take Tripoli, which he sees as much weaker than Antioch.”
Sidon frowned. “He burned his fingers here once already, and would rather focus on other targets first. If he can wipe out every other Frankish city and enclave, then, he thinks, Tyre will fall like a ripe fruit into his hands. So for now he’d rather concentrate on Antioch and Tripoli. He even restored half of Sidon to me—not Belfort, of course, but he had his scribes draw up a grant that granted me Sidon as my iqta.”
“As a ploy to get you to surrender Belfort?” Ibelin asked, confused.
“No, after he’d tortured me. When I cracked and ordered my garrison to surrender, he had me cut down and taken back to his camp. There he visited me and announced that he felt guilty about breaking his word to me. He asked me to forgive him, and I said something rude. Then he offered me half my barony back, if I would accept it as an iqta with him as my overlord.”
“Did you accept?” Ibelin asked.
Sidon shrugged. “What did I have to lose? Half from him who holds it is better than everything from a man who should never have been King in the first place, and is now himself a prisoner.”
“You swore an oath to Salah ad-Din?” Ibelin pressed him.
“I did, for half of Sidon—but after what he did to me, I don’t trust him. Still, for as long as it suits him, I may be able to hold the city and surrounding lands. We could settle some of the refugees there, maybe. . . .” His voice trailed off as he awaited the judgment of his peer.
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