THE SOUND OF THE VOICES BEYOND the door, followed by the turning of the key and the screeching of the door on its hinges, attracted the attention of all the prisoners. Some sat up or even stood. “Too early for dinner,” someone remarked warily.
The door clunked against the wall as it was shoved back by a strong arm, and Humphrey de Toron walked in wearing a clean kaftan and smelling of balsam soap. He was growing a beard now and wore a turban as well as a kaftan. He looked every inch the elegant young Muslim scholar—except for being blond. “Come to try to convert the rest of us?” Haifa snarled, and had the satisfaction of seeing Toron wince.
Toron recovered rapidly, and replied with dignity, “No, I would not attempt something so futile. Nor do my clothes denote a change of religion—”
“No, just a willingness to toady to our jailers,” Aimery de Lusignan sneered, emerging from the darker reaches of the dungeon. He too was bearded, but not by choice.
Toron turned to the Constable. “My letter to the Sultan has yielded fruit,” he announced bravely. “Queen Sibylla is to be allowed to go to Tyre, and the Marquis de Montferrat is to accompany us.”
“Me?” The aging Marquis reared up on his pallet. “Why me?”
“I don’t know for sure,” Toron admitted, “but Imad ad-Din hinted that your son Conrad might pay your ransom.”
“Ah, Conrad.” The old Marquis smiled at the mention of his son’s name. Conrad was his second son, but after his firstborn came out to Jerusalem to marry Sibylla and died there, Conrad had been his greatest asset in the wars against the Holy See. Except for that unfortunate incident when he’d rebelled against the Archbishop of Mainz, he’d been a powerful ally, a natural leader of men, fearless in battle, and a charmer in council. For the others in the room he remarked, “He married Emperor Isaac Angelus’ sister, you know, and was raised to the position of Caesar. He certainly has the funds to buy my freedom.”
“Put in a good word for the rest of us, would you?” Caesarea suggested bluntly.
“You can be sure of it, my good lords. For all of you. All I need is to get word to Conrad. He’s a good boy.”
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