Vaguely aware of some strange repetitive sound crescendoing over and over again, Anne opened her eyes and looked around. Everything seemed to blur, but she finally recognized the sound of waves crashing. Realizing she lay in the shade of a rocky outcrop on the beach, it all started coming back to her. She remembered fighting the waves to avoid the rocks, and washing up on the beach. She dragged herself up the beach to lean against this rock and must have fallen asleep. Wondering how long she stayed unconscious, she tried to get up. As she pushed her body up, pain shot through her. She was sore, scratched, bruised, and battered. Tenderly, she managed to prop herself up against the rock and examined her body.
Her clothes were torn and one shoe missing. Despite being scratched raw, nothing seemed to be broken; for that she was grateful. She let out a long sigh and tried to take stock of the situation around her. Looking out over the ocean, she could see nothing of the ship, not even debris washed ashore. She realized that she was alone and had no idea where she landed. Then, a powerful thirst came over her. With caution, she struggled to her feet and looked about. Nothing seemed to be a source of fresh water. Then she tried to take a step forward but realized her ankle would bear no weight.
Terror overcame Anne. She thought of Will back in Marseilles and of Richard on his ship. She wondered if Richard encountered the same storm. Then another frightening thought came to her. What if she were the only one to survive the wreck?
Desperate and hopeless, she sank back down against the rock, and as she landed on the ground, something thudded against her chest. Looking down, she realized that by some miracle the ribbon with Richard’s ring still hung around her neck. She clutched the ring in her hands, and as she did, she realized the ribbon must have been pulled on with great forced as it dug into her neck and left sores. She wasn’t sure whether to bless or curse the craftsman. She lifted it, examining it more closely. The golden band gleamed in the sun as she turned it around, studying the pattern of a carved elongated lion, its tail wrapping almost the rest of the way around. The end of its tail looked almost like a tri-foil in an archway. The lion, a symbol of Richard’s family, made her wonder where he was at this moment.
Unaware of how many days passed, Anne still curled beneath the rock. She no longer paid attention to the hunger pains and the thirst. At this point, she only wanted sleep. She closed her eyes and yearned for numbness to overtake her.
Anne thought she could hear someone calling her name. Believing she now hallucinated, she groaned and slipped into unconsciousness again. She heard the sound of her name being called again in a man’s voice that sounded a bit like her father. She wondered if she was dead; she must be because her eyes seemed too heavy to open. She heard her name again, this time it sounded like Richard’s voice. Now convinced that she was dead, she reasoned Richard must be about to perish in the same storm and called upon her for divine aid. She tried to respond. No sound would come, so she held out her hand to try to calm the waves. The next thing she knew, she felt as if she were floating.
Anne awoke to a gentle breeze passing over her body. The man called her name again. She opened her eyes, and they took a moment to focus. Baldwin stood over her. He gave a broad smile. “You had me worried there. Richard would have had me run through if I lost you.”
Anne heard a noise behind him. Berengaria and Joanna were there as well as others from the ship. “What is… Where are we?” Anne managed to say.
“We are on Cyprus,” Baldwin answered.
“Oh, thank the heavens. We are saved.” Anne gave a sigh of relief.
“Not necessarily,” Joanna grumped.
Anne looked at Baldwin. “The boat is marooned on the rocks out there.”
Anne turned her head to look, but she could not see beyond the sand and rocks of the beach. Baldwin continued, “We did not know how stable the boat was, so we brought supplies here to the shore. After that, we sent some men to scout our location. The first two were taken prisoner and the second two barely escaped. We hunkered down here hoping to negotiate with the Cypriot ruler, Isaac Comnenus.”
“Did everyone from the ship make it out alright?” Anne asked.
“We lost three men and one of Berengaria’s ladies. Then there are also the two men taken prisoner.” Baldwin wiped the sweat from his brow. “We were relieved to find you. Marguerite has been beside herself.”
“Where is she? Is she here?” Anne sat up a little bit, but dizziness and pains, sharp and dull, convinced her to lie back down.
“I am here, m’lady.” Marguerite made her way past Joanna and Berengaria.
Anne reached out her hand and Marguerite took it. “I thank God for your safety.”
“Forgive me, Anne,” Baldwin interrupted them. “I realize you cannot feel well, but I was wondering what you know of this Isaac Comnenus. Has your family dealt with him before?”
Slowly Anne put her arm behind her head to prop it up. “I know that he has a questionable past. My family does not do business with him. Etienne told me the whole story once… oh, yes, I remember now. Isaac is a lesser member of the Byzantine Imperial family. He was governor of Cilice, I believe.” She paused to gain more strength. “Then there was something about him staging a revolt against the emperor, and he wound up a prisoner of the Turkish ruler of Armenia.” Anne groaned as she shifted positions. “By some unknown power, he convinced the Templars that if they ransomed him, he would return their money with hefty interest. He told them he had to collect the money from friends on Cyprus. That was how he got here.”
“Can you think of anything that would help us negotiate with this man?” Joanna snapped.
“I doubt if he is the negotiating type. He came here with forged documents, stating that he was to be the new governor, but the fraud was not discovered until it was too late. By then, he had taken control and declared himself emperor. If he is the tyrant they say he is, then I doubt we can count on help from his people either. They are almost certainly terrified of him.” Anne’s head ached.
Baldwin scratched at his beard. “I imagine that he saw a bunch of Frankish ships off his coasts and panicked, thinking the Templars or someone else acting for them came to collect their money, and that is why he has not come against us, yet.”
“We are almost out of water. What we have will last us for only a week more, if we are lucky.” Joanna narrowed her eyes at Anne. “We have no choice but to send an emissary to plead for help.”
Baldwin remained with the women, as Richard expressly gave him charge over their care. He decided that Berengaria’s priest would act as emissary, the idea being that a man of the cloth could make a less threatening appeal. The priest set out to meet with Isaac.
The marooned group waited together at the makeshift camp on the beach for five long days. On the evening of the fifth day, they saw the priest descending the dune that bordered the beach, his head hung low, and his manner morose. When he reached the group he looked at Baldwin and began wringing his hands. “Well, what news?” Berengaria urged.
The priest gave her a dejected look. “The other ships are here also. Comnenus has taken their passengers and crew prisoner.”
“But what of our plight?” Joanna demanded.
“Comnenus agreed to let us remain here on the beach, for the time being, but he refused us any further aid.” The priest dropped his head.
“Any further aid?” Joanna stood and stomped her foot in the sand. “What does that mean?” She bordered on hysteria.
Baldwin and Anne exchanged looks with one another. “It means we will have to cut rations on the water,” Baldwin explained.
“Can’t we just go find a fresh water source and steal some?” One of Joanna’s ladies looked to the priest.
The priest shook his head. “I am afraid that Comnenus warned me that he would post men to make sure that we stayed on the beach. If we leave this spot, it will be seen as a sign of aggression, and we will all be taken captive.”
Berengaria began weeping. Baldwin turned to the priest. “Thank you, Father. Now, will you be so kind as to pray with the ladies?”
The priest nodded and took Berengaria by the shoulders, leading her under the canopy the men erected out of a torn piece of sail between two large boulders. Baldwin walked away from the group further onto the beach. Everyone but Anne joined around the priest. With the aid of some driftwood, Anne pulled herself up and hobbled over to Baldwin.
“You should stay off that foot,” he scolded her.
“It is feeling much better. I believe it is healing nicely.” She shifted her weight onto the stick. “Tell me, what are you thinking?”
Baldwin sighed. “I think that Comnenus wants to push us to the brink. He is hoping to starve us into submission. His plan is for us to have no choice but beg for his help. I am sure he will make us pay him a hefty price, and when we are weak enough, he will take us prisoner and ransom us.”
The thought of being a prisoner again, anybody’s prisoner made Anne’s stomach churn. They both stood there in silence and stared out at the sea.
The next day, a general air of despair pervaded the camp. The following night few people slept. Four days later in the morning, they awakened to the sound of horses and men, and mass panic spread. As fast as possible, Baldwin organized the men into a defensive position, and ordered the women to hide themselves as best they could. Joanna and Berengaria turned to flee along with the other women, but Anne remained rooted. She picked up a rock the size of her fist and leaned on her driftwood stick. “What are you doing? Are you mad? You must come with us,” Berengaria hissed at her.
“I have been a prisoner before, and I do not intend to be held for ransom quietly.” She shifted her balance again, bearing a little more weight on her foot.
“Do not be a fool, Lady Anne. You and that rock do not stand a chance against armed men.” Berengaria laughed at her.
“Perhaps not, but I cannot run, so I will remain here, and the first man that tries to lay his hands on me will soon discover a goose’s egg on his head.” Anne clenched the rock in her fist.
“Fine, be an idiot. I am going to hide.” Berengaria followed the others.