4 A Date with Destiny

   

‘I am sorry; I will have good memories … but now the Transition is complete. You know that as from tonight we become ‘Credentes’, believers. Our Cathar faith requires that our relationships, all our relationships, must start anew.’

Ximene Trencavel – 3rd February 1355

Winter’s icy blast whistled and howled across the Northern Pyrenees.

Before the last flake of snow had fluttered gently to the ground, the golden eagle rose from her eyrie on top of Rocher de Batail; a pillar of limestone towering above the upper reaches of the Ariège River.


The eagle assessed the direction of the wind and lifted her wings. In a split second, she was airborne. She drifted north with the river, away from winter, towards spring. As she hunted for food and for a mate, a burst of sunshine produced thermals in the valley. She was free to idle away a portion of the day soaring effortlessly above and around the Château de Foix.


Far below, in a cavern deep beneath the Château, warm water gushed from a fissure in the dark rock. The water carried the faintest smell of sulphur but was a perfect temperature for bathing. It flowed across the floor of a large cavern, passing through four man-made pools cut into the cavern floor. Each pool was shaped to allow an occupant to lie in comfort as the water flowed over them. Torches, which lined a terrace overlooking the cavern, revealed that this was no man-made chamber. The arching walls, which supported a roof too high to be clearly seen, were natural rock. The terrace itself and the curving staircase leading up to it were, however, elegantly constructed; Romanesque. Steam rose continuously and in the torchlight seemed as solid as the rock itself, albeit in a perpetual swirling motion.

Ximene Trencavel rose from one of the small pools and walked across the floor, splashing through the water until she stood directly below the spring. She lifted her arms above her head, as she revolved slowly on tiptoe so that the invigorating cascade massaged every inch of her body.

As Ximene lingered under the natural shower, she made up her mind that the time for prevarication was over. She glanced upwards towards the terrace, hardly noticing the dramatic background; she had seen it a thousand times before. She knew he was there, brooding, unhappy, perhaps incapable of happiness. She left the shower, determined to take the first step in shaping her destiny. She knew that the first step must be to separate her destiny from his. She climbed the staircase towards him.


She had no self-consciousness as she emerged from the curtain of steam. Dominic came to meet her and handed her a thick woollen dressing gown. Habitually, Ximene delayed putting on the gown for a long minute and even then swung it around her shoulders, giving him every opportunity to admire her body. Then, pushing her arms into the sleeves of the gown, she tied it firmly around her waist.

She returned Dominic’s stare and smiled. Taking his hand, she led him to two wooden armchairs that gave a view across the chamber. She gazed at him, carefully shaping her face to show sympathy, taking care to force a smile. ‘I am sorry; I will have good memories … but now the Transition is complete. You know that as from tonight we become ‘Credentes’, believers. Our Cathar faith requires that our relationships, all our relationships, must start anew.’

Dominic spluttered a reply. ‘Some of our group want to sleep together after the farewell dinner; I just thought it would be wonderful if we did the same.’

‘No, Dominic. It is not something I want to do. All you can do is express your love for me and patiently await my reply.’

‘Isn’t that what I am doing now?’

The smile left Ximene’s face. Perhaps, as she had occasionally suspected, Dominic really was stupid. The softness left Ximene’s voice. ‘No, it is not something I want to do. ‘ She rose and walked determinedly out of the chamber and down the corridor towards her own apartment.

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents

References

characters

List of Places

Table of Contents

Reference

Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355

 

'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. 

He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’