21 The Tower Room

‘Take off all your clothes and bend over the end of the bed. I am going to give you a taste of the whip to see if that will bring you to your senses.’

Ximene Trencavel-12th March 1355

In the Château de Foix, Gaston’s guards became increasingly intrusive, positioning themselves inside Lady Eleanor’s apartments, something they had never done before. Initially, Ximene had reacted to their attention by hiding and then going to a different part of the Château. The guards did not find it amusing and neither did Gaston.


Eventually, they swept the Château end-to-end, room-by-room, to capture her. They dragged her kicking and screaming to a tiny room at the top of one of the towers. Lady Eleanor protested vigorously but Gaston told her it was for Ximene’s own good.


At the end of the first day that Ximene spent in the tower room, Gaston came to see her, whip in hand.

‘So, Ximene, will you see sense? Will you stop these silly games?’

‘Will you tell the guards to leave me alone?’ She raised her chin as she spoke.

Gaston’s response was slow and measured. ‘Once again, give me your word that you will not attempt to leave the Château unless I or my guards accompany you.’

‘I will not give my word.’

Gaston slowly and deliberately uncoiled his whip and flicked it across the floor. ‘I take no pleasure in doing this, Ximene. But it is for your own good. You must be made to realise how dangerous it is for you outside the Château. Take off all your clothes and bend over the end of the bed. I am going to give you a taste of the whip to see if that will bring you to your senses.’

Ximene took a step back.

He waited but she did nothing.

Gaston’s voice acquired a steely edge. ‘It’s your decision.’ He waved the handle of the whip idly, making the laced tip twitch and turn on the floor. ‘If you don’t take your clothes off now, I will call the guards and make it a public spectacle in the main hall. I think some of my men would enjoy ripping off your clothes and tying you around one of the pillars.

As quietly and as decorously as possible, Ximene removed her dress and underclothes. She turned and, putting her hands on her hips, thrust one leg forward. ‘Is that what you wanted?’


‘Ximene this is not for my gratification and unless you have forgotten, I have seen you naked many times, just bend over the bed.’

When she had taken the required position, he reached behind the headboard and released two ropes. He looped the ropes around Ximene’s wrists and pulled them tight, pinning Ximene against the bed. He released two further ropes from under the bed and looped them around her ankles, pulling them tight to part her legs.

She flinched as he applied the whip. Internally her mind was in a whirl. Instinctively she knew this was not punishment. He was enjoying this.

‘I am an expert with the whip. You will find I have not broken the flesh.’ Gaston released the ropes. Moments later, Ximene heard the door close and the lock turn as Gaston left the room. She listened as he descended the stairs. A long time passed before she allowed a sob to leave her lips.


Twelve hours later, Gaston sent a guard to bring her down to the great hall.

‘Ximene, darling, such good news. Do you remember Monsieur Froissart? The ambassador from the King of England.’

Ximene narrowed her eyes. It was as if his use of the whip had never occurred.

Gaston continued. ‘He has now made his decision. He is going to recommend you as a suitable wife for Prince Edward. Prince Edward, Duke of Aquitaine, the Black Prince. Isn’t it exciting? The Pope will be so pleased.’

She half turned away in despair that these vital arrangements concerning her future life were without her involvement but realised that if she did, her involvement would continue to be forfeit. She chose a political, rather than emotional response, which she knew would appeal to Gaston. ‘Good news, indeed, but what will the Prince bring to the table? How will it benefit me? How will it benefit you?’

Gaston’s eyes glowed. ‘Just the question I have been asking myself. And I don’t yet know the answer, but now we have a clear commitment from him to come here to see you. Well, not exactly here, as this is in Frankish territory. He will come to Muret where I will hold my summer hunt. You will accompany me. The hunting there is superb. You will meet the Prince and you will fall in love. How could he resist you, you are so delicious!’ He gently, lovingly, raised her hand to his lips and allowed the contact to linger a moment. ‘You will be able to persuade him to give you anything you want.’ He paused, still holding her hand close to his lips. ‘For yourself… ‘ a moment’s hesitation, ‘…and for me.’


His speech quickened. ‘But all that is for the future, for now, we must place even more emphasis on your safety. From now on we, you, must be extra careful. We are not the only ones who have enemies; there are those who have no love for the Prince. As his bride to be, you would be an easy target. I will again emphasise to the guards that you must not be allowed to go anywhere outside the Château. I don’t want to send you back to the tower room. I don’t want to punish you again. What I want is for you to promise never again to leave the Château without my express permission. If you cannot give me your promise, I must continue to confine you to the tower room.’

Ximene took a deep breath, searching for control.’I give you my promise.’

‘Then you may return to your rooms.’

Ximene stormed from the hall and nearly fell in her haste to descend the spiral staircase.

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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.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.