111 Whose Creature?

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‘May I introduce my cousin, Dona Alyse Perez de Padilla? She will take my place on the trip to Bordeaux and will make frequent public appearances in Bordeaux society. No one will be able to tell the difference.’



William Montacute-12th June 1355

The Earl hovered in the shadow of the doorway overlooking the upper courtyard.

John and Piers had changed back into the clothes provided by Lady Eleanor. They were in the courtyard receiving lessons from Alyse and Pipa on the dances of Occitan. Juan leant against a wall playing an accompaniment on a flute.

The Earl grimaced. He did not want his guards to become foppish courtiers, whose major occupation was to entertain the ladies of the court. His guards! Perhaps no longer his guards. Since leaving Lady Eleanor the previous evening, he had decided that the distraction Joan had planned could be used to advantage. If Ximene did go to Sicily and John went with her then it could still be displayed as them breaking away after the Prince had helped Ximene escape from the Comte. Such ingratitude!

However, there were two loose ends. Firstly how to get Ximene to Sicily safely? He did not want to put her in danger. Secondly, John Stanley. He hated the term Ximene had coined but in the end, the question had to be answered. Who’s creature was he?’

None too gently, he grabbed John by the arm and pulled him towards a small anteroom. ‘Excuse the intrusion, my ladies, but this is urgent.’

The anteroom was small, higher than it was wide, there was only one chair. The two men stood face to face with a very short distance between them.

‘John, I fully accept that it is I who has put you in the position of protecting Ximene, but I do now need to know where your loyalties lie. With the Prince or with Ximene Trencavel?’

John replied instantly ‘My loyalty lies entirely with the Prince, to whom I have only recently sworn homage. I will protect his intended bride with my life, and if the marriage between them comes about, I will serve her in the same way I serve the Prince.’

The Earl grimaced theatrically. ‘A wonderfully correct reply,’ he said. ‘I have obviously taught you well, but what does it mean?’

John looked upwards. ‘It means I will follow your original request. I will help Ximene escape the clutches of Gaston de Foix. I will protect her with my life. It means that if eventually, she accepts the Prince’s hand in marriage I will be pleased to enter the service of the most prestigious couple in Christendom. If Ximene rejects his offer of marriage, I will continue as a member of the Lions of Aquitaine and will be honoured to do so!’

‘And what will you advise Ximene to do, John?’

John smiled. ‘What advice could I possibly give?’

‘John, yesterday I spent half an hour negotiating with a sixteen-year-old, and I can assure you, there are middle-aged statesmen who are less astute. The reason we sanctioned your involvement with Ximene was to secure her release from Gaston de Foix and facilitate the Prince’s negotiations with her. This must still be your only objective. Do I have your word?’

‘And keeping her safe?’

‘Of course.’

‘Then you have my word”

The Earl’s voice hardened. ‘Just remember what I told you when you entered my service. Break my trust and I will have you hunted down and killed, wherever you may try to hide.’

John blinked.

The Earl was far from convinced but decided there would be no benefit from any further questioning. He stood back, as far as was possible in the anteroom, looking John’s costume up and down. ‘Incidentally, do you play guitar or flute?’ He laughed delightedly at his own jibe, straightened his face and began to discuss Château Foix. ‘So John you started to tell me about the strengths and weaknesses of the Château and I cut you off. Can I now revisit that topic? Let us go to the library and document what we know and how we can take advantage of it.’

A day later the Earl briefed Piers, then Lady Eleanor and finally Ximene, on the outline escape plan that John and he had devised. He discovered that Ximene was adamant that Pipa and Juan should travel to Bordeaux. He had no difficulty in complying with this request, as he had already planned to accommodate the whole of the Roet family including Pipa, so one extra passenger would make very little difference. It was the issue of Ximene’s own final destination which still caused him most concern.

Late in the day, he sought Ximene to once again discuss this critical issue. Failing to find her, he left a message with Lady Eleanor asking Ximene to come to see him in the library. It took longer than he expected and when Ximene finally arrived he was running out of patience. He was aware of his brusque voice, yet he found he couldn’t control it. ‘I’ve explored all options but alas, you must go to Bordeaux. We cannot protect you during a journey to Aragon. It will not take long for those who might wish you harm to realise you are not within the Prince’s party and go looking for you elsewhere.’

Ximene smiled. ‘I believe I have the answer to that particular problem.’

She walked to the door, opened it and there, outside was a mirror image of herself, dressed identically, wearing the same head covering and the same make-up. ‘May I introduce my cousin, Dona Alyse Perez de Padilla? She will take my place on the trip to Bordeaux and will make frequent public appearances in Bordeaux society. No one will be able to tell the difference.’

Alyse gave a little curtsy and the Earl scrambled to his feet and bowed. ‘Dona Alyse, astonishing, but we will never get away with it. Even now I can see differences between you and the lady Ximene.’

‘Are you sure?’ Ximene asked.

‘Absolutely sure,’ the Earl replied.

Alyse’s eyes sparkled. She entered the room and walked towards the Earl.

‘Well, we will succeed, because you see, that is Alyse and I am Ximene!’

Both girls laughed out loud and continued laughing as their amusement was fuelled by the Earl’s confusion. They circled each other and around the Earl twice, spinning as they did so.

‘Tell me, William, which of us is Ximene?’

‘Ah! That would be you,’ he said to the girl who had asked him the question. ‘Alyse does not know my first name.’

‘Wrong again, you see, we know absolutely everything about each other, and I mean everything!’

The girls relapsed into helpless laughter and the Earl reluctantly accepted that the substitution could succeed.


Table of Contents

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History


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.