124 Alignment

‘How did you do that? Where did that light come from? I was scared for you but also for myself. I worshipped you as a Goddess!’

John Stanley-21st June 1355

After Lady Eleanor left John heard the sound of music from downstairs. He shuddered with tiredness. What a grave responsibility had been placed on him. Lady Eleanor had left him no way out. Not that he really wanted one.
He threw himself on the mattress and closed his eyes.


Despite his concerns, he thought that he had never been so comfortable since he left home. The mattress was so soft. It gently supported every part of his body, not at all like the mattress he had been lying on earlier. He realised he was not sleeping on a single mattress; Lady Eleanor had left her’s behind! He drifted off to sleep.

His dreams were populated by wars and frightful events but then a great power for peace put everything to rights. He struggled to understand the nature and form of this power. Then it was clear. The image he had seen in a dozen Roman churches; God the Father, emerging from the clouds, finger pointing downwards promising to bring order on earth. A new realisation followed. This was not God, the Father; it was a woman, a very young and beautiful woman!

He awoke suddenly to the sound of loud bump and pitch darkness. His torch had burned out. He heard nothing now, yet he sensed someone in the room. Ximene!

Ximene’s voice came from the other side of the room. ‘Look at me, John.’ she said.

Guided by the sound of her voice, he attempted to comply. In the pitch dark, he could see nothing. But then, just as he sat up, a blinding shaft of light shot from behind him, to meet Ximene. She wore a transparent gown. The light then seemed to emanate from within the gown and to pour from her whole body. She adjusted her stance. She lifted one arm into the air and stretched out the other arm towards John. She was God—the God of his dreams but a Goddess, not a God. Momentarily, fear overtook him at the thought of approaching this fountain of light. He threw himself forward, in awe of what stood before him.

He slowly recovered composure realising he was prostrate in front of Ximene. The intense light had gone. The first light of dawn now lit the room. Ximene ran lightly across the floor. Kneeling in front of him with her knees either side of his head she caressed his back. He pulled himself upward and backwards to a kneeling position. He shook his head. ‘How did you do that? Where did that light come from? I was scared for you but also for myself. I worshipped you as a Goddess!’

Ximene smiled. ‘Where did the light come from? On one day in the year, today, on the twenty-first of June—the summer solstice; the sun, as it rises, lines up with the arrow slits on both sides of this room. When everywhere else is dark the first light from the sun shines through the Château. From outside, on the southwest, it is also spectacular. It looks as if the light, brighter than a thousand torches, comes from the castle itself.’

‘But how did you know?’

‘My grandmother told me about it. I chose to put myself in its path. It was supposed to create an image of me that you would remember for the rest of your life. We were then supposed to hold and caress each other. I tried to create a unique experience which would draw us together. What I actually did was to put a barrier between us.’

John was now totally recovered. ‘Not a permanent barrier.’ He permitted himself a smile. ‘You certainly did create an image I will never forget.’

They fell into each other’s arms. John caressed her body, starting, as he had been taught, with her back. She did not object or in any way resist.

They sank to the mattresses. Ximene removed her gown. She held him close and whispered in his ear. ‘I will now teach you what I really like.’ She grasped his hand and guided it over her body. ‘Now it is my turn. Lie still, do you like this?’ John nodded and then threw his head back, mouth wide open, as a wave of pleasure spread through his body.


Not for the first time in their short relationship they were disturbed. A trumpet echoed through the early morning air, John had no difficulty in recognising its intent—the call to arms.

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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.