129 The Thread of Life

John found himself on a fearless horse charging at the point of a pike aimed at the horse’s chest.

John Stanley-21st June 1355

John emerged onto the meadow just before midday, Members of the bishop’s forces were prowling the battlefield; scavenging from the dead.

Horrified by what he saw, his instincts took over. He charged towards them, intending to scare them away. They scattered instantly.

He had just decided to ride on when immediately in front of him a prone figure rolled over and lifted his pike in the air. John found himself on a fearless horse charging at the point of a pike aimed at the horse’s chest. Without thinking, John pulled Helios to one side and swung his axe at the pikeman’s head. The blow never landed. The pike missed Helios’ chest. Indeed, it missed Helios altogether but struck John’s thigh just above the knee. Because of his position on the shortened stirrups, the pike penetrated the whole of John’s thigh, only stopping when it hit his pelvic bone. John was lifted out of the saddle by the impact as the shaft of the pike shattered. Helios followed through with his charge and the pikeman was trampled beneath his rear hooves. John managed to cling on to Helios’s neck, though the pain was intolerable. He rode to the point where he could see the roofs of Monségur village when a red mist came across his eyes.

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

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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.’