74 The Preferred Solution 10 June

Bertrand du Guesclin-10 June 1355

Bertrand Du Guesclin had returned to Pamiers and sought out John Stuart.

‘It just didn’t work.’

As usual, Stuart looked surprised. ‘What do you mean?’

‘I spent several days watching the hunt. The first problem was just finding the Trencavel girl. It wasn’t as if she was in the forest on her own. There were at least a hundred, perhaps more, involved in the hunt.

The cardinal’s informer, what’s his name… Dominic,  gave us good information, she rides a grey horse.  With that information, we were able to work out how to snatch her away.

Every day, she started off surrounded by guards but then she rode away from them, so there was certainly an opportunity.

Dominic then gave us a specific location for the hunt on a specific day.’

Stuart blinked an eye. ‘So what went wrong?’

‘We made a total mess of it.’

‘The girl herself is somewhat different to what I had been lead to expect. She is a very good horsewoman and not exactly defenceless. She has a crossbow and she can use it. She personally killed one of my men without giving it a second thought.’

‘Also, she has a personal guard, whom we had not see before. Formidable.’

‘Formidable?’

‘If I say formidable, I mean formidable. He uses axes, he put the fear of god into my men.’

‘So what can I do to help?’

‘I have given up on the plan of kidnapping the girl. We now know, again through Dominic, that she is being taken back to Chateau Foix. I will settle for the bounty on her head. It looks to me as though she will marry the Black Prince and be whisked off to England. We will get no chance to deliver her to the Inquisition, so I will provide an assassin and need him to be able to access the chateau.’

‘What can I do about that?’ John Stuart asked.

Du Guesclin glared at him. ‘Don’t be stupid. Dominic has been supplying us with information. Now I want to use him to get somebody into the chateau. The chateau might need additional cooks for a big feast … anything! Once we have our person inside, Ximene is as good as dead. It won’t be anything sophisticated. He will grab her from behind and slit her throat.’

John Stuart went away to consider his options.

The most dangerous woman in the world

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