106 Stories over Dinner

‘What on earth is happening upstairs, it is getting very late, what can be keeping Ximene?’

Alyse Perez – 10th June 1355

When Alyse opened the door to Lady Eleanor’s lounge, she was delighted to find she attracted no comment. Thank you, Alyse,’ said Lady Eleanor, ripping off a chunk of bread. ‘Get yourself a drink, did they say how long our meal would be?’

Alyse sighed with relief. ‘I think they are bringing it now,’

Pipa was busy helping John get into his new outfit. Pipa was chattering, laughing, pulling and smoothing, in turn, advising how the clothes were meant to be worn. The three tailors stood in a huddle occasionally making a comment, but Pipa seemed to have taken control of the whole process.

John complained that both shirt and jacket stopped above his hose, leaving him feeling exposed. ‘I feel like a troubadour!’

Piers was isolated from all this activity in the far corner of the room assisted by a single tailor. He held out his hands in supplication, Alyse laughed but offered no help.

Despite the distractions, John was in the middle of a story about his nights guarding the sheep back at home and the night he had been attacked by wolves.

Alyse was immediately interested. ’Sorry John, I interrupted you.
But how did the wolves find you?’

John peered curiously at her.

“I thought I explained that before you left. Never mind.’

‘Didn’t the fire keep them at bay?’ she shook her head, ‘How did you find the lairs.’

In the end, John was forced to tell the story again from the beginning.

The meal arrived, carried by kitchen hands and supervised by the kitchen staff.

The tailors were asked to leave, which they did, complaining that their task was incomplete.

During the meal, Piers told stories about his schooling, and inevitably about Greek and Egyptian legends. Then John and Piers, together, told the story of the shipwreck at Arcachon. They talked over each other, as they told the story from two different points of view; John on his ship, Piers on the beach.

When they had finished eating. Pipa moved around the table and squeezed herself on to John’s lap.

Piers then stood up and positioned himself behind Alyse, gently caressing her shoulders and the upper part of her arms. She instinctively stiffened but then remembered what must have been happening in her absence and forced herself to relax.

Lady Eleanor raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

The conversation reverted to Clermont and how Pipa had met John and the details of the archery tournament from both John and Pipa’s point of view.

Then at Eleanor’s request, John retold the whole story of the events at Moissac, starting with the severed hand and the brutality of du Guesclin.

Lady Eleanor suddenly broke in ‘What on earth is happening upstairs, it is getting very late, what can be keeping Ximene?’

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

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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.’