John Stanley – 11th December 1355
The fact that Bordeaux was a rich trading port was emphasised by its Quayside, clustered with both ocean-going ships and river barges. The Quay was also its main thoroughfare and bustled with activity. The centrepiece of the waterfront was the Palais d’Aquitaine and its splendid, impressive entrance, the Porte Cailhau.
John Stanley strolled along the quayside not entirely comfortable with his new formal uniform. He fiddled with ties of the lightweight, highly polished breastplate, carefully engraved with the elaborate four-pointed star of Occitan. He adjusted the position of his equally polished helmet. He grimaced…more of a hat than a helmet!
This uniform was not meant for fighting but for show, to be part of the glitter of the Court of Aquitaine. It had been designed for John by Joan of Kent and produced in less than two weeks by the famed armourers of Bordeaux
‘He turned into the entrance, noting that the guards knew who he was and sprang to attention. banging a fist to their chest in salute.
John nodded in appreciation but kept walking into the Palace. He was faced with more guards and a heavy wooden door. ‘The Countess of Kent please.’
The guard sprang to attention. “Certainly sir, she is expecting you. The Comtess of Langon and Lady de Roet are with her. Lady De Roet came last evening and the Comtess arrived half an hour ago ‘ John blinked. Once again his identity was known. The comtess of Langon? Of course! Ximene. How long would it take him to get used to her new identity? He waited patiently as the guards laboriously opened the gate.
He found the position he found himself in, unbelievable. Only nine months earlier he had been assisting his father to manage the deer on Vale Royal estate near Chester in the north. Now at eighteen years of age, he was a minor celebrity at the court of Aquitaine. He pursed his lips. Despite this status, he was far from sure he knew who he was.
A knight of Occitan. The only knight of Occitan. Ambassador for Occitan to the court of Aquitaine, lover of Ximene Trencavel, Duchess or possibly, depending on who you were talking to, Queen of Occitan. But Occitan was a country which only existed through the recognition of the Black Prince, Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales and heir to the English Throne. John had previously been a member of the Prince’s personal bodyguard, a position he had abandoned when he had sworn fealty to Ximene.
So in fact, unless Occitan became a real state, not a figment of the Prince’s imagination, he was a nobody. He shook his head. A nobody who was treated like a somebody. However, the guards themselves still treated him as one of their own and then, of course, there was his relationship with Joan of Kent
He was escorted into the main hall and up the stairs to the state reception area and to where a footman awaited him. ‘You may go straight in.’
The room was rectangular and the long wall was pierced by a succession of windows which lead to a terrace overlooking the river. Despite this being, mid-winter the shutters on the windows were wide open revealing Joan , Ximene and Pipa seated on the terrace.
As he crossed the room Joan greeted him enthusiastically. Welcome, John, a glass of Limoux? Well sort of; it is not quite the same as in Foix. It comes in barrels and is then rebottled with a small amount of sugar syrup.’ She chuckled. ‘Even so, despite their involvement, the local vintners have not forgiven me for importing wine to Bordeaux.
‘I am pleased with your uniform, turn around let me see the back. excellent, excellent. You should always wear the uniform when you come to see me; it makes your visits appear to be very formal.’
John accepted the wine and nodded his approval.
Joan moved to sit on a lavishly upholstered couch at one corner of the terrace. She blinked, slowly and deliberately. There are some serious discussions we must have but before we start those discussionns i am of the opinion we should learn to enjoy each other’s company.
Though I am optimistic about what we can acieve our future will not be without its difficulties and our relationship should have a firm foundation.’ Come join me and I will begin.’Joan took them into a small ante-room which was almost filled with a large bath.
As they took their seats Ximene’s feet briefly emerged from underneath her dress. The dress was designed as if it was a lightweight coat, olive green in colour, demure in that it buttoned up to the neck and reached to the floor. John raised his eyebrows as he noticed that Ximene’s toenails were painted red. Ximene did not always paint her nails. In his experience, it usually was a prelude to sexual activity.
He had no time to ponder on what this might mean, as Joan cleared her throat.
Joan stood up, smiled and took Ximene’s hand.
She poured a large phial of an oily liquid into the bath and the air was immediately filled with a sensuous perfume. ‘Frankincense and Myrrh.’ Muttered John.
Joan smiled, approached John and started to undo his breast-plate. ‘Not quite, just enough to provide the perfume. Come on Selene, lend a hand. You have told me stories about John’s transition and I thought we might extend his experiences by allowing me to play a part. Tell me John, are you still shy?’
‘No, not at all, a lot has happened since then.’
Joan nodded and stroked the scar on John’s leg. She sighed. ‘As you say, a lot has happened. but now sit over there. In the corner of the room there was a large carving chair. He sat down somewhat hesitantly wondering what could possibly be coming next.
Joan flickered her eyelashes. ‘Well well, in my illustrious career I don’t think I have ever seen a naked man in the presence of three fully clothed women. Remarkable.
Tell me John do you feel threatened?’
‘No, No, Not at all. Oh. I am telling a lie. I do feel threatened…Because I have no idea what is going to happen next.
Good. Just remember that it is probably similar to the feeling a woman has when she accidentally or even deliberately ends up naked in front of a man.
Selene ,Pipa over there on the dressing table there are four strips of velvet use the to tie John yo the chair, arms and legs. Ideally he should not be able to move a muscle, but you probably won’t be able to achieve that.
John attempted to get out of the chair but Ximene pushed him back.
“What on Earth?
Joan chuckled. ‘John you are just going to have to trust us. I promise we won’t hurt you. Why are we doing this? Because despite my recent vow of chastity…’ She fluttered her eyelashes. ‘I do have my weaknesses. Even now you could take me any time you wanted to.
John’s eyebrows shot upon his forehead.
Joan chuckled again.’Oh you are surprised! Despite all our discussions about sex being fun you never suspected that I really wanted you. I am sure I gid tell you but you did not take me seriously. I want you to promise me you would never take advantage but a way of ensuring that is to avoid the circumstances which could lead to that happening. Tie him up girls, then we can proceed.
Joan went to turn away but then her head whipped round as she stared at John’s groin. Oh! you find this exciting, threatened but exciting, you are aroused.
John did not have to look down to know what she said was true.
Joan opened her eyes wide open. ‘You realise that if each one of us, in turn, sat on your knee we could achieve what is supposed to be impossible… the female rape of a man.’
John groaned. ‘ It wouldn’t be rape. If that is what you want to do, I wouldn’t say no.’
Joan’s eyelashes flickered without pause.’I’ll bet you wouldn’t. We will think about it for a while, won’t we girls?
Joan then removed her clothes. making sure that John never took his eyes off her whilst she was doing so. She pushed her hands upwards through the back of her hair and moved her body from side to side to show it off to the best advantage. ‘Now you, Selene.’
Not until you are in the bath, Joan. I want John’s undivided attention,Joan complied with Ximene’s instruction
Reaching down Ximene undid the bottom four buttons of her gown and then kicked off her shoes. She spun around and then undid another button, continuing the process until the dress was unbuttoned to the waist. The next time she spun around it was clear that beneath the coat she was naked…well not quite naked. John saw a glimpse of gold chains between her legs.
Ximene then started unbuttoning her dress from the neck, again spinning around as each button was undone. Eventually, when there was only one button left fastened, John could see gold chains encompassing her breasts. Ximene undid the last button and cast the dress to the floor.
Joan clapped. ‘Formidable Ximene. What an amazing effect. It looks for all the world as though you are waring a totally transparent dress edged with gold chains. Come and join us.’
It wa half an hour before Joan rose brom the bath. come , we will now play a little game.They returned to the lounge to discover that the shutters had been closed. a fire had been lit and luxurios gowns lay over the arms of three chairs.