Ximene Trencavel-27th December 1361
There was much which Ximene Trencavel kept hidden from the court, the courtiers, and even the King.
They would have all blinked in disbelief if they could have seen Ximene, silhouetted at the bow of a trading vessel ploughing through turbulent seas in the Eastern Mediterranean; or riding at breakneck speed with the army of the Emir of Karaman, in a desperate defence against Turkic invaders who threatened her trading routes.
She locked the door to her bedroom at Landon House, turned and approached the large desk set in front of the window where the light was best for writing.
It was an enormous desk, semi circular in shape and nearly five feet across.
‘Ma secretoir’ she murmured. ‘In many ways the most important of my secrets’
She pressed down the central section of the brass rail, which ran round the outer periphery of the desk, and pulled the whole desk towards her. It rumbled smoothly as it moved. She walked round to the window side of the desk and descended the narrow staircase, which was now exposed. She paused, lit a torch and pulled the desk back into position.
The staircase took her down to another spacious bedroom and an anti-chamber with a large bath. Beyond the antichamber was another door leading to a tunnel, which in turn led down to a natural cavern in the garden of a house at the bottom of Shaftesbury hill. The tunnel had been found when they had first surveyed this crumbling ruin. It was this, which had made the renovation of the ruin and the creaton of Landon House most suitable. Not even the servants knew about this room and the passageway. The builders who had created it had been imported from Scotland.
A stable had been created at the end of the tunnel and Lady Diana could come and go without anyone in the house being awarw of the fact.
Lengthy departures were made possible by using Alise as a stand-in.
In a wardrobe in the bedroom was the costume she wore in her alias as Aquila. She stroked the costume longingly. Almost identical to the costume she had worn when five years earlier in Armagnac John Stanley, in The Cathar tradition had declared his love fr her publicly. On that occasion the costume had been invented to conceal her identity from du Guesclin after he had attempted to kill her on five separate occassions. The same costume she had worn when immediately after his declaration they had made love. Was it really five years ago?
Her eyes narrowed. She had not used this room to full advantage. Also in the wardrobe were a range of attractive but revealing gowns, She moved them on the hanger and briefly reviwed each one.
She sighed, never used! It had been her intention that John Stanly would have made frequent visits here again without anyone being aware of his visits, Each visit would have enabled them to indulge in extended sessions of passionate lovemaking and to plot how each one could help to advance the others careeer. It had never happened and it was her fault it had never happened.
Now if she listened to Jayden Perrers advice the use of the alias should to be limited, the costume perhaps abandonned. Alyse should move to King’s Court. So many changes! The end of the beginning!