Bertrand du Guesclin – 21 June 1355
As dusk fell, Sir Bertrand du Guesclin made no attempt to hide his fury.
‘Gerade come here. Only three months ago I was selected by King John for this task. He picked me, knighted me in Paris specifically to perform this task. All I had to do was capture or kill a teenage girl.
Initially I wanted to capture her as I thought there was potential of obtaining a ransom. I failed. I then sent Thomas Bewsley into Chateau Foix, to murder her. He disapeared without trace. God knows what happened to him. Then we got a whisper about an escape attempt We were watching the Chateau, hoping to get a signal from Thomas, when all hell broke loose. It was difficult to tell what was going on.’
Guesclin paused and swivelled his head. ‘That is when you got involved.’
‘Yes you asked me to mingle with the riders as the rode away from Foix towards Montgilliard . The larger group went west towards St Gaudens the smaller group went east and came here to Montsegur. What was never clear to me was why you thought the girl was here? This group seemed to consist entirely of soldiers.’
‘I got some information from Thomas before he vanished that the girl might be heading here on her way to the Mediterranean coast. I personally interviewed the guards on the barrier on the road to Monsegur. Somewhere around fifty riders passed through the barrier. Where would they be going? What were they doing? They were not behaving rationally… unless they had a specific task.
‘But from that point onwards.?’
The plan was good, the execution dreadful. By morning we had the road to the east blocked. We had more men on that narrow road than we really needed. The Inquisitor from Pamiers brough a substantial force which was supposed to surround the village and either capture them or drive them out. We had twenty men hidden in the woods to intercept any who tried to flee’
Gerade nodded. ‘I was one of those, We were to keep hidden and await those fleeing to the west.’
There were five mounted men preventing us reaching the village. To me it is obvious. The girl was in the village, but the inquisitor attacked an army and was shot to pieces.’
Gerade scratched his head ‘I don’t know but I will tell you this. The men just did not want to chase this girl any more. And do you know why? They are terrified. You explained to me the value of terror as a weapon. Well it is being used on us. Its the man on the grey horse. The one who uses the axes.
Du Guesclin snorted. ‘The Bodyguard we encountered at Muret. He is the girl’s bodyguard.
Gerade pursued his theme.
He does something which we don’t believe an ordinary human being can do, so we, they, the men are terrified. He can ride a horse using an axe in both hands… and the horse; it seems to understand what he is doing. It puts him in the ideal position for every conflict. And that’s not all.
Gerade adopted a conspiratorial tone.
‘Do you know why their leader is called the Black Prince?’
‘Is it just possible it is because he has very dark skin?’ Du Guesclin replied sarcastically.
‘No it’s because he dabbles in black magic. He casts spells. He can kill people just by thinking them dead. Those arrows could not have carried the distance they did today without the intervention of the devil.’
‘Arrrgh! Is that what the inquisitor told you? We here is some good news for you of the inqustors men managed to stick a pike into the man on the man on the gey horse.Those who saw it happen are sure the man on the grey horse will be badly wounded.’
‘It is another reason to believe that they will still be in the village.’
‘But I heard the same story. it was the hose which killed the inquistors man, trampled him to death.’
Get away from me, find my men and bring them back here. I will sleep here at the side of the track. tell them if they don’t come they will loose the share of the brotherhood’s prfits and I will hunt them down and kill them… and if you don’t bring them back you will suffer the same fate. ’
Du Guesclin paused. I will disembowel you and hold them in front of your face before I kill you.
Gerade knew from personal experience that du Guesclin was capable of doing almos anything. He attempted to buy some time.
‘Wouldn’t you like to find a room in an inn somewhere’
‘No! I don’t want to waste any time, They are probably still in the village but I can’t surround a village on my own!