18 — 17th July — The Shadow

Ximene Trencavel- 17th July 1355

Now John was awake for most of the day Guillam and Don Fernandino were far more circumspect in their conversations. When Ximene took them meals to the upper room however, they talked quite openly and did not seem to mind if she overheard what they said.

Don Fernandino had a very determined edge to his voice. ‘We must start a completely new organisation. Initially the organizing group should be only the two of us. The organization should have some perfectly legitimate occupation. Trading is ideal. It generates income and it is something we both know.

‘But you had something else in mind?’

“Yes, it would give dispossessed Cathars a way of creating an income but it would mean we could give good performers more and more responsibility and trust. We could have a series of stages of promotion and at each stage reveal more and more about our true purpose.’

‘And that purpose would be?’

‘To take over control of trading towns and in secret create a culture which would allow the Cathar faith to flourish. If the towns were in strategic positions on trade routes, it would be self fulfilling’

‘And security?’

‘Each town would develop on its own merits. We would supply finance, strategic planning skills, training, but they would never know who we are or how many other towns were involved. they would pay a tax for the trade brought to them, but that would not surprise them. it is the way things are done.  If one town failed it would have no effect on the others.’

‘The way les Etoilles used to be?


‘And we would be called?’

Don Fernandino smiled broadly. ‘You already know. You heard me tell Ximene the first day she arrived here’

‘Did I?’

‘We would be L’Ombre sans Nom. ‘The shadow without a name.’

‘Perfect… but how do we expand from this? We need a wealthy and trustworthy patron.’

‘Are there any candidates’?

‘ I think we can rule out the Compte de Foix.’ They both chuckled.
‘Nevertheless we need someone like him, someone with power, influence and wealth’

Don Fernandino stroked his chin, ‘You know… the Black Prince would be ideal.

Perhaps we should persuade Ximene to go back to Bordeaux and renew their relationship?’

Ximene frowned… the second time Don Fernandino had raised it! Something she did not want to hear.

They returned to the subject again and again. Working on details of organization and planning. Ximene was unable to hear everything they said, but enough to know that they were determined to fulfill their dream and she suddenly realised that their dream could become her dream. A dream however which probably did need a weathy patron.

By the end of the fourth week the Estevan declared his task complete.

He adressed John directly, forcably. ‘The only factor now which will determine the degree of your recovery is how hard you work. You have done very well but do not slacken off. Having said that, be sensible, if you are very sore at the end of any day… ease off the next day. The day after however, you must exercise as hard as you did previously. From my point of view the top priority should now be to get you to some sunshine. It is not easy using crutches to climb stairs but I want you to try. Every day you should double the number you can climb. The reward is that at the top of these stairs there is daylight and some wonderful views!

He turned to Guillam. ‘Stay with him whilst he climbs the stairs, the last thing we want at this stage is for him to have a bad fall.’

The most dangerous woman in the world

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