6 Arab Medicine

Ximene Trencavel-22 June 1355

Don Fernandino smiled. ‘Ximene, I know the physician will come soon, he will not let us down. Ximene found herself instinctively looking past the smile. There was a hardness about Don Fernandino which the superficial image of the Shadow was intended to hide. Don Fernandino expected to be obeyed.

Ximene wondered if that expectation extended to his relationship with her. She felt apprehensive. There was much about Don Fernandino which echoed Gaston de Foix.

He waved his hand towards a table and moved out a chair indicating that she should sit. He changed his tone of voice. It became a silky whisper. ‘Whilst we are waiting… for the physician, you must bring me up to date on everything which has happened to you. I know of course about the plan for you to escape during the hunt at Muret as before I was kidnapped, I was a party to that plan, but afterwards?’

It was only a question, but Ximene felt she was being serenaded, gently seduced. She glanced upwards at a ceiling, lit by the flickering lights from the flares. She summarised what had happened. ‘The escape plan went badly wrong, not just because you were kidnapped but because there was an attempt to kidnap or perhaps murder me during the hunt.’

Don Fernandino nodded. ‘ I know that too because Thierry d’Arques and Guillam told me about it when they returned to Perpignan to rescue me. And after that?

The Comte de Foix, my uncle and guardian, then insisted that I return to the chateau, supposedly to keep me safe, but it did not work out that way. An assassin gained entry to the Chateau and this time there was no doubt, he intended to kill me.’

‘Oh!, I knew it was intended to kill you but I did not know how… or where. Guillam left me here whilst he went to give you a warning’

Ximene nodded.’If it had not been for Guillam’s warning and John’s intervention I would probably be dead.’

Guillam came and sat down alongside Ximene. ‘Don Fernandino, you need to know you are dealing with a quite remarkable lady. It was Ximene who killed the assassin.’

Ximene frowned.’ But only after John had distracted him and fought with him for several minutes.’

Guillam smiled. ‘She also killed one of Du Guesclin’s men who attacked me after the battle of Monsegur. I probably owe my life to her swift action.’

Don Fernando’s eyes widened ‘Really? I will have to be careful not to get on the wrong side of this young lady.’ He narrowed his eyes. ‘Du Guesclin?’

Guillam nodded, ‘Yes, a shadowy figure who was involved in the battle of Monsegur. I only know about him because of what John told us.’

The conversation was terminated by the arrival of Estavan, the physician. He spent fifteen minutes examining John, including making an internal examination of the wound. He removed the leaches but proclaimed they had done a good job. He then applied a salve to the wound, which he said would promote healing and prevent infection. He stitched the wound using a gut thread. He then attempted to give John a potion he had made up but had no success in getting him to drink. In the end, he simply poured it down John’s throat nearly choking him in the process.

‘Some will have got through!’ he said.

‘I will leave this here’ he said indicating the remaining portion.
‘I will return in the morning. If at any point he should wake up, the first thing you should do is get him to drink this.’

He looked at Ximene, and Guillam in turn. ‘My name is Estevan del Muria. I am of Moorish descent. Everything I am doing here is based on Arab medicine which I learned whilst studying at Montpellier. As a child, I was always had interested in mathematics and science but I have chosen medicine as a career as it gave me better prospects of earning a living. please follow my instructions if you want this young man to make a good recovery.

Ximene had been watching Estevan carefully. She thought he looked knowledgeable, skilful. ‘Can you save his life?’

Estevan returned Ximenes steady gaze and then turned to look at John.

‘You know in these circumstances life may hang momentarily by a thread, sometimes the difference between life and death is the will to live. He has a very good chance. He may be very fortunate, I think that if he does recover he will walk again. The sooner we can get him on his feet, the better will be his chance of walking without a limp.

He bent down to pick up his bags when they were all surprised to hear John’s voice.

‘Ximene’ was the first word he uttered. She ran to his side. His eyes opened, albeit briefly. On seeing her face he forced a smile.

‘Have no doubt’ he said ‘I have the will to live!’

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

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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.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.