John Stanley – 18th July 1355
John found climbing the stairs easier than he had anticipated it would be. It took him only three days before he was able to climb all the way up to the tower room. It just so happened that his first view out of the glazed window was early morning and on the edge of the woods, which covered the hill above the castle he saw a herd of deer grazing.
He sighed with sheer delight.
Guillam came to say farewell. ‘I must return to Eleanor. I will go to her in Bordeaux, Don Fernandino will visit Pamiers and then join me in Bordeaux so that I can introduce him to the Prince and at the same time inform the Prince that you are both safe and well.
Don Fernandino will then return to organise your final escape. Eleanor and I will, later in the year, retire to Montcler. You will both be welcome if you visit us there’.
Guillam glanced around the claustrophobic cellar. ‘You will be safe here, however, with caution, I recommend you should make the attempt to get some fresh air. Almost every day I have left the chateau on self-imposed non-existant tasks to survey the surroundings. Not only did I attract no attention, but I did not actually see anyone. You should be able to walk or ride through these hills at will. Just be careful when leaving or returning to the stables. If you do see anyone they will have no idea where you came from and so you will always be able to return here to hide if necessary.’
Don Fernandino came forward to stand alongside Guillam.
‘At the moment there is little I can do here and there is so much which must be done elsewhere. A tour for the Shadow has been organised. I will go to Foix, Pamiers and Muret spending over a week in each place. I will then go to Bordeaux. I will be away for about two months. He nodded at John. ‘By which time you will be able to travel. If I judge it to be safe we will then recommence our journey to Sicily.’
And so Don Fernandino and Guillam left John and Ximene to their own devices.
John was shocked to discover that when he first walked without crutches to visit Selene and Helios, he found this short walk very hard work.
At first, he thought this was some aspect of his injury, but he soon realized that loss of blood, infection and four weeks of inactivity had destroyed the fitness he had developed since Biscarrosse. Biscorrosse! Suddenly he had clear memories
He determined to regain his fitness. He thought back to the training regimes he had developed with Lord James. He stopped short at the memory.
And then there was Ximene… The most dangerous woman in the world. The mystery woman he had first heard about by the lake at Biscarrosse. No longer a mystery and not my sister, she is my lover.
Was Biscarrosse only three months ago?