30 — 9th September — Vulnerability — Copy

‘John, I need a real fight, and you are the only person available. The time has come, I must fight you. I need to test my learning. You and I must fight; a real fight using bare knuckles.’

Ximene Trencavel – 9th September 1355

It was the most beautiful early autumn. However, as a result of her martial arts training, Ximene had developed some patches of calloused skin. She optimistically put a message in the blue jar asking for a remedy. She received in return a jar full of oil, rose hip oil extract mixed with virgin olive oil. She liked the feel of the oil and so applied it liberally every morning.

She sat on a chair, facing John, legs wide open, massaging oil into her thighs, this was not an invitation; just an opportunity to admire her. He watched, smiling, but he made no move towards her. She consoled herself that John understood the Cathar education he had received, John now knew that all sexual contact was always at the discretion of the female. She shook her head realising that at the same time she was disappointed that he could resist temptation.

A couple of days later, during training, Ximene feigned difficulty in using the axe;she made it seem that her timing had gone awry.

John attempted to show her the correct grip on the axe by standing behind her, pushing up against her back and wrapping his arms around her. She made no attempt to follow the advice but wriggled vigorously against him. He forgot about training, swung her round and kissed her passionately. They sank to the ground giggling helplessly. There was no more training that day!

Ximene was delighted.

Good! he was distracted from what he was doing and paid attention to her. At long last, he took the initiative. He understood that my reaction meant that I was willing!

It was, however, merely a pleasant interlude. There were events taking place elsewhere which she knew would ultimately disturb both their lives. She knew that the Prince was intending to invade Armagnac and perhaps Occitan. Would the Prince then support freedom, complete freedom, for Occitan?

She was of the opinion Prince had not thought it through, but now she was no longer in a position to have any influence over his thinking.

There were other matters she could not dismiss from her mind. What was keeping Don Fernandino? Had he managed to find the Prince or had he been captured on the way? If so, who has captured him and would that lead to the invasion of Mazarou. Would it be necessary to use her newfound skills if they were attacked?​ Was she adequately prepared?​ It made her think of her own vulnerability.

She decided she wanted a true measure of how she was progressing in the development of her military skills. That she must discover where her weaknesses lay.

She leaned over John’s shoulder whilst he was reading. ‘You were right John when you talked about the need for a tournament. I need a real fight, and you are the only person available. The time has come, I must fight you. I need to test my learning. You and I must fight a real fight using bare knuckles.’

John looked at her as though she was mad.

‘It is a good idea’ he said slowly, very slowly. Ximene now knew him well enough to know this meant he thought it was a bad idea.

He looked at her with exaggerated gravity. ‘If this is to have any meaning, I will have to use all my skill and hit you as hard as I can. You might get badly hurt’.’

Still sitting, Ximene turned and looked at him with sheer defiance in her eyes.

‘John you have trained me well, do not forget, I might hurt you’

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel