18 Vulnerability

Ximene Trencavel- 3rd September 1355

It was the most beautiful early autum. 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 him, legs wide open, massaging oil into her thighs, this was not an invitation; just an opportunity to admire her. She was pleased he obviosly understand the cathar education he had recieved and at the same time disappointed that he did showed no reaction at all.

A couple of days later, during training, Ximene feigned difficulty in using the axe, it seemed 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 me. At long last he took the initiative. There is no doubt he understood that my reaction meant that I was willing!

Ximene was content but at the same time concerned. There were events taking place elsewhere which she knew would ultimately return to disturb both their lives. At Chateau Mazerou there was no awareness of preparations for war but Ximene knew that the Prince was intending to invade Armagnac and perhaps Occitan. Would the Prince support freedom, complete freedom, for Occitan?

There were other matters she could not dismiss from her mind. What was keeping Don Fernandino? Where is Don Fernandino ? Has he managed to find the Prince or has he been captured on the way? If so, who has captured him and will that lead to the invasion of our haven. Will I have to use my new found skills if we are attacked?
However, whilst enjoying the weather and reveling in John’s considerate attentions,

It made her think of her own vulnerability.

I must get a true measure of how I am progressing in the development of my military skills. I must discover where my weaknesses lie.

She leaned over John’s shoulder whilst he was reading. ‘You were right John, when you talked about a tournament. I need a real fight, and you are the only person available. The time has come John; 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.

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

Still sitting, Ximene turned and looked at him with sheer defiance in her eyes.
‘John do not forget, I might hurt you’

The most dangerous woman in the world

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