39 — Vulnerability

‘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

List of Characters

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References

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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.’