36 Responsibility

Ximene Trencavel – 21 June 1355

When they awoke the following morning  she smiled and kissed John.

Even the slight movement she made to achieve this made her sqirm with delight. John you must help me remove my chains there are things we must talk about and I dont want to be continually distracted.

She started the discussion before the chains were packed away in the box.

‘The treasure. I do want to retain control of this magnificent find but it has massive implications for us.’

‘I know’

‘Probably the only person who can help us move the treasure is the Prince. The only person who can negotiate with the Prince on my behalf is you! This means you must rejoin the Prince immediately and sound out the possibilities.’

‘ And do you expect the Prince to invade Occitan and give freedom of worship.’

‘ Yes, I think that would be ideal and the wealth from the treasure should make that possible.’

‘Ports? Navies? Fortresses? Mercenary armies?’

She winced. ‘I don’t know John but you must ask! I believe that if you are successful and the Prince is willing to help it could mean that I must marry him. I know that you set great store on loyalty to those you have sworn fealty. I realize that my marriage to the Prince will put a real barrier between us.’

John bowed his head. ‘How soon must I go.’

‘Immediately’

‘Oh! No! was last night just some kind of parting gift. Something to remember you by? What’s so urgent? He is probably going to come to us, or at least close to us.’

‘We have got to give him time for due consideration, you must go immediately.’

‘But who will guard you whilst I am away?’

‘Thierry.’

‘What, a guard that you lock away every night?’

‘No. We should now give some freedom. I have watched him carefully. He has made no sign of trying to get away, and during the trip back here after finding the treasure he could have done so if he wished. We could hardly have pursued him into a village let alone a town and we passed close by several of them.’

‘It’s an unacceptable risk.’

‘No I think I can trust him.’

‘How do you know you can?’

Ximene stamped her foot ‘All right then I will come with you.’

‘That would also be dangerous and anyway it would put you entirely under the Princes control. The reason we are here is because you wanted to avoid that.’

‘True… so what do think I should do.’

‘Delay my trip until Don Fernandino returns.’

‘We have no idea what has happened to Don Fernandino, Thierry may be right he may never return!’

‘Give him one more week.’

‘No. It could be too late for the Prince to redirect his army. John I have a great reponsibility to use the treasure for the benefit of my people.’

‘Well! You make the decision then.’

‘Then I chose Thierry! We will give him two days complete freedom and if he leaves us in that period then we will have to make a run for it.’

She closed her eyes and lowered her head. She the raised her head and made a point of establishing strong eye contact. ‘Before you leave will you swear fealty to me as Princess of Occitan, which people seem to think I should be. I am after all putting all my hopes for my future into you hands.’

‘Of course I will Ximene, you know that I will always be devoted to you. However, as you have just said, you want me to start the negotiation on your behalf. It will not be easy for me. The prince has released me from my oath of fealty to him but it will not be easy.’

‘Well, be assured that there need be no conflict. If necessary I will marry the Prince and I will be your sovereign.’

Internally Ximene groaned. It was not what she wanted.So much for her independance So much for giving the Prince his freedom to marry Joan.

She paused.

‘John will you leave me for a while. I need time to think about my responsibilities and the way I want to lead my life’

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The most dangerous woman in the world

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