75 — Breakthrough

Bertrand du Guesclin 21 October 1355

Du Guesclin was visiting Lambert of Limoux when news came of the Prince’s army. During the visit to Lambert, Du Guesclin had been given a guided tour of all Lambert’s properties under the pretext of offering Lambert defensive advice. He now knew every point of weakness and where to find the items of highest value.

Lambert had even followed advice to gather together all of his most valuable possessions and hide them in the cellar of his primary residence!

Gerade was now to be left, nominally to assist defend against the Black Prince but in practice to steal everything of value as soon as the Black Prince came near enough to be blamed for the attack.

After Thomas Bewsley had failed to return from the Chateau de Foix , Gerade had taken Thomas’ place as Du Guesclin’s deputy. He was the only one of the original group of Routiers who Du Guesclin kept close to him. Gerade had continually shown his ability to learn from Du Guesclin and his capability to be every bit as merciless.

A group of Routiers were placed in Limoux itself. It would be they who carried out the attack when Gerade gave the signal.

Lambert had no idea what “Sir Bertrand” intended to do and tried his best to be sociable. Whilst bidding Du Guesclin farewell he suddenly remembered something he had always intended to raise during the visit. ‘It was good of you to come, Sir Bertrand, I feel I must do something in return. You asked me a question when we were in Rennes les Bains about the traitors who might be seeking medical treatment. I replied that I had not seen anyone who fitted that description. I observed that you asked all the medical staff the same question. It has since occurred to me that you probably missed one doctor in your enquiries.’

‘Oh!’ Said du Guesclin interested but concerned not to appear too interested. ‘Who?’

‘On a couple of occasions when someone had really bad athritic pain, they brought in a doctor from outside. I met him. He was called Estavan. He had very dark skin, was probably Moorish. He apparently lived in St Ferriole.’

Du Guesclin was careful to show no reaction. ‘And St Ferriole is where exactly?’

‘About three hours south of here, on the hill above the Château Mazerou, the summer palace of the Bishops of Albi.’

Du Guesclins eyes gleamed. ‘I knew… I just knew.’ He put his arm around Lambert’s shoulder. ‘ I must leave now, but I need your help, the people I am looking for are not just enemies of the King but also heretics. Could you introduce Gerade to the local clergy here in Limoux. I believe it would be better if this involved the church, possibly the Inquisition. Gerade will give them the background.’

‘Of course, of course.’

Du Guesclin pulled Gerade to one side. ‘ There is probably just enough time. If the doctor is Moorish you should be able to find him. Torture him, to death if necessary, to see what he knows. If you find the girl we will return to the original plan. Get the clergy to bring her back to Limoux but then at the time we rob Lambert we will steal her away and put her up for ransom. If anything goes wrong , however, kill her. We will be handsomely paid for her death.’
He left immediately to activate what he had told everyone were his defensive plans.

The most dangerous woman in the world

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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.’