95 — No Respite

The Earl then took Piers and John to meet the other guards and explained their new roles.‘It will only be for two nights. On the morning of the third day the ladies will be able to ride all the way to Termes, where as you know there is a substantial Château firmly under our control’And so John and Piers rode ahead, travelling alongside the party responsible for pitching the tent but separate from them. They separated company, each riding along ridges either side of the road, from where they could watch not only the progress of the tent party but also from time to time scan a wide distances on either side for any sign of movement. They saw nothing.Once the site chosen for the overnight stay had been reached. John slowly led Helios into a small dell three hundred feet away and left him untethered. All that training came in good stead, he knew that Helios would stay there but if summonsed would come to find John. He then cautiously circled the whole site, being careful not to reveal his presence. He knew that Piers would be waiting for him between the tent and the setting sun. They then decided which would be the most likely approach for any potential attackers and identified positions were they could monitor these approaches without being seen themselves. They separated again and settled down to wait.John was mentally prepared for two nights of sleepless vigil with nothing to relieve the boredom. To his amazement he had only just made himself comfortable, surrounded by bushes and underneath the face of a large rock when he heard movement. Someone was crawling through the undergrowth, no, several people were crawling through the undergrowth… no many people were crawling through the undergrowth and on both sides of him.There were too many for John to tackle them personally so being careful not to reveal his presence tried to access how many observers there were. They gave themselves away by gathering together to discuss what they had seen. Ten maybe twelve. One of them had red hair! In the remaining light of the day John and the unidentified observers were able to watch the ladies dismount and enter the tent. The horses were led down to a nearby brook to drink and then were tethered fed brushed and covered with night blankets. In the evening light Selene looked almost white, certainly very noticeable. It suddenly occurred to John that there were not many grey horses, it was almost like advertising Ximene’s presence, to anyone who knew anything about her.A fire was lit and food prepared. Then John saw a fault in the defences, the guards gathered round the fire to eat and exchange stories and songs. John could picture the campfire comraderie. He had sat round similar campfires on many nights when he had first reached Aquitaine. In the meantime the rest of the army was streaming past in the background manouvering to set up a dozen other camps but paying no attention whatsoever to the ladies tent. John suddenly realised that they had probably been given orders not to approach too close to the ladies tent.The fact remained that the eastern side of the tent was unlit and virtually unattended. It was now dark but the guards obviously did not regard their guard duty as having commenced. The situation must have been obvious to the stealthy observers as they started moving to the east almost certainly to take advantage of the situation. John waited until they had moved far enough away to be able to move without revealing his presence. He then moved as fast as he could to the west, eventually running across open ground and shouting an alarm. In the middle of their meal the guards reacted slowly and unpredictably. They moved towards John and it took precious seconds to make them realise that the threat was from the other side of the tent. John led the charge but it was too late, some of the intruders were already inside the tent. Those outside the tent did not run but moved forward to meet the advancing guards.Within seconds a dozen sword fights were taking place around the tent. John managed to evade the conflicts and rushed into the tent. The eastern wall of the tent had been ripped to shreds. Six of the women and Phillipa cowered behind a barracade made of tables and chairs. Ximene, clad only in a nightdress, faced four attackers, sword in one hand, throwing knife in the other. Another woman lay in the far corner of the tent, motionless, her nightdress covered in blood.Ximene held her sword not out in front of her but as John had taught her above her head ready to strike. One of the intruders lunged forward, clearly not expecting Ximene to be able to use the weapons. He soon regretted it Ximene feigned with the dagger and with a simultaneous motion used the full weight of the sword to drive it in a lightning curving arc. Her blade almost severed his hand from his arm and as he screamed and fell forward she calmly dispatched him by plunging the throwing knife into the side of his throat. Almost in slow motion she turned and lifted another knife from the shelf behind her. Without a moments hesitation she threw the knife at an attacker who was moving sidways in an attempt to avoid her sword. Again the knife took him in the throat just behind the ear he fell to the floor in a wriggling bloody mess. Another man rushed into the tent The new arrival had red hair.Simultaneously Piers appered at John’s side, his sword arm covered in blood, bur still able to hold his sword‘ Back to back’ John shouted. The three of them assumed the position that they had practiced so often, swords above their heads but positioned so that they would not interfere with each other. The attackers circled. They attacked several times but could not break through the defensive wall which John, Piers and Ximene presented. Suddenly the tent was filled as fights from outside spilled in through the open wall. One of the attackers produced a cross bow and was circling the tent trying to get a clear shot at Ximene. The attacker was out of luck, the Earl appeared from nowhere and felled him with a downward blow with the weighty handle of his sword. Suddenly the tent emptied, the attackers were in flight and the guards were in close pursuit.Ximene dashed to the fallen girl, She recoiled in horror“Dead, Dead, and because of me”.John felt the girl’s pulse. She was indeed dead. It was not clear whether she had died by dagger or sword.An hour later in the presence of the dead girls father it was possible to reconstruct the nature of the attack. The attackers had broken in through the undefended wall of the tent. The unfortunate victim had simply been the girl nearest to that wall of the tent.The Earl was extremely thoughtful.‘I think they intended to kill Ximene but they did not know which of the girls was Ximene. On the spur of the moment they decided to kill them all but the decision took the fraction of time, which gave Ximene a chance to grab her weapons.He looked admiringly at Ximene.‘So how does a gentle lady like yourself come to be carrying an arsenal of weaponry?’It was meant to inject some humour into the discussion, but Ximene was in no mood to be lighthearted.‘After my capture at St Ferriole and my subsequent treatment at Limoux and Carcasonne are you really surprised I now carry weapons?The Earl’s eyes met Ximene’s eyes.“and you learned to use them so effectively?… never mind I think I know!John told the Earl that he believed for a brief moment Du Guesclin had been in the tent.“ Hmm, said the Earl, if this was his doing then we are extremely lucky. However he is known for brutality and craft not bravery. He would have left when he saw spirited resistanceA guard rushed into the tent and whispered into the Earls ear. He looked startled and spoke to John. John winced, frowned and took Ximene in his arms. ‘That bastard has killed Selene’ he told her.

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

Table Of Contents



List of Places

Table of Contents

Pseudo History


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.’

The Prisoner of FoixVol 1 of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

Aquitaine, an English possession, is in crisis. It is under threat from neighbouring nations and internal dissension.

The Black Prince, King Edward III’s eldest son has been given the task of taking command in Aquitaine.

Suddenly there is an opportunity. Ximene Trencavel is the heiress to the lands of Occitan, to the east of Aquitaine: lands controlled by the Franks. Ximene wants independence, both for herself and for Occitan.

A union between Aquitaine and Occitan would be mutually beneficial. The Black Prince undertakes a secret journey to meet Ximene to negotiate a marriage contract. It is, however, a marriage neither of them really wants.

Meanwhile, the  Franks plot to murder Ximene to prevent ,not just the marriage, but any kind of union between England and Occitan.

The Eagle Of CarcassonneVol II of the series—The Treasure of Trencavel

The loose alliance between Ximene Trencavel and the Black Prince is under threat.

The Prince invades Occitan, to show his support for Ximene but it becomes an invasion which creates more problems than it solves.

The Prince has fallen hopelessly in love with Joan of Kent and Joan is now determined to marry him and become the next Queen of England.

Joan is therefore  determined to convince Ximene that she should not marry the Prince.

Part of her strategy is to encourage Ximene’s relationship with John Stanley—one of the Princes bodyguards—not an easy task as both John and Ximene have doubts about their compatibility.

However, John is grievously injured in a battle and Ximene commits herself to nurse him back to health.