Chapter 48 (Edit) The Final Solution

10 June 1355

Bertrand du Guesclin arrived in Palmiers to recommence discussions with John Stuart.

‘I have a competitor.’

As usual, Stuart looked surprised. ‘What do you mean?’

‘I spent days watching the hunt. Each one, the bitch found a way to ride ahead of the pack or to ride in a different direction from the pack. She was easy pickings.’

Stuart blinked an eye. ‘So what went wrong?’

‘The Cardinal gave me ten men. I had ten of my own. Twenty men. All they had to do was snatch one teenage girl.’

‘So what went wrong?’

‘It started well enough. The Cardinal’s informer, what’s his name… Dominic, gave us good information on the location of the hunt. Because of the relatively large area the deer were running to, we were spread a little thin in order to surround the area but at the same time use what cover was available. I repeat all we had to do snatch a teenage girl. ‘

John stuart scratched his head. ‘ And I repeat, what went wrong?’

‘Everything.  The girl herself, shot the first of our men to approach her. She didn’t hesitate, hit him in the middle of the chest. He will be lucky to survive. Doesn’t deserve to survive. If he had held back a bit she might have been faced with three or four of us.’

‘“Oh! But you still had nineteen men against this one girl.’

‘It gets worse. She rode round in a massive circle before heading back towards Muret. Our lot came out one by one and chased her, instead of trying to cut her off. She is a good horsewoman, she was riding a good, no outstanding,  grey horse. They didn’t stand a chance of catching her.

‘So she just rode away?’

“Not quite.’ One of them did eventually try to cut the corner and then suddenly out of nowhere came this rider wielding axes, also on a magnificent grey horse.’

‘Axes on a horse?’

‘Yes and he can use them. One man dead and another two who will probably never walk again. The others simply ran away.

The stupid men think he had axes instead of hands. He managed to strike terror in their souls. It is supposed to be me that does that. I have a competitor. I will have to find out who he is and hunt him down.’

‘So what can I do to help?’

‘I have given up on the girl. we now know, again through Dominic that she is being taken back to Château Foix. I will settle for the bounty on the her head. It looks to me as though she will marry the Black Prince and be whisked off to England. We will get no chance to deliver her to the Inquisition, so I will provide an assassin and need him to be able to access the Château.’

‘What can I do about that?’ John Stuart asked.

Du Guesclin glared at him. ‘Don’t be stupid. Dominic has been supplying us with information. Now I want to use him to get somebody into the Château. The Château might need additional cooks for a big feast … anything! Once we have our person inside, Ximene is as good as dead!’

John Stuart went away to consider his options.

Dominic had now been an instrument of the Inquisition for a lengthy period. He attended confession regularly and was required to report on everything that happened in the Château.

In fact, since his original visit to the confessional back in April, he had acquired little extra knowledge. In the upper Château, he was now isolated from events in Lady Eleanor’s quarters. He did not meet with Alyse, Pipa or Ximene. Nevertheless, every time he visited the confessional, his confessor wanted something, and warned that if he kept anything to himself, he would be considered to have reverted to the heretic faith. Dominic knew that meant unspecified torture to save his soul.

When Dominic had been included in the support team for the Comte’s summer hunt, it been a bonus. It had provided much information which had been of interest. It was strangely satisfying to have a personal confessor assigned to talk to him in a remote town like Muret.

Today, on his return to Foix his mind was full of information about the English presence in the Château.

To his surprise his confessor after listening politely, did not seem particularly interested.

‘What we need now is to get a member of the inquisition inside the Château. This has become essential to the interests of the Holy Church and will be a measure of your devotion.’

Dominic desperately searched his mind for anything that might help.

“I think the best opportunity would be for a clerk. I am personally working on a marriage contract between  the Comte’s niece Ximene and  Prince Edward of England.  The task is taking too long and is interfering with work on the Comte’s next book. The Comte is currently searching for additional clerical effort.’

‘We will find a suitable candidate. Your role is to make sure he is acceptable to the Comte,’ the confessor said.

Dominic’s heart sank.  ‘I can certainly introduce him, but he must have a fair hand and he should know something about contracts. The Comte will make him pass a test.’

‘We will find a suitable candidate. Once in the Château you must find a way of giving him easy access to Ximene Trencavel. He will do the rest.’

2 thoughts on “Chapter 48 (Edit) The Final Solution”

  1. I believe this chapter needs a rethink. 1st half is repeating what reader has already witnessed (they suspect his involvement even if it is not confirmed); 2nd half would be better if we witnessed as it happens (e.g. Dominic recommending an assistant; could John witness this an have some inkling (but not enough) that something’s wrong? Or could John unwittingly help this insider win a role inside the chateau?) The plot development is good – Inquisition closing in – but impact is lost in the telling as it currently stands. Show us the action rather than the talk; how events unfold to Ximene and John rather than how these secondary characters plan them. Let me know if you need more convincing! I think most of this chapter will not work as it stands, including heading. Narrative endings can be tricky; you may need to sketch out a fresh outline to test out new ideas.

  2. I think we will leave the title until we see what it looks like.

    John and Piers do not have access to the upper chateau.There is nothing to stop them going there but there presence would be questioned. Ximene is avoiding the compte and will not go there. The only one who is in the upper Chateau is Alyse who is still, albeit now unwillingly, working on Gaston’s book.

    She is in a good position to observe the outsiders arrival and to have suspicions. How do we make a chapter out of that? At the moment I do not know, but I will have a go and see how It works out.

    As a provisional title 48A Stranger.

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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.