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‘How did you do that? Where did that light come from? I was scared for you but also for myself. I worshipped you as a Goddess!’

John Stanley-21st June 1355

After Lady Eleanor left John heard the sound of music from downstairs. He shuddered with tiredness. What a grave responsibility had been placed on him. She had left him no way out. Not that he really wanted one. He threw himself on the mattress and closed his eyes.

Despite his concerns, he thought that he had never been so comfortable since he left home. The mattress was so soft. It gently supported every part of his body, not at all like the mattress he had been lying on earlier. He realised he was not sleeping on a single mattress; Lady Eleanor had left her’s behind! He drifted off to sleep.

His dreams were populated by wars and frightful events but then a great power for peace put everything to rights. He struggled to understand the nature and form of this power. Then it was clear. The image he had seen in a dozen Roman churches; God the Father, emerging from the clouds, finger pointing downwards promising to bring order on earth. A new realisation followed. This was not God, the Father; it was a woman, a very young and beautiful woman!

He awoke suddenly to the sound of loud bump and pitch darkness. His torch had burned out. He heard nothing now, yet he sensed someone in the room. Ximene!

Ximene’s voice came from the other side of the room. ‘Look at me, John.’ she said.

Guided by the sound of her voice, he attempted to comply. In the pitch dark, he could see nothing. But then, just as he sat up, a blinding shaft of light shot from behind him, to meet Ximene. She wore a transparent gown. The light then seemed to emanate from within the gown and to pour from her whole body. She adjusted her stance. She lifted one arm into the air and stretched out the other arm towards John. She was God—the God of his dreams but a Goddess, not a God. Momentarily, fear overtook him at the thought of approaching this fountain of light. He threw himself forward, in awe of what stood before him.

He slowly recovered composure realising he was prostrate in front of Ximene. The intense light had gone. The first light of dawn now lit the room. Ximene ran lightly across the floor. Kneeling in front of him with her knees either side of his head she caressed his back. He pulled himself upward and backwards to a kneeling position. He shook his head. ‘How did you do that? Where did that light come from? I was scared for you but also for myself. I worshipped you as a Goddess!’

Ximene smiled. ‘Where did the light come from? On one day in the year, today, on the twenty-first of June—the summer solstice; the sun, as it rises, lines up with the arrow slits on both sides of this room. When everywhere else is dark the first light from the sun shines through the Château. From outside, on the southwest, it is also spectacular. It looks as if the light, brighter than a thousand torches, comes from the castle itself.’

‘But how did you know?’

‘My grandmother told me about it. I chose to put myself in its path. It was supposed to create an image of me that you would remember for the rest of your life. We were then supposed to hold and caress each other. I tried to create a unique experience which would draw us together. What I actually did was to put a barrier between us.’

John was now totally recovered. ‘Not a permanent barrier.’ He permitted himself a smile. ‘You certainly did create an image I will never forget.’

They fell into each other’s arms. John caressed her body, starting, as he had been taught, with her back. She did not object or in any way resist.

They sank to the mattresses. Ximene removed her gown. She held him close and whispered in his ear. ‘I will now teach you what I really like.’ She grasped his hand and guided it over her body. ‘Now it is my turn. Lie still, do you like this?’ John nodded and then threw his head back, mouth wide open, as a wave of pleasure spread through his body.

Not for the first time in their short relationship they were disturbed. A trumpet echoed through the early morning air, John had no difficulty in recognising its intent—the call to arms.

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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