14– 4th July — Time for Recovery — Copy

Chapter seven of Thread A — John’s rescue and recovery

Ximene discusses John’s listlessness with Don Fernandino and Guillam. It leads to a re-evaluation of future plans and in turn disussions about security. Don Fernandino declares he must discover how Ximene’s plans were betrayed to du Guesclin.

Ximene Trencavel- 4 July 1355

Guilliam had come down to the cellar to check on John’s progress. He pulled Ximene to one side. ‘Is he always like this?’

‘Like what?’

‘Listless, disinterested, difficult to talk to?’

‘No not always.’

Guillam poured himself a mug of wine from a small barrel and sat down, across a table from Don Fernandino.

‘What do you think, will he totally recover? How long will it take?’

Don Fernandino narrowed his eyes. he nodded towards Ximene. ”Ximene and I spoke to Estevan this morning and he is very optimistic, but the decision on when to take him off the potion is difficult. If he takes him off it too quickly John could suffer significant pain, which could inhibit his physical progress, but what you have just described as listlessness is probably a side effect of the portion. You sound anxious. Have you some information we don’t know about.’

Hmm, his condition is different from what I have seen previously and it is putting questions in my mind. I am wondering how long we will be here. Ximene cannot live in this cellar forever. If you want to leave for Sicily I will stay here and look after John whilst you carry out your original plan.

Ximene put down the jug of water she was carrying, walked determinedly across to the table and sat down next to Don Fernandino facing Guillam. ‘No Guillam, I am not going to leave him. Do you understand? I am not going to leave him.’

Don Fernandino leaned back in his chair, folding his arms behind his head. ‘My original plan was to become gypsies. I intended to hide the gypsy wagon in Toulouse. At that time of the year, there are gypsies on all the roads leading to Rennes les Bains. Both Ximene and myself are dark in complexion so it would have taken little effort to assume a gypsy identity. Whilst everyone scoured the countryside we would have been quite safe in a small house which earlier in the year I had  rented in Rennes.

Then, in early September when the gypsies move south into Aragon, we would have travelled with them. We would have then continued to Sicily on a commercial vessel out of Barcelona.’

Guillam stood back and stared at Don Fernandino ‘So even then, you had decided not to use Les Étoiles to take Ximene to Sicily?’

‘Emphatically as I told you there is a problem with Les Étoilles

‘With Les Étoiles? Not Thierry d’Arques?’

‘Ah! Thierry again. It’s Thierry you’re worried about. Why?’

‘I never satisfied myself that he was not involved when you were kidnapped in Port Vendres.’

‘Yes, I know.’ Don Fernandino pressed his lips together before continuing.  ‘You know I have thought about it and I don’t believe he was in any way involved.’ 

Ximene frowned. ‘ At Muret, Thierry told me that you had sent him to Muret to tell us of your kidnap and to warn us of a potential security breach. Did you send him?’

Yes I did. It was the only way I could warn you. As I have just said I trust him.

Guilliam raised his eyebrows. ‘I only hope you are right. This chateau is very isolated. I believe that anyone who came to believe  Ximene was in this locality would be drawn here… or to St. Ferriole. Estevan lives in St.Ferriole and he knows how to get into the cellar. Is there any chance that Thierry d’Arques could know our location?’

‘No. Emphatically not. It is not something I have ever discussed with him.’

Hmm, it would not require you to tell him, couldn’t he find out from some third party?’

Don’t think so. The only people who know that my safe house is under Chateau Mazerou are you, me, Ximene and Maurice.

Guillam stared at Don Fernandino. ‘What about everybody else who has taken advantage of cover here over the last few years? 

Don Fernandino frowned. ‘Oh! Yes at least fifty of them, but they would never have been brought here if they were in any way a security risk.  

‘ But suppose they then travelled with Thierry D’Arques, who is a captain or manager with “Les Etoiles“. They would have seen him as someone they could trust, they could have talked to him.”

Don Fernandino frowned. ‘ I suppose it is possible. However, I have much greater concerns about “Les Etoiles”  and I think you share those concerns.’

Guillam responded quickly. ‘And isn’t Theirry a member of that organisation’

Don Fernandino frowned. ‘ Yes, but don’t forget… so am I, and until recently so were you.’

‘So the problem is ‘Les Etoiles” as an organization?’

‘Precisely. they came into being to transport Catharsaway from the inquisition but their role has changed. I no longer trust them, they have been infiltrated.’

Gilliam eyed Don Fernandino querulously. ‘Tell me again. How safe are we here? The rest of “Les Etoiles” have absolutely no knowledge of this facility?’

Don Fernandino smiled. ‘I understand your caution. However, Maurice, the manager here, is my agent. I recruited him specifically for this purpose. He does not do it for money. He wants to do something to help his fellow Cathars. He has no knowledge  of my other contacts and he has no reason and no mechanism to contact “Les Etoiles”’ directly

‘And the Bishops?’ Don Fernandino shook his head.’

 Don Fernandino tucked his top lip inside his lower lip, frowned but then continued. ‘In fact, the Bishops help the security here. They have established the whole of this valley as a hunting reserve and have declared that anyone who trespasses on it is automatically excommunicated. It is more effective than any law a king may pass. No one, I repeat, no one enters the valley. But you know that.  I discussed it with you just after you rescued me in Perpignan. Those who seek refuge here can move through the valley in perfect confidence. If they stay away from the road which runs up to St Feriole, there is absolutely no risk!

Guillam smiled. ‘I am only doing what my training taught me to do. Question everything!’

Don Fernandino leaned forward and touched his hand.

‘I know, I know’ he said gently. ‘But I assure you;  Ximene and John are safe. No one will ever know they are here. As far as anyone else is concerned, they have vanished without a trace. ’

Guillam rose, placing his hands on the table and leaning  forward so that  his face was close to Don Fernandino’s. ‘So what do you intend now?’

Don Fernandino scratched his cheek ‘Sit down, Guillam, there is no conflict here, we both want to do the best we can for Ximene. In many ways, the gypsy ruse might still be the best option. However, an empty house in Rennes les Bains might just have attracted some attention and all the gypsy artefacts which were an important part of the disguise are still in Perpignan.  He turned to face Ximene. ‘I don’t really want to move you at all until I have found out who organized my own kidnap and who was behind the attacks on you. I think that the two events are linked, it may take some time to establish the facts.’

He smiled in Guillam’s direction. ‘So you see there is a little more time for John to fully recover.

He turned again to Ximene. Let’s start right now.  ‘Tell me everything you know, from the time you decided to escape from the hunt.’



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.