Ximene Trencavel- 20th July 1355
Don Fernandino shook his head. ‘Not quite. The assassin at Chateau Foix. Did Du Guesclin organise that or someone else? Is it possible Les Étoiles organised it?’
John twisted in his seat. ‘Oh! I see you would regard it as particularly serious if they did. I think not… unless they have people running around armed with estoc swords, a sword intended for killing people not for defending oneself. I think the assassin was a typical mercenary. To me, it would point to Du Guesclin.’
Ximene was impressed. More evidence of Johns recovery. ‘Don Fernandino, I really do not know. The assassin was apparently recruited by the Comte to help with clerical issues, in fact, my marriage contract. Where he came from, who introduced him to the Comte, I have no idea. Prior to the assassination attempt, the only person I know to have met him was Alyse.’
‘Alyse Perez, My grandmother’s…Lady Eleanor’s companion. she might know how he was recruited.’
‘And where can I find her?
‘Alyse is in Bordeaux, where she is pretending to be me, hopefully, to put Du Guesclin off the scent.’
‘Then I must go to Bordeaux to meet her.’
One more question. How many people knew about your intention to escape during the hunt?’
‘I did. Guillam did. Lady Eleanor did.’
‘How many others?’
‘Much later, only when they arrived in Murat… The Prince did, The Earl did, John did and… Don’t forget Thierry d’Arques knew but only retrospectively. You sent him to warn us didn’t you? because of the arrangements I assume, but do not know, that Pipa’s father, Payne de Roet did.
‘Pipa is Payne de Roet’s daughter?’
‘Yes but she lived with us at Foix.’
‘Pipa herself and Alyse.’
John broke in. ‘Don Fernandino, there is something I omitted to tell you. I cannot believe it is relevant but I should tell you. Inbetween the visit to Monpazier and Agen the Earl took us to the festival of the moon at Clermont-Dessous and whilst there, I met Pipa.’
Ximene turned on John. ‘Pipa would never betray me, she is my best friend.’
John lifted his eyebrows. ‘Perhaps not deliberately… but she is very…talkative.’
Don Fernandino’s voice became almost a whisper. ‘And at that point in time, she was in the same geographic area as Du Guesclin. Some of his men may well have been at Clermont-Dessous.’His voice hardened. ‘Someone else I must talk to… and where do I find Pipa?
Don Fernandino sighed. ‘So then two people in Bordeaux i must speak to, but I have no contacts in Bordeaux, I have never needed contacts in Bordeaux. Guillam has those contacts. If this young man recovers enough to guard Ximene. I will ask Guillam to travel independently to Bordeaux to open some doors there.’
Ximene’s heart leapt, she already knew Don Fernandino well enough to realize that if he made a statement, no matter how conditional, it meant he believed it to be possible. Therefore at least in Don Fernandino’s mind, John would recover sufficiently to again act as her bodyguard