49 — Arrogance

John Stanley – 24th September 1355

Thierry entered the room as if he owned it. John felt the same feelings he had experienced when he first met Thierry at Muret. Too perfectly proportioned… Too handsome. Shamelessly allowing his eyes to caress Ximene.

Thierry saw the map and advanced towards it with a gleam in his eyes. ‘This is remarkable’ he said, as though no one else in the room had ever seen it. ‘It looks as though all these lines represent some form of a guide and the lines which intersect at the right hand side, top and bottom seem to be what the observer is intended to notice.’

John could not help but be impressed. Thierry seemed to have only looked at the map for an instant and yet he had summarized its purpose admirably. What was it about this man who was on the surface so powerful and incisive which caused him so much concern, so much resentment?

Thierry launched into a series of questions. ‘Which area does this map cover? Is it local to the chateau? Where did you get the information to make it up like this?

Ximene pursed her lips. ‘I don’t think that is any of your business,’ she told Thierry. In any case, this is our private room which you entered without invitation and I would now like you to leave.’

John was delighted by her reaction but surprised by how haughty she sounded, quite different from the Ximene he had been living with.

Thierry was totally unimpressed. He momentarily closed his eyes in a gesture of ignoring Ximene’s rejection before returning Ximene’s fiery glances with a steady gaze. ‘I am only trying to help you. I will, in any case, play a leading part in enabling you to escape to Sicily.’

Inwardly John groaned remembering Thierry’s comments at their previous meeting. If Ximene is in my company for a week she will inevitably succumb to my advances.

Thierry continued to speak ‘I have no idea what you have stumbled across here but it would not surprise me if what we are looking at is a treasure map. Of course, what we don’t know is what kind of treasure we are talking about!’

Estevan raised an eyebrow and excused himself. ‘You must come and see me, John, sometime in the next few days. I would like to give your leg a final examination to make sure there are no long term complications.’

John agreed realising that Estevan was opening the opportunity for further conversation, in private, away from Thierry.

Thierry watched Estevan leave and moved to the doorway to ensure Estevan had descended the stairs. He looked from Ximene to John and back again. ‘Be careful not to mix with the likes of him. He looks like a Moor to me and you just cannot trust them”

Ximene protested immediately. ‘That man, whom you say we cannot trust, saved John’s life.’

Thierry ignored Ximene’s response and continued his examination of the map. ‘My warning is particularly relevant if this map does indeed show the location of something of value. moors have no morals they would find a way of robbing you without giving it a second thought.’ He took a deep breath ‘I have seen one of these three-dimensional maps before. One was used to train sailors in the correct selection of lanes from the Mediterranean through the Sea of Marmara and on to the Black Sea past Constantinople. If you bend down so that your eye is at the level of the board it is mounted on you can see the actual shape of the hills just as they would be in reality”

Again John was impressed that this arrogant unreasonable man was also so knowledgeable.

Thierry continued to talk, obviously impervious to the effect he was having. ‘When I came in you were discussing with that Moor that the targets both lay on the same north-south line. I now intend to remain here until Don Fernandino arrives. If he does not arrive before the seventh of October then I will take you to Port Vendres and then by ship to Majorca and Sicily. That gives us over a week. We should go to those targets and see what we find!’

John explained that he had tried to do that by tracing the line from Brenac church and the difficulties he had experienced.

Thierry looked at him as if he was an idiot. ‘Look, someone has done all the work for us. Wait here. There is something I want to show you,’ He left by the stairwell

Ximene waited until she was sure he was out of earshotglanced at John, her face lined with anxiety. “What are we going to do? How did he find us? Will you let him take me away before Don Fernandino’s return?’

John thought for a moment. ‘Well for a start let us find out what he is up to down in the cellar. Wait here I will find out.’

It was too late Thierry, John intercepted Thierry half way up the staircase. He brushed past John and crossed the room to stand face to face with Ximene, much too close for John’s liking.  He lifted his hand until iy was level with Ximene’s face. He was holding a box. He smiled  ‘A sailor’s tool’. He unpacked three components from the box; a stand, a disc with a central hole which locked over the stand and a needle which he carefully balanced on a round-topped shaft which protruded upwards from the stand. He placed the completed assembly on the table alongside the three-dimensional map. ‘It is called a compass. This needle always points to the north. you can then use the lines on the disc to identify any other heading. He spun the map around until what they now knew to be the north south line actually lay north south. He then laid the compass on the northern target. Look at this line which runs to Brenac from the northern target. It runs at an angle of 34 degrees south of west or if you prefer 34 degrees north of east if viewed from Brenac.’

John shook his head. ‘But Estevan was able to tell us that using a very simple tool he called a protractor.”

Thierry grinned and then bent down. ‘Now this is the important part. he pointed at the northern target. Even though that target point lies in a hollow on top of this mountain; the ridge of the hollow has a distinctive shape. If we were to make a drawing of that profile and make a note of the angle of three notable features then when we visit the actual place, by lining up the features in real life we will be able to find the exact point of the target! What we need to do however is to find the exact north, and on top of a mountain a protractor cannot do that. A compass can!

Estevan told us you can do that by studying the position of the sun at noon.’

‘Good luck with that, you would be lucky to get within five degrees. the compass is accurate’

John’s eyes opened wide. He was impressed, fascinated by the way the compass could be used. He saw immediately that Thiery potentially had the solution to finding the targets. He tried to evaluate how co-operative or trustworthy Thierry might be.

Ximene broke an awkward silence. ‘Thierry what you have shown us is very interesting but can I have a few moments privately with John. Thierry hesitated and showed every sign of ignorning the request. John took a step forward and Theirry nodded and withdrew down the staircase.

Ximene waited until she was sure Thierry was out of earshot and turned to face John. She spoke urgently but almost in a whisper. ‘He obviously has skill which could help us.

John looked earnestly at Ximene. ‘Is there any way we can test whether Thierry is a Cathar or a very believable impostor?’

Ximene thought for a moment.

“Well I could question him about Cathar beliefs but if he is a clever impostor, he could have learned all that. The absolute test is a man’s approach to a woman. Men who have been brought up by the Church of Rome tend to see women as inferior beings. They believe they have the right to take advantage of any woman who they consider “available”

It is something which does not seem to have infected you but it is i believe very common. No one brought up in the Cathar faith would ever make any assumption. As you have learned so well, it is necessary first to express your admiration for a woman and then await her acceptance of your suit.”

John did no more than narrow his eyes. It caused Ximene to widen her own eyes. ‘Absolutely not! I would never offer myself as “available” as part of a test.

John shook his head. Sorry, that is not what I was suggesting. in fact it is possible he has already failed that test, when we met previously he told me you would not be able to resist him. I was only thinking about how we might use him. He might be useful to us but I cannot bring myself to trust him. Have you noticed his air of superiority and his lack of concern for the feelings of others. The Earl of Salisbury who is very experienced believes that he knows far more than he should, about you and about your situation. Suppose we did find something valuable, would he betray us to keep it for himself?”

Ximene thought for a moment.’Íf we use him we could then mount a watch and if he tries to slip away, arrest him.’ She looked at John appealingly ‘You could arrest him couldn’t you John?’

‘I have no knowledge of Thierry’s skills in martial arts, and he is undoubtably powerfully built but I think I could, but if that is what you have in mind I had better make sure that my weapons are close to hand. What about when I am asleep?

‘We will have to lock him up at night.’

‘Will he accept that?’

Ximene thought for a moment ‘No idea, let’s find out.’

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel

List of Characters

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List of Places

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Pseudo History