42 — 24th September –Arrogance — Copy

John Stanley – 22nd September 1355

Thierry entered the room as if he owned it. John found himself motionless, too surprised to do anything. When he did move  forward to block Thierry’s progress into the room, it was too late!

Thierry ignored John and advanced towards Ximene and the map. ‘This is remarkable’ he said, as though no one else in the room had ever seen it. ‘It looks as though this triangle 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 felt the same resentment he had experienced at Muret. What was it about this man? He had only been in the room for seconds and already he was trying to impress Ximene, trying to make other people seem irrelevant.

At the same time John could not help but be impressed. Thierry had only looked at the map for an instant and yet he had summarized its purpose admirably. What is it about this undoubtably clever man which causes me so much concern?

He remembered that the Earl of Salisbury had shared his concerns.
What was it the Earl had said? Learn to trust your feelings!

Thierry launched into a series of questions.
“Which area does this map cover?”
“Is it local to the Château?”
“Where did you get this from?”

Ximene made no  attempt yo answer. ‘I don’t think that is any of your business. In any case, this is our private room which you entered without invitation and I would now like you to leave.’

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

Thierry returned Ximene’s fiery glances with a calm 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. I have no idea what you have stumbled across here but it would not surprise me if what we are looking at is quite possibly a treasure map. Do you realize that? Do you know what kind of treasure?’

Estevan 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 readily agreed realizing that Estevan was opening the opportunity for further conversation, in private, and away from Thierry.

Once Estevan had left the room Thierry shook his head. ‘Be careful not to mix with the likes of him. He looks like a Moor to me and you cannot trust them.’
Ximene protested immediately. ‘That man, whom you say we cannot trust, saved John’s life, will you please leave our room, wait for us in the cellar below.’

Thierry did not move.  ‘I have come to find and possibly rescue Don Fernandino, do you either of you know were he is?

Ximene  frowned. ‘We do know where Don Fernandino is and he will return soon. There will be no need to rescue him.’

Thierry leaned forward ‘Soon?’

‘A week possibly two weeks, no longer!’

Even whilst Ximene was speaking Thierry continued his examination of the map. ‘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’

John bit his lip and then took a deep breath.  How, he wondered can someone with so little feeling for others be so astute?

Thierry continued to talk. ‘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 what you say is correct, that he will be away for a week or more, we should go to those targets and see what we find!’

John looked at Theirry quereously. ‘ I have tried to track this line here.’ He pointed to the side of the pentacle running from Brenac to Campagne sur Aude . It is not easy,  the ground undulates. iy took nearly a whole day to identify the line,’

Thierry wrinkled his nose ‘Look at this would you? Someone has done all the work for us.’ He produced a small box from his pocket, removed a small cylinder from the box and carefully mounted a rod onto a central post. The inside of the cylinder was lined with white enamel scribed with a multitude of vertical lines . “Compass, a simple sailor’s tool, ”

He laid the compass on the table beside the map.  He then spun the map around until  the devils line was running parallel to  the rod. He then laid the compass on the map at the northern target.

‘Look at this. The  line which runs to Brenac from the northern target runs at an angle of 56 degrees south of west or if you prefer 34 degrees north of east if viewed from Brenac.’

He then bent down. ‘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!We dont need to know about the exact path of any of these lines, only the geography of the area immediately around the target.’

John nodded and stroked his chin. He was impressed.

Ximene broke the silence. ‘Thierry can I have a few minutes to talk privately with John.’

Thierry did not reply.

Ximene lifted her head gazing directly into Thierry’s eyes.  ‘Thierry?’

Therry glared at Ximene, and then at John but eventually 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, especially in the use of that device capable of identifying north. I know we could do similar things using the fact that at noon each day the sun is directly to the south. To have that facility at any time of the day is exactly what we want.’

John ran his hand across his eyes. ‘Is there any way we can test whether Thierry is a Cathar or a very believable impostor?”

Ximene thought for a moment. ‘Well… we could question him about Cathar beliefs but if he is a clever impostor, he could have learned all that.  I can  answer questions about the faith of the Church of Rome.’ She hesitated. ‘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”. No one brought up in the Cathar faith would ever make such an 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’s eyebrows raised. ‘And would you…

Ximene’s eyes flashed ‘Absolutely not! He is a very attractive man but I would never offer myself as “available” as part of a test!’

John shook his head ‘Sorry, it’s what I thought you were suggesting. i am very pleased I was wrong. He certainly would be useful to us but I could not bring myself to trust him. The Earl of Salisbury, who is very experienced, believes that Thierry knows far more than he should. Suppose we did find something valuable, would he betray us to keep it for himself?’

Ximene  hesitated. ‘Íf we use him we could then mount a watch and if he tries to slip away, arrest him.’

‘Hmmm now he has found us here we should probably do that anyway.’

She looked at John appealingly ‘You could arrest him couldn’t you John?’

I have serious reservations. He is very well built . Should be strong.
However I have no knowledge of how well he can fight. As you know it is necessary to learn how to fight. His sword looks as if it is more for decoration than serious use, but… I just don’t know!’

He pulled on his sword. ‘If that is what you have in mind I had better make sure that my weapons are close to hand. First let me talk to him.’

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.