45 The Equinox

‘They are by nature suspicious, defensive people. Anything which is in any way unusual is witchcraft or worse. Strangers are to be suspected of any foul deed and are to be imprisoned and abused at their whim. You could put yourselves in great danger’

John Stanley – 23rd September 1355

One of the delights of the tower room was that it was warmed very quickly by the rising sun.

It was possible to lie in bed and watch the sunrise. The gentle glow of sunrise soon became a glare. Although it was then necessary to turn over to avoid the glare, it was possible to luxuriate in the radiant warmth.

This morning was different. John turned over but before he could relax, he saw on the wall behind the bed a very strange effect.

The pennant on the wall had ceased to be something they even noticed, but now, in the early morning light streaming in through the window the cracks were highlighted. There were two extra lines which ran outwards from the star, until they made perfect intersections with both the upper and lower sides of the pennant, where the pennant met the lance.

John shook Ximene’s shoulder.’Ximene! Ximene! Look! On the wall.’

Ximene appeared disinterested. John tried again. ‘Ximene look!
Eventually, she lifted her head. The additional lines seemed to get brighter and brighter.

Ximene jumped into a kneeling position. She immediately cast a shadow which obscured some of the additional features. ‘How can this be happening?’

She waved an arm which created a moving shadow. ‘It is obviously something to do with that window. Is it like the solstice at Monségur? Is today some special day?’

Then, even more urgently. John quickly! John the illumination is moving… as the sun continues to rise…it is fading!’

John did not attempt to copy the diagram. He jumped up, grabbed the blue makeup bottle and brush and feverishly traced the lines directly onto the wall.

Ximene ran around him, backing away to get a clearer view. ‘Why? What on earth does it mean?’

“I have no idea… Oh! I now think the whole image on the wall is a map, but what kind of a map? What we thought were cracks in the wall are actually part of a map, physical features, perhaps rivers. What we thought was a pennant is probably not a pennant!

Ximene interrupted. ’What is now more obvious is that there are two focus points, where the sides of what we thought was a pennant interset with what we thought was a lance. The additional lines pass through those same points. For each focus point, three lines all intersecting, it must mean something’

The display had now faded away. John ran to the window, and observed that there were lines embedded in the glass, which he had previously thought were just imperfections. John looked again at the wall.

Ximene continued to speak. ‘Oh… John. That isn’t just a star it is a pentacle, probably a perfect pentacle, I have read about them. She frowned ‘I can’t remember exactly what I read except that when astronomers observed the movement of the planet Venus, the movements plotted a perfect pentacle. If this is indeed a map, the intersections may be precise targets, which this strange display was intended to help us find.’

She looked with satisfaction at John’s completed handiwork. She could hardly contain her excitement. ‘ John I know we both wanted a hard training session this morning, but can we abandon it? I don’t think I can do anything else until I have a better understanding of the message we have been sent! ’

John looked at the additional lines. ‘It all seems so precise. The upper and lower intersections do seem to be what you have called “targets”. Oh, If the lines have something to do with a plan of this area perhaps we should make a copy of what is on the wall and compare it with the three-dimensional map on the landing.

They ate a simple breakfast and did just that. In the event, it was the rivers, which provided the key. When they looked at the three-dimensional map they realised there was a direct correlation between the valleys on the map and what they had originally thought were cracks in the wall of the tower room. It is a map and where the three lines intersect, must be targets.’

They left a message for Maurice asking for help.

There was a frustrating delay of over an hour before he responded. however when he arrived he was in a jovial mood. ‘And What can I do for you.’

‘We wondered if you could tell us a little more about the map?”

They climbed up to the landing.

Maurice smiled. ‘ What do you want to know?

‘Well, for instance, why would the Bishops throw it out.’

Maurice smiled. ‘I have always thought it was rather beautiful but you are the first of my visitors to show any interest in it. I don’t really know but I got the impression that the bishops thought it represented some heretical message.’

Heretical? A Map?

Maurice blinked and then screwed up his eyes. ‘Traditionally the whole of this area has been known as the God’s Holy Ground, In Occitan Compestre de Dieu. There is, I think, a title on the underside of the map which describes it as such. Why? Well there are five high points which are supposed to be the points of a perfect pentacle.’

Ximene glanced at John ‘Pentacle?’

Maurice raised his eyebrows. ‘And that means something to you?’

Ximene shook her head. ‘Not really. but it is something I have read about.

‘This Pentacle?’

‘No just in general, how they are geometrically precise

Maurice nodded and used his finger as a pointer. ‘The centre of the remnants of Rhedae is one point’ he slid his finger across the map.’ The location of the chateau of Blanchfort is another. His finger continued to move clockwise across the map. The hill of Soulaine another, Then the Templar fortress at Bezu and finally the highest point at the western edge of this ridge running across the whole area. It too has been given a name, Serre de Lauzat’

With her own finger Ximene touched all the points of the pentacle Maurice had followed. ‘Rhedae, Blanchfort, Soulaine, Bezu, Lauzat.?’

Maurice nodded. ‘Yes and some people think that the hills marking the pentacle are so precise that it must be a miracle, a configuration created by God. Not a view I would share but it is certainly quite remarkable. If you look carefully you will see outside of the area covered by the pentacle there is a faint triangle. I think that it must have originally been engraved on the map but after years and years of polishing it is now hardly visible. I have always assumed it was intended to define the limits of “God’s Holy Ground” but it covers a wider area than the area covered by the pentacle.

John interrupted and also ran his hands over the eastern and southern edges of the map ‘But these points you have identified are not the highest points on the map.’

Maurice winced.  ‘You are correct, think of the whole of the plain around Rhedae as a relatively flat shelf on the northern edge of the Pyrenees. To the east and south of that shelf are the real Pyrenees. He walked around the map until he was stood alongside John running his hand along the southern side of the map as he moved. ‘Cardu, Bugarach, Guinxe, Quiére – all very impressive, all higher than the Points of the pentacle. However the points of the pentacle are still high points on the plain.

And that is not the end of it. When the Roman Empire converted to the Church of Rome, all distances were then measured from Jerusalem. When the Western Roman Empire fell and the Franks dominated most of Europe, the Franks decided that the point of measurement should be Paris. By accident or design, the north-south line through Paris at the same Latitude as Jerusalem is 666 leagues west of Jerusalem. 666, the number of the beast.!

This line passes somewhere though the east of this area. Thus God’s Holy Ground is invaded by the Devil’s Line. Now there is something to think about.

Heresy? there is also a belief that the pentacle is a guide to the final resting place of Jesus and Magdelaine and that the holy grail is not a chalice but Magdelene’s womb. I think the bishops believed these stories. Marice chuckled. ‘ Now. I don’t, but I suppose it might be a guide to a different kind of treasure.’

John and Ximene exchanged glances. John pinched his nose between his fingers lips. Treasure!

‘At various stages over the last five hundred years, this area has been gradually depopulated. At one stage it was last Visigothic stronghold north of the Pyrenees. The Visigoths had a fabulous treasure which some say was the treasure taken from the Temple of the Jews in Jerusalem by the Roman Emperor Titus. it is said that the Visigoths sacked Rome and took the treasure away with them, No one knows what happened to the treasure. It was last seen in Toulouse just before they were driven out by the Franks. They maintained their stronghold here for a very long time but eventually were again driven out. They left for Aragon and further south. He sighed ‘Now, other than a small village, it is deserted! There are recurring questions about what happened to the riches. Some people say that the whole of the Visigothic treasure was transported to Toledo, the Visigothic capital south of the Pyrenees. Others say that the final fall of Rhedae, in the face of Frankish aggression, was so rapid that there was no opportunity to move the treasure.

If the second group is correct the treasure may still be here, somewhere!

John scratched the back of his head. You told us about the east of the map, but you never mentioned the west of the map or the rivers?’

Maurice once again he ran his finger over the map. ‘See here is Mazerou, where we are now. The river just to the west is the Aude. The villages along the Aude starting at the south are Quillan.’ he jabbed the map with his finger. ‘Here’. He slowly moved his finger along the river to the north. ‘Campagne Sur Aude, Esperaza, Couisa, Alet Les Bains, Limoux, Carcassonne. Oh! and here on this small tributary to the Aude – the Brézihou, is Brenac. Brenac is at the very point of the triangle I just indicated to you .

John stroked his cheek. ’ Maurice, have you any knowledge, any idea of how the pentacle might give guidance to where the treasure might be hidden?’

‘No.’ Maurice was suddenly guarded, concerned. ‘Why are you asking? I hope you are not intending to visit these places! You have seen for yourselves that the countryside is deserted and you can explore it at will with no risk, but I must warn you. The towns and even the villages are another issue. The Franks took over this Château for their own purposes and the towns and villages have also been repopulated by them. The current inhabitants are by nature suspicious, defensive people. Anything which is in any way unusual is witchcraft or worse. Strangers are to be suspected of any foul deed and are to be imprisoned or reported to the inquisition. You could put yourselves in great danger.’

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.