John Stanley- 24th September 1355
You know John before we do anything else, I think we should seek some help. ‘I think we should talk to Estavan, the physician who looked after you when you were so ill. He suggested that when you had recovered he would like to see you again. We should do that anyway. However the important point is that whilst you were ill, we talked at length and he told me about his studies at Montpellier which included not just medicine but also the mathematics of the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians and some science. We should ask him for advice! It can do no harm and it may be important!
They rode up to St Ferriol and called on Estavan. Ximene explained that they were investigating aspects of her inheritance and that they had discovered the three-dimensional map
Estavan smiled broadly. ‘That is just what I am looking for, a chance to do something different. Give me a little time to organize my affairs and I will join you at the chateau,’
Estevan listened carefully as John and Ximene, talking in turns explained the significance of the map and the lines John had drawn on it. It took very little time for Estevan to grasp the implications.
He examined the map on the wall and compared it with the three-dimensional map. ‘ Wonderful, and yesterday from le pic it was possible to identify Blanchfort and Bezu.’
Ximene winced. ‘Well perhaps, but they were not particularly easy to identify. It was cold on top of Le Pic and we were not very well prepared. we will have to go back another day with warmer clothes Do you think we could follow the line through to the target?’
‘Yes, I do it is called extrapolation. from Blanchfort or bezu it will possible to see Le Pic and either side of the high point inset flags which line up. then it is just a matter of inserting addition flags along the same line. The Romans used this technique to build their roads which were in the main part straight,’ but we do have a different problem where do you stop this extrapolated line.? It will be necessary to plot the side of the triangle from Brenac or the north-south line through Soulaine to discover the point where they intersect.’ He ran his hand along the north-south line and chuckled. ‘Over the top of Soulaine and then close to the top of Cardhu, we would have to become mountain climbers to plot that route! Perhaps we will look at Brenac first.’
They were up early the next day. John, for the first time since the battle of Monsegur, carried his weapons. Ximene attached the small crossbow to her saddle and put all the ten remaining arrows in her saddlebag.
After Estevan arrived, they took the precaution of walking the horses along the stream until they were well clear of the Château but then they then mounted and rode at a steady canter down the valley in the opposite direction from the training ground and back into the wider world. They crossed the Aude River a short distance up-steam from Campagne Sur Aude, to avoid the curious eyes of the citizenry. They then set out up the valley which they knew led to Brenac the point from which the North and South sides of the triangle diverged.
Brenac proved to be a delightful spot, with a few houses scattered either side of a little church. It was situated on the hillside alongside a waterfall. It was close to the head of the valley and therefore commanded imposing views to the north-east which they knew was the direction of the northern target. Because of the steep sides of the valley, it was not, however, a full panoramic view.
John was surprised and more than a little disappointed that they could not see Campagne sur Aude, as he knew that the north side of the triangle passed close by the little town. The only way to pinpoint the path of the sides of the triangle would be to ride to the ridge on the side of the valley which was hiding Campagne sur Aude. Hopefully, from there they would be able to see both Brenac and Campagne Sur Aude and plant a marker visible from both. With this as a guide, John believed they would have a much better idea of the line they were looking for.
It was surprisingly hard work. There were two ridges which prevented Brenac and Campagne Sur Aude being seen from each other. John had to climb a tree on the first ridge and tie a streamer to its upper branches to fix the alignment. Etevan clinbed a tree on the second ridge. To their disappointment, this first attempt did not line up and they had to repeat the whole process with two nearby trees. Finally, they were able to retire to Brenac and see the line to Campagne Sur Aude. and from Campage sur Aude see the line to Brenac.
John was initially pleased ‘Good, If the side of the triangle runs slightly north of this line then we have a good idea which group of mountains is the location of the northern target. He quickly became dissapointed. It was impossible to be specific, it was just too far away.
Estevan cupped his chin in his hand. ‘We do not know how far to the north the correct line is. Over these distances we need only a small error to be miles out at the target.’
John could not hide his disappointment. ‘It will take weeks if not months to mark the path. And then there is the question of the other line to the southern target. He nodded towards the steep hill on the far side of the valley. ‘Straight over the top of that!’
Estevan sighed. ‘There must be a way, can we go back and look at the three-dimensional model again.’
Back at Mazerou, Estevan produced a wooden disc around the circumference of which were marked regular subdivisions of the circle. The center of the disk had been cut away to be replaced with cross wires, which allowed him to make measurements from any point on the map using the crossed wires as a sighting device.
‘The northern side of the triangle is 34 degrees north of east. The angle between it and the southern side of the triangle is exactly 66 degrees., which means that the southern side of the triangle runs 32 degrees south of east, He smiled This gives us additional information we can use at every point on the line we extrapolate. Once we mark out the direction of north we can check the angle to the next point on the line.
‘And how do we know where north is?’ Ximene asked hesitantly.
‘At noon, every day, the sun is directly north.’
John shook his head. ‘I was wrong, it won’t take months. It will take years.’
It was at that very moment, unannounced and without any warning that Thierry D’Arques returned.