87 — Hades

Ximene Trencavel

‘Come on John.’ Ximene turned and ran back down the steps.

John shouted down to those waiting below. ‘ Get away to a safe distance, Ximene and I are going to try to save the horses.’

Both Don Fernandino and Phillipa shouted objections, but John turned and followed Ximene.He looked at her blankly looked at her blankly.

‘What have you got in mind?’

‘Can’t you open the gates?’

‘ Not time.’

‘ There must be something.’

John screwed up his face. ‘Heat and smoke are both potential killers.’ He looked back at the advancing fire front and raised his eyes to look beyond it. However, the place of the Golden Eagle is less than one-quarter of a mile to the south. If we can reach there we will be relatively safe. It is a huge open space.’

Ximene shook her head. ‘But how do we get there? The fire front is wall to wall’

‘Horses at full tilt can run at nearly thirty miles an hour, at least for short periods. They can, therefore, cover one-tenth of a league in about thirty seconds. If we could protect both ourselves and the horses against heat and smoke for thirty seconds we could well escape! We must ride through the wall of flame.’

Ximene looked at him apprehensively. This was the man she had chosen brave, decisive, If she had not sent him away probably none of this would have happened, but was this a viable plan?

‘Curtains’ John shouted.‘Look for the most exclusive residence, we need heavy curtains.’

They started to search the houses immediately adjacent to the stables. They did not have to look far. The third house they entered had heavy purple drapes to every window. They pulled them down and hurried back to the stables.

John dashed to the drinking trough ‘Soak them. Soak them in water, it will help resist the heat and absorb the smoke’.

It took a lot longer than they really had to soak the curtains in the small trough. By now the crackling of the advancing fire and the roar of the established fire behind it were deafening.

Ximene released every horse in the stables. She could not look after them all but at least if they were free they had some chance of surviving. Helios and Selene were unsaddled and a curtain was draped over the front and rear quarters of both horses. Because the effect was to make them feel cooler neither horse objected. The saddles and bridles were then replaced. A strap was tied round by each horse’s nose to ensure the fullest possible coverage and then, carefully, holes were cut to give the horses adequate vision.

John and Ximene then turned their attention to themselves. They mounted their own horse and covered themselves with a curtain. Each of them then cut holes in their own curtain to allow them to see clearly.

Ximene hesitated trying to estimate the risks.

John grabbed Selene’s reins. ‘There is no point in waiting. if we don’t move, the drapes would give us minimal protection.’

Ximene shugged. They urged their horses out of the stables and raced across the fire front seeking the widest street which was least affected by the fire. There was no perfect solution. They turned and retraced their steps. It seemed to be getting worse by the second.

John screamed, ‘This one will have to do and charged towards the inferno. For a moment Ximene thought she could not follow but Selene made the decision for her, She found herself charging past John past him, Both horses slowed as they approached the fire front but suddenly again took over control from the riders. It was as if they smelled safety ahead of them. The problem was not just heat and smoke but debris blocking the road. Helios quickly regained the lead threading his way through a maze of burning timbers and reacting instantly to debris falling from several buildings adjacent to the street. He hurdled major obstacles. Selene followed willingly putting her trust in her brother and her beloved mistress. Ximene was suddenly unafraid; she, in turn, had implicit trust in Selene and she realised in John. Nevertheless, she had been accused of being a witch. Now she was riding through Hades!

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.