All Things Are Lights – Day 52 of 200

Ah, I chose a sharp-pointed lance by mistake. How could I have made such a terrible error? May God forgive me!

He almost laughed aloud.

And Nicolette, then she will know how much I feel for her. I cannot give her a song, but I can give her a man’s life.

Many a woman grows hungry for love at the sight of spilled blood.

He imagined Nicolette, eyes heavy-lidded with lust, reaching for him.

God grant it may fall out so, he thought, sighing with pleasure and reaching again for the golden goblet.


Even though the sun had set many hours before, the heat of August lingered in the house, and Roland had gone out into his garden. A half-finished phrase of melody was circling about in his mind, and with the help of his lute he was trying to capture it. Diane sat beside him, home this evening for once, listening quietly as he picked at the strings.

The rear door of his house burst open, and Roland saw there the silhouette of Lucien, his cook.

“Master! Perrin is hurt!”

The shock in Lucien’s voice struck more dread into Roland than his words.

How badly was Perrin hurt? Roland put his lute down on the bench and followed Lucien through the kitchen and into the candle-lit front room where he saw Perrin lying on the big trestle table, a blanket covering him from the waist down. As Roland entered, Perrin gave a shivering groan and turned his head toward him. Beads of sweat dotted Perrin’s forehead. Roland had seen that look of agony and appeal before, in the eyes of men dying of painful wounds. God, let it not be.

After looking at Roland, Perrin closed his eyes and seemed to lose consciousness.

Adrienne, Lucien’s wife, and Martin, their son, stood in their nightshirts beside the table. In the flickering shadows, Roland saw horror frozen on their faces.

At Perrin’s head stood a tall man with strong, aquiline features and a long black beard. He wore a rose-colored tunic, and it took Roland a moment to recognize him. When he did, he warned himself to be on his guard. It was Guido Bruchesi, the Templar. At Queen Marguerite’s singing contest he had been wearing a white mantle adorned with a red cross.

Saint Michel! What is this Templar doing here?

Bruchesi bowed his head to Roland, and Roland saw sympathy in his eyes.

“What happened? How bad is it?” Roland asked without preliminary.

Guido pulled back the blanket without speaking.

“Ah, Jesus!” Adrienne screamed and covered her face with her hands.

Perrin was naked below the waist and his belly and thighs were smeared with blood, the hair around his privates matted with it. A strip of blood-soaked cloth was tied tightly around the base of Perrin’s member. Dark red blood puddled on the table between his partly opened legs.

Roland’s stomach felt as if someone had driven a knife into it and twisted. He would kill whoever had done this. He had to.

Young Martin staggered out of the room, choking and retching.

“We must loosen the tourniquet soon,” said Guido. “I gave him such battlefield aid as I know.”

Roland turned to the Templar. His hands, as if they had a will of their own, grasped at the man’s tunic, crumpling the clean linen. “Who did this?” Roland choked out.

“Time to speak of that later, Messire,” responded the Templar. “Let me take him to the Paris Temple. We Templars know as well the healing of wounds as the giving. I would have brought him with me at once, but he insisted I take him to you.”

Perrin, even in his agony, tries to protect me, Roland sobbed to himself. He knows that unconscious he might let slip some secret of mine. God, I love this man. And this happened to him in my service, because of me, I know it. How can I ever repay him?

Guilt clawed at Roland’s heart.

Diane’s voice suddenly broke in, low but firm. “We can care for him ourselves.”

Roland swung around. In his anguish he had forgotten that she was here.

A new terror seized him: a fugitive heretic, confronted by a Catholic monk whose order was the most powerful in Christendom. She must not stay. The danger was too great. He tried to signal her with his eyes, but she wasn’t looking at him.

“Diane,” he said sharply. “Allow me to present the Sire Guido Bruchesi. Sire Guido is a member of the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon. Sire Guido, my sister, Diane.”

“Madame.” Guido bowed. “I am honored to meet you.”

“And I you, Sire Guido,” said Diane. “Now you will excuse me if I get on with helping this poor man.” She turned to the cook. “Lucien, light a fire and heat water. Fill a brazier with hot coals and put a big carving knife in it until the blade is red hot. Adrienne, get clean cloths, and have your son bring wine — three full pitchers.”

She turned back to Roland, ignoring his pleading look. “This is a cruel wound, but it need not be mortal. I need some things from my room.” She hurried out.

Cold sweat formed beads under Roland’s tunic. She was giving herself away. Her skill in medicine would immediately reveal her as a Cathar perfecta.

“Does the lady’s husband live with you as well, Sire Orlando?” Guido asked casually.

“Sadly, she was widowed some years ago,” said Roland. “She came here from Perugia to help me manage my household.”

Tears had begun to burn Roland’s eyes as he looked at Perrin. He knew the Templar was watching him, but he was not ashamed.

He was remembering another time, two years ago, when Perrin had come back to this house. But that time it had been early in the morning, and Perrin had been singing.

“Where the Devil have you been?” Roland had asked with mock severity.

Perrin’s face was alight with pure bliss. “Nowhere near the Devil, master. All last night I was playing in the fields of Heaven. I think God’s creation can hold no joy equal to helping a young woman discover for the first time all the pleasure her body — and mine — can give her.”

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)