Chapter 13: Les Tourelles
Lilly knocked on my hotel bedroom door at midnight, exactly as we had arranged at dinner earlier that evening. This was all part of her â€œlittle planâ€ that she had mentioned. She was excited and definitely up for an adventure of the consciousness kind. With that in mind I was happy to let her take the lead and we slipped out of the front door of the hotel unnoticed. Once on the pavement she instructed me to raise my hood and immediately I felt a change in my perception of the city.
I became much more focus and determined, it worked I felt a definite sense of dÃ©jÃ vu. We followed the tram tracks south towards the river. Passing through the deserted hexagon place Ste-Pierre du Martroi and continuing down the Rue Royale. Jehanneâ€™s statue cast interesting shadows and I could not resist touching it and absorbing its energy in the light of the full Moon. Lilly snapped away using a variety of aperture light stops on her camera to add atmosphere to the pictures. She was also determined to record the whole episode for analysis. This included video clips which she proceeded to make by flicking the switch on her camera.
Lilly chose to use the shadows for moving in which were strong due to the full Moon and clear sky. As wraiths in black we moved silently onward towards the pont Georges V. The whole feel was extremely clandestine and I could sense the connection with the past; the only thing missing was my crossbow and sword. Pausing briefly we absorbed the vista as the panoramic view of the river opened up. Then it was time to push on across the bridge with just the noise of the river for company we glided silently on. The lights made patterns of reflection on the moving water as we crossed over the many arches. I thought of the wave nature of the universe and the creation of our reality; were we real or were the reflections real? I felt that we were becoming living reflections of our past selves.
I stopped Lilly and asked her to record that idea on video lest I forgot later. The Moon shone full and was reflected by her white radiating cross which resonated in my mind; it was the perfect blazon for this kind of work and made identification easy. Stray quarrels from crossbows can be very messy if loosed at the wrong target. My mind was linking into Robert and the connection was getting stronger with every step across the bridge.
Once on the south bank we found ourselves at a traffic intersection. â€œSit down over there Yann and face the city, close your eyes and see if you can timeslip.â€ Lilly had foreseen this and knew that there would be too much traffic in the day time to focus. Now all was quiet and deserted; perfect!
Nothing happened; for fifteen minutes or so I tried to connect but there was not even a flicker of the coloured lights and well of memory. â€œLilly, have you any ideas why it is not working?â€
Lilly sat beside me and thought. She gazed in silence and I watch her face lose expression, the effect lasted only seconds and then she snapped back into the present. â€œOf course, we are in the wrong place! The cathÃ©drale Ste-Croix is further right than it should be. My senses tell me it is a couple of hundred metres east to the correct place where Les Tourelles and the original bridge stood.â€
â€œOf course Lilly; this must be a modern bridge in a different position! Well done, you are definitely the fairy sighted navigator as Yvette was.â€
â€œFollow me and I will match the position of Ste-Croix with what I saw then we will have the exact location in which to meditate.â€
We both stood up and dusted ourselves down then Lilly silently moved eastward along Quai des Augustins and I followed in her footsteps.
â€œThis is it!â€ Lilly stood by a simple stone column with an iron crucifix. At its base was a simple inclined plaque set on stone and built into the quai Les Tourelles wall that lined the river bank. â€œLetâ€™s focus our minds and sit here. The epicentre of events must still resonate in this position.â€
Lilly gazed momentarily at the city and then sat with her back to the stone plinth. I walked the little square and could feel the energy starting to trigger my memory. Then as I turned to face the city and Lilly I started to see coloured lights and the well of memory opening like a gate between myself and the plinth with its simple iron cross. I walked forward and... ... ...
She gave the armed populous hope. For too long they had suffered at the hands of the nobility and knightly class. Just as they had lost patience with their own lords and masters of war so they despised and loathed even more the English Godon scum besieging their noble city.
The time came when Jehanne was mystically inspired by her voices to lead an attack on Les Tourelles. All watched for a sign, whilst the army commanders deliberated on the best way to attack, but the populous and Jehanne were not listening. Suddenly she stood up, this small frail girl dressed in armour and clutching her precious sacred banner.
â€œVictory is ours if we attack now!â€ She declared with her delicate feminine voice as loud as she could above the clamour to arms.
The populous listened only to her; every ear was tuned to her voice, every eye strained to detect her slightest movement or intention. The white and gold Jhesus Maria banner was held aloft for all to see and everybody watched it wave in the wind , then they stood as one and started to move inexorably forward with the will and purpose of one body. For la Pucelle commanded more than just their flesh and blood, she commanded their souls. It was her spirit that moved them forward.
Divine will and the angels were with la Pucelle as she started her advance towards the outer breast works and bastille of Les Tourelles. The mass of the populous rose with her and broke into a trot behind her banner.
It looked for all quite impossible, a lone girl in armour with a white and gold banner charging an armed foe, entrenched behind solid defences.
Such a sight had never been seen before but in that lay the magic, for not one citizen wanted her to be harmed and all would sacrifice themselves before they would let their mystic angel fall. The armed wave enveloped the outer walls; scaling ladders rose and up climbed the first wave. The English were at first taunting and laughing but then as they saw the witch with her banner and the heaving unstoppable multitude pour across the ditch in front of their breastwork their laughter turned to terror and fear.
Upwards and onwards they poured trying to break the English spirit. Then it happened a lone English archer with a bees wax tipped armour piercing arrow took aim and fired his deadly shaft at la purcelle. With deadly accuracy it found its mark just above her right breast between shoulder and neck. Her diamond hard cuirass was punctured with a deafening thwack and the force knocked her backwards from the scaling ladder. She fell onto the heaving masses that followed her. They caught their fallen angel as she plunged towards the ground and thereby prevented further injury to her person.
The English cheered. â€œThe witch is dead!â€ They shouted loud and jeered. As others on the bastille battlement took up the call the populous started to lose heart. For they had seen their angel fall and doubt crept insidiously into their minds. Gradually they attacked with less urgency and vigour. Then as morale crumbled totally they fell back to their original positions. The English poured arrows onto them and many shields, like spiny hedgehogs, bore evidence of their onslaught and deadly penetrative power.
So they bore their fallen angel back to her tent and gathered around her. The call for help rose in their voices as they prayed for a miracle and the life of their angel to be spared.
Then I stepped forward I was dressed in black and bore the white cross of the Knight Hospitalier at my side another dressed the same but of slighter build; it was you my trusty Fleur dâ€™Lilly. My presence was enough to still the crowd who parted so that we could approach. For all recognised the badge that we bore; the Knights of St. John were long famous for their healing and deeds of heroism in the crusades.
I threw back my cowl and people caught a glimpse of my face with dark goatee beard. You smiled at the fallen angel and knelt beside her litter. She winced in pain and shock from the effects of shock. Under her breath she mumbled prayers to her Saints and the Madonna.
I drew a flask from my belt and gave the angel a few drops of a pungent brownish liquid. She relaxed and tried to smile through the pain. Her eyes penetrated my soul as she gazed intently at me.
You then placed a wooden peg in her mouth so that she could bite on it should the pain prove too intense. Then I took the arrow and broke the shaft so that her cuirass could be unbuckled and removed.
That done, I saw you unbuckle her chain mail suit as she leaned forward; the pain made the angel cry out which elicited a gasp from the crowd.
I knew that the arrow had no barbs and could see that it had penetrated through the rings cleanly which was a good sign as it meant that it could be withdrawn smoothly. Now she was down only to her bloody under garments so I took my dagger and cut her chemise, then I pulled the cut material apart and ripped it away to expose the wound.
I could see that the shaft had penetrated a good three inches into her frail feminine chest, but high enough not to have pierced any major organ. Now came the moment of truth, I pressed on her pale white flesh and grasped the shaft stub; with one quick firm pull I plucked it from her body.
She arched and screamed in pain as the deadly iron tip was drawn. I passed it to you as you have the better eye sight and you held it up to the candle light to inspect it. You nodded and said that it was clean and whole, no foreign matter clung to the vicious sharp iron warhead which was a good sign for it had pierced her flesh cleanly.
Taking another small flask containing cognac from my belt pouch I poured a small quantity into the wound to cleanse it. The angel winced. Then I squeezed her flesh and noted the colour of the suppurating liquid as it came back out of the wound. I was satisfied that it was clean and free from excessive amounts of blood so I smiled to reassure the angel. Thrice more I repeated the procedure whilst murmuring prayers and incantations to calm the fallen angel. You bathed her brow with a cloth soaked in cold water. We worked well as a team, I was proud of you, Yvette of Luxembourg. You smiled at me as you could read my thoughts.
Then came the moment to seal and bind the wound. I drew a candle from my pouch and lit its wick from the nearby candle providing illumination inside the tent. I waited for the wax to melt and then plugged the wound with its clear warm liquid. I began solidifying quickly and its dissipating warmth gave comfort to la Pucelle who smiled for the first time.
You reached into your haversack and produced some clean linen. Then you made a pad and placed it on the now sealed wound. I took her left hand and placed it on the pad and bade her to press firmly to keep it in place.
â€œYou will be fine my beautiful angel, fear not.â€ I whispered gently into her ear. â€œYou have many angels and Saints watching over you and you are much loved. We will not let harm befall you.â€
La Pucelle smiled and fire returned to her eyes. â€œI shall lead them back. My voices have promised victory this day and that I shall enter the city by the bridge tonight.â€
â€œYou shall, but first we must bind your wound. Then protect you as best we can, lest the English finish their deadly task with another arrow!â€
Yvette handed me clean linen strips and I began to bind the padded wound and shoulder so that it was comfortable and supported.
â€œYou will have to use your left arm to raise the banner my resurrected angel, but you will succeed. I thought you dead, the whole of France assembled here before Orleans thought you dead and most of all the English Godons on their ramparts thought you dead, but you will rise again as our Lord did and you will be victorious! My clairvoyant Lady, Yvette of Luxembourg, has foreseen your victory this day and I, Robert des Armoises with my Black Brethren, shall protect you from further harm.â€
Yvette dropped her cowl and the crowd gasped to see that she too was a girl of great beauty. For up to that moment she had been assisting anonymous. Several of the crowd crossed themselves and they whispered that it was a miracle for never had they seen women in arms before.
Jehanne laughed, â€œYou will steal my thunder, sister. You are truly welcome though in my hour of need. Together we will rid Orleans of the English Godons that infest its walls. Then we shall crown the Dauphin at Reims!â€
Robert laughed too as he knew that la Pucelle had regained her fire. Jehanne had been wounded at two past the clock but by four she was harnessed anew and emerged from the tent. A tremendous cheer arose in the crowd and spread like wildfire throughout the camp. In the distance the mystified English Godons became concerned for they could sense that the French were far from beaten.
Then came the supreme moment; Jehanne spied her sacred banner being taken forward without her permission by a lone soldier. She was furious and so incensed that she broke into an immediate trot towards the bastille of the English Godons. Reaching the bottom of the scaling ladder she scurried up it and grabbed the leg of the wayward soldier and started to tug hard at his boot in order to retrieve her banner. The soldier now somewhat unbalanced shook the banner from side to side as Jehanne attempted to pull him down. Cheering broke out in the army as they read this for a sign to attack! They cheered and offered prayers as they en masse ran at the walls of the bastille and started up the scaling ladders again. Everywhere they cheered and shouted for their angel that had been delivered from the jaws of death. The noise was deafening and a religious hysteria gripped them; over the battlements the fanatical zealots poured.
The English became terrified as they spied the witch they thought dead resurrected. It was a bad omen; many crossed themselves for they knew their fate was sealed. Then they cracked, the moment came when they were mentally beaten and the men-at-arms started to flee their positions. Only the hardened professional knights refused to be intimidated but they were few, only some 50 in number and the armed populous were legion.
Then came the spark to ignite the bonfire; Jehanne turned at the top of her scaling ladder having retrieved her banner and shouted at the top of her voice, â€œCITIZENS OF OLEANS, ATTACK NOW AND VICTORY SHALL BE YOURS - FOR GOD HAS SPARED ME AND OLEANS SHALL BE FREE!â€
The cheering reached a crescendo as the impulse of energy transmitted outwards from the source that was la Pucelle. The roar was deafening and rose above the clash of arms. The English Godons ran, only the hard core of professionals fought resolutely as they retreated towards Les Tourelles.
Coincidentally as the banner incident had spontaneously launched itself the professional commanders had pre-arranged that an incendiary barge should be floated in position under the draw bridge to the main gate of Les Tourelles. The haphazard timing was perfect! The barge with its lethal cocktail of tallow, oil, wood, tar and gunpowder ignited under the wooden bridge leading to the small chateau looking gate that guarded the entrance over the many arched bridge before Orleans. The fire raged and burnt the dry timbers so rapidly that the retreating men-at-arms were faced with a giant wall of flame as they fled.
The English Godons were now trapped between the armed populous screaming blue murder and a curtain of flame that was rapidly devouring their only escape route. Many braved the flames and some made it to sanctuary, but most faced with certain death by burning plunged into the chill waters of the mighty Loire.
The masses poured onto the rear guard of the English Godon knights as they continued to fight, but many less brave citizens had already stopped to plunder what could be had. Enough, however, remained to complete the victory. The fight was hopeless for the English. By the time it came for the professional knights to cross the burnt bridge the timbers were so charred that they collapsed under the weight of the press and all were drowned in the Loire River.
Victory was total. Jehanne climbed the ramparts of the bastille and walked among the cheering masses as they raised their pole arms in salute. She watched as they hacked down the hated English flags and banners from their poles. Reaching the edge of the burnt bridge she knelt and gave prayer to her saints and Mother Mary.
By eveningâ€™s fall she entered Les Tourelles with the other professional commanders across the hastily erected new bridge. As dusk approached she entered Orleans by the main gate across the many arched bridge that spanned the mighty Loire River exactly as she had predicted and had promised the citizens earlier in the day.
The legend was born and all of Orleans rejoiced that evening.
Watching from the shadows dressed all in black, with hooded cowls and displaying simple white radiating crosses, stood seven mysterious figures.
â€œSehr gut, Robert. Alles in ordernung!â€ A thick German accent broke the stillness of the evening twilight as the citizens scavenged among the corpses for anything of value. â€œYou have done well today; our little angel has performed well. Without your intervention it might have gone differently?â€
The voice belonged to a strongly built German knight with an intelligent and aristocratic character. I answered in German and I knew in my mind that he was my friend of long standing; Ritter FreiHerr Johannes Jakob von Eltz, a Dragon knight of renown. He hailed from Burg Eltz am Mosel and had been my companion in arms these past three years. I looked at my fellow Black Brethren, gathered like ravens at the feast they stood watching the final act of the dayâ€™s events. Their faces hidden by cowls but illuminated by the Moon and the flickering torches that dotted the scene of carnage; I knew them all very well, Ulrich Voss the healer, Ruprecht of MÃ¼den, Tomas, Guillaume and Thibault of Metz, the last 3 were my chosen men-at-arms. In their centre stood our priestess Yvette of Luxembourg weeping for the souls of the departed and praying; she turned to me, her lip quivered and she fell into my arms seeking comfort and reassurance. The site of war was too much for her innocent young heart.
The scene faded and I found myself at the foot of the cross on the quayside that marked the historical position of Les Tourelles. I held Lilly in my arms and could feel that she was still not in her body so I placed her gently against the plinth with her back to the wall. Feeling a little shaken I stood up straight to relieve the cramp in my arms and breathed the early morning air deep into my lungs. I noticed that Lilly was still sat in trance. As I watched, her face softened and her eyes flickered. Then she was suddenly back in the present with me.
â€œThat was quite interesting!â€ Her voice seemed distant but gathered strength as she continued, â€œwe shall have to compare notes back at the hotel and see if I experienced what you did?â€ With that she stretched and stood somewhat slowly so I helped support her and together we gazed at the view of Orleans in the early morning light.
Gradually the sky turned light blue on the horizon to the east and we could see the CathÃ©drale Ste-Croix catch the sunâ€™s early rays. With that as a sign we made our way back across the modern pont Georges V and followed the iron ribbon of the tram tracks all the way back to our hotel. Jehanne still sat majestically on her horse in the Martroi and we paused for a moment to reflect on our experience.
â€œShe was quite a girl!â€ Lilly broke the silence with a simple observation, â€œand now I have met her face to face. It was a very bloody and brutal time. I still have those images in my head. Hold me a minute, Yannâ€
I placed my arm around her and gave my brave confederate comfort. I could see tears in her eyes and one trickled down her cheek.
â€œAll those dead people, such a waste of life, it was so terrible. How can human beings do that to each other?â€
â€œItâ€™s because they canâ€™t see what we see and they donâ€™t know what we know; simple as that my beautiful Fleur dâ€™Lilly. They are evolving souls as we are but they havenâ€™t reached the stage that we are at yet; they will in time though.â€
After a few minutes Lilly regained her composure and we continued our journey to our hotel.
We said our goodnights and hit the sack at 5am having agreed to meet for brunch at midday in order to compare our timeslip experiences. Then the fatigue of oblivion over took me and I slept like the dead, my consciousness finally at rest.