Chapter 20: Reims
The weekend proved memorable for several reasons. Revisiting the cropcircle at Forest-sur-Marque seemed all the more relevant with Roselinde present for she had been interested in them since their inception in modern times around 1976. As a witness to their development and with years of experience at detecting human made ones it was gratifying to know that she considered this to be the genuine article whatever that meant; with such an esoteric phenomenon?
She conducted a small ceremony of thanksgiving to the circle makers which had echoes of fairy pagan roots totally lost to modern minds. She was an old and very wise soul. Her exquisite elfin beauty belied her age as she seemed the very incarnation of the corn goddess Ceres made mortal.
I was completely enchanted in her presence. Roselindeâ€™s charisma seemed to flow and envelope me in a golden light. Lilly observed all of this dispassionately for she had taken centre stage in our quest, at least for the moment. Together however they were like sisters, part indeed of the historical sisterhood of dragon princesses and so were amicable partners.
Lille had no need to sell its charms for the blessed city of the north sold itself into Roselindeâ€™s heart with ease. Its grand 19th century architecture triumphed over more primitive distant memories. The highlight of course was the evening soiree at Vincentâ€™s house in La Madeleine. He lived not far from Lilly so it was my turn to walk to her suburb. I introduced Roselinde to Deborah Dubois or DD as we knew her and they hit it off immediately which surprised me as they were polar opposites in terms of academic preferences. Roselinde was extremely literary in her interests and Deborah an analytical mathematician but again they had a certain mysterious chemistry. It was as if they were a double take from the same progenitor, identical to look at, so much so that one could easily be substituted for the other.
Both were very similar feisty characters and they appeared more as beautiful enigmatic cosmic twins than strangers. There was obviously some unknown link in the past between them but as of yet I had no idea as to what that could possibly be. They looked like twin sisters with the exception that Deborah was slightly stronger built than Roselinde who appeared the more elven of the two. Both were warriors, independent of mind, muscular, slim yet powerful and with a razor sharp wit. They did not suffer fools gladly! I sat back and quietly observed in detail the interaction that I was witnessing, whilst my subconscious made mental notes on the comparison between these two stunning femmes fatales. Both must have been leaders of men in past lives, of that I had no doubt!
By the end of the evening I felt pretty sure that Deborah must also possess the dragon genetic code as she seemed to exponentially radiate energy when in the presence of Lilly and Roselinde. I could only liken them to Uranium fuel rods in a nuclear reactor, the closer their proximity the more the neutrons get excited and cause the rods to heat up!
Later whilst randomly searching the internet on this point I was to discover a book written by Nicholas de Vere entitled The Dragon Legacy in which he estimates that some 10% of the European population carries to this day the dragon gene and he further confirmed my observation as to the exponential increase in psychic energy when dragon princesses come together. It was as though I had discovered a whole new â€œlost worldâ€ that I never knew existed and more incredibly I was part of it, past, present and I now assumed the future.
The interaction experiment proved a total success as dragons always get on, not only physically and on a conscious level but also and more importantly at a subconscious level too. There was a definite historical connection between the two of them as though they had shared a common past. It wasnâ€™t just me that felt this for their physical similatrity caused several comments from the other party goers who thought that they must surely be twins or at the very least closely related. After the party had drawn to a close I walked Roselinde and Lilly home. Then I departed to wander under the star lit night back to Mons-en-Barouel and Place Alexandre Dumas.
Sunday morning was declared a morning of rest as I had a surprise for Roselinde and Lilly that I had yet to tell them about. I had managed to book three seats for that eveningâ€™s performance of Belliniâ€™s La Sonnambula at the opera house. So I had cancelled the dinner date at the Carte Blanche restaurant near my house and rebooked an early evening meal at the Le Pot Beaujolais opposite to the Grand Opera House in the Place du Theatre. It was one of my favorite restaurants so I knew that we would have a first class evening of gastronomie et culture â€“ câ€™est superb!
The whole day was a monumental success. Roselinde was reduced to tears of pleasure at the performance of Amina, the titular Sleepwalker, who performed all aspects of the famous high tessitura with the exquisite trills and florid technique required equisitely. It was definitely a musical feast for the ears and food for the soul. The joy was accentuated further as I had kept the girls in suspense, not telling them of my surprise until the last moment when we sat enjoying our starter of oysters in the restaurant! That night I was rewarded with several hugs and kisses as we said good night at the VAC station. We then parted and took our respective automatic double carriage metro trains home.
I slept extremely well as I had packed earlier that Sunday morning knowing that I would be late to bed. I didnâ€™t know whether the girls had done the same but I knew they would be ready for anything at a moments notice so I didnâ€™t have any real fears.
We rendezvoused at Gare Lille Europe twenty minutes prior to boarding the TGV for Champagne-Ardenne. Roselinde seemed to be in awe at the effortless way we moved around without resorting to the car. I explained that it was all part of living a la mode in a modern progressive French city. In England people seemed to strive to live in the countryside where as in France the opposite was true. The city contained all the art and culture that one could wish for so urban living was dâ€™rigueur.
The same had been true of medieval life. The cities of France had been the great theatres of the Jehanne dâ€™Arc story. The English may have won a couple of field battles but the French had won the sieges and eventually the war, although it did last a hundred years it has to be said.
Englandâ€™s William Shakespeare had dined out very nicely on the stories generated by the likes of HenryV and Henry VI but it was George Bernard Shaw who much later would write Saint Joan the definitive play about our precious little maid - La Pucelle. The truth that we were now uncovering was very far from the simple legendary mythos that he and hundreds of others had penned in the 600 intervening years. I reflected silently, but hey Iâ€™m a journalist and people like a good story so I mustnâ€™t complain too loudly plus I was enjoying the conspiracy angle which we were uncovering.
I had already booked the TGV tickets for Saumur in the Loire valley, and Rouen which would be the big one. I had the feeling that the pace of our investigation was accelerating exponentially and that we would soon be swept away as the story took on a life of its own.
Now we were off to the coronation of the Dauphin, following in the footsteps of the miraculous bloodless march from the Loire to the gates of Reims in 1429. It was astounding feat forJeanne had invoked the power of the Lord of Hosts and the English had surrendered to a man without an iota of resistance. She had even penned a letter to the Duke of Burgundy inviting him to attend the coronation service, now that was definitely not the actions of a peasant girl! I voiced my thoughts to the girls as we sped through the flat landscape of Picardy towards Champagne-Ardenne and our date with destiny. The girls discussed the amazing feminist power that had being shown by a very modern Jeanne dâ€™Arc and even more so by her powerful mentor Yolande of Aragon. For she was the true power behind the Armagnac throne of the Dauphin who would soon be Charles VII, the true anointed king of France, once the ancient ceremony instituted by Clovis I had been performed. It was a sacred moment of public proclamation that signified the zenith of their achievement and Jeanne dâ€™Arc had been there in person to see it happen; a frail young girl in armour with her sacred white Jhesus Marie banner surrounded by the aristocratic nobility of France. It was an absolute pure miracle; a single iconic moment in history that would echo down throughout the centuries.
With such a high powered and interesting discussion the time went rapidly by. So much so that we almost forgot to alight onto the platform of the ultra modern purpose built TGV station at Champagne-Ardennne. We carried on the conversation in the midst of the fields of France as we waited for the connecting TER train that would take us the short seven minute journey into the heart of Reims.
Roselinde was becoming quite excited, â€œI love Champagne!â€ She exclaimed enthusiastically, â€œI can almost taste it from here.â€
Lilly laughed and commented, â€œDiamonds may be a girlsâ€™ best friend but Champagne always knows how to show a girl a good time!â€
â€œHush you two, listen to yourselves this is a dignified historical journey into Frances noble past and all you can think of is having a good time!â€ I put on my best annoyed school masters voice which had no effect what-so-ever! Both girls were transported back to their days of youth and stuck their tongues out back at me; they then looked at each other and giggled in unison. Where upon I burst out laughing, â€œOne thing the French know how to do is â€“ party!â€ I said then broke into a very retro disco move to show how trendy I was!
Lilly gave me a playful slap on the shoulder, Yann Baillieu, you are the limit!â€ I was spared further playful comments as the train arrived and we boarded. Within minutes we had arrived at Reims main station in the centre of the city. I was then that I noticed Roselindeâ€™s look of horror. In an instant the playful mood had dispelled and a palpable quiet descended.
Despite my frivolity I had the presence of mind to observe that the stark change had occurred at the point Roselinde had physically set foot on the ground as she alighted from the train. Her face had changed in an instant, from one of jollity to one of abject horror and pain. The colour had drained from her cheeks which were now bone white with a greenish tinge.
â€œAre you alright, Roselinde?â€ I enquired as I stood square in front of her and grasped her shoulders with both hands in an effort to snap her back into the real world. I was conscious from my own journey that memories could be triggered at any instant and that one needed a reality check. Physical touch had the ability to pull the experience back from the abyss of the shadows to the present.
â€œYes, er yes, Iâ€™m f-f-fine, you probably think Iâ€™m a real bore?â€ She said in a weakened voice as the reality of the present day space time clicked back into place.
â€œDonâ€™t worry we have both been there before, we know exactly how you feel, although we donâ€™t know what you have experienced. Welcome to our world!â€
Lilly placed her arm around Roselinde to lend comfort and support. She then noticed some strange reddish blue marks that had appeared around Roselindeâ€™s neck; they looked for all the world like pressure bruises.
â€œIt was awful, I felt a constriction around my throat and suddenly had trouble swallowing and breathing. My whole body started to go into shock. Your actions saved me from further discomfort.â€
â€œYes, you seemed to snap out of it once I touched you and applied pressure to you shoulders.â€ I continued to hold her delicate slender hand in reassurance as I escorted her to a nearby seat. The minutes ticked by like hours, Lilly somehow provided a drink and Roselinde gradually began to regain her natural colour. The marks were still visible but gradually fading. I took a moment to photograph them on my mobile phone camera as I was anxious to preserve some tangible evidence of what had transpired for later analysis. Roselinde began to regain her composure and I decided that the best course of action was to get her to the hotel as soon as possible so that she could rest.
Lilly took Roselindeâ€™s bag in tow and headed across to the park in front of the station. Taking the right hand path she led us towards the rue General Ducot.
â€œNot much further now the HÃ´tel Le Bristol is just down here on the right according to my Google Earth printout. Roselinde was too weak to comment and Lilly was struggling to drag two bags whilst consulting her map. I supported Roselinde with my arm around her waist and she reciprocated with her arm around my neck. The whole scene must have look totally out of place in the warm afternoon sunshine. Passers by tried to avoid eye contact as we progressed towards the hotel.
After what seemed hours but was in truth only minutes we had reached the pavement cafe that fronted the hotel. I sat Roselinde down and asked Lilly to order her a cognac whilst I went into the decadent chandeliered foyer to check in at the main desk. The hotel staff were most accommodating once I had explained the situation and had filled in the registration forms that made us officially guests. I collected two sets of keys without further problem. The young lady on the reception desk arranged for our bags to be taken to our rooms which meant that I could return to the cafe to sit with Roselinde and Lilly. The cognac had revived our patientâ€™s spirits and Lilly had ordered some organic Earl Grey tea for her as well.
â€œI know you donâ€™t take sugar but I have dissolved a cube in the tea to give you some energy. You still look very pale.â€ I was concerned as I did not know how Roselinde would react under post traumatic stress. Lilly and I had both now experienced several episodes of paranormal activity and knew how to cope. This was however all together more sinister and physical. The flash back or whatever had translated into actual physical symptoms which were clearly life threatening. I voiced my observations to Lilly and Roselinde who both nodded in silent agreement with my assessment of the situation.
â€œYou are right, Yann. We must be much more on our guard until we get to the bottom of this affair!â€ Lilly spoke in earnest tones as Roselinde sipped her tea. Finally she smiled at me so I knew that she was on the mend.
â€œYou donâ€™t have to continue with this if you donâ€™t want too and feel at all uncomfortable. We can return to Lille today. I will just change the tickets.â€
â€œNo, Iâ€™m determined to see this through. I have had this phobia about coming to France all my life and I want to get to the bottom of it!â€ Roselinde gave me a steely glance which meant that going back was not an option.
â€œCourage mon brave, tres bien!â€ I spoke softly and gave a reassuring smile, â€œHere is your key. Your room is next to mine and Lilly is going to share with you so that she can keep a close eye on you in case anything untoward happens. You need have no fear.â€
â€œI trust Lilly and yourself with my life. I do feel totally safe in your company.â€ Roselinde smiled up at me and I felt a deep connection going back many lives. A silent inner voice told me that it was not the first time that she had uttered those very words to me.
We sat relaxing in the afternoon sun for another half an hour. Then the girls decided to go up to their room in order to get changed into more comfortable exploring apparel.
â€œMeet you back here at 16:00hrs!â€ I said as I started to make some notes on the curious space time anomaly that had just occurred. As I sipped my cognac and then my coffee, I zoomed in on the picture I had taken on my mobile. The marks had the definite look of contusions caused by rope strangulation yet neither Lilly nor myself had witnessed any physical pressure being brought to bear on Roselindeâ€™s neck in the minutes leading up to the incident.
After several minutes I made my way up to my room which was next to the girls on the 1st floor. I changed into my grey cotton travel and trek jacket and matching cargo pants. I was now ready for the experiment. I was intuitively aware that Reims was Roselindeâ€™s journey as I had no feeling of connection at the deep subconscious level. Perhaps for me the events of 1429 hadnâ€™t been so memorable in this city. We would soon see?
I sat back down under the white parasols of the pavement cafe that belonged to HÃ´tel Le Bristol. Within a few minutes the girls reappeared. Lilly was dressed in her usual â€œready for anythingâ€ Lara Croft outfit with her Pentax camera slung around her youthful neck and Roselinde was in a khaki green safari suit. She looked every inch the quintessential English lady explorer crossed with a World War II theme. As if to accentuate the look she wore an olive British army scrim scarf that gave the whole ensemble a distinctive military feel. She looked intriguing. Her long blonde hair flowed to her shoulders and was held in place by her von Zipper sunglasses which were perched high on her head where they acted as an efficient Alice band. Around her neck she had an expensive Nikon D 900 SLR camera with a series of interchangeable lenses in cases strapped to her belt. On her back she also had a small hiking pack which seemed to bulge with who knows what? Certainly both girls looked similar in attire and accoutrements. I could see that there was a definite connection between them and that they both meant business.
I smiled and stood up as they approached the table. Lilly burst into life and was first to speak, â€œWhatâ€™s the plan, Yann?â€
â€œIâ€™m prepared to let the dice roll on this one, but I thought we would start with the cathedral as it was the focus of attention in 1429.â€ I voiced my thoughts as for me this trip was very much an open ended experiment.
Roselinde slid her sunglasses into place in the same fashion that a medieval knight would drop his visor before combat. â€œLetâ€™s go then!â€ She said with purpose and determination. It was a simple phrase but delivered with the urgency of a command or order. Her confidence was high, yet I could tell that she was nervous. With that we strode onto the paved surface of Place Drouet D'Erlon.
I let the girls lead the way as I wanted to observe the proceedings so they walked slightly in front of me. As we headed towards the golden winged victory monument in the direction of the cathedral the girls walked with all the presence and concentration of a couple of gunslingers on main-street at high noon. Roselinde even gripped her camera like a carbine and was busy shooting pictures on the move as we progressed. Just then all of a sudden she veered off to the right into a side street. This wasnâ€™t part of the plan but I was content to say nothing and see what would happen. I knew that Roselinde was navigating on her intuition as she was engaged in deep conversation with Lilly.
They walked for fifty odd metres and then swung left into; I did a double take for the street sign on the wall read - rue Jeanne dâ€™Arc!!!?
Out of all the streets in Reims how did Roselinde know that this was rue Jeanne dâ€™Arc? The girls kept walking oblivious to my silent observation. They continued for another 30 metres then Roselinde came to an abrupt halt.
I caught up with them and was concerned to find Roselinde doubled over in obvious pain. â€œWhatâ€™s happened? You were alright a moment ago. I was having trouble keeping up with this roller coaster of a ride.
â€œI donâ€™t know?â€ Lilly said with a sound of exasperation and a note of desperation. She had one arm around Roselinde and was obviously supporting her dead body weight. Roselinde seemed to be gasping for breathe, was turning blue and convulsing into body shock. I removed her sunglasses and was astonished to see her eyes had rolled back into her head with only the whites showing.
I could see that Roselinde was dying. My heart sank as I clutched her lifeless rag doll body to mine. Anaphylactic shock â€“ the words rang in my head as I desperately sought an answer to this monumental crisis. â€œQuick Lilly, check her backpack, see if she has an epipen?â€ I had drawn the logical conclusion from her symptoms. She wasnâ€™t convulsing as an epileptic would yet she was displaying extreme shock symptoms. I checked for swelling to her lips. Lilly searched frantically amongst Roselindeâ€™s possessions; torch; rope; knife. â€œWho now-a-days carries a torch, a rope and knife?!â€ Lilly exclaimed.
â€œObviously our Lady Roselinde,â€ I said half listening as I contemplated her lifeless body, â€œQuick faster...â€
â€œNo, no epipen, what now?â€ Lilly shouted with forceful emotion. Her intensity shocked me into action. â€œWe must start her heart and get her breathing; CPR.â€
I undid her blouse buttons and exposed her bare chest, then undid the catches of her brassier. Checking her windpipe for obstructions, I gently tilted her head backwards to open her airway. It was then that I noticed the return of the reddish blue rope mark bruising to her neck. Putting that to the back of my mind I pinched her nose and gave Roselinde three rescue breathes to re-inflate her lungs. Then I placed both of my hands over her heart and rhythmically pumped five times; Lilly watched transfixed, â€œcan you hear us Roselinde, donâ€™t slip away like this, you are a fighter.â€
I cupped my mouth to her blue lips and inflated her chest once again. Then I continued with the rhythmic pumping action on the breast bone. On the third count she spluttered into life, convulsed and begun breathing again. Gasping for air like a drowning person surfacing she opened her eyes wide and started coughing freely. I checked her pulse â€“ it was strong.
â€œRoselinde, thank God you are alive, I thought we had lost you. Keep breathing, deep and long.â€ She seemed to comprehend my words and deepened her breathing as Lilly cradled her head into a more comfortable semi-reclining position. The backpack made an excellent pillow.
â€œWhere am I?â€ Roselinde stammered, finding it difficult to speak.
â€œItâ€™s OK. You are safe. Youâ€™ve had a nasty turn thatâ€™s all. We just need to find out why?â€ It was then that I looked up and saw the possible answer to my question; it immediately sent shivers down my spine.
SQUARE DES VICTIMES DE LA GESTAPO
The forbidding epitaph was mounted in large capital letters on a stark rectangular concrete lintel that surrounded a large iron railing designed to look like prison bars. The iron grille faced onto a tranquil garden in which stood a simple monument. It was composed of two pillars side by side containing what looked like embossed plaques. It was difficult to make out the detail from where I was standing so I resolved to return later to record the details. It was a sign from the universe I knew that, there had to be a connection. My computer like mind quickly put the clues together yet I said nothing so as not to reinforce the trauma or bias the experience.
Several passers by attracted by the commotion asked if we wanted and ambulance. Roselinde now quite recovered and with the colour returned to her lips and cheeks positively declined and waved them on. She readjusted her clothing and miraculously stood up without assistance; albeit shakily. â€œThat was a novel experience. Iâ€™ve had worse days at the office though!â€ She said in a jesting tone. â€œSee France and die!â€ she continued flippantly as she brushed herself down. Leaning against the railings she regained her serious composure.
â€œThis is where it happened.â€ She suddenly said in an emotional quivering voice. Tears started to well up in her eyes and she gazed beyond the railings into the quiet garden. I noticed she clutched the cold iron bars like a prisoner condemned with a look of lost hope in her eyes.
â€œWhat happened?â€ I spoke softly in her ear. I could half guess the answer from my observations but I wanted her to say it without coercion.
â€œWhy this is where I died, May 30, 1942. I had been tortured relentlessly for several weeks and finally they lost patience and hung me from a rope over there.â€ Roselinde pointed with a quivering finger through the railings to a space now filled with the scented flowers of a memorial garden. â€œIt was a big building, gothic in appearance like a small chateau with a tower. The headquarters of the Geheim Stats Polizei; the dreaded Gestapo, I was a Dutch resistance worker, an undercover agent working for the French underground here in Reims.â€
â€œWhat did you see when you had the psychokinetic episode just now?â€ Lilly asked softly.
â€œIt was totally real. I was marched out to a courtyard by two soldiers in black uniforms with white lightning strike collar badges and steel helmets bearing swastikas. I looked down at their shiny jackboots which clattered metallically on the flagstones. I couldnâ€™t bring myself to look at the noose and scaffold. I wanted to die bravely without fear and signs of trembling. I didnâ€™t want to give them that pleasure. Without ceremony they stood me on a chair and fastened the noose around my neck. I could feel the rough hemp chafe against my bare skin. I found myself praying to Mary mother of Jesus and Saint Catherine. They then kicked the chair away and I just dangled there in fee space, convulsing like a macabre marionette, slowly choking. The last thing I remember was the face of the hideous man who had tortured me smiling and smoking a cigarette. He wore a black leather coat and a fedora hat with a large brim. He had compounded his torture by playing a concert piano in the evening as I lay in my cell weeping. The combination of my love of classical music superimposed on my daily regime of pain, humiliation and relentless questioning was more than my soul could bear. Yet I did not break and betray the names of the underground workers who were helping me hide the Jewish refugees in the Champagne caves nearby. I was glad to die and put an end to my suffering. It was my only escape...â€ With that her voice faltered as she clutched her bruised throat.
Lilly and I just stood in stunned silence. The experience was totally beyond words. I put a reassuring arm around Roselindeâ€™s delicate shoulder as she stood trembling and white faced, all muscle tone drained from her body. Lilly did the same and the three of us just embraced for some several minutes as we all came to terms with what we had just unexpectedly transpired. Lilly was first to break away and began collecting up the spilt belongings from the pavement. I just hugged Roselinde with both arms and repeatedly kissed her soothingly on the forehead as she sobbed into my chest making my shirt quite wet. I could feel the life returning to her body as she regained her composure and collected her thoughts.
After adjusting our apparel we finally began walking back to the HÃ´tel le Bristol. On arrival Lilly accompanied Roselinde to their room for a rest, both girls looked thoroughly drained. I slipped anonymously into my room next door after ordering a cafe cognac to be sent up to the girls and one for me also. Lying on the bed I went repeatedly over the events that had just transpired and decided to record them onto paper whilst they were fresh in my memory. I first noticed the strange coincidence of the numbers 1429 and 1942 being composed of the same digits only rearranged like an anagram and then Roselindeâ€™s identical May 30th date that she quoted, the same as the execution of Jeanne dâ€™Arc, which was yet another bizarre coincidence.
My thoughts were interrupted by a loud knock at the door that pushed me into action. I greeted the porter with my coffee and tipped him. After jotting down my thoughts, feelings and observations I had the presence of mind to return to the scene and photograph the details for the record. Using the HD video facility on my compact 12 megapixel Fuji camera I recorded the garden through the railings. I was able to zoom in on the plaque that bore the names of those executed there by the Gestapo. I knew that this might prove important and it would save us a lot of time for we would have to get the authorities to unlock the gate for access and that would take valuable time.
I sensed that once the wounds had gone cold and begun to heal Roselinde would want to exorcise this ghost in her memory. I was sure that any evidence would help, so behaving like a CSI forensic officer I gathered every possible shred and clue whilst it was still fresh. I found the whole experience extremely disconcerting and uncomfortable. My emotions ranged from anger to sadness, I had trouble remaining objective as the horror of Roselindeâ€™s description sank in.
Somehow the events of 1429 being that much further back in linear time seemed bizarrely more acceptable. It was an irrational thought as I knew that in truth, there was only the eternal now in the higher dimensional universe, I felt sure that this was the true abode of our conscious and subconscious minds. A strange thought occurred to me, the men in black uniforms with white insignia had executed her here on this spot, yet the men in black uniforms, the black brethren, had saved her from execution in 1429!
It was a magical eureka moment of revelation into the deeper workings of the universe - we always have to experience the opposites in order to learn and truly understand the lesson. The resurgent memories of several other incidences suddenly reinforced and confirmed my observation. Perhaps I had discovered a universal principle? I made several pages of notes with the prefix - must discuss this with Lilly double underlined.
Returning to the hotel for a second time I went to my room on the first floor. Dinner was at 20:00hrs, so I had time to shower and change I guessed that we would dine in after our traumatic experiences and the long unexpectedly eventful day. My assumption proved correct as no sooner had that thought crossed my mind than a text came through from Lilly.
All OK! Fully recovered see you in the dining room at eight... Fleur d'Lilly X
Well all must be right with the quantum universe if I can pre-empt Lilly's thoughts that accurately! I allowed myself a smile, what a journey this was and it is only day one of our expedition to Reims. I felt literally mind blown yet again at the frequency of these quantum coincidences which seemed to be speeding up exponentially. This was yet another topic that I was eager to discuss over dinner with the girls along with my findings.
At five to eight I descended the elaborate stairway into the chandelier lit lobby and made my way to the atmospherically lit hotel restaurant. The plush claret coloured velvet booths each surmounted by an imposing walled arch bearing a large single back lit fleur-de-lys affixed to the wall made for a perfect gothic ambience. In one of the larger alcoves of the restaurant there was a large copy of a famous 15th century painting by Albrecht DÃ¼rer two flying angels receiving a blue banner containing three gold fleur-de-lys from God and hovering above a procession of noble women being given the same banner by a saint. They then appear in the Cathedral of Reims presenting the arms on a shield to Clovis ceremonially at the site of the original sacred coronation scene. It was a weighty reminder of the true purpose of the mighty Reims cathedral the hereditary enthroning centre of the Kings of France. For Sainte Remi had baptised Clovis the first King of France at the very spot nearby where there now stands the church of Sainte Remi. I mused in my head that the angelic beings were what we would call ETs today and that history was somehow an orchestrated pageant of intranet galactic proportions. The thought vanished instantly as I considered the irony that our first encounter had been distinctly non-gothic and very close up and personal. The shadow of the Nazis clouded my mind as I sat at our reserved table below the sacred gold fleur d'lys and waited silently for the girls.
Fashionably late, they appeared five minutes later looking none the worse for the trauma that we had experienced earlier that day.
"Bon soirÃ©e Yann!" Roselinde said with a charming elegant almost royal smile. She looked stunning in a all electric blue off the shoulder Chanel cocktail dress that simmered in the candle light with tiny gold flecks. She looked fabulous, here long loose luxurious blonde hair cascaded down and framed her elven features. The dress perfectly complimented her willowy sinuous body divinely and I couldn't help thinking that she would fit perfectly into the portrait of angels on the wall. She was simply the divine manifest. A very different lady to the one I had seen earlier that day.
"Bonsoir Roselinde," I rose from my seat and taking her right had kissed it gently, then I kissed her softly on both cheeks. She blushed being unused to French manners.
Lilly coughed theatrically. "Bonsoir Yann!" She echoed in a somewhat mocking fashion and curtsied theatrically. I laughed at her comedic performance and likewise kissed her theatrically on the hand and both cheeks. "I get the distinct feel that you are more used to wielding a sword my wonderful Fleur d'Lilly than engaging in courtly niceties."
"Of course! She riposte with lightning speed and struck a theatrical musketeer's salute minus the sword. "But I am still very beautiful am I not!" with that she tossed her beautiful chestnut hair back over her shoulder and laughed!
Roselinde smiled at our jesting which alleviated the obvious fact that Lilly might just be a tad jealous and that we would soon be engage in a much deeper and darker discussion. We settled into our seats. Lilly ordered a super champagne aperitif and passed the a la carte menu around. "After the day we've had we deserve a treat, if our paper won't cover with expenses I will!" Her air of self assurance visibly impressed Roselinde.
"Then I shall stand the wine!" Not to be out done I quickly stepped up to the mark. "What ever you desire." I added with a flourish and a smile.
"My word you do live well!" Roselinde exclaimed as she glanced over the top of her half rimmed designer reading glasses whilst perusing the imposing menu.
"Of course we we are French - Un pour tous et tous pour un!". I replied in jest as I quoted the famous musketeer phrase. " No, actually not really we are splashing out because you are in town and our honoured guest.".
Lilly and I deliberately kept the mood upbeat throughout the excellent meal. After serval courses with matching wines we started on a light dessert and settled down to listen to Roselinde's account of her experiences. In a series of intense and vivid flashbacks she recalled the last six weeks of her previous life as a resistance worker in Nazi occupied Reims. I felt my grip on the table cloth get tighter and tighter as I listened intently to the barbarous nature of the torture inflicted on her. She talked steadily without pausing and showed no emotion. Lilly and I could see that she was releasing all the blocked memories and thereby healing herself at the same time. Without warning as she neared the end she suddenly grimaced, stammered and burst into tears. The dam of emotion had burst, it was important to let her expunge the horror of the psychic wound in order to complete the process. After that the memory could no longer hurt her.
The details of the execution were horrendously matter of fact. It was obviously a well rehearsed perfunctory process carried out with German efficiency. Allowing the victim to dangle and choke slowly to death was particularly cruel and old fashioned as modern societies had perfected the trapdoor technique to snap the neck and cut any suffering mercifully short. It was all terribly macabre but again very necessary in order to complete the debrief. I empathised as I too had been hung in a previous life, as a Druid, by the Romans in the time of Vercingetorix. There was a definite parallel Romans and Nazis the same malevolent soul group reincarnating. Roselinde's account stirred dark and painful memories in my soul memory. I felt my throat constrict and found it difficult to swallow. The memory was a fleeting shadow in my subconscious but like a hungry wolf in the pit of my mind it began to howl. It needed release but this was not the time or place. This was Roselinde's moment.
Roselinde remained very disciplined and behaved with dignity as a military prisoner in her subconscious demeanour. She had suffered in many many lives, always willingly, selflessly and for the greater good. She continued to recount other sundry facts and the graphic nature of her flashback experience. I poured her a large glass of wine and gestured that she should take a sip as I too needed to clear my throat. Both Lilly and I could see that she was obviously reliving those terrifying moments in character but her soul was now recounting them in the third person. With that the emotional pain was disconnected thank goodness.
I leaned forward with a tear in my eye and clutched Roselinde's trembling hand. "It's all gone now. You can just float above it and heal in the warm sunlight."
Lilly smiled and placed her hand gently on top of ours. Her warmth and love penetrated my skin and as my hand warmed so the heat conducted through to Roselinde. "Many lives, many sacrifices," She said melancholically and with a deep philosophical resonance that belied her tender years.
Roselinde smiled and broke free of our touch. Then she raised her champagne glass and toasted the proceedings. "That was yesterday, this is today, let us enjoy the NOW!". With that she emptied her champagne flute with swift but elegant decorum.
By now it was midnight the waiters were eager to clear away the remnant debris of our exquisite repas. The girls excused themselves from the table. It had been a very long and unexpectedly eventful day. We embraced and kissed on the cheeks then they turned and left me alone as I had been not 4 hours earlier.
Tomorrow would be another day and our journey would continue, of that I had no doubt for Reims wasn't finished with us yet.